That Time of The Year 2019 (second edition) came and went and my body is still trying to adjust back to local timing. After the discontinuation of SQ67/68, SQ51/52 is now the longest route for Singapore Airlines. The Houston route was previously flown using a 777-300ER via Moscow (SIN-DME-IAH) but has since changed to an A350-900 (hence eliminating First Class on this route) and the layover stop is now in Manchester.
The flight is at a very ungodly hours – it departs from Changi at 225am! Staying up till departure was certainly challenging! The advantage is that the crowd in Silverkris lounge starts to die down after 11am (once most Europe and USA’s flights have departed) leaving you with lots of space to take a short nap before your flight. Once you get past that, this flight is pretty good for you to adjust your body clock – be it going into Manchester or Houston. I have reviewed the Business Class Silverkris Lounge before and my experience this time is no different. The exception being the change of Champagne from Charles Heidsieck to Taittinger (which I prefer over Charlie).
SQ52 seems to be a popular flight as the load in Business Class was easily 80% and the Premium Economy and Economy cabin seemed full! The cabin sports the 2013 seat (found on the long haul and ultra-long haul A350s and 777-300ER) which I have reviewed before in the past (on SQ327, SQ478, SQ11, SQ631 and SQ21).
The one issue with Singapore Airlines Business Class seats is the small foot well. This makes it uncomfortable when sleeping in bed mode. This make the bulkhead seats extremely alluring due to the width of the foot space. I was initially booked in 12D/F but few weeks prior to flying, I noticed that 19D/F were open on Expertflyer. After some hesitation (due to 19 being bassinet seats), I decided to take a risk and booked it (via operator) – I was warned that I may be displaced from those seats if there is an infant on board. The other concern being its proximity to the galley.
I decided to check how full my cabin is 3 days before my flight and to my surprise, seats 11D/F were available! Without further delay, I immediately snatched those 2 seats and I have no regrets as I had the longest and most comfortable sleep on board ever (I think I slept a total of 9 to 10 hours on both legs combined when in the past I had totally no sleep flying on SQ327, SQ11 and SQ15!)
Food was a mixed affair. I did BTC for my 1st leg and on board menu for my 2nd (as there was no BTC options ex-MAN). Food was pretty good and as both legs were > 8 hours – delectable options were available on both legs (unlike SQ25/26 where delectable is not available on the shorter segment). Here are my thoughts:
- Seared Black Cod Fillet ‘à la Niçoise’– I took this as the meal is lighter (at 3am) and I seem to have better experience with fish on board nowadays. The texture of the black cod was not as good as the other cod fish – but otherwise the taste was ok. I would probably choose the Thai style cod fish (which I did for my flight to Osaka) over this.
- Chinese Style Cod with Fried Rice – my wife took this and although the cod texture was great (and moist), it was rather salty (according to her). She does not recommend this dish.
- Nasi Lemak – I guess you can’t go wrong with local fare! The sambal was great, although I would have preferred boneless chicken instead of a chicken drumlet 😛
- Nonya Assam Fish – a new selection for breakfast, this came highly recommended by my wife as the fish was great!
- Korean dak galbi – nothing special, although I like the level of spiciness of the chicken
- Slow braised beef brisket in Chu Hou sauce – the beef was great and not overcooked. I find that Asian style beef seems to fare better than western style beef
- Beef burger – neutral, I think In & Out and Shake Shack were much better! (HAHAHAH)
- Char Siew Wanton Mee – the Wanton was juicy, but the noodle wasn’t great
Special mention to the Tom yam noodle which I had mid-flight, it was appetizing (despite knowing it is just instant noodle) and satay was as usual great (it was available ex-MAN as it was a lunch service).
Wi-fi was available and thanks to my Boingo account (courtesy of Citi Prestige card), I had unlimited data. Business Class passengers were also given 30 mb of data (for each sector) and that is barely enough. While the speed on the first leg was excellent, it was the complete opposite for my second leg.
Left – Leg 1 with a much superior download speed, Right – Leg 2, horrible horrible!
As Singapore Airlines has no lounge in Manchester, Business Class passengers were given access to Aspire Lounge (which is also a Priority Pass lounge). The lounge itself is very Spartan looking and small – with one small section dedicated for SQ Premium passengers (with a SQ girl cut out and carpet to demarcate it as a no-go zone for plebeians 😛 – just kidding). I had to be a plebeian and sat in the common zone as I had no seats left within the SQ zone. Food selection was rather limited but I have no complains as I was still full from the flight. Unfortunately, there was no shower room in the lounge (not even toilet!)
Aspire Lounge at Manchester Ringway International Airport
Compared to London Heathrow, Manchester Ringway looked rather sterile and bland – but I did manage to see some beauties – a sight that is getting harder to see nowadays!
One must go through security screening in Manchester (unlike in Frankfurt where security screening is no longer necessary during the layover). But the whole process was quick.
What stood out was the crew especially on the MAN-IAH leg. The crew on the SIN-MAN leg were efficient but they seemed fairly occupied (given the high load). The MAN-IAH crew were an exceptional lot – reminds me of the set of crew I had on SQ619 but this set of crew were excellent even despite having a reasonably high load! Kudos to Inflight Manager Kenneth Chang with the rest of the crew in J cabin:
Leading Stewardess Rachel Lim
Flight Steward Travis Tan
Flight Stewardess Malini Nathan
Flight Stewardess Joleen Kong
Flight Stewardess Ang Cheng Yee
Special mention too to Leading Steward Raymond Lim on the SIN-MAN leg for the care given to my wife and me. The crew even made a card for us despite this being just a regular holiday for us! (thanks guys!).
The friendly crew of SQ52
There is not amenity kit as after a short trial with amenity kits in Business Class last year, SQ decided to remove it again. There is a new edition of teddy bear though, and it is green!
25.5 hours (including layover) is not an easy journey, even in Business Class! The need to stay up till 225 am for the flight makes it even more challenging. Thankfully, the experience on flight was extremely pleasant and having the bulkhead seat for the entire flight was the icing on the cake!
Tip – call in to Krisflyer, check on Expertflyer and seat selection regularly. If its available, grab it! Seat 11 is certainly the seat to go for – 19 would be a good alternative. However, do take note of its proximity to the main galley (light and sound) and the possibility of being displaced by infants.