This review is our 5th report detailing Singapore Airlines’ brand new Airbus A350. View the others here:
Beng Keat TAN (“BK”) writing freelance. BK may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of my German trip highlights included a visit to the world renowned Miniature World Wonderland. Perhaps it is fitting to impose the condition that one who proclaims himself or herself as a model hobbyist or aviation-crazed should make a pilgrimage to Miniature World Wonderland, at least once, in their lifetime, for its definitely a “Bucket List” of must-visits, that can only be appreciated in Hamburg, Germany.
The date was August 1st, 2016. Flying in from Hamburg to Düsseldorf on an Air Berlin Dash-8 Q-400 that evening, the aim was to stay the night at the Sheraton Düsseldorf Airport Hotel before connecting with Singapore Airlines’ SQ337 on the morning of August 2nd, 2016.
Singapore Airlines’ newest Airbus A350-900 (Mike-Echo / 9V-SME), delivered on July 28th, 2016, operated its first European sector on August 1st, 2016 after performing two short-haul sub-50 minute Kuala Lumpur turns. As Flight Radar 24 (FR24) confirmed Mike-Echo’s departure from Singapore as flight number Three-Three-Eight (SQ338), I erupted into epic joy, thankful this new airframe would be my ride home, just one sleep away.
Carrier: Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Flight Number: SQ337
Route: DUS – SIN
Duration: 11h 50m
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Registration: 9V – SME
Cabin Class: Business
Seat Number: 14K
Morning arrived! The time: 0600hrs. The date: August 2nd, 2016. I quickly checked FR24 on Mike-Echo’s arrival status at Düsseldorf. As expected, SQ338 arrived on time. Lazing around for a few more hours, I got myself readied and by 0930hrs had completed the check-out formalities. With my Priority Passenger Service (“PPS”) Status, at Singapore Airlines, I proceeded to the airline’s Business Class counter. Before I could even check-in for my 1150hrs flight, destined for Singapore, the unexpected happened!
Perhaps it is somewhat exaggerated but in my perspective, just two counters away, a staff, leapt up and rushed forward. Introducing herself as Josephine Chan, Station Manager, Düsseldorf, she thanked me for the continued loyalty with my national carrier.
“Sorry Mr. Tan, I understand that you’ve already checked-in online and had purchased a preferred seat for 48K in Economy. Unfortunately we can’t seat you there as the flight is full. I hope you do not mind but we took the liberty to upgrade you to Business Class.”
Light does indeed travel faster than sound. I swear that digesting those words took a nano-second longer than usual. Reality setting in, my face beamed in delight. I gleefully responded: “Wow, yes, that’s delightful, thanks so much!” As counter staff proceeded to tag my luggage, with an additional “Solitaire” label, other than the “Priority” tag, my Business Class boarding pass was issued for seat 14K.
As I turned around, I noticed the crew had arrived and were standing behind me. One crew member, Gerard Ee – was the Chief Steward for this flight, a familiar face, whom I had met twice – on a previous Delhi-Singapore SQ403 flight and at the SIA Training Centre 2015 Open House Event. I soon came to know he was also the only Air Sommelier on this flight! Wow! Anyway, more on that later. 🙂
Josephine asked if she could have the privilege to have her staff walk me to the Senator Lounge (operated by Lufthansa); and to have me escorted to my seat when the flight was ready for boarding. I shamelessly obliged. 🙂
Düsseldorf would be my second time to experience Lufthansa’s Senator Lounge, after having had a first “taste” of it at Frankfurt, in my previous travels. In general, it was basic, nothing to shout about. Reviews of the Senator Lounge can be found here.
Vas, who just commenced her role as a ground agent at Düsseldorf, arrived at 1110hrs to escort me to Gate A79. With a scheduled departure at 1150hrs, SQ337 would commence boarding by 1120hrs.
Josephine was at Gate A79, and it was definitely nice that she had me board ahead of all other passengers, including the other 12 “Deities” in the Business Class cabin. Now this is why Singapore Airlines is more than a great way to fly. This, was what greeted me at the end of the aerobridge. Everyone was readily waiting for my arrival onboard! Good afternoon Mr. Tan! Wow! Now, that’s a first for me, and I just had to have a photo with the awesome team!
Boarding from Door 2 Left, I was shown to my throne at 14K, which would be my “habitat” for the next 12 hours onboard 9V-SME. As the crew got busy with operational matters, I started to self-entertain and snapped photos of my “nirvana” for the next half a day!
Shortly after getting seated, pre-departure drinks were served. Chief Steward and Air Sommelier, Gerard Ee, offered me a glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne. Heavenly!! Now, whilst Charles Heidsieck was previously on the menu, and has since made a comeback, I’d say, this glass was definitely a good refreshing change, from the previous Taittinger.
“Cabin crew, doors closed. Ladies and gentlemen, mobile phones and portable electronic equipments may interfere with our aircraft navigational systems. They must now be switched to flight safe mode.”
Push-back was on time, and by 1216hrs, SQ337 had departed from Düsseldorf. Within 20 minutes, 9V-SME had positioned herself on-course for Singapore. At 37,000 feet, the aircraft reached its initial cruising altitude, and the seat belts signs were switched off.
Now I must say that Air Sommeliers are just wonderful on flights! Inflight recommendations for me by Chief Steward and Air Sommelier- Gerard Ee was a choice of Australian (2013 Heirloom Shiraz from Barossa Valley) and South African (2013 Cederberg Cabernet Sauvignon from Citrusdal Mountain). It started with simple wine tasting at 40,000 ft, and once I had decided which to go for, pure indulgence began! Having chosen veal as my lunch choice, I asked Gerard for his expert opinion on which would be better with my culinary choice. The Cederberg was the winner! Full bodied, rich, great aroma! A great recommendation, without doubt!
Pure heaven and bliss, it was time to tuck-into the multi course meal. Starting with a plate of satay.
This was then followed by the Scandinavian Seafood Platter (Appetiser), which a wide selection of breads was also offered as an accompaniment.
My choice – Seared Veal Loin with Caper Licorice was exclusively created by the International Culinary Panel. Tender, moist, succulent are the three words I’ll use as my ratings for this dish.
A choice of Haagen Dazs or Cherry Cake followed. I opted for the latter.
This was then followed by a selection of cheese! I loved the “Champagne Cheese” – which I later learnt from Flight Stewardess Rabiatul Adawiyah to be the “Wein Káse”.
To end everything on a sweet note, an assortment of pralines were offered with a choice of coffee and tea – gourmet selections of illy or TWG were available.
With all the finest First World options to choose from, its clear why flying Singapore Airlines’ Business Class, is really the new First Class, that no other airline can outwit, outplay and outlast.
Bellies full, and mouths happy from all that tiresome eating, window shades were shut to block out the afternoon sun. Cabin lights were dimmed to create the ambience for rest. As we flew eastwards, it was getting late into the night. It was time for either shuteye or Krisworld – Singapore Airlines’ inflight entertainment system.
Snacks of all-sorts (assorted nuts, chocolate bar, potato chips, assorted biscuits, cookies, fresh fruits); noodles; and sandwiches were available if one wished to indulge in-between meals.
Breakfast was another round of hearty indulgence – with juices; fruits; choices of either cornflakes, bircher muesli, or yoghurt; main course selections of either crepes, nasi lemak, or frittata; gourmet selections of coffee and tea.
So whilst the Economy Class cabin may have more seats than the front section of the aircraft, the weight from over-fed but happy passengers from Business Class balances it out! The weight and balance module could take on a refreshing and interesting perspective altogether.
0545hrs: SQ337 commences its descent into Changi International Airport, the carrier’s home base. According to the technical crew, Mike-Echo (9V-SME) would be arriving at 0615hrs.
As the crew commenced preparing the aircraft for arrival, it was time to pinch myself hard to wake up to reality. 12 hours can zoom past in the blink of an eye. My flight in the heavenly skies, with my head wedged high above the white fluffy clouds had come to a finalé. I had to find an encore that rewards the commitment and dedication of the team who are the ambassadors of the airline at the frontline, delivering heartfelt and warm hospitable service, creating one of the many memorable journeys for the customer, of numerous wonderful voyages of generations to-come.
To the team of Singapore Three-Three-Seven, who operated 9V-SME on August 2nd, 2016, ex-Düsseldorf for Singapore, thank you!! I’d also like to extend my best wishes for Cabin Crew month this August!
– IFS Christopher Gerard Lim Choon Heng
– CS Ee Tyrone Gerard**
– LS Gurdev Singh S/O Karam Singh
– LSS Ewe Lay Yin
– FS Tay Boon Hui
– FS Matthew Joseph Francis Xavier
– FSS Lim Hwee Li**
– FSS Rabiatul Adawiyah Binte Abdul Rahim**
– FSS Koh Li Li**
– FSS Nurul Ashikin Binte Mohamad Kasim
– FSS Vinoshalee Prushothman
– FSS Ho Huey Yuen
– FSS Lam Lun Chin Lynnie
**Made the voyage extra exceptional.