Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Zealand 2012 - Part 11: Sydney to Singapore

Part 1:  Asiana Airlines First Class – Los Angeles to Seoul
Part 2:  Asiana Airlines Business Class – Seoul to Sydney
Part 3:  Air New Zealand Economy Class – Sydney to Auckland to Christchurch
Part 4:  Winetasting in Waipara
Part 5:  Exploring Christchurch
Part 6:  Air New Zealand Economy Class – Christchurch to Queenstown
Part 7:  Winetasting in Otago
Part 8:  Exploring Queenstown
Part 9:  Hilton Queenstown
Part 10:  Overnight in Sydney
Part 11:  Singapore Airlines First Class – Sydney to Singapore
Part 12:  Singapore Airlines First Class – Singapore to San Francisco

The ride to Sydney Airport from my hotel was the most stressful part of the day.  The shuttle picked up a group of passengers from the Ibis and headed to the airport in terrible traffic.  I don’t know what was going on with everyone wanting to be on the roads around 7am but it was packed.  After a stop at the two domestic terminals, I eventually got off at the international departures hall.  The Singapore Airlines desk was at the far end of the ticketing counters so I headed all the way over there to check-in.  I arrived a little under two hours before departure and was the only person in the first class line and was immediately helped.  The process took a few minutes longer than usual to be sure they had all my passport information on the computers for my return to the US.  One I received my two boarding passes I was also given an “express” card for departures through customs and screening.  Again, this area was on the other side of the hall. 


The express line uses a different entrance than the regular passengers and I was in and out quickly with a stamp on my passport and then into security where I had to go through additional screening.  The Sydney airport has a maze of duty free shops on your way to the gates, and nothing was cheap.  With my first class tickets I had access to the Sydney Silver Kris Lounge, Singapore Air’s lounge, which is next door to the Air New Zealand lounge.  The greeter was very friendly and handed me my golden ticket invitation to the Private Room at Singapore Airport.   The lounge was on the small size and only 5 other people were inside by the time I left.  They had a few breakfast items as well as refrigerator with alcohol.  I just settled for a bit of toast before my multi-course breakfast on board. 


The boarding area for our gate was very narrow and cramped.  Families started boarding first then I was invited to head down the jet bridge.  I was the first premium passenger to board and when I showed my boarding pass at the plane door I was escorted to my seat by the flight attendant.  She was incredibly polite and even offered to take my picture when she realized I was taking pictures of the cabin.  There were only two other people in the cabin of eight. 

The first class seats are huge. While I find the latest Lufthansa seats to aesthetically look better, these seats are massive. The LED screen is 23” and the seat itself is advertised as the widest first class seat in the world. The width is in the neighborhood of 35” (normal domestic coach seats range between 17” and 18” wide). The plane was a 777-300 which was retrofitted with these newer first class seats. This plane included overhead bins but ample space for carry-ons was available below the footrest shelf. They actually provide a couple pillows on the seat to make it feel less wide. 


Even though it was before 9am I started off with a glass of Dom Perignon 2003 and when empty my glass was promptly filled without asking.  Menus were distributed and breakfast orders were taken before we took off along with receiving noise cancelling headphones, slippers, and socks. 



Take off was delayed as we waited on the tarmac for our departure position but once we were rolling down the runway we were quickly airborne.  The seatbelt sign turned off and the cabin crew started to prep the cabin and our meals.  The IFE system was good and easy to navigate with a healthy variety of movie and TV options to watch.  Unfortunately, like Asiana, they only have the IFE available above 10,000 feet so you cannot watch the airshow or any program on takeoff or landing. 

The flight attendant came by with fresh orange juice along with an amenity kit and XL pajamas.  I also had to order a mimosa which was promptly delivered. 

Breakfast started with a plate of fresh fruit.


Cornflakes and freshly warmed bread was up next. 


And the main course consisted of made to order scrambled eggs with bacon and a potato cake. 


After breakfast I asked for the seat to be turned into a bed.  These seats require the flight attendants to pull the back of the seat down as that turns into the flat surface.  A mattress pad is laid down plus quite a few pillows.  Singapore Air also carries to blanket types on board, one heavy and one light.  Since I always seem to overheat on a place it was nice to have a light blanket. 


I managed to sleep about four hours.  The bed was actually pretty hard.  The mattress bad felt more like a floor mat with not much support although the width of the seat made it very comfortable to lay down in.  About two hours before landing in Singapore, the lunch service started with hot towels and then a crab and mango salad.  I had a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with this course. 


The main course was a filet with chimichurri salsa and potatoes.  The meat was tender and tasty.  I was also preemptively asked if I wanted a glass of red wine with the course and I obliged. 


Dessert was a chocolate and caramel cake and mascarpone – very delicious.  And, again they offered me a glass of Sauternes before I could even ask. 


After the meal I enjoyed a glass of Moroccan mint tea watching episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” and looked out the window as we approached Singapore.  I was surprised at the number of container and tanker ships in the surrounding waters. 


Landing was smooth and we quickly pulled up to the gate.  We were able to disembark from the forward door and head into the airport without passing through any customs or transfer desk.  I had about three hours to before my next flight and I headed over to the Silver Kris Lounge and the Private Room.  I provided one of the staff my invitation card and was escorted back through the business lounge and through the first class lounge into the Private Room.  There were no other passengers in the lounge when I arrived and only a couple more by the time I left.  The facility was very quiet and relaxing and included soft leather seats, a couple of TV areas, and dining room.  Staff were attentive and were regularly refilling my water. 


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