Arrival into Bangkok at 3AM threw a wrench in plans to see some sights before heading to Singapore. Fortunately I had arranged to stay at the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi which is at the airport. While there was a shuttle bus on arrival, it is actually easier to take the underground tunnel as it's only a few minutes walk. It's easy to spend an afternoon at this hotel. What a beautiful hotel. Enjoy some of the lobby.
Next up was Singapore Airlines flight 977 from Bangkok to Singapore. This itinerary was due to the Thai A350 delivery delay, but it didn't matter as I would have missed that connection anyway because of Typhoon Mindulle.
Date: August 2016
Flight #: SQ979
Aircraft: A330-300 #9V-STB
On Time: Late Departure (weather) Arrival on time
Reward Flying Rating: 5.6 out of 10 ✈
A bit of luck
Singapore Airlines makes a decent amount of regional reward space available to Star Alliance partners. United doesn't offer the inventory on their website. However you can find the space on Aeroplan and ANA search engines as well as Award Nexus and KVSTool.
Value for Reward per redemption point:
Sky High: >.08
This flight typically retails for around $450. It costs 25,000 UA points for a low value of 1.7 cents. But most short hop reward tickets don't offer much value. However if you continue on to Australia for 30,000 points and a retail fare of around $1,800 you get a great 6 cents return. This business class portion was included in my first class fare. There was no first class to Melbourne. I could have taken Thai first class to Sydney, but then again, I wasn't going to Sydney.
Reward Value: 6 out of 10 ✈ (If you take it farther than just Singapore.)
To make Singapore reservations on United you must call.
Search for Rewards tickets
Using the Singapore locator number provided by United I was able to change seats on my flights.
Stay at Gate
Traveling on a first class ticket I had hopes of entering the Thai Royal Silk First Class lounge and Spa. (Even though I'd read I wouldn't be granted access.) But I tried and was denied for two reasons, first I was outbound on Singapore in business class, second my Thai first class flight was the day before, even though technically it had landed on that day. I have to admit, the receptionist was extremely nice in the way she denied my access. A good reason to go back.
So on to the KrisFlyer lounge a short distance away. This lounge is extremely small. So small it doesn't have restroom facilities. You must use the airport restrooms outside and down the hall. It is a comfortable lounge and overlooks an atrium outside the terminal.
The redeeming factor was the food. Granted it was 5PM so the dinner spread was on display, but it was extensive and interesting. Notice the cracked mini-coconuts in the beverage cooler.
After a few bites to try the local fare it was off to the gate. Bangkok airport is a beautiful multi-level airport where the gates are on the arrival level and departing passengers go down individual ramps from above to your gate.
A storm was in the area as darkness set in. A glimpse of 9V-STB.
What were they thinking?
My opinion of the business class cabin in this older Singapore A330 was quite positive. The opinion is based on a comparison to the 777 long haul cabin I'd fly next. This was simply a more pleasing cabin to the eye, a little brighter due to the consistent leather color, lilac head rest linens and matching pillows.
Luggage bins are not as large as on 777's and newer aircraft. Also it's important to note that the bins in business class row 11 are not available for passenger storage.
There is no lavatory ahead of the business class cabin, cutting down on cabin traffic for the front rows. And there is only a single lavatory for business class, located on the left side of the plane at the second door. Plan accordingly.
Lavatories were stocked with typical amenity items as well as a shaving mirror.
And a nicely shaped sink to keep the floor dry.
Just like home
Get me off this plane
These seats are the Zodiac 7811 Twin Aisle seats that are capable of 172 degree angle lie flat. While this may not be ideal for long haul flights, as measured by today's standards, the seat itself is very comfortable to sit in. I preferred this seat over the long haul business class seat.
Yes, these seats are an older model and contemporary business class seats are better designed. But for comfort on a regional flight these seats are more than adequate.
Seat controls in the armrest. I think they fibbed on that lie flat button.
Next to the seat is a place to store your laptop or tablet.
Which also houses the electronics, having spent a long time upside down.
And yes, showing age.
Along with the glass holders imbedded in the armrest are trays underneath that you can share stuff with your neighbor, or allow it to slip through the cutout and fall to the tray below.
A reading light is placed at the top side of the pod, which are surprisingly private.
Looking for the best seat in the house? Pick row 11 and unless you are 8 feet tall you will love it.
Cabin and Seats: 6 out of 10 ✈
As mentioned, typical amenities were stocked in the lavatories. With this being a short haul flight an amenity kit was not expected anyway nor does Singapore believe in them for business class. A pillow and blanket along with headphones were provided.
Full bar in cabin
✔︎Multiple coffee selections
✔︎Multiple tea selections
A 10 page beverage menu for a regional flight is commendable, but is it necessary? And are all the products really available? I would save that question for another flight.
In the meantime a nice Charles Heidsieck Brut flowed from the start.
✔︎Printed, multiple cuisines
Printed, single cuisine
Verbal by flight attendant
Mid flight snacks
Dinner was served promptly as this was a short 2 hour flight at 40,000 feet down the Gulf of Thailand above the storms, where there was still a little chop, at least in a couple food photos.
Compliments to the Chef
Fine dining with a miss or two
✔︎No rave reviews
Get me a meal from economy
A typical business class meal. Not very attractive in presentation, yet plentiful and edible. Would I get it again at a restaurant, no, other than photo #3.
Cabin and Seats: 5 out of 10 ✈
IFE: 4 out of 10 ✈
Can I stay and watch some more?
Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
✔︎Glad I brought my tablet
The IFE system is old. Enough said. If there is a drawback to seats in row 11 it's that the monitors are on the bulkhead wall. With a small 11 inch monitor it doesn't make for great viewing. On the other hand it wasn't long ago when the mini Airbus A320 fold down monitors where the rage, remember?
Yes and Free
Yes and Purchase
Made the flight special
✔︎Did their job
Did they board?
The flight attendants were courteous, polite and friendly. From offering champagne immediately upon boarding, returning frequently for refills and provided prompt food service they were a fine crew.
A special shout out goes to the agent at check-in. My connection from this flight was to Melbourne and due to arrive around 9AM the next morning. At noon I had a separate reservation on Air New Zealand to Auckland. Not wanting to lug my suitcase around I asked if it could be checked all the way through. The agent asked for the ticket on the NZ flight and checked my bag all the way through to AKL. Take that Oneworld.
Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
This Airbus A330 was one of Singapore's older aircraft, yet it was clean and other than the seats showing some wear didn't reveal it's age in any way. Also, considering the weather the ride was pretty smooth.
This was a great short haul flight and recommend it if traveling in Asia. They do fly this plane on longer flights to Australia and up to Tokyo and Seoul as well as Shanghai. For a day time flight it would be fine, overnight it's probably best to fly Singapore's long haul business class.
What are your thoughts on Singapore's A330 product?