This flight marked the start of my return trip and I would be taking Singapore Airlines back to Tokyo, and ANA to Los Angeles. The food and hospitality provided by the Japanese made me yearn for this trip as I will stay one night in Tokyo!
SQ636 Singapore SIN – Tokyo HND
Wednesday 20 Feb 2013
Boeing 777-200 9V-SQL
A very friendly check in agent started the experience for the flight and she was very helpful in answering my queries. It was a pleasant check in experience as always in the business class section for SQ flights.
There was no wait at all in immigration which is more like the norm in Changi so i just breezed my way airside and headed to the SilverKris lounge. Having been there before, it was another short walk from the passport control to the escalators leading to the 2nd floor and a walk past the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge.
Upon being welcomed into the lounge, my first priority was to get a shower and there was ample rooms for showers, though the shower room was a bit smaller than the one I was provided with in terminal 2. After refreshing myself, it was time for dinner as I was quite hungry, though the food selection seems subpar compared to my last visit in Terminal 2. Furthermore, the lounge ran out of the Cheng Tng that I wanted to try, so I headed out shortly after finishing my meal. But before that, I enquired if the flight has a Japanese meal as I wanted to change my book-the-cook meal to a Japanese meal. The customer service rep at the lounge helped me check my flight and told me to enquire aboard the flight.
Had to pass through security first at the gate and I noticed boarding has already started though there were still some people around. I proceeded to board and upon entering the plane, the business class cabin was already packed, which meant no photos of the cabin tonight especially since its such a short red eye flight. I think only 3 or 4 seats were empty in the flight and my seat mate was already seated. Somehow this seat mate reminds me of my university Econs professor in his appearance. However he chose to sleep through the flight after take-off, which meant a quiet flight even with a seat-mate.
Due to the packed flight, the crew seemed particularly busy when i boarded. The stewardess serving my aisle was a Japanese lady and the business class cabin seems to be full of Japanese tourists and businessmen. Business class seems fully occupied for this late night flight, and thus the service was not comparable to other of my SQ flights. Furthermore the red-eye flight might also mean that the stewardess expected many to sleep through until arrival in Japan. They did still offer welcome drinks (I got another glass of Apple Bliss) and hot towels and on take-off, the crew distributed the amenity kits and eyeshades. Though considering my seat mate was already asleep, I recommend SQ just leaves the amenity kits and eyeshades in the seats so that passengers can use them immediately if they want to sleep.
The bulkhead Business class seat on the 777-200 seems to be more spacious compared to those on the Airbus A330, though there are certain differences in the seat controls and inflight entertainment system. The 777-200 is an older plane in SQ’s fleet and thus the inflight entertainment (IFE) was the older version which has lower definition, less choices and generally subpar to many other IFE systems.
The crew took a second drink order and started with the meal service once we are in the air. I ordered Iced Milo and it was presented with a bowl of nuts before the main course. As I mentioned earlier, I changed my mind and decided for the Japanese meal instead of the Book-the-Cook meal that I had pre-ordered. The stewardess was very professional in her reply and mentions that they will need to wait until all passengers are catered for before making a decision. Since I know many of the passengers would not be dining, I did not worry about it. In the end I did get the Japanese Hanakoireki meal and it was composed of 2 bento boxes. The first box was served first and it comprised of the sakizuke of squid, jellyfish and spicy cod roe salad, a sunomono of torched yellowtail with ponzu jelly, and shiizakana of crabmeat terrine, with Udon as the carbs. The torched yellowtail with ponzu jelly was the highlight here and the udon can be very filling for such a late night flight.
The next box that was served contained saba sushi, takiawase of lilybud dumpling with quail and foie gras, kuchitori of black bean in pine needle Miso marinated egg yolk, yakimono of Grill miso marinated Spanish Mackerel, served with gohan and conger eel teriyaki, and a bowl of Miso Soup. With the udon, the rice served in the second bento was too much compared to the portion of the eel. The highlight in the second box was the grill mackerel and saba sushi, while the eel was a disappointment.
Overall, the Japanese meal had a multitude of flavours and was very traditional in taste though I suspect some of the ingredients used was not of the highest quality (particularly the eel). It was a very good meal though and I did not regret my decision to forgo my Book-the-Cook meal. Another note is that this dish is very filling and much more so in the late night flight. I suggest less carbs or a more simplified bento with higher quality food as that would be more fitting for a supper. Throughout the meal, I asked for green tea as my beverage and the beverage service was noticeably less visible, again something attributable to a busy and red-eye flight.
The finale for the meal was a dessert of chestnut cake and when I asked for fruits to go along with the meal, the stewardess said no fruits were loaded on this flight though they had some grapes which I was able to get in addition to the cake. The chestnut cake was good as dessert but I would not say it was spectacular.
I reclined my seat and was able to get a pretty good sleep, waking up only when the cabin lights was lit up in preparation for the descent as I got woken up by the pilot’s announcement. The flight actually arrived earlier than expected in Haneda, and this meant a very short flight that might be very tiring since it is not possible to sleep for a long time. Though the early landing meant I was one of the first to disembark. Even by detouring to take a photo of the plane, I was able to pass by the passport control, collected my luggage and onboard the airport limousine bus to Shinjuku within 25 minutes. Wonderful efficiency from the Japanese!
The short overnight flight reminds me once again why I hate red-eye flights. On paper it sounds good as you don’t waste the time travelling by sleeping in the plane and even save a night of lodging fees. But for such a short flight, you do not get enough sleep and the hotels don’t really cater to your early arrival. And you might arrive tired meaning you spend the afternoon resting. And finally there is always a lower level of cabin service onboard as the flight attendants are in nocturnal mode too! It is not the best arrangement though for those in a hurry it makes sense to do so.