Cobblestone Flight Review: CPH-SIN-AKL on Singapore and Air New Zealand

2015-03-09 12.19.19

Man, after that trip, a night in a bed was much needed!

Referring back to a previous post, this trip has given me a long awaited chance to throw this particular status post up on Facebook: “Landed in SIN.” 😉 Other than that small twinkle, I must admit that the trip’s main feature is that it was long. As in loooong. But not without redeeming features.

A little bit of sub-optimal online check-in from the outset: only first leg possible and no go for mobile boarding pass. Singapore Airlines allows check-in 48 hours before departure and I got in reasonably early in that time window. No particularily good seats – but, true to experience, I did pick an aisle seat in the middle section of the 777’s 3-3-3 configuration. Always go for the chance to be beside an empty seat – which held up, it turned out.

And that was a lifesaver! Here is a piece of weight-worth-in-gold traveller advice:

Do not pick a D seat on SIA’s 777s!

Seatguru didn’t mention it at all – but there’s a big entertainment box underneath all of the D seats – taking up almost half the footspace. The Norwegian guy at the F seat confirmed that it was consistent on Singapore airlines. Would have been grim for 12+ hours without the extra space besides me. (And yes, I did send Seatguru feedback on this so it may be added to their database, hopefully). Hearsay will have it that this is true for C seats as well – haven’t been able to confirm that so far, but maybe be doubtful of those, too.

2015-03-10 11.47.29Other than that, the Singapore flight was run-of-the-mill: pushback right on time, full service on board (listening, SAS?), lots of water and juice runs by the crew, landed just a tad ahead of schedule. If I should point fingers at anything, the inflight entertainment system was actually not very good – the screens had to be looked at just at that angle and the sound quality was very poor. Don’t think I heard more than half the spoken lines in “Fury”.

Changi is absolutely an OK airport – in any case I only had about an hour from coming off the plane until scheduled boarding. The free and available wireless is much appreciated – that was where the “SIN” joke came in along with Emails to home saying so far, so good and catching up the latest about the work for the trip. I walked up to Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer Gold lounge but must admit I was disappointed in what’s presumably their showpiece, home base offering. Large, ok – but also largely full. And especially, I had hoped for it to have facilities for freshening up a bit – after all, the region has many long-distance connections. But no. Nada.

So I left again and walked to A15 instead of using the Skytrain the last bit of the way. Needed the blood circulation! Through security at the gate, and then it was time to figure out why I hadn’t been able to check in for this flight from home: My itinerary goes to Auckland and home from Melbourne with nothing listed in between. The system found that too odd to handle automatically.

2015-03-10 11.49.51Of course, my TripIt itinerary at this point also include the inter-NZ flights as well as the AKL-MEL flight that connects the dots and once that was entered into the computer there, I was good to go. I asked if any better seating had appeared and got 47A – window exit row. There should have been someone in 47B – no show, apparently, as I had these two seats to myself.

And here is where the really good stuff started happening. First I walked down to the aft gallery and asked the cabin crew if they expected any of the maybe five empty middle sections might remain empty. Air NZ flies the 777 in a 3-4-3 configuration and so I figured that stealing one of those would be brilliant and allow me to stretch out and get a 2-3 hour top off of sleep as the CPH-SIN had offered some but nothing solid.

Do remember: ask first – the crew does not like you moving seat without permission before reaching flight altitude due to weight balancing!

Turned out they’d be free. And Debbie, the cabin attendant who had her crew seat for take-off facing me at row 47 took a keen interest in my well-being after hearing that I’d flown 12 hours to get to Singapore. She discussed the case with her colleague across while we climed to 33,000 feet and literally jumped up at the signal from the seat-belt sign. First, she landed me in a four-seat block but then immediately upped that by finding me a Skycouch™. Basically, these three-seat sections have a foot-rest thingy that clicks all the way up in horizontal and closes the gap to the seats in front so that it becomes a bed when you raise the arm rests. Then you get a seatbelt extender that hooks into a solid D-ring in the back of the middle seat in front and presto: Bed 🙂

Served me well for 2½ hours – a choice of mine not to take more as landing time in AKL would be just short of midnight and I’d like to have some sleep left in me.

One more thing to say about the Air New Zealand flight – first airline I’ve been on to sport book shelf wall paper and music playing in the lavatories (top picture, check the titles – photo quality allowing – they’re quite amusing).

On the approach to AKL, I asked Debbie about her tips for people who are new to the world of frequent and long-distance travelling. Her two main gems were:

Keep hydrated!
(your cabin crew comes around regularily with water and juice – take some! Or drink what you carried onboard. Just do it!)
– and –
Make good use of your cabin crew – ask for help, assistance, advice, something to drink… That’s what we’re there for!
(my personal additional comment to that: remember to give them back a smile and a word of praise. Makes their day – and yours – much better! Karma, you know.)

Before I jump into ratings, my one remaining worry doesn’t reflect on SIA or AirNZ – but on the revised SAS EuroBonus earning tables. In the week before this trip, I learned that my booking class on LOT to WAW didn’t count for anything at all. And from a short look, I didn’t spot booking class “V” in the table. Have to say: Hey SAS – if we fly, we fly. And if you want the frequent flyer programme to be a loyalty programme, you should consider giving us something to be loyal about…

Cobblestones, then. On the first leg alone, the D seat entertainment box and the sub-par entertainment system would take off probably two. Some travellers would be harsher – but as I normally don’t use the screens much, I’ll let it go at that.

On the other hand, the Air New Zealand experience surely puts those two stones back in the rating. Nothing short of stellar – I only hope that I adequately repaid Debbie by giving some useful tips for when she and her family will be coming through CPH (and Copenhagen) a bit later in the spring.

And then I haven’t even mentioned the Hobbitesque safety video. It’s been all over the Interwebs so you may have seen it. If not, do – it’s such a refreshing brush up of a rather boring genre.

Altogether then, an average of 5 – 4 for SIA and 6 for Air NZ.

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