Sunday, September 6, 2009

Flying SQ to Rome in Business


This Trip Report is about my trip to Italy in June 2009. I planned to fly Singapore Airlines to Rome because they were offering a 2-to-go Business Class Corporate Fare of US$3050 per person (compared to their usual US$5000+)! Thus, my mum (who was on a business trip) decided to let me tag along :)

We originally planned to fly non-stop to Rome but I wanted to try the new Business Class product on the A380 and the Boeing 77W. The A380 flights to London and Paris were sold out on the promotional fare, so we had to fly to Milan and then take a short domestic flight on Lufthansa Italia to Rome.

I was excited about this trip for a few reasons:

1. My first 77W flight

2. My first Lufthansa Italia flight

3. My first trip to Italy

Departure Airport

As usual, I arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 3 a good 2½ hours before the flight. Terminal 3 never fails to amaze every time I step in. The supporting columns and beams are clad with a warm wood while the ceiling is made of thousands of metal panels forming a floating effect. I walked to Row 6 to the SQ Business Class check-in.

Check-in went smoothly and within minutes my bag was tagged and on the conveyor belt. With time on my hands I could not wait to go to the new SilverKris Lounge. Having been to the old one many times, I must say that it is a significant improvement but still cannot match the likes of Qantas, BA or Cathay Pacific. The lounge has a limited selection of food and people were all crowded around 1 TV showing the match between Kuznetsova and Stosur in the French Open.

After being in the lounge for about an hour, I decided to proceed to the boarding gate. One thing I dislike about Changi is the very misleading signs “boarding”, “last call” on the FIDS. When they say boarding, they really mean, “the gate is open”. When they say, “gate closing”, they really mean “we are just starting to board”. It is a very Singaporean way of doing things – in a very hurried or scared to lose manner.

When we arrived at the boarding gate, there was no one there. Everybody had boarded and the time was only 2320! We hurried through security and boarded through door A. A familiar sensation tingled through me, a combination of excitement and nerves.

The Flight

Route: Singapore (SIN) – Milan Malpensa (MXP)

Flight: SQ378

Carrier: Singapore Airlines (SQ)

Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (9V-SWP)

Scheduled Flying Time: 12h 45m

Scheduled Departure Time (actual): 2345 (2333)

Scheduled Arrival Time (actual): 0630+1 (0616+1)

Seat: 21K (Business Class)

As I set foot on board, the Leading Stewardess showed me through the galley to the right aisle and I walked to my seat. As I walked through the cabin, I was quite amazed at the size of the seats. I took my seat and my mum took hers (21F). I was quietly settling down when a kebaya-clad stewardess, with the greenest eye shadow I have even seen, stuck her face right in-front of mine. She tried to say “Good evening sir, would you like a newspaper” in her Chinese accent. I politely declined and she went on sticking her face in other passengers’ faces!

After that the situation was generally normal and followed the standard Singapore Airlines Business Class procedure:

- Offer Magazine or Newspaper

- Offer Drink

- Collect drink

- Distribute menu

- Enquire about drink selection after take-off

The pilot announced that we were going to be taking-off early and that we planned to be on the ground in Milan at 0610 local time.

The aircraft push backed at 2333, way ahead of the scheduled local time. The safety video rolled and I am proud to say that I have memorized the entire video!

Within five minutes of pushback, we were on the threshold of runway 02C. The powerful GE90-115B engines hurled us down the runway but near the end of the runway, the aircraft gently pointed its nose up toward the sky and we disappeared into the night.

As soon as the seatbelt sign was extinguished I whipped out my camera and started taking photos of my seat from different angles.

I decided to go and explore the aircraft after that. The first stop was the lavatory.

I came back to my seat and there was a bowl of assorted nuts and my drink sitting by the side. As I sat down, a stewardess in green approached me for my meal choice. As she finished my order, I turned on the highly acclaimed IFE system.

After about 15 minutes, the meal service started. The crew came and dressed our table and served us with our starter; Thai style spicy scallop-green mango salad with mesclun.

I finished my starter and a stewardess promptly cleared my table and brought me a new set of cutlery for my main course.

They were offering 3 types of Mains

  1. Grilled sirloin in red wine sauce, braised red cabbage, baby carrot, Kenyan bean and Yukon gold-blue cheese potatoes. (exclusively created by Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill, New York.
  2. Singapore style fish vermicelli soup
  3. Chicken and mushroom pie with buttered vegetables

I chose the first option; the sirloin.

The meat was very chewy and tasteless, so I just ate the vegetables. Once again, the crew efficiently cleared my meal and brought the “finale” a simple slice of Rockmelon.

After the meal was over, I converted my sear into a bed without much difficulty. Being only 5’ 5” tall, it was a comfortable fit for me.

I woke up at around 4am (Milan time); refreshed after a 7-hour sleep. I freshened up in the lavatory and then returned to my seat. It was then that I noticed that seats 20A and 20K had no window that you could look out of.

After a while, the cabin lights were gently turned on. Then, I could see the mood lighting on the aircraft.

The stewardess in the green kebaya came over to me and asked me what I would like for breakfast. I informed her of my selection and she went on to ask other passengers. I drew the window shades and caught my first glimpse of Europe from above.

The breakfast service commenced with the serving of a slice of papaya on a banana leaf.

The choices for breakfast were:

1. A selection of Oriental Dim Sum

2. Apple pancakes with honey, chicken sausages and roasted tomatoes

3. Poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, veal sausage, grilled tomato and potatoes

I chose the pancakes for my main course.

After breakfast was over, we commenced our descent into Milan Malpensa. From my window, I could see the top of the Alps; a truly remarkable sight.

Soon, we were on the final into Milan Malpensa.

The aircraft slowly descended into the airport until the wheels finally touched the threshold of the runway and, without reverse thrusters, the aircraft came to a stop. We taxied to our gate and I managed to catch a glimpse of the Lufthansa Italia plane we would be flying on in a couple of hours.

Immigration was fast and efficient and we had our bags within 25 minutes of arrival.


Booking System & Call Centre 8/10

Check-in 8/10

Lounge (if applicable) 8/10

Boarding 10/10

Flight Punctuality 10/10

Aircraft 8/10

Product 9/10

Service 8/10

Food 5/10

IFE (if applicable) 8/10


Total Score 82%

After arriving, we took the lift up onto the departure level and arrived there at around 7am local time. There were many people in the airport leaving on morning departures. We proceeded to the Lufthansa machines, bright yellow in colour.

After we checked-in and selected our seats, we went through security and into the Lufthansa lounge. My mum’s Star Alliance Gold allowed us into the lounge. The lounge was small with only about 4 people inside. The lounge felt more like a small cafeteria and not a lounge.

At about 7:55, we went down to the gate, to be early for the 8:30 departure. The departure gate was packed with people on this flight. They called for passengers on LH1760 to Milan to board the bus to the remote stand. The bus meandered between luggage carts, taxiing aircraft and fuel trucks to reach the remote stand.

The Flight

Route: Milan Malpensa (MXP) – Rome Fiumicino (FCO)

Flight: LH1760

Carrier: Lufthansa Italia (LH)

Aircraft: Airbus A319 (D-AKNI)

Scheduled Flying Time: 55m

Scheduled Departure Time (actual): 0830 (0832)

Scheduled Arrival Time (actual): 0925 (0921)

Seat: 15A (Economy Class)

We got off the bus and started to move up the stairs onto the aircraft. Slowly but surely the passengers boarded and soon, I was onboard. The aircraft was just like any other A319 I have been on.

At 0832, the aircraft began pushback and the safety demonstration was done in Italian and English. We taxied to the runway and blasted off into the clear Italian sky. Once airborne, the crew began the meal service. We were served a blueberry muffin with accompanied by a selection of non-alcoholic beverages.

Lufthansa Italia

Not too long after, the A319 began its gentle descent into Rome-Fiumicino. The aircraft wheels touched down gently and we taxied to a remote stand next to a Lufthansa A321. There, I caught a glimpse of the Singapore Airlines B772 which I might have been on, but the extra money was worth every cent!

The bags took forever to come out. We waited there for 40 minutes before our bags arrived.


Booking System & Call Centre 8/10

Check-in 9/10

Lounge (if applicable) 5/10

Boarding 7/10

Flight Punctuality 10/10

Aircraft 8/10

Product 7/10

Service 7/10

Food 7/10

IFE (if applicable) -/10


Total Score 75.6%

Thanks for reading. Look out for my upcoming TR’s on the return leg of this trip and another TR on my Jetstar flight!