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My Farewell to the Spacebed (SQ391 IST-SIN in J)

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  • My Farewell to the Spacebed (SQ391 IST-SIN in J)

    I S T A N B U L
    The sky's a gloomy gray. The light drizzle keeps the temperatures at a single digit on this overcast morning. Not the best atmosphere to explore the city that straddles two continents, but this lone SQTalker is no less charmed by its historical charm that has amazed travellers for centuries. But why was I in a city 5000 miles away from home in the first place?

    Ever since SQ announced its intention to refurbish all remaining 777-200ERs, I was longing to enjoy the Spacebed J seats one last time. IST had award space, and I snagged it in a heartbeat. I have a tendency to be emotionally attached to (most) older aircraft and seats, most notably SQ's 744s, even though their offerings lack the modernity that other airplanes boast. I'm also part of the 0.00000001% of travellers who enjoy sleeping on slopy surfaces, so you can say I was thrilled to have this opportunity.

    My love for the Spacebed has developed from years of flying the KUL-SIN runs, where 772ERs featured at least once a day (when SQ and MH still dominated the route). Heck, it was also the very first Business seat I'd ever sat on. I just had to say goodbye one last time.


    The city's metro system is fairly easy to navigate, and I'm at the Sultanahmet area in no time.

    A visit to the Blue Mosque and Haga Sofia when in Istanbul is about as essential as posing infront of the Eiffel Tower on your first visit to Paris, and that was exactly what I set out to do.

    The equally breathtaking Haga Sofia

    Asia lies on the other side of the Bosphorus river.

    The metro isn't quite comparable to the Narita Express, but it gets the job done efficiently.

    Three hours before my 1325 departure, I was back at the airport metro station.

    Ataturk's check in hall isn't overly impressive, though it does seem a tad more organized than my last visit.

    It took a bit of effort to locate SQ's counters, where long queues had already formed, even at the priority lines which made me wonder if anyone was queuing where they shouldn't have been. 15 minutes later, I was processed by a smily agent in his mid 20's.

    He was easily the chattiest check in agent I've ever come across, taking about everything from the Petronas Twin Towers (after noticing my passport) to luggage brands and the weather. He even took out a subway map and circling the stations I should stop by on my next visit, much to the bemusement of a business traveller still standing in line, now looking straight at us while tapping his watch. With a blue boarding pass in hand, it was time to move on.

  • #2
    SQ's J passengers get access to the priority immigration lines, which were deserted when I arrived. Too deserted, I think. I proceeded to a counter and presented my passport, but the officer - with his face buried as he whatsapp'ed someone far more important than the foreigner infront of him whom he hardly notices - really wasn't doing any favors for his country's image. In all fairness, I can't say I'm not used to it. Not when I've seen officers slumped on their desks in a certain Malaysian airport that claims to be the best for several years straight.

    IST airside is a hive of activity. Thanks to TK's massive expansion that rivals EK's, IST is filled with passengers from all corners of the globe. A Chinese passenger on his way to Sudan. An Argentinian couple on their way to the Maldives, possibly for their honeymoon, and a Singapore-bound Malaysian aviation nut with a sharp eye.

    The much-documented TK CIP Lounge - touted to be the best J lounge in the world - is a great way to escape from the masses.

    There's already a comprehensive report on this lounge by Carfield, so I won't go too much into the details. One thing's for sure: It's hard to lower my expectations of airline lounges from now on.

    Okay, so a good percentage of the masses seem to be *G members (I even saw quite a few A3 baggage tags) or J travellers as I had a hard time finding an empty spot.

    An unquenchable sweet tooth you say? This lounge will prove you wrong.

    I wonder, does a performer in a tuxedo drop by in the evenings taking song requests for jolly singalongs well into the night?

    I tried a bit of everything, and found myself craving for more. Hey, I might have added a few pounds to my skinny frame. My grandmother will be so proud.

    Indescribably delicious Turkish food
    Last edited by SilverChris; 21 April 2013, 10:06 PM.


    • #3
      I'd scheduled my shower to be an hour before departure, and being a TK Elite seemed to have some form of queue-jumping priority. On second thought, it might have had something to do with complimenting the agent on her nice hairstyle

      Spacious and modern shower room

      Initially, I was impressed by its modernity. The controls are operated by sliding the bars, something I came across for the first time.

      Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be a door convering the shower area, which meant there was nothing stopping the water from flowing out. I'm not sure if the designers somehow let this slip their mind, or if practicality wasn't on the top of their to-do list. It's all a bit of a mystery.

      I bade the lounge a fond farewell, promising to return sometime in the future. Gate 304 was quite a walk from the lounge, and it was amazing to walk past boarding gates with literally every single one being in use at the time. Think of it as walking from the SKL all the way to A21 with every gate occupied by aircraft arriving or departing at the same time.

      My worst fears were confirmed when I stepped of the escalator. We'd be boarding a bus this afternoon.

      Ok, so the KUL LCCT isn't THAT bad after all

      What seemed like the boarding announcement for SQ391 was made through the PA system as I arrived at gate 304, though it seemed that the only words passengers needed to hear were "Singapore" and "boarding". Let the stampede begin.

      There were two lines for boarding as always, with one being the priority lane. The four agents weren't doing a very good job controlling the crowd as they constantly shoved and pushed their way through. The (overly) talkative agent was present as well, verifying BPs at the priority lane. He turned away every single green BP holder, which caused quite a ruckus.

      "This lane not SQ391 to Singapore, ah? What's the difference? You're holding up people you know! What kind of system is this?" ranted a Singaporean auntie. I could have thought of a dozen sarcastic remarks, though I kept my cool and politely squeezed past her with a "'scuse me". Not that the priority lane made a difference, though. Most of us boarded the same bus, anyway. Yup, that's the second time in a row I boarded a bus at Ataturk.

      As an airplane nut, being able to drive past planes up close was some form of consolation. As the bus pulled up ahead of 9V-SVM's huge left Trent 892, and I was first to step off the sardines-in-a-can vehicle.

      My heart was filled with excitement as I climbed the stairs leading to door L2. As though I'd won a cross-country marathon, the smiling green Kebaya greeted me with something unexpected. "Congrats for being number 1, Mr SilverChris! Welcome onboard!". I guess it was safe to assume that a wonderful flight was ahead of me
      Last edited by SilverChris; 22 April 2013, 06:47 PM.


      • #4
        A charming Malay FSS, Aishah, came up to me and without looking at my BP, said "Welcome onboard Mr SilverChris, this way please. Allow me to assist you with your hand luggage". She could be a mind reader, or I may have been the only one with an Asian surname on the manifest. Either way, the level of sincerity and friendliness were just keen reminders on how I fell in love with this airline.

        My seat, 16K

        After stowing my belongings, I snapped a few pictures of the seats. Shan, a young Mainland Chinese FA (who looked stunning in her blue Kebaya) came over and offered to take a picture of me posing with the seats.

        "The Biggest Bed In The Sky"

        While she was perfectly friendly, her actions were a bit more "by the book" (read: robotic) and was less engaging than Aishah. I couldn't fault her service at all, though it became a bit predictable and unmemorable. The regulars would know the drill. Hot towels, symmetrical smile; welcome drinks, symmetrical smile; address by name, symmetrical smile; newspapers and magazines, symmetrical smile. Not that I'm complaining or anything. It's meant to be a compliment as I think I do take it for granted at times, and with my previous TK flight having rock-bottom "service", it's much appreciated.

        Now, back to the flight. I had initally chosen the infamous 11K, though switched it to 16K after realizing that 16H would be occupied by the tech crew who wouldn't be always be seated there. Certainly beats having a seatmate at 11H, IMO.

        Menus and noise cancelling headphones were already placed in the seat pocket

        As I settled into my seat, I couldn't help but savour that wonderful feeling of being reunited with an old friend, the Spacebed, which also serves as a keen reminder of the former Raffles Class.

        The biggest bed in Business Class - Measuring, with armrests lowered, an impressive 69 cm (27 inches) wide and 198 cm (6 feet, 6 inches) long, this extra space allows you more freedom to work, relax or sleep. The Italian-Swiss designed SpaceBed offers you unparalleled comfort, from the multiple seating positions, to the lie-flat sleeping mode at a comfortable angle of 8 degrees inflight.

        Inspired by space-age technology, the unique cushioning conforms to your individual body shape. And because all SpaceBeds are forward facing and fitted with adjustable screen dividers, you will welcome the improved privacy and personal space when working, relaxing or sleeping. The SpaceBed has unique armrests, which lower to provide extra width, allowing you more room to sleep on your side or back.

        In addition, specially designed retractable screens provide unprecedented shoulder space, giving you a greater sense of freedom. Another nice touch is the extra storage space for shoes and other personal belongings. And if you wish to work onboard, every seat has its own 110-volt AC laptop power supply.

        *SpaceBeds are available only on:
        - A340-500 services ; B777-200ER services
        - MEGATOP B747 services between Singapore and Europe, USA and on most flights into Australia, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
        It may not be the flattest, widest or nicest among today's J products, but it's still pretty comfortable for lounging around. Legroom is great as well.

        Welcome drink (water)

        Like most European flights' lunch services, satay was on offer.

        Lunch menu

        Snack menu

        Breakfast menu
        Last edited by SilverChris; 22 April 2013, 09:30 PM.


        • #5
          If Skytrax added a new category for the "Most mundane safety video", SQ would have another feather to its cap.


          It's not just the gates that are full: you'd be hard pressed to find a spot at the remote area.

          Runway 35R for takeoff!

          ...or not. TPE springs into mind now.

          We began our powerful takeoff run and were airborne at 1340.

          Goodbye, Istanbul!

          Time to fire up Krisworld!

          IFE controls


          • #6
            Hurrah! An AVOD system that works!

            The captain (out of his uniform for now) took his seat beside me and was promptly taken care off by the crew. Shan, the FA serving my aisle, came round with post-takeoff drinks. I had a Singapore Sling.

            Satay time!

            Satay and a Singapore Sling high above the clouds. Life could be harder

            Aishah and Shan serving the appetizers

            The appetizer was nicely presented, and tasted just as well. Kudos to SQ for not going with a boring salad appetizer

            For the main course, I went with the seared garoupa pasta which was rather dry and tasteless. Shan must have had too many tasks to juggle, as the passengers around me were having their mains cleared before I'd even received mine. A red tie came over with a choice of desserts and was shocked to learn that I'd yet to receive my main. A minute later he returned with it and apologized profusely for keeping me waiting. "So sorry, it's all my girl's fault. Please take your time", referring to Shan. I wasn't hungry and was in no hurry to sleep, so it didn't bother me one bit. Still, Shan came over personally and apologized, though I assured her there was nothing to worry about.

            To give you an idea on how long the wait was:

            This is the scene before Anne Hathaway was thrown out of the factory in Lé Miserables.

            And this is the tear-inducing scene where she sang I dreamed a dream.

            And it took another 5 minutes from there. Again, I'm not complaining, as the load was 28/29 (or 29/30 if you count the captain) and being seated at the last row and being only 5'8, I don't blame her for overlooking me.

            The tasteless main course
            Last edited by SilverChris; 23 April 2013, 04:56 PM.


            • #7

              Overflying some stunning terrain

              Over Iranian airspace

              I've complained about airline desserts that lack inspiration, though I've no complaints when there's ice cream!

              Cheese and pralines to wrap up a satisfying meal.

              Green Tea

              Bottled water

              Cabin view after lunch

              SQFG™ leg shots royalty fees have become so high, I don't think it's sustainable to include them in future TRs anymore!

              A stunning sunset had me glued to the window. This would be the last rays of sunlight we'd be seeing on today's flight.

              I planned to have a nap and wake up after two hours to "maximise" the experience, and reclined the seat into the fully flat position.

              The Spacebed is far from flat, but it was comfortable enough to knock me out for about six whole hours. Excellent for an angled flat product IMO. Unfortunately, my original plan went up in smoke. But hey, maybe part of the experience was to get a decent amount of sleep

              Shan was right next to me as I opened my eyes. "Good morning, Mr SilverChris. Hot towel for you?"

              Back in the tropics
              Last edited by SilverChris; 22 April 2013, 09:23 PM.


              • #8
                Nice TR

                Brings back memories of my first J trip in SQ Spacebed on the HKG-SFO route (SQ2) 6.5 years back (Oct 2006). It was the first time I slept so soundly on an airplane and it was also this experience that made me crave for more flying in the premium cabins

                Since then, I had been on the Spacebed for maybe 2-3 more times ? And I still feel that this product has indeed set the high standard for J-seat!


                • #9
                  I took a stroll into the Economy cabin before breakfast. This aircraft is among the last to have SQ's previous generation of blue/purple seat covers.

                  I just don't have the appetite for breakfasts in the sky. Period. Even more so on an overnight/red eye flight. But heck, I wouldn't want to let the food go to waste, so..

                  Fruits to begin with


                  The eggs and hash browns were surprisingly good.

                  Only an hour to go!

                  Time for a round of Inflight Trivia!

                  Where my journey began several days ago. The end is near

                  We lined up with the usual 20C and made a smooth touchdown ahead of schedule.

                  We had a long taxi to the other side of the airport towards T2, or so I thought. It was still dark outside, but I could still make out a Delta A330 beside us as we pulled in. But wait, isn't DL at T1?

                  Anyway, I took my time to pack up and gather my belongings. Saying goodbye is never easy. It wasn't until then that I really appreciated all those KUL-SIN runs with these wonderful seats.

                  As the saying goes, you'll never know what you've had till the day you lose it. I bade goodbye to the wonderful crew, and (reluctantly) stepped out of one of my most memorable SQ flights.
                  Last edited by SilverChris; 23 April 2013, 06:18 AM.


                  • #10

                    9V-SVM in the dark

                    Directions to T2

                    Hang on, that wasn't the last I saw of Aishah. As I was walking along the travellator, I heard someone running from behind. Must be a traveller late for his/her flight, I thought, but no. Instead, I heard "Mr SilverChris! Wait! your jacket!"

                    Thanks for reading.

                    Edit: I'm aware of the error which prevents the images from being displayed. I've rectified it, though I'm still trying to figure out why they aren't showing yet.
                    Last edited by SilverChris; 23 April 2013, 04:39 PM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SilverChris View Post
                      There were two lines for boarding as always, with one being the priority lane. The four agents weren't doing a very good job controlling the crowd as they constantly shoved and pushed their way through. The (overly) talkative agent was present as well, verifying BPs at the priority lane. He turned away every single green BP holder, which caused quite a ruckus.
                      I remember the queues for boarding SQ 391 to be claustrophobic back in December. Here in SIN, there is a Turkish speaker at the gate when they board SQ 392. I think they should make trilingual gateside pre-boarding announcements at IST so that pax don't rush the entrance at an already claustrophobic gate there.
                      Le jour de Saint Eugène, en traversant la Calle Mayor...


                      • #12
                        I love the lounge decoration at IST .. A touch of Ottoman Empire within. But my last trip was at midnight on TK to CGK and its over crowded. Toilet looks great too

                        Great TR SilverChris


                        • #13
                          I dig how people are saying, "Goodbye," to these seats while [bonehead] airlines keep installing similar ones on their new aircraft.
                          HUGE AL


                          • #14
                            Thanks SilverChris for this TR!

                            Originally posted by HUGE AL View Post
                            I dig how people are saying, "Goodbye," to these seats while [bonehead] airlines keep installing similar ones on their new aircraft.
                            So after this great TR SilverChris invested quite some time in this is all you can come up with? Constructive feedback and/or on-topic replies are not really your thing, is it?


                            • #15
                              Fantastic TR SilverChris! Thoroughly enjoyable read along with some great photos. Glad you had an enjoyable flight and I look forward to more write-ups from your future travels.
                              The world's too large a place not to go wandering.