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Old 19th October 2015, 06:36 PM   #1
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Default SQ and LX: Geneva and London on 5 Aircraft Types



I celebrated my new found but brief freedom from the corporate world at the end of 2014, and welcomed the 2015 with a much needed vacation to Shanghai and Beijing. I sought to recuperate, and regain my mental and physical well-being. The next couple of months after that trip were a blur… I only recall heading to the gym several times a week, savoring brunch, dinners with friends, enjoying concerts, taking short vacations in the region, catching up on lots of sleep, and time with the family.

I was enjoying this transient state of ‘unemployment’ tremendously! Too much to be honest. It was indescribably blissful to wake up in the morning knowing that you have nothing planned for the rest of the day; or working out in an empty gym because everyone else was at work.

Ever wondered why the day passes by so quickly when you are on a vacation? Well, idle times didn’t last, and those 6 months flew by in a flash. As much as I enjoyed every single minute of that existence, I knew it could and should not continue. I am way too young for early retirement.

It’s been 4 months since I settled into life in a new organisation. The perks and benefits are industry leading, and there’s a strong work-life balance culture. The perfect job? Almost….the trade off is a “YCL on the lowest logical fare” corporate travel policy. For someone based in Singapore, this typically means no SQ!

So here I am, in a new chapter of my life, penning a new trip report. This report covers my first work trip with the organisation.
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Old 19th October 2015, 06:37 PM   #2
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SIN - ZRH

The entire trip was ticketed on LX (operated on SQ metal for the first sector), on a fare so low that no miles could be accrued on Krisflyer. Time to kiss good bye to my *Gold privileges, and revert to a life of aimless roaming in depressing third world airports and consuming overpriced airport food. There’s probably only one thing I will really miss – my lounge privileges. I don’t need additional baggage allowances as I travel light; or priority waitlist as I have a travel agent who seem to perform miracles; or priority boarding since I always choose to sit at the back of the bus…

In association with Singapore’s 50th jubilee celebrations, SQ set up a mini display promoting their soon to be launched PEY product (now launched) and a history of how far they had come.













Was anyone here on the first commercial flight into Changi? I wasn’t, but I remember waking up that morning 34 years ago to watch the special news coverage of the SQ 727 touching down from KUL. My dad had spent the last few nights preparing for this move. I tagged along on one of those nights, helping him to pack his files into boxes in his office at Paya Lebar Airport, loading them in his car and driving to his spanking new office in Changi T1. Who could have imagined that years later, Changi Airport would be where it is today.



No SQ showcase would be complete without the Sarong Kebayas.

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Old 19th October 2015, 06:38 PM   #3
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SQ346 to ZRH is one of the few remaining flights to depart T3 in the evening. The terminal was serene and there was no sign of queues and passengers. Made a quick stopover at the Krisflyer Gold lounge. The KF Gold lounge was SQ’s way of separating the cheap Y frequent travelers from their preferred customers. The unappetizing and limited choice of food only serves to confirm this.











Y was only 70% full tonight. The first and second Y cabins were packed, but plenty of potential “lie-flat beds” could be found in the last Y cabin. I had strategically chosen the last row starboard aisle seat this evening. As soon as the cabin door was closed, several passengers from the forward cabins made their way into the last cabin hunting for empty rows. I had taken the aisle seat, and guarded my row jealously. There was no reason why anyone would want to occupy my windowless-window seat. My choice paid off handsomely. It was soon apparent that I would have 3 seats to myself tonight. In any case, avoiding eye contact and looking unapproachable ensured my row remained empty! Curtains immediately behind my row were drawn shut during the flight, cutting off any light, unwelcomed smells from the lavatories or peers from passengers loitering at the open area behind me. It was the best seat in the house.





Menus and amenity kits were handed out after take-off. I brought my own noise cancelling headphones this time, and saved myself the pain of enduring muffled soundtracks on SQ’s ear buds. Seriously, did no one test the sound quality before procuring them?







No bar service was conducted on this late night flight. Orange, apple juice and beer were presented to passengers from a tray, while peanuts were handed out separately. This was followed by supper some 45 minutes later.
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Old 19th October 2015, 06:38 PM   #4
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SQ346 is a supper and breakfast service flight. Supper was served front to back, and breakfast back to front to ensure that passengers had at least one meal of their choice. The quality and quantity of the meals were very good. I had the Asian option of deep fried five spice pork with barbeque sauce. The pork was tender and juicy and the sauce very fragrant.







Pineapple mousse with orange cardamom sauce – sinfully rich. Just the way I love my dessert.



Powered up the IFE to view the selection on offer. Krisworld now has web-cam capabilities… :bouncy:



Nope, it was just a scene from an episode of Modern Family. I wonder if SQ will ever have “Another Period” on KrisWorld?! Or will it be too morally wrong for inflight entertainment?

For some reason, I can no longer sit through an entire movie on board any flight nowadays. A sitcom or two and a short documentary are all that I can handle. Perhaps it’s the glare of the monitor in a darkened cabin that strains on my eyes, or I have become too lazy to follow any movie plot. My personal screen was set to flight path most of the time during the flight.

SQ’s fabric pillows are very comfortable – the perfect consistency and size, and not too flat. They offer exceptional lumbar support. Disposable pillow covers used on other airlines tend to absorb your body heat and feel warm after a while. Sure, they are environmentally friendlier and more hygienic, but they are just not comfortable to rest on.





A variety of quality snacks were available from the galley between the first and second meal service. For some reason, announcements are never made to inform passengers of this. You could help yourself to them in the galley, or wait for the crew to hand them out every couple of hours during the night. The pictures do not show the full range of snacks available. There were instant noodles for those yearning something hot.







Satiated, I prepared my bed and managed to get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before being awakened by the announcement to buckle up due to turbulence.
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Old 19th October 2015, 06:39 PM   #5
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Day break. Refreshing scented hot towels were handed out before breakfast was served 2.5 hours before arrival into ZRH.





My ¼ window view.



SQ offers western and asian choices for breakfast. Western choices are almost always omelette, occasionally poached eggs, and noodles or fried rice for the asian choice. I was pleasantly surprised that Lor Mai Kai and dim sum was served this time round. It was delicious, and a hit with many Singaporean passengers onboard.









Even on an overnight flight, SQ’s crew manages to strike a fine balance between attentive yet un-intrusive service. 12 hours on SQ always feels much shorter. I felt rested and was gearing to accomplish a couple of activities on arrival in ZRH.
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Old 19th October 2015, 06:40 PM   #6
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ZRH - GVA

All long haul flights arrive and depart in ZRH from the satellite concourse – E Gates. Transfer passengers such as myself would have to go through a fuss free security check, catch what I call the “Heidi Express” (those who have been on it will know why) to the main terminal, clear immigration and up a long flight of escalators before emerging onto the main concourse. There’s never a queue at immigration in ZRH. How do they do it?!



My connecting flight wasn’t till 4.5 hours later, and I wasn’t in the mood to shop for Rolex’s and IWCs. I exited air side, headed to the airport railway station and bought myself a return ticket into the city for a cuppa and some fresh air. It was a lovely albeit overcast morning. The temperature maintained comfortably at 19 degrees Celsius, a great contrast to the scorching heat that I was about to experience in Geneva.









After 2 hours in the city and a light breakfast later, I made my way back to the airport.





ZRH isn’t a large airport, but well laid out, elegantly furnished and plenty of designer cafes and shops.







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Old 19th October 2015, 06:42 PM   #7
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Headed to the Swiss Senator lounge for a quick snack and rest before my hop to Geneva. It’s a small, dimly lit lounge with limited natural light, split into 2.5 levels. Food selection isn’t as elaborate as what is offered in the Silver Kris lounge in Singapore, but certainly light years ahead of that awful Krisflyer Gold lounge. Your password for unlimited free wifi can be requested from the lounge reception. Free wifi is also available throughout the terminal, but unlike the lounge, you are only limited to 60 minutes of free surfing credits. These credits are refreshed every 6 hours.







We were bused to the aircraft that would take us to GVA.





The RJ100 is an interesting aircraft to be on. Its small 2 x 3 cabin and tiny overhead bins, presents a major storage problem as many passengers carried 1 piece of roll onboard bag. The aircraft also feels old-school compared to state of the art A380s or 77Ws. The fact that you are seated so close to the ground makes the take-off and landing experience seem more ‘real’! Every single bump on the tarmac could be felt.











It was akin to sitting on a theme park ride whenever the aircraft banked left or right. Being a fan of thrill rides, I enjoyed every single minute of the 45 minute flight!
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Old 19th October 2015, 06:43 PM   #8
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A bottle of water and the famous Swiss chocolates were handed out to everyone in Y by very polite and efficient cabin crew. Business Class gets served a light snack.



I’ve flown LX short haul several times on previous trips, and must confess they are as consistent as the Singapore Girls. They may appear a little more mature than the Singapore Girl, but they looked sharp in their LX uniform. Pre-take off announcements were made first in German, French then English. Prior to arrival in French speaking Geneva, announcements were made in French, German and English last. LX calls their Pursers/Cabin Manager/Inflight Supervisor Maitre D’Cabine - sounds a little more ‘Atas’ (High Class in Malay/Singlish) doesn’t it?

No, the aircraft wasn’t in a steep dive! :-O



Arrival in GVA





Notwithstanding the fact that a section of Geneva airport is literally on French soil, the rather aloof service staff and public transportation strikes, gives you the impression that you are in France! Geneva was experiencing a heat wave that week, with temperatures a searing 34-36 deg C.

It’s my second time staying at the Crowne Plaza. They never fail to deliver their signature cool, smile-less reception. The hotel seemed to be catering to large groups of tourists from China and Eastern Europe at this time of the year and the lobby sounded like a market place when I checked in.

Nice newish rooms, crisp sheets, sparkling clean bathrooms.





It wasn’t all work in Geneva. We had a little respite and went on a dinner-cruise along Lake Geneva. The pace and quality of life here feels quite different from what I am used to back home… has Singapore achieved the Swiss standard of living that our government once aimed for?







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Old 19th October 2015, 06:45 PM   #9
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After a packed week, it was time to head to my next port of call – London. I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend before starting another string of meetings.





GVA – LHR

Self service kiosks and bag drops lined the LX section of the terminal in GVA. I’ve become familiar with this by now - scan your passport, key in your FFP number or PNR, select seat (skip this if you’ve done so online and are happy with your choice), collect boarding pass and baggage tag, tag your bag, bring it to the counter, scan the barcode on your bagtag and wish it a pleasant flight. Sounds complicated? It isn’t. The process is positively intuitive. More importantly, you skip the queue at check-in altogether.







The LX/*Gold lounge in GVA is a little larger than the size of an old 5 room flat in Singapore. Slightly less food choices than its sister lounge in ZRH, and you can help yourself with as much Movenpick ice cream and Riiicolaaa as you want. Yes, that how the name sounds when I say it in my head…







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Old 19th October 2015, 06:45 PM   #10
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My LX A320 to LHR was parked at one of the satellite gates connected to the main terminal by an underground passage. Immigration was located at the end of this passage. Photo of the satellite was taken a couple of days before.













It was another short hop to LHR. Service was friendly and ran like clock-work. A small sandwich and drinks were served. Nothing fanciful, but at least you get fed on this 1h 40min flight.











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Old 19th October 2015, 06:46 PM   #11
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Weekend in London

The spanking new Queen’s Terminal designed by Luis Vidal and team looks impressive. It isn’t a very large terminal by any means, but is well designed and illuminated, and has clear signages. Unfortunately, the usual long queues at immigration persist. UK Immigration officer aren’t famous for their friendliness, but holding a Singapore passport generally helps to ensure that you don’t spend more than a minute being quizzed about your reason for visiting. I look forward to the day when Singapore passport holders are eligible to use those funky looking e-gates.

The SlipStream, a colossal metal sculpture spanning almost the entire length of T2, greets you as you exit or enter the terminal.



And then it was a 15 minute walk through a “psychedelic” tunnel leading to Heathrow station to catch the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station.



The Hilton Metropole is a 5 minute brisk walk from Paddington Station, 10 minutes if you are lugging along a 10kg luggage like I was. I could have taken a tube to Edgware Road Station, but I just felt like walking…

This is one hotel that I never want to stay in again. I expected cleaner and better furnished rooms from the Hilton brand. The bathroom stank of mildew, and the TV remote didn’t work. The room was very dimly lit. I had the same issue with my next hotel. Do the English like their bedrooms dim?

It could have been the walk I had through the psychedelic tunnel in Heathrow, but this room and the corridor leading to it gave me a spine tingling chill that I have never felt before. :scared: I called reception and asked for a room change. My request was granted. The second room was slightly better, but just as cramped.



I was up early on a beautiful Saturday morning and headed to Piccadilly Circus to queue for tickets to two musicals I had been meaning to catch. Les Miserable (matinee show), and The Book of Mormon in the evening.









Tickets for these two shows sell fast, so I was quite fortunate to get rather good seats to both of them. Feeling accomplished, and having a couple of hours to spare before the matinee, I did the touristy route on foot.







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Old 19th October 2015, 06:47 PM   #12
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I returned to the Queen’s Theatre in good time for Les Miserable. Now, I have seen the movie twice, and always thought Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks were superb in the movie. But nothing quite prepared me for my experience in this London production. To put it simply, the cast, the vocals and the set blew me away! There was not a single dry eye in the house when Eponine drew her last breath with “A Little Fall of Rain” or the final scene when Cosette found Jean Valjean at his death bed (chair) … there was no lack of energy from the cast despite this being a matinee show.



The Book of Mormon on the other extreme, left audiences in stitches. Hasa Diga Eebowai!

London never sleeps. The theatre crowd at 10pm on a Saturday night.



Headed back to the hotel…



This SONY billboard gave me the creeps…. He hears dead people.



Day 2 in London. Checked out and took a leisurely stroll to Oxford St and Hyde Park… couldn’t help comparing this Singapore’s version of Speakers’ Corner…







After lunch, it was time to pick my bags from the hotel and head off to Waterloo Station for my south bound train. Despite being one of the oldest subway systems in the world, the London underground is quite pleasant to ride on. Trains arrive at regular intervals, are relatively clean and comfortable to travel in. Londoners would most likely disagree with me, and perhaps I was riding in it on a weekend. Having said that, many stations looked like they had not been upgraded since the 1900s.

Waterloo Station is a huge terminus that connects the Waterloo underground station with all south west bound trains. Purchased my ticket at the booth and could choose from any service that made a stop in Farnborough.







It was a quick and comfortable commute out of London. The trains were rather empty on this Sunday evening but I would imagine that they would be packed during the weekday peak hours.



Arrived at Farnborough station with many more hours of day light to spare.

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Old 19th October 2015, 06:47 PM   #13
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Farnborough, in contrast to bustling London city, is a quiet town at this time of the year. The biggest event that takes place here is the biennial Farnborough Air Show. The Village Spa and Resort would be where I would reside the rest of the week. It’s a small cozy hotel with a really impressive public access gym within. Guests get to use the gym for free. It was a joy working out there in the evenings after a long day at work – no crowd and really good equipment.

Rooms were nicely decorated and gave out a warm, cozy yet modern vibe. But again, it had insufficient lighting, which was very uncomfortable to the eye. I would have preferred more control over the amount of lights in the room. Service personnel at reception were simply great, no request was too much trouble for them.





Tried the good’ol fish and chips at the hotel pub one evening. I had just finished my gym work out and just wanted a quick bite before heading back to my room to clear my mails. Mashed peas, malted vinegar and all… the batter tasted a little too bland for me, and needed plenty of salt to taste.



After months of living life at snail’s pace, the grueling schedule the past 2 weeks left me exhausted. I was anxious to get home. I just had one final meeting in the office before heading back to the hotel for a quick change, check out and wait for my ride to the airport. Unfortunately, my ride to LHR never arrived. My painstakingly planned schedule risked being disrupted. Would I still make it to Heathrow in time to visit all 4 *gold lounges??!! Fortunately, the Village staff came to my rescue. A call to the local taxi company ensured that I made it to the airport in good time.

Hello again T2.









It was DIY check-in all over again. You know the drill – pick your airline, enter your FFP number….. I had boarding passes for my remaining two sectors printed and bag priority tagged all the way to Singapore. That was all done in less than 5 minutes. No queues, no hassle all the way to the airside. I cleared security within 5 minutes by religiously adhering to George Clooney’s golden rule from “Up in the Air” – avoid joining a queue that has specific profiles of passengers.



It was my first visit to the departure level of this new terminal. Its layout is rather similar to the new-ish T5, and many other airports for that matter. It certainly didn’t feel as packed as the older terminals at LHR even though there were many passengers and airport personnel milling around. Plenty of seats peppered the open areas, as well as retail and F&B outlets. I wasn’t planning to spend money in any of the F&B outlets this time round. I knew I would have plenty of opportunity to do that the next time I am in LHR, when I lose my lounge privileges. With 2 hours before departure, I had no time to lose!





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Old 19th October 2015, 06:48 PM   #14
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While in the cab to LHR, I had mentally mapped out how I would plan my time in T2… 4 lounges in 2 hours, 30mins per lounge, 4 light meals, squeeze in a shower in one of the lounges, a little extra time to take pictures of the terminal. Did I manage to do all that? Read on…

First stop – Lufthansa Senator/Business Lounge

*G passengers are given an access card to enter the Senator lounge. You have to walk through the Business Lounge to get to it. Quite frankly, I didn’t see any major difference between the two lounges other than the fact that the Senator lounge appeared a little smaller, and probably had a wider selection of food.



The Business Lounge



Senator Lounge

My first meal of the day. There was a very good selection of hot and cold food and beverages. I poured myself an innocent looking Ice Tea. Gulped down half a glass before realizing that there was alcohol in it! I was momentarily light headed, a reaction I get when I consume alcohol on an empty stomach.



Second Stop – United Club Lounge

Getting to Terminal 2B took longer than I expected. I did not expect to take 10 minutes trying to locate that elusive entrance leading to T2B, and another 8 minutes walking to T2B!

Escalator down to the T2A-T2B connector



The infamous trek to and from T2B



I felt beads of perspiration forming on my forehead by the time I emerged in T2B. T2B, being a satellite terminal, is naturally smaller than the main terminal. There’re limited retail and F&B options here, and is primarily where all the wide body gates are.



The United Club in T2 features UA’s latest design concept for its lounges and supposedly the longest bar one can find in Heathrow! I doubt having the longest bar is a USP; having a long bar serving unlimited cocktail and alcohol for free is!!! This is indeed a rare and bold move for an American carrier. The crowd in this lounge was quite a contrast to those over at Lufthansa. Most here were casually dressed (me included), as opposed to the men and women in power suits in the other lounge. The ambience was more “relaxed”, and there were a more families with (screaming) children here. It felt more like a holding area for passengers than an exclusive lounge for passengers with airline status. Nonetheless, there was a good selection of food at the buffet counter, but less than what you could find in the Senator lounge. I have limited experience with UA lounges, but this definitely looks more modern and sophisticated than the old concept in Narita.







The chicken korma was exceptional, but I had to resist over-stuffing myself.

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Old 19th October 2015, 06:49 PM   #15
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Third Stop – Silver Kris Lounge

The Silver Kris lounge is located next to AC’s Maple Leaf Lounge.



I was really looking forward to this Silver Kris lounge. It features SQ’s new “Home Away From Home” concept. Similar ones have been launched in MNL, SYD and HKG. SQ’s afternoon flight to SIN had just departed, so there were hardly any passengers in the lounge when I entered.

First impression of the J section was disappointing (I’m assuming there is an F section hidden somewhere). Compared to the 2 lounges I came from earlier, this lounge is small and looked rather old school. I reckon it would be quite a squeeze if every Business Class and Krisflyer Gold member on a fully loaded A380 flight decided to visit the lounge together. The new concept had a slight resemblance to the old United Club concept that UA is progressively moving away from.

I wouldn’t be surprised if SQ got its inspiration for the “Home Away From Home” concept from the HDB flat in Singapore! While there was nothing exciting or sophisticated about its design, it exuded a cozy and exclusive feel. Stepping into any SQ facility or aircraft never fails to remind me of home.

The buffet area is the first thing you see when you enter the lounge. It offers a good selection of food and drinks. There were a number of Asian dishes as well - Phad Thai, Tom Yum Kung…. but no Singaporean cuisine?



Dining area next to the buffet.



I found these “Pods” an eye sore. They stuck out like a sore thumb in the midst of the standard seating configuration around the lounge. The lay out in the new Silver Kris lounge in MNL is more appealing; where the pods are placed against the wall at the far end of the lounge.





The Singapore Sling ice cream tasted like strawberry ice cream. I could not taste any alcohol in it. It would have been nice if the taste was a little tangier. A Singapore Sling sorbet perhaps?



I spent a little more time than originally planned resting and catching up with my bb on apps in this lounge. It was by far the most conducive one that afternoon. I skipped the Maple Leaf lounge altogether, since there was a small queue at the reception and boarding for my flight at the main terminal would commence in less than 30min.

My ratings of the 3 lounges based on my experience that afternoon:

Food – LH Senator Lounge
Design + Concept – United Club
Ambience – Silver Kris
Exclusivity – Silver Kris

LHR - ZRH

Ticketed on LX, operated by Helvetic Airways. The name Helvetic derives from Helvetia, the Latin name for Switzerland. I am a little confused by its relationship with Swiss. It has a long term wet lease agreement with Swiss, although I don’t understand why Swiss needs them on destinations that they operate to. A shortage of aircrafts perhaps? Can anyone advise?





My first time on an Embraer and 4th aircraft type on this trip.



If the RJ100 interior was cramped, the E190 is worse. Seating configuration was a tight 2 x 2, seat pitch was tight too.





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