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Old 10th April 2020, 11:27 AM   #1
yflyer
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Default SQ863 HKG-SIN in A350 Economy, and Hong Kong before the Protests/Covid-19

I think the world has changed forever. When the current Covid-19 crisis ends, the world will pick up the pieces and begin the long journey towards recovery, but I am quite certain it won't be a case of waking up from a collective nightmare to find things just as they were before.

This crisis has changed us all in so many ways: how we work, how we socialize, and how we treat our fellow men. Hopefully we all learn something from all of this, and make positive changes to how we live.

As far as business travel is concerned, I sincerely doubt we will go back to the days of flying all over the world for business.

Yes, in some business contexts, face to face engagement is required, especially for building all-important trust in a business relationship. That only happens eyeball to eyeball.

But considering how much work is currently being done remotely, in lock down or near lock down conditions, all over the world, many business leaders are probably thinking that in the future, the new normal will involve a lot less travel.

Certainly the technology looks to be up to it, with fast internet connectivity making videoconferencing and remote collaboration quite feasible, despite hiccups such as security loopholes in Zoom (Which will hopefully be plugged soon!). I am in a line of work where technology use is fairly pervasive, so the transition to working from home (WFH) has not been too traumatic, either for me or for my customers.

I've recently been collaborating, virtually, with my colleagues in Hong Kong. We've done virtual customer meetings and presentations to senior executives there using video conferencing tools, and these have gone fairly smoothly. Work continues.

But do I miss travelling to Hong Kong? Yes I do. I miss the vibe. I miss the food. Some of the most interesting runs I've done have been in Hong Kong.

Which brings me to this TR, about a trip to Hong Kong I made in November 2018. This was before Covid-19, and even before the Hong Kong protests over the proposed extradition bill, which began a few months later, in March 2019.

Hong Kong, and indeed the world, was quite different back then. Will we ever see those times again? I hope so.

In the mean time, here is a short TR reminiscence of the recent past...

TR INDEX

1. Introduction
2. Flight - SQ2 SIN-HKG in Economy
3. Hotel - Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View
4. Destination - Hong Kong / Lan Kwai Fong
5. Dining - Hutong
6. Destination - Hong Kong Harbour Ferry
7. Lounge - HKG SilverKris Lounge
8. Flight - SQ863 HKG-SIN in Economy
9. Final Reflections

Last edited by yflyer; 13th April 2020 at 10:39 AM..
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Old 10th April 2020, 11:45 AM   #2
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In November 2018, I made a short business trip to Hong Kong...



I flew up to HKG on SQ2, a flight operated by one of SQ's workhorse 777-300ER's.



I'll not cover SQ2 SIN-HKG in detail in this TR, but for those interested in SQ Premium Economy on the 77WR on this sector, you can read more in a recent TR here.

The Krisworld AVOD system on this flight in late November already had December's programmes loaded...with Crazy Rich Asians as the featured new release.



From where I was sitting, it seemed that everyone onboard was watching it!



SQ should really have agreed to be featured in this film...



It would have been a great PR opportunity. Instead, we had scenes with Nick and Rachel onboard the fictitious Pacific Asean Airline, in Suites inspired by those on SQ's A380's...


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Old 10th April 2020, 11:58 AM   #3
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My hotel in Hong Kong was the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View...



This was a high-rise hotel right on the waterfront, next to the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.





At that point in time, I was Starwood/Marriott Platinum, and was upgraded to a Suite on a high floor, which had a stunning view of the harbour...



This was a great spot to take iPhone panorama shots...the whole of Hong Kong harbour and the Kowloon skyline was laid out in front of you.



My suite comprised a separate living/work area...



...and bedroom...





The hotel room came with a pair of binoculars in case anyone wanted a closer look...



It was great to wake up to this view every morning.


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Old 10th April 2020, 11:58 AM   #4
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The bathroom was very well appointed...







Large bathtub...



A very nice room to spend a week in Hong Kong!
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Old 10th April 2020, 12:03 PM   #5
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The Executive Lounge was a large, multi-storey affair...





...with stunning views of the harbour from many locations in the lounge...





The lounge offered evening drinks and canapes...



As well as an impressive breakfast spread comprising both continental and hot Asian/Western selections...





There was a large hotel gym...



...and swimming pool...





I thought the Renaissance Harbour View was a very nice hotel, which would be a good choice for a stay in Hong Kong, especially if one had Lounge access.

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Old 10th April 2020, 12:09 PM   #6
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I spent most of the week in team meetings in a series of stuffy conference rooms in the office. On days where we were able to secure a large enough meeting room, there was enough air and space to think properly. But on other days, the only meeting rooms available were relatively small and windowless, which meant less than ideal conditions for productive meetings. We plodded along regardless -- there was a lot of ground to cover.

It was always a relief to head outside during lunch breaks or for dinner, and just enjoy the atmosphere in Hong Kong...





Mid-week, after an intense round of full day meetings, our team headed to Lan Kwai Fong. Believe it or not, this was the first time in all these years that I had set foot in this lively entertainment district. If anyone had a need to destress, Lan Kwai Fong would be a great place to go...



This was a very happening place to be...very crowded with both tourists and locals...every nationality and skin colour seemed to be represented.

It was also apparently a great place to record video clips for social media too...we watched a pair of dancers go through paces in front of their camera crew...



We enjoyed a brief bar hop, downing Tequila shots at a succession of different bars. Not a bad way to let one's hair down after a busy work day.

Who knew that in months to come, even Lan Kwai Fong would become the scene of protests as the protest movement grew more widespread.

And in March this year, Lan Kwai Fong was also impacted by the rise of Covid-19 clusters which could be traced to entertainment venues in Lan Kwai Fong.

Since early April, bars and pubs in Hong Kong have had to close, and last week, on 5 April, the HK press has also reported the possibility of an even more comprehensive lockdown in coming days.

On a more positive note, the Giant Panda's in Hong Kong's Ocean Park seem to have taken full advantage of the closure of the park due to current Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Last edited by yflyer; 13th April 2020 at 10:18 AM..
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Old 11th April 2020, 11:58 AM   #7
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On the last work day of our trip, after our meetings had ended, the team and I headed out for dinner.

Our venue was Hutong, a Chinese restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui, on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.



This restaurant, on the 28th floor of the One Peking building, had stunning decor, and spectacular views of the Hong Kong skyline and waterfront...



The tables by the wall-to-wall windows were the best way to appreciate the night-time views...





The cuisine was Beijing / Northern Chinese cuisine, with many spicy options. While traditional in preparation, the presentation and refinement were far beyond what one typically encountered in a Chinese restaurant...

The signature menu was a good overview of the cuisine on offer...



This also came with a wine pairing...



However we decided to go a la carte instead, picking dishes from the extensive menu...

We began with appetisers, including tea-smoked tofu with carrot, cucumber with sesame...



...as well as their signature osmanthus-glazed beef flakes, which were delicate and delicious...



Next up were crisp spring rolls...



Black truffle chicken with Yunnan mushrooms...

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Old 11th April 2020, 12:01 PM   #8
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Next was a vegetarian dish of mushrooms and string beans (Some in our party were vegetarian)...



Kung-po style Iberico Pork with Cashews...



These dishes were prepared with a very delicate touch and went perfectly with bowls of fluffy white rice...



A hot and savoury Ma-po tofu...



This was as traditional a dish as you could find, but it was brilliantly executed...

And to round it all off, a fiery and numbing Chengdu poached fish (水煮鱼) in chilli and Sichuan flower peppers...



...with copious Tsingtao beer to extinguish the flames enveloping our tongues...



Dessert was mango pudding...



What an utterly amazing dinner: authentic cuisine with intense, searing flavours intact, served with a level of refinement and delicacy rarely seen in a Chinese restaurant, in a unique setting.


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Old 11th April 2020, 12:16 PM   #9
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After dinner, we decided to catch the harbour ferry back to the hotel.

As it turned out, 29 November 2018 was free ride day in Hong Kong...all rides on trams and the Star Ferry were sponsored...



We would not have to pay for our ferry tickets.



With the different harbour tunnels and MTR available to get between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, the ferry is longer the indispensable mode of public transport it once was, but it is still very popular with tourists...



The cool, night time ride from Kowloon to Hong Kong was very scenic...



Many passengers onboard snapped pictures of Hong Kong's neon-lit skyline...







The ferry docked very close to the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, right next to the Renaissance...



I would highly recommend a ride on the ferry to visitors to Hong Kong: Once in daytime, and once at night.

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Old 11th April 2020, 12:21 PM   #10
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The next day, the last day of November 2018, I headed to the down-town check in to pick up my boarding pass for SQ 863...





...before catching the airport express to the airport.

This was before the protests, so there was complete freedom of movement and entry into the airport departure area once train doors opened at the airport.







There were queues at the SQ check-in counters, but these looked manageable...



Self service check-in kiosks were also available.


Last edited by yflyer; 13th April 2020 at 10:26 AM..
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Old 11th April 2020, 12:28 PM   #11
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Inside, I paid a quick visit to the HKG SilverKris Lounge...



In Nov 2018, the toilets were temporarily closed.



They seem to having lots of issues with these toilets -- which have been closed for an extended period of time, although there have been brief periods when they have been open.

The manned bar in the lounge...



A decent Drink List...



Buffet counter with both hot and cold selections...



Salad bar...



Hot selections included steamed spare ribs, and chicken meat balls...



Laksa and wonton noodles were also available...



"Homemade" soy bean curd...



Sit-down dining...



Lounge area...



Work pods...



Oveall, an average lounge: decent-enough F&B, but the windowless bunker-like location has never been ideal, especially considering how airy and spacious many of the other airlines' HKG lounges are.
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Old 11th April 2020, 12:48 PM   #12
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I headed to the boarding gate...



Next to SQ was this magnificent KLM 744, "City of Beijing", rego PH-BFU...



This was a 21 year old aircraft first delivered in 1997.



Since that time, PH-BFU flew its final commercial flight for KLM in April 2019, and was flown in May 2019 for storage and eventual scrapping at Teruel in Spain.

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And last month, at the end of March 2020, KLM decided on early retirement of its 747 fleet. An end of an era for KLM.



At least in Singapore, we can still see SIA Cargo's 744s still flying, although SQ's passenger 744's have long since gone into the history books. SIA's last 747 passenger flights took place in April 2012. Seems like ages ago, although for the SQTalkers onboard I am sure those final flights are still cherished memories.
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Old 11th April 2020, 01:37 PM   #13
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SQ863 was operated by Airbus A350-900XWB rego 9V-SML...



This was a fairly new aircraft, delivered to SQ in April 2017.



A slightly late boarding, with a full complement of newspapers available by the door...



This was a 3 class aircraft, with Business, Premium Economy and Economy Cabins.

Business class was the 2013 J product, in 1-2-1 layout...



Premium Economy was laid out 2-4-2...



Note that SQ's A350 PEY seats are a slightly different seat from from PEY on SQ's A380 and 77WR fleet. These PEY seats on the A350 are a little narrower and smaller than those on the 77WR or A380, in order to accommodate the narrower cabin width of the A350 (PEY on the A380 and 77WR are also laid out 2-4-2.)

The Economy cabin was a comfortable 3-3-3 layout, with a version of the SQ 2013 Y seat installed.



This was a bright and cheery cabin.



Although the newest A350's in SQ's fleet come with a later 2017 Y seat, I would judge the 2013 Y seat to be quite similar in comfort and features.



Like my outbound flight, the cabin was decorated for Christmas...


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Old 11th April 2020, 01:43 PM   #14
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Good seat pitch...



Note as well the presence of footrests in Y. Not sure if they still have them, as some aircraft in SQ's fleet have had their footrests removed.



Recline was generous by Y standards...



Large widescreen touchscreen AVOD...



...along with separate controller...



A/C power...



The Krisworld AVOD system was very user-friendly, and had a huge programme selection...



A wonderful economy class cabin product, which I would have been very comfortable with on a long haul flight, let alone a 3.5 hour HKG-SIN sector.
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Old 11th April 2020, 01:45 PM   #15
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Hot towels prior to take-off...

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