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Old 27th October 2019, 07:59 PM   #1
yflyer
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Default SQ to Manila: Comparing the Old to the New

As I looked out of the window of seat 12K of SQ915 MNL-SIN as it taxied to the runway for my flight back to Singapore, I observed the familiar brown polygonal structures of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1.



That terminal sure brought back memories. I had flown out of that terminal on many occasions in the past, most recently in 2014, just before SQ shifted operations to Terminal 3. And long before that, I had travelled to Manila for work on many other occasions, on aircraft including old types like SQ's Airbus A310, which have long since left the fleet.

Manila has always been a major destination for SIA, with SQ operating multiple flights per day using a variety of equipment types. There is lots of business to be done in Manila, and many Singaporeans head to the Philippines on a regular basis during the work week. There is also a lot of leisure travel to the Philippines, not to mention flights taken by the Filipino diaspora, who have ventured all over the world.

Returning to Manila after a break of a few years, I found that a lot had changed in this bustling metropolis. While I previously spent almost all my time in Makati, in the heart of Manila, I have recently been spending a lot of time in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), which is a new financial and lifestyle district in Manila, just east of Makati. Staying at the Grand Hyatt Manila in BGC, I have found the area around the hotel lively and very safe, with many restaurants and entertainment options.

With a mix of old and new SQ aircraft types currently serving the SIN-MNL sector (The current schedule shows the latest 787-10's as well as refitted 777-300's), what is the passenger experience like in economy and business class these days?

In this TR, I'll highlight several recent flights to and from Manila on SQ, as well as my stay at the Grand Hyatt Manila in Bonifacio Global City.

TR INDEX

1. Flight - MNL-SIN on SQ915: Boeing 777-200 Regional Business Class
2. Flight - SIN-MNL on SQ918: Boeing 787-10 Economy Class
3. Hotel - Grand Hyatt Manila
4. Dining - Abe Restaurant in BGC
5. Flight - MNL-SIN on SQ919: Boeing 777-300 Refitted Economy Class (2006 Y)

Last edited by yflyer; 29th October 2019 at 10:43 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 08:12 PM   #2
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For my flight SQ915 MNL-SIN in early April 2019, I was seated in first row window-side bulkhead seat 12K in the business class cabin of 9V-SRQ.



This was the previous generation of slanted lie-flat business class seats, where the cabin was laid out 2-2-2.



Regulars on SQTalk will know I fly mainly Y, however on this occasion, I had used miles to redeem an upgrade to J, because at time of booking this flight was scheduled to be operated by SIA's Boeing 787-10, with the new regional J product. However, a temporary grounding of several of SQ's 787-10's for engine inspections meant that many 787-10 flights had their equipment subbed for other types. On this occasion, the originally scheduled 787-10 had been substituted for a 16 year old Boeing 777-200, 9V-SRQ, which had been pressed into service a month before it was placed in storage, and eventually transferred to NokScoot, where it now operates as HS-XBG.

I was, of course, disappointed at this turn of events, but SQ J is still SQ J, whatever the equipment, and for a 3 hour sector, the fact that the seat was slanted lie-flat rather than fully flat would be less of an issue.

I generally try to be a "glass half full" type of person, rather than "glass half empty", so I settled into my seat, relaxed, and sipped my pre-departure apple juice as I contemplated the upcoming flight.

So what if it wasn't the latest and greatest equipment type and seat product? This was still SQ's vaunted business class...


Last edited by yflyer; 29th October 2019 at 10:21 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 08:22 PM   #3
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Lots of legroom in the bulkhead...



There was a bassinet mount in the bulkhead, but thankfully there was no bassinet today, and rather than a screaming baby, my seatmate was a middle-aged lady who was asleep even before the aircraft pushed back. She slept practically the whole flight -- like a baby (or maybe not like one...).

Large pillow and soft blanket for each pax.



Bulkhead mounted IFE. Not as large, bright or sharp as the newest screens, but acceptable...



IFE controller (No touchscreen) mounted on the side of the armrest...



Seat controls under a cover on the top of the armrest...



Reading light mounted on the seat "wing".



Notebook storage by the seat...



...along with A/C power...



Large sturdy tray table...



Noise-cancelling headphones. Note the airline socket (With third prong for power). If you have your own headphones, be sure to bring an adapter.


Last edited by yflyer; 29th October 2019 at 10:23 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 08:28 PM   #4
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Bathrooms had mottled grey counters and wood-finish panelling...



Amenities in the drawer...



Linen towels in the dispenser...



The white orchids in the bathrooms were artificial. (My impression is that at some point in the distant past, SQ J had real orchids in the bathrooms...).



The bathrooms were periodically refreshed during the flight, and were just as spotless on landing as they were on take-off.
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Old 27th October 2019, 08:30 PM   #5
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Steaming hot towel prior to departure...



A 3 hour flight today...



A powerful take-off to the north east on Runway 06...



Before a long right turn towards the south, with good views of the airport, and downtown Manila out the right hand side windows...


Last edited by yflyer; 28th October 2019 at 12:57 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 09:48 PM   #6
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The cabin was quiet and serene after take-off...



My seat in lounging position...



...and fully reclined...


Last edited by yflyer; 29th October 2019 at 10:26 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 09:52 PM   #7
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First order of business was breakfast...



The menu...



Three options for breakfast...



Some of the beverage selections available, including a great many selections of coffee...



...and tea...



...including Chinese and Asian teas...



There was of course a full wine list and liquor selection as well, however as this was a breakfast flight, I did not indulge, except for glass of Charles Heidseck champagne to kick things off...


Last edited by yflyer; 27th October 2019 at 10:26 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 10:10 PM   #8
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First up, a plate of cut fruit...



A selection of bread and pastries were offered from a basket...





And then a choice of cereal, muesli and/or yogurt...



My main course of French Toast did not look particularly attractive, with the slices of toast looking a little limp and soggy, but the dish tasted quite good.



A hot towel at the end of meal service...



By then, we were an hour into the flight...



...and flying in clear blue skies...



...over some very beautiful islands...


Last edited by yflyer; 28th October 2019 at 12:58 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 10:13 PM   #9
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Cabin ambience in the business class cabin was very good...



Although the 2-2-2 layout was no match for the new 1-2-1 regional J layout on SQ's new regional A350's and 787-10's, the comparative spaciousness of the 777 meant that the business class cabin felt very open, airy and peaceful.

Last edited by yflyer; 27th October 2019 at 10:36 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 10:19 PM   #10
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The rest of the flight passed quickly, and we are soon prepping for arrival into Changi...



We descended over the Indonesian island of Bintan...



...with its coastline dotted with beach resorts and golf courses...



...before lining up for arrival on runway 02L, flying past a row of grounded Silkair 737MAX's as we landed.



On the ground in Changi...





Overall, a comfortable flight with a decent but unexceptional J hard product and good, but not outstanding, catering. Older cabin product aside, the attentive, professional cabin crew were well up to SQ's high standards.
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Old 27th October 2019, 10:23 PM   #11
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Months later, in early October, I had to make another trip to the Philippines, and finally got to fly SQ's 787-10 Dreamliner to Manila.



SIA's Boeing 787-10, rego 9V-SCI, a 7 month old aircraft, would be operating flight SQ918 to Manila that afternoon.


Last edited by yflyer; 28th October 2019 at 05:58 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 10:39 PM   #12
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On this flight, I would be flying in the economy cabin. Boarding took place on time...

The Y cabin was laid out 9-abreast 3-3-3...



My seat today was 31H, first row bulkhead aisle seat...



Seat recline was very good...



Subjectively, seat width was ok. While the 787's fuselage was narrower than the 777, SQ seems to have managed to avoid making the seats noticeably narrower by instead reducing the width of the aisles, which were noticeably narrower than on other aircraft.

Row 31 window seat pax had two large windows to look out of...



These were of course electronically dimmed window shades...



Unlike the window and middle seats, whose IFE screens were wall mounted, the bulkhead aisle seat had a fold-out IFE screen...



This was a beautifully sharp and bright touchscreen.

Both A/C power and USB were available.


Last edited by yflyer; 28th October 2019 at 06:33 PM..
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Old 27th October 2019, 10:48 PM   #13
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Bathrooms had grey counters with brushed metal fittings.

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Old 27th October 2019, 10:51 PM   #14
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Hot towel prior to departure...



Take-off towards the southwest, with beautiful night time views of the east coast of Singapore visible out the right hand side windows...



Not long after take-off, I unfolded my tray table in anticipation of dinner...



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Old 27th October 2019, 10:57 PM   #15
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There were no printed menus on this 3 hour sector. There was a card showing pictures of the 2 main course options on the cart, however this was not used. The cabin crew simply asked pax whether they wanted "Chicken with rice" or "Fish with potatoes..."



I opted for the chicken.

The tray as served...



So far so good, but with covers off, the lipsmacking delights on offer were fully revealed...



Yum, this was a delicious Singapore-style chicken rice, complete with authentic chilli sauce. Thumbs up!



The chicken was moist, with great texture and flavour, and the rice would not have been out of place in a Singapore hawker centre. Was the chicken as good as Hainanese chicken rice on the ground in Singapore? Almost, but not quite. But for an airline rendition of what must be Singapore's iconic hawker dish, it was quite impressive!

The mixed seafood starter, and custard dessert were delicious as well.

What a wholly satisfying dinner!

Last edited by yflyer; 28th October 2019 at 06:35 PM..
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