Home > India, Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance, Trip Reports > Asia 2012 Trip Report: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Mumbai to Singapore

Asia 2012 Trip Report: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Mumbai to Singapore

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: United Airlines LAX-SFO, United International First Class Lounges at LAX/SFO

Part 3: United Airlines Global First Class, San Francisco to Frankfurt

Part 4: Lufthansa First Class Terminal at Frankfurt

Part 5: Lufthansa FRA-ZRH, SWISS First Class Lounge at Zürich

Part 6: SWISS First Class, Zürich to Hong Kong

Part 7: Emirates A380 First Class Suites, Hong Kong to Bangkok

Part 8: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Bangkok to Singapore

Part 9: Exploring Singapore

Part 10: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Singapore to Mumbai

Part 11: Singapore Airlines Business Class, Mumbai to Singapore

—————————————-

Unfortunately, this post doesn’t have any pictures, mostly because I didn’t want to take pictures in the airport (else have Indian authorities start tackling me) and because the flight was at like 12:30 in the morning. I was tired. The experience wasn’t that much different from Part 10. Though I’ll still write about it …

What is there to say about India? It’s hot. It’s crowded. I feel like I’m going to die every time I go on the road. This trip was no different, but I still love it. Tons of family met and reacquainted with, some I hadn’t seen in over a decade. That’s both good and stressful.

A whirlwind 10-day trip including a week-long wedding and family in 3 cities. No planes, just overnight buses and trains. Fortunately, these buses and trains all have flatbeds as well in “first class.” And they seem to have as many berths in one section as United in a row of Business (as you can tell, I’m not a fan of United Business).

I was excited to fly Singapore Airlines’ (SQ) 77W aircraft in business and had reserved seats 11A/12A for my sister and myself. Those two seats are in a private “mini-cabin” right behind First Class, and honestly, there’s no big difference between the First and Business seats on that aircraft except for the service. Not only that, but it would be my sister’s first substantial premium class flight, so I was definitely spoiling her with this.

I was turning giddy almost, until I got a phone call from SQ at about 6pm. I was told that we would be “downgraded” (their word) to the angled lie flat regional seats, as the inbound flight to Mumbai was not a 77W but a regular 777 aicraft with regional business class seats (the type I had on my flight to Mumbai). I was a bit disappointed, since this would be a true red-eye (12:20a – 8:00a). I asked if there was any mile or voucher compensation for this change, and was told to enquire at the airport. Fiddlesticks. I had purposely routed through Singapore for this aircraft since Hanoi via Bangkok on Thai Airways would be a shorter journey and earlier arrival.

Our flight from Mumbai was a 12:20am departure. Like I said, I’ve never seen BOM airport during the day. Though given how hot it was in India the week we were there (approaching 40ºC, over 100ºF), I’m glad the sun was down when we needed to go to the airport.

I would hate to be a frequent flyer out of BOM, or any other Indian airport, just due to the amount of hurdles and bureaucracy involved in trying to fly out. Without the aid of pictures for the first half, here’s a my-eyes view of the journey from India to Hanoi. Follow along:

Spend hours on Bombay roads trying to even reach BOM, or CSIA as some locals call it. Get stuck in traffic behind a cow and an elephant. On separate occasions. Reach the international terminal.

Stand in a long line outside the airport, as only ticketed passengers are allowed inside the check-in area. Convince the Air Force official that your iPhone itinerary and mobile boarding pass are just as good as everyone else’s paper ticket (after all, this is the 21st century).

Somehow come across people just standing around in the terminal, despite everyone having a ticket and having a flight to catch.

Stand in a long queue to check in, behind families who just cannot pack light. Or if you’ve mastered the art of miles, stand in a short queue for First/Business/status holders. Place airline tags over every single piece of cabin baggage, including your small camera bag.

Ask the agent about compensation for the business class “downgrade” (their words). Find out that she’s rather useless in any sort of service capacity. Ask for the station manager. Get referred to a person in a darker suit who is not the station manager. Ask her to get the station manager. Find out the station manager is at home, despite 2 of the company’s 3 flights for the day departing at this time. Ask pseudo-station manager if she can call Babuji to get an answer.

Walk toward exit immigration and stand in line for 20 minutes, regardless of cabin class or status. Have your passport stamped. Have your boarding pass stamped. Have your boarding pass stamped again on the other side.

Walk 10 feet past the immigration counter. Stand in another line to have another fella check your passport and boarding passes to make sure they’re stamped.

Head toward security, branching off into two sides covered by partitions. Make a gamble to head toward the right, hoping it’s shorter. Branch further into separate lines for men (long) and women (short). Wait. Wait some more. See some men headed for Muscat mistakenly get into the women’s line. Roll your eyes until you see that an airport official has opened up a new line for these men and invites you and every man behind you to join the least populated area in all of India. Do a happy dance (but not too happy. Security is serious).

Pass your bags through the scanner and walk through the metal detector that’s off, to get wanded by a security official of the same gender (hence, the separate lines for men and women). After you prove you’re not hiding something deadly, get your boarding pass stamped twice more in blue, hiding the red immigration stamps.

Wait for your bags at the other end of the scanner. Wait some more. Watch the airline tags on your bags get stamped. Even the one for your small camera-bag that couldn’t fit a hamster.

Leave the security area. Walk 10 feet before having another securitywalla check your boarding pass and bags to make sure they were stamped. Watch him send another passenger back to security for not having his knapsack stamped.

Head down the escalators to a revitalized terminal, with a semi-decent amount of shopping and eating areas. Or if you’re a miles master, walk over to one of the lounges. As SQ passengers, your pass is good for the Celebrations Lounge (huh?), the Star Alliance Lufthansa lounge (that sounds better), or a massage at one of the two vendors in the terminal.

Go to the business lounge while your sister heads for a 30-minute foot massage.

Forty minutes before departure, head to the gate area and quietly guffaw while watching an Indian mother try to convince the gate agent that her pre-pubescent son growing a mustache qualifies them for early family boarding.

Hear the announcement for First, Business, and Star Alliance Gold passengers and walk to the gate. Have your boarding pass, passport, and bags checked for the proper stamps at the gate. Walk 20 feet to the jetway. Have the same documents checked again for the same stamps. Mentally face-palm.

(Want a lucrative business opportunity? Sell stamps and stamp pads to the Indian Airport Authority. You’ll be rolling in rupees. I contemplated all this checking and re-checking, since you never really leave a sterile area. Well, I guess nothing in India is really sterile…)

Board your aircraft, through the First Class cabin that didn’t get downgraded and to your angled lie-flat. Curse your luck until you realize that you paid the equivalent of a 30-pack of Natty Light for this segment. Then still return to cursing your luck.

Place your bag in the overhead and begin to sit in the window seat until your sister says, “No, that’s my seat.”

“Why?”

“I’m older.”

Right. Think about pointing out who spent the hours and hours of research online to learn how to get these seats, and then take the aisle because you like holding favors over your sibling’s head. Also because you’re sending her back home from Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines and feel mildly guilty about it. Gotta love the options Delta Skymiles give you. It might be in business class, but for all you know, the Socialist country’s flag carrier puts everyone in business. “Common ownership, maaaaan.”

Curse your luck again as the other two bulkheads groups are switched with bassinet families, and you no longer have the semi-private cabin you originally booked. Since the airline doesn’t serve champagne on the ground in India, drink something called a Fruit Spritzer. Hope that none of your friends are boarding this flight through the door in front of you to see you drink something called a Fruit Spritzer.

Psuedo-station manager walks in and sees you drinking something called a Fruit Spritzer. She informs you that there will be no compensation in form of cash/vouchers/miles “for the downgrade.” You thank her for following up, but quietly curse your luck. If this were Delta, you’d be rolling in Skypesos about now (I’ve gotten 10,000 miles because the power outlet didn’t work on a 2-hour flight). Skypesos you could use to fly Vietnam Airlines.

Take off to the west and turn back toward Singapore. Drift asleep, waking up only a few times as you slide down the angled seat. Wake up for landing. “Ladies and Gentleman welcome to Singapore, and to all Singaporean residents, a warm welcome home.” And once more in Hindi. Wish you were a Singaporean resident, just so that last sentence could warm the cockles of your heart.

Head over to the Terminal 2 SilverKris Lounge. Take a shower in the shower room. Finish your short layover and head over to the gate for SQ flight 176 to HAN.

Edit: I also flew this route in Economy Class as a Star Gold passenger. That report, with some pictures, is here

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  1. arcticbull
    July 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Honestly I’m loving this trip report for some reason. Very well written. By the way, I quite enjoyed Vietnam Airlines. I flew them on a Delta award from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City, then on to Nha Trang and finally back to Ho Chi Minh — all in Business. The rest of my segments were Alaska for the domestic legs and Korean for the long overwaters.

    VN uses recliner seats for all their flights as far as I can tell, but they’re really quite comfortable. They have a bunch of options for configuration. The food was definitely above average (especially NRT-SGN, I had the Japanese meal and it was superb, better than KE from SGN-ICN, and most of the ICN-JFK meals). Their lounges were awesome, lots of food choices there too, especially fruit. Service was better than any US airlines (haha, not hard), probably on par with Air Canada.

    Over all, I’d totally fly them again, just not for more than 5 hours 😀 Don’t feel too bad.

    • Amol
      July 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for reading! My sister flew VN from Hanoi to CDG, so almost a 12.5 hour flight. It was the recliner seats, but she’s not really picky (these SQ flights were her first business class flights). She said they were okay, and more than enough extra space for a usually coach flyer. She connected from CDG to IAD on the A380 and thought that was decent.

      The SE Asia carriers sure love their fruit!

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