Monday, June 25, 2007

Trip Report Part2

Changi is a city that bustles to life as soon as the early morning arrivals start coming in, bringing in people for a transit. I got a coffee and a croissant for breakfast , got a nice foot massage in the electro-mechanical massagers that have been provided by OSIM in the transit lounge. SQ16 was deperating from was E4. I headed towards the gate to find quite a bit of a queue at the gate. The flight was full, not suprising for SQ16, which is one of the main links between India and SFO !

After a quick security check, I was waiting in the lounge trying to catch some photographs.

I could not help overhear a conversation between a lady and a co-passenger. It appeared that lady was an American citizen of Indian origin, and it appeared that she was returning back after letting out her property for an astronomical sum of Rs 1 lakh a month. I figured she must be one of the contributors to high rents in India, and the "poor" software engineers get blamed for it !

Now the 777-300ER with SQ is a new "product" as they call it ! The interiors were different and more brighter and with bigger PTVs ! You just got to travel in one of them to experience it !

The cabin !

The bigger PTVs ... check the resolution out !

Word processing program on the PTVs. Did you get the USB keyboard and USD pen drive today ?

Take off happened at 9:30 or so and we took off to the south, took a 180 degree turn and then flew over Changi !

Overflying Changi again !

The fight to Seoul ( Incheon ) was uneventful and we landed on time ...

The terminal at Incheon is one of the best that I have seen ! Its spacious and unlike HongKong , they have not crowded it till the ceiling !!

SQ16 at Incheon .. note the length of the 777-300


We took from Incheon at around 6:00 PM local time and the much publicized "mood-lighting" concept was in use ... It was evening !

After dinner I slept off and woke at about 3 hrs to go to SFO. After breakfast , I opened the window shades to see if it was clear outside. It was not ... which was not surprising. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the Point Reyes and Golden Gate while we landed ! It cleared up right before we flew over land !

Golden Gate ! Wish I had a better angle...

SFO downtown

Landed at SFO !

I could have taken more photographs, but airhostess did not want a digital camera to interfere with the plane's electronics ! I paid heed to her advice :-)

We landed at 12:10 PM 30 mins ahead of schedule. Immigration was a breeze and I grabbed some lunch at the food court and headed off the rental car counter to get my car ...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Been Away ... Trip report Part 1

I have been busy and away for a while now. But I got to do something that I like to do, fly ! And guess what , that too in a Boeing 777-300ER

WARNING : For those folks not interested in a trip report/planes/and what I did ... here is your chance to move away !

Trip details :
Dep 7May 23:15
Arr SIN 06:20+1

Dep SIN : 8May 09:15
Arr SFO : 8May 12:30

With a hectic weekend preceding my travel , I was a bit relieved as we travlled towards the airport in Bangalore wading through the traffic. Online check-in for international travel seems to have caught up and Singapore airlines too has a fairly good site to check you in. They do not let you print boarding passes yet, but you can at least get a seat allocated.

Now, most the "window" people like me ask for a window when we book tickets and that leaves very little room for seat change when you actually checkin. In addition, you can only checkin seats for the segment of flight which is less that 48 hrs away. So that means you need to start checkin in 48 hrs before your next flight. The website does not clearly indicate that ... A better user interface would be useful here ! I had checked in for my SQ529 and not Sq16 , because of a website glitch. Hence I wanted to be early so that there are no issues.

Now Bangalore International , is an apology for an airport. It has grown so much with little space at its disposal, that planning becomes very important ! That's something that the airport management missed out ! I arrived at 19:15 for a 23:15 flight and was asked to wait outside the airport till 20:15 ( when the counters opened ) . The waiting area between the parking lot and the airport doors was a no mans land , and , was not exactly upto international standards , actually was not even upto Indian standards !

Finally at 20:15 we were let in and I was one of the first people to check in ... As my luck would have it I walked upto a trainee. Checkin in BLR for Singapore airlines is handled by AAI-HAL-JWG ( Ya ! Airports Authority of India, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Joint working group ). Most of the staff is quite effective, but this guy was quite at sea and was unable to find me a seat that I wanted for SQ16 and also took 25 mins to check me in. This inspite of the fact that I had entered my passport details.

Checking done, waved a bye to wife , went upstairs had my dinner , went through immigration which was a breeze and went through security to the departure lounge. BLR has two gates, and the holding area looks pretty much like the holding area in a "Tirupathi queue" holding area.
There is a Cafe Coffee Day that does good business and it exemplifies the phrase "captive customers" given that its the only coffee shop inside the security hold!

SQ530 arrived, and it was 22:45 - time to start boarding ! SQ tries to board passengers as per row numbers , but that does not help here... there were quite a few people crowding near the gates. Now that is something I find hard to understand ... you have allocated seats, you are asked top board in such a way that it causes minimum inconvenience to others and yet people feel a bit insecure about getting on the plane !

Time passed, people got in , I got in ,settled in my seat . I wanted to take photos , but was not allowed since BLR is a not a civil airport and besides the light was not great ! A Thai Airways A330 came in and parked next to us. Push back happened at 23:20 or so and we were off to the Marathahalli end for a take off roll. We took off over Challagatta took a U turn towards east and were headed off in the direction of Chennai ! Bangalore does look cool from the air !

I turned my attention at the inflight entertainment system and decided to listen to some music. Supper was served at around 00:45 , and I must say that I was a bit hungry. As I normally tend to do, I did not consume all that was served ... Supper past midnight with 24 hrs of travel ahead of you is not my cup of tea ( pun unintended ). I slept off for two hrs and was woken up with the announcement that we were descending into Singapore. We descended through some clouds and I could see the entire expanse of Singapore . We landed at around 06:10 local time and it was still dark and taxied to a gate (e20). I got out out and Changi was bustling pretty much like a town coming to life in the morning !

I took a stroll to excercise my feet and went for a coffee . The sun was rising

The sun rises at Changi. Photo taken from Terminal 2 Transit area.