[Airline Review] – Singapore Airlines (SQ978) / (SQ981) – Economy Class, SIN-BKK, (4 Jun 15) / BKK-SIN (7 Jun 15)

Introduction

I booked my tickets through the Singapore Airlines website about 3 months before my travel to Bangkok. Singapore Airlines offers cheap airfare from time to time. Booking via the website is a breeze. The booking is easy and allows one to choose their seats after payment has been made. At the time of booking, SQ scheduled 777 for both legs of the flight. However a month before the scheduled flight, I received an email from SQ stating that they will be using A330 for both legs of the journey. Checking in using the SQ mobile app is easy as well. One is allowed to choose the seats even after checking in. Internet check in is opened 48 hours prior to the scheduled flight.

330-300 taking me to Bangkok
Peeking into Changi Airport
Flying above the clouds

On The Ground

SQ978

SQ uses Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 for flights leaving for and arriving from Bangkok. SQ uses Rows 1 to 6 of the terminal to handle all the flights leaving Singapore. For online check-ins, the airline uses check in row 3. The check in rows are situated to the left of the terminal building and is not difficult to locate. Rows 1 and 2 are reserved for premium class passengers. The queue for online check-ins is very light, I only have to wait for 5 mins to check in my luggage and be handed with my boarding pass. The staff handling the check in is very friendly and efficient. I was promptly handed my boarding pass within 5 mins and the staff gave me brief instructions such as what time to be at the boarding gate and directions for the boarding gate. Passengers can check in their luggage 48 hours before departures for flights out of Singapore. At the airside, the airport resembles shopping mall, with loads of shopping outlets and activities such as movie screenings, gardens and even a roof top pool and gym, the wait time for boarding passed by easily.

Changi Airport Terminal 2
Check in queue for internet check-ins
Reminder to all passengers
Internet check in counters
Changi Airport Terminal 2
Shopping in Changi Airport airside
Some entertainment area after immigration
The bird that is flying me to Bangkok
Boarding the aircraft
Walking towards the aircraft
Boarding

SQ981

SQ check in counters is located in the middle of Suvarnabhumi Airport in row K. There is no queue at the airport for internet check-ins. As with my outbound leg to BKK, the ground staff at Suvarnabhumi was very friendly and efficient in handing my check in. I was given my boarding pass in 5 mins as well. The staff also gave instructions on which gate to board and by what time I need to be at the boarding gate. However directions were not given on where the gate is located. Passengers who are not familiar with Suvarnabhumi Airport is advised arrive at the airport terminal early to cater time for immigration clearance. There are several duty free shops at the airside for passengers to kill time with, however these shops mainly offer the same stuff and I found it boring after awhile.

Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport
Inside Suvarnabhumi Airport 
SQ check-in counters are located in Row K
No queue at check-in
Dedicated counter for Internet Check ins
SQ Check in counters in Suvarnabhumi Airport
After immigration area in Suvarnabhumi Airport
Thai folk lore statue in Suvarnabhumi Airport
Some duty free shopping in Suvarnabhumi Airport
Cafe and eateries at airside
Approaching boarding gate 
Boarding gate in Suvarnabhumi Airport
At boarding gate
Boarding gate
Aerobridge towards the aircraft

The Cabin

SQ changed to A330-300 for both legs of the journey. The aircraft is configured to take up to 285 passengers, with 30 in Business Class and 255 in Economy Class. The Economy Class is further segmented in 2 sections, the forward and the aft section. The forward section of the Economy Class is decked in Blue and Brown seats while the aft section is mainly decked out in brown seats. Seating configurations in Economy Class on A330-300 is 2-4-2. I took the forward section for my outbound flight to BKK and the aft section for my inbound leg. The brightly lighted cabin does not feel cramp and the natural tone of colour used by SQ makes it feel comfortable.

Cabin lighting makes the cabin feels clean and bright
Brightly lighted cabin 
Inside Economy Class Cabin
Peeking into Business Class Cabin
Forward cabin decked out in light brown and blue fabrics
Aft cabin decked out in brown fabric
Bulk head display
Cabin ambience

The lavatory onboard is rather cramp, however it is sufficient for one to do one’s business in. There are toothbrushes and combs as well as sanitary napkins provided in the lavatories, which is lacking in some of the airlines these days. SQ also provides mouth wash, hand lotion and eau-de-toilette on top of hand soap. Most airlines (such as KLM) only provided hand soap in its Economy Class lavatories. The lavatory is well-lited with make-up room lightings mounted on the mirror. One feature I like about the lavatory is the paddle for the bin cover, which is a more hygienic arrangement.

Toilet bowl
Sink
Mirrors with Hollywood style make-up lighting
Amenities in the lavatory
Mouth wash, hand lotion and eau-de-toilette is provided in the lavatory
Paddle to step on to open the cover for trash bin 
Trash bin cover

The Seat

SQ has the most generous space amongst the airlines even in Economy Class. The Economy seats measures 32″ for its seat pitch and 19″ wide, providing ample leg room without feeling too cramped up in the cabin and passenger seating at the aisle seat does not necessary have to get out of his or her seat for passenger siding by the window. The fabric laden seats recline at 115°, which is very comfortable for resting. The seat slides forward during the reclining motion, passengers seating behind the seat does not feel too much space being intruded. As with most Economy Class seats, the reclining button is located on the armrest. The seat comes with a dual fold tray table, with a small vanity mirror mounted on it.

Seating in Economy Class
Double folded tray table with vanity mirror in every seat
Excellent leg room

There is a USB charging port located on beside the IFE screen, together with the audio-visual jacks, allowing passengers to charge their mobile devices. There is a small knob beside the IFE screen for passengers to hang their jackets. The cup holder is located beside the IFE with a small pocket for passenger to stow small items. The seat pocket is compartmentalised into 2 packets with the front pocket having 3 sections. The usual inflight magazines are stored in the inner section of the seat pocket, allowing passengers to put their smaller items in the outer pocket.

Seat recline button
Audio-visual jack and USB charging outlet
Hanger and cup holder
Seat pockets
Contents in the seat pocket
Safety instructions can be found in the seat pocket

The head rest can be adjusted to match the head level of the passenger occupying it. It is also foldable to provide more comfort. Pillow and Givenchy fleece blanket are distributed on the seats before boarding passengers. The pillow provided by SQ seem larger than other airlines in the Economy Class, however I find the blanket a tad too thin.

Pillow and Givenchy fleece blanket is provided in every seat

In-Flight Entertainment

The personal screen in Economy Class cabins measures 10″, which is larger than most other airlines offers. However the personal screen is not touch screen, which does not matter to me. The controller provided is responsive enough. There is a row of LED lights mounted on the bottom part of the screen, providing more lighting to passengers if required. The IFE has numerous programmes, ranging from movies to TV programmes. There is even a preview section for in-flight movies that will be screened in the month to come. Games are also available as part of the IFE system provided by SQ.

IFE controller
Keyboard behind the IFE controller
10″ personal TV screen
LED light on the base of the TV screen
SQ provides plug in earphones which feels cheap

Meal Service

SQ978

Unlike my previous experience with SQ (it has been awhile since I last flown on SQ), menus are not distributed. Passengers will only know of what is served during meal service. On this leg, we were given options of Chicken with Stir-Fried noodles or Fish & Potato. The chicken meal does not look appetising, while the fish meal tasted rather fresh. The portion of food is sufficient to fill one’s stomach.

Chicken with stir fried noodles
Fish & potato
Meal service

SQ981

On this leg of the flight meal options were Fish & Potatoes and Chicken Nasi Briyani. I opted for the chicken meal on this leg and it is very tasty. The flavourful Nasi Briyani is much better than some of the those found in Singapore. As SIN – BKK route is a short route, ice-cream were not provided, dessert was sponge cake for both legs.

Dinner service
The yummy Nasi Briyani

Service

The service onboard for both legs were impeccable. The ever friendly Singapore Girl and flight attendants welcomed passengers with a warmth and genuine smile at the door when boarding. Even in Economy Class, the flight attendants were friendly and tries their best to accommodate to requests. The flight attendants were always seen smiling to the passengers, be it during meal service or other times. On my outbound leg, I witnessed the flight attendants paying particular attention to a family with 2 kids. They ensured that the kids are well taken care of, occasionally popping by to check if these young passengers are comfortable on the short 2 hour flight. My seat wasn’t provided with earphones, when requested for, the flight attendants apologise for the oversight (although it is definitely not their fault, but the Singapore Girl apologised for the inconvenience). I requested for some soda prior to the meal service, the soda was delivered almost immediately and I did not have to wait till meal run for some water. The flight attendants even checked if I had enjoyed the food, which is rarely seen in Economy Class.

Pursuers greeting passengers
Pursuers distributing pre-flight warm towels

Overall

Overall, the flight is comfortable and enjoyable. The seats are comfortable and the entertainment is plentiful to make the flight feel short. The food is acceptable but most importantly the genuine service by the flight attendants makes the flight pleasurable.

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[Hotel Review] – Hansar Hotel (Urban Suite), Bangkok, Thailand (4 – 7 Jun 15)

Location

Hansar Hotel Bangkok is conveniently located in downtown Bangkok. The location of the hotel is within 3 mins walk from the nearest BTS Station (Ratchadamri Station), which is one stop away from the central Siam Interchange and one stop away from Sala Daeng Station, where the famous Patpong Night Market is located. The Hotel is also within 5 mins walk from the famous Four Face Buddha Erawan Shrine and about 7 mins walk from Central World Shopping Mall. The location of the hotel is very convenient for visitors as it is rather central to most of the shopping malls around the area.
Hotel Signage
Hotel Facade from the Street
Main Entrance to the Hotel
Stairs leading to the reception
Check-in counters
Artwork around the hotel
Lobby on ground floor
Hotel Facade

The Suite

Hansar Hotel Bangkok is touted as a all suites hotel, where even the most basic room is a suite. The suite that I checked into is the Urban Suite, a complementary upgrade when booked through the Small Luxury Hotels website. The contemporary Urban Suite has a total floor area of 71m² and has three sections to it.

Living Room

Upon entering the main door, the hotel’s signature green wall greets one on the right side. Further into the suite is the living area. There is a study desk with a marble bench right at the edge of this part of the suite. The marble bench is a great addition to the suite as it offered more space for guests to stowaway their belongings, be it stuffs that one buys from their trip or their luggage. The study desk faces the TV, which allows guests to watch the TV even while working. The study desk is rather sizeable and stretches about 3/4 of the width of the suite. There are ample powerpoints, with international sockets, at the study desk for one to charge their electronic gadgets. The hotel is rather generous in terms of powerpoints as one can easily find one around this suite.
Main entrance to the suite
The signature green wall
Overview of the living room
Bench for extra storage. The safe is located behind the wooden panel
Nice sized work desk
Powerpoints neatly hidden when not in use
Sky garden outside my suite. Unfortunately it is inaccessible
Right in front of the desk is where one can find a comfortable two-seater couch, where one can simple laze onto while watching the TV. The couch is so comfortable that I fell asleep on it while watching TV. There is also a coffee table and a stool in this part of the suite. The TV is mounted on the wall facing the couch and the work desk. The 40″ LCD TV has no lack of options for guests to choose to watch. As mentioned, the wall where the TV is mounted serves as a partition between the living room and the bedroom of this suite. Several cabinets are built into the wall where one can find more storage space beneath the TV mounting. To the right of the TV is where one can find the minibar. This is where one can find the electric kettle as well as coffee and tea. The fridge is nice tucked under the storage space for the kettle. The architects of the suite cleverly hide the fridge in the cabinet under the open storage for kettle. This small feature makes the whole suite look tidy. One thing worth mentioning is that all items in the minibar, both drinks and snacks, are complementary from the hotel and it gets topped up on a daily basis.
Two-Seater Couch in the living room
Minibar and the sliding door to the bedroom
Snacks are complementary and replenished daily
40″ TV in the living room with storage underneath it. There are no lack of storage in the suite
Magazines and stationery in the cabinet beneath the wall mounted TV
Contents of the complementary minibar
Welcome fruit plating. The fruits was delivered shortly after I checked in. Fruits are replenished daily during housekeeping
View of the living room from the study desk
View from the suite in the bedroom
View from the suite in the living room

Bedroom

There is a sliding door built into this wall serving as a partition between the living room and the suite. Rather than merely provide a wooden door, the designers has a full size mirror mounted on the door, which is functional yet does not occupy space. The decor of the bedroom is minimalistic. Upon enter to this part of the suite, one king bed attracted my attention. In fact the bedroom comprises only of the bed, a TV and a couple of bedside tables. It does seem that the designers has functionality in mind when designing the bedroom. There is another 40″ LCD TV facing the bed mounted on the wall that separates the living room from the bedroom. Again there are ample powerpoints in the bedroom so that one does not have to leave their phone charging in the living room. The kind bed is very comfortable and I had no problems going to sleep shortly after lying on the bed. The pillows are however too soft for my liking, but the hotel provides foam pillows that gave me a good night sleep. As with other hotels, switches for the lighting can also be found on both sides of the bed. Again the designers did a fantastic job by building ledges for guests to hide all the wiring. This feature make the suite look very tidy.
Comfortable king bed. The head board is an art piece which is manually strung up using beads. The headboard is very comfortable to rest one’s head on
Another 40″ TV in the bedroom
Items on the bedside table

Bathroom

Access to the bathroom is through the bedroom, separated by 2 panels of wooden doors with full length mirror mounted on the bedroom side of the door. The large bathroom occupies approximately 3/4 of the length of the suite. The dry areas of the bathroom is decked out with wood whilst the wet areas are laid with marble. At one end of the bathroom is where one can find the open wardrobe, which is very convenient and provides easy access to guests clothing. The wardrobe spans across the width of the bathroom, providing ample space for guests to hang up their clothing. There are two panels to the wardrobe, where one can find a 2 tier cabinet on the left panel. The top of the cabinet also serves as storage space for guests to stow their luggage. On top of the cabinet is where the hotel make full use of space by providing hanging racks for one to hang their clothing such as shirts and berms. On the right panel is where one can find a full length hanger for longer garments. On the wall side of the wardrobe in this panel is where one can find four open tiered ledges for putting away of small items. One can also find the hair dryer and plugs for shavers nicely tucked onto the wall. Along Stretching across the length of the bathroom, facing the door is where one can find the counter top with his and hers sinks. The dual sink allows both guests to brush their teeth without the need to queue up. The expansive counter top also means there are ample space for guests to store their toiletries. The hotel is also very thoughtful in placing two bottles of drinking water here for guests to utilise. Opposite the wardrobe is where one can find two cubicles. The use of glass as partitions for these cubicles makes the bathroom feel spacious. On the left cubicle is where the bathtub and the shower is co-located. The bathtub is very large for 2 to soak in to comfortably. Incorporating the shower area together with the bathtub in this cubicle is very convenient for guests whom prefer to shower after soaking in the tub. The bathroom features both a rain shower and a shower head. Water pressure on both shower heads are strong. The other cubicle in the bathroom is where the toilet is located.
Wardrobe with ample space for storage in the bathroom
Countertop with his and hers sinks
Amenities on the countertop
A couple bottles of water is being placed in the bathroom
The quality of the bath amenities are excellent.
Bathtub cum walk-in shower cubicle
Toilet cubicle next to the bathing cubicle

Breakfast at Eve Restaurant

Breakfast is served at the Eve Restaurant located on the ground floor. Guests are given the choice to choose indoor or outdoor dinning. Despite the limited choices for food on display, guests can order additional food, with its listing in the menu that is found on every table. The hotel made a couple of changes to the food on offer daily.
Additional items on the menu for breakfast
Honey is dripped directly from the source during breakfast
The high ceiling in the restaurant makes it look big
Menu for additional items not on the buffet table

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool in the hotel is located on the 8th floor. The roof top infinite pool stretches across the entire floor. The water in the large swimming pool is rather chilling, however it does provide a great cool dip amidst the hot weather in Bangkok during my visit. Most of the sun chairs are under shelter, hence guests wanting to do some tanning will find it challenging. There is a jacuzzi located in one end of the pool, just outside the changing rooms on this floor. Inside the changing room, other than shower cum toilet cubicles, one can also find a steam room here.
Swimming pool area
Infinite roof top swimming pool. The pool stretches across the entire floor

Gym

The hotel has a small gym. Despite its size, one can find the standard gym equipment such as treadmills, weights and stationary cycle here. The gym is both clean and uncluttered.
Small but well equipped gym
Some of the gym equipment

Luxsa Spa

The in house spa occupies the entire 10th floor of the hotel. Upon exiting the lift, a friendly staff greets guests stopping at the spa. The wooden decor of the spa gives one a zen feel. There is a waiting area at the spa when one exits the lift. The spa provides hair cut and hair care treatment, pedicure and manicure on top of the spa services.
Signage of Luxsa Spa
Waiting area in Luxsa
Reception in Luxsa

Service

The services in the Hansar is generally very good, except for one of the Duty Managers. The other staffs in the hotel understood what it meant to be customer centric. The impeccable services starts when I requested for a change of room when showed to my room. My room was changed immediately and the staff even offered to bring the keycard to my new room. Moments later when I was settling into my room, the doorbell to my room rang. The staffs knew my request for firm pillows and brought over the pillows from the other room as well as some welcome fruits.
The housekeeping staffs are friendly and detailed in their work. My room is always neat and tidy whenever I returned to my room at the end of the day. The housekeeping staffs ensured that all amenities are promptly topped up. There was this instance I requested for extra bath amenities late at night, one of the housekeeping staff brought the stuff to my room. I commented on the hot weather in Bangkok, the next thing was a ring on my door bell. The staff brought a bucket of ice and 2 bottles of water for me to quench my thirst. Such thoughtful behaviour attests to the fact that even the housekeeping staff knew what it meant to be customer centric. Every time I walked past the housekeeping staffs, there is always no lack of smiles and greetings from them.
The bell boys at the front of the hotel are excellent in their service as well. They are always seen with a smile and did not allow me to open the front door to the hotel myself, even late at night. They are always seen running up to the door before me when they saw me approaching afar so that I can transit into the hotel without having to open the door. Several times I told them it’s okay, I can open the door myself, they still wouldn’t allow me to, saying that it is their job to do so. I met Golf a few times and he is always with a big welcoming smile on his face. Golf even helped to hail a cab for my trip to the airport and helped me with my luggage.
The staffs at Eve Restaurant are very attentive and welcoming. I did not have to wait for long to be shown to a table for breakfast. Service is fast and there is no instance where I found plates uncleared from my table. I had the opportunity to speak with Han, the Operations Manager of the hotel during breakfast, whom is seen walking from table to table to chat with guests. I learnt a little more about the hotel and its operations from Han. It is very seldom where one would see the manager walking around chatting with guests.
My stay in Hansar would be perfect if not for one of the Duty Managers who was on night duty. During my check in I enquired about late check out and I conveyed to the duty manager that my flight is at 9 pm. The manager told me to check with the reception again on the day on my check out to see if a late check out is possible. I returned to the hotel around 1am on the day of my checking out, I met the duty manager again. When I asked about late check out, he gave me a bunch of dodgy excuses. The conversation soon became heated and the manager became defensive. I told the manager that I would want to check with the Operations Manager later in the day and checked if he will be in the hotel (being a Sunday). The duty manager told me that he will be in the hotel. Later during my check out, I learnt that the Operations Manager is not working on the day of my checking-out. At this moment, I realised that the Duty Manager actually lied to me. It is ironical that the rest of the staff understood what it meant to be customer centric, and a manager does not.
The rest of the staff provides great service and are very attentive, however not so for this duty manager. I was served by another duty manager and related my experience to her. The duty manager processing my checking out was empathetic and listened attentively without being defensive.

Overall

My stay in Hansar is comfortable. The size of the suite is large and the sleep quality on the bed is excellent. The Hotel clearly has the hardware, designing around convenience to guests. The service around the hotel is impeccable, less for the duty manager whom spoke to in a defensive manner. If not for this particular personnel, my experience in Hansar would have been perfect. It is unlikely that I will return to this hotel, if they can condone a managerial level staff to lie to their guests.