Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Iggy Itinerary: Singapore Airlines Suites Class - Singapore to Shanghai-Pudong (A380-800)

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The passengers seemed a bit grumpy as they boarded the A380 superjumbo headed toward Shanghai. The flight had been delayed an hour because of a last-minute aircraft switch (something about plumbing issues). They boarded Suites Class, Business Class, and Star Alliance Gold elite members at the same time - that's way too many people for one boarding group.

The A380 from Singapore to Shanghai

Waiting at Singapore-Changi Airport

But Suites Class has a way of making everything better.

Singapore Airlines 830, Singapore > Shanghai-Pudong
Suites Class, Seat 3A

Here are some pictures (see the previous flights here and here for more).

Suite door closed

Arms down

Arms up (13" MacBook Air for size reference)

Fully reclined

View from the aisle

Closed suite across the aisle

Empty suite across the aisle (with center divider raised)


A shelf


Power outlets

Ottoman storage (that's a normal carry-on bag underneath)


Orchids in the bathroom

Although the service on both legs of Flight 11 met Singapore's usual standards of excellence, the flight attendants on this leg went above and beyond. Elizabeth, the lead flight attendant for the Suites cabin, was particularly excellent. But unfortunately, there were no pajamas or amenity kit distributed on this flight - not that I really expected them on a short daytime flight.

The meal service began soon after we took off. We could choose from a haute-cuisine Chinese menu called the ming jia zhen zhuan (名家珍馔), which Singapore Airlines translates as "treasured culinary creations from a famed and reputable establisment." There was also a more traditional menu.

Ming Jia Zhen Zhuan

Crab meat and vegetables parcel with plum sauce,
Pomelo salad with peanut, dried shrimp,
coconut and palm sugar dressing
Grilled pork belly coated with hoisin sauce
and pickled cucumber

~

Oriental double boiled trumpet, morel mushroom with conpoy and chicken

~

Grilled wagyu beef striploin with grapes
and Thai style spiced dressing,
Steamed Chilean seabass with ginger and mushroom sauce
Stir fried Oriental vegetables
Wok fried rice with crabmeat, squid ink and XO sauce

~

Steamed egg white custard with a touch of ginger flavor,
aloe vera, mango gel and gula Melaka sauce


Lunch

Canapes
Satay
With onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce

Appetisers
Antipasto platter
Marinated prawn, bocconcini cheese with pesto,
duck foie gras terrine with mirabelle plum
and coconut dacquoise

Jamon iberico
Spanish air dried ham with fresh fig,
manchego cheese rock melon
and apple balsamic vinaigrette

Soups
Roasted butternut squash soup
Creme fraiche and brown butter sage crouton

Salad
Lamb lettuce with baby romaine, pecan nuts,
parmesan cheese and cherry tomato
Ranch dressing
Extra virgin olive oil-cabernet vinegar dressing

Main Courses
Seafood hor fun
Chinese style stir fried rice noodles with seafood
A popular Singaporean dish

Pan roasted chicken stuffed with dried apricot,
sauteed vegetables and gratin potatoes
lemon thyme jus

Seared beef fillet with madeira sauce,
vegetables lasagne and asparagus

Finale
Warm chocolate pear tart
with macadamia ice cream and vanilla sauce

Selection of Canzona Danish Blue,
Scarmoza Affumicitata and Red Cheddar cheeses
served with garnishes

Fresh fruits in season

A selection of gourmet coffees & fine teas
served with pralines


I was tempted by the ming jia zhen zhuan, but I had pre-ordered my meal off the Book the Cook menu. And for First and Suites Class passengers flying out of Singapore, the menu is extensive. (The singaporeair.com website has full descriptions of each dish; to save space, I'm just going to type the "headline" of each dish).

Book the Cook - SIN

Western
U.S. 8 oz. Rib-Eye Steak
U.S. 6 oz. Rib-Eye Steak
U.S. Grilled Prime Beef Fillet
Pan-Fired Veal Loin and Braised Veal Cheek
Seared Nut-Crusted Veal Fillet
Grilled Angus Beef Burger
Seared Lamb Loin
Roast Rack of Lamb
Roast Lamb Chops
Oven-Roasted Free Range Chicken Breast
Oven-Roasted Chicken Breast
Pan-Fried Free Range Chicken Supreme
Cajun Spiced Chicken
Confit of Duck Leg
Grilled Chilean Seabass
Pan-Seared Chilean Seabass in Bouillabaisse Broth
Pan-Seared Chilean Seabass with Bouillabaisse sauce
Seared Salmon Escalope
Seared Black Cod Fillet 'à la Niçoise'
Boston Lobster Thermidor
Warm Cajun Spiced Prawns
Grilled King Prawns
Pappardelle with Seafood
Roasted Japanese Pumpkin and Oriental Mushroom Salad
Roasted Vegetables Salad
Swedish Wholegrain Crisp Bread
Warm Waffle with Strawberry Coulis
Poached Egg Served with Hollandaise Sauce

Japanese
Kyo-Kaiseki
Chargrilled Soya-Flavoured Beef
Wagyu Sirloin with Eringi Mushroom
Assorted Sushi

Chinese
Steamed Chinese Herbal Chicken
Braised Pork Ribs in Yellow Bean Sauce
Chinese Style Cod with Fried Rice
Baked King Prawn with Chilli Sauce
Sauteed Monkey-Head Mushroom with Dried Chilli
Sliced Grouper Congee
Dim Sum Selection

Singaporean
Char Siew Wanton Noodle Soup
Singapore Bak Kut Teh
Singapore Chicken Rice
Straits Chinese Chicken Curry
Prawn and Chicken Laksa
Singaporean Style Chicken and Lamb Satay
Braised Soya Flavoured Duck with Yam Rice
Nonya Assam Fish
Teo Chew Fish Porridge
Yu Pian Mi Fen
Fish Ball Kway Teow Soup

Malay
Lontong Rendang Ayam
Malay-style Beef Rendang
Grilled Indonesian King Prawns
Nasi Lemak

Thai
Duck in Red Thai Curry
Steamed Cod Fish Thai Style
Kaeng Paa Koong

Indian
Lamb Shank
Chicken Tikka Kurchan Masala
Nasi Biryani
Curry Patta Lobster

Lordy. That menu rivals The Cheesecake Factory in length (and in quality, of course).

I ordered the prawn and chicken laksa. Laksa is a Singaporean dish that draws from Chinese, Indian and Malay influences (much like Singapore itself): it's rice noodles in a thick coconut milk curry soup, usually served with seafood and/or meat, bean sprouts, and fish cake.

I'd eaten laksa three times before this flight. The first time was at the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer lounge in San Francisco - they have a make-your-own laksa bar, and I decided it was one of the most delicious foods I'd ever had. The other two laksa outings (at Malay restaurants in Oklahoma City and Chicago) were considerably less successful. So I was eager to see what Singapore Airlines would serve.

But first, the satay.

Really freaking delicious satay

I ordered a Singapore Sling (gin, Benedictine, orange liqueur, cherry brandy, Angostura bitters, Grenadine, lime juice, pineapple juice) to go with the satay. It's a bit sweet, but it's a Singaporean classic (or so they tell me). It also tastes like it has no alcohol in it.

Singapore Sling

I ordered the antipasto appetizer. By mistake, they brought me the iberico ham instead - I had time to take a picture (but not eat it) before they realized the error and took it away. (Too bad - I should have asked them if I could keep it).

Jamon iberico

But then they delivered this beautiful antipasto plate. The highlight was the foie gras mousse, but everything on the plate was superb.

Antipasto plate and garlic bread

And then for the highlight of the meal: the laksa. The steward brought it to me, whispering conspiratorially: "Excellent choice. This is my favorite dish off the Book the Cook menu." He might have just been flattering, but c'mon... look at it. It's beautiful.


Prawn and Chicken Laksa

2012 Kooyong Chardonnay

As Elizabeth came to clear my plate, I was a bit embarrassed at the mess I had made. I'm kind of a clumsy eater, and the minor turbulence didn't help.


Pesto and laksa broth

For dessert, I helped myself to a tangerine and a white peach from the cheese cart.

Fresh fruit

When I was in high school, I spent a summer selling organic fruit at the local farmer's market. We had several types of apples and nectarines - they were great. But the white peaches were the highlight - firm, but still bursting with that delicious peachy flavor. Since high school, I've bought plenty of white peaches, but they're not as good - they're either bland or mushy.

But this peach was perfect. I don't know where they got it, but I want another one. This is the sort of peach that Mr. Caterpillar from James and the Giant Peach would sing about.

I finished the meal off with some green tea (recommended by Elizabeth).

Paris-Singapore Green Tea

I asked Elizabeth if I could walk around the upper deck - she told me that she'd be happy to give me a tour of the plane.
Spiral staircase to the upper deck

The A380-800 comes in two configurations: one has an all-Business Class upper deck. Ours was half Business Class and half Economy Class. Almost every seat was full in both cabins. The Business Class seats looked plenty comfortable - better than first class on most airlines. (I flew Singapore's A380 Business Class on an award itinerary back in 2012 from New York-JFK to Frankfurt and was blown away by the quality of the seat and the service).

Business Class (from a previous flight)

On the main deck, economy was full.

Singapore Airlines Economy Class

It's worth noting that main-deck Economy is in a 3-4-3 configuration, while the 88-passenger upper-deck Economy cabin is 2-4-2, which feels much roomier.

It's not very far from Singapore to Shanghai, especially when you're traveling in Suites Class. Before long, we landed in Shanghai's Pudong International Airport and prepared to wait in a very, very long immigration line.

Flight route

Conclusion
This trip was worth every mile I spent (and the hours of searching). It's hard to beat the privacy of an enclosed suite, and Singapore Airlines's food and service are both top-notch.

I drained my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to get this flight, but I'm already well on my way to getting enough with the help of a very generous 100,000-point American Express Platinum Card sign-up bonus. Those points transfer 1:1 to Singapore's frequent-flyer program, and my entire Los Angeles > Tokyo > Singapore > Shanghai itinerary was only 106,250 points miles.


The Iggy Itinerary
1. Introduction
2. Booking

Outbound (LAX-NRT-SIN-PVG)
3. Lounge Report - Star Alliance First Class / Business Class Lounge, LAX
4. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Los Angeles > Tokyo-Narita (A380-800)
5. Lounge Report - ANA Suite Lounge, Tokyo-Narita
6. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Tokyo-Narita > Singapore (A380-800)
7. Lounge Report - The Private Room, Singapore
8. Singapore Airlines Suites Class, Singapore > Shanghai-Pudong (A380-800)

Inbound (PVG-ICN-FRA-YVR-SFO)
9. Lounge Report - Air China Business Class Lounge, Shanghai-Pudong
10. Asiana Business Class, Shanghai-Pudong > Seoul-Incheon (767-300)
11. Lounge Report - Asiana First Class Lounge, Seoul-Incheon
12. Lufthansa First Class, Seoul-Incheon > Frankfurt (747-8i)
13. Review: Hyatt Regency Mainz
14. Lounge Report - Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Frankfurt
15. Lufthansa First Class, Frankfurt > Vancouver (747-400)
16. Lounge Report - Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Vancouver
17. Air Canada rouge - Premium rouge Class, Vancouver > San Francisco (A319)

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