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Airlines

Exploring Thai’s latest A350 cabin products

Thai is a confusing airline when it comes to business class because they have so many different seat types across their fleet.

The majority of Thai’s widebody fleet (B747, A330, A340, B772, B773) still has their old business class angled flat product. This is, quite frankly, an awful product to be on for any long haul flight. Angled flat products might have been ok a decade ago, but the gold standard for long haul business class is now full flat 1-2-1. Full flat 2-2-2 is already pushing it, but angled flat 2-2-2….Thai’s fleet renewal can’t come fast enough

Image result for thai business class old

Image result for thai business class 747

Thai’s A380 aircraft have 1-2-1 full flat seats. I’ve not flown these personally but a friend who has says they’re generally comfortable enough. If you’re travelling by yourself, avoid the honeymoon 2 seats in the centre like the plague because there’s very little privacy from your seatmate. I’m not totally won over by the cabin from an aesthetics point of view though.

Image result for thai a380 business class

Image result for thai business class

Thai’s B787s have 2-2-2 full flat seats (they’re similar to the ones United Airlines uses in Business Class- see my review of that seat here). I don’t fancy any configuration that doesn’t have all aisle access (because both the aisle passenger and window passenger at the side are inconvenienced by each other), but it sure beats angled flat.

photo: AusBT

Image result for thai b787 business class

And that brings us to TG’s newest aircraft, the A350. I’m personally very excited about the A350 and am looking forward to flying SQ’s version to Manchester and Houston next year. Thai’s A350 has a 1-2-1 full flat configuration, but I much prefer this to their A380s as I find the finishes more classy (less faux wood and plastic, more privacy for the seats at the side). This is a seat I’d gladly take on any long haul flight.

Thai Airways A350 business class cabin

Thai is currently bedding in their A350s by running them on short haul routes. When they first received the aircraft back in Sept it was common to find the A350s plying routes as short as Bangkok-Chang Mai and Bangkok-Phuket (where one aircraft promptly went on a euphemistically named “runway excursion“). You’d be a fairly lucky man to land a long haul J seat on a 90 minute flight.

Thai has gradually started deploying the A350 on progressively longer routes, as seen below.

Route Departure Arrival Day Flight
Bangkok – Rome 00.01 05.55 SUN, MON, WED, FRI TG944
Rome – Bangkok 13.30 06.05 SUN, MON, WED, FRI TG945
Bangkok – Milan 00.35 07.10 TUE, THU, SAT TG940
Milan – Bangkok 13.05 05.55 TUE, THU, SAT TG941
Bangkok – Singapore 08.00 12.25 Everyday TG403
16.35 19.55 Everyday TG404
Singapore – Bangkok 12.25 13.45 Everyday TG409
21.00 22.20 Everyday TG410

They are still operating the A350 on the relatively short haul SIN-BKK route. I believe that’s in order to give pilots international flying experience with the A350 as the route has sufficient business traffic to warrant the deployment of a widebody premium cabin.  I don’t think this is by any means a permanent arrangement, however, so when I saw on Lifemiles that TG award space from BKK-SIN was wide open, I didn’t think twice about booking it.

I ended up booking the award through Krisflyer for 20,000 miles and $30.40 of taxes (SQ J would have cost 17,000 and $104. Fewer miles, but more cash…) to get home from Bangkok. Having flown the oldest of the old from SIN-BKK, it was now time to try the newest of the new…


My flight was scheduled to depart at 4.30pm. After checking in at BKK and clearing immigration (Thai now has a special lane near Row A for premium cabin travellers that gives dedicated security and immigration clearance), I made a beeline for the Royal Orchid Spa, reserved for Thai J and F customers. I’ve done a detailed review of the first class section of the spa during The Long Way to New York trip report, but this time I’d be doing the business class section.

First and Business class passengers get access to the same spa in BKK. The main difference is the type of treatment they receive. Thai’s airport spa offers business class passengers a 30 minute treatment and first class passengers a 60 minute treatment. As a reminder, here are the options

Touch of Silk (Full Body Oil Massage – 60 minutes for First Class only)

Start your journey with a relaxing Touch of Silk, full-body oil massage. Performed with the unique ‘Thai touch’, this massage will help to prepare your body for your onward flight by increasing blood circulation as well as relieving muscular tension and helping to provide necessary hydration for your skin. On completion of your Touch of Silk massage, you will be left with an overall sense of well-being and total relaxation.

Royal Thai Massage (Full Body Massage – 60 minutes for First Class only)

Thai massage is perceived as one of the most precious of Thai traditional therapies. Royal Thai Massage helps to stimulate blood circulation, reduces edema caused by travelling and reduces body fatigue. With its unique acupressure techniques, expertly applied to your body, you will find your mind relaxed and muscles relieved, following the stress of your journey.

Neck & Shoulder Massage (30 minutes)

The Neck & Shoulder Massage is a great way to relieve stress which has built up from the rigors of everyday life from working long hours at your computer. Using specific techniques the therapist will work to loosen tight muscles around the neck and shoulders whilst simultaneously assessing how much tension is held in the body and how best to release it. You will board your flight feeling more relaxed and a little lighter around the shoulders.

Foot Massage (30 minutes)

Let’s help prepare you for your onward journey, by taking the weight off your feet and giving them a relaxing massage, which they truly deserve. Foot massage is a well-known relaxation therapy to help take care of tired feet. The gentle touch of the therapists hands and the deeper pressure from their fingers, create a sense of overall relaxation and will help to stimulate your vital organs.

As a J passenger, my options were shoulders or foot. I opted for foot.

The business class spa treatments take place in small semi private cubicles (First Class has their own treatment room- you can see how those look here). Here’s mine.

The treatment actually lasted closer to 20 minutes than 30. But it was just as good as any other foot massage you’d find on the streets of BKK. I can’t really say I’m a connoisseur of foot massages though. I’m the kind of whimp who always says “softer”.

After the treatment you’re ushered back to the waiting area and served tea.

There are some light refreshments laid out in the waiting area but it’s really nothing worth hanging around for. It’s mostly prepackaged snacks and pastries.

Craving real food, I left the spa and walked across the hallway to the business class lounge. By this time there was less than 10 minutes till boarding started so I had to make a very quick pass through.

There are numerous buffet spreads set up within the lounge, but there’s only one central hot food area with maybe 4 or 5 hot items.

The selection was somewhat limited, and TG really isn’t doing legendary Thai food any justice at all. I had a plate of very anemic pad thai (yes, yes, I know pad thai isn’t really pure Thai) and a pork cake, the contents of which I prefer not to know. I mean, how hard would it be for Thai to do a really kickass menu of Thai classics?

There are several satellite buffet displays set up elsewhere in the lounge with coffee, light snacks, fruit and cakes.

I chowed down for 5 minutes and started the walk towards gate G2. The signs said the walking time was 12-15 minutes, but because of my superior physique I did the walk in 6  minutes (form an orderly queue, ladies)

Boarding was just about to start when I reached the gate. I love the design of the A350. The plane is so cool it looks like it’s wearing sunglasses.

When boarding started, I bounded down the jetway to try and snap as many photos as possible before the place got crowded (I had fun reading Lucky’s tips on writing trip reports, and how you need to accept that you’re going to be seen as a bit of a weirdo for running down the jetway just so you can get photos of an empty cabin)

First impressions of the cabin were great. This seat, to me, is a much improved version of its A380 offering. The A380 seat has some very unfortunate design elements like the copious use of plastic and Barney-esque purple upholstery. The A350’s theme is more wood and dark purple, which at least evokes fewer comparisons with everyone’s favourite dinosaur.

You can do a virtual tour of the cabin here if you’re so inclined. Here’s what the seats in the centre look like (if you’re travelling solo and unable to get one of the seats at the side, this should be your next best bet)

The seats at the side, as expected, offer the best privacy. There are two types of seats at the side- those with the table separating the seat from the aisle and those with the seat closer to the aisle. Obviously the former is preferable in terms of privacy.

I know some people have misgivings about seats in this configuration because they’re worried about the amount of foot space they’ll have. I’m pleased to report that Thai’s seat has an ample amount of space for feet in its cubby hole. Either that or I have very small feet. And you know what they say about men with small feet, ladies…

Thai is using the newfangled touchscreen IFE system. I’m still unconvinced about the actual utility of having a touch screen, because in practice (1) it hangs a lot and (2) it increases the chances of accidentally brushing the screen and exiting whatever you’re watching.

Thai’s earphones are nose cancelling but look and feel very flimsy. Definitely not in the same league as SQ’s Phitek or ANA’s Sony-branded sets.

Each seat has 2x USB ports for charging. It’s a minor annoyance, really, but due to the setup of the seat and positioning of the side table, if you’re plugging in a USB cable and resting your device on the side table, you’re going to get tangled up when exiting the seat. It’s a small issue, again, but just goes to show how far some intelligent user experience design can go. It wouldn’t have been very difficult to put the USB charging ports on the table, or in an otherwise unobstructed place.

Even the A350 lights are cool. They’re behind clear glass and are activated by a small button over your head.

The crew came around to serve pre-departure drinks. A general point about the TG crew is that they were competent but not really personable. It’s not a criticism unique to TG, I realise that on regional flights SQ crew are more functional than friendly, but don’t expect any additional touches like being addressed by name or small talk. I certainly didn’t feel any warmth from this crew.

All drinks in TG J were served in these really tiny glasses. If you were uncharitable you could call this a cost saving initiative, as those glasses couldn’t have held more than 100ml of champagne. FYI, the champagne on offer was Duval Leroy. It’s not terrible, but not exactly what I’d call an aspirational brand either.

Having had a bit too much champagne before takeoff, a visit to the loo was in order. The A350’s loos have all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a 21st century aircraft. Automatic taps are an expected feature by now…

But I was particularly pleased by the no-touch bins. Just wave your hand over it and it opens up.

The next feature I want on my aircraft is no touch door opening, because the hypochondriac in me hates washing my hands then having to touch the door latch to get out.

TG has Borghese toiletries in the loo for its regional flights.

Pushback was delayed by about 20 minutes, but the captain finally got on the PA and announced the flight details and timings.

We were stuck in a bit of a queue to take off, but I spotted this relic of the TG fleet…

We got airborne before long and were treated to some really nice sunset views  

Linner was served after takeoff. Here’s the food and drinks menu.

I was a bit surprised there was no Western option on this flight, given that most carriers practice having both an Asian and a Western choice on this route. That said, all 3 Asian options sounded equally good.

I wasn’t too impressed by the quality of the meal. It seemed more like an economy class meal plated on business class plates. SQ’s regional catering is definitely superior to TG’s, given that you can order pretty much whatever you want from the BTC menu.

That said, there was a very nice chocolate mousse that came with the meal. The crew came by to serve almonds with the post take off drinks, almost as if by afterthought.

After the meal I tried to test out the bed function of the seat. The seat goes full flat, but as I’ve said before I’m weird in a way that I prefer adjusting the seat to 160-170 degrees because I find a 180 degree sleeping angle a bit uncomfortable on the lower back

This was just a short haul flight so I can’t say whether the long haul experience is any different- I would have liked to get a mattress pad plus a bigger blanket, but the base seat in itself was comfortable enough for a quick nap. My main concern about the seat is that it’s quite firm. Some people may prefer a firmer bed however.

My overall feelings on the Thai A350 product is that it’s definitely a solid enough hard product, one I’d not hesitate to select on a long haul route. Can it compare to top tier airlines like ANA, SQ and EVA? No way. But this is an important step forward for TG and hopefully they’ll be able to raise their soft product to match it as well.

Reflections on Garuda’s 90% promotion and my visit to Garuda’s offices

Years from now, when we look back at Garuda’s 90% off award tickets promo, we’ll still be arguing about just what it was that Garuda wanted to achieve with this.

The most convincing theory I can conjure is that Garuda management intended from the start that this would be a publicity stunt. Garuda’s got great new First and Business Class products, but you’d be hard pressed to find any trip reports about them online (especially First Class, but here’s one!).

Who are the people most likely to write trip reports? People like me. Who is the most likely to jump through all sorts of hoops to get fire sale award prices? Ditto.

So by launching a limited time, too-good-to-be-true promotion, Garuda found a way of converting saver award seats (which would otherwise have flown out empty) into one heck of an interweb buzz. Overnight they got tons of coverage on sites like Flyertalk and Boarding Area, and it’s safe to say a lot of people who didn’t know about Garuda Indonesia before are now talking about it. People will fly on their premium cabin products and write trip reports with photos, and before long these will propagate themselves throughout the web, boosting the awareness and image of Garuda.

There are of course many other theories out there- some speculate that it was an ill thought through promotion that got out of hand, others that Garuda wanted to make a bit more money from Citibank and needed to encourage mileage transfers.

The promotion ended up being pulled early, which led others to speculate that Garuda intended to do this all along- get people to transfer their Citibank points over so Gaurda would earn some revenue, then pull the promotion before the transfer went through. In the end Garuda promised to honor all award tickets issued before they pulled the promo, which put to bed some of those theories. But object lesson here- nothing is confirmed until your ticket is issued.

Whatever you believe, I think we can all agree that it was an amazing promotion and we are unlikely to see anything like it for a long, long time. Which brings me to my experience of trying to get onboard with this promotion.

Someone on the comments in the original Garuda post said something to the tune of  “I’m not sure anyone with a full time job could have jumped through the various hoops.” And he’s definitely right. Because over the past few days I’ve spent easily 3+ hours on the phone with various people from Citibank and Garuda trying to get my transferred points to post, having to explain the same story again and again. This is in addition to the time I spent researching different routes and physically going down to the ticketing office to get the ticket issued (fortunately I’m on leave this week).

Image result for garuda indonesia business class

But it’s finally done, and I now hold a confirmed reservation in Garuda J from Bali to Narita. It’s not the F award I was so coveting, but hey, win some, lose some. And 12,600 miles  + S$162 for a return business class ticket is not to be sniffed at.


The day the promotion was announced I jumped on the phone with Garuda. After a 40 minute session of pricing out different routes and cabins, I finally concluded that an F award wasn’t realistic (only AMS and LHR are serviced with F, and only midweek departures were available, and I couldn’t justify paying the surcharges for what would have to be a very short trip).

So I settled for a J award. I transferred my Citibank Thank You points to Garuda on 23rd December. The T&C say that points transfers can take up to 14 days, but they just say that to cover themselves. In reality transfers mostly go through in 2-3 business days.

At least, that’s what I told myself.

On Monday 26th December I was already seeing people posting about successful points transfers. Still my account had nothing. That’s when a sinking feeling started forming in my stomach as I realised it could be because my Citibank name had a hyphen in my pinyin name, but my Garuda account did not (because their system doesn’t support it).

Why oh why did my parents want me to be unique, I thought to myself as I picked up the phone to start the first of many calls to Citibank and Garuda. Citibank told me they didn’t do any sort of verification on their side, and it was all up to Garuda to accept or reject the transfer. Gaurda told me they couldn’t see any transfer yet but they’d monitor it.

On the 27th, still no points. I called Garuda again, explained the issue with the name, and was told that I’d need to check with Citibank to see if they could change the name on their side. Citibank told me I’d need to check with Garuda.

On the 28th, the points were nowhere to be seen. I called Garuda and this time was asked to call their Jakarta office for “escalation”. Garuda customer service opened a file for me and asked me to send an email with all the details. I sent it in.

On the 29th, I got a call from Gaurda saying they had no evidence of Citibank ever making a transfer. I called Citibank, conferenced Garuda in and got them to talk to each other. They told me I’d get an update later that day.

Later that day I received an update from Citibank saying that Gaurda miles would post more slowly if the Garuda account was “new” versus if it was one with prior activity. I have no idea why this might be the case but anecdotally I had heard a few people on FT talking about that. They said they’d chase it up.

Finally, I awoke on a blissful Friday morning and saw that the points were in. Never before have I been so happy to see 13,000 miles in my account. A big shout out to Natalie from Citibank for being so persistent with the follow up.


And so it was time to journey down to Middle Earth.

Garuda’s offices are on the 12th floor of United Square in Thomson.

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Because it’s the last working day of the year, they were on a half day and I had to get there before 1pm to close it out.

The place was deserted when I got in at around 1130 am, with only a handful of customers who clearly weren’t redeeming award tickets. I had this strange idea in my head that the whole Garuda office would be full of fellow travel hackers and we could make this our own little meetup.

Instead there were a grand total of two people there. One gentleman who had come down to ask about his luggage allowance, and one gentleman who had journeyed all the way down to buy some Garuda merchandise (I’m not kidding. He was trying on different sizes of the Garuda Liverpool FC jersey)

I explored the office while I waited. There was a display dedicated to their new 77W aircraft and cabin products

And some other Garuda tchotchkes. Incredible how Garuda went from deathtrap to world’s youngest fleet in the space of half a decade. I’m sure there’s going to be a HBS case on this before long.

They were also advertising Garuda vacation packages to Bali. They have very naughtily excluded airline surcharges from their price quote (which isn’t allowed, as per SG laws) but I’ll let it slide.

It was a slow business day, as evidenced from my queue number.

And finally it was my turn, and 15 minutes later I had my Garuda ticket in my hand. I read reports that you needed to have your physical membership card, but I wasn’t even asked to show my digital one. I received an email confirmation while I was still at the office that my ticket was now issued.

So I’m going to be reviewing Garuda’s J product over the May Day long weekend. I will need to position myself to Bali to catch the flight, and very honestly if I weren’t in the hobby of writing reviews of different airline products I might not have gone through all that trouble. The positioning ticket + taxes on the award is costing me $360 out of pocket, and that’s not taking into account my hotel in Tokyo.

But as Jeriel reminds me, I should be taking advantage of my flexibility to travel on short notice. He was having as much of a milegasm as I was about this promotion and would have very much liked to up and go to Amsterdam, but with a wife and kid in tow the equation becomes much more difficult.

Today is the last day for ticketing those amazing 90% off tickets. To everyone who got one, congrats! I’ll expect those of you travelling in F to be churning out trip reports. To those who missed out, take heart. Deals come and go all the time. Such is the nature of the hobby we do. I personally can’t wait to see what sort of deals 2017 has in store!

How does a 20th century airline seat hold up today?

Going to Bangkok post-Christmas has become something of a ritual for me. It’s not that Thai food or massages or shopping are particularly good elixirs for an entire month of overeating, but I’m just a creature of habit that way.

The problem with going to Bangkok post-Christmas, however, is that half of Singapore has the same idea. So (unless you’ve booked really far in advance), if you’re hoping to leave Singapore early in the morning and come back in the evening, it shouldn’t surprise you to see prices like this…

It therefore seemed more prudent to look at award flight options. I know it goes against the general principle I preach of not using miles to redeem for short haul economy, but given the very high revenue prices (even on budget airlines), doing so made sense.

Because SQ was unwilling to provide instant confirmation for economy saver awards, I looked at business saver availability which was wide open.  As soon as I clicked through to seat selection something struck me as odd-

No prizes for spotting that the seatmap was showing a 2-3-2 configuration. This was something I hadn’t seen in a while. And by a while, I mean a long, long while. 2-3-2 in J meant that this aircraft was using SQ’s Ultimo seats (There’s some disagreement online whether or not it’s accurate to call these Ultimo seats, as I’ll explain later, but given the similarities in design philosophy we’ll just go with that for now) introduced more than 15 years ago.

As per the fleet list curated by the boffins on SQTalk, there are only 2 aircraft left in SQ’s fleet with such a J arrangement- 9V-SRJ and 9V-SRL. I had evidently just landed one of the two (while we’re on a retro theme there is still one Spacebed equipped 777-200ER, 9V-SVF. I know, right? I thought those had been long put to pasture. Have a read of my SQ through the ages piece to see how the business class products have evolved)

Now here’s where most people would cancel the booking and think of something else. I mean, who wants to spend hard earned miles on a product that’s more than a decade out of date?

Yet, I was intrigued. I had already reviewed SQ’s middling regional J angled-flat product more times than I could care to remember. In fact, I’ve reviewed pretty much every SQ product there is out there (or at least experienced it and been too lazy to write a full report). But the Ultimo seat? The last time I saw an Ultimo seat, I was 10 or 11 years old and flying to San Francisco on a 747 back when Business Class was still called Raffles Class. This seat was so old it even pre-dated the 2002 Spacebed.

Here’s how the 1998 SQ annual report describes the Ultimo seat

SIA’s Raffles Class offers comfort, service and amenities that rival the First Class experience of other airlines. Cabin features and amenities are designed by Givenchy. The new seat on board the B747-400s, dubbed Ultimo, offers an extended seat pitch of 52 inches, the longest business class seat pitch among any major airline offering three classes. The seat also has the industry’s first business class privacy screen. Automated footrests, four-way lumbar support and six-way adjustable headrests are introduced for greater comfort. An individual fibre-optic light is located on the back of the seat for enhanced reading comfort, and there is also an in-seat laptop power supply point.

And that was that. I had to try it, if only for nostalgia’s sake. Besides, the flight was only slightly over 2 hours and it’d make for a great retro trip report. Why not?


SQ972 was set to depart at 940am the day after Christmas, so I showed up at the airport around 815am.

It was nice to see the airport still had its sense of festive cheer, albeit with Pokemon mixed in. Changi Airport has some sort of Pokemon tie up right now.

I never got into the whole Pokemon Go craze (and have very select opinions about those who did) but you’d have to be made of stone not to at least go a little “awww” at this.

I had no spending to do at Changi, but if I did I could have got a pokemon plush toy for about $10. It’s interesting that you need to spend $120 in the transit area to get a plush, but only $60 in the public area. Says a bit about who they’re trying to target perhaps?

I’ve reviewed the J section of the SQ lounge in T2 before so I’m only going to touch on a few points I found interesting during this visit.

SQ’s put up some decorations in the lounge for Christmas, but apart from some gingerbread dioramas

and making all the service crew wear Santa hats, there wasn’t really anything beyond that. I would have much like to see a special Christmas menu in the lounge, but it was the usual assortment of Chinese and Western dishes.

There was a special display of teochew culture and food in the lounge, in line with SQ’s special teochew menu onboard, but as far as I could see there were no special teochew dishes in the lounge either.

I’m not sure if it was an enhancement or just the earliness of the hour but the champagne was tucked away.

In the spirit of festive cheer, SQ had put up this note saying that it was available on request. The charitable side of me believed that they did this so they could store the champagne at its proper temperature and to preserve freshness. The other side believed it was to discourage timid people from asking for champagne at 9am for fear they’d be considered lush.

As you can see, that wasn’t an issue for me. The lounge food was really forgettable, and SQ needs to step up its lounge catering a gear if it wants to stay competitive,

SQ has set up several advertising displays in the lounge recently. Today there was a display for an LG steam clothing care system, something I didn’t know I needed until I saw it.  Presumably SQ earns a little fee from LG in exchange for positioning this advert in a place where a reasonable number of affluent travellers will see it.

I remember seeing a similar pop up display in the lounge before for Singleton Whiskey. I’m not against advertising in the lounge per se, and I think where the product being advertised is something that can be consumed and experienced by passengers first hand then it’s a nice tie up. So things like sponsored alcohol tastings are more than ok in my mind.

I feel a bit differently about static displays such as LG’s, however, given that there’s no actual functionality for passengers. It would be one thing (and a good idea) if there were someone on hand who could offer to press customers’ clothes after a long haul flight, but if the sum total of your display is one unit plus a few brochures, it doesn’t really do anything except take up space.

We were departing from one of the furthest gates in T2 (F42), so I started the hike down early. I wanted to take photos of the cabin before it got too full. By the time I reached, boarding has just started.

Let’s get some technicalities out of the way first. Technically, the seats below are the “true” Ultimo seats. Note the privacy ears and the square headrest. You can’t find these any more as they were on the 747s that have since been retrofitted and retired.

The seats on my flight today have rounded headrests and no privacy ears. The crew refer to these as Ultimo seats but they are technically modified versions. You can call them “old regional J” if you want, or Ultimo Minus as others do. But they’re similar enough to the mainline Ultimo that I’m just going to stick to that naming convention.

Waves of nostalgia hit me the moment I saw the seat. I remembered flying long haul in the days before Krisworld, where the stewardesses endeavored to keep young kids occupied any which way they could. I remembered receiving coloring books, model airplanes, little sets of reversi and playing cards, those “Young Explorer” giveaways and trips to the cockpit to get my log book signed. I remembered how excited I was when they finally introduced Krisworld, playing hours of Super Mario and Super Bonk to while away the flight. I felt like a kid again.

Let’s deal with layout first. The cabin is configured in a 2-3-2 layout. I was in the centre row of 3, but fortunately had an empty seat next to me.

This is what the seats at the side look like. You’re not going to get a whole lot of privacy in this cabin, that’s for sure. Everyone is in each other’s line of site. Privacy is another fascinating feature that has been gradually grafted onto business class seats. A long time ago, no one would really have any issues with such an open concept cabin. But now you can go an entire flight without having to so much as make eye contact with another passenger because of the high walls and privacy screens you find in business class. I of course much prefer the current arrangement, but isn’t it fascinating to think that people used to be ok with less privacy?

These seat controls take me back. They’re not manual, thank goodness (because I have very weak upper body strength), and the motor makes very reassuring loud hum whenever you adjust the seat position.  You can see that you can adjust lumbar support, legrest angle or length and seat recline. There’s also an easy reset button when it comes time to land.

Fortunately the aircraft is not too old to have AVOD.

Does anyone remember those old Krisworld advertisements they used to play on TV about the Wisemen 3000 AVOD system? I can’t find it on YouTube sadly. It’s the one that demonstrates the pause, fast forward and rewind features of the system by pausing, fast forwarding and rewinding the advertisement. I thought that was clever. But then again I was 10.

There is indeed in seat power- but this seat is so ancient you need a special adapter to use it! I saw one passenger request for an adapter, which the crew have on hand. It’s this laptop brick-like device they bring around that has a regular 3 ping plug output.

Remember the days when your tray table used to be found in your armrest and not some other cleverly designed nook?

The table can’t match what we now have in modern day J products for size (or sturdiness). It was clearly designed with the tray approach to dining in J class, not the modern day course by course layout which really needs a larger footprint. Indeed, when the crew served the meals later on they used trays (as, I should note, is the practice on regional flights)

Remember when all the literature you needed was stored in the seatback pocket infront of you?

It’s interesting to see how airline seats have evolved to incorporate more in-seat storage as the number of devices we carry increase. Back in the late 90s when this seat was first conceptualised most people would probably have a laptop and a cellphone. Now we need storage space for tablets, second cellphones, cables, smartwatches and a whole host of what not. Apart from the seatback storage, the Ultimo seat has only a small stowage space under the armrest. More suited to a water bottle than anything else.

The crew came around to take pre-departure drink requests. They brought juice and water, but after more than a few passengers (myself included) requested for adult beverages, they brought champagne around as well.

I was sitting on the left aisle seat, but needed to put my drinks on the middle armrest space because my drinks area was actually sloping to the right at a precarious angle (you can’t really see it here). I’m guessing the plastic warped a bit after so many cycles and was now popping up.

This aircraft has a large projector screen at the front of the cabin where the safety video is played (because the personal video screens need to be stowed during taxi takeoff and landing)

Once airborne the crew started preparing for brunch service. Despite the very nice festive menu cover, they weren’t actually serving any Christmas dishes (or maybe brunch is a difficult meal to cook Christmas dishes for). Interestingly, they were also not serving any dishes from the special teochew menu either.

Brunch started about 20 minutes after the seat belt sign went off.

I had ordered from the BTC menu the Chinese Style Cod with Fried Rice- Served with seasonal oriental vegetables, Chinese black mushrooms and egg fried rice. Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Zhu Jun. Although I’ve had mixed experiences with fish onboard (in particular salmon), I realise that Cod holds up very well in the cabin, maybe because of its higher fat content.

The other great cod dish on the BTC menu is the Steamed Cod Fish Thai Style-  traditional dish of cod steamed with spicy lime sauce, served with shredded white cabbage, carrot julienne, Chinese sliced celery, fried garlic and steamed rice. I’d encourage you to try that one too if you like cod.

As for desert, let’s just say I miss the old days when they just gave out ice cream.

After lunch I flicked on the IFE system. I’ve come to realise that SQ is inconsistent as to what type of noise cancelling headsets they provide in J. Sometimes I get these old ones, and other times I get the Phitek ones (see below)

today’s headphones
IMG_20160123_145749
Phitek headphones. Sometimes available in J, also available in PY

The cover says they’re noise cancelling (and interestingly, also Phitek branded). I actually prefer the old design which goes over the ear rather than the new design which is on ear, but the audiophile in me believes the on ear ones have better sound quality.

The personal video screen is in the armrest. Oh, how savage we used to be.

Because the IFE software is older, the selection of movies is smaller than what you’ll find on SQ’s newest aircraft. It’s still a very decent selection though and featured several recently-in-theater shows like Suicide Squad and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

The main issue with the screen was the contrast was rather poor, and much of the screen got washed out in bright sunlight, the kind of which was streaming  through the cabin windows. Modern IFE screens counter this by having stronger backlighting. I had to bump up the brightness all the way to the maximum and even then I wasn’t able to see everything clearly.

I tried to see how good the seat was for napping. I reclined it all the way and found it maxed out at what was a very comfortable angle. In a way it reminded me of SQ’s premium economy product, not in terms of seat width (PY is definitely a good degree narrower) but in terms of recline angle.

Given the luxury of modern day J products it’s hard to believe that once up on a time this was market leading. I guess there’s a sort of trickle down economics when it comes to cabin products. Business Class 15 years ago is now Premium Economy today, First Class 15 years ago is now Business Class today. Is it too much of a stretch to say that one day, a long time from now, we might see Angled Flat products in Premium Economy? It’s certainly food for thought.

The loo had the usual Miller Harris toiletries. The amenities bin interestingly enough didn’t have any toothbrushes or combs, but I imagine you could request these from the crew.

We landed about 30 mins late at BKK due to heavy air traffic. The crew passed out priority immigration cards prior to arrival. I’m saving up mine because my APEC card allows me to skip the queues anyway.

There’s something to be said about nostalgia. I was more than happy to take this flight because it’s a short one and I really wanted to review this old product, but I imagine if an equipment swap led me to have this aircraft on a red-eye medium haul flight (think Seoul or Bombay) I’d be pretty upset. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before these aging 772s get replaced by the A350s.

Did seeing this bring back memories for anyone else?