Chiang Mai / 29th - 31st October 2016
Day 3 (in chronological order)
Conclusion: Reflections on trip to Chiang Mai
SilkAir MI702 SIN-CNX (Business Class)
I didn’t manage to request for a Muslim meal for this flight but I got to eat something surprisingly good. The plane I flew on was 10 years old; for the price I paid, I felt shortchanged. But the service was top-notch, among the best I have experienced.
I only confirmed my MI702 flight 12 hours before its departure. Therefore I couldn’t request a “Muslim Meal” for this flight. Most airlines, including SilkAir, expect special meal requests to be made at least 24 hours before the flight.But I did call Singapore Airlines hoping that they would accept my last-minute special meal request but they said they couldn’t help me out. Their staff had already started preparing the in-flight meals for MI702.
So, on the morning of departure, assuming I might not eat anything on the aeroplane, I made sure I had a good breakfast at Burger King @ Changi Airport Terminal 2.
Burger King. Yum?
After my quick jaunt at the SilverKris Lounge, I made my way to the boarding gate area.
MI702 codeshares with Air New Zealand NZ 3624, Bangkok Airways PG 4211, Singapore Airlines SQ 5042, Virgin Australia VA 5713.
I reached the boarding gate area on time, but nobody was getting ready to board the plane yet. I was quite surprised to see that there were not many passengers for a plane that has 150 seats. There were a lot of solo travelers. There were only two families, probably on holiday, buzzing some form of conversations quietly among themselves. The children were well-behaved, nannied by their tablets. The whole atmosphere was mostly calm and sedated, occasionally quaked by the yawns of a few sleepy ones and the outrageous giggles of toddlers stamping their thumbs on their tablets.
My seat was at 1F.
Finally, when the boarding gate attendant announced for Business class passengers to board the plane first, I stood up and walked towards the aerobridge towards the entrance of the aeroplane.
At the entrance of the plane, there were about four flight attendants welcoming us into the aeroplane. They were a joyful bunch, never once stopped smiling.
This was my seat 01F wrapped in dark brown leather.
Soon after I sat down, one young steward welcomed me on board and offered me a drink. He spoke calmly and confidently with an unspeaking smile that spoke very audibly about how he was going to provide me with the best service throughout the flight. I thought the way he projected himself was unusually polite. His welcome was unusually congenial. He wasn’t affected. He was natural and authentic. I felt at ease with him. My anxieties were gone as soon as he said hello to me. I felt I could ask him anything and he won’t disappoint me with a no.
My welcome drink. Surprisingly not Coke.
One of the perks of being a premium cabin passenger. You get to peek into the cockpit.
I could do a four-point sitting position easily despite my thick legs.
Look at the amount of legroom; I could stretch my legs if I wanted to.
Steamy hot towel was given. I felt compelled to take a photo of it.
But by the time I took this photo, the heat had already dissipated. Next time, remind me to take a photo after using the towel, not before.
Old school IFE display.
Old school seat controls. Guess which one pulls the seat back?
Do you see that the windows were badly scratched?
Not too worried but I felt the birds should behave themselves.
Found it difficult to lift the meal tray out despite the clear instructions.
There were two newspaper publications available. I took both of them.
Got a blanket has been washed just too many times.
This is as much as my seat would recline. Seriously it’s not much.
So I asked the male steward about the meal I was going to have on the flight. I told him I didn’t request for a “Muslim meal” and asked if he had any extra halal meals from Economy class.
He told me in a very reassuring way that I shouldn’t worry because the meals prepared by the SATS kitchen are all halal-certified. He further told me that most Muslim passengers request a Muslim meal just to be sure they will be getting one. He said he would serve me the regular meals later. I said ok. Obviously, I couldn’t confirm with SATS immediately but the steward is a Muslim. So, the best I could do was to take him at his word.
This is what I was served. I chose this instead of the local fare.
It was Deepavali. Accompanying the meal were a note and a packet of Mix Sev.
I had my usual Coke. Coffee was on the way.
No idea why I needed so many pieces of cutlery.
Somehow I just felt like gripping a knife tightly in an aeroplane and getting off scot-free doing it.
How about two forks instead of a knife uh?! Thank God, I did not get into any trouble.
Salt, pepper and butter were left untouched. Too beautifully arranged to touch. Didn’t want to ruin the butter too.
Unbroken egg dish.
Broken egg dish.
The food tasted better than I had expected because it was Western. If it was a local Singaporean dish, probably, I would have regreted choosing it. Personally, I feel rice or noodles do not taste nice in an aeroplane. The wedges were fairly crispy. I had expected it to be soggy. The sausage was fairly juicy, I had expected it to be dry. The egg dish held its cylindrical structure well. Probably because its texture was jelly-like, not silky custard-like. The chicken chunks and mushrooms gave a meaty roughness to the jiggly dish.
The egg dish tasted bland, not just right. Not sure if I was simply 34,000 feet in the air and my taste buds had gone to sleep but the tomato sauce didn’t help much to mitigate the dullness of the flavor. I left the long beans alone because I couldn’t bear eating them.
Flight came with an iPad. Could only access silkair.com
There was no IFE system built into the aeroplane. Personally, I didn’t mind because I don’t really use the IFEs that much when I fly.
I believe for this flight, only the Business class passengers were given a tablet each. I am not too sure about the Economy class passengers. Honestly, it didn’t matter. I could access the “SilkAir Studio” on my laptop and my phone. I think it was also much more sanitary using my own devices rather than SilkAir’s.
The “SilkAir Studio” webpages appeared great on my phone. Always a pleasure dealing with responsive websites.
You can connect to “SilkAir’s Studio” on your laptop too.
There were not many movies, shows and music on “SilkAir’s Studio”. For the category “Action Movies”, there were only two movies, #1 – Olympus Has Fallen and #2 – The Expendables 3. That’s quite an indication of how limited the offerings were.
After exploring “SilkAir’s Studio”, I went to check out the toilet. From the photos below, one can safely deduce that the Business class toilet is the same as the ones in Economy class.
The toilet seat.
The diaper changing top.
These were the “extra” amenities for Business class passengers that I had been searching for.
Before I conclude, I should say that this is my first time on SilkAir. I have never taken SilkAir before. I never saw any reason to. There were budget airlines as cheaper alternatives.
So, as a Muslim what were my thoughts about flying on SilkAir MI702?
I felt safe on SilkAir. I don’t get treated differently from the others. In fact, I loved how the cabin crew interacted with all the passengers of various nationalities. They were just warm, genuine and authentic towards all of us. It appeared to me that they were not simply doing their job; they enjoyed making us feel at home on the airplane.
Usually, I get anxious every time I get on an airplane. And it would take a lot of skill and/or warmth on the part of the cabin crew to calm my nerves down. And that male steward I mentioned earlier did a great job in making me feel at ease almost immediately after I entered the airplane.
As for their hard product (A320-233), I felt it was sub-par. I know they have newer A320s but the plane (9V-SLI) I flew on was ten years old. I am not sure when was the last time they refurbished the cabin. The In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) offerings were limited too. Luckily, in the next couple of years, they will be slowly replacing their old Airbuses with the new B737s.
Will I fly SilkAir again? Probably not. At least for now, I don’t think the whole experience justify the price I paid for the flight.
Before I end this post, I will leave you with an unusual sound I heard that came out of the engines as the airplane climbed to its cruising altitude. The engines droned, chirped, whistled and ringed. I have never heard such sounds coming out of the engines before.
I thought there was something wrong and I was bracing for the worst. The sound sounded propeller-ish. If the airplane was propeller driven, I guess it was ok. But this airplane had a jet engine.
The cabin crew didn’t think it was a concern. I recorded the sound anyway. Enjoy.
This was the droning engine sound. Doesn’t sound scary here but in the plane it sure did.
The first officer telling us more about the flight and weather conditions in Chiang Mai. I loved how he sounded so clear and systematic. And of course, the droolworthy Singapore accent. 🙂