Bali and Berchtesgaden: Singapore Airlines First Class Moscow to Singapore

Introduction
Singapore Airlines First Class Houston to Moscow
International Business Lounge Moscow
Singapore Airlines First Class Moscow to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class Singapore to Bali
InterContinental Bali
Exploring Bali
W Retreat Bali Seminyak
Singapore Airlines Business Class Bali to Singapore
The Singapore Airlines Private Room Singapore
Singapore Airlines First Class Singapore to Frankfurt
InterContinental Berchtesgaden & Surrounding Areas
Le Meridien Parkhotel Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt
Lufthansa 747-8 First Class Frankfurt to Washington Dulles
Westin Washington Dulles Airport


As I mentioned in the introduction post, I specifically planned our trip around this flight. In April I had the best flight of my life on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Tokyo Narita, with a flight attendant that was simply out-of-this-world spectacular. We’ve been in touch ever since, and I asked her to keep me updated about any US-bound flights she might be working. In July I got an email from Janesis saying she was working the Houston route in August, and there was no way I could turn down the opportunity to fly with her again. Ideally I would have flown with her from Houston to Moscow since I would’ve been more awake on that flight, though due to my schedule the Moscow to Singapore flight worked out better.

With my last trip report a few people said “well of course she was amazing, you were the only passenger.” This time around we had a nearly full cabin and some other challenges, so take a look at how this experience compares.

Singapore Airlines 61
Moscow (DME) – Singapore (SIN)
Monday, July 23
Depart: 3:20PM
Arrive: 5:45AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr25min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1D (First Class)

At around 3PM boarding finally began, and I was sure we were among the first aboard. They use two jet bridges in Moscow, so we boarded through door 1L, where there was none other than Janesis waiting to greet us. Despite the fact that we “know” each other reasonably well at this point she first addressed me by last name, though I quickly asked her to just call me “Ben” to make things a bit easier.

She was her usual amazing self, and as soon as I sat down said “Mr. Ben, would you like a drink to start off the flight? Perhaps a glass of Krug or Diet Coke with lemon?” A flight attendant that knows both my champagne and soft drink preference without me ever having told her? I responded with “wow,” and she said “I’ve been doing my research.” I asked for a glass of Krug, which was promptly served.

Remember on the last flight how I said it’s the little touches that make a Singapore flight amazing? Here’s the first great touch, which is exactly the same thing Janesis did on my last flight with her. As soon as she served me the drink she brought over the in-flight supervisor, Ivy, to introduce her, and informed us of the flight time of 9hr30min. And then she did the same thing with the leading steward, Toon. It’s funny how things work out sometimes, because together they were the three best flight attendants that could possibly be staffing a cabin.

It’s interesting to note that Ivy is only one of a few dozen female in-flight supervisors at Singapore Airlines, as I found out later in the flight (because of all my Singapore flights I had never seen a female in-flight supervisor — just an interesting note, I figured).

Janesis served me a glass of Krug, and then offered me pajamas, an amenity kit, slippers, eyeshades, socks, and the menu for the flight.


My seat, 1D


Krug

And then she presented my friend and I each with one of these:


Amazing…

She’s quite the artist, isn’t she? Just look at the attention to detail on that. Simply incredible.

Over the next 15 minutes five of the other six seats in first class filled up, and it definitely wasn’t an easy crowd. There was a doctor who apparently had a seat change at the gate which he wasn’t too happy about, and an older Russian guy with a wife maybe 30 years younger than him who just couldn’t crack a smile. Despite that it was amazing to see the grace with which they were served, and at the end of the flight I even overheard the doctor tell the crew it was the best flight of his life!

As departure time rolled around the captain came on the PA to announce our flight time of 9hr30min, which he expected would put us into Singapore on-time, and we pushed back shortly thereafter. The safety video began to play, and we began our rather long taxi to the runway. As far as I’m concerned we could have taxied all the way to Singapore if it meant being able to look out the window at all the awesome Russian airplanes the whole way. I switched to seat 2A (the only empty seat) for taxi and takeoff.

I played a round of “wait a second, is that a Tupolev 204 or 757?” all the way to the runway (Google the planes to see what I’m talking about).


Traffic at Moscow

I was especially fascinated by Transaero, which must have one of the most diverse fleets of any airline. Upon landing in Singapore I had a look at what their cabins looked like. Take a look at their “Imperial Class” on the 777-300ER. It makes Emirates first class look low key. Anyone know of a way to redeem miles for Transaero first class?


Transaero fleet


Barbie’s private jet?


Transaero 777


Hmm, is that a former United 737?


View of terminal

Once we made it to the runway we were immediately cleared for takeoff, and had a pretty steep climb until about 15,000 feet, at which point the seatbelt sign was turned off.


View on climb out


View on climb out

I immediately changed into my pajamas, and here’s another small touch that differentiates a great crew from a good crew. As I exited the lavatory Ivy was there waiting with a clothes hanger, and insisted on hanging it up for me. There’s not really anywhere else to store clothes, and this crew was all about anticipating needs.

At this point Janesis came around to take meal orders. The dinner menu read as follows:

While the menu sounded good, I’ll say upfront that the catering out of Moscow was pretty bad. It’s most definitely not the crew’s fault and I suspect not even Singapore’s fault to some degree. Some airports just deliver better quality meals than others (for example, my flight from Singapore to Frankfurt had the best catering I’ve ever had on any airline).

Service began with a Diet Coke with lemon and mixed nuts.


Diet Coke with lemon and mixed nuts

Next the table was set. Instead of just handing me a napkin with silverware in it (like on the previous flight), Toon set the table with the fork and knife placed by the side of the plate correctly, and the napkin served artistically.


Table setup

For the starter I selected salmon, which was too salty and oily for my tastes. I felt like I was disappointing Janesis when I didn’t finish it, since Singapore crews take great pride in the food they serve, in my experience.


Gravalax salmon with dill and Greek style young vegetables

I skipped the soup, though my friend had the fennel cream soup.


Fennel cream soup with mint, seared scallop and small pasta

The next course was salad.


Mache and tomato with radish

For the main course I had selected the prawns. Again, it wasn’t especially good — the prawns were tiny and bland. I was feeling awful about not finishing the courses, as this is something that’s completely outside of the crew’s control.


Prawns with saffron sauce, broccoli, mushroom and new potato

For dessert I selected the macaroon, which was delicious.


Large pistachio macaroon with forest berry compote


Dessert

My friend had the ice cream with cherries and nuts for dessert.


Coupe Jubilee

Service finished with some chocolates. Take a look at the presentation:


Chocolates

Despite the fact that the food was a bit disappointing, the service was simply spectacular. What I loved about Janesis the first time I flew with her was how sincere and personable she is. I’ve been on flights where the service is great yet you can tell the flight attendant isn’t sincere and is just going through the “motions.”

It’s obvious that Janesis loves what she does and loves making people smile. And her smile is infectious, so it seems pretty easy for her to do.

But not only was she fantastic, but Ivy and Toon were also amazing. Toon was working the galley for most of the flight, though whenever I interacted with him he was smiling and extremely polished.

And Ivy was a fantastic in-flight supervisor. The most disappointing aspect of several Singapore Airlines flights I’ve taken lately is the in-flight supervisor, believe it or not. They’ve hidden in the galley and have taken a “hands off” approach. Ivy was exactly the opposite. She was so personable and present that as a passenger you wouldn’t even know she was the in-flight supervisor, which is how it should be in my opinion.

While I was hoping to be up for most of the flight given that Janesis was working it, I was dead tired at this point and conked out almost immediately, after not getting all that much sleep from Houston to Moscow. We had about 7hr30min till Singapore, and I managed to sleep for a solid four hours.


Turndown service

When I woke up I didn’t see any flight attendants, though headed to the lavatory. When I returned two minutes later my bed was once again “made.” I remember when my brother flew Singapore Airlines first class for the first time, and he told me how he thought the flight attendants had laser vision. And it’s true, even when you don’t see them, they somehow see you. I can’t explain it, but it never ceases to impress me.

But equally exciting was the beautiful display that Janesis and the rest of the crew had set up for each passenger, as she did on my last flight, including a “paper flower,” deck of playing cards, postcards, Singapore landing form, and a beautiful card.


Display

Here’s a closer look at the card, which was completely handmade:


Card from the crew

Absolutely amazing. My favorite part was seeing the reaction of the other passengers, who loved it as well. Janesis was on rest at this point of the flight, so Ivy was “on duty.” She asked if I wanted anything to drink, and I ordered some tea.


Tea

I was also offered something from the snack menu, though I wasn’t hungry. Here’s the snack menu, though:

At this point I was wide awake so decided to watch a few sitcoms on the entertainment system. One of the shows I saw was “The Secrets of Everything,” which I guess is the BBC equivalent of “Mythbusters.” It’s not often that I comment on the specific entertainment selections on a flight since it has nothing to do with the airline, but the show was so f*&$^# up! One of the theories they tested was “what does human flesh taste like?” so the guy has a part of his flesh cut out so it can be examined, and then they can make something that would taste comparable from pork/beef/chicken (since cannibalism is illegal). Then they tested whether a belly flop could kill you. They tested that by dropping a bloody, dead pig in a pool. What the…?!?!?!?!?

Anyway, about 90 minutes prior to landing the breakfast service began.


Airshow at the start of breakfast

The breakfast menu read as follows:

The service started with freshly squeezed juice, tea, water, and a fruit plate.


Fruit plate


Breakfast presentation

There were also all kinds of croissants and pastries in the bread basket.


Croissant and pastry

For the next course I ordered strawberry yogurt.


Strawberry yogurt

And my friend ordered muesli.


Muesli

For the main course I ordered scrambled eggs.


Scrambled eggs

My friend ordered syrniki, which were cottage cheese cutlets with berry compote and whipped cream. I had a bite of them and they were really good, so I highly recommend them if you’re flying this route.


Syrniki

Once again the service throughout breakfast was spectacular. As we began our descent I changed back into my jeans and a t-shirt, and the crew asked if we could stay for a few minutes after the flight since they had a surprise for us.

After a smooth descent and touchdown we made it to our gate a few minutes early, at around 5:30AM. We waited for the first and business class cabin to empty out a bit, which allowed me to snap a few pictures of the first class cabin.


First class cabin


First class cabin


First class cabin

The surprise was a 3D, handmade “certificate” for each of us, as shown below:


Certificate from crew

I don’t think the picture can do it justice, since each letter was handmade and “3D,” so it stuck off the page.

And by popular demand, below is a picture of our amazing crew:


Janesis (left), Ivy (center), and Toon (right)

Here’s a bit of a trivia question — can anyone guess for how many years Ivy has been with Singapore Airlines? I’ll reveal the answer in the comments section below as soon as someone gets it.

This flight was simply spectacular, one of the best of my life. Despite the lackluster catering and nearly full cabin, the crew was incredible. While you can try to fake good service, you can’t fake service from the heart, which all three crew members delivered. I can only hope to end up on another one of their flights sometime.

Janesis remains one of the most sincere, charming, and positive people I know. I promised her dinner the next time she has a layover in the US, regardless of where it is. I can only hope more of you have the opportunity to fly with her.

Comments

  1. lucky says

    @ Jeff — They’re both top notch and at the very top of the industry. I think it really comes down to the route, crew on a particular day, etc. On a good day they both leave nothing to be desired.

  2. Jon H. says

    seemed like a truly awesome flight experience, hopefully someday ill get to do it!

    im gonna guess 17 years

  3. says

    AWESOME flight!

    “Anyone know of a way to redeem miles for Transaero first class?”

    Sadly, pretty sure that bmi miles can only be used for business and not first class.

    In fact I do not think that Transaero’s own program permits first class redemptions or upgrades!

  4. says

    CX F and SQ F are very different. I like the quality of food on SQ more, but CX has a better snack menu. Definitely prefer SQ champagne and amenities.

    Big difference is in style of service. CX is very good but they tend to stay out of your way, you really do need to ring the call button and they are right there. Some people prefer to be let alonem and that’s CX’s style, although it is still excellent service.

  5. rick says

    Plane spotting in Russia isn’t what it used to be. They’re retiring most of the soviet-era planes so now it’s starting to look like any other airport.

  6. Brad says

    How is it that a medium/long-haul flight on SQ, out of DME nonetheless, do not serve caviar?

  7. A. S. says

    Agree with Gary above: CX’s approach is a bit more discreet (they wait for you to ask — as simple as making eye contact or pressing the call button — and then they’ll do absolutely anything), while SQ is constantly watching you and if you twitch they’ll be right over to ask if you need something! Tough to say which I prefer — they’re both absolutely fantastic.

  8. arcticbull says

    My family lives in Ottawa, Canada, and there’s often some fun planespotting there since it’s where a lot of the politicians park their rides :P

    My favorites were an Antonov An-124 and a Luftwaffe Airbus A310.

  9. arcticbull says

    Could have been the A319CJ also, which would made some sense as as Merkel was in town. Wish I’d gotten a better look. It’s not as distinctive as the Antonov ;)

  10. Egor says

    Transaero in fact did have first class awards/upgrades in their own program, but they are available only if you had taken paid F already. On the other hand you would have enough points for one way to/from US with only about $17k spend on their card

  11. Justin says

    The problem is this – the service on SQ may be top notch but the uniforms are UGLY!

    Also first class cabin design is not as modern and smart looking as Lufthansa or BA.

  12. Sam says

    18 years for Ivy. I fly out of DME several times a year and no matter which airline I fly, catering service is not that impressive. I bet all the airlines are required to use the same catering company.

  13. hsw25 says

    I agree with you on on all points, Lucky. Catering out of DME is pretty. I am curious to see how you think this crew stacks up against your other SQ crews. You know I thought they were absolutely fantastic. In my opinion, they were far more polished and proactive than the other 2 crews I had.

  14. Benny says

    Your writing style is great. The part about the wacky TV show had me laughing. So bizarre!

    I love dessert, so if one is really good, am I able to ask for seconds?

    I’ll guess 32yrs since no one has said it. A long shot I know. :)

  15. says

    She doesn’t look like she could’ve worked for SQ for more than 20 years, unless she started working before 15. For that matter, she doesn’t look like she could’ve worked anywhere near 20 years. I’ll guess 9

  16. lucky says

    @ Benny — Thanks! I find Singapore to not only be the most accommodating but actually to be the most encouraging of having seconds, trying more than one thing, etc., as long as they have enough.

    But 32 years — seriously?!? How old do you think she is? :D

  17. lucky says

    @ Rasputin — Yep, you got it right with 24 years. How did you know?

    It’s funny how it came up. She said “I’ve been here for 24 years.” I interrupted her and said “when you say hear you mean earth, right?”

  18. Troy says

    Lucky, i love the blog man! Do you admit you like Janesis for more then her flight attending skills?! There is no way you plan a specific flight just to have her serve you champaign. She is cute so i cant fault you wanting a “deeper relationship”. Good luck with it all Lucky :)

  19. Rasputin says

    Lucky, I am good at two things with women. Guessing their age and guessing their weight accurately. Obviously did not work well with women when I was single.

  20. Mark W says

    I’m guessing Ivy has worked for 21 years with SIA. Ben, do you know if both Ivy and Wong Chin are Singaporean or Malaysian?

  21. lucky says

    @ Mark — Janesis/Wong Chin is Malaysian. I’m not positive about Ivy, though I *think* she is as well.

  22. Euro says

    I’ll say 10 years, since I’m guessing that she would have started at the earliest in her late 20s, since I’m guessing that SQ would require you to finish college with like a hospitality degree or equivalent and also have experience with the hospitality/service industry. Then to be a supervisor, well, that’s more years of experience.

    This flight sounds like the opposite of my experience with Air China- pretty good food, yet flight attendants never had any warmth, soul, compassion, etc with how they looked down upon you. Glad to see that my theory is being played out- good service can make up for bad hard product but good hard product backed up by poor service will ruin your experience. Look fwd to the rest of your trip report!

  23. Steelsnow says

    Pretty funny that people are still guessing when Lucky has given the answer!

    Wanted to add nice job on the write-up… Probably one of the most ‘pressure packed’ posts you have written due to the subject and the hungry masses looking for more details like hawks. Very well balanced and strengths and deltas laid out. Extra kudos to Janesis and the whole crew for being willing to allow the picture to be posted. Hopefully everyone who reads this trip treats them as warmly as they are treated!

  24. Webazoid says

    Janesis is definitely cute. How old is she? Note their body language. Ivy with her hands behind is like a boss. Lol

  25. Jack says

    One of the best times of my life was when I lived three years in Singapore while having a job with regional responsibility for Asia. I flew around Asia and to / from N.A. and Europe multiple times per month on SQ, CX, TG and others in business and first class. Living in Singapore was an excellent experience too.

    Absolutely fabulous!

    I had withdrawal pains for years after moving back to the U.S.

    Sorry ladies. Southeast Asian women of Chinese ancestry have a very strong tendency to “age well”. It is very often difficult to tell if they are early twenties or fifties from anything other than subtle clues.

    I also suspect that SQ flight attendants are partially selected on the ability to project something I can only describe as solicitous elegance.

    Ben, now you’ve done it. You did such a good job of reminding me of the the good old days that I’ve got to find a way to fly SQ in F again.

    Regards… Jack

  26. wwk5d says

    “and she said “I’ve been doing my research.””

    Yes, I’ll bet she has if she plans on being the future Mrs. Ben Schlapig…hope she likes Tampa and Orange Fanta! ;)

    “They tested that by dropping a bloody, dead big in a pool.”

    A bloody, dead big what in the pool? (Yes, I know he meant to say pig…)

  27. ES says

    Here’s an idea, Ben: as your next trip, why don’t you fly Janesis to come meet you somewhere, and have her do a guest trip report from her perspective as an SQ FA? That way, you get: 1) your next trip MacGuffin; 2) an excuse for her to visit you — and somewhere that better shows you off than Tampa; and 3) a fascinating bonus trip report for the blog from Janesis.

    And we get all of the above, plus satisfaction for our soap-opera objectives for you!

  28. Benny says

    @lucky LOL. Well I saw most of my guesses had been taken. I started low and went until I didn’t see a number used. :)

    But being Chinese, I know Asian women age very well! So I’m sure she hardly looks her age.

  29. THEsocalledfan says

    So, Mr. Ben, did you get to spend any more time with her after the flight or did you need to run off to the next flight? Come on, man, you need to go out on a date with her! Or at least admit she said no, which is just fine too.

    I am not a trip report reader, but running across the globe to see a certain flight attendant is downright awesome in my book! Could be a movie….

  30. Mark W says

    Ben, thanks for the info about Wong Chin’s nationality. I’m proud of my countrymen :) I guess I’ll see you in LAX for the FTU event. We’ll chat more about Asian Airlines.

  31. snuggliestbear says

    Lucky,

    I’ve been reading your trip reports for a while and I was looking forward to seeing what your review of SQ F would be like since my wife and I just took our first trip in longhaul F on a JL 777 ORD-NRT. After reading your trip reports I feel that (for the flight we were on at least) JL’s F product and service stacks up to SQ very well. The only review of yours I found was from a little while ago made you seem unimpressed with their service and product. Maybe you should give them another chance at some point? I know I wasn’t disappointed.

  32. Erik says

    The irony of no caviar being served on SQ F flights IN AND OUT OF RUSSIA is palpable! That’s long skipping congee in and out of China.

  33. OooO says

    Ben, Thanks for a great trip report. It feels like a movie with a happy ending.
    I’ll be flying first on SQ62 in Jan 2013 (thanks to your SQ award post). One question that I have is, can you still watch TV comfortablely from bed position on this seat? Perhaps leaning on the back panel in a somewhat upright position?

  34. lucky says

    @ OooO — Absolutely, you can either lean against the back panel or ask for a couple extra pillows.

  35. jimbonyc says

    You people are clueless as to why a date would never happen. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, it becomes patently obvious.

  36. Zhong Liang Ong says

    Yay for Malaysian Hospitality on Singapore Metal! (From a Malaysian working in Singapore)

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