After enjoying a few good days (too short, really!) in the Land of Smiles, it was a mandatory excursion back to Bangkok's grand Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) for a shuttle back to Singapore with Cathay Pacific Airways' 5th freedom flight CX713.
Operator: Cathay Pacific Airways
Route: Bangkok (BKK) to Singapore (SIN)
Departure Time: 11:50am / 12:22pm* (UTC +7)
Arrival Time: 3:20pm / 3:17pm* (UTC +8)
Actual Flight Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes / 1 hour and 55 minutes*
(* denotes actual timings)
Check-in was hassle-free at Cathay Pacific Airways' Economy Class counter, and I was quickly served and issued my boarding pass, before being kindly informed of my gate and boarding time.
After clearing immigration, it was a rather lengthy stroll towards the boarding gate, with plenty of duty-free retail stores enroute to elicit last minute shopping impulses. Off topic, I did succumb to that impulse but will not elaborate on my guilty purchases!
Reaching the gate, at the far end of the terminal, I observed many Chinese passengers already seated or standing around, awaiting for the ground staff to open entry into the holding room. Judging by the masses loitering around, It was going to be a really full flight!
The operating aircraft, Airbus 350-941 (B-LRB) at the boarding gate, being prepared for its next sector to Singapore, after arrival from Hong Kong.
When the ground staff started processing of passengers for the flight, it was a massive jam for entry to the holding room, but nevertheless, the queue was civil and orderly. Separate seating areas close to the boarding door were cordoned off for Status customers and passengers in Business Class or Premium Economy Class. Not too many of them were travelling on this flight, it seemed.
The flight had been delayed with the late arrival of the aircraft from Hong Kong. Once the aircraft was cleaned and catered, boarding soon commenced by row numbers, and grabbing a copy of The Nation newspaper on my way into the aircraft, I soon settled into my Economy Class window seat. Later, another two passengers would join me on my row.
I found the seating quite comfortable, with ergonomic cushioning so I could just "sink" snugly into my seat. I did find the wide gap between the seats rather awkward, as passengers could have a clear (and very unobstructed view) of what their fellow passengers seated a row in front, diagonally across, was doing. The Economy Class seat features a USB port, charging point, as well as (quite interestingly) a tablet holder, coupled with a drink holder and an amenity storage for small personal belongings. Perfect nest for passengers on a long-haul flight, really.
Headsets were already pre-placed in the seat pockets, allowing passengers to start enjoying StudioCX entertainment system from boarding. The headsets were not collected for landing, so passengers can essentially enjoy the inflight entertainment from gate to gate - great on this short flight with a 2 hour and 30 minute scheduled flight time.
Though boarding took a while due to the passenger load, once it was completed, the doors were hastily closed and aircraft pushed back for departure. It seemed like the crew were in a hurry to get the aircraft to Singapore on time, despite the almost half hour delay in departure. The Captain welcomed warmly the passengers onboard, and pre-empted the passengers that it would be a bumpy ride on this day due to the tropical weather conditions.
After the safety video, the cabin crew performed a cabin safety check. Commands echoed through the cabin, asking passengers to "please upright your seat". The lady next to me was requested to push her jumbo hand-carry bags (all two of them) into the seat in front of her. It was nice that the cabin crew offered to assist her to put it on the overhead compartment, though. We then took off towards Singapore.
True to the Captain's weather advice, the seatbelt sign remained switched on until the halfway through the meal service. After they were released from their seats, the cabin crew quickly passed the cabin with immigration forms.
I started on my StudioCX entertainment while waiting for the meal service to commence. Passengers can choose between six language options (seven if you count Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese as two languages). I quite like StudioCX's fluid tablet-like interface, though the explosion of movie images in the movie selection can be quite mind-boggling for the indecisive passenger - such as yours truly.
I decided to watch Cantonese film One Night Only, but only after starting on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter - and realising it was not going to be too healthy for my inflight palate. My medical history of chronic indecisiveness rears its ugly head yet again, but I was happy with my second movie choice.
Call bells were buzzing, unsurprisingly, with the passenger load, and I was quite pleasantly surprised the cabin crew were quick and consistent in responding to them, despite the short flying time putting pressure on the full meal service offered on this flight.
Special meals were first served, followed by the normal meals. Meals were served by one cabin crew, followed by a range of cold beverages served by another cabin crew. Wines and beers were available on the beverage cart. The two choices for the main course were: chicken with rice or pork with rice. Unsurprisingly, on a flight with Hong Kong flag carrier between Thailand and Singapore, both choices were Asian-style with steamed rice. This was probably a good catering decision considering that majority of the passengers were Chinese, who probably would prefer a rice option.
I had the pork with rice option, accompanied by a glass of red wine.
It was a delicious choice, with a generous serving of pork slices drenched in rice vinegar sauce, accompanied by sautéed mixed vegetables and steamed rice. There were also fresh cut tropical fruits and a chocolate wafer. Presentation was simple but it was nevertheless a delicious treat.
The meal service was quite a lengthy affair, perhaps due to the passenger load. By the time the cabin crew started on clearing the meal trays, the Captain announced the aircraft had commenced its descent into Singapore. Owing to the time pressure, a second drink was on request only. I had a glass of white wine to enjoy for the rest of the remaining flight time.
After the meal service was completed, some of cabin crew started preparing the cabin for landing, while others tried their best to fulfill the inflight sales requests from passengers. I observed the cabin crew assisting passengers with their inflight sales until the Captain announced for them to be seated for landing. It was great that to observe the Cathay Pacific Airways cabin crew working as a team to create a comfortable and enjoyable experience for the passengers - despite the challenge of the full passenger load and a short flight time.
After the meal service, there was an on-screen message informing passengers on complimentary one hour of Wi-Fi service sponsored by FWD Insurance. I attempted to try the internet on my phone but was only offered a 1 hour access for $9.95 or $19.95 for the full flight duration (I'm not sure if it's in Hong Kong Dollars). After attempting a few times, I gave up and went back to my movie.
Despite the half hour delay in departure, we landed (shockingly!) on time in Singapore on a wet day. Kudos to the Cathay Pacific Airways team (both the flight deck crew and cabin crew) who worked extra hard to fulfill an on-time arrival for the passengers - while ensuring that the passengers are not shortchanged on their full-service inflight experience.
With that, it had been a pleasant journey with Cathay Pacific Airways. Given the wonderful passenger-focused commitment in the on-time flight arrival, delectable Asian cuisine offered, as well as excellent inflight entertainment, I would look forward to my future trips with Cathay Pacific Airways.
Thank you for reading about this Cathay Pacific Airways Airbus 350-900 flight experience.
For the full video experience of my CX713 flight, please see below: