AIRBUS A380.....A new flying experience!
One lazy evening in the beginning of September, I got a phone call from my oldest and closest Swedish friend, now living in Beijing. "Hallo Chris, it´s Bo" crackled the voice. "How about a trip on that inaugural Singapore Airlines A380 flight from Singapore to Sydney?". Although it was daytime for me, Bo had already begun his evening entertainment with a couple of scotches, and was now about to talk me into what turned out to be a fantastic and memorable experience, which, in retrospect, I wouldn´t have missed for the world.
After afew days of frantically monitoring E-bay (tickets for both outbound and return inaugural flights were auctioned, the total proceeds going to 3 very worthwhile charities) we bought a block of three seats, including one window seat. This would take us from Singapore at 8am, Thursday 25th of October landing in Sydney later that afternoon. Return was scheduled for the next day, getting us back into Singapore around midnight.
All I had to do now was persuade our close friend, Mike, in London that this was a great idea!! I knew he wouldn´t say no, and I was right. "Just book it" was his response, so now all was fixed.........
So, after great help from Singapore Airlines regarding all necessary connecting flights, the three of us met up in Bo´s regular hotel at the end of Orchard Road Tuesday evening, 23rd of October. After a day of visiting our old haunts, you know, the Long bar in Raffles, and the fabulous Boat Quay, we set off for Changi Airport at 5am!......Our trip was about to begin.
We were not to be disappointed. The cameras from worldwide TV stations made it all very exciting but difficult for the 451 of us ticket holders, including around 100 reporters and TV crews, to get to the specially designated check-in desks. Once all these formalities, including photo shoots and interviews were complete, we were ushered into the departure lounge where a fabulous breakfast buffet awaited our eager appetites.
After all the necessary presentations and speeches were concluded, we were finally boarded.....
Take off... What an experience! This massive two storey aircraft, capable of carrying up to 850 passengers, glided elegantly and very quietly down the runway, lifting off to a rapturous and thunderous applause. This was the beginning of a 7 hour party.....Definitely not to be a normal boring intercontinental flight.
Amoung the wide cross-section of mainly flying buffs from all over the globe, were a gentleman who flew the inaugural Boeing 747 fight all those years ago, (he had all his framed certificates and photos with him), and a Swedish chap who was on the first Concorde flight. The inflight economy meals, prepared by a top Australian and a top Singaporian chef, both onboard, were of course fantastic, and the champagne didn´t stop flowing during the entire flight. The captain, Robert Ting, did a walk about, which took at least two hours as he was hero-worshipped by all. Even the chaiman of Singapore Airlines took time to personally speak to every single passenger. Very good PR.
Finally, as we approached Sydney for landing, it was around 5pm local time, we were all forced to sit down again in our, by now, cold seats! The idea was to do a lap of honour over Sydney harbour but bad weather conditions made this not possible, and so we landed to yet another bout of thunderous applause which finally ceased when we got to the gate.
After yet another massive reception, the three of us finally got out of the airport, made our way to Mike´s flat on the Rocks, before preparing to check out the Sydney night life......
The return trip the following day was a much lower key affair, but just as enjoyable, most of the time being spent actually seated, playing with the fantastic hi-tech inflight entertainment system, devouring yet another gourmet meal, while downing the ever flowing champagne.....
So that was it! The three of us parted company the next morning, Mike back to London, Bo back to Beijing, and me back to Stockholm after a couple of days in Bangkok.
A trip we will be talking about for a long time to come........Chrispyat60, Stockholm