SilkAir 638, SIN – DAD

MI 638

SIN – DAD

Boeing 737-8SA

Economy Class, Seat 8A

 

Prologue

SilkAir was first established as a charter airline and has evolved over the years to become the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, flying short-haul leisure routes for its more illustrious parent. Serving 49 destinations in 16 countries using a fleet of narrow-body Airbus and Boeing jets, it has enjoyed moderate success in this role although low cost carriers are providing stiff competition in recent years. Ahead of an impending product revamp and merger into Singapore Airlines, we fly with the premium carrier from its base in Singapore on a recent getaway to Da Nang.

 

Check-In

   

SilkAir operates out of Singapore Changi International Airport’s terminal 2, which was busy with numerous regional departures this morning when we arrived just after 9.00 am. In a push towards automation, the airport has implemented what it terms “FAST Check-in”, utilizing self-service kiosks for passengers to register and print out baggage tags for their flights as opposed to conventional manned counters (Unfortunately, we would end up relying on the latter this time as the kiosk was unable to retrieve our flight booking). Seeing we were struggling to make progress at the kiosk, one of the service ambassadors around was quick to direct us to the assistance line, where a ground agent was able to complete the process and issue our boarding passes.

 

Boarding & Departure

   

Today’s flight was departing from gate F35, a short walk from the immigration desks in the terminal. With ample time to spare, we were able to indulge in some duty-free shopping along the way before leisurely clearing security to await boarding. A look around the gate hold room revealed a healthy passenger load for our Boeing 737 and the gate agents soon called for boarding. Unlike some other flights we have taken, the entire process was very orderly and relaxed with priorities respected, starting with passengers with young children, Business Class fliers and elite status holders followed by Economy Class according to seat rows. The crew in-charge was present at the aircraft door to greet passengers, with her fellow crew members positioned along the aisle to guide and assist us as we made our way to the seat.

 

Seat

   

SilkAir’s Boeing 737-800s are configured in a 3-3 layout in Economy Class, utilizing slimline seats clad in orange-coloured fabric upholstery which complemented the Boeing Sky Interior to present a spacious and welcoming space. Settling in, we found the seat pitch at 30 inches to be slightly better than the low cost carriers, although we could not help but wonder if this could be further improved by removing the seat pocket and placing its contents in the literature rack above. Despite all seats being occupied in our row, the width felt adequate and the seat padding offered just the right balance of firmness and comfort for the 3-hour hop to Vietnam.

   

An adjustable headrest provided good head and neck support, useful for some of the longer sectors the aircraft operates on. However, we thought the seat was pretty bare in its features. While the full-size tray table was sturdy enough to comfortably support the weight of a 13-inch laptop, it was not engineered to incorporate a tablet holder that would be a welcome feature given the inflight entertainment contents are streamed to passengers’ personal devices. We also felt that the channel and volume control for the looped audio system on top of the armrests and the shared in-seat electrical outlets could also have been better placed.

 

Crew

Dressed in their stylish uniforms from Singaporean designer Alexandria Chen, the crew were warm and friendly. Service was prompt and engaging, with the flight attendants routinely walking the aisle and responsive to call bells throughout the flight’s duration.

 

Meal

   

Meal service began with the distribution of packaged wet towels (a nice touch that is becoming increasingly rare in the skies today) and crackers. With a short flying time of under 3 hours, beverage service was skipped and drinks offered together with entrees on the main cart. A full bar was available and we went with the white wine, a Frontera Sauvignon Blanc from Chilean winemakers Concha Y Toro. With hints of peach and citrus, the wine was light on the palate and paired well with the inflight meals served today.

   

SilkAir’s onboard catering tends to be lean towards regional fare and our flight featured a choice of “stir fried rice vermicelli with chicken” or “curry fish with rice” for lunch. Both entrees were pretty tasty, with the fish being the better of the two in flavour, although we thought the curry may be too spicy for some passengers. Portions were adequate and each tray came with a cup of packaged drinking water, followed by a dessert of chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream nuggets for a sweet ending.

 

Entertainment

   

Silkwinds is the airline’s inflight magazine and focuses on lifestyle stories centered around the regional destinations it flies to. Amongst other interesting features, the September issue covered the burgeoning cocktail bar scene in Phnom Penh (giving us yet another reason for a future visit to Cambodia) and a short snippet of the new and very Instagrammable Golden Bridge in Da Nang.

   

SilkAir Studio is the streaming inflight entertainment system introduced with the Boeing fleet. A point to note was that it required an application to be installed as opposed to being web browser-based. Android device users may download it onboard, but Apple iOS users need to do this before the flight or they would be out of luck.

 

The content and variety offered was good for the short- to medium-haul sectors SilkAir operates and was available gate-to-gate. For movies there was a large selection of Hollywood blockbusters (albeit from several years back) as well as several Asian productions and we managed to catch Peter Jackson’s fantasy epic “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”.

 

Arrival & Deboarding

We soon descended through the cloud cover and landed at Da Nang International Airport, where the aircraft parked at the new glass and steel terminal building. Respecting priorities, the crew closed the curtain separating business and economy class for the former to deboard first. Reflecting on the flight as we left the jet, it confirmed our take on SilkAir – a reliable regional airline, providing competent service on well-maintained aircraft.

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