The Flight to Malaysia (Part I)
(continued from “How Do You Pack for Two Years in Three Bags?“)
With the check-in and baggage loading step behind us, we boarded our plane and let out a huge sigh of relief. It was a long flight ahead (flights really), but at least we could relax…kind of…
Our itinerary was daunting (but we got a great deal!) — Times noted in Atlanta time zone (EST):
2pm TUE – Depart Atlanta for Houston, TX (2hrs)
6:40pm – Depart Houston for Moscow (~11hrs); brief stop to refuel, etc
6:30am WED – Reboard same plane/same seats for leg from Moscow to Singapore (~11hrs)
6:45pm – Change airlines/planes for flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur (1hr flight)
7:45pm – Land in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (where 7:45pm Wed in Atlanta is 7:45am Thursday in KL)
30 hours total travel time (plus the 12 hours we lost across time zones) = landing in our new home nearly two days after leaving the house for the airport in our old home…quite a journey!
While we purchased our tickets on Singapore Airlines through a site like Travelocity, Expedia, etc., our first leg was through Delta. It was comfortable, uneventful in a good way and we had plenty of time on the layover to find our next gate, where we retrieved our boarding passes. We made a few more good-bye phone calls while we had cell service, sent some emails and said farewell to the good ole US of A.
Our flight from Houston to Singapore (by way of Moscow) was on Singapore Airlines. We were excited that if we had to be in the air for 23hrs or so, it was on such a reputable airline. We heard so much wonderful raving about Singapore Air and let me tell you, it was all true! The inside of the plane was beautiful, the staff was beautiful and the service was 5-star (and we sat in “Economy”!). Check out these quick clips of the cabin experience on their site (1st class is ridiculous!)
Of course we walked the sad walk through Business Class as we made our way to our seats, vowing that “next time” that would be us…what a difference that cabin is! Here’s a shot from our seats into Biz Class (it doesn’t do it justice). We were in the bulkhead on the right side, first row of Economy with 3 seats in our row). Each row in Economy had three sections of three seats, separated by two aisles (for more tips on ideal seats to reserve when you fly, check out www.seatguru.com).
We paid a $50/seat premium to sit where we did thanks to the advice of “seatguru”. We figured it was worth it to have the leg room on such a long flight…and it was. Also, Jenny’s dad gave us a GREAT idea for a long flight where you are sitting in the bulkhead row and might want to sleep:
Travel Tip: Pull out your carry-on bag and place it on the floor in front of you to use as a leg rest. Being able to raise your feet that way, while stretching out and reclining, made such a huge difference!
What we didn’t know, was that the section just to the left of us and also in the front row, was prime real estate for moms with babies. That’s where they have the fold-down bassinets. We had fussy babies both legs, with crying the better part of 11 hours. So there was a trade-off for the leg room. Was it still worth it? Hard to say, because as tight of a space as the cabin is, I have to think everyone in there heard those babies. I think for me, I’d still rather have the extra leg room and take my chances with earphones or earplugs. The babies are also less of an issue if you have chemical assistance in falling into slumber.
SA has these great entertainment screens in every seat where you can watch movies, TV, play games, listen to music and even learn foreign languages through an interactive set of modules. Remember, this is an 11-hour flight so a little distraction…something to pass the time is HUGE! And mine didn’t work. It was a full flight so there was no changing seats, and mine didn’t work. Ugh! Seriously!?! I have to say, as much of a bummer as that was, there was one flight attendant who (without asking) made it his mission to check on me and the entertainment screen several times throughout the flight in between his many other duties. When it was clear there was nothing we could do to fix it, he offered me a voucher worth roughly US$55 to purchase anything from their version of the “Sky Mall” magazine. It was a very nice gesture and again, testament to the outstanding service from the airline.
When we arrived to Moscow, we all deplaned and went through security again to re-board. It was a pretty quick stop, thankfully (it was sweltering in the airport and A/C was no where to be found).
We had some passengers stay in Moscow and a few new ones get on, while the rest of us were to return to our same seats. Our moms with babies in tow were replaced by new faces, but the same situation. The entertainment system still didn’t work, but we caught one big break. The guy in our row at the window seat got off in Moscow. We waited with nervous excitement as everyone boarded, hoping we might get lucky and have an empty seat. As the doors closed and we were all accounted for, we giggled and high-fived, thankful for the 2-for-1 gift this was. First, I had an entertainment system that worked now and secondly, Jenny could have the window to sleep while we both enjoyed more space. Truly a blessing! Still a loooong way from Kuala Lumpur, but things were looking up.
The leg to Singapore was very similar to our Houston-Moscow leg – similar distance and duration, same number of meals (which were quite good compared to standard airline food, but still…airline food), different babies crying but similar amounts and location of crying…but we had a little extra space and all the movies we could stand. I even ended up studying some of the local language! All things considered, it was a good flight.
As we got closer to Singapore I had to choose something from the airline duty free shopping magazine so we could utilize the voucher we received on the first leg. There was really nothing in there that we needed/wanted at that price point, so we settled on a bottle of Icewine at $2 below the voucher amount. What is Icewine? I have no idea, but it looked good and we figured after this journey, maybe we would actually “need” a glass of wine once we finally made it to the hotel. So they took our voucher and returned a few minutes later with a nicely sealed box containing our bottle of Icewine…we were pumped. Shortly thereafter we landed, retrieved our carry-on bags and made our way out toward our next gate. Here’s where it got tricky…
More on the last leg and our luggage saga in the next post.