This is part four of my Singapore Airlines first class trip report to Bali and includes a review of the final trip leg from Singapore (SIN) – Bali (DPS) on a 777-200.
- United Airlines Business Class Updated 767-300 Newark (EWR) – Houston (IAH)
- Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER Houston (IAH) – Moscow (DME) Part 1
- Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER Moscow (DME) – Singapore (SIN) & DME Transfer Lounge Part 2
- The Singapore Airlines Private Room @ SilverKris Lounge Terminal 3 & SilverKris Lounge Terminal 2 @ SIN
- Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Singapore (SIN) – Bali (DPS)
- The St. Regis Bali Resort
- The W Retreat & Spa Bali
- The Brand New Sheraton Bali Kuta
- My First Experience on Air Asia A320 Bali (DPS) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
- The Hilton Kuala Lumpur Hotel
- The Westin Kuala Lumpur
- The Cathay Pacific Pier Lounge HKG/Day-Break Rooms, connecting flight KUL – HKG
- Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER Hong Kong (HKG) – Vancouver (YVR) – JFK
This ticket (NYC-DPS) was booked during the UA website glitch and ensuing Singapore First Class booking extravaganza back in early July. It cost me 70,000 UA MP miles and $32 USD in taxes.
The two class 777-200 flight from Singapore (SIN) – Bali (DPS) was scheduled for a short 2 hours and 45 minutes. As there is no first class, I was seated in the front row of business with no one next to me. The plane is configured in a 2-2-2 layout in business. The seats recline old-school style (no angled or lie-flat) and each seat has a 9 inch monitor with looping videos.
There was a brunch and lunch menu that you could choose from or you could mix and match between the menus. I had “Booked the Cook“, choosing my own meal in advance of the flight, but the flight attendants said they had no special meals delivered. Add it to the list…
I went with the udon noodles and a fruit plate.
After lunch, I intended to nap for a bit before landing so that I could get in a full day on the beach. However, that’s when all hell broke loose (warning graphic). It started with a long line for the bathrooms and several passengers holding their stomachs. I then saw the line lengthen and flight attendants were handing out vomit bags and water bottles. I knew exactly what this was about…back in The Private Room (TPR), a few Point Me to the Plane readers who traveled on both the IAH-DME and DME-SIN legs, asked me if I was feeling OK. I said I was fine, though they said they were feeling very nauseous. They couldn’t even stand to look at food. I thought it was strange that more than one person was feeling ill, but I really didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I saw several of the business and first passengers from the previous flights lined up for the bathroom, that I knew something was very wrong. I asked if there was anything I could do but the flight attendants were doing a good job of controlling the line and getting everyone help. Most passengers were vomiting in the bathroom but then felt well enough to head back to their seats. I thought I had made it through without catching whatever everyone else had (and my post from that day would have you believing so as I didn’t want to worry family back home), but about 30 minutes before landing it got me. I suddenly felt really warm, nauseous, and needed to get to the bathroom ASAP. Like everyone else, I vomited, grabbed a water bottle, and then made it back to my seat. I was feeling better but did not think I would make it the rest of the flight, somehow I survived. Upon landing in hot and muggy Bali it only got worse. After seeing the airport bathroom and how hot and gross it was, I told myself that I could make it to the St. Regis. Luckily, the St. Regis has assistants that get you through customs in a matter of minutes and then others who escort you directly to your driver. Once inside the air conditioned Mercedes with cold towels and water, I thought I was going to be OK. That was until we were exiting the airport and I saw several of the passengers pulled over on the side of the road going at it again. I explained to the driver what happened and told him that we might be pulled over like them pretty soon. I didn’t even make it five more minutes before we were pulled over and my St. Regis driver was patting my back as everything left my body. I couldn’t even keep water down. Once at the hotel, I put on a good show for check-in and retreated to my room. At this point, there wasn’t much left to vomit but I couldn’t stop. After a few hours of the same, I felt so sick and dehydrated that I had to call the hotel doctor, I could not keep even a tiny bit of water down. They wanted to give me an injection to stop the vomiting and while it looked sterile enough, I opted for the anti-vomiting pill. The doctors told me that I had to make it at least 30 minutes in order for the pill to work. I somehow managed it and they returned 15 minutes later with dehydration packets for me to sip. Luckily, as horrible as the bug was, it was gone by the next morning. I emailed with the other passengers and they were experiencing the same exact thing and most recovered within 24-48 hours.
Flash forward two weeks, a chain email was started between a lot of the passengers who had exchanged emails on that last flight. Everyone was on the IAH-DME and DME-SIN flights as well. We ruled out the food on the SIN-DPS flight as several of the passengers were already sick prior to boarding. The IAH-DME flight and DME-SIN flights are both possibilities but based on timing, most think it was something on the DME-SIN leg. I have not personally contacted Singapore Airlines regarding the sickness but several passengers on the email chain have. They each received a very similar canned response:
Thank you for your patience while we investigated your feedback. We are sorry for the occurrence on SQ61 reported on January 12th. Please let me assure you that Singapore Airlines takes all feedback from our customers seriously and for your case, we have initiated our In-flight Services Manager and our caterer to investigate the matters that you have raised. From the investigation, our caterer had lab tests conducted on food samples from the dish uplifted on SQ61 on January 10/11, 2012 and the result was found to be microbiologically satisfactory. A breach would show in the tests. As airline food is prepared in the batches rather than individually, another indicator of a breach is the incidence of several cases of food poisoning from passengers on the same flight. To date, we have received similar reports of food poisoning from only a few select passengers on this flight. Symptoms of food poisoning like vomiting and nausea can arise from a variety of causes like gastrointestinal flu, disagreement with ingredients in the meal or the general strain of long haul traveling. A few passengers could have received illness from eating at the same airport concession or contracted lounge. Again, we regret the unpleasant experience you had encountered on your journey on Singapore Airlines. We hope our explanation has restored your confidence in our in-flight food quality and hygiene.
Basically, it wasn’t us and even if there is more than one person sick it could be the stomach flu that’s going around, the airport vendors, or the lounges in IAH or DME. It’s a pretty unfortunate situation, I can say personally that I’ve never been that sick stomach-wise. It is also more unbelievable that it occurred on one of the highest ranked airlines for quality. I have no idea what caused it and I guess it really could have been the flu that is hitting the US hard, though it seems more likely to be a norovirus or food poisoning (everyone had a very low grade fever). This article seems to back up the fact that norovirus spreads extremely quickly on planes with similar symptoms possible in only a matter of hours.
In any case, the sickness, broken seat, inoperable in-flight entertainment center, hair in my food, forgotten “Book the Cook” meal, and horrible transfer process in Moscow, made the IAH-DME-SIN first class experience, very un-Singapore Airlines like. From the three reviews, you can see that there were a ton of positives (amazing service and crew, The Private Room, comfy bed and pjs, great in-flight food options, and a huge selection of movies and programs when the TV was operable). I also previously had a great experience on the EWR-SIN direct flight. I hold no grudges, this was just bad luck all around but hopefully these types of events are very isolated on a flight that costs $8000+. I’m happy I flew on a redemption award and I’m still waiting to hear from Singapore as to whether there will be any UA mileage compensation. Well, I guess at least this series of Singapore Airlines trip reports was different than all the rest
Until the A380 Suite experience…