[Airline Review] – SilkAir (MI702) / (MI705) – Economy Class, SIN-CNX, (9 Nov 17) / CNX-SIN (12 Nov 17)

SilkAir B737-800 flying between Singapore and Chiang Mai

SilkAir B737-800 getting ready to send us to Chiang Mai

SilkAir Livery

On The Ground

Check-in

Singapore

SilkAir leaves from Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2. Check-in counters are located in rows 4 and 5 in the terminal. I always have the habit to check-in online via the Singapore Airlines App, which means shorter queues. However, since SilkAir does not have a counter dedicated to internet check-ins at Changi Airport, we had to join the regular queue. The queue was short at the time we were there, hence we were promptly being served within moments after joining the queue. Check-in was swift and the ground staff took our luggage before handing us our boarding passes and reminded us of the boarding gate and the boarding timing.

SilkAir uses rows 4 and 5 check-in counters in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Only Economy Class and Business Class counters. There are no counters available for internet check-in in Singapore Changi Airport

SilkAir Economy Class check-in counters in row 5

SilkAir leaves at boarding gate E6. As it is operating at full load, the boarding gate is full of passengers waiting to board the aircraft. As we arrived at the boarding gate close to the boarding timing, most of the passengers were already waiting inside the gate, the queue for security screening at the gate is rather short. Despite operating on full loading (the aircraft is booked out), SilkAir was able to cope with the queue by boarding passengers according to rows.

MI702 departs from gate E6 today

Boarding gate waiting area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Chiang Mai

SilkAir check-in counters are located from counters 9 to 12, located in the centre of the international departure check-in hall. 2 counters are dedicated to Economy Class passengers and 1 for Business Class passengers. Unlike Singapore Changi Airport, 1 counter in Chiang Mai Airport is dedicated to passengers who do internet check-in. There are no queues in all 3 types of counters when I checked in at Chiang Mai International Airport. We were promptly served by a ground staff in the Economy Class queue. The agent took in our luggage and processed our check-in swiftly. She reminded us of the boarding gate and the time to appear at there before handing our boarding pass to us. One point to note while flying out of Chiang Mai Airport, there are 2 security checks: one at the entrance to the terminal building, where all passengers are to put their luggage through an X-ray machine; another security check is located at the entrance to the airside area, before the immigration. Do note that due to the influx of tourists from China, the queue here can be rather long. It is advised to arrive at the second security check area early in order not to miss one’s flight.

Chiang Mai International Airport

SilkAir check-in counters are located facing doors 9 and 10 in Chiang Mai International Airport

The 4 SilkAir check-in counters in Chiang Mai International Airport are relatively empty at the time of our check-in

SilkAir dedicated 2 counters for Economy Class, 1 counter for internet check-in and 1 counter for Business Class  passengers

Chiang Mai International Airport International departure hall

Once pass the immigration, the airside is a huge hall with shops located at the parameters of the terminal building. Other than the standard duty free shops selling liquors, tobacco and cosmetics, there are also several shops selling souvenirs for travelers who need to get some prior to their flight.

Shops in Chiang Mai International Airport international departure airside

Passengers wait area in Chiang Mai International Airport

Seats are found in front of the gates in airside

SilkAir departs from Gate 5 in Chiang Mai International Airport

Passengers queuing to board the aircraft from Gate 5

In-Flight

Cabin

SilkAir uses the single-aisle B737-800 for the SIN-CNX route. There are 12 seats in Business Class Section and 150 seats in Economy Class Section. The Economy Class section is decked out with bright light orange seats, coupled with the bright mood lighting was used during boarding and the white bulkheads, the aircraft look spacious and clean. The use of these colours also exudes a sense of youthfulness and cheerfulness in the Economy Class Cabin. Economy Class cabin is arranged in 3-3 configuration. Blankets and pillows are not found in the seats of the Economy Class cabin, however, the flight attendants will gladly offer one set when requested.

SilkAir B737-800 Economy class cabin

The use of orange in the seats makes the aircraft looks refreshing and cheerful

Seats in Economy Class are arranged in 3-3 configuration

Blankets and pillows are not placed in the seats when boarding, but they are available when requested

The call buttons and lights are controlled from the ceiling in the aircraft

Business Class seats in SilkAir B737-800

There are only 2 lavatories, located at the rear of the aircraft in the Economy Class section. The lavatories are rather small, due to the limited real estate in the B737-800. Despite the small size, the lavatory has all the standard equipment that one would find in a typical full-service airline. In terms of amenities, SilkAir only has a bottle of hand soap in the lavatory. One can find some airsick bags in the drawers next to the toilet bowl.

Large mirrors in the lavatory

Sink area

Hand soap is the only amenity available in the lavatory

Airsick bags are stowed inside the cabinet in the lavatory

Clean toilet

The Seat

Each Economy Class seats have a pitch of 30″ and a width of 17″ and have 5″ of recline, which is sufficient for passengers to catch some rest during the flight. The headrest in each seat can be adjusted 4 ways to suit passengers of all height and provide them with comfort while flying. I find the legroom to be good in the Economy Class and not too cramp. The seats feel comfortable throughout the short 3 hour SIN-CNX flight. There are a couple of seat pockets in each seat. Like Economy Class onboard other airliners, one of the seat pocket is located on the back of the seat in front. Here is where one can find some reading materials such as SilkAir’s in-flight magazine, in-flight duty free catalogue and the aircraft safety card. Airsick bag is also found tucked together with the reading materials. Another seat pocket is located on the top of the seat in front. molded in hard plastic. Unlike the bottom seat pocket where one can pull out to put stuff in, passengers is unable to do so for the top seat pocket. At first glance, it seem that each SilkAir Economy Class seat have rather generous storage spaces with the seat pockets. However I find the top seat pocket impractical, as its depth make retrieving small items stowed here difficult. At the back of each seat is where one would find the tray table, which can be pulled towards passengers during meal time. The seat recline button is located on the left arm rest of each seat. There are power socket and USB sockets are found below each seat for passengers to charge their mobile devices.

Economy Class seats onboard SilkAir B737-800 are decked out in orange colour

Legroom is good in the Economy Class

Each seats has 2 seat pockets

The top seat pocket is deep and not ideal to stow small items

Lower seat pocket
SilkAir B737-800 safety card
Seat pocket contents
Decent size tray table
Seat recline button is located on the armrest of each seat

In-Flight Entertainment

SilkAir does not have TV screens on each seat, however, that does not mean In-Flight Entertainment is not present. There are drop-down screens mounted on the ceiling of the aircraft playing short clips at a scheduled timing throughout the flight. The safety video is also shown from the drop-down screens while the aircraft is taxiing for take-off. SilkAir does not provide headphones onboard, passengers would have to bring their own headphones, which can be plugged into the headphone jacks found on the armrest of the seat. There is a small panel that displayed some channels and has a volume control, which seems to suggest that music is also streamed onboard when headphones are plugged in.

Safety video played during taxiing on the drop-down screens
Passengers can also tune into the onboard radio
Headphone jack on each seat

SilkAir also offers SilkAir Studio onboard this flight, which is a genius way of providing AVOD onboard without the airlines needing to invest in Personal TV screens on each seat. Passengers can download the SilkAir Studio app to their mobile phones, tablets or laptops to enjoy movies, TV shows and music onboard. Passengers can connect to the in-flight wifi and start watching the latest movies from their mobile devices as soon as they are settled in their seat. There are a lot of options, neatly organised in the app menu for passengers to choose a show of their liking. For passengers who did not download the app prior to boarding, one can also access the SilkAir Studio from their web browser on their mobile devices. The only downside is there isn’t any latch for passengers to hook their mobile devices in the seat. Understand that SilkAir is adding latches for passengers to place their mobile phones or tablets on in their latest B737 Max 8 aircrafts.

SilkAir Studio menu on my mobile phone
Streaming SilkAir Studio on my mobile phone
Watching latest blockbuster on my mobile phone on SilkAir Studio

Meal Service

SIN-CNX

Meals onboard are served about 30 mins into the flight time. As this leg of the flight is flown in the morning, breakfast was served. Passengers are given 2 options of either Chicken sausage with an omelette or Fish Nasi Lemak, complementary with soft drinks, juices, coffee or tea. When the service cart came to my row, only Chicken sausage was available. The meal comes standard with the main meal, bun and fruits. I find the Chicken sausage tasty, but the portion is a tad small. About 1 hour prior to landing, the flight attendants distributed packs of nuts and did another drink run to keep passengers hydrated.

Refreshing wet towels were distributed as soon as the seat belt signs are turned off
Flight attendants distributing breakfast
Only Chicken sausage and omelette option is available by the time the meal cart comes to my row

CNX-SIN

As with the previous leg, meals were served about 30 mins into the flight time. Passengers were given the options of a Chicken meal or a Fish Nasi Lemak meal. I was a tad disappointed to learn that I was only presented with 1 option by the time the attendant came to my row. This time around, the only food option available was the Fish Nasi Lemak. Unlike the breakfast service, the meal only came with a main meal and fruits as dessert. I find the Fish Nasi Lemak to be tasty and the chilli sauce that comes with it was delicious. Too bad the portion is a tad small. About 1 hour prior to landing, the flight attendants came around doing their drinks run and distributed a packet of nuts to all passengers.

Flight attendants distributing dinner onboard
Only Fish Nasi Lemak is available by the time the meal cart comes to my row

Service

Service onboard was great, similar to what one would find on their sister airlines – Singapore Airlines. The flight attendants made passengers feel welcome the moment I stepped onboard. At the door, we were greeted with smiles and greetings. Flight attendants were cheerful throughout the flight, despite having to serve 150 passengers during the short flight time. The flight attendants kept their cheerfulness throughout the flight and were very attentive to passenger calls. I requested a birthday cake for my friend in-flight and the flight attendants presented the cake with the widest smile after meal run and wished my friend a happy birthday. During the CNX-SIN flight, I complained to the flight attendant about only having 1 choice of food for the second time. Instead of ignoring my complaints, the flight attendant apologised (though it is not a fault of theirs) and offered to bring food upfront, which I declined. The service recovery is almost immediate. When I requested a can of coke for my friend and myself, the flight attendant quickly returned with a can each and asked if we need more seeing that our drinks are empty. This goes to show that the flight attendants do their job with a certain level of attentiveness. I find the service rendered onboard SilkAir is no different and could be better than Singapore Airlines.

Flight attendants welcoming passengers during boarding
Flight attendants were seen going around distributing arrival cards and newspaper
Flight attendant confirming special meals with passengers who ordered them
Flight attendants brought a birthday cake for my friend after the meal trays are cleared

Afterthought

Flying onboard SilkAir is a joy. The seats are comfortable with decent legroom. The cabin looks cheerful and energetic. SilkAir Studio kept passengers entertained and made flight time feel shorter than it actually is. The service rendered onboard is great. Despite having to work in a small space with so many passengers, the flight attendants did their job with a smile. My experience onboard SilkAir lived up to their brand promise, it is indeed a joy to fly with SilkAir.

Flying over sunset