Friday, July 15, 2011

Penang to Portland & Austin: Penang to Singapore on Silkair


 The first part of the trip consisted on a short hop on Silkair, Singapore Airlines regional subsidiary from Penang to Singapore. To catch the early morning United flight from Singapore to Tokyo, I flew on the last Penang-Singapore flight reaching Singapore at about 11pm. Silkair currently flies 4 times a day on the Singapore-Penang-Singapore route.

This route used to be served by Singapore Airlines proper but got switched to Silkair a few years back after low cost airlines were allowed to fly it. The annoying part of the switch is that Silkair is technically not part Star Alliance which meant I did not have priority check-in, boarding or the use of the lounge even though I had *Gold thanks to Asiana Airlines. Gold members on Singapore Airlines frequent flyer program still gets all the benefits though. Silkair does not provide their business class or elite customers any lounge use in Penang but instead issues a rm15 voucher for use in a couple of cafe or restaurants at the airport.

With the dedicated on-line check-in line available, I was able to get done with check-in pretty quick. I was pleasantly surprised that the agent could issue all my boarding passes all the way to Portland in Penang - first time it has happened to me. I also insisted on priority business class luggage tags after showing my *A Gold card.

The flight itself was as expected ~95% full with mostly what I thought were passengers traveling for business. Even though it is only ~1 hour flight, Silkair does a snack and drink run which a pretty good tasting chicken pie served on the night run.
Chicken pie on Silkair

Since I had a ~7 hour overnight layover in Singapore, I stayed in a single person budget room at the transit hotel in Changi Terminal 2. The room itself only costs $40 SGD for a 6 hour block which I considered really cheap for what other transit hotels like in Dubai would charge. The budget room was adequate for one person with a single bed, desk and even a small TV being provided. The showers and toilets however were not ensuite.

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