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Flight check: Singapore Airlines - A flight review from one of the world's best airlines
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Pre flight experience
SQ319 LHR-SIN Aircraft B777-300ER Flight time 11h 55m
Leisure family trip. Booking made on Singapore Airline’s website (www.singaporeair.com) from the comfort of my home. Whole process for three passengers must have taken no more than 25 minutes. I even had the option to pre-book seats free of charge, after payment was confirmed and e-ticket issued.
The only slight issue – although it wasn’t applicable for our trip, is the inability to mix classes (i.e. Economy/Business combination) when booking online. 9/10
CHECK-IN /AT THE AIRPORT
Singapore Airlines (SQ) allows you to check in online up to 48 hours before departure thus confirming your choice of seats or improving if necessary and possible. You do however need to exchange the printout for a proper boarding pass at the airport. I was later explained that the reason they do so is if you are going to take advantage of SQ’s Boarding Pass Privileges, the outlets or suppliers only accept the genuine boarding card as proof.
SQ currently operates out of Terminal 3 at London Heathrow (LHR). They have dedicated check-in desks for First, Business and Economy class passengers and usually the process is carried out efficiently and courteously, in typical SQ fashion. On this occasion, it was no exception. Our bags were whisked away promptly and our seat selection honoured and confirmed. They also confirmed without us prompting our son’s Child Meal.
With no further business landside, we proceeded to go through passport control and security. Process was slow, due to large amount of passengers travelling at that time, but the process was carried out without any hitches. We had enough time to browse through the airside area before heading to the boarding gate. 10/10 for check in process
We headed to the gate once we saw the signs announcing that boarding was ready. SQ319 looked like a full flight as evidenced by the scrum slowly assembling at the boarding area. From the waiting area, we could see through the panoramic windows the gleaming and sleek B777-300ER sporting the smart SQ colours.
Boarding was called on time and the ground crew gave boarding preference to First and Business class passengers, as well as PPS members*, Krysflyer** gold and also Star Alliance gold cardholders through gate A1, which boards through the L1 door at the aircraft. Economy class passengers board via the A2 gate and through the L2 door. In this instance, priority is given to elderly and disabled passengers as well as families with small children.
Once through the threshold of L2 door, we were greeted by the smartly dressed male cabin crew, and the Singapore Girls donned in their beautiful Sarong Kebayas. Throughout the cabins, each crewmember helped passengers to their assigned seats and helped with their cabin luggage. All this of course, done with a smile and warm hospitality. As a nice touch, they addressed each child by their name and offered a bag full of goodies! A clever way of carving loyalty from a young age... 10/10
** Singapore Airlines' frequent flyer program
*PPS is Krysflyers premium tier, for frequent travellers on Singapore Airlines and Silk Air Business and First class
The Economy class on these B777-300ERs are laid out over two cabins behind the wings. Our party of three were located in the first of such cabins, behind the Business class main cabin.
The configuration is a comfortable 3 x 3 x 3, which is the usual standard for these aircraft. The white panelled walls combined with cream coloured flooring and a combination of pastel blue or light brown seating gives a very fresh and airy décor throughout the cabin. Legroom is a comfortable 32’’ and overhead bins are quite generous in area. 10/10
LET’S TAKE A SEAT
Ah, the seat. Always an area of contentious debate in air travel. The seat was comfortable in a sitting position, a bit thin on the padding but quite ergonomic nevertheless, but it is still an economy class seat at the end of the day. Recline is fairly generous, without being too invasive for the person behind you. Armrests are retractable so if travelling with partner or family, it is easy to rearrange into ‘snuggle’ position for sleeping and added comfort. 8/10
Boarding was completed in probably under 20 minutes, which is remarkable for a fully laden wide bodied aircraft. They still had time, once everyone was seated to pass around offering hot towels to refresh before takeoff, at the same time they handed out the menus. Pushback therefore was on time, however there was a bit of delay taxiing to the runway, beyond the airline’s control obviously. Nevertheless, we took off within schedule. Commentary in English and Mandarin were informative and when coming from the captain, amusing at times. 10/10
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
Singapore Airline’s biggest asset is their in-flight service onboard. Once airborne, they started in the catering service, with a round of drinks and pretzels including their signature Singapore Sling as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages of choice. About an hour into the flight the main meal was served. With three different choices of main, I went for the Szechuan chicken with curried rice and vegetables washed down with a German Riesling, well recommended by the flight attendant who was serving our area. My son’s Child Meal was, well, quite childy; cheeseburger, decent looking fries and a nice fun looking salad for the healthy element.
Overall, still the best Economy class meal I have tasted on longhaul flights; very tasty, decent enough portions and imaginative menus.
Just under two hours before landing in Singapore, breakfast was served and my choice of chilli noodles with bean omelette and fruit was an absolute winner. For the more traditional, a full English fry up was the other option. The child option was a choice of boxed cereal, fruit, and omelette with sausage. 10/10
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
Another winner among travellers is their entertainment system, Krysworld. With an impossibly long selection of movies, may that be the latest Hollywood or even Bollywood blockbusters, as well as world cinema, TV programs, music channels, CD catalogues, and interactive games, time certainly flies. As I always maintain, if I cannot sleep on a flight, I want to be well entertained. Downside is, there is too little flight for all those films! 10/10
ARE YOU WELL SERVED?
One thing that makes or breaks an airline is consistency in service, or lack of it. One thing you can count on when flying with SQ is consistency. Their flight attendants are trained to the highest standard in safety and customer service. It is no wonder that SQ has won so many accolades in this department, and it is consistent in every travelling class. I have flown many times with this airline and if, I have to admit, I have not had a perfect flight on all my trips, I can say I have left the plane satisfied on 97% of the times. The only thing I have noticed on some occasions, are robotic-style cabin crew; efficient, courteous, and focused on their job, but lacking warmth. Unfortunately, I encountered one or two on this flight. Otherwise, the rest were friendly. 9/10
With an on time departure, and no major weather related incidents during the flight, arrival into Singapore-Changi was on time. A less than five-minute taxiing saw us joined via the boarding bridge to Changi’s new Terminal 3, a state of the art terminal, recently opened in 2008.
Disembarkation was the usual scrum, understandable after almost twelve hours locked up at 35,000 feet. The cabin crew lined up to bid farewell and thank passengers for their patronage as we left the aircraft.
The airy, ultra modern yet soothing arrival area at Changi T3 is a stark contrast to the cramped environs of LHR’s T3. It took us 25 minutes since leaving the plane until we were outside the arrival hall waiting for a cab to our hotel, and that included going through immigration and collecting luggage! Not directly related to the airline, but it has to be said, if the airline’s hub is efficient, then the overall flight experience is fantastic. 10/10
CONCLUSIONS – OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
From start to finish, the whole flight experience was great, hassle free and enjoyable despite the long and gruelling flight. When embarking on such a long flight, it is important that a carrier offer a comfortable seat (even in economy), great service, including the catering, but just as importantly, good entertainment. As I said further up, if I am unable to sleep, I want to be at least, well entertained. Singapore Airlines ticks all those boxes, and it does it in style. A fantastic product, which leaves even other airlines business class (seats aside) products in the shade. Not surprisingly, they are in the top five airlines in the world. A great choice to consider when travelling to Singapore, SE Asia and beyond. 10/10
See other flight reviews at http://tonyabacab.hubpages.com/hub/Cathay-Pacific-business-class-flight-review , http://tonyabacab.hubpages.com/hub/British-Airways-business-class-flight-review, and http://tonyabacab.hubpages.com/hub/Flight-check-Finnair-to-SE-Asia .