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Comfort, style and the best inflight service
Member Name: logberg
Date: 02/04/06, updated on 02/04/06 (2654 review reads)
Advantages: Comfortable flight, great staff
Disadvantages: No eye shield in pack
An armchair in the sky...... no longer will I arrive a tired, snoozey, travel-worn long-haul air traveller..... I've discovered Singapore Airlines.
I’d never flown with them before, on my long-haul flights to and from New Zealand, my home country. I should have, would have prevented some hairy tales I have of some airlines. I have used three other major airlines and they definitely do not come anywhere near the service and comfort of Singapore Airlines.
I flew at a busy time, two flights to Kiwi Land early December (2005) and two flights from Auckland International airport to Heathrow in UK, late February (2006). All trips were in a full plane; this I believe is a good time to judge how staff cope with people of all nations, languages and culture, cooped up in a confined space and no-where else to go!
The first thing I noticed on board was the room in ‘’sardines’‘ class (economy) - I am sure I had more leg room, which when you are seated for a long time is really important - it looked roomier and felt it over my 12 hour, 9 hour, 10 hour and 13 hour flights to NZ and back to Heathrow.
I did my booking on the internet, the price was slightly more than some others but I was looking for an airline which had an alliance with my Air New Zealand airpoint system, Singapore Airlines did. At the check-in counter I claimed the points, instantly credited to my account.
I had to book-in three hours before the flight at Heathrow and it was just as well I was early as the queue was very long. The only problem - I’d phoned a fortnight ealier to ask how much weight I was allowed and was told 20kg in one suitcase. To comply, I'd organised and disciplined myself with wedding and Christmas gifts to take home, only to find signs along the check-ins announcing a baggage allowance of 32kg!
So, cooperation with the airpoints, a few short moments to answer the usual security questions and the lady even managed to give me an aisle seat which I always ask for - due to my arthritis which forces me to move about the aircraft a fair bit - I don’t like annoying other travellers who want to sleep while I need to roam.
On boarding I found a dear old lady sitting in my seat. I so kindly discussed the fact that we must have been given the same seats she pulled rank and said she’d had two hip replacements a few months ago and had paid extra for her aisle seat. A helpful stewardess determined the woman should be sitting in a seat one away from the aisle. She was not happy so in good Kiwi (Libran is my star sign and we like peace and even scales!) I gave her the aisle seat - 30 minutes into the flight we were bosom pals! The cabin crew were most professional in working through this problem.
We were given updates of the flight often, staff were so courteous and I have to say it felt more like being in a local hotel than thousands of miles above the earth, in a confined space. In all four flights we could order, from a menu, drinks at any time, no waiting for the drinks trolley to make its way precariously down the aisle. It did do trips down but you could order drinks, alcoholic or otherwise, whenever you liked and it was delivered on a tray, individually provided for you. I must admit to ordering and enjoying a Singapore Sling or two.
Now, with such service and style in the economy class it leaves me to mention the news I heard just 10 days before leaving England and that was that Singapore Airlines had won, (for the second year in a row) best service in its first and business class areas on long-haul flights.
All this is a long way from the early days of Singapore Airlines, which now uses Changi Airport as its international base. It was involved for 20 years as a regional airline and in May 1947 Singapore Airlines was created from its early days - Malayan Airlines - which used twin-engine Airspeed Consel aircraft to fly between Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang. In 1955 it progressed to owning a fleet of Douglas DC 3's.
In 1972, October saw Singapore Airlines formed with a fleet of 10 airlines, roaming between 22 cities in 18 countries and employing 6000 staff. Nowadays it operates to 90 cities in 40 countries and has the world’s largest number of Boeing 777 and 747-400 aircraft as well as Airbus 310, 340, and it is introducing a huge A380 airbus some time this year - I think it will take 555 people!! (Saw a model of this at Changi Airport on one of the stopovers.)
I cannot tell you which type of aircraft I flew on each of my legs of the journey. The planes were huge, reasonably quiet and really comfortable.
To add to the hospitality I was able to use the KrisWorld Interactive Entertainment: 60 movies, 12 music channels, games, news - in language of your choice.... I think the book said there were 500 entertainment options. What I liked was you did not click on a movie only to find it had been running for a certain time and you’d missed it: you just used the buttons to click into instant start, and you viewed it to suit yourself.
I have for some years wanted to see Dr Zhivago again, imagine my delight when scrolling down the 60 options to find it available for me to view. Also I kept up with the news as we flew half way around the world.
You have your own tv screen set into the back of the seat in front, this does cause a little bit of angst when the person in front wants to sleep and lowers the seat - you can adjust the little screen somewhat but it was not enough for my vision and it became a little hard to view the screen.
FOOD AND REFRESHMENT
The only one of the four long-haul carriers I’ve experienced which provides you with a written menu: a well printed booklet offering Western and Asian meals. Here’s just a couple of meal options:
Supper from Singapore to London -
Appetiser: salad of green bean, potato, tomato and turkey in vinagrette.
Main Courses: (Exclusively created by Gordon Ramsay) Pan roasted chicken with honey soused vegetables, mushrooms and roasted potatoes
OR Stirfried scallops and perch in Szechuan sauce with vegetables and steamed rice.
Cheese: Cheese and crackers.
Dessert: Ice Cream.(It was delicious!)
From the Bakery: roll and butter.
Hot beverages: coffee and tea.
Served with red or white wine.
Breakfast from London to Singapore -
Cereal light starter.
Wholesome beginnings: Rice vermicilli with chicken and vegetables
OR Plain omelette with baked beans and mushrooms, grilled chicken sausage, potatoes.
From the bakery: breakfast roll, butter, fruit preserve.
Hot beverages: tea or coffee.
These were served really hot, fresh and truly tasty, all very important on a long haul flight.
I had a nose bleed on the way out to New Zealand and it came at the busy time when staff were serving breakfast but I must say the attention to my predicament was excellent. The men stopped serving and went for a warm, wet towel and were wanting to assist me personally but as I have many years of First Aid training I told them I would be okay. Could not fault them in any aspect of attending to me or others about me, with special meals etc.
A worthy highlight.
Flying in daylight, over the Red Desert that is the Australian hinterland, was just amazing. Staff were informed about the scenery below and pleased to talk about it with us. I'v been on other carriers and seen things outside and no-one was interested in telling me about it. When we flew over Sydney the pilot pointed out features such as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
This was just one aspect of the flying I think Singapore Airlines excells in.... customer service is paramount it seems. I can honestly say, the long flights home were not near so arduous as they have been for me on the other major long-haul carriers, I will try to fly with them whenever I need to take a long flight where customer service really matters.
My first flight, from Heathrow to Singapore was delayed around 40 minutes but the other three were all on time, boarding times were not too long so we could get on and then not face long waiting for take off. Generally, I am really pleased I have finally found an airline I can feel confident with, one I can look forward to flying on when I take that long, long trip down under. It makes the antipodes just that much more easier to reach in the 21st century.
Just thought of a negative: they give you a pack which includes sox and toothpaste and brush but gone is the eye shield for sleeping - I did take my own so it didn’t matter but I guess some may have been expecting them to be provided. Small point, but had to mention it because I have been provided with them on some of the other long-haul carriers.
SINGAPORE AIRLINES HOME AIRPORT
Just a little about Singapore Airlines ‘’home’‘ airport - Changi Airport. It is relatively new, having replaced a rather dangerous, tightly situated airport in the heart of Singapore, around 5 or 6 years ago I think.
When you transit, as many do on these long trips ‘’down under’‘, you can walk in the open-air Cactus Gardens and Sunflower roof top or even have a swim, shop, relax in the indoor garden, use the shower, fitness and lifestyle centres, visit the Nexus lounge or rest on a snooze chair, use the free internet as I did for a set amount of time, do some duty-free shopping, eat at a choice of many restaurants and cafes, or just sit in one of the foyer areas, I found the most amazing orchid display you could ever expect to see in a foyer! Glorious.
Finally, Singapore Airlines has built up a reputation of excellence and for those many travellers in economy there is a commitment to service unequalled by other carriers. It really does stand out as the best option on a long-haul. I thoroughly recommend it and will be a return customer in the future.
Footnote: On arriving at Auckland airport after many hours in the air, we taxiied in and I heard a voice come over the intercom, ‘’good evening ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to New Zealand, my name is WINSTON and I trust you have had a good flight’‘. Well, I just about flipped. It was my nephew!
When I got out - he was equally surprised to see his favourite aunt come off the flight...... NOW, the really interesting part. He asked when I was due to fly back to UK and when I did I found he had left my name for some preferential treatment: my luggage flew ‘’Raffles Class’‘ so was in the first 10 suitcases to come off the aircraft at Heathrow, I was given 3 seats to myself (On a near full plane) so I slept for 7 of the 9 hours to Singapore. Just about lost it though, as we taxiied up to fly away from Auckland a lady in the seats ahead of me said she was going to come to the back and sit by me after the seat belt light went out........ Well, consternation, if you get a perk you don’t want to give it up easily, also, I’d been up and busy from 6am the day before, I needed a good sleep. So, I said in my ever so pleasant travellers voice, ‘’I am going to have a sleep’‘. I could tell she was on the verge of ‘’aircraft rage’‘ But after all, I’d been so kind to the old lady on the way out to New Zealand - this was just payback time....... surely there was no nepatism here!!!
Singapore Airlines makes the difference - flying is a pleasure and the people who serve seem happy to do so, cheerful and bright. Great flights over long distance.
(I have also published this on Ciao as Writing321)
(A longstanding member pointed out that the original of this was too long for Dooyoo -- so I have edited it a bit... hope those who have already rated it are not unhappy with this...)
Summary: Customer service paramount, attention to detail makes the difference
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