Singapore Airlines is always a good idea, especially in Business Class. I have flown business before to Auckland, San Francisco via Hong Kong, on the new A350 and even in Suites Class! And I always love my flights.
The airline consistently provides a pleasant, warm and polite service and can be trusted to continue to excel in in-flight comfort. The seats are sider than the average, giving enough space that you feel as if having your own private cabin and the service is always impeccable and with a smile.
In this case, I flew from Singapore to Beijing, with miles, for S$160.
Check-in and lounge
The flight departs at 4,50pm so I arrived at Changi Terminal 3 at an off-peak time. There was literally no other passenger in the time that took to check me in, which was a brisk five minutes. The Business Class counters at Terminal 3 are towards the end of the drive through and right in front of gate 5. Both Business and First class check-in counter are next to each other and differentiated by the widely spread red and blue carpets.
The service was swift and polite, we did not exchange as much as a “Hello” and a “Thank you” before I was walking through to Departures, right at the end of the check-in isle. As usual, the entire check-in and immigration process took, at most, five minutes. Changi truly is the most efficient airport in the world, year after year. And it only gets better.
Inside the Terminal it was relatively quiet given the time. I wanted to stretch my legs a bit before heading to the lounge so I walked up and down the aisles for a bit checking some duty free items and wandering around. I eventually walked up the stairs into the second floor where the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer lounge is. Singapore Airlines has a lounge for Gold members and another one exclusively for First and Business Class passengers that is significantly better. I have seen the lounge even in the evenings or mornings, when the airport is buzzing, and it is still relatively peaceful. The First Class lounge has a separate section for the Suites Passengers or PPS Club Members which I had previously enjoyed, and it is impressive. This time I was going left, towards the Business Class section.
Although the lounge is spacious, quiet and dimly lit, driving a sense of calmness, I have never thought Singapore Airlines lounges to be the best. When compared with Qatar Airways or Emirates, Singapore Airlines food does not stack up. The choices are too Asian for my taste, with about 80% of the food available being Chinese, not my favorite when I am about to board a long-haul flight, the heavy sauces and deep fried items are too heavy.
I opted for some water, some maki and some fruit. I also took a tomato tart, kept in the warmer.
The lounge has about 8-10 meal types from braised pork belly to pasta, noodles or Indian curry. There is also a selection of freshly cut fruits and some salad items. One can make a sandwich with a small deli style corner. The drinks section is pretty large with all types of liquors and a few choices of wine.
At about 4pm a tea and scones trolley went through the lounge to offer freshly baked scones, clotted cream, tea and local coffee, served with condensed milk. The scones were warm and soft, the perfect consistency, and a nice touch to an otherwise souls buffet. I could not resist having one of the plain ones but they also had cranberry and raisin options. The scones were placed inside lovely bird cages and the staff were friendly and attentive.
There are magazines and all sorts of snacks to a company your drinks and plates and glasses are quickly tidied away. The lounge faces the lower level Departure lounge on one side and the runway on the other. There is an open air smoking section just outside its main door.
The lack of announcements meant that the entire room is silent. There was no background music and barely any noise from passengers talking. I was so carried away by the relaxation that I realized it was time to go to the departure gate only 25min before the flight was supposed to take-off so I had to run the length of the Terminal.
The aircraft and seat
Boarding was smooth. Although i thought I was going to arrive right before gate closing I found a departure gate filled to the bream and looking more like a playground than an airport departure gate. There were numerous student-looking kids, in their early teens, animated and talking loudly. I was extremely happy I had booked Business Class because the last thing I wanted was a cabin filled with children shouting at each other. I had landed from a short red-eye in the same morning and was incredibly looking forward to some peace.
I boarded first as soon as they boarding started. As I sat down and settle in, I got immediately offered a drink. Since it was the start of a holiday I went for champagne. Nothing screams celebration more than a glass of bubbly. The champagne was followed with a selection of newspapers and then by a selection of magazines and, finally, by a hot towel.
The Business Class section is in a 2x2x2 layout of a Boeing 777-300. The seats are extremely spacious, the widest there is and I reckon they could sit two of me on my seat. There is enough middle space between the seats not to have to bother the passenger next to you with anything. I had seat 14K which is a window on the second row. Row 13 does not exist, as in most aircrafts. The galley was two rows in front, as were the toilets but with the noise canceling headset I had an extremely peaceful flight with absolutely no noise or nuisance from anything or anyone.
The seat reclines fully giving you a perfectly private bed as the head cover provides a cocoon in which to lay. There is enough space between the seat and the wall to hide a handbag, which I regularly do to avoid having the stewardesses asking for my bag to be stowed in the overhead lockers. I am a bit obsessed with that I know.
there is space under the TV to place shoes and, even with the bed fully reclined, they still fit loosely. I know this because when I travel in the winter, I can easily my pair of Ugg between the seat and the space under the TV.
The TV screen is large, enough to comfortably watch movies despite being about a meter away from the seat. There are compartments under the screen to store valuables such as phones. Surprisingly, this aircraft does not have USB ports and you can only charge your phone if you have a USB adaptor you can plug in the electricity socket which is located under the middle armrest. There is also space under the armrest to store your laptop folded, a handy place if you are working away and then want to snooze for a bit.
The headsets provided are noise canceling. They don’t fully block the noise out but silent it enough for you to only hear it as a background noise. Since the flight was in the evening, we were provided with sleepers, socks and eye mask. Singapore Airlines does not give amenity kits unless you are flying on a very long haul so this is all we got. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think amenity kits are necessary, I barely ever use them and they are a waste of time so I am happy with the sleepers, as I like taking my shoes off straightaway, and the socks, so my feet don’t get cold. As per the eye mask, I don’t usually use it as Singapore Airlines is pretty good at keeping the lights down on evening or night flights so you can perfectly relax. Alternatively I simply cover my head with the blanket.
Talking of which, the blanket and pillow provided are fabulous. The blanket is soft, fluffy and silky. It has a velvety touch and comes in a light violet color that goes well with the lights brown/beige of the seats. it is one of the best blankets I have seen around, comparable to Emirates lovely duvets. Often times, airlines don’t give you a proper blanket and you end up spending the flight trying to tuck yourself in every time you toss and turn. The pillow is also large enough to provide proper support. The seat plus pillow and blanket combo are a great kit for a good night sleep. In my case, Is stayed awake because the plane landed before midnight and I wanted to make sure I could sleep in Beijing.
Krisworld, Singapore Airlines in-flight entertainment system, is good enough to keep you busy but may become repetitive if you are on one of those extra-long flights to Europe or the US. Truth be told, any airline would struggle to withstand such a challenge except for maybe the Middle Eastern Airlines, known for their incredibly long list of entertainment options.
The movie section is divided by origin and genre and a special section is available for recent releases. There are TV series and documentaries too.
I had not flown long-haul Singapore Airlines for six months and I noticed a significant change in the in-flight food and beverage service.
Since it was the weekend of Singapore’s 50th Anniversary the lounge and the in-flight meals were inspired by Singapore’s melting pot of cultures. In August, it was the turn of Peranakan specialties to shine. There were also hawker center flavors with a main dish inspired by the popular local fare.
I saw an improvement in the quality of the food and in the options. The men was well balanced with a few Asian inspired dishes, full Asian favorites and international dishes to cater to all palates. We started with some satay, present in every long-haul flight with Singapore Airlines. These are served with a few cubes of cucumber and sliced onion and topped with traditional peanut sauce. They are a good way to whet your palate and entertain the hunger while the main meal arrives. Since it was the National Day weekend I decided to go for the most famous Singaporean drink, one that I had never ordered in the plane: A Singapore Sling.
The starter was made of shredded duck with lettuce, melon and plum sauce. It was tasty and not too heavy. For main I could choose between Steamed cod with ginger sauce, Seared tournedos of beef, Seafood or fun or Pan fried chicken piccata in tomato sauce. I went for the cod which was delicious. The ginger sauce gave it a tangy taste but I had to remove most of it because it was too strong. The cod was excellently cooked, it could be separated with the fork and it was airy and fresh. The Chinese vegetables that came with it were lightly stir fried and went along very well. This dish was specially created by Zhun Jun of Jade Garden Restaurant in Shanghai.
To finish off we could enjoy a strawberry cream cake or a Bandung ice cream made with rose syrup and milk and served with wafers. This was the local specialty and I thoroughly enjoyed the slightly sweet and creamy ice cream.
Both the starter and the dessert were part of Singapore’s heritage cuisine and were created to celebrate Peranakan heritage.
The food can be chased down with a selection of drinks, from regional TWG teas to wines. I paired the food with a (few) glasses of German Riesling and there was an Australian Chardonnay as well. The reds included a two French wines and an Italian. The bread selection has also significantly improved. We could enjoy cheese and onion ciabatta, bread sticks, cheese crackers, onion bread and regular buns.
After the meal service, an entire trolley filled with cheeses and fresh fruits went up and down the aisles. I noticed a wider range of fresh fruits from the old apples, pears and bananas. There was rock melon, mangosteens and a few types of cheese. I was too full to indulge.
The meal could not end without liquors, again, on a trolley, and a few pralines. By that point I just could not fit anything else in.
Having stopped flying Singapore Airlines Business Class on a weekly basis a little over a year prior I noticed some small details that improved the overall experience. I found the journey to be pleasant, relaxing and with the right level of attention. As I typed away for the duration of my flight, noise-cancelling headsets on, I was rarely disturbed unless necessary, and I had the seat next to mine to myself to place all of my personal belongings.
It was an incredibly warm and peaceful experience where I even enjoyed the food, something that I generally loathe in-flight. if you re flying to Beijing, there is no better option, indeed, and I am looking forward to the return flight from Chengdu on Singapore Airlines too.
The only thing that was lacking? WiFi connectivity. It is still shocking to me that Singapore Airlines choses not to offer internet in-flight in all flights, but I can imagine it may be a business decision motivated by the focus on relaxation and calmness that a plane full of internet hooked passengers cannot provide.
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