This post is not only a farewell to the venerable SQ Megatop (SQ’s internal name for their 747-400’s), but likely a farewell to SQ F in general for yours truly. On January 15th, an A380 will replace the 747-400 on Singapore’s JFK-FRA-SIN route. SQ’s remaining 747’s will serve their SIN-MEL route until they are withdrawn and retired completely. With the demise of the 747-400 in Singapore’s inventory, so goes the Saver Award in F.
Singapore Airlines is big on protecting their premium cabins. It is only possible to book first class award tickets on Singapore Airlines using Singapore Airline KrisFlyer miles. I mean…in theory there should be limited partner availability, but in practice, most people would have a greater chance of being struck by lightening than finding a Star Alliance F award on SQ. Even when using KrisFlyer miles, SQ charges something ridiculous like 1 million miles roundtrip to travel in their R-Class suites on the A380, and the redemption rates for “new first” on the 777 series aircraft are also way above the industry average for F redemptions on routes of similar length. What made Singapore’s pricing regime tolerable, was the F Saver Award. If you were to book an award ticket online to take advantage of the 15% savings in mileage afforded to online awards bookings, it was possible to book a JFK-FRA-JFK transatlantic return ticket in first class for under 100,000 miles. Now considering AMEX points convert 1:1 to SQ KirsFlyer miles, and a U.S. carrier like Continental for example will charge 100,000 miles for a BUSINESS class U.S. to Europe return ticket, this was a phenomenal value.
However…as I said…the SQ747 is not long for this world, the saver award is almost certainly gone for the foreseeable future, and I don’t think I will be ponying up 10k+ in cash just for the pleasure of riding with Singapore.
I made my way to JFK viewing this flight as a send off, and hoping that SQ would take me back to Europe in style, the way they normally fly. After Thanksgiving, I had seen a number of Doctors in NYC who sadly agreed with my Dr.’s in Paris and London. The only way to kick chronic tonsillitis it seemed would be to have my tonsils out (yes, feel free to make jokes about me being 12 years old here). Despite my desire to get this unpleasantness over with as quickly as possible, I had to postpone the surgery until 2012 and head back to France to play with the French national team in a series of friendlies against the Belgians in preparation for the 2012 European Lacrosse Championships. So although this would be a short trip back to the continent (only 2 weeks), it looked like it would at least be comfortable.
Check-in was a breeze and quickly I was in the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse. I had a pumpkin ale, because I absolutely love pumpkin ales in the fall/winter, and I hadn’t had one in ages. After some time dicking around on my laptop I was ready to head for security. I would like to once again state how awful it is when airlines have their lounges before security. Makes it such a pain to get to the gate.
Once through security, there were delays boarding. SQ has a horrible ground operation at JFK and it is utter chaos with people trying to bum rush the jetway when it gets close to boarding time.
Once on board, I took seat 2F (2A has been selected ahead of time) and noticed we were a very full 9 of 12 in First. Before I get into the food service…there are lots of cabin shots at the end of this entry. I cannot stand wordpress and whenever I mix photos in with text it ends up putting them in the wrong place and erasing half of my posts. Also…on the IFE front, I watched Cowboys & Aliens on this movie and it’s hard to put into words how awful this movie was. I came very close to turning it off several times and I ALWAYS need to see how movies end once I start them. The only saving grace of the movie is that Olivia Wilde is very hot.
Overall, this was a disappointing flight. The food was almost restaurant quality, as is to be expected from SQ, however the cabin crew really did a very average to below average job. I suppose you could say it’s because of the high load in first for this flight, but in all honesty, they should be able to adequately serve everyone when the cabin is completely full. Some gripes…keep in mind these aren’t meant to be seen as real world complaints, but rather SQ First complaints:
– No refill was offered on my pre-departure champagne
– My glasses in general were not kept full during the flight
– Purser handed out PJ’s to half the cabin before departure but I had to ask for some after dinner before they were given to me, a hassle as I wanted to change earlier
– No one took my jacket to hang it up, I had to find a stew and give it to her
– After changing into PJ’s no one took my clothes. I had to go get my own hanger and hang my clothes
– Upon landing no one brought me my coat, had to go to the closet and get it myself
– Had to seek out crew members in order to get the bed made up as they were hovering around the galley.
Basically this is the kind of lousy service you expect on an American carrier. For Singapore, a carrier whose mystique is built on their seamless service, this is unacceptable. I got off the flight wondering why i’d bothered to take SQ instead of flying Continental BusinessFirst direct to CDG, and that is NOT something that should happen. So, while the option of flying F on SQ is likely gone for me for the time being, I say good riddance. After this experience, I see no reason to pay more for SQ or to ever go out of my way to fly SQ when there are so many other great carriers out there. That being said…I have a few intra-Asia J segments coming up with SQ, so we’ll see if they win me back over.
ADDITIONAL SHOTS OF THE CABIN INTERIOR