My last experience with Singapore Airlines had been a JFK-FRA flight in First Class on the 747-400 prior to SQ finally phasing them all out. I don’t know if it was because the 744’s were almost out of time, or the crew just had an off day, but the service was way below Singapore standards and I found myself very dissatisfied with the experience.
That being said, Singapore is Singapore for a reason. They didn’t luck their way into the reputation they enjoy, so when I was booking my BKK-CGK-SIN-HKG-BKK-USM intra-Asia award in Business, I was very pleased to see availability on Singapore Airlines for the CGK-SIN and SIN-HKG flights.
My only prior experience with SQ short to medium haul had been in 2009 on a flight from Hanoi to Singapore. That was before I became full on insane regarding airlines, so I had little recollection as to what the seats were like.
After a very rough night at B.A.T.S I woke up, bid adieu to my new colleague from the Australian Intelligence community and piled my belongings into the two carry-on bags that I somehow managed to live out of for the duration of the trip.
I eschewed the wait for a blue taxi and paid the rip off price for the nicer black taxi and made my way hungover and tired through a gray and sticky Jakarta morning to CGK.
Upon locating the Singapore Airlines Business Class check-in, I was told that I would have to pay a fee for departing Jakarta, and that this fee couldn’t be paid by credit card. Since nothing is ever easy, there was also no ATM anywhere near the check-in desk, and I’d used the last of my Indonesian currency on the taxi. After a bit of haggling, the SQ check-in agent agreed to take Thai Baht and I grabbed the requisite amount from my travel wallet, or “spy wallet” as I like to think of it, since it contains reasonable amounts of currency from probably 15-20 different countries at any given time.
With this transaction in the books, I was given a card for lounge access and pointed in the direction of customs. I hopped on the priority line, since I assumed SQ ground handling would certainly provide this fasttrack-like service for their premium passengers.
When I got to the head of the line, I was chastised by the customs agent who told me that the priority line is ONLY for departing passengers on Garuda, but since I was already there she agreed to stamp me out of Indonesia on the condition that I would use the proper line next time.
I readily agreed, crossed the border and realized that as per my boarding card, I wouldn’t have enough time to even stop in the lounge.
I picked up a pack of gum, breezed through a nearly non-existant security line and got to the gate.
Then I waited…and I waited. The assigned boarding time came and went with maybe four people milling around the gate and none of the flight crew. By the time we finally were called to board I was kicking myself for not going to the lounge (security is by the gate, so once I realized there was a delay, going to the lounge would have required going out of security and clearing it again on the way back).
Once down the jetway and on to our Boeing 777, I was greeted with SQ’s earth toned cabin. I looked around, and was rather pleased with the large and comfortable seats for such a short flight (more cabin and seat pics at the end of the post).
I stowed my gear, pulled out my iPad and started reading the book Level 7, a Cold War era classic that I highly recommend.
As I was hungover, I took water as my pre-departure beverage and perused the printed lunch menu’s (with choices). That’s right…on a sub-2hr flight Singapore has printed menus and multiple course meals in Business. Between the seats, the service and the meals it’s easy to see why everyone prefers Asian airlines to the tripe we are stuck with domestically back in the U.S.
My Singapore girl on this flight was probably the most attractive stewardess I’ve ever come across in my travels, and the service was great. I selected the chicken dish for lunch, which I think was supposed to be Singapore chicken rice. It looked as if it would have some kick to it, but it was rather bland.
Shortly after the meal service wrapped up, we were on our way down to Singapore. There’s almost no arrival process as painless as touching down in Changi. The airport is spotless, shimmering and almost completely hassle free. When we got to the immigration hall, it was so empty that I actually took a picture. I walked directly to an immigration desk without any wait and was stamped into Singapore…they even offer candies from a dish at the immigration check points just to make your day slightly nicer. All airports should strive to be Changi.
Once through the border I engaged a taxi in a similarly painless fashion and was soon on my way to the hotel.
MORE CABIN PHOTOS