Advantages Friendly, service second to none
Disadvantages no eye shield
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An armchair in the sky.
I'd never flown Singapore Airlines on my long-haul flights to and from New Zealand, my home country, and now I must ask myself why? I have used three other major airlines and they definitely do not come anywhere near the service and comfort of Singapore Airlines.
.The booking system is easy, I did mine 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 and this I achieved in Singapore Airlines. When I checked at the counter I asked could I claim them at that point in time and the lady said I could; after sighting my credit card she did the computer work on the spot and the deed was done.
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 long; I got into the snakelike behaviour which the ropes dictated and it was not too long before booking in at the counter. Only problem I would say here was that I'd phoned a fortnight ealier to ask how much weight I was allowed and was told 20kg in one suitcase. I really did have to organise my wedding and Christmas gifts to take home. To my annoyance, when I got to the book-in counter there were copious amounts of signs displaying 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 want to roam.
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.
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, in cumbersome fashion 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 your goodself. 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. Just imagine the comfort and hospitality they enjoy in those sections of the plane. Oh I do aspire to write a review after having flown in Raffles Class or better! HISTORY
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 as I did not take notes on it, silly me. The planes were huge, reasonably quiet and really comfortable.ENTERTAINMENT
I have for some years wanted to see Dr Zhivago again, having only seen it when it was new, many moons ago, imagine my joy when scrolling down the 60 options to find it available for me to view while resting away the long hours inflight. I was wrapt, I could not believe how much I would enjoy seeing it, also kept up with the news as we flew half way around the world. Oh, best I mention that 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.
From the Bakery: roll and butter.
Hot beverages: coffee and tea.
Served with red or white wine.
These were served really hot, fresh and truly tasty, all very important on a long haul flight.
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.
A FLYING HIGHLIGHT
Flying in daylight, over the Red Desert that is the Australian hinterland, was just amazing. For hours and hours we moved across this mighty, huge continent and when we flew over Sydney the pilot came on and pointed out the features such as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House - what a thrill to see them from so far up.
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.
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 (sometimes 'sardines class' -- but not with Singapore Airlines) 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.
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