When I travel long haul in business class I want comfort, space, good food and great service. But with Australians never having so much choice, there should also be a little x-factor too.
On this trip I try the ‘Book the Cook’ service that allows you to select your food before flying and the lie-flat beds that are progressively being upgraded on the Singapore Airlines fleet.
Route: Melbourne-Singapore-London return
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380
Class: Business Class
Duration: 25 hours (Melbourne to London) and 23.5 hours (London to Melbourne)
Baggage: 40kg checked (single bags must not exceed 32kg) and two 7kg carry-on pieces
I arrive at Melbourne with my boarding passes printed for Melbourne and Singapore. I notice that there isn’t any great delay for those arriving without pre-printed boarding passes. Singapore Airlines allows you to check in on your computer or mobile device between 48 hours and 2 hours before departure.
You can also print your boarding pass, however mobile or mobile device boarding passes are not available.
The check-in service is the usual high quality expected of Singapore Airlines and flows smoothly. There is some minor delay at Heathrow owing to an aircraft having to be replaced. The friendly and efficient customer service on the ground in Melbourne, Singapore and London deserves a special mention.
I find that there’s quite a variation in lounges depending on the airport, which is understandable. Melbourne is smaller than the Singapore and London lounges and the food is more snackable. Drinks are good and the Wi-Fi is efficient.
The SilverKris Lounge at Singapore’s Changi Airport is very spacious. I take a shower, settle into an armchair and enjoy a beer from the self-serve section. There’s a wide variety of food available, but I want to catch up on some emails, so I make use of the work spaces first. Service is friendly and engaging.
At the Heathrow lounge the most striking feature is the seating. There are pod chairs, which are great for working and provide a refreshing amount of privacy. Armchairs and lounges are also available and there’s a stylish dining area.
This is where I become excited. Singapore Airlines have been progressively upgrading its business class seats and the new ones are fantastic. I’m big and can honestly say that this is the first time I have felt very comfortable on an aircraft in any class; the width on the newest seats is 71 centimetres.
To create the bed, the seat needs to be flipped, so it’s more complicated than merely pressing a button. Fortunately the attentive crew are always on hand to help. There are only limited recline options in the sitting position, which is a minor drawback.
A positive for me is the privacy provided by the newer seats. The comfort and privacy made me feel as though I was in first class.
On each leg we were given socks and eyeshades, but no pyjamas. This didn’t bother me, as I rarely fit into aircraft issued pj’s, but other guests were a little surprised. I was expecting an amenities kit with toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, skin freshener and so on. I found this to be a little unusual for business class.
Great service is a hallmark of Singapore Airlines, and deservedly so. It is a point of distinction from some other carriers and, I suspect, a jealously guarded cornerstone of the airline’s reputation. I found the service on every leg to be excellent, as nothing was ever too much trouble.
One noticeable feature is that the cabin crew are always available and I never felt that they were hiding away after meal and drinks service. The crew were not merely efficient, but genuinely engaging. The service is definitely a standout.
Wine & dine
The food is truly haute cuisine on high. On the Melbourne-Singapore sector I have lamb loin in Thai green curry. It is so good that I’m pleased I refrained from eating too much in the business lounge before boarding. I’d selected the lamb loin before flying using Singapore Airline’s innovative ‘Book the Cook’ program. The lamb comes with an interesting combination of Asian vegetables and rice.
The red wine I choose to accompany the lamb loin is among those selected by the airline’s three wine experts. One of these is Australian Michael Hill Smith, a well-known wine judge, consultant and partner in the Shaw and Smith winery in the Adelaide Hills.
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The eight cooks (or should I say members of the ‘International Culinary Panel’) who created the menus are all celebrated chefs and Australia’s Matt Moran is among them. Offerings reflect the destinations, so chicken in macadamia nut crust, grilled beef in peppercorn sauce and pan-fried barramundi feature at the Australian end.
When flying out of Singapore it’s possible to choose from western, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, Malay, Thai and Indian dishes. The Asian food is definitely my favourite and I even find myself enjoying the Indian Nasi Biryani or Malay Nasi Lemak for breakfast. All food is served at restaurant temperature.
I use the ‘Book the Cook’ menus during the entire journey to London and back. The only problem I have is choosing from the excellent offerings.
Apart from the wide selection of movies and television shows on KrisWorld in-flight entertainment, I was struck by the impressive forty-six centimetre screen. Noise cancelling headphones are also provided.
There are over fifty movies on demand in categories ranging from art house to documentary and more than eighty television shows to choose from. Music is adequate, if a little light on in the jazz and children’s categories. There is, however a good selection of games for kids.
Internet connectivity is available on A380 aircraft and progressively on the 777-300ER fleet.
Make sure your travel consultant checks the aircraft you’ll be flying on in each sector. Some flights out of Melbourne, for example, use the Boeing 777-200 aircraft rather than the newer 777-300 series. Newer aircraft have the best seating.
Remember to use the ‘Book the Cook’ service. Singapore Airlines Business Class is a standout for food, service and, increasingly, the superb comfort and space of its seats.