Growing up, I heard a lot about Singapore Airlines. My globetrotting grandmother who served as quite the travel inspiration in my life absolutely raved about them, swearing up and down that they were hands down the best airline in the world. So when I was searching for United award flights to Istanbul and an option appeared that involved flying a Singapore A380 (the fully double-decker plane) from New York JFK to Frankfurt, I jumped at the opportunity!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total airline geek so I was just as excited about my flight as I was about anywhere I’d go on my trip! And walking up to that Singapore Airlines check-in counter at JFK was a titillating experience. But I was nervous. This being a mileage award booked through United, I was unable to select a seat in advance.
As the agent printed my boarding pass, she noted that it was a very full flight. I gulped. But as I glanced down at the boarding pass and then down at the seat map on the counter. 54K. Wait, a window seat? Score! AND a bulkhead seat?! I was ecstatic. So what if it was on the lower deck??
Spotting the plane on the tarmac was a trilling experience. The A380 is simply enormous. And rather odd looking as it tapers sharply in the front for the cockpit.
Boarding was an incredibly well managed process, as the large clump of people passed through multiple lines. And at the door, you were greeted with a big smile. In fact there wasn’t a moment where the flight attendants didn’t have a big smile on their faces. This was an impression that leaves you feeling that they’ll do everything to make you happy. Can you imagine asking a flight attendant for a US carrier for some odd request and still get a smile back?
Prior to departure, there was a hot towel service. And printed menus were handed out….a lovely touch! And the legroom that came with my bulkhead seat… Oh the legroom!
We started down the runway at a slow speed, as the giant beast I was now sitting in began to move. It was hard to believe something quite this large could actually fly! Slowly but steadily we picked up speed, hurtling down the runway for what felt like an eternity. I felt my grandmother’s Buddha that I wear around my neck, knowing that she was taking a ride on this plane with me, with this airline that she so loved.
Finally the wheels tipped up and were off, climbing higher and higher into the night sky. Before too long, Singapore’s signature AVOD entertainment system (called KrisWorld) came to life, giving you enough to keep you occupied for days, weeks even! Flight attendants passed out amenity kits consisting of socks (to wear around the plane presumably) a toothbrush and toothpaste. And soon after came the drinks and snacks (2 sizable bags of peanuts).
Beer? Wines? Juices? Sodas? Water? How about a Singapore Slings (yes I had a delicious Singapore Sling flying Economy…)? It was all free flowing on that joyous ride and delivered with a smile and good spirit! Throughout the night, drink runs were continuous, a far cry from my last trans-Atlantic flight with Aerosvit where we were largely ignore and treated as an inconvenience!
As for the food, don’t get me wrong, it was pretty good, but it couldn’t hold a candle to the delicacies served aboard my Asiana flight from New York to Seoul in 2010. For dinner I went with pot roast in a red wine sauce with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. It came with a cous cous and ham salad, a warm roll (my grandmother always used to say that you could usually judge a good restaurant because the bread would be warm) and a delicious tiramisu dessert.
Breakfast was far less interesting. Croissant, blueberry muffin and yogurt and a glass of orange juice. Oh and there was real silverware and glassware.
You know what really impressed me? The lavatories. No this wasn’t some fancy A380 thing. It was stocked with nice little amenities like combs, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash…even Eau de Toilette! Was I really flying in Economy here??
So what about that great big aircraft? Honestly it wasn’t all that impressive. Yes, it’s huge. And its engines are quieter. And you can choose the water temperature in the lavatory sink very precisely. And the pressurization of the plane doesn’t affect you as much. (Ok I guess these things are big deals.)
But my complaint lies with the reading lights. Petty, I know, but these super bright LED’s are great for you, but not for the folks around you. In fact it can be extremely distracting when you’re trying to sleep…
As for Singapore, yes, it was amazing. I think I’m spoiled on flights for life now (my Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Istanbul paled in comparison to Singapore). And their food still was good, just not the best I’ve ever had on an airline. I would GLADLY fly Singapore again…and again…and again!
This was truly a fantastic start to my trip!
What do you think? Have you flown Singapore before? What about an A380?