Schedules, being the complicated animals they are, sometimes require pilots to fly as passengers to get into position for their next flight assignment.
I had the opportunity to fly Singapore Airlines Business Class from Hong Kong to Singapore a few days ago. The experience was very pleasant. The 3 1/2 hour flight was on a Boeing 777-200. Here are the highlights…
My colleague and I arrived at the Singapore ticket counter in Hong Kong’s Terminal 1 about two hours early. After a speedy check-in, we headed straight for the Singapore SilverKris Lounge to check out the preflight amenities. The lounge is large and has ample seating. There are several sitting areas with espresso machines and plenty of munchies available. Of course, free WiFi.
One thing I found odd was the lack of restrooms or a locker room within the lounge. I arrived in uniform and needed to change into regular clothes. It’s tricky business changing in a toilet stall in a busy restroom!
The dining area has a nice selection of fresh salads, soups, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres. There are several special order items available that take 5-10 minutes to prepare. I ordered the Shrimp Wonton soup; it was outstanding.
After we had our fill of soup, cheese and cappuccino, we headed to gate 17 just in time to see our aircraft pull up to the jetway. The Singapore team did an impressive job quickly deplaning the passengers, servicing the aircraft and getting us boarded. Very efficient operation.
Onboard the Singapore Airlines B777-200
The Biz Class service level for this aircraft is advertised as “Other Business Class – Medium & Short Haul.” Singapore Airline’s long-haul aircraft have upgraded Business Class furnishings that look like a very comfortable way to spend 10 or 12 hours. This being a 3 1/2 hour flight, there isn’t really a need for a mini-suite style seat.
The seats are plenty wide, comfy and lay flat for a nice nap. The seat frame offers just enough privacy and personal space. I had a front bulkhead seat and was concerned about legroom; it wasn’t a problem. Even with the seat fully reclined flat, my toes were still a couple of feet away from the wall (I’m 5′ 11″).
As this flight was relatively short, we didn’t receive a full amenity pack. Fabulous, furry slippers are the only take-home goodies. I’ll let the kids fight over those when I get home.
The entertainment system is a few years old, but more than adequate for short & medium haul trips. The controller has a PlayStation layout and was a bit confusing to use. For games, the controller is held horizontally, PlayStation-style. When navigating the menu system, the controller is held vertically. This takes some time for an old guy to get used to; for anyone under 30, it will be completely intuitive.
There are plenty of on-demand movies, audio programming and games to keep everyone busy. The onboard headphones are okay, but if you’re an audiophile, you’ll definitely want your own. Be sure to bring an adapter as the headphone jacks are the 3-prong airline style.
Dining. Mmmm, airline food!
Seriously, the dining service was excellent. Click on the menu below for a larger image. The starter was “Salad of tea smoked duck with orange segment, pickled cabbage and fresh coriander pesto.” The world renowned “Singapore Girls” came by with additional pesto if needed. I’m not usually a duck person. It’s hard for me to get past “Cute ducky in the pond.” For the sake of the review, I dove in. The duck was chilled, very tender and had a light, smoky flavor. I’d eat it again in a heartbeat.
For the main course, I chose the “Braised beef short ribs in red wine, roasted vegetables and seared asparagus.” The short ribs were meaty and very tasty with just a bit too much fat. For desert, a lemon sorbet with fruit hit the spot. After eating in the lounge and onboard, I had no room left for the cheese and crackers served just before landing!
It is said that “It’s not the destination, but the journey.” Unless you’re going to Singapore. What’s not to love about this amazing city? Unfortunately, in true pilot fashion: I arrived, slept for 5 hours, ate breakfast, worked out, slept for 4 more hours then went to work. Maybe one of these days I’ll get a longer layover!
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