Singapore Airlines: The Business Class Experience

Singapore Airlines has a reputation for delivering a world class service up in the air. However having frequently travelled Business Class with a few airlines, Singapore Airlines is far from my favourite. Whilst the Kris Flyer Business Class Lounge in Singapore is comfortable (despite not serving any Champagne), the food and comfort offered in Business Class does not meet the standards of British Airways.

BUSINESS CLASS FLIGHT

Singapore airlines has the comfiest pillows and blankets. When you first board Business Class your seat is already replete with a plump pillow chequered in the colours of Singapore Airlines, and behind the seat is an extra pillow and quilt-like blanket also in the airline’s colours. There is a small packet with socks, slippers, eye mask and bottle of water in the arm of your chair. I love to get comfortable upon boarding and put on the warm flying socks and cosy under the blanket, whilst staff serve champagne until take-off.

The Business Class area is generally spacious, with only four seats per row.

The Business Class area is generally spacious, with only four seats per row.

Champagne is served on arrival to passengers until take-off.

Champagne is served on arrival to passengers until take-off.

My last two trips with Singapore airlines have been red eye flights, London return in which dinner is the first meal served. The dinner service is generous and consists of 5 courses however I generally have found the food to be unappetising. Within 45 minutes of take-off, beef and chicken satay sticks with fresh cucumber and extra peanut satay sauce are served as pre-dinner canapés. These satay sticks have become a signature offering of the airline and whilst they are tasty enough and the way they are delicately served by airline stewards is eloquent, they always tend to be a little on the dry side.

The next two dinner courses are appetiser and main course. On my last flight I requested the vegetarian menu, as there are no vegetable meal options on the regular menu card (unlike British airways). Singapore Airlines also offer an Oriental vegetarian menu, which tends to be overcooked vegetables in thick oyster sauce so I don’t recommend it. For the appetiser, I was offered a selection from the bread basket, which includes hot crusty sliced garlic bread (always a favourite) and I was served a salad. The salad was very ordinary and had thick balsamic cream dressing the side.

A salad and side of bread is the typical appetiser served during the dinner service.

A salad and side of bread is the typical appetiser served during the dinner service.

I usually find the quality of main courses dishes to be poor and I rarely take up the option of having a main. On my London to Singapore leg recently I took the chance and had gnocchi with a vegetable tomato-based sauce. The gnocchi were rubbery and the sauce was more like a thick paste with very roughly chopped pieces of carrot and onion. I had just a few bites before setting my plate aside. Other typical vegetarian main meal options include spaghetti with cherry tomatoes or stewed vegetables in tomato ragu.

The vegetarian gnocchi meal served was unappetising.

The vegetarian gnocchi meal served was unappetising.

The fourth course is a dessert and the quality tends to be a little bit better than the previous courses. Usually you will have a choice of three desserts with options such as hazelnut torte, apricot cheesecake, preserved fruits with ice cream or tapioca pudding. However it is the fifth and final course that is my favourite, when they bring the cheese trolley with a selection of three different European cheeses. On my recent Singapore to London leg I had an excellent Danish Blue and mild Cheddar cheese, but on every flight there are different options available and the cheese is cut to order and not in advance of serving where it is at risk of drying out.

Hazelnut torte with berry sauce was served as dessert and more edible than the main course.

Hazelnut torte with berry sauce was served as dessert and was more edible than the main course.

The cheese plate is always the highlight of any Singapore Airlines trip.

The cheese plate is always the highlight of any Singapore Airlines trip.

Drinks are the same as offered with other major airlines and include champagne, spirits and a selection of red and white wines. However the secret is to order the hot chocolate, which is the only drinkable hot drink I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy whilst up in the air and boasts antioxidant properties.

Whilst the satay canapés, dessert and cheese board are good, generally the rest of the food served on Singapore Airlines is of below average quality for a Business Class flight. From numerous bad experiences, I rarely choose to have food served. Singapore airlines could improve its menu by including a vegetarian option on the regular menu card and look to use simple, good quality ingredients rather than over complicated dishes.

The seating on Singapore Airlines is comfortable and there is plenty of room with very wide seating and the ability to recline your chair slightly after take-off. Each seat has its own mini television with headphones to watch entertainment. However if you wish to make your seat a flatbed, you will need to stand up and flip the seat, which can be a little tricky the first time although the stewards are happy to help with the manoeuvre. It is a small inconvenience compared to other commercial airlines that allow you to recline your seat to a flatbed without the need to stand up. It feels particularly disconcerting when you are nodding off in front of a movie, only to need to set your chair to the original position and standup to flip it over when you are ready to go to sleep.

High quality headphones are provided to enjoy onboard entertainment.

High quality headphones are provided to enjoy onboard entertainment.

The Business Class seating is spacious and comfortable.

The Business Class seating is comfortable however you need to flip the chair back for it to become a flatbed.

Singapore Airlines says their excellent customer service distinguishes it from other airlines and their stewards have reached iconic stature for their impeccable presentation and traditional uniforms. However I have had mixed experiences with the service. On my last flight the two stewards working in Business Class were exceptionally friendly, helpful and swift and they made my flight a very pleasant one. However on a previous flight I asked the steward four times whether there was a port to charge my phone and never received a satisfactory answer.

The stewards of Singapore Airlines have become iconic with their impeccable presentation.

The stewards of Singapore Airlines have become iconic due to their impeccable presentation.

THE LOUNGE

Singapore Airlines Business Class Lounge in Changi airport is a comfortable place to chill out before your flight and it is located just above the gate for London departures. Compared to other airport lounges, the food is above average and includes a variety of Western and Oriental options including fresh fruit, soups, noodles, stir-fries, curries, rice, salad bar, cheese and crackers, and dessert. I had a bowl of soup with Asian rice noodles, fish balls and spring onions that was delicious.

Self-service Asian soup with rice noodles and fish balls.

Self-service Asian soup with rice noodles and fish balls in the airport lounge.

My Asian soup at the Changi airport lounge was delicious.

My Asian soup at the Changi airport lounge was delicious.

The lounge has a generous variety of drinks including spirits, liquors, mineral water, bottled soft drinks and red and white wines. Unfortunately there is no champagne or even prosecco on offer. Separately they have a hot drinks bar that has a range of British Twining’s teas available and a machine that makes average coffee and hot chocolate.

It was disappointing the drinks bar at the airport lounge did not include champagne.

It was disappointing the drinks bar at the airport lounge did not include champagne.

The business lounge is dark and it can be a difficult place to get work done as the dim lighting puts you in a sleepy mood. The tables are also low and located on the side of the chair rather than in front, which can make it difficult to work on your laptop or eat your meal. However taken as a whole, it is a comfortable place to pass the hours and it has bathroom and spa facilities for those who want to freshen up before their flight. The bathrooms include access to a high-pressure shower, hairdryer, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner however there is no complimentary deodorant.

The bathroom facilities offer complimentary mouthwash, toothbrush and toothpaste, and moisturiser.

The bathroom facilities offer complimentary mouthwash, toothbrush and toothpaste, and moisturiser.

The shower has good pressure at the airport lounge.

The shower has a large adjustable shower head with good pressure at the airport lounge.

Singapore Airlines is not as good as British Airlines in my experience, although it is better than American Airlines. Whilst it offers a unique and comfortable experience for Business Class passengers, it is not world class nor the greatest value for the price that you pay. Please read my blog on how it is like to travel in Business and First Class with British Airways, which offers a superior experience.

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