Flying with Singapore Airlines
For my recent return trip from Cairns to Manchester, I flew with Singapore Air, economy class. I chose them because they were the cheapest option, however I had heard good things. My journey consisted of two flights each way. Cairns – Singapore takes around 6-7 hours, and Singapore – Manchester takes around 13-14 hours.
The shorter flight is with Silk Air and the longer is with Singapore Air, two branches of the same airline. As I was preparing to board my first flight I saw signs in the airport encouraging travellers to download the Silk Air Studio app, as this is how you watch films and series’, play games, read, etc. on the flight. I was more than happy to do so, however I did feel for those who may not have the appropriate phones, tablets, or laptops required. My plan was to stay awake for the first flight and try to sleep on the second to wake up relatively fresh when I landed in Manchester at around 9am.
The plane was a Boeing 737-800, which is a little small and not particularly luxurious for a 7 hour flight, in my opinion. However as I boarded I felt that the interior was pleasant, with peach coloured seat upholstery and grey petals painted on the walls. The air stewards were friendly, and passengers were provided with a pillow and blanket. The blankets are relatively comfortable for aeroplane blankets. Soon after takeoff all passengers were handed a packaged wet wipe and shortly after we were given a bag of peas and crackers. I relaxed and watched Modern Family on the Silk Air app. Phone charging sockets were available, although a little difficult to find as they were beneath the seats.
For dinner I was offered a choice of fish in hoisin sauce or chicken in sweet chilli sauce. I chose the fish and was pleasantly surprised – it was delicious for a plane meal. I also enjoyed a complimentary glass of wine with the meal. After I ate I spoke to the lady next to me, who had been to Australia on holiday from Belgium. She said that no one in her family could use the app as it didn’t seem to work with iphones. I’d be pretty disappointed if that was me, however I enjoyed the flight well enough.
When I stopped at Singapore I was excited to explore the airport although I only had a couple of hours before my next flight. I took the sky train to a different terminal, and I have to admit it was pretty cool with lovely views. However, it was 29 degrees even though it was now midnight, and the stench of stale sweat was overwhelming when the doors closed. When I got to my terminal I had time for a wander around. I visited the butterfly garden, which is a beautiful feature to have in an airport, however it was even more hot and humid than the rest of the airport (understandably) and I only saw a couple of butterflies. I bought some water from the 7-11 because by this point I was dying of thirst, and I wandered though the many shops. There was a row of cute Asian eateries as well as some more familiar chains. I chickened out of the local food and grabbed a burger from Burger King. I had to go through security again to get to my gate, which was fine as there were no queues. However you weren’t allowed to take water through, even if it had been purchased in the airport. There was nowhere to purchase water after security, which proved problematic later on.
I boarded my second flight which was on an Airbus A350-900. This plane was spacious and definitely designed for longer journeys. Again I was provided with a pillow and a comfortable blanket. Each traveller had their own individual screen for TV, films, reading, games, etc. and complimentary headphones were available. There was also wifi available for an extra charge although I didn’t test it out. This time as we took off we were given hot towels, and a menu detailing two options for both dinner and breakfast, as well as a drinks list and a list of snacks available.
The food was delicious once again, and I enjoyed a few glasses of wine. There were also cocktails on offer including Singapore Slings. The range of entertainment was excellent, and I opted to watch Friends. After dinner I tried to sleep, armed with my travel pillow and eye mask.
However we were in for a fair bit of turbulence. In fact the turbulence was so bad that even the cabin crew were asked to sit for much of the flight. This is when I really wished that I had been able to bring a bottle of water from the airport. I was so thirsty but there was nothing I could do. When the cabin crew were finally allowed to stand, but the seat belt sign was still switched on, they brought us each a tiny cup of water. I felt parched by this point and that small water didn’t help much. I realise that the turbulence is out of the airline’s control, although I do think that steps could be taken to better prevent dehydration of passengers. Aside from that I did have a pleasant flight, and the crew were lovely. The captain kept us up to date with regular messages about the turbulence and the journey, which I liked.
So when the time came to fly back I was quite excited to relax, have some drinks, and have a sleep. This time I decided to begin the flight with a gin and tonic. No such luck, they ran out of tonic before they had even done one round of drinks. Gin and soda it was. I selected my meal from the two options, chicken or fish. However when they got to me, there was only fish available. I asked for a white wine to go with it, however they had also ran out of that. No worries, I opted for a glass of red, which wasn’t particularly nice but I thought it may help me to sleep at least. Some time later, after a short nap, I went to the galley to ask for a snack from the list given in the menu. However they had run out of sandwiches, chocolate, and actually most things on the list. So I took some rather boring biscuits which were really the only option. I was pretty disappointed after spending so much money on this flight that they had run out of so many things.
This time it was a rush to get through Singapore Airport to catch my second flight, so there was no time for shopping or food. As I boarded the second flight, the Boeing seemed a bit more disappointing this time after being on the Airbus. I was also sat next to a lady who seemed to think that it was OK to let her limbs roll into my already small area of personal space, although again I realise this is well beyond the airline’s control. The food was OK but not as good as the other three flights.
I hadn’t charged my phone on the first plane as I didn’t need to, however now that it was my source of entertainment for the next 6 hours, I went to plug it in. It didn’t charge. I assumed it was my cable that had stopped working, however when I made it home this turned out not to be the case. Having left my parents’ home in England about 19 hours earlier, my phone was now on 30%, and I needed to preserve some battery for when I landed. Fortunately I had brought a book. I found that the staff on this flight seemed fed up, and not as friendly as I remembered them being on my outward journey. No one even bothered to inform us that we were landing 40 minutes later than scheduled.
I felt that I had built up an amazing opinion of Singapore Airlines on my outward journey, which completely turned around on the way back to Cairns. Overall I think that I would look to other airlines before booking Singapore Airlines again, as they seem a bit hit and miss. However, if once again they were significantly cheaper than other options, I would choose them in future.