I stated in an earlier review how happy I was with United’s Mileage Plus with this trip for my wife and I. In the past you would hope to reach an agent that could (or would) find award flights if the most obvious route was not available. Well this flight was a result of me being able to check award seats from SIN to SFO and LAX on United.com. My wife and I were returning from Male in the Maldives and I was having a hard time finding an award ticket back. I was, however, able to see that there was availability from HKG in Business Class. I then found a flight to HKG on SQ in Economy. It would have been great to fly business class (especially on the A380), but it was only a three hour flight and got us home when we needed to arrive. The other thing I noticed by searching for award seats to and from SIN is Singapore Airlines only has Business Class awards available on their medium-haul product. Never their long-haul planes.
We arrived from Male 30 minutes late but still had plenty of time to switch from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 where the HKG flight was leaving. We also had enough time to visit the lounge. We flew Business Class from Male (http://patstravelreviews.com/?p=498) to SIN, but were in Economy to HKG. When we arrived at the SilverKris Lounge I showed both boarding passes and both our United 1K cards. Much to my surprise we were told we could not use this lounge and had to use the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge. I was surprised at this as we arrived in Business Class, but the gentlemen very firmly said entrance is based on the cabin for your departing flight, and Star Alliance Gold only gives access to the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge. I thought no big deal. But there is a big difference in the lounges. KrisFlyer Gold is smaller and has a fraction of the food offerings, but more importantly for me there was no shower facilities (flight from Male was overnight), nor even a bathroom (public toilet down the hall). Still the lounge is nicer than most lounges and we were only there for 45 minutes.
Since we were flying Economy I thought we should head down to the gate a little earlier than normal. You must clear security before you can enter the gate area at Changi Airport and the thought of 400+ people going through security and boarding was a bit unnerving. But we stopped several times on our way to the gate and by the time we arrived (30 min. before flight time) there was no line at security. The line in the jetway to board the plane was maybe 7 minutes (not as bad as I thought). Singapore has two versions of the A380. One configuration upstairs has Business Class as well as a small Economy section. The other, the entire upstairs is Business Class and Economy downstairs (First Suites is in front on lower level on both). I was hoping to get the version with the small Economy section upstairs, as the seating is 2x4x2. Downstairs Economy on both versions is 3x4x3. But no such luck. We were seated in 52G&F. An aisle and middle seat in the last row of the center section of the middle cabin. Despite the flight being 100% full there was still plenty of space in the overhead. A flight attendant even offered her assistance in helping me store our carry-on. The doors closed on time and we pushed a few minutes later.
On our seat was a blanket (sealed) and pillow. As we started to taxi, the flight attendants distributed hot towels and menus. Yes, hot towels, menus, pillows, and blankets in Economy. You may not find this on some airlines Business Class for a flight this long (or short). This was the first time I had flown downstairs on an A380. The one thing I noticed (or couldn’t notice) was it is hard to see out the window from the center section.
The seat seemed to have an inch or more of pitch than most Economy seats. It is listed as having 32″. There is a small footrest on the seat in front of you and the seat reclines differently then most Economy seats. The back just doesn’t recline, the bottom also comes forward a little. I found the seats surprisingly comfortable (even when the seat in front of me was fully reclined). They were plenty wide and there is a small headrest on the back. As an aside, I did not feel that our seat reclined any less being in the last row. There was no air vent, however, the cabin temperature was comfortable. On the seat in front of you was the controls for the KrisWorld entertainment system, as well as a knob to hang a coat, USB port, cup holder (very clever), tray-table (which had a small mirror in the back – also clever), and a very generous sized TV screen (I think 10.6 “). The KrisWorld had the same programming as the A330 we flew in Business Class from MLE (same size screen too) and was very easy to navigate. KrisWorld is AVOD and there are over 100 movies to choose from. From new Hollywood releases as well as classics, International films from almost all destinations Singapore serves, TV shows (sitcoms and dramas), documentaries, music, gaming, and moving map. I did not see a camera option though. The TV screen also adjusted when the seat in front of you reclines, so you always get a consistent picture.
The flight attendants also distributed headphones. The quality was ok, but not as good as my own. Even with their headphones being 3 pronged I was able to use mine using a 2 prong adapter. The flight time from SIN to HKG was 3hr and 20min. Despite only sleeping 2 hours from MLE to SIN I was unable to sleep on this flight. So I was able to watch one movie and two sitcom’s. The programming is uncensored, so be aware if traveling with children.
My inability to sleep had more to do with how long it took to be served than the comfort of the seat. Shortly after take-off we were served a juice. But brunch wasn’t served for over an hour later. It takes a long time to serve that many passengers. The brunch options was a cheese omelette with veal sausage or braised noodles with soya chicken. Also on the tray for both options was a fruit appetizer and sago pearl pudding with mango. I had the chicken and it was very tasty. As good, if not better than the meal I had in Business Class from MLE to SIN. My wife picked at her omelette. I tried it, and was happy I chose the chicken. According to the menu, the meals on the return flight to SIN was either pan roasted chicken with mushroom sauce or fish fillet in ginger soya sauce. Besides the usual choices for beverages, Singapore also has a few cocktail offerings in Economy Class. The Singapore Sling, Alspritzer, Screwdriver, or Blood Mary plus two non-alcoholic cocktails. In addition, two white wines (Riesling & Chardonnay) and a Cabernet Sauvignon were available. Not as many choices as their Business Class but certainly more than most airlines, and of course there is no charge for any drinks. I do not remember if a flight attendant asked if we wanted anything to drink after our meals were taken away, but flight attendants were available if needed.
By the time I finished eating my meal, filling out the landing card, and using the toilet, there was an announcement (in two languages) that we were a little more than an hour from landing. I decided that it was not worth trying to sleep and watch a few TV programs. Among the many things that impressed me with this flight was the lavatory. Not only was it very clean, but it also had some of the same amenities you would find in a lavatory in Business Class; flower, mouthwash, toothbrush w/toothpaste, lotion, razor, etc.
We landed on-time on runway 07 left. It was a very hard landing that scared more than a few people, but after a quick taxi we were at the gate and the moment I feared most about this flight. We were only in Hong Kong for the night and wanted to see as much as possible, with that many people getting off the plane, going through passport, and collecting their luggage, I thought this could take at least an hour. However, much to my surprise and delight, deplaning was fast and efficient, we were in line maybe five minutes at passport control, and our bag was one of the first to appear on the carousel (Singapore does a great job with off-loading priority tagged bags first). We were on the Airport Express in less than 30 minutes from touching down (and we walked to the Citibank ATM and bought our train tickets). All this makes for a great flight!!
As much as I am impressed with Singapore’s First & Business Class, I think I am more impressed with their Economy Class. Not only because of the new seat on the A380 with the large TV screen and KrisWorld entertainment or because of the great service you get with Singapore. But because of all the little extra’s you receive, from hot towels, to menu’s, pillow & blanket, tasteful meals, etc. Things other airlines only offer in Business Class.