This review will be for both legs of our Singapore (SIN) to Male (MLE) trip. Singapore Airlines has two flights a day from SIN to Male, Maldives. Unfortunately, we were on the late flight to MLE and the overnight flight on the return. If you can take the morning departure and afternoon return, it prevents you from having to spend one of your nights in the Maldives in Male on your arrival (hotels are expensive and not much to see there – especially in comparison to the rest of the Maldives). Plus having to sit around the Male airport on the return (last seaplanes from resorts usually arrive before 6pm) .
All of Singapore’s flights to MLE are on A330-300 and are about four hours of flying time. Our outbound flight (SQ 452) was scheduled to depart at 8:40 pm (10:10 pm arrival) and the return flight (SQ 451) 11:25 pm (7:25 am arrival next morning). I have been on these flights before (3 yrs. ago) when they flew a 777 to MLE. I know Singapore has several different versions of Business Class, and this plane would not be their long-haul product, but I remember being a little disappointed with their seats on the 777, and was happy that they were flying 330’s with the new medium-haul Business Class.
I was able to reserve seats prior to our departure in the US by calling Singapore. We sat in the bulkhead 11E&F to MLE and 12 H&K back to SIN. The bulkhead are held for families flying with infants. So I was warned the seats could be taken from us. But this was not the case for this flight (but I realized you may want to sit further back to be away from crying babies (and we experienced this on the return)).
We received a very friendly greeting (by name!!) as we entered the plane. I immediately remembered how nice it can be to fly Singapore and how nice they treat their customers. A Flight Attendant escorted us to our seats and reconfirmed our meal choice from Singapore’s “Book the Cook” program. We were offered a pre-departure drink of orange juice or champagne. I, of course, had the orange juice (it was fresh!!), and my wife, a glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne. Afterwards, hot towels were distributed. The flight attendant saw me take photo’s of the seats and offered to take a photo of my wife and I (one of the few we had together the whole trip). Again, I thought how nice the service is on Singapore Airlines. The overheads are a little smaller on the 330 than other comparable jets, but there was still plenty of space for storage. On the seat was a blanket, pillow, and headphones.
The bulkhead is certainly a more spacious seat then the rest of Business Class. There are only five rows in Business Class on Singapore’s A330’s in a 2x2x2 configuration (so this would be the same configuration aboard any SQ flight on the A330) . The seats are leather upholstered in a tan color scheme. The bulkhead has a small seat-back pocket in front while the other rows have many compartments (some very clever) to store items and a water bottle. There are two downsides to the bulkhead. The TV screen is further away than the other four rows (because more leg room and other seats move forward when in recline position) and again, these are bassinet seats, reserved for families traveling with infants. On our return flight we sat behind a small child that cried the entire flight (was crying in the lounge as well). I am very understanding of parents traveling with children (not sure why, I do not have any of my own), but this poor kid wouldn’t stop. Luckily, I just listen to music and this usually puts me to sleep. It worked, and I slept a few hours on the return. But that said, I found it much easier to sleep in the bulkhead seat, because they do not slide under the space carved out from the seat in front of you. I felt a little claustrophobic in the non-bulkhead seat while sleeping. The seats are not 100% lie-flat. Singapore calls them inclined-flat seats with a gentle 8 degree incline. I always sleep on my back and never take the seat to the full flat position, so this is never an issue for me, but my wife said it was a little uncomfortable. My other issue with the Business Class seats on this flight were they are a little narrow when in the sleeping position (or slight cradle position). The seats also have power supply with USB port. The seat controls and overhead light are very cleverly hidden on the top of the outside armrest. There is also a small partition between seats that gives you some privacy and houses a small light and the three-pronged headphone plug (it took me 5 minutes to find this – slightly embarrassing). Because the plug is three-pronged my headphones did not work, however, the pair Singapore provides is very good. There is also a personal screen you can pull down for more privacy.
Singapore’s IFE is called KrisWorld. There are over 100 movies to choose from, including the latest Hollywood hits, Hollywood classics, as well as movies from all over the world. Asia, Russia, France, Germany, and India just to name a few. There are also over 100 TV shows as well as 100’s of CD’s to listen to. In addition, there are games to play and a moving map to follow the flight. All the programming is on-demand. The movies I watched were uncensored, which I thought was great (especially since I watched the movie Ted). The TV screen is very generous. I guessed it to be between 12 & 13 inches. The Krisworld starts immediately after take-off and ends as soon as the planes starts it’s descension.
Another nice touch on these two flights was the toilet. Besides being clean (which is always important), there was a selection of razors, toothbrush & toothpaste, mouthwash, and lotion (I think L’Occitane) if needed (they did not hand out amenity kits). In addition, the towels were cloth and there was even a make-up mirror in there.
On our flight to Male there was a full dinner service. After take-off we were given a hot towel, socks, and eye-shades.The flight attendant took our drink order. Singapore has several Specialty Cocktails. This flight featured a drink called the Apple Bliss, as well as their standard cocktails like the Singapore Sling, Silver Kris Sling (which my wife loved), Alspritzer, Jubilee Lining and a few others as well. A selection of Satay’s was brought with our drinks.
As this was February and Chinese New Years had just ended, their menu was still featuring New Years dishes. The starter was a dish called Fa Cai Yu Sheng – Prosperity New Year Salad with salmon. My wife and I had an arrangement. She ate my starter and I ate her entree. So I can not say much about this other than my wife liked it very much.
As I said we had pre-ordered our meal from the “Book the Cook program” . I have ordered from this program in the past and have always been slightly disappointed with Singapore’s meal. Not this time. I had the Grilled US Beef Fillet with asparagus, baby spinach, crushed potato, and served with balsamic onion sauce. It was as good as any meal I have ever had on an airplane. The steak was a little small, but I was happy with that as I would eat most of my wife’s dish as well. She ordered the Pan-Fried Free Range Chicken Supreme with saffron-scented jus, roasted fingerling potatoes and fine ratatouille. That was also tasty, but not nearly as tasty as my steak. If you did not “Book the Cook’ there were four Entree choices; grilled sirloin steak, braised prosperity duck with fai choi, grilled salmon, or baked tandoori lamb chop.
For dessert there was the traditional tray with cheese and crackers and whole fruit served with a 2006 Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port or a dark chocolate creme brulee with mixed berries (you could have both if you wanted). I opted for the chocolate creme brulee. As good as my dinner was. This dish may have been even better. Just when I thought what a great way to end the meal the flight attendants came around with some chocolate candies followed by a hot towel.
By the end of the meal we were a good two hours into the flight and I finished watching my movie and went to sleep for an hour and a half. I was awoken by the announcement that we were 30 minutes from landing and the reminder to complete the landing card. One last hot towel was issued and a short while later we were on the ground. Unfortunately, when landing and taking off at night you can not enjoy the crystal clear waters of the Maldives. We arrived in Male a few minutes late, but Passport was a breeze and Singapore does a great job with off-loading the bags with priority tags. We were outside with our bags in less than 15 minutes of our arrival waiting for the two hotels representatives to meet us and to start our stay in paradise!!
Our return flight was expected to take a 50 minute delay because of late arriving aircraft. We had already spent four hours at the airport and were eager to get to Singapore to connect to our flight to Hong Kong. So this was not welcomed news (especially since we rushed for almost every flight on our way to SIN). But luckily they turned the plane around rather quickly and we were only 30 minutes late in departing.
This is an overnight flight so the service was a little quicker. The greeting was not quite as personal as on our flight to MLE, but friendly none the less. This plane looked a little more worn than the plane we took to MLE as well. The same pillow & blanket and headphone was waiting on the seat. The only difference was there were two bottles of water at our seat for this flight. Again we were offered a hot towel and a choice of OJ, water, or champagne before take-off.
Immediately after take-off we were offered a drink with a small bowl of nuts. As the departure time is past 11 o’clock at night we were served supper instead of dinner. Really not that much of a difference. There was still a starter served. Carpaccio of airdried beef with grilled eggplant. There were three choices for the main dish; Roasted lamb loin with rosemary jus with pesto & fondant potatoes, stir fried seafood with black bean sauce, and Kung Pao chicken and rice. I had the chicken and my wife the lamb, but more for me to try as she was opting to sleep rather than eat. The Kung Pao chicken was good (nothing like the meal on the outbound, though) and the lamb was, ok (but, I honestly only had a bite). By the time we started eating, the flight attendants were serving fruit to other passengers and trying to take our meals away. This was a little annoying (and funny) as our plates were still full and we had just gotten our meals. I did appreciate they were sensitive to the fact that everyone wanted to sleep (and a little busy trying to pacify the baby that was crying). A hot towel was given after the meal. I skipped the fruit and just had a cup of hot Milo before finishing the movie I was watching, and getting some sleep.
Twenty minutes before landing we were awoken and given hot towels. I was able to sleep two hours on this flight despite being slightly uncomfortable in the seat and having the poor kid crying the whole flight. The flight time was a little more than four hours so we ended up being thirty minutes late. Even with the late arrival we still had plenty of time to make our way from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 to connect to our HKG flight.
Obviously Singapore Airlines has a great reputation. But it is earned because of their service and little added touches. Three hot towel’s on a four hour flight. Cloth towels in the bathroom, addressing you by name, great entertainment system, quality meals, etc. They are not perfect (and no airline is) but they understand that they are not only in the transportation industry but also the service industry. Something a lot of other airlines should follow.