Far-east hospitality meets luxury in the sky with Singapore Airlines’s business class
A delightful on-board experience
BY Neville Bhandara | April 12th, 2019
Two months ago, I found myself on a very long flight, from Mumbai to Melbourne, via Singapore, on Singapore Airlines. I remember thinking, “five and a half hours to Singapore, and Melbourne is probably not that much farther”. Of course, I was grossly mistaken—it was another seven and a half hours. Thankfully, I was on board a Singapore Airlines’s SQ421 (Airbus A350-900), in business class, and it’s probably been my smoothest flight ever. Here’s why:
Discerning travellers have been saying it for years—western airlines that were once the epitome of the high-flying, jet-setting life have been on the wane in the last decade, and Asian carriers have stepped up their game to offer flyers unparalleled luxury 38,000ft in the sky.
With SQ, the personalised experience starts the minute you set foot on the plane. The on-board staff greeted me by name, and escorted me to my seat—very wide, very comfortable, and handcrafted from Scottish leather. Once I had settled in, I was presented with a warm face towel. And soon, a tray of chilled champagne and orange juice materialised.
The configuration on this type of aircraft was 1-2-1, which means I had plenty of room to myself by the window, and lots of stowage space too—a side console that was large enough to hold my book and laptop regardless of whether I was sitting upright or in full flatbed mode.
There were also all kinds of charging ports including eXport, HDMI and USB, but now on to the fun part…
On the back of the seat in front of me was a huge 18-inch HD LCD flat-screen TV, with hours and hours of in-flight entertainment spanning the latest movies and TV shows, and some incredible live concerts like Queen live at The Wembley. As I settled in to watch the first of many films with a brilliant pair of noise-cancelling over-ear headphones from Bose, a smiling airhostess came up to me and took my order from an expansive in-flight menu.
I picked roast duck for my appetiser, followed by a beautifully buttery barramundi with whole roasted potato for my main course, accompanied by a glass of an excellent Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from New Zealand. Perhaps my favourite feature on SQ Business Class is the ability to book your meal beforehand (available on all sectors except the Mumbai – Singapore leg, which is why I had to pick from the in-flight menu). But on my Singapore – Melbourne journey, I booked a delicious fillet mignon (with mashed potatoes and seared asparagus) that tasted as though it could have been prepared by the chef of a top-notch restaurant anywhere in the world.
After my meal it was time to get some sleep, which I did—gloriously. Unlike a lot of other airlines’ flat-beds, Singapore Airlines has a fold-down version—the seat only reclines to a certain extent, then it’s up to you to pull down the backrest and turn it into a full-flat bed. But of course, seeing as how the airline doesn’t expect you to lift a finger, the on-board staff happily made by bed for me, with sheets and a fluffy duvet to boot. I slept like a baby on both legs of the trip. Not only did it take the edge off a very long journey, but also ensured that I got off at each destination refreshed and energised—a real five-star snooze in the sky, as it were.
Considering I had to do the 9,800-km return journey only a few days later, I was not only thankful to the wonderful on-board experience, but eagerly looked forward to my next flight—something that does not happen very often.