Date: 13. August 2016.
Flight time: 8 hours 14 minutes.
Singapore Airlines has a few fifth freedom flights it routes through Europe. There is the Singapore-Barcelona-Sao Paolo (apparently the leg to Sao Paolo will be discontinued soon), the Singapore-Frankfurt-New York and finally, the Singapore-Moskow-Houston, which will soon be routing through Manchester instead of Moskow. I have already sampled the flight form Barcelona last year, so I figured this would be a good time to try the Frankfurt to New York service.
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
It is just gone 07h00 in the morning as I exit the Hilton Garden Inn to make my way across to Terminal 1. The hotel is connected to the terminal via the railway station for the long distance and high-speed trains.
Location: Terminal 1, Hall C.
Facilities: Web check-in and App check-in are available, but you will still need to go to the check-in counter to collect your boarding pass and have your passport scanned.
Counters: 713 to 720. There are three Economy Class counters, two baggage drop counters, one Business Class counter and one First Class counter.
The check-in staff are friendly and welcoming. The young man hands me my boarding pass, gives me directions to the lounge and then sends me on my way wishing me a nice flight.
Location: Near B44.
Type of Lounge: Lufthansa Business Class lounge.
Facilities: Toilets and showers are available in the lounge. There are no computers, but there are workstations with power plugs for European style chargers.
Catering: There is a selection of cold dishes: fruit, yoghurt, Bircher Müsli, cheese, jam and bread. There is also a dish with scrambled eggs.
Internet: No information.
There is something slightly off about this lounge and I cannot really put my finger on it. First of all, the tables and chairs do not seem to fit with the Lufthansa brand as a whole. Secondly, for some reasons the whole place looks rather worn and tired, even though it is well kept.
The food selection is okay, but nothing special. Unfortunately, when I try taking pictures of the buffet, one of the waitresses in the lounge tells me that I am not allowed to take pictures and it is certainly too early in the morning for me to argue the point.
Priority Boarding: There is a separate queue for First and Business Class passengers.
My flight is boarding from gate B46, which is right around the corner from the lounge. The queue for Economy Class is fairly long, but there is nobody in line for Business Class. I walk up to the counter, the agent checks my passport and scans my boarding pass and then addresses me by name as he wishes me a pleasant flight with Singapore Airlines. As I board the aircraft there are two flight attendants waiting at the door. Both of them welcome me on board and then the young lady shows me to my seat.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1
Seat: Fully lie flat with 180 degree recline. Singapore Airlines operates the A 380 in four different configurations. Basically there are some aircraft that feature SQ’s new Premium Economy seat and other which do not or not yet have that cabin installed. Add to that that capacity and layout in the different cabins may vary.
Pitch: 55 inches.
Width: 30 inches.
- AC power outlet.
- USB port.
- Wifi hotspot by OnAir. There are different price plans, depending on how much date you want to download.
Audio and Video:
- 4 inch LCD monitor.
- Phitek noise cancelling earphones.
- 700 audio CDs.
- 22 on demand radio programmes.
- 180 television programmes on demand.
- 100 films on demand.
- Games are also available.
The seat has a lot of storage space and the designers of the seat have obviously put a lot of thought into the usability of the seat. For example, there is a small compartment for spectacles to the left of the personal video screens that is lined with some velvety material so as not to scratch the glass.
From what I understand, Singapore Airlines is currently in the process of upgrading its Business Class product, which is a good thing. Because although the airline obviously takes very good care of its planes, the seat and cabin are starting to look a bit dates and worn around the edges.
In the sum of all things, I am not much of a fan of the Singapore Airlines Business Class seat. First of all, it is not really that comfortable to lounge in, mainly because you have to lie at an angle to stretch out, which then means that the video screen is not centred any more. And secondly, if you start to feel sleepy, you cannot simply extend the seat into a bed. Instead you need to stand up to convert the seat. And thirdly, admittedly the seat is very wide. But at the end of the day this is mostly wasted space, because people expand in length and not in width during the flight. So all in all, I still think the Cathay Pacific or Qatar Airways seat is better and more comfortable.
The Singapore Airlines Singapore girl is known around the world. Even people who have never flown with Singapore Airlines know about their cabin crew. And indeed, the crew all seem friendly enough. As soon as I take my seat, one of the crew greets me with a cheery ‘hello’ and a tray of juices and water.
Pillows, earphones and the menu have already been places at the seats. After take-off, the crew distribute slippers, eye-shades and socks. In Business Class Singapore Airlines does not provide a vanity kit. However, dental kits, combs, shavers and earplugs are available in the toilets.
Once we are airborne, the service begins with a glass of fresh orange juice.
Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice.
Towel before the meal: Scented hot towel.
Pre-meal drink: Fresh orange juice.
Choice: There are three choices for the main course.
Delivery: Individual à la carte service.
Type of meal: Brunch.
- Selection of fresh fruit.
- Bircher Müsli – made with rolled oat soaked in milk, natural yoghurt, dried fruits and nuts.
- Thai Beef Kway Teow Soup – made with rice noodles in beef broth with sliced beef filet and leafy greens.
- Cherry cheesecake with Morello cherry compote.
- Assorted bread rolls and croissants with butter and fruit preserves.
- Tea of coffee.
- Still water.
The meal service is swift and efficient, but without feeling rushed. The quality of the food is very good, especially the soup is hot and spicy. The meal concludes with another hot scented towel.
THE SECOND SERVICE
Hot towel before the meal: Scented hot towel.
Pre-meal drink: Orange juice with roasted nuts.
Choice: There are three choices for the main course.
Delivery: À la carte service.
Type of meal: Lunch.
- Smoked salmon and green asparagus with a cherry tomato confit, mixed salad and olive oil.
- Pan-friend filet of red snapper in a cilantro and parsley sauce, with green beans, baby carrots and buttered linguine.
- Cappuccino with mango compote.
- Assorted breads.
- Tea or coffee.
The red snapper is a bit on the dry side, but the sauce is still tasty and the pasta is nice and chewy. The dessert I like a lot, although it takes a moment for the ice cream to thaw to the point that I can actually stick a spoon in it.
We arrive in New York just at it is coming up 11 o’clock in the morning. The Etihad and Emirates A 380 are already there and as we taxi in I see Korean Air arriving with their Big Bird. I really to think the Airbus A 380 is ugly as sin to look at. Even so, I have to say that you did get a sense of making a grand entrance when you arrive and an airport in one of these babies.
So what about Singapore Airlines? As far as the hardware is concerned, I thought the seat was rather uncomfortable and inconvenient. The Cathay Pacific seat for example may not be so spacious, but it is certainly more comfortable. As for the service, I really must say that here too, Singapore Airlines comes in third behind Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways. The latter also beats Singapore Airlines as far as the presentation, quality and taste of the food is concerned.
Please do not get me wrong. I think Singapore Airlines is certainly one of the leading airlines out there and I would say that if you are travelling from Europe to New York they are probably your best option.