I’m guessing that the more frequent visitors to my travel blog probably knew exactly what I was planning the moment I mentioned catching a plane from Paris to Copenhagen: as the result of decreased demand for air travel between Singapore and Europe, Singapore Airlines has merged its routes to Copenhagen and Rome into one flight. Flight SQ352 routes SIN-CPH-FCO and then back the same way. What is interesting about the flight, is that the aircraft and its crew spend a total of thirty hours on the ground in Rome. IT then returns home with the same crew. And the airline has secured fifth freedom rights between Denmark and Italy!
Getting to the airport
I spend the night in Copenhagen at the Comfort hotel at Kastrup airport. The facility is fairly new, and I’m quite sure I’m the first person to spend the night in that room. Everything looks new. Other than that though, the hotel is a bit meh… service is not something they do well in Scandinavia. The nice thing is that the hotel is only about three minutes away from Terminal 3 on foot and has some great views!
I really want to argue the case of the airlines, because I don’t think it’s fair the way they are being treated. And the entry requirements into Italy are a good example of this: I check in online for the flight to Rome. Then one day before departure, I get another mail from Singapore Airlines with a link to the ELF, which is the system the Italian government is using to track all arrivals into the country. You need to create a login and the whole process is just one huge pain in the ass.
Then when you arrive at the gate for boarding, you are handed another form that you need to complete and hand over to the authorities upon arrival in Rome. Only, when eventually I land in Rome there’s nobody there to hand my form to. My point is that a lot of restrictions and rules have been imposed on the airlines that a) do not apply to ground transportation for no apparent reason, and b) are then secretly removed without anybody bothering to inform the airlines about the changes.
The SAS lounge
As a member of the Star Alliance, Singapore Airlines uses the SAS lounge in Copenhagen, which is in the Schengen area. The lounge is divided in two floors. Normally, the upper level is for gold passengers, while the lower level is for regular Business Class passengers. However, with the diminished demand for air travel, the lower floor has been closed off, and now all passengers use the upper level.
The design of the lounge is very nice and has a nordic feel to it. But that may just be an impression caused by my own cultural biases!
The food offerings are adequate and make for a nice breakfast spread. However, I remember from my previous stay that the selection does not change throughout the day.
This is where the fun part begins: the non-Schengen concourse is on the C pier, which is where the flight from Singapore ends. Passengers making the journey from Singapore to Rome have to go through immigration in Copenhagen. And then from there, the flight continues as a Schengen flight to Rome. As the C pier is not equipped for dual Schengen/non-Schengen ops, boarding for the flight to Rome is from one of the bus gates on the E pier, which is really out in the sticks. As my luck will have it, boarding is through the rear door. Oh happy day…!
The load in Economy Class and Premium Economy is not too bad. In Business Class there are six passengers.
Singapore Airlines has its own signature scent for its aircraft, and the familiar smell hits me the moment I step aboard.
The Business Class seat is large and bulky and looks nice. There is also a lot of storage space available in the seat. Other than that though, I can’t say that I’m a fan of this seat. First, because I don’t think it’s all that convenient if passengers need to stand up and get out of their seat to convert it into a bed. Second, I think the fact that Singapore Airlines seems to see the need to show a video on how to operate the seat says a lot. Third, it’s difficult to find a comfortable lounging position without having to turn the seat into a bed. And finally, speaking for myself only, I have tendency to align with the bed I’m lying in when I sleep. As such, the necessity to lie at an odd angle to fit into the bed is inconvenient. Still, for a flight of two hours it certainly beats Alitalia, and any SAS narrow-bodied.
The cabin crew
This is where Singapore Airlines really shines on this flight. The crew are just so polite and properly trained. Their manners are impeccable and they are personable and friendly. Which is even more amazing considering that they’ve already been on this aircraft for about twelve hours, having come all the way from Singapore. When I reach my seat, there is a bottle of water, a sanitary pack and a set of earphones waiting for me. The crew help me with my luggage and then bring me a glass of orange juice.
Originally, I’m on 12A, but 11A appears to have had a bath in some dreadful aftershave that’s making it hard for me to breathe. So the crew help me to resettle on 16A, where I have loads of peace and quiet. Throughout the flight, the crew address me by my family name and take good care of all the passengers.
Just before departure, one of the crew comes to take my order for the inflight snack. There are no menus, but she tells me there is a choice of some sort of portobello mushroom sandwich or a smoked salmon focaccia. I go with the latter.
The meal is a bit of a let down. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a full on Business Class hot meal, but I think they could have done a bit better than just a cold and soggy bit of bread with salmon.
After the tray is removed, the crew pass through the cabin with a snack basket and champagne twice. I request a coffee and some lovely salted almonds.
And then all too soon we’re descending into Rome. The weather outside is lovely, and the pilot reports they’re expecting a temperature of 36 degrees upon arrival.
The airport is quite busy when we land. We come to a stop at the newest pier in Fiumicino and I disembark into the heat. From our gate it’s a fairly long walk to customs and arrivals, and as I already mentioned, nobody checks my passport, temperature, certificate or anything of the sort.
Getting into town
To get into town I’m taking the train. The Leonardo Express is the nonstop train that runs to Roma Termini in just 30 minutes. There is a surcharge on this train, which is why you need to get a first class ticket for EUR14. Tickets are only valid on the train selected at the time of purchase. There are cheaper trains, but they take much longer and stop at basically every hay stack in between the airport and the city.
The station at Fiumicino is two floors up from arrivals and well signposted.