A couple of observations about Singapore Airlines service from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur

Every Singapore Airlines flight is a performance by the crew. The second passengers start boarding, the flight attendants start playing the role of the “Singapore Girl” (or guy, though I’m not sure what they call them). I’ve run into Singapore Airlines flight attendants at hotels before, and while they’re not rude, their smiles aren’t as wide as aboard and they’ll gladly cut you off in the elevator queue if it saves them a few seconds. And I’m fine with that, because I realize no human beings are genuinely consistently that polished and nice. Instead, each Singapore Airlines flight should be judged in the same way that someone that likes theater might judge a show.

Secretly, the flight on this trip I was most looking forward to was from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, a journey of under 200 miles. It’s just a bit over half the distance of a flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco, so I was quite excited to see what they could fit into this 37 minute “show.”

If you’re an American and haven’t flown within Europe or Asia before, you’re probably saying “c’mon now, they can’t serve anything on a flight of that length.” But they most definitely can… and do. A couple of years back I flew from Munich to Zurich (which is even shorter) and received the following in business class on a 28 minute Swiss flight, including two drink refills, hot towels, and chocolate before arrival:

Then there was this Singapore flight, about ten minutes longer. First of all, the flight was operated by one of Singapore’s fairly new A330-300s, which have a very nice configuration for a regional aircraft:

The ground experience was the usual — hot towels, newspapers, magazines, pre-departure beverages, etc. As we taxied out, flight attendants took “refreshment” orders. The choices were a chicken focaccia sandwich or some sort of a curry wrap. The guy in the row in front of me indicated he didn’t want to have the snack, so she asked him what he wanted to drink. My seatmate and I both went with the sandwich, and weren’t asked what we wanted to drink, which we assumed was an oversight.

As it turns out, you either get a drink OR sandwich. The sandwich is wrapped in plastic (yet on a plate) and has nothing accompanying it. My seatmate and I both kind of gave each other a confused look as it was plopped down on our trays. You’re offered coffee or tea, but no other drink, other than water which is already on the tray. Once the flight attendants came through with the snack cart, they quickly brought out packaged nuts, but only for those that didn’t have the snack.

Anyway, it’s no big deal because it’s a short flight, and they certainly don’t need to serve anything, but if they do, they should do it right. The whole process was just painful to watch, as there was no grace to it. They were nearly sprinting through the aisles, yelling back to the galley constantly to get things, and not smiling.

It’s of course a tough situation since the moment we leveled off the captain announced “flight attendants, prepare the cabin for arrival.” But they should at least be able to offer everyone a drink… or unwrap the darn sandwich. Now I’m curious to see how Sri Lankan business class is from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore on the way back.

Comments

  1. I flew in business SIN-KUL-SIN in late March on SQ 330, and I had better experience than Lucky just had.

    I was given both sandwiches and drinks on both flights, and the services were professional and not hurried

    To be honest, I am not a fan of SQ, but I cannot find anything wrong withe the experience I had in late March on SIN-KUL-SIN.

  2. Lucky, I love the blog, but listen to yourself. Essentially, you just said that the service of a wrapped sandwich (the horror!) and water and coffee/tea was unsatisfactory, but that you would have been totally fine with no service at all.

    Maybe they tried to cram a little too much into the 37-minute flight, but it sure beats the alternative.

    As for the graceless, unsmiling FAs, cut them a break. They were being asked to do more than what was reasonable and it sounds like they pulled it off OK. Try taking a 37-minute flight in the US– you’ll get neither sandwiches nor smiles.

  3. Comparing that SQ flight to LX MUC-ZRH may not be so fair: That LX flight was likely on a CRJ or ARJ with probably no more than 10 pax in business while the SQ 330 has some 30 seats in business. Add to that the longer distances between galley and seats that can make quite a difference if covered repeatedly at those 37 mins become very short.

  4. @ Jim — You’re certainly free to interpret it however you like, though I’m not saying I found the service to be unsatisfactory. I’m saying that it’s my first time flying Singapore where the “show” didn’t blow me away. C’mon, there’s something a bit weird about not getting a drink in business class on a flight. That has never happened to me, be it on a US airline or otherwise in first/business class.

    @ Hermann — It was indeed one of those Avro jets on Swiss. That being said, there was no seat blocking and five rows of business class, so the purser singlehandedly provided that service to the 30 business class passengers. Here there were three or four business class flight attendants, and no drinks.

    Does anyone know what the service was like in coach on this flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur? Is it a beverage service, or nothing?

  5. I’ve never liked Singapore Airlines. Overpriced and overrated. That combined with their arrogant position in Star Alliance (no *A redemptions on the A330, A380, 77W, A340-500 except SQ/LH, no *G access to their SilverKris Lounge in SIN, etc.), Boo!

  6. Mr. Lucky

    If you think that is amazing, there was a time when this route was 3 cabin.

    SIN-KUL

    and SIN-PEN.

    And featured full meals, abbreviated of course.

  7. @Lucky… fair enough, I see what you were saying. And yes, it’s a little weird not to get a drink!

  8. A couple of years ago on a KQ flight NBO-MBA that had a flight time of just under 1 hour, I received a newspaper, towel service, sandwich and there was 2 drinks run. This was all in Y.

  9. I flew SIN-KUL and vice versa several times (I was on a VS status run) a few years ago when the cabins were F and Y. The service was exactly what you’d expect from SQ, but then I think there were two flight attendants for a cabin which, at least on the flights I was on, never had more than half a dozen people in it.

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