Singapore Airlines Impressive Economy Class: SQ866 Singapore to Hong Kong Flight Review

November 10, 2017

It has been a year since I last flown with Singapore Airlines, and I have been looking forward to experiencing Singapore Airlines' retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER on a short weekend jaunt to the wonderful dining and shopping mecca, Hong Kong.

While I had expected a superb B777-300ER cabin product, I was quite blown away by the quality of inflight services and hospitality rendered by the polished Singapore Airlines cabin crew team on this flight, and I was travelling in Economy Class nonetheless!

Flight Details

Airline: Singapore Airlines

Flight: SQ866

Route: Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG)

Departure from Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3: 1.05pm / 1.21pm*

Arrival in Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1: 5.05pm / 4.54pm*

Flight Time: 4 hours / 3 hours and 33 minutes*

Aircraft: Boeing 777-312/ER

Registration: 9V-SWD

( * denotes actual timings)

 

Though Singapore Airlines operate both retrofitted and non-retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, an easy way of telling which one you will be flying on is from the seat map under Manage Your Booking. From there, it would be stated if the aircraft features a 10.6 inch entertainment screen or an 11.1 inch entertainment screen (the latter belonging to the retro-fitted version).

 

I arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 3 early. I had already done check-in online (up to 48 hours before departure), so at the self check-in kiosk, I conveniently printed out the flimsy boarding pass (for the sake of my collection of airline memorabilia, I hate these!). I then proceeded to the baggage drop desk to check-in my baggage. I observed Singapore Airlines ground staff actively encouraging passengers to perform self check-in at the self check-in kiosks but they have staff to assist with the less intuitive baggage drop.

Changi Airport Terminal 3 airside is very pleasant, with very wide open spaces and high ceilings, and amble shopping and dining options, as well as comfortable resting spots. It is also, in my opinion, the best terminal for views of the runway and aircraft. I really enjoy departing from Terminal 3.

Time went quickly and I proceeded early to my boarding gate, A13, for the security check. The security check was very pleasant, and the security officer wished "enjoy your flight". How nice of him!

I was given a Hong Kong arrival form which I promptly filled up while waiting for boarding.

The operating aircraft: 9V-SWD.

Boarding commenced promptly, and I picked up entertainment ear sets and a copy of the national paper, The Straits Times, in front of the boarding door. The cabin crew stationed at the door were enthusiastic in welcoming passengers, checking their boarding passes and seat numbers, before directing them to the most convenient aisles.

A selection of magazines were also available for passengers to browse.

The Economy Class seat, which features a very comfortable cushioned headrest that adjusts 4 ways. 

There are USB and AC power ports at your disposal for juicing up your electronic gadgets.

Seat pocket contents

The 11.1 inch screen is very touch-sensitive and highly responsive, with a dazzling array of entertainment options. It slightly exceeded my sky-high expectations.

From the start, the cabin crew were very welcoming, with good presence in the cabin. They actively greeted passengers "Good afternoon. Welcome onboard." and then assisted them to their seats. Note that it was not a mere "Good afternoon" or "Welcome onboard" greeting from the cabin crew but a very professional and consistent "Good afternoon. Welcome onboard", with a subtle yet significant service difference. 

 

The cabin crew could be seen assisting passengers to stow away their bags in the overhead compartments. It was really nice of them but please don't let the cabin crew do that for you, for the sake of their backs. If we can all lift and stow away our own individual bags, that would spare them the repetitive action of heavy lifting for every passenger that would be detrimental to their health in the long run.

 

Hot towels were served promptly after all passengers were boarded. Communication within the cabin crew team must have been highly efficient because the signature hot towel service commenced before the "doors are closed" announcement was made.

Menus were also distributed. I always think it is classy to receive a paper menu on my flights (sorry, treehuggers!).

On this flight, lunch would be served. The menu was in English and Traditional Mandarin.

(from the menu)

Beverages

 

Alcoholic

Red Wine

White Wine

Singapore Sling and Other Cocktails

Whisky

Cognac

Bourbon

Vodka

Liqueurs

Beer

 

Non-alcoholic

Soft Drinks

Fruit Juices

Coffee, and a selection of Teas

Lunch

 

international selection

 

Appetiser

Tuna Salad with Marinated Pasta and Vegetables

 

Main Course

Pan Fried Fish Fillet

With sautéed vegetable medley, penne pasta and lemon garlic sauce

 

Dessert

Ice Cream

 

From The Bakery

Bread Roll and Spread

 

Hot Beverage

Coffee and Tea

oriental selection

 

Appetiser

Marinated Shrimps and Assorted Vegetables with Lemongrass Dressing

 

Main Course

Oriental Chicken Rice^

With black mushrooms, Chinese greens and fragrant rice

 

Dessert

Ice Cream

 

From The Bakery

Bread Roll and Spread

 

Hot Beverage

Chinese Tea

 

^Celebrating our 70th Anniversary with our customers' favourites

It is interesting to note that instead of two choices of main courses, Singapore Airlines offer two meal options for this flight, with their own unique appetisers to go with the main courses. I don't even think some other airlines offer different appetisers in their Business Class meals!

 

I was very impressed. It is quite remarkable the lengths that Singapore Airlines go to. I do feel while Singapore Airlines may not have the best hard product, their keen attention to the intricate service details is one of their finest strengths in being a world-class airline.

 

The safety video is played and a thorough cabin check is conducted for take off, before the aircraft's engines roared to life and the aircraft lifted into the cloudy sky.

Remarkably, almost immediately after the seatbelt sign came off, the cabin crew were out in the cabin offering drinks from trays, with the option of juices, water, wines, or beer. The cabin crew worked seamlessly with clockwork efficiency - as soon as a tray is almost empty, they bring out another full tray of drinks almost instantaneously! No one, wherever they were seated in the cabin, was kept waiting for their drink for long.

 

My honest reaction: WOW. What an efficient and stellar service!

 

Incredibly, as efficient as the cabin crew were in serving the drinks to the rather full cabin, service was not at all rushed. Smiles were generous and the cabin crew were ever courteous and readily oblige requests for additional drinks or other drinks that were not on their tray.

 

A nice glass of cold beer to start me off.

In the same way, like clockwork, lunch service commenced immediately as soon as the empty glasses were collected. I am extremely impressed how the Singapore Airlines cabin crew team could achieve such timeliness that minimized waiting time, yet not compromising on service standards (for example, meals were served very well-heated, no one was shortchanged on their drink(s), service was unrushed and very pleasant). To me, in this sense, the Singapore Airlines cabin crew team demonstrated that they were true-blue service professionals.

 

From the menu, I only had one meal option in mind and was pleased as punch I would be getting my preferred choice: the oriental meal selection, which was served with a bright smile and a cheerful "Enjoy".

When asked for my drink, I requested for a glass of white wine.

The meal was presented on a huge tray, which somewhat looked rather bare, even though there was plenty to eat (maybe even too much). A warm bun was placed on the tray before the tray was served to the passenger.

Appetiser

Marinated Shrimps and Assorted Vegetables with Lemongrass Dressing

- I have to be honest, I didn't think this was the best, though well-drenched in the dressing, there wasn't a hint of lemongrass taste in the chopped vegetables. The rather limp three shrimpketeers didn't impress me for sure!

Main Course

Oriental Chicken Rice

With black mushrooms, Chinese greens and fragrant rice

I am really pleased with the main course, and could see how Singapore Airlines had carefully prepared this dish so that it retained its original presentation and taste. A few dashes of the zesty chilli garlic dressing on the lean and tender roasted chicken slices really made my weekend! Can't have chicken rice without chilli, yo!

From the Bakery

Bread Roll and Spread

I hope you are not wanting a review of the bun!

Drinking Water

Now for the review of this Singapore Airlines branded water cup...                  ...Just kidding!

Enjoying my delectable meal, I continued to watch Singapore film, "7 Letters" - which, in the various dimensional capture of Singapore's bygone years, culture, and way of life, really tugged at my heartstrings.

Here's the trailer:

Just to share a song I fell in love with, from the movie: Bunga Sayang.

What a hauntingly beautiful voice of Rahimah Rahim.

After the meals were served, the cabin crew offered a second round of drinks. This time, I had a glass of red wine. Just to highlight, hot Chinese tea is available on this flight to Hong Kong. Again, a tiny service detail that makes a significant difference.

Ice cream was then served, needless to say, with bright smiles, and it was a really creamy Magnum Almond ice cream. I really enjoyed this little treat to end my meal on a sweet note (literally).

Meal trays were then cleared by the hardworking and cheerful cabin crew to complete the meal service.

 

For the rest of the flight, I continued my inflight entertainment as we surfed through the clouds. What heavenly bliss (pun intended)!

 

There were a few bouts of turbulence along the way but nothing stomach-churning or airsickness-inducing.

The lavatories were well-stocked with mouthwash, eau de toilette, hand moisturizing lotion, as well as combs and dental kits. I wouldn't think I could ask for more lavatory amenities in Economy Class.

Prior to landing, the cabin crew offered water from trays, which was nicely chilled with ice. 

Passing some gorgeous islands, we landed smoothly in Hong Kong, marking an end to a really spectacular flight experience with Singapore Airlines.

When travelling with Singapore Airlines, I am sure we all have higher expectations. However, even so, the cabin crew team on this flight truly exceeded mine. Executing such a flawless and well-timed service flow couldn't be easy, especially for a full Economy Class cabin, yet the Singapore Airlines cabin crew were able to pull it off, with much grace, courtesy, and bright smiles, nonetheless. Kudos to the cabin crew team for their hard work and effort, and I just want to say I truly appreciate your effort.

 

Aside from their flawless efficiency, the other highlight was the genuine Singapore Airlines hospitality displayed by the cabin crew team. I could imagine back in the galley, they might have been rushing to get the services started promptly, but when in the cabin, interacting with passengers, they were very gentle, calm, and cheerful. Smiles were very sincere and bright. Service was not at all rushed  and the cabin crew would individually ask each and every passenger for their meal and drink choices, - service was very personal - Business Class much? I didn't feel at all like I am sitting in cattle class! Did I also mention the Singapore Girls and Singapore Boys were immaculately groomed? 

 

Just like the Singapore film "7 Letters" I was enjoying onboard, which made me so proud of how my home country has grown, this flight SQ866 had made me so immensely proud of my world-class home carrier. With the race to the bottom by many full service carriers of today, and the immense pressure of the turbulent industry leading to much cost-cutting measures, the impressive Singapore Airlines cabin service and inflight products onboard this flight have transported me back to the good of days of flying.

 

Thank you, Singapore Airlines, for truly retaining that glamour in flying.

 

For the full video experience of my Singapore Airlines SQ866 flight:

 

 

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