Tag Archives: business

Miami, no vice: Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
Revisiting the Taipei lounges


As I stepped off the aircraft I felt a sudden return to normality, as if the ghosts of Hello Kitty had been exorcised. I could now return to regularly scheduled programming.

The lounge situation in Taipei for Star Alliance Gold passengers is a bit confusing due to the sheer number of options there are. The Star Alliance lounge finder page would have you believe it’s very simple-

But when you get to the lounge area, you’ll see signs for the SQ lounge plus four lounge offerings for EVA

  • The Infinity
  • The Club
  • The Star
  • The Garden

Side note: I want to point out that the lighting in the Taipei airport is awful for photo taking. The interior of the terminal has little to no natural light, relying instead on the strong beams of overhead and spot lighting to illuminate things. Here’s an example of what I mean

You can see all those lens flares coming out from every light source. Any pro photographers can advise me on how I can reduce this effect (switching away from a Blackberry camera is not an acceptable answer)?

The EVA website isn’t very helpful in explaining the difference among the lounges or their access requirements

So, which of the 4 EVA lounges should you visit?

The Infinity & Star (Star Alliance Gold/Business Class Passengers + EVA Business Class)

I’ll start with these two lounges because they’re colocated. This is where Star Alliance Gold and EVA Air Business Class passengers will be directed to by default.

When you enter the lounge you’ll have the option of turning left and going to the Star, or right and going to the Infinity. The names of the lounges are indicative- the Star is meant for Star Alliance Gold card members who are travelling in economy. The Infinity is meant for EVA Air Elites (remember their FFP name is the quite awesome “Infinity Mileagelands”) and EVA Air/Star Alliance Business Class passengers.

The lobby also has a robot butler. I’m marking them down a few grades because the robobutler did not iron my shirts and give me advice about my career as a vigilante, as I understand all butlers should do.

If you’re like me (A Star Gold member flying EVA Air business) you’ll be able to access both lounges. I visited the Infinity first.

The food area has several different stations.

You can get yourself a slice of very weird pizza

There was as selection of hot dishes and salads.

There was a whole urn of sweet potatoes. I’m guessing this is a Taiwanese thing.

You can even make your own hot dog.

The highlight of the lounge for me was the serve your own Movenpick ice cream.

Apart from ice cream, there was a limited selection of cakes and such.

The soft drinks

And the hard drinks.

There is no champagne or sparkling wine available in the lounge. Instead there was a chilled white wine on offer. Could I make my own sparkling wine if I mix white wine and soda water? The enquiring mind wants to know.

I assembled my favourite vacation meal- mixed rice with soup noodles and a carton of milk. Yum.

And I plonked myself in front of the Tron Tree.

There was also a business centre in a corner with 3 computers and a printer.

The Star lounge is equally big, if not larger (which makes sense, given the sheer number of Star Gold members who might be flying in economy)

What I like is that unlike SQ and their Krisflyer Gold lounge, EVA has not created some subpar lounge for Star Gold passengers. The catering here is very much the same as that in the Infinity.

I’m going to point out only the items that were available here but not in the Infinity.

The main difference in the hot catering was the addition of one dish not found in the Infinity- fried rice and meatballs. Always a winner.

The biggest difference for me? The ice cream- the Star had Haagen-Dazs. I can’t decide if Haagen-Dazs is better than Movenpick. Don’t make me choose.

Oh but there was no vanilla ice cream here. So I guess Movenpick wins.

The business centre here had the same computers and printing facilities as the Infinity.

I asked for a shower suite and after a short wait got one. This was probably the coolest experience of all- there are 4 shower suites in the Infinity, each with a unique name.

I was assigned “Fantasy Flow”, and was very mature by not making any jokes about menstruation and/or diarrhea.

What was unique is that you are given a keycard to tap and open the shower room.

And once inside, you need to insert the key card to power on the whole shebang.

FYI the loo has a bidet. Fantasy Flow, amirite.

There are L’occitane branded toiletries in pump bottles in the shower.

Other amenities like toothbrush, razor etc were all readily available.

Overall I think the Star and Infinity are nice enough lounges to kill an hour or so, but not something you’d arrive early at the airport for. Both lounges felt really crowded to me, and unfortunately EVA has not really created quiet areas in the lounge for resting.

The Garden (EVA Infinity Mileagelands Diamond)

The Garden is a special lounge set aside for top tier members of EVA’s own loyalty program. It is not open to Star Alliance partner carriers so unfortunately I couldn’t explore it.

I can’t find too many reports on this lounge, but I understand that in addition to the regular buffet it also has an order by menu selection.

The Club (EVA Infinity Mileagelands Silver)

EVA, amazingly, even has a lounge specially built for its silver tier members. This is the second lowest rung, just above base. It would be like SIA building a lounge for Krisflyer Elite Silver members (qualification for EVA Silver requires 30,000 miles in a 12 month period)

This lounge is definitely much smaller than the others, but it ends up being a lot less crowded because of the relatively fewer numbers of EVA Silver members (as opposed to the massive number of Star Golds and Business Class passengers).

There is a small enclave of F&B options. From what I could see, the catering is very similar to that offered in the Infinity/Star lounges. The biggest difference was there was no ice cream, and a smaller selection of hot food items.

The selection of alcohol was still the same as in the other lounges.

The lounge has shower suites too and its own bathroom.

Regardless of what you think about the quality of the food and drink, it’s still quite something that EVA has gone and created a lounge just for its Silver tier members.

So that’s the lounge situation in Taipei for Star Alliance travelers. Now there was just the short matter of the 13 hour flight to Houston…

Exploring Thai’s latest A350 cabin products

Thai is a confusing airline when it comes to business class because they have so many different seat types across their fleet.

The majority of Thai’s widebody fleet (B747, A330, A340, B772, B773) still has their old business class angled flat product. This is, quite frankly, an awful product to be on for any long haul flight. Angled flat products might have been ok a decade ago, but the gold standard for long haul business class is now full flat 1-2-1. Full flat 2-2-2 is already pushing it, but angled flat 2-2-2….Thai’s fleet renewal can’t come fast enough

Image result for thai business class old

Image result for thai business class 747

Thai’s A380 aircraft have 1-2-1 full flat seats. I’ve not flown these personally but a friend who has says they’re generally comfortable enough. If you’re travelling by yourself, avoid the honeymoon 2 seats in the centre like the plague because there’s very little privacy from your seatmate. I’m not totally won over by the cabin from an aesthetics point of view though.

Image result for thai a380 business class

Image result for thai business class

Thai’s B787s have 2-2-2 full flat seats (they’re similar to the ones United Airlines uses in Business Class- see my review of that seat here). I don’t fancy any configuration that doesn’t have all aisle access (because both the aisle passenger and window passenger at the side are inconvenienced by each other), but it sure beats angled flat.

photo: AusBT

Image result for thai b787 business class

And that brings us to TG’s newest aircraft, the A350. I’m personally very excited about the A350 and am looking forward to flying SQ’s version to Manchester and Houston next year. Thai’s A350 has a 1-2-1 full flat configuration, but I much prefer this to their A380s as I find the finishes more classy (less faux wood and plastic, more privacy for the seats at the side). This is a seat I’d gladly take on any long haul flight.

Thai Airways A350 business class cabin

Thai is currently bedding in their A350s by running them on short haul routes. When they first received the aircraft back in Sept it was common to find the A350s plying routes as short as Bangkok-Chang Mai and Bangkok-Phuket (where one aircraft promptly went on a euphemistically named “runway excursion“). You’d be a fairly lucky man to land a long haul J seat on a 90 minute flight.

Thai has gradually started deploying the A350 on progressively longer routes, as seen below.

Route Departure Arrival Day Flight
Bangkok – Rome 00.01 05.55 SUN, MON, WED, FRI TG944
Rome – Bangkok 13.30 06.05 SUN, MON, WED, FRI TG945
Bangkok – Milan 00.35 07.10 TUE, THU, SAT TG940
Milan – Bangkok 13.05 05.55 TUE, THU, SAT TG941
Bangkok – Singapore 08.00 12.25 Everyday TG403
16.35 19.55 Everyday TG404
Singapore – Bangkok 12.25 13.45 Everyday TG409
21.00 22.20 Everyday TG410

They are still operating the A350 on the relatively short haul SIN-BKK route. I believe that’s in order to give pilots international flying experience with the A350 as the route has sufficient business traffic to warrant the deployment of a widebody premium cabin.  I don’t think this is by any means a permanent arrangement, however, so when I saw on Lifemiles that TG award space from BKK-SIN was wide open, I didn’t think twice about booking it.

I ended up booking the award through Krisflyer for 20,000 miles and $30.40 of taxes (SQ J would have cost 17,000 and $104. Fewer miles, but more cash…) to get home from Bangkok. Having flown the oldest of the old from SIN-BKK, it was now time to try the newest of the new…


My flight was scheduled to depart at 4.30pm. After checking in at BKK and clearing immigration (Thai now has a special lane near Row A for premium cabin travellers that gives dedicated security and immigration clearance), I made a beeline for the Royal Orchid Spa, reserved for Thai J and F customers. I’ve done a detailed review of the first class section of the spa during The Long Way to New York trip report, but this time I’d be doing the business class section.

First and Business class passengers get access to the same spa in BKK. The main difference is the type of treatment they receive. Thai’s airport spa offers business class passengers a 30 minute treatment and first class passengers a 60 minute treatment. As a reminder, here are the options

Touch of Silk (Full Body Oil Massage – 60 minutes for First Class only)

Start your journey with a relaxing Touch of Silk, full-body oil massage. Performed with the unique ‘Thai touch’, this massage will help to prepare your body for your onward flight by increasing blood circulation as well as relieving muscular tension and helping to provide necessary hydration for your skin. On completion of your Touch of Silk massage, you will be left with an overall sense of well-being and total relaxation.

Royal Thai Massage (Full Body Massage – 60 minutes for First Class only)

Thai massage is perceived as one of the most precious of Thai traditional therapies. Royal Thai Massage helps to stimulate blood circulation, reduces edema caused by travelling and reduces body fatigue. With its unique acupressure techniques, expertly applied to your body, you will find your mind relaxed and muscles relieved, following the stress of your journey.

Neck & Shoulder Massage (30 minutes)

The Neck & Shoulder Massage is a great way to relieve stress which has built up from the rigors of everyday life from working long hours at your computer. Using specific techniques the therapist will work to loosen tight muscles around the neck and shoulders whilst simultaneously assessing how much tension is held in the body and how best to release it. You will board your flight feeling more relaxed and a little lighter around the shoulders.

Foot Massage (30 minutes)

Let’s help prepare you for your onward journey, by taking the weight off your feet and giving them a relaxing massage, which they truly deserve. Foot massage is a well-known relaxation therapy to help take care of tired feet. The gentle touch of the therapists hands and the deeper pressure from their fingers, create a sense of overall relaxation and will help to stimulate your vital organs.

As a J passenger, my options were shoulders or foot. I opted for foot.

The business class spa treatments take place in small semi private cubicles (First Class has their own treatment room- you can see how those look here). Here’s mine.

The treatment actually lasted closer to 20 minutes than 30. But it was just as good as any other foot massage you’d find on the streets of BKK. I can’t really say I’m a connoisseur of foot massages though. I’m the kind of whimp who always says “softer”.

After the treatment you’re ushered back to the waiting area and served tea.

There are some light refreshments laid out in the waiting area but it’s really nothing worth hanging around for. It’s mostly prepackaged snacks and pastries.

Craving real food, I left the spa and walked across the hallway to the business class lounge. By this time there was less than 10 minutes till boarding started so I had to make a very quick pass through.

There are numerous buffet spreads set up within the lounge, but there’s only one central hot food area with maybe 4 or 5 hot items.

The selection was somewhat limited, and TG really isn’t doing legendary Thai food any justice at all. I had a plate of very anemic pad thai (yes, yes, I know pad thai isn’t really pure Thai) and a pork cake, the contents of which I prefer not to know. I mean, how hard would it be for Thai to do a really kickass menu of Thai classics?

There are several satellite buffet displays set up elsewhere in the lounge with coffee, light snacks, fruit and cakes.

I chowed down for 5 minutes and started the walk towards gate G2. The signs said the walking time was 12-15 minutes, but because of my superior physique I did the walk in 6  minutes (form an orderly queue, ladies)

Boarding was just about to start when I reached the gate. I love the design of the A350. The plane is so cool it looks like it’s wearing sunglasses.

When boarding started, I bounded down the jetway to try and snap as many photos as possible before the place got crowded (I had fun reading Lucky’s tips on writing trip reports, and how you need to accept that you’re going to be seen as a bit of a weirdo for running down the jetway just so you can get photos of an empty cabin)

First impressions of the cabin were great. This seat, to me, is a much improved version of its A380 offering. The A380 seat has some very unfortunate design elements like the copious use of plastic and Barney-esque purple upholstery. The A350’s theme is more wood and dark purple, which at least evokes fewer comparisons with everyone’s favourite dinosaur.

You can do a virtual tour of the cabin here if you’re so inclined. Here’s what the seats in the centre look like (if you’re travelling solo and unable to get one of the seats at the side, this should be your next best bet)

The seats at the side, as expected, offer the best privacy. There are two types of seats at the side- those with the table separating the seat from the aisle and those with the seat closer to the aisle. Obviously the former is preferable in terms of privacy.

I know some people have misgivings about seats in this configuration because they’re worried about the amount of foot space they’ll have. I’m pleased to report that Thai’s seat has an ample amount of space for feet in its cubby hole. Either that or I have very small feet. And you know what they say about men with small feet, ladies…

Thai is using the newfangled touchscreen IFE system. I’m still unconvinced about the actual utility of having a touch screen, because in practice (1) it hangs a lot and (2) it increases the chances of accidentally brushing the screen and exiting whatever you’re watching.

Thai’s earphones are nose cancelling but look and feel very flimsy. Definitely not in the same league as SQ’s Phitek or ANA’s Sony-branded sets.

Each seat has 2x USB ports for charging. It’s a minor annoyance, really, but due to the setup of the seat and positioning of the side table, if you’re plugging in a USB cable and resting your device on the side table, you’re going to get tangled up when exiting the seat. It’s a small issue, again, but just goes to show how far some intelligent user experience design can go. It wouldn’t have been very difficult to put the USB charging ports on the table, or in an otherwise unobstructed place.

Even the A350 lights are cool. They’re behind clear glass and are activated by a small button over your head.

The crew came around to serve pre-departure drinks. A general point about the TG crew is that they were competent but not really personable. It’s not a criticism unique to TG, I realise that on regional flights SQ crew are more functional than friendly, but don’t expect any additional touches like being addressed by name or small talk. I certainly didn’t feel any warmth from this crew.

All drinks in TG J were served in these really tiny glasses. If you were uncharitable you could call this a cost saving initiative, as those glasses couldn’t have held more than 100ml of champagne. FYI, the champagne on offer was Duval Leroy. It’s not terrible, but not exactly what I’d call an aspirational brand either.

Having had a bit too much champagne before takeoff, a visit to the loo was in order. The A350’s loos have all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a 21st century aircraft. Automatic taps are an expected feature by now…

But I was particularly pleased by the no-touch bins. Just wave your hand over it and it opens up.

The next feature I want on my aircraft is no touch door opening, because the hypochondriac in me hates washing my hands then having to touch the door latch to get out.

TG has Borghese toiletries in the loo for its regional flights.

Pushback was delayed by about 20 minutes, but the captain finally got on the PA and announced the flight details and timings.

We were stuck in a bit of a queue to take off, but I spotted this relic of the TG fleet…

We got airborne before long and were treated to some really nice sunset views  

Linner was served after takeoff. Here’s the food and drinks menu.

I was a bit surprised there was no Western option on this flight, given that most carriers practice having both an Asian and a Western choice on this route. That said, all 3 Asian options sounded equally good.

I wasn’t too impressed by the quality of the meal. It seemed more like an economy class meal plated on business class plates. SQ’s regional catering is definitely superior to TG’s, given that you can order pretty much whatever you want from the BTC menu.

That said, there was a very nice chocolate mousse that came with the meal. The crew came by to serve almonds with the post take off drinks, almost as if by afterthought.

After the meal I tried to test out the bed function of the seat. The seat goes full flat, but as I’ve said before I’m weird in a way that I prefer adjusting the seat to 160-170 degrees because I find a 180 degree sleeping angle a bit uncomfortable on the lower back

This was just a short haul flight so I can’t say whether the long haul experience is any different- I would have liked to get a mattress pad plus a bigger blanket, but the base seat in itself was comfortable enough for a quick nap. My main concern about the seat is that it’s quite firm. Some people may prefer a firmer bed however.

My overall feelings on the Thai A350 product is that it’s definitely a solid enough hard product, one I’d not hesitate to select on a long haul route. Can it compare to top tier airlines like ANA, SQ and EVA? No way. But this is an important step forward for TG and hopefully they’ll be able to raise their soft product to match it as well.

Trip Report: SIN-PER (SQ Business)

Since discovering the Miles and Points game 3 years ago, Jeriel has now spent a disproportionate amount of time reading the T&Cs of credit cards and frequent flyer programs. His grand plans for round-the-world premium travel has taken a hit since the arrival of his daughter, but he is still determined to fly as far, frequently and luxuriously as possible on Miles and Points. Expect more family-orientated trip reports and travel tips from him!


SIN-PER on Singapore Airlines with a visit to the Changi T3 SilverKris First Class Lounge

The birth of my daughter in April 2015 meant that my wife and I have not had the chance to travel together (besides across the causeway) for more than 1.5 years. We were thrilled to be able to fly again, but also apprehensive about travelling with an 8 month old infant for the first time. What do you do when confronted with the possibility of dealing with a screaming baby for 5.5 hours? Fly Business of course!

SQ 223
Singapore (SIN) – Perth (PER)
Monday, 21 December 2015
Depart:           0925hrs
Arrive:             1440hrs
Duration:        5hr15min
Aircraft:          Boeing 777-200
Seat:               17H (Business Class)
Cost:               27625 Krisflyer Miles (after 15% online discount) + S$220.50 (per person 1-way)
1-way Infant-in-Lap ticket for S$259.10
 

We arrived at Changi T3 at about 7am. My wife needed some time to nurse before boarding, and I readily agreed to the early start to the day as that would give us more time to check out the lounge and do some window shopping. There was no queue at the Business Class row and our bags were tagged and checked-in within 5 minutes. We cleared immigration quickly and promptly made our way to the SilverKris Lounge.

The T3 SilverKris Lounge is a short walk towards the ‘A’ gates (turn left after immigration) and on the 3rd floor. We presented our boarding passes at the reception and were directed into the Business Class section. In the past, we would have made a beeline for the buffet and bar for a quick snack, this time it was to the nearest attendant we could find. “May I know where the lounge nursing room is?”

The attendant confidently replied “There’s no nursing room in the lounge”, at which my wife immediately shot me a death stare.

Now if you are travelling with children, Changi Airport has one of the most comprehensive kid-friendly facilities around the world. There are a multitude of diaper-change rooms and nursing rooms both ground- and air-side, and even an entire ‘Family Zone’ in Terminal 2 (http://www.changiairport.com/en/airport-experience/attractions-and-services/baby-care-room.html). In fact, I’ve read some local parenting blogs which extol Changi as an excellent place for a family excursion for kids of all ages; even when ground-side there is a wide selection of food and entertainment options. I know I could spend at least an hour gawking at the life-sized X-Wing and TIE fighter display, for one!

tr1
I was so tempted to queue…
As such, I found it difficult to believe that the flagship lounge of our famed national carrier, in the best airport in the world, does not have a nursing room. And also because I have already done my research. 🙂

tr2

Anyway, not wanting to argue, I made my way back to the reception and asked the staff there the same question. This time I was pleasantly surprised by the response.

“I’m so sorry but the nursing room in the Business Class section is currently under renovation. Allow me to bring you to the First Class section”. Well that made for a good start to our first family holiday! I was genuinely pleased with that bit of service and thought it was a nice touch that they ‘upgraded’ us without even any hesitation on their part.

Passengers flying First or Suites class on Singapore are entitled to use The Private Room. As such, the First Class section is mainly used by Solitaire PPS Club members not flying F or R, and First Class passengers on other Star Alliance carriers. As such, most of the patrons were also holding Business Class boarding passes, and I felt right at home looking around!

tr3Changi T3 SilverKris First Class Lounge

tr4View of the Bar

tr5
Seating Area

The lounge is understandably smaller, and the décor is largely similar to the Business Class section, with large comfy seats in leather, and a mix of marble and carpeted floors. The darker colour theme gave the lounge a more dignified feel, and I loved the high ceilings throughout the lounge. There were a number of partitions creating sub-sections of seats, imparting a more private feel as a whole. For example, there was a large family of 5 with young children seated in the far section in the last picture above, and I did not even notice they were there until I ventured to take a peek around the partition.

The large, full height windows overlooked the large common ‘A’ gate (gates A1-5), which was super crowded at that point in time with 2 flights due for departure. I was sure reminded of why we spend so much effort accumulating points to fly premium!

The service was far more attentive than that in the often crowded J area. I had coffee, snacks from the tea trolley, stocked up my thermos with hot water for the flight ahead, all while seated in a sofa and without lifting a finger. 🙂

tr6
It is difficult to select a seat when there are so many to choose from, but this was the one I chose eventually. First world problems.       

tr7Staffed bar, with the staff missing in the photo

tr8
Sit-down dining area

Besides the staffed bar, which had a large selection of coffees, TWG tea, and an expanded collection of booze, the lounge also had a dedicated sit-down dining area. The food on offer was not much of an upgrade from the Business Class section. There were a few ‘live’ stations with local delicacies but besides that it wasn’t overly impressive. In fact, the dining area was pretty crowded, and my wife and I decided to head back to the Business Class section (where we rightfully belonged – she’s not as thick-skinned as me and felt paiseh for hanging around the First Class section for as long as we did) for our breakfast. Kudos to the staff who in no way made us feel that we have over-stayed our welcome. I doubt any of them besides the reception staff even knew we were not supposed to be there!

For those who need to work, there is a quiet work section with desks and computers.

tr9Work area with desks and computers

A quick note of the nursing facilities if you happen to be in need of one. My wife describes it as adequate but underwhelming.

tr10tr11

First Class Lounge Diaper-change and Nursing Room

As mentioned, for an airport with comprehensive family facilities, which are spacious and well stocked even ground-side, this room was a little cramped, felt bare, and lacked even a hot water dispenser. There was a basket of amenities (pictured) which included (of all things) small cups, mouth rinse (???) and lotion, but that was about it. You don’t need to be a parent to know that those are pretty useless items when trying to deal with a hungry or soiled child. Even the children’s stickers on the wall and mirror looked sad. Maybe it was me setting unrealistic expectations but I thought it would look better than a common heartland mall’s nursing room.
That being said, my wife was very pleased with the large leather couch and side table available.

tr12

Large couch and table for baby paraphernalia

In all fairness, I doubt many Solitaire PPS Club members would be in need of such facilities. Also, there aren’t many First Class passengers on other Star Alliance carriers to begin with, much less those with nursing infants. For us, hot water was hand-delivered to the nursing room on demand, so the point about the dispenser is moot. J

On hindsight, I guess I should be pleased that they even had a nursing room. Neither the Qantas Club lounge in PER, nor the 5 Royal Orchid / Silk Lounges in BKK had a nursing room; and their idea of a diaper change facility is a plastic fold-down changing table in a normal toilet so…

With the whole family satiated, we made our way to our gate and whizzed past the economy crowd unto the plane. Damn that never gets old (at least not yet)!

SQ223 is a Boeing 777-200 which features the standard SQ regional angled-flat business class product in a 2-2-2 configuration. There are 4 flights from SIN to PER daily, 2 of which are on the Airbus A330-300 with the other 2 on the B772. The hard product is identical on both planes, but business class on the B772 is divided into 2 separate cabins. The front cabin has 20 seats, whereas the one closer to the economy cabin has 18. In contrast, the A333 has a single Business Class cabin with 30 seats. It’s a minor difference between the 2 planes but I do feel a smaller cabin does give a cosier feel.
We were placed into the aft cabin due to our request for a bassinet seat, which turned out to be an excellent thing given that it was all but empty except for us and 2 other solo travellers.

tr13Standard SQ regional Business Class seats

tr14Almost empty aft business class cabin. No wonder there was abundant saver award space!

Compared to other regional products, I really feel SQ has one of the best in the market. The fixed back shell with the little extensions at the side gives it a similar feel to the old long haul seat (haven’t had the chance to try the new one yet!), and at 27 inches the seat width is even wider than some other carriers’ long-haul business class products. There are some that say a wider seat is not necessarily better, which I agree with in principle. However, I’d like to say that a wider seat certainly can’t hurt!

We settled right in with the customary hot towel and welcome drinks. It was a challenge keeping my daughter from trying to get a taste of my Taittinger Brut though!

tr15
Welcome drinks

There was a long taxi to the runway followed by a queue, but after about 15 minutes we were airborne.

tr16
Take-off queue

Meal service started soon after. Now at this point the flight became a bit of a blur because my daughter was rudely awakened from her blissful nap by the take-off and started morphing into a Kraken (remember that scene from Pirates of the Caribbean?). We had to take our meals in turn, beginning with my daughter’s post-weaning meal.

It was described as ‘Minced chicken with mash potatoes and steamed pumpkin’. And we loved it. We meaning all 3 of us. My daughter finished about a quarter of the relatively huge serving, and my wife and I gobbled up the rest. This is in stark contrast to when we flew on Thai Airways on the return leg, where we were brandished 2 ice-cold packets of baby food. SQ even made a fair attempt at plating food for a baby!

tr17
SQ Post-weaning meal. This tastes A LOT better than it looks.

It was our turn now, and no SQ flight would be complete without their Chicken and Beef Satay. As usual, the meat serving was generous and juicy, and the peanut sauce was great.

tr18
Chicken and Beef Satay

This was followed by the appetizer; the prawns were huge and succulent, baut the cheese was a little on the bland side. Can’t be faulted for that I guess, overall an excellent starter.

tr19
Marinated King Prawn and Bocconcini with grilled vegetable
and basil pesto

We had opted for the Book the Cook service prior to the flight, and it did not disappoint. My wife had the Chargrilled Soya-flavoured Beef. In the air, picking the red meat dish is sometimes hit and miss because it can be easily overdone and tough. But this dish was perfect. My wife and I both like our beef marbled, as opposed to the beefier dry-aged taste, so we were lucky that what was offered was exactly our cup of tea. In fact, this meal is the best meal I’ve had on a plane thus far. Now I know I’m not that well-travelled, but I am picky about my steaks even when on land, and I am still craving another bite of that beef now that I’m looking at its picture.

tr20
Chargrilled Soya-flavoured Beef

tr21Classic Lobster Thermidor

It was the Classic Lobster Thermidor for me, which was tasty and had generous servings of juicy lobster, but it paled in comparison to the beef.
For those interested, the regular menu for the SIN PER lunch service reads as follows;

tr22

tr23

SIN PER Lunch Menu

Service on the flight was standard SQ – quick, efficient, professional and always done with a smile. They accommodated our many requests without hesitation. Some trip reports do say that while it is polished and standardized across the board, the in-flight service on Singapore Airlines can be robotic and impersonal at times. That was difficult for me to appreciate in the past, but I must say I felt a little of that on this flight. Travelling with children inevitably makes one a more ‘difficult’ passenger – I needed to make more weird requests, not to mention the countless times clogging up the galley with my crying baby (we figured we’d rather disturb the FAs than the other passengers). The FAs were always present and willing to help, but did not bother trying to engage us (or my daughter) on a personal level.

This is in contrast to our return leg on Thai Airways Royal Silk Class. While the FAs were not as polished as our Singapore Girls (I was handed an unfolded tablecloth and had to lay it out myself), I found that they were much more engaging. The senior flight steward on the TG flight even offered to carry and entertain my daughter while my wife and I ate.

I know this is being picky, and it doesn’t really affect my view of the airline much. However, seeing as how much of SQ’s marketing still continues to revolve around the Singapore Girl, it is always worth keeping a tab on.

A closing note on infant tickets. As to be expected, the 1-way infant-in-lap ticket was pricey and not value for money. I was charged S$259.10, when a return ticket would have only cost around S$350. Theoretically an infant-in-lap ticket only costs 10% of the adult fare, but it is usually on the adult full fare, and the taxes and surcharges are sometimes not waived (this differs from carrier to carrier). On Economy the fare would usually be quite affordable, but when flying premium things add up pretty quickly. Before getting too excited and snapping up those Saver award seats, it is worth giving the carrier a call to get a rough gauge of the prices both return and 1-way. I was shocked when TG charged me S$560.70 for a 1-way infant-in-lap ticket on our return (PER-BKK-SIN) leg!

In summary, SQ Regional Business Class probably will not feature very highly one’s lists of aspirational products to fly, but for that added comfort and convenience on a family holiday, I feel it is well worth it shelling out the miles for.