When COVID-19 hit, Singapore Airlines was forced to dramatically simplify its inflight service routines.
Concerned about aerosol and fomite transmission, regulators instructed airlines to minimise interactions between passengers and crew, and cut back on service items. Meals were reduced to single tray services even in premium cabins (or suspended altogether on regional routes), physical menus no longer distributed, magazines and newspapers removed, and inflight duty-free sales suspended.
But over the past year, we’ve been seeing the gradual restoration of normality. Course-by-course dining was resumed soon after the VTLs began, paper menus have returned, and soon we can do away with those pesky masks too!
Now, one more piece of the pre-COVID puzzle is coming back: pre-departure beverages in Business Class.
Pre-departure beverage service restored from September
For context, pre-departure beverages were always available on request in Business Class, but have not been part of the SOPs since COVID began.
However, it was reported yesterday in The MileLion’s Telegram Group that a memo had gone out to cabin crew stating that pre-departure beverage service would resume from 1 September 2022 onwards.
I reached out to Singapore Airlines, who confirmed the news through a spokesperson:
|🗨️ SIA Statement|
I was wondering whether the delay in bringing back pre-departure beverages might have anything to do with masking requirements (since the idea might have been for everyone to stay masked while passengers are moving up and down aisles in close proximity). But since SIA is restoring it on both masked and unmasked routes (except China), the two seem to be unrelated.
I further understand that the service routine will be as follows:
- flights departing before 10 a.m: orange juice
- flights departing on/after 10 a.m: orange juice and champagne
You can, of course, request for something else and be accommodated on a best efforts basis, but try to keep it simple- the crew have a lot to do before the doors close!
Speaking of champagne, Business Class passengers can look forward to either:
- 2012/14 Piper-Heidsieck Brut Vintage, or
- Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV
The latter should sound familiar, because it’s what Singapore Airlines served for several years before switching to Laurent-Perrier La Cuvee Brut in 2019. This was met with, shall we say, mixed reviews, and was eventually switched to the vintage Piper-Heidsieck in November 2021. And now we’ve come full circle with the return of Charles Heidsieck; I was served this on a flight to Vietnam last month.
It’s also good to know that Singapore Airlines plans to bring back the post take-off drinks cart for Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers from 16 September 2022, for flights above four hours. This provides another opportunity for hydration (or dehydration, depending on your tipple of choice).
What about First Class?
I’m not sure if pre-departure beverage beverages ever disappeared from First Class, actually. Singapore Airlines stopped offering First Class when COVID grounded the majority of its fleet in April 2020, and only restored the cabin from June 2021.
Since then, the drinks have flowed freely- I was proactively offered one when I flew back from Frankfurt in November 2021. Expect a choice of 2008/09 Dom Perignon, 2007 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, or Krug Grand Cuvee.
Singapore Airlines will restore pre-departure beverage service in Business Class from 1 September 2022 on all routes except China, and Premium Economy/Economy Class passengers will get their post take-off drinks from 16 September 2022.
Are pre-departure beverages necessary? No, but they add to the overall experience, and anything that brings us closer to pre-COVID routines is more than welcome.
Now, about that duty-free cart…