Last I checked (which has been a while), Changi and Incheon take turns grabbing top rank for world’s best airport. If that’s still true, I’d love to visit Incheon again to see what it looks like with Changi in its current state. Changi is really what all airports around the world should be – clean, spacious, and organized. I’m a guy and often get accused of not asking for directions. But who needs to ask when there are numerous huge signs spaced sensibly throughout the airport pointing to all the places one might need to go in an airport? Need a trolley, scan no more than 90 degrees and there you have one. Missed to use the toilet you passed about a minute ago? No worries, another one is coming up in 3, 2, viola.
We had 3.5 hours to burn before our flight to Athens and so decided to take a long walk from Terminal 3 to enjoy some complimentary lounge access at Plaza Premium Lounge at T1. I thought Plaza Premium Lounge was excellently appointed and really looked like it was going for business travelers flying economy.
Plaza Premium Lounge at T1
Plenty of seating at the lounge. Sadly, the same could not be said about the buffet and the bar.
The lounge had plenty of seating options, cold food, shower, spa booths, and private rest areas. It had a bar, which was closed and so alcoholic drinks were not available. The size of the buffet area was like a three-star hotel’s but, unfortunately, there was no hot food ready. Could have been a disappointment had we paid the SGD50 or so fee to get in. But since we got in for free, it was easy to shrug it off. I took a couple of cold sandwiches from the fridge and thought they were okay. My boss asked for a laksa and I thought it was okay too.
Non-existent buffet but good Laksa.
Showers, toilets, sleeping rooms, and a closed spa booth.
FIDS at Plaza Premium Lounge.
With just an hour before our flight, we made our way back to Terminal 3 for boarding. The lounge area at the gate was huge. This is important as people on red eye flights often need space to rest. I’m personally loathe to have my personal space intruded when I’m awake when I should I be asleep. There was a juice bar in the middle of the lounge and a play area for little travelers. Just outside is a smoking area. I hate to admit it (not so much because I want to hold back on compliments as I hate my own habit), but I love that Changi provides outdoor smoking areas. I really quite despise myself for being willing to sit in a dark dank and smelly indoor smoking area just to get a fix. The ones in Manila are the absolute worst and the ones in Hong Kong and Bangkok are prime examples of just how disgustingly smelly hotboxes can get. Granted it’s a disgusting habit, but I digress.
Terminal 3 gate lounge.
The flight took off without incident (always a good thing) at around 1:05am or not long after our gracious senior FA (whom we would run into at the Acropolis later that day with her family) handed out oshibori.
Singapore Girl and oshibori.
Our flight, SQ 382, used one of Singapore Airline’s older (unrefitted) Boeing 777-200’s. Quite a disappointment really but I half expected this as flights to Athens are seasonal and limited. The seats were vintage thick in blue and purple. The IFE screen was a mere 5.5 inches when standard economy on SQ’s newer aircraft is somewhere around 7 inches already. I heard the new premium economy uses 11.5 inch screens. The IFE box was at my feet under the seat in front of me and was a bit of a hassle. The recline control on my seat was a hit or miss and the thingamajig to raise my seat did not seem to work after I had deflated the cushion before falling asleep. Leg room was nice though.
Vintage SQ seats.
Good leg room.
Tiny glare-y screen
I had a peek at business class when we boarded and I noticed the seats were still the old business class seats in purple. I’m guessing those seats are what SQ calls “other business class” seats which do not lie flat. Interested to be clarified if this is the case.
I reserved seats 37A and 37C for me and my master but someone, for some unknown reason, opted to take 37B between us in a flight which was hardly full. I changed up our seats at SIA’s website at the last minute and could only find unoccupied rows at the aft. We learned later that SQ382 was a codeshare flight with another Star Alliance airline and that the aft was taken almost exclusively by these passengers. We took 55H and 55K and got 55J as an extra seat for my CEO to lay her head on.
Supper service began (annoyingly) at around 2:30AM. Had I known what we were having (or rather not missing), I would have opted to stay asleep. While it's hard to stay asleep with everyone eating and with the cabin lights at their brightest, I would really have tried to just sleep had I known the food was going to be ho-hum. I had fillet of fish with mashed potato. The fish was overcooked and was not good at all. My partner’s stir fried chicken with cashew nuts – part of SQ’s Peranakan theme for Singapore’s independence day celebrations – was tough and dry inside. I had a taste of the penne salad appetizer and the lemon curd cake dessert but both were also disappointing. The only other positive thing about the food was that the portions were big, which is good if you’re hungry or need to induce sleep.
Economy class menu
Overcooked: Pan-fried fish fillet with tomato oregano sauce.
Tough and dry: Stir fried chicken with cashew nuts.
We were given economy class “amenity kits” in SQ’s SG50 branding. Where did the Givenchy “amenity kits” go? When did they stop doing this? I’ve read a couple of reviews here on FR and it seems nobody seems to remember this happening. My boss still keeps the Givenchy pouch that the kit came in years ago so I’m sure I’m not imagining that this actually happened. Again, happy to hear from other reporters about this.
SG50 economy “amenity kit”
The kit had the bare sleeping socks and toothbrush. The toothbrush was disposable quality but the socks were nice and thick. The pouch looked good but felt like one that a three-year old could rip apart easily.
Breakfast service began about four hours into landing. They were serving stir fried noodles and omelette. My boss and I went for the omelette. Nice and cheesy but dry as could be expected.
All up and early for breakfast service
Airline dry but cheesy: Omelette
Somewhere over Greece on final descent
We had a smooth enough landing at Athens and were glad to be on the ground. Disembarkation was quick and I was happy to leave. I was really looking forward to taking another long haul flight with SQ, but it seems I had set my expectations too high as I ended feeling underwhelmed with the whole experience. I still remember my first long haul with SQ back when their A380 service to Paris was new and I loved it. I’ve also tried their Boeing 777-300 to Rome and recall it was excellent as well. I really hope my next SQ flight will be better. I really believe SQ can provide much better value even for cattle class.
Singapore - SIN
Athens - ATH
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