Summer 2012 had just arrived and I had just finished my final year exams at uni. Before graduation, I had some time to travel into mainland Europe as I has an unused visa which was soon to expire. Munich was once, again, the destination I chose (I have some sort of special affection for the city as this was going to be my 8th trip). Living in Sheffield at the time gave me two options: I could either go through London Heathrow or Manchester and my choice of airline at the time was Lufthansa. Once I remembered that SQ offered fifth-freedom flights between Manchester and Munich, it became a no brainer for me. Firstly, I would be in a proper business class seat for long haul and not the pseudo one offered by LH and the likes. Secondly, the difference in price was not so much; about £50 and lastly, it was Singapore Airlines; which is arguably one of the best airlines around, so it was nice to be able to try it without having to go to Singapore.
At the Airport
This was going to be my first time flying through Manchester Airport. There are trains that run directly from Sheffield's main train station to the Airport so connectivity was not an issue for me. Once at the train station, there is a long walk towards the terminal. This journey is eased up with the presence of several moving walkways which helped shorten the time. MAN has 3 terminals and SQ operates from Terminal 2. Once at the terminal, my first impressions leaned towards the negative zone. It felt so unwelcoming by being too austere; and not in that artistic sense but rather, in a bland and somewhat ugly way. Check-in was quick and this was done by a very nice woman. I was given my boarding pass and lounge card. I quickly made my way to security, which was also quick as there was a fast track lane. Once through security, I had to make my way through the duty free area - which was nice - to the lounge. The way to the lounge felt as though I was looking for the airport managers office. I had to go through several private corridors, which looked very office-like, before I found the lounge.
SQ uses the Escape lounge, which is nice and cosy but nothing to write home about. The seating arrangement felt a bit cramped but I was lucky to find myself a seat as the lounge wasn't crowded at the time. The lounge attendants were nice enough but the food selection was somewhat minimal. I didn't have anything to eat as I wasn't hungry so I cannot comment on how they tasted.
Boarding was announced on-time, close to the stated time of departure. The flight was assigned to a remote stand so I had to make my way through a series of maze like and dungeon looking corridors to get to the gate. Once I finally arrived there after all that walking, I was greeted by two very friendly gate agents who were very fascinated by my shoes. We were the last to board the bus and the airport scenery today wasn't that great as there weren't many planes on the ground. I personally love remote stands but I can understand if the other passengers felt very inconvenienced especially as most of the direct stands at terminal 2 were empty. I was greeted by two extremely nice and friendly flight attendants once I boarded the plane. The female flight attendant showed me to my seat and asked to take my jacket from me. Already, I could tell this flight was going to be awesome despite how short it was going to be.
Pre departure drink and cabin
Just before we departed, another flight attendant came and introduced himself and offered me a menu and a pre-departure drink. So far, this crew had been one of the best I have ever experienced. They were very much in the mood to make the customers happy and as the cabin was literally empty, it made the service a lot more personal. I began to wish I was going all the way to Singapore.
Taxi & Take off
We pushed back right on time and began our taxi to runway 23L. The flight time was going to be just over 2 hours.
CX 744F Cargo
Take off was quick and grey. It is always a pleasure hearing those GE90 engines spool up.
Cloudy day out of MAN
Food & Service
Shortly after take off, the female flight attendant came over to once again, introduce herself. After a brief chat with her, she took my order. Two options were available, the western breakfast and the oriental one. I decided to go for the western one as I hoped to try the latter on my return flight.
Entre: Farmhouse pork sausage with mushroom-capsicum and potato zucchini cake
Starter: Fruit plate with cream cheese
The meal was great! I particularly enjoyed the entre. The fruit plate was also very nice. Everything was perfect; nothing was over or under cooked. The flight attendants kept checking in to see if everything was ok and that was nice. Throughout the flight, I was addressed by name. The service was very top notch.
Some people might feel a bit invaded by their very enthusiastic concern for their passengers welfare however, I think that it shows just how much they value their customers.
The cabin & Seat
After the meal, I was able to absorb the ambience of the cabin very well. I really love the warm but soft colour scheme and how subtle the design is. It's definitely a place I do not mind spending hours in.
Now to the seats. I had always wondered about the extra wide seats as the idea of seats that wide fascinated me, at least on paper. The seat is fairly comfortable however, as it is said, too much of everything is not always good. I felt they were too wide. As someone who is slim, it made me feel like I was seating on a long bench in a park with little or no cushion support. The distance between the seats was also a bit of an issue for me as I felt it was too close but with seats so wide, SQ cannot afford a larger seat pitch. The leg rest was helpful but still felt awkward. In bed mode, I found it to be comfortable enough however, the foot well had some sort of block that didn't let my leg stretch out too well so this was a little bit uncomfortable. I would probably recommend the bulkhead seats as those ones have much wider foot wells. All in all however, I would not turn down a request to fly on these seats in the future.
Family Guy :D
Inflight: Over the English channel
Rest of the flight & Landing
The remainder of the flight was uneventful and I was able to get at least an hour of sleep which I desperately needed at the time. The female flight attendant woke me up when the descent into Munich commenced. I thanked her for her wonderful hospitality on this rather short but great flight. We made a straight-in into runway 8L and ended with a very smooth landing.
Descent: Spoilers deployed
Final approach Landing Video
Crossing the bridge
Terminal 2: LH/Star Alliance Domain
Disembarking the aircraft, going through immigration and baggage claim took less than 20 mins. It was very swift and stress free. Munich Airport is such as wonderful place.
Independent Escape Lounge - 2
Manchester - MAN
Munich - MUC
Singapore Air has a very solid business class product which is often viewed as one of the best around at the moment. In my experience, the crew outdid themselves. They were probably the best I had ever experienced at the time and they did their best to make sure I enjoyed the flight as much as I could despite how short it was. With regards to the seat, there are pros and cons but it seems SQ management have listened to their customers and introduced an updated product. Hopefully the update should resolve these issues. The food was terrific as well; well presented and tasted great. As for the IFE and press materials, they were very good, unfortunately, in the case of the IFE, I didn't get to use it as much as I could due to how short the flight was.
All things said, if given the opportunity to fly SQ's business class product again, I would not hesitate in a heart beat, however, the bland Manchester Airport experience kind of spoils what was otherwise a near perfect trip.
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