After much planning, it was finally time for our trip to the UK and Ireland. I’ve already written previously about how we managed to save more than $6,500 by redeeming miles for our tickets aboard Singapore Airlines. And now it was finally time to make our trip, IAH to MAN in Singapore Airlines Business Class.
Singapore departs out of terminal D at IAH, and there was no line in the Business Class queue to check our luggage in when we arrived. However, as they don’t offer pre-check at Terminal D, security was a bit slow. After making it through the rigamarole, we headed to the United Club that serves as the lounge for Singapore’s flights.
The lounge offered standard United Club fare; there was a self-serve salad bar, a soup, a selection of charcuterie, sweets, fruits, and cereals. We grabbed a few small nibbles, and also enjoyed a few glasses of free prosecco from the bar. The lounge itself was fairly crowded, but being that it was Friday of a 3-day weekend, that was to be expected.
Eventually, we headed over to the gate, where they opened boarding about 40 minutes before our scheduled departure time. As there isn’t a first class section on this route, business class was first to board. I was a little surprised to see that the business class section was 100% full — it seems that changing their Houston to Singapore mid-point stop to Manchester was really working out for them.
Once onboard, we took in the fancy “new” business class seats, easily the widest airline seats I’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. They were at least double the size of a typical domestic economy seat. There was plenty of storage for all of my odds and ends, and I found my personal noise-cancelling headphones tucked into one of the many compartments.
The seat reclined to a variety of positions, but it was a bit odd that to go fully flat, you actually needed to fold down the seat back entirely. A sheet then went on to transform the seat into a “bed”, which was completed with an extra pillow and blanket.
Unfortunately, we had booked too late to get the bulkhead seats; those in bulkhead rows get a bit of extra leg room compared to the small “foot cubby” available in the rest of the business class. Overall the seat was great while sitting, but wasn’t the best for sleep. You basically had to angle your body to get your legs into the cubby area, and the padding on the “bed” area wasn’t very plentiful. I only managed about two fitful hours of sleep.
And since I couldn’t sleep anyways, I was wide awake for the full meal service: we received both dinner and breakfast on the flight. Knowing that others like me might enjoy a peek at the menu, I actually took photos of the entire thing: both the IAH – MAN menu and the MAN – SIN menu as well. You can see it by scrolling through the carousel, below.
Dinner started with a couple bites of seared tuna, on top of a small salad. It was fine, if rather bland.
Up next were our main courses, however we had participated in the “Book the CookBook the Cook” program and chosen our mains ahead of time. I picked beef filet with chimichurri sauce and roasted vegetables, while the hubby had selected lamb breast with mashed potatoes.
Overall, the food was…just ok. I’d put it on par with a meal at Applebee’s or some other similar chain, perhaps. Definitely not “fine dining”. On mine, the chimichurri sauce was so overloaded with salt that I ended up scraping most of it off, and the meat itself was overcooked and a little chewy. The plantains and roasted squash were actually the better part of the meal.
After the entrees came dessert. I opted for an opera cake that was actually pretty tasty, while the hubby enjoyed macadamia ice cream, paired with their onboard signature cocktail, the Singapore Sling.
Once desserts were cleared, the flight attendants came by with a cart, offering us a selection of cheeses and fruit.
Finally, as if that wasn’t enough food yet, they brought around a plate of truffles.
With dinner concluded, most people settled in to try to get some sleep. Interestingly, Singapore Airlines doesn’t offer pajamas or amenity kits to guests, so if you handn’t pre-packed your toiletries, you were basically on your own.
Once it became quite obvious that sleep just wasn’t going to happen for me, I turned my attention to the entertainment center. They actually had a pretty good selection of movies and tv shows, including all the Star Wars movies — even Rogue One.
Ultimately, though, I settled for some of the latest season of the Great British Baking Show — a real treat, as that season hasn’t made it to Netflix just yet.
Roughly two hours before we landed, the flight attendants began the breakfast service. Initially, we were offered a variety of fruit juices and then a fruit plate, followed by our breakfast selections.
My only complaint — though it’s a pretty big one — was with the coffee. It was possibly the WORST coffee I’d ever had in my life. It was so overwhelmingly bitter and scorched that no amount of sugar could have covered it up. And worse still, it wasn’t even hot. When you’re flying a trans-con red-eye, you NEED coffee. And Singapore Airlines fell pretty well short on that note.
Finally, a quick note on service. Singapore Airlines has won numerous awards for having the best service in the air. And to me, they were professional and courteous, but nothing stands out as particularly “above-and-beyond.” BUT – they were also *noticeably* more courteous to the hubby than to me.
For example, they came by to offer him bread, fruit, chocolates multiple times each. When he asked for some water, they brought him a positively giant water bottle — whereas I was brought a small cup. Each and every time they came by, they referred to him by name “yes, Dr. Magnuson; right away, Dr. Magnuson” whereas I got no such namesake treatment. My only guess is that they were impressed by his Dr. title? It seemed strange to me.
All in all, though, we thought this was a very solid business class product. I’m not sure Singapore really lived up to all its considerable hype, as I didn’t feel like this was much better/different than international business class service I’ve had on Quantas, for example. But: the fact that we got to fly it for free, essentially, paying only taxes and fees, was amazing.
Stay tuned! More recaps and updates from our UK and Ireland trip are coming soon. Header image courtesy of Singapore Airlines.