SQ305 Review – Singapore Airlines – London to Singapore

Now that we’re a family with a toddler travelling has a whole new set of perspectives, challenges and experiences to be had. Some filled with excitement and anticipation while others like long haul flying often fill people with dread.

For years I’ve been the guy occasionally tutting at the parents who can’t stop their baby screaming for the entire flight. Now it was time to take my baby on a flight and experience it from the parent’s point of view!

Thankfully our first foray in to long haul flying was with Singapore Airlines, an airline constantly voted one of the best in the world and flying to a country we love to visit whenever we can. So how would 13 hours in a plane be for us and our daughter?

Here’s our SQ305 review…

Flight details

  • Number: SQ305
  • Route: London Heathrow to Changi, Singapore
  • Flight time: 12 hours 40 minutes
  • Flight distance: 10,891 km (6,767 miles)
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300
  • Registration: 9V-SWM

Checking in at London Heathrow Terminal 2

T2 at Heathrow Airport in London is the latest terminal to get a complete overhaul. I remember flying from this terminal many years ago and it certainly has changed beyond all recognition. Now a bright and spacious place to check in and spend a couple of hours. Check-in services here have changed a lot too. You now have to check in via computer, scanning your passport as proof of purchase. Don’t bother printing any paperwork, I did and a passport is all you need so its really not worth it. Singapore Airlines long haul flights thankfully gave us 30kg each  for the flights and anyone that’s travelled with a baby before will testify that you need every spare kg you can get!

The check in desks here serve multiple airlines which makes checking in much quicker as there’s more available counters to walk up to. The downside is that the staff no longer work for your airline so forget about asking for a free upgrade. Those days are gone unfortunately.

Terminal 2 departure lounge is fantastic, to rival the best in the world I’d say. Some great places to eat, large open  space with plenty of natural light and even a play area for the kids which kept both my daughter and I entertained until we were ready to board SQ305.

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Travelling with our toddler

We boarded our Boeing 777-312ER pretty quickly. Travelling with a child does have its perks as you get to jump the queues and head straight to the front. Of course it doesn’t get you there any quicker but does help you grab a bit more overhead compartment space for the masses of carry-on every parent travels with. The fleet of 777s flying out of London have all been upgraded to the latest Singapore Airlines cabin interior which was spacious and bright. While the plane fuselage is obviously no different to any other 777-312 they have found new and ingenious ways to pack in all the carry-on and offer decent bassinet seats with the TV screens attached to the wall in front. Much better than trying to stuff them in to immovable arm rests which are often uncomfortable especially if you’re as tall as me.

Singapore Airlines SQ305 review

Our daughter seemed to like the plane as she promptly fell asleep before take-off. It made the anxious part of starting the journey a lot easier and once we were at cruising altitude we transferred her to her bassinet and she slept for a couple of hours.

Keeping a toddler entertained and happy is one of the toughest things on a long haul flight. They don’t like to sit still and have no interest in the art-house indie movie with subtitles that you’d love to finally watch.

They want to be walked up and down the isle and constantly requesting books and toys that are in one of many bags in the overhead compartments. So the flight is anything but relaxing for a parent. Lots to do all the time and you’ll be lucky to watch a couple of movies!

The best advice I have is to just go with it and remember that a 13 hour flight is like spending the day in your lounge with your child. They’ll want toys, want food, want sleep and cuddles. They’re also like to cry and possibly scream at some point too.

Its all in a days work for a baby so why should this day be any different? True to form our daughter did all these things, thankfully not too much of the screaming and crying. She slept well too in her bassinet although had to be removed a couple of times when turbulence forced the pilot to put on the seatbelt signs.

Bassinet seat on SQ305

In flight entertainment

With the new interior in the Singapore Airlines 777 fleet out of London you get the new in-fight entertainment system too. I have to say its much improved with a better user interface and a hand held control that has its own screen. This allows you to browse while watching TV and also check the latest flight information without exiting your movie. The screens are also touch controlled which may seem like a great feature but you’ll soon wish it wasn’t there when the guy in the seat behind you starts tapping and swiping on the screen attached to your seat! There’s really not much need for it either as the handheld device does all the controls you’ll need.

As with every Singapore Airlines flight I’ve taken the range of movies and TV is excellent with all the hollywood blockbusters and classic indie movies you’ll ever need. Plus a lot of great Asian movies including Bollywood and Chinese.

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The flight information app was great too which some impressive Google Earth style flyover animations that do a great job of telling you where you are. I always love to keep an eye on this as I find aviation fascinating.

The on problem I’ve noticed on numerous flights recently is the inability for the on-demand movies to play without jumping, skipping or pausing. Presumably because the computers used to handle all of this new system can’t handle the data. I even asked the flight attendants to re-boot my particular seat (they’ll happily do it) which takes around 20 minutes but sadly it didn’t improve things.

It made watching movies a little less enjoyable. Hopefully they’ll find a fix for this soon. It seems I wasn’t the only one that experienced this too.

Travelling with a baby on Singapore Airlines

Service

I have to make a special note of the service on this flight as the crew were wonderfully accommodating and hospitable towards those with children. When we boarded the plane we were asked our daughter’s name and all the crew used it throughout the flight, a nice touch that really made us feel welcome. Its all too easy for parents to feel they are a massive burden on both the other passengers and the crew.

Not so on this flight and they were so attentive to our daughter’s needs. They even took turns picking her up and entertaining her for a few moments to give us a break. I was really surprised by how great they were with our daughter, in fact when the crew spotted us again at the baggage reclaim in Singapore they rushed over for one last cuddle and my daughter delighted in waving goodbye to them.

As a family travelling on a long haul flight this made a massive difference and the entire journey felt a little less stressful.

SQ305 flight review 2015

Conclusion

Thanks to decent seats in a new and well designed interior, great service from the crew and a happy placid daughter, the flight was enjoyable and comfortable. A lot more enjoyable that I thought a flight with a 16 month old toddler would be. It was a great first long haul flight for my daughter and has given us the confidence to take her anywhere in the world.

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Check out this awesome review from our friend Pommie Travels who sampled business class on her flight back from Changi Airport in Singapore.

With thanks

A big thank you to Singapore Airlines for their support with this review. You can book flights directly with them at the Singapore Airlines website and follow them on Twitter for all the latest news and very helpful customer service.

Singapore Airlines direct flights

Singapore Airlines bassinet review – (Flight SQ211 review)

We recently flew from Singapore to Sydney, two places we’ve been to before but this time we have a family.

Our little daughter, at just 16 months old, is a travel junkie too but long haul flights are a new experience for us all.

Travelling on planes without children is a very different experience so we were keen to see how Singapore Airlines would make our journey as comfortable and easy as possible.

Checking in at Changi Singapore

As many travellers will tell you, any flight starting at Changi Airport in Singapore is a delight. Constantly voted the best airport in the world and its easy to see why. The whole experience is relaxed, quiet and calm with plenty to do before you board your plane.

Check in is still a personal experience rather than using faceless machines and security is conveniently located at the gates rather than after check-in so you feel you’ve made it through to departures a lot quicker than any other airport. There’s a butterfly sanctuary, a free cinema and plenty of places to check your emails and charge your phones too.

There’s also some great views of the runway to help pass the time. It all helps create an atmosphere of calm and serenity which should help any nervous flyer.

Changi Airport butterfly sanctuary

Travelling with a child

All this serenity can be entirely lost on kids who live by their own moods whenever they feel like it! Thankfully the play area at Changi helped burn off some energy and when it came time to board our Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312 our daughter was suitably tired.

We had bassinet seats thankfully so she had somewhere to sleep after takeoff. When you’re traveling without children, taxiing to the runway for takeoff seems to take forever, but with kids you hardly have time to notice you’ve left the ground as you’re busy entertaining the little one and making sure they’re happy and comfortable.

The flight path is fairly bumpy as you cross from one jet stream to another but once you’re over Australian land its much smoother. So expect a bit of turbulence in the first few hours.

Bassinet seats

The interior of this particular Singapore Airlines 777-312 was relatively old, at least by the modern standards of some of their fleet. It could definitely do with an overhaul as my seat cushion had collapsed somewhat leaving a metal bar pushing against my thighs.

Not the most comfortable of economy seats. The bassinet was perfect for our daughter who merrily dozed in it apart from during moments of turbulence when we had to remove her. Its a real pain but I fully understand the safety aspect of doing this.

People with long legs (like me) usually end up with our knees jammed against the seat in front, no issue with that in the bassinet seats but its impossible to put your legs out straight too so expect some discomfort after a long haul flight.

I recommend getting up every hour or so for some exercise, if you’re travelling with children you’ll no doubt be up every 10 minutes with them unless they’re sleeping. Our daughter very much enjoyed walking up and down the isles, chatting to the passengers and flight crew too.

Bassinet on SQ211

As with all parents using Bassinet seats you’ll soon find that its more useful as a shelf for all the books, cushions, toys, drinks and other baby paraphernalia you may have.

Our daughter only slept a total of 3 hours out of the 7 hours on SQ211 so for the other 4 hours this is pretty much how it looked. Every bassinet in use around us looked the same. Its amazing how much extra you need in your carry-on bags just for children!

In flight entertainment

On-demand systems are the norm these days so standards in delivery and movie selection are what we look benchmark them by. Singapore Airlines consistently has a great selection of movies and TV from around the world. With high numbers of Chinese, Indian and European travellers their selection is huge and well varied. Larger than any I’ve seen on other airlines.

I have a feeling the collections are so big the computer systems they run it on have trouble delivering so much content to all of the passengers as I’ve experienced freezing and jumping video on all Singapore airlines flights recently. The free headphones in economy class are frankly rubbish, with no high range and jarring mid range audio quality.

Thankfully I always travel with an adapter that allows me to plug my own high quality noise cancelling headphones in to the seat. I highly recommend doing this and I’m quite surprised at how bad the free headphones are these days.

They’re also in-ear style ear-buds which aren’t to everyone’s preference. Business get over-the-ear higher quality headphones, its a shame this doesn’t apply to all classes. My screen also had a few issues displaying everything with a blue tint if I put it in the wrong position.

Definitely showing signs the equipment had seen better days, hopefully this plane (9V-SYG) will get an interior overhaul soon.

Food

As this flight left around 9:45am Singapore time and Australia is 3 hours ahead we were served a lunch at around 11:30am. Some airlines don’t offer any meals to children but thankfully Singapore Airlines do with a choice of 3 options you can select online before your flight.

Children can be picky about food at the best time of times so its impossible to know exactly what you might be getting and whether the child will like the food. The biggest issue is timing as we had turbulence during the serving of food.

This meant we had to have our daughter on our laps and strapped in so we ate separately and had to send the child food back, being told she had to eat it within 1 hour. The large lump of processed spinach wasn’t to my daughter’s taste and it didn’t look very appetising to us adults either.

Thankfully she loved the turkey and potato. I recommend bringing snacks of your own that your child is guaranteed to eat as the whole long haul flight experience may put some kids of formal meals like this.

Eating at Bassinet seats with infant

The biggest issue was actually caused by very poorly designed bassinet seats. Because there is no seat in front all of the usual in-flight furniture like tray table and TV are built in to the seat. With my daughter sat on my lap it was impossible to move the tray table far enough away for us to use it.

I’m by no means a large person either and our daughter isn’t even 18 months old, yet there was no way she could eat her food while sat on the lap of an adult. The only way we could feed her was by her sitting on my wife’s lap and using my tray table to rest her food on.

Not ideal at all and if you’re travelling alone with your child I’m really not sure how you would feed your child any meal provided by the airline. Thankfully the new interior of some of the Singapore Airlines 777 fleet have addressed this problem but older planes like this one are definitely an issue.

With the bassinet in place, TV out, tray table out and no movable arms on the seats, its all a bit cramped and very limited on space.

Uluru

The highlight of the flight was quite unexpected. On the in-flight map I could see we were approaching Uluru aka “Ayers Rock” and wondered if it would be visible from the plane windows. I noticed another passenger was searching for it out the door window so I knew we were getting close.

The pilot then announced that we’d been given special permission to fly closer to the famous red rock and it would be appearing on the right of the plane within a few minutes. Everyone got very excited and some generous passengers offered us a better view from their seats for a brief while.

It was amazing to see one of the most iconic landmarks in Australia as we flew overhead, quite spectacular and a real treat!

Uluru

Conclusion

Long haul flights go surprisingly fast when you travel with a toddler. There’s so much to do in order to keep them happy, entertained, fed and sleeping comfortably. The 7 hour flight whizzed by and the surprise sight seeing above Uluru added something special too.

Our daughter was mostly on fine form and travelling with young kids is a real ice-breaker with other parents too. The staff were helpful and the bassinet was definitely useful although the interior design made life difficult for people travelling with children under 2 that don’t have their own seat.

With thanks

A big thank you to Singapore Airlines for their support with this review. You can book flights directly with them at the Singapore Airlines Website and follow them on twitter for all the latest news and very helpful customer service.

Singapore Airlines SQ319 review

SQ319 Review – Singapore Airlines – London to Singapore

Singapore is a country we always enjoy visiting, sometimes staying to check out the sights and visit friends, other times just fleeting visits as we pass through on our way to Australia.

Whatever the reason for visiting Singapore there’s no shortage of flights to this tropical nation. On our latest excursion we were invited to review Singapore Airlines flight SQ319 departing from London Heathrow, flying to Changi Airport.

Singapore Airlines has repeatedly been voted in the top 3 of the world’s best airlines but would their new Boeing 777-300ER live up to the high expectations?

SQ319 flight reviewSQ319 Review topics

  1. Flight management
  2. Checking in at Heathrow
  3. Boarding SQ319
  4. In-flight entertainment
  5. Comfort
  6. Amenities and service

Flight management

SIA flight management appWhile the flights were sponsored in part by Singapore Airlines we had full control of our booking through their website. Logging in with our booking reference and last name, we could pick which seats we wanted with a very clear and concise admin system. There was no additional charge for reserving seats either, only additions for exit rows and any seats with longer legroom. There’s also an option to upgrade your seat to another class and redeem Singapore Airline’s “Krisflyer” points too. We could also check-in online up to 48 hours before our flight although most people seem to check-in online these days so its appeal of queue jumping at the airport is somewhat lost. There’s a mobile app with full access to your booking and flight details making the whole process very easy.

Check-in

All Singapore Airlines flights depart from Terminal 2 at Heathrow and check-in couldn’t be easier. The central entrance to the building has Singapore Airlines check-in desks conveniently located right in front of you at zone E. Whether this is because the airline has paid the airport extra to be located front and centre, I don’t know but it definitely makes finding the check-in desks that little bit easier. There was also no queue when we arrived and we were greeted by the airline’s check-in manager who showed us to the correct desk. A minute later and we were all done, leaving us lots of time to explore the airport and relax before boarding.

Singapore airlines made this handy video all about checking in at terminal 2. Definitely worth watching.

Boarding the Boeing 777-300ER

SQ319 flight reviewSingapore Airlines were keen for us to experience their new 777-300 Extended Range aircraft with its newly designed interior and in-flight entertainment system. Having recently reviewed a British Airways 777-200 to Antigua it was interesting to see how the two compared. Boarding was quick and simple with the rear rows entering first in blocks of 10 rows. The plane has the same 3-3-3 configuration for economy class is all Boeing 777 aircraft so we opted for 2 middle seats giving us easy access to the isle without waking someone up during the night. The cabin was noticeably bigger overhead with newly configured overhead bins and brighter LED lighting.

Singapore is known for its high standards of quality and this was apparent from the moment we stepped on to the plane. The “Singapore Girl” has been a big part of the airline’s marketing since 1972 and all female flight crew had the familiar Singaporean uniform and friendly smile. I’m not entirely sure how the airline does it but there’s a feeling of already being in Singapore even when you’re still at Heathrow Airport.

In-flight entertainment

SIA were very keen for us to try out their brand new in-flight entertainment experience, one that they boast is the world’s most advanced. The first thing of note was the size of the screen which is an impressive 11.1 inch wide-screen format in economy. With touch screen controls you navigate through menus and options with smartphone like gestures, swiping left and right to see more movies and TV shows, taping to view and sliding volume and brightness controls.

Singapore Airlines new in flight entertainment review

The sheer amount of movies on demand here was very impressive. Some of the latest and greatest from Hollywood along with some classics and a wide selection of Chinese and World movies to suit the high numbers of Singaporeans on the flight. There’s a bunch of touch-screen friendly games you can play too which were good fun although the responsiveness of the controls wasn’t quite on a par with an iPad or Android tablet, also repeated tapping and swiping could possibly annoy the passenger who’s head is rested on the other side of your display. Although we had no issues on our flight, we have experienced this on other flights recently.

There’s still a remote control style device wired to the seat in front that once controlled the in flight entertainment system. Rather than remove this device, Singapore Airlines have put it to good use and added another touch screen to it as well. We could easily watch a movie on the main screen while checking the time and flight data updates on the hand held control.

Flight SQ319 new in flight entertainment

There’s also a very useful notifications system on here so any messages from the crew were displayed here rather than pausing the movie and interrupting all the passengers.

One slight issue with the in-flight entertainment system happened some 7 hours or so in to the flight. It had been noted that the flight path section was not working so the crew decided to reboot the entire system which took at least 20 minutes. Most passengers were asleep at this point but unfortunately I was not, instead I was half way through a movie so had to wait patiently while the whole thing re-launched, the cabin was almost pitch black while this happened until the system restarted and every screen in the plane displayed a bright white that no doubt woke a few people up. Other than this minor glitch I have to agree that it is the most advanced in-flight entertainment I’ve seen with more than enough movies, tv and games to keep everyone entertained.

Also worth mentioning the in-flight entertainment system could not be used before or during take off and landing. Something that many other airlines now allow. This makes a surprising difference and I find the anxiety of take-off is drastically reduced by having access to the movies as soon as I board. I hope Singapore Airlines change this policy soon and allow us to use portable electronic devices and the entertainment system to aid a stress free flight.

More to read: What to do in Singapore on a budget.

Comfort

Singapore Airlines 777-300ER interiorOur seats were well padded and covered in a high quality material that could be considered a signature of Singapore Airlines flights now. Definitely better than the standard material used on most budget airlines. The leg room was unfortunately a little less generous than our recent British Airways 777-200 flight. I am taller than the average passenger and had trouble getting comfortable, my knees touching the seat in front and quite a struggle to get them under the seat in front. This was compounded by the the fact that the seat slides forward as you recline, great if you’re short or average height but just made matters worse for me.

Thankfully the surroundings were comforting and the endless movies were distracting enough. I understand many of Singapore Airline’s passengers probably have no issue, with the average height of a Singaporean currently at 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in). I unfortunately am 1.9 m (6 ft 4 in) so in future I’ll need to spend a little extra on a seat with more legroom.

The flight

Flight time was around 12 hours 40 minutes although we were delayed by around 40 minutes at Heathrow due to levels of air traffic over Europe. Something that happened to all air traffic heading east out of London. We later found out why this was when we hit some clear air turbulence of Germany. A fairly bumpy ride for around an hour but the pilot kept us updated and thankfully it never got too rough to scare anyone. Other then at that the flight was smooth and enjoyable. It’s amazing how quickly 12 hours and 40 minutes can go when you’re well fed and entertained.

Amenities and service

One thing Singapore Airlines prides itself on is quality of service and it was highly apparent on this flight. The flight crew were very attentive and always smiling. There was a choice of meals presented to us in a high quality printed menu, the meals were delivered promptly and there were noticeable differences with many other airlines, mostly in the amount of food you were given and the range of drinks available. I’m partial to a famous Singapore Sling cocktail and I have to say the airline’s is one of the best I’ve tasted.

Glasses of water were offered at very regular intervals and a tray of brand snacks was available at any time from the staff located at the Galleys both in the middle of the economy section and at the back. When we went for a snack we had a lovely chat with one staff member who was genuinely interested in why we were heading to Singapore and where we should go.

The toilets always seemed clean and tidy, in fact on a couple of occasions I had to wait while the flight crewed cleaned and sprayed the washrooms with sweet smelling deodoriser. There’s a few airline branded moisturisers available in each washroom along with extra toothbrushes, combs and other sweet smelling lotions. Something I felt inclined to make use of during my half day on the plane.

Conclusion

We had an enjoyable long haul flight to Singapore, touching down only 25 minutes behind schedule. We felt like we’d arrived in Singapore before we’d even taken off and were treated more like human beings than human cargo, a feeling you sometimes get on airlines. The food and service was impeccable and the in flight entertainment system, although briefly out of action, was definitely a big step in the right direction. Offering advanced features and larger screen size, something many airlines should take note from.

Singapore Airlines SQ319 review

While Singapore Airlines is rarely the cheapest way to get to Singapore, it is no doubt the best way to get there. A big thank you to Singapore Airlines for sponsoring us on flight SQ319 from London Heathrow to Singapore.

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  • From London: Singapore Airlines offers 28 nonstop flights per week, or four times daily from Heathrow, with Airbus 380-800 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft
  • From Manchester: Singapore Airlines operates daily flights from Manchester to Singapore via Munich with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft
  • For more information visit www.singaporeair.com
  • You can also follow them on twitter too
  • Like the Singapore Airlines Facebook Page for the latest offers

On our return journey we reviewed the Singapore Airlines A380, the enormous double-decker aircraft flying twice daily to London. Check it out to compare the quality of the A380-800 service with the new 777-300ER.

5 best things to do in Singapore

Singapore is a country built on cultural diversity. Over the last 300 years or so, Malays, Indians, Chinese, British and other expats have made their homes here. This ethnic mix has created a culture rich in history and strong in racial harmony.

Living here in the 21st century is an opportunity to be in Asia, whilst also achieving many of the comforts of Western life.  My first year in Singapore has been an exercise in discovery.  I finally feel as if my peek under the covers is yielding interesting and under rated aspects of life here. These are a few of my favourite things:

The quest for good food

where to eat in singaporeFood is pretty much a national obsession in Singapore.  From Hawker Centres to high end fine dining establishments, Singapore has it all. My challenge over the last year though has been to find the places that offer great food, where you can have a glass of wine (or more!) and that doesn’t cost the earth. I am definitely getting there. My most recent discovery was Saveur on Purvis Street, a real step in the right direction for Singapore. Saveur is a very rare and pleasant surprise providing excellent French food at exceptionally reasonable prices.

The F1 Grand Prix

singapore grand prixThe only night race on the F1 calendar and a weekend full of fast cars, entertainment, good food and loads of fun.  The recent F1 weekend in Singapore was a real turning point for me.  I realised how much I was coming to love Singapore.  The atmosphere around the track on the first Friday night was alive with excitement and entertainment.  It was akin to the first night at a festival like Glastonbury in the UK (ok, maybe not quite that much fun, but there was definitely a similar vibe).

I’ll be honest, it wasn’t about the racing for me, although hearing those engines roar around the track was quite exciting.  The weekend is good for several reasons, aside from the racing there are great live music acts to see, great food and general fun to be had.  Ticket prices vary but a zone 4 walkabout pass starts from as little as $58.

Cycling

Given the hot climate the east coast of Singapore offers a cool and breezy path, away from the road, mostly with tree cover and offering many eating options along the busy strip of coast.  Bikes can be hired from one of the shops along the coast.  Then you can cruise and admire the scenery, before stopping for some chilli crab at one of Singapore’s most renowned chilli crab venues – Long Beach.

Walking

things to do in singaporeFrom ‘city walks’ around interesting areas such as Tanjong Pagar, Chinatown and Geylang to walks in the jungle, Singapore offers those with the stamina much to keep their legs moving.  One of my favourite walks is the Southern Ridges walk out on the west coast. You can start at Kent Ridge or Mt Faber and walk a range of paths from 2km in length up to about 9km. It’s fairly easy to take an exit along the route and get a bus or taxi from several points.

To really enjoy Singapore, you need to step outside of the main tourist attractions, let your feet take you to new discoveries and appreciate the eclectic mix of Asian and Western influences. Enjoy!