Flying Experiences - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Singapore Airlines

I'm sure the marketing department of the above titled airline must feel I'm picking on them. But not with out reason. And here is why.

I started flying Singapore Airlines on their daily ex-Brisbane flight in 1998. Experience was wonderful, their almost new 777-200s made the equivalents flown by United feel very unworthy (turns out most of this is due to the Pratt & Whitney engines United insists on using rather than the, to this passenger, far superior Rolls Royce on SQ).

Today, early in 2008, those very same 777-200s are still plying the Brisbane to Singapore route. Some of them have been upgraded to video on demand with slightly larger screens, but that's it. Service levels overall have declined. And flights have only gone to twice a day, and three times a day around Christmas time. Sydney and Melbourne justify three flights (with at least one 747-400 to Melbourne even though Melbourne now has less traffic than Brisbane).

It is stunning to believe that an airline can sustain their passenger load with zero progress in offering for customers over a decade. Complacency. In the meantime, Qantas have dumped their 767-300ERs in favour of Airbus 333s with fancy video on demand, big screens, flat beds in business. But Qantas still fly only one flight a day. Why?

Also, Emirates have stolen a lot of Singapore's market, flying a daily 777-300ER with fancy video on demand entertainment, flat beds in business, etc. And are soon to start a non-stop Brisbane to Dubai once their Airbus 345 is released from other routes. And then we have Etihad just launched, starting with an Airbus 333, again fancy seating for all classes, far better entertainment and customer service.

And that's just Brisbane to Singapore. If we include Bangkok, Thai now fly a daily 747 from Brisbane to Bangkok, again catering as good as Singapore, service similar, full video on demand system, flat beds in business,... And a first class cabin too, like Emirates.

So why bother fly Singapore any more? Sydney gets the Airbus 380, and the 777-300ER, both with very fancy service on board. And if those don't fly, they get the 747s which have been pretty nice at least in business and first, for quite a long time.

This traveller is certainly reviewing his options. Business trips to Singapore will be by Etihad now, unless SQ turn out cheaper (which even with our company discount, are not). Bangkok is a no-brainer, with Thai the only obvious choice (flat bed and sleep versus slight recline, no sleep, and change).

Shame how an airline that once excelled has ended up in the pits of complacency and self congratulation.

To use plastic knives or not

I've mentioned through out the Airline - GBU text my amusement at the US and Australian Government's obsession with the fact that cutlery on planes should include only plastic knives. Any frequent traveller knows too well that airline metal knives can barely cut mashed potatoes, so how they think a terrorist could use them as a weapon seems bizarre to me. The forks are far more dangerous - think of the damage 4 prongs could do. And all this was made more ridiculous when I slit my finger open with the plastic knives forced on the airlines leaving Australia soon after the US September 11th incident. Could never have done that with the metal one. Oh well, we are secure because our governments tell us we are, not because any commonsense is applied. At least the British Government sort of gets it, ummm, right. All plastic cutlery on flights touching the UK. (But still bizarre that flying to Frankfurt or Amsterdam sees full metal cutlery.)

Lost Luggage

Lost luggage is another annoyance frequent travellers have to put up with. I've learned that I should carry things like shaver, shower gel, tooth brush/paste etc, in my carry on, as losing a suitcase on average 1 out of every 10 flights just gets annoying. What's even more bizarre is that none of my loses have been due to mis- or unclearly labelled baggage. I make a point of making sure it is properly labelled, with the appropriate airline frequent flier priority baggage label, but some how my suitcase can still end up at a different airport from the one I'm travelling to. Also there is no point locking a suitcase these days if you are going anywhere near the US. To improve security, the US now forces open bags. So, please tell me how an unlocked suitcase wandering around the world improves security. As with the previous para, we believe we are more secure as our governments tell us we are. What happened to the old days in the UK where if they found anything suspicious in the case they'd call you to come and open it. I can no longer vouch for what is in my case, and given the Americans broke the lock the last time my suitcase went awol, who knows what could be inserted there between me kissing it fairwell at check in, and me telling the nice customs man that I'm not taking in any prohibited items at my destination. Hmmm.

Last updated by Philip Smith on .