Singapore Airlines traces its origins to the 1947 formation of colonial era Malayan Airlines which began life with a single twin propelled Airspeed Consul flying between the Straits Settlements and Malaya. In 1969 the airline joined the jet age with their first Boeing 707 and in 1972 adopted the name Singapore Airlines. Considerable thought went into livery and uniform designs; striving for both a timeless and sophisticated look which they achieved and have essentially not changed. The Singapore city state developed as an international shopping and stopover destination in the 1960’s and the airline’s growth matches that of the country. By the 1970’s the airline’s reputation made the name Singapore Airlines a by-word for excellence and luxury. The airline was the launch customer for Airbus’ superjumbo A380 in 2006. In recent years the airline has faced stiff competition from prestigious Middle Eastern carriers and no-frills competition. Singapore Airlines have made fleet reductions and invested in discount Tigerair in response.
For decades Singapore Airlines have presented their ‘Singapore Girl’ image of an attractive friendly flight attendant as the carrier’s iconic image, and they do not disappoint. She actually exists and you can find her on any flight. On board service is faultless with beautifully attired crews efficiently meeting all their passengers needs wearing their distinctive and ageless uniform (which fans can buy at tourist shops throughout Singapore). Crews are generally younger and Asian, a true reflection of cosmopolitan Singapore sitting at the crossroads of Asia. However ‘Singapore Girl’ is generally a vacuous robot lacking the personality more experienced crew members have.
Singapore is strategically located in the heart of Asia and makes an ideal stopover spot. The airline boasts services to every continent and also lays claim to the world’s two longest routes – Singapore to Newark and Singapore to Los Angeles. The ease and efficiency of flight transfers at Singapore’s sophisticated Changi Airport mean passengers can seamlessly change from one flight to another and relax about connection times and baggage.
While Singapore Airlines seek to win customers through providing superior service they also maintain an eye on rivals prices and ensure they are always competitive. The airline is generally never the cheapest, however the quality of service you can expect from the airline is generally bound to be better, which justify a higher fare.
The focus of Singapore Airlines is primarily on their premium passengers and their frequent flyers. In the premium classes the airline’s catering is faultless sophistication, while Economy catering is generally very good. Naturally catering on each leg matches the likely passengers, so typically there will be Indian meals together with Western for subcontinent flights and Westernised Asian cuisine on Asian legs.
Singapore Airlines is a very cosmopolitan airline and has an entertainment system to match. KrisWorld is the name for their interactive entertainment system which has an extensive offering of current and popular movies with multiple language options, games and dozens of audio channels. The system also included Berlitz language learning lessons. Screens sizes in First Class are a generous 23 inches, Business 15 inches and Economy 10.6. There magazine is relatively uninspiring.
Singapore Airlines provide ground and baggage services that match their excellence in the sky. First, Business and Priority passengers are treated like royalty while Economy passengers are treated well. Management is obsessed with punctuality and doing things ‘by the book’ so working for the airline on the ground can be a stressful experience. Baggage services, especially in Singapore are generally perfect.
Singapore Airlines bends over backwards for its premium passengers who reward the airline with immense loyalty. The airline’s new award winning A380 First Class suites were inspired by luxury European yacht cabins and have their own compartments. Every comfort and luxury are on hand for passengers. The airlines premium classes are pure indulgence and the experience begins the moment a passenger steps into the airlines Silver Kris Lounge before departure.
Singapore Airlines offer a very good Economy product. While the airline targets premium passengers by offering luxury, many economy passengers are attracted to the image of superior service which they do indeed find on board, provided by the smiling crew adored in their iconic uniform. Meals are great, seats are comfortable, the entertainment system is good and the cabin interiors are soothing, clean and comfortable.
Singapore Airlines is perhaps the most prestigious airline in the Star Alliance grouping and has its own KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme. Extra frequent flyers become PPS Club members (Priority Passenger Service) if they accrue sufficient mileage. The airline tiers services different services for different grades of passengers. Both Singaporeans and Singapore Airlines have a very hierarchical mind set and attitudes will differ with your frequent flyer status. Members who drop from Gold to Silver notice the ‘loss’ of prestige.
Singapore Airlines is obsessed with professionalism, punctuality and efficiency. The airline is very long term in their thinking and rarely change direction or alter plans dramatically. The airline does not tolerate failure and Management can be very harsh on its staff, but at the same time can also be very generous. The airline was involved in an illegal international price fixing cartel together with Qantas, Air France, JAL and others at least between 2002-6 and fined severely, which must raise questions about the ethics of its senior management team who initiated it.
Singapore Airlines have a modern fleet and other airlines are eager to purchase second hand aircraft from them as they know the aircraft have been maintained to the highest standards. The airline experienced a hijacking in 1991 which Singapore’s security forces handled with text book precision. The airline has suffered one fatal incident in Taiwan during adverse weather in 2000 and a pilot related ‘tail strike’ in Auckland during 2003. From a public relations point of the view the airline handled each incident, and others, perfectly dealing with their passengers and public correctly.
Frequent passengers simply adore this airline and with justification it is one the world’s best carriers.
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