Flight Review: Singapore Airlines – Hong Kong to Singapore (SQ861)

In today’s Flight review on AU Abroad, we take you on Singapore Airline‘s A380 service from Hong Kong to Singapore – with an ongoing connection back to Sydney, as well as one of the handiest check in services you’ll find in the world…

Airline: Singapore Airlines
Route: Hong Kong to Singapore, SQ861 (Virgin Australia codeshare ticket)
Seat: 50B (Middle Seat on Side, of a 3-4-3 configuration in Economy)
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800

Scheduled Flight Time: 4 Hours
On Schedule? On Time Departure and Arrival

Frequent Flyer Program: Singapore’s own frequent flyer service is KrisFlyer, and they are part of the Star Alliance Network. They are also partners in the Virgin Australia Velocity Network. As I’m Gold with Velocity, this gives me access to the comfortable KrisFlyer Gold lounge in Terminal’s 2 and 3 of Singapore’s Changi Airport (pictured below) and in Hong Kong at the more premium SilverKris Lounge. Being Gold (or Gold equivalent) on a Star Alliance Partner would get you the same access.

The Lounge: The lounge in Hong Kong – once you can find it – is one of the largest I’ve come across. The food selections are vast – from dim sum to Singaporean Curries, alongside pastries and other snacks. There are plenty of fine beers and wines, and the spirit range is impressive, as is the sit down bar. Thanks to the size of the room, there seems to be infinite space to sit down and get comfortable before your flight. Getting through customs was a breeze, so even though I thought I was running late to my flight, I still managed over half an hour in the lounge – no complaints there!

Check-in: Not normally part of our flight reviews, but it had to mentioned here. Hong Kong International Airport offers one of the world’s most unique – and helpful – services I’ve experienced internationally. Checking in at the airport train station.

From a station like Kowloon, you can check in with most major airlines up to two hours before your flight – grabbing your tickets and dropping your bags off at the station. From there, you can board the train to the airport without any worries.Barely making the two hour cut off, I was naturally concerned I wouldn’t see my bag on the other side. But from the train station to the airport, through Singapore and a tight connection back to Sydney, the bag made it onto home soil. Very, very impressive and makes the life of the traveller a whole lot easier.

Meal Service: With just four hours in the air, there’s only the one meal service, alongside a couple of drink services. There were two choices on today’s flight – the “Oriental Selection” being a fish with rice and the “International Selection” bring the chicken. Both came served with a salad, bread roll, cheese and crackers and a dessert, and ensured you didn’t go hungry on the flight. I went for the fish which proved a solid choice. You can almost always assume you’ll get a decent meal on board a Singapore flight, and this was no exception.

In-Flight Entertainment: There was a wide selection on board – hundreds of films and TV episodes – and at 4 hours it’s plenty of time to fit in a movie (and then some). Their A380 in flight systems are already feeling a bit dated, without touch screen ablities (this is gradually being rectified), but the screens are pretty massive for economy (10.6 inches) and the quality is, for the most part, excellent.

On a related note, I’m not a huge fan of their headphones – they never seem to work properly for me – but I always seem to find a way to get my personal headphones to work in the unit. Still, I would recommend investing in one of those two-pronged converters if you’re a frequent flyer. It makes using your own headphones on Singapore Airlines flights a lot easier. I still don’t understand why they don’t just convert all planes to a standard, single 3.5mm jack… it’s found some airlines and not others… Someone may need to enlighten me on that one.

Comfort: With my ticket booked through Virgin, this unfortunately meant I didn’t have any access to choose my seats before I arrived at the airport – even with a premium status. So for both my flight from Sydney to Singapore and then flying back from Hong Kong to Singapore, I ended up with the dreaded middle seat – however a late check in for your first flight still meant an early check in for the second flight, and on both trips, I had fantastic seats on my second flight – even a cherished exit row on one of the legs!

But really, for four or even eight hours, you can stomach being in a less comfortable spot… especially when the entertainment is this good. But middle seat or not, these are comfortable planes and it’s a very smooth ride.

Customer Service: Singapore Airlines are known for being one of the world’s best airlines, and they rarely disappoint. Though they couldn’t help with my poor seating in some flights, they made sure that I had the best possible seat on the second leg. Always polite and courteous, from the ticket counter, through to the lounge and on board until you land, I never feel like anything but a valued customer. And you just can’t beat that hot towel before take off.

Extra: So why did I book through Virgin rather than directly through Singapore? By flying on a VA ticket, it meant I was eligible for 75% bonus frequent flyer points as a Gold member, which will in turn result in an upgrade or a free flight later down the track. What’s one flight’s loss is another flight’s gain. It’s always worth looking into you Frequent Flyer rules for these sorts of things… sometimes it’s even worth paying a few extra dollars just to be sure you’re eligible for as many points (and benefits) as possible.

The writer covered his own flight costs.