What Is Business Class Like On A 37 Minute Singapore Airlines Flight?

Filed Under: Singapore, Travel

It’s funny how the quality of business class varies so drastically around the world.

In Europe you’d typically get an economy seat with a blocked middle and a decent snack.

In the US you’d typically get a decent domestic first class seat with virtually no service.

Then there’s Asia/the Middle East.

Qatar Airways offers the world’s best regional product

Qatar Airways offers what I consider to be the world’s best short-haul premium product (they call it first class, though it’s a two cabin plane).

On a 40 minute flight you’ll often get a flat bed, pre-departure drinks of choice, Arabic coffee and dates, your choice of warm or cold towel, a legitimate snack after takeoff, and drinks of choice (including champagne, cappuccinos, etc.). It’s unbelievable how the crews hustle, as they work from a minute after takeoff until a minute before landing.

Due to the Gulf blockade Qatar doesn’t operate many of these super short flights anymore.

Flying Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur

After flying from Melbourne to Singapore in Singapore Airlines first class, I connected from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in business class on a Singapore Airlines A350-900.

So, what was the experience like on this 37 minute flight?

There were fully flat beds, and I had the entire rear business class cabin to myself, which was pretty cool.

There were pre-departure drinks, and I was addressed by name nearly a dozen times throughout the flight. The crew was friendly and did their usual welcomes before departure.

But what I find sort of funny is that the actual service once airborne is extremely limited.

Let me start for a second and acknowledge this is of course all ridiculous. No one needs a meal on a 37 minute flight. I’m writing this simply because I find the contrast between airlines funny. Anyway…

The meal choice was between a chicken wrap and a tuna croissant, and it came served on a tray in plastic wrapping. To drink there was just water, with the choice of coffee and tea.

This is of course still great, though at first I thought to myself “why is Qatar so much better than Singapore when it comes to service on these short flights?”

And then I realized it’s because Singapore Airlines is such a “by the book” airline. Their flight attendants remain seated until the seatbelt sign is turned off, and then they stop the service once the pilots tell the flight attendants to prepare for landing, which is done roughly the same amount of time before landing whether you’re taking a 40 minute flight or 14 hour flight.

On the flight the seatbelt sign was turned off seven minutes after takeoff, and 20 minutes before landing the captain said “cabin crew, prepare the cabin for landing.”

So you guessed right, that meant the crew had 10 minutes to close the curtains between cabins, serve the snack, bring out coffee and tea, clear the tray, and open the curtains between cabins again. Hah.

  1. Lucky, trust me, just try Turkish Airlines domestic business class between Istanbul and the capitol Ankara (45 min flight – Boeing 777-300). You get your own business class terminal with lounge, bus ride to the plane, lie-flat seats, printed menu’s are distributed and it even has the same hot main dishes that were given on your 8 hour flight from the Seychelles.

    Fares are around 85$ – 100$, even Qatar Airways is not up to this level.

  2. You know what, it is mandated 50 minutes for take off and landing in China during which no hospitality service is allowed…so, don’t expect in flight service for flights under 1 hour in China… but at least there are complimentary meals in economy in most cases! Yay!

  3. Usually the idea “we, flight attendants, are here primarily for your safety” is really an excuse for “we, flight attendants, can treat you poorly, not even a smile or hello”. However, the Singapore Airlines approach is a sound one. While a meal is nice, the Qatar Airways approach is a little too lax. They can get away with it 500,000 times or more but it might bite back one time.

  4. My mind was blown when, on the 20 minute flight from Entebbe to Kigali, the Qatar crew in business class served us sandwiches of smoked salmon and pate de foie gras with champagne.

  5. Lucky: please mention that EY, EK and the others are nowhere near QR as far as short-haul service on Middle Eastern airlines is concerned. You do write about ‘Asia/the Middle East’, but there is not a word on any airline other than SQ and QR.

  6. I found CX (and KA back in the day) service on 47-minute flights to include a full-ish meal service with a menu.

  7. Addressed by name nearly once every three minutes then. I’m picturing a quasi-cabaret show with staff filing past you doffing their cap all flight.

  8. I was never being addressed by the name on SQ. Their short haul flight not worth mentioning. Truly awful products and shocking with the poor quality catering provided on short haul sector.

    At least they can do better even with the cold refreshment rather than serving sandwich covered with plastic wrap in business class.

    Other airlines offered better products on their short flight.

  9. I greatly appreciate them not addressing me by name. It’s creepy – they don’t know me and, though they act like it, they aren’t my servant.

  10. Thats impressive by Singapore Airlines. DOH – DXB/DWC were some 55 Minutes flight time (screenshot QR 1018 the 19. May 2017 at Flightradar 24). To DXB, Qatar Airways used the long haul fleet (A350, 777, 787), to DXB A320 with recliner seats in a 2-2 configuration. So, seating was amazing. After take-off, they managed to serve a hot meal, distribute a printed Menue, hot towels, an amenity kit and the usual drinks. It was truly impressive, how well organized the crew was working there to serve the premium-passengers. They got it even when the Business Class cabin was well filled (I never had it really empty). As it was called “First Class”, they let you in the Al Safwa First Class Lounge in Doha. So, you usualy were stuffed with delicious food when boarding the connection to Dubai. Food on board would not have been necessary but was a nice and tasty.

  11. Lucky – devastated at no Air Mauritius on this leg but appreciate the convenience of carrying on with the same carrier. Perhaps next time!

  12. American carriers service really depends on the FA’s. Between dtw and msn I have had 5 drinks and snacks including two on the ground, msp and msn 3 drinks along with a few snacks. Other times no pre departure drink and one drink on the flight and no snacks. Phx and Las pre departure drink, two cups of coffee (morning meeting) and snacks. Orlando to Atlanta no pre departure drink, cheerios for the meal. In coach I even had a Flight attendant give all 50 of us a drink on a 50 minute flight on a regional carrier, while a mainline flight on the same route with 90 passengers and 3 fa’s no service because the “short duration” Some flight attendants are truly lazy. Others go out of their way to make the flight pleasant.

  13. How could you possibly not mention Australia? J class in Australia is head and shoulders above that of America and Europe, and almost just as good as Asia.

  14. It is absurd to expect anything in the air in any class in a 37-minute flight. I would find a meal service for that length of flight annoying. You are offered a drink prior to departure along with a hot towel – what more could you want. You have the option of a snack in the lounge prior to departure. Who cares if you are offered champagne to gulp down on a short flight? I would give a ME airline zero credit for offering something to eat on a 37-minute flight.

  15. PG does a full meal on 45 mt flights in BC. Even in EC someting in between a hot snack and meal is served.

    Yes SQ is too by the book. Too many announcements, any minor turbulence and seatbelt signs are on. And the ‘prepare for arrival’ instruction usually comes 30-40 minutes before arrival.

  16. I don’t want to be addressed by name that often! I think this may be cultural. Europeans seem to want this less often than do North Americans — once or twice is fine, say on first greeting and when saying goodbye, but too often usually comes across as intrusive and obsequious. Sometimes I find it quite agressive ! But maybe I’m overthinking this…

  17. Domestic business class in Australia is much better than the US and Europe. The flights are often long enough to enjoy it. And it is really cheap to use BA Avios or Alaska points to book Qantas business class domestically.

  18. Once upon a time, until the 1990s, many airlines in the US and the rest of the world offered a full-service meal (including Scotch whisky) to all passengers –yes, including those in coach– on domestic flights. Chile’s Ladeco Airlines, for instance, offered full breakfast on domestic flights lasting as little as 45 minutes, with included fruit juice, coffee, tea, omelet and a pastry to all passengers on their 727-100/200 and 737-200 Y-class only flights. At least on one occasion, turbulence after taking off from Santiago to Concepción (266 miles / 429 km) prevented the meal service from starting until halfway there. By the time the pilot asked the flight attendant crew to prepare the cabin for landing, the passengers at the back third of the cabin had not been served breakfast. Several of them complained about the lack of service… so the pilot decided to circle above Concepción until everyone had finished eating!

  19. I’ve been a frequent patron of Cathay Dragon’s HKG-CAN flight (at least twice a year, connecting from MEL). Although that flight was only 28 minutes, you still got Champagne in glass before takeoff and six canapés, served in a box, and a bottle of Evian, as “meal” service.

  20. Wow! Don’t let your pal from “View from the Wing” see this, as he just identified how UA intends to set-up a tray of pre-poured sodas for short flights.

    Wonder if the US# seriously believe they can compete with the high quality foreign carriers..?

  21. Garuda Indonesia serves a hot meal or a heavy snack on sectors less than an hour in Business Class, along with a fruit/dessert course to boot. Recliner seats though.

    Also @Lucky from January 1 these A350s to Kuala Lumpur will be replaced by A330s, although an earlier flight to Kuala Lumpur will see an upgauge from an A330 to a Regional A350 starting from January 7th.

  22. How do these Asian and ME carriers fly around these long-range widebodies on regional routes?Is it profitable? With so much capacity, how do they achieve acceptable load factors without terrible yield?

    Is it cargo revenue? Slot constraints? Infrequent service?

    Even if they can fill widebodies, why aren’t they using older aircraft (e.g., 332/3, 772/3, 763/4)? I thought the newer, efficient widebodies (e.g., 77W, 788/9, 359) were only really economical on long haul routes?

  23. Yeah Australia is just about as good as Asia and Middle east if not better you get 1-2-1 seats great meals, proper bedding, amazing lounges etc on the Melbourne to Sydney (an hour flight) route both Virgin and Qantas have some services with their A330’s and both airlines offer full meal services even if just on a 737 (still with proper recliner business seats) and as for Perth to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne you get proper meal service, proper bedding on overnight flights, great service and fantastic lounges all with Virgins A330’s with reverse herringbone seats identical to their 777 and Qantas have Vantage XL seats on their A330’s identical to their 787’s, hell Qantas flys some 787’s domestically such as Melbourne to Perth.

  24. On American you’d get about 20 min of “stop existing” glares from the FA seated in front followed by 5 min of listening to her gossip about the FA in the back followed by 10 min of her berating the F cabin for not having everything stowed and upright already.

    Oh but here sign up for a credit card, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease it’s AMAZING

  25. Just did a SIN to DPS flight with Singapore airlines and it was a brand new 787-10 plane with same seating as the a350. 2 hour flight and was able to use the Book the Cook to pre order a lobster meal for the flight. Crew was impeccable as was the flight. Only issue I had was pre boarding when my tiny scissors were deemed too sharp and taken away. Those scissors have flown with me on over 100 flights without as much as a second look. Instead they have me new large bulky scissors. RIP scissors.
    For a two hour flight I am impressed and the plane still had that nde plane smell to it:)

  26. Years ago I “commuted” 1 ~2 x/week from LGA to YYZ. Typically 1:05-:10 to YYZ and 50-55 min back to LGA. I would leave in the morning (around 0700~0715) and return either on the flight around 1730 or on the flight around 1900. My company only paid for coach on this B-727 service.
    AA operated these flights with 5 cabin crew, 1-1/2 in F cabin and 3-1/2 in Y cabin.

    AA managed to serve (in Y class) a light breakfast consisting of roll or bagel, scrambled egg, grapefruit or orange sections and juice Plus coffee/tea. (F had more elaborate breakfast including smoked salmon, nicer egg entree, and coffee and juice served in real mugs and glasses.)

    Returning on the shorter flight, there was drink service including alcoholic choices for $, soft drinks, etc. accompanying a choice of deli sandwiches. All done during a approx 45-min trajectory take-off to touchdown. Yes, the service was rushed but there was enough crew coverage to provide 2nd round of drinks for pax that request them.

    Once upon a time airlines actually cared about and respected their customers.

  27. @Sam G- my wife and I booked Air Asia this May from LGK to PEN. It’s an 80 mile fight operated by an ATR if I remember correctly. Base fare was $9 usd if I recall. Upon time of booking there were many add-ons for purchase including checked bags and bulkhead seats which we jumped on.

    Also available were hot meals, which I thought must have been some kind of mistake. But for a few extra bucks I had to see whether this was a thing.

    About 5 minutes into the 22 minute flight the attendant arose from the jumpseat and asked us our choice of beverage. A minute or two later I started to smell something from the galley. 11 min or so into the flight I received a foil tray of an unexpectedly tasty spaghetti bolognese set upon my tray – just what I had ordered a few weeks earlier on the booking website.

    Surprisingly (or maybe not!) no one else was interested in this novel meal service, as I think we were the only passengers aboard being served food.

    About 4 minutes later the attendant came to take away my meal. My wife hadn’t yet touched hers and they were kind enough to provide us with a take out bag for the leftovers.

    A couple minutes later we landed at Penang with a good laugh and a fun memory.

  28. @Grant

    Same experience. AirAsia meals are generally very tasty. And the crew is super friendly and efficient.

  29. There is no reason I can think of why I would want to be fed on a 37 minute flight. There are other ways of procuring a meal.

    The only reason I can think why I’d want a lie flat seat on that same flight is if I’d come straight to the airport after spinal surgery.

  30. @Jeff: the busiest international air routes are in Asia. SIN-KUL is in the top five regardless of whether you count flights or seats. For that route, SQ does 3 daily widebody flights and subsidiary MI operates 8 daily 737s or 320s. Its low cost subsidiary,TR, operates 3 daily 320s. MH operates 10 daily 737s, AK flies 11 daily 320s, 3K has 3 daily 320s while OD flies daily 4 times with their 737s. Then there are tag flights by ET, HY and MK who also operate wide bodies but not daily.

    SIN-CGK has that beat as SQ alone operates 9 daily widebody jets on that route while GA has 10 daily 737s plying that in addition to low cost carriers QZ, 3K, TR, JT, ID (technically full service) contributing 22 daily narrowbody jets on the average. HKG-TPE usually tops the list if counting passengers flown.

  31. MH not only has hot meals (I managed two servings of satay once), but a selection of juices. The pink guava is to die for!

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