Singing Happy Birthday On An Airplane!

Filed Under: Singapore, Travel

I’m presently taking my dad on a surprise round the world trip to celebrate his “round” birthday. Even now the trip remains a surprise, as he’s just finding out what we’re doing and where we’re going on a day-by-day basis.

Here are the previous posts about the trip:

On Thursday our journey around the world continued, with a flight from Singapore to Melbourne in Singapore Airlines first class. This is the segment that I was most personally disappointed in myself over.

That’s because when I first booked the trip, the flight was scheduled to be operated by an A380. However, back in April Singapore Airlines downgraded the flight to a 777-300ER. I knew my dad would still be thrilled with a 777, but in this case I was my own worst enemy.

So I considered alternatives, including flying to Sydney or Auckland instead, but in the end decided to stick with our current routing, for a variety of reasons.

We took the daytime flight from Singapore to Melbourne, departing Singapore at 10:45AM and arriving in Melbourne at around 9PM.

We got to Changi Airport at around 8:30AM, where we pulled right up to the first class check-in area. It was about ten times busier than I’ve previously ever seen it. I still kept our destination from my dad, though told him we were flying Singapore Airlines first class.

Singapore Airlines first class check-in Changi Airport

Singapore Airlines has a private first class check-in area, and from there they have a private immigration channel, which lets out into the terminal.

“Benny, vhy are zhere so many virst class passengers?”
“Hmmm, what do you mean?”
“Zha people in zha terminal. Zhere are so many of zhem. In Dubai we vhere zha only ones.”
“Oh this is just the terminal, we’re going to the lounge now. They don’t have a first class concourse here.”

Changi Airport Terminal 3

Fortunately he was impressed by The Private Room, if for no other reason than that it’s a lounge within a lounge within a lounge. You first go through the business class lounge to the first class lounge, and then are escorted from there into The Private Room.

The Private Room Singapore

In the lounge he finally learned about our next destination. How did he feel about it? I’ll let his reaction speak for itself:

Singapore Airlines 777-300ER

So after two consecutive flights in Emirates A380 first class with a private suite, onboard shower, and bar, he certainly didn’t have the “VOW” reaction he had on his first Emirates flight. Don’t get me wrong, he was thrilled and liked the product, but admittedly it is a bit of an adjustment.

Singapore Airlines first class seat 777-300ER

Fortunately the service aboard was fabulous. How fabulous was it? I’ll leave it to Kenya Moore to explain:


Inflight Supervisor Vienna, Leading Steward Jimmy, and especially Leading Stewardess Michelle were simply perfect. They provided textbook perfect service (and then some), and not in a way that was robotic. They just couldn’t have been any better, as there’s no part of their service that I could critique.

You can’t beat a 6hr30min daytime flight on Singapore Airlines, enjoying a lovely five course meal consisting of caviar, lobster, etc.

Singapore Airlines first class lunch — chilled malossol caviar

Singapore Airlines first class lunch — sunchoke soup

Singapore Airlines first class lunch — salad

Singapore Airlines first class lunch — Boston lobster thermidor

Singapore Airlines first class lunch — “Gotham” black

How did my dad feel about the meal?

Michelle came by my seat during lunch to ask when I wanted them to present dad with his birthday cake (which I had pre-ordered). I suggested they maybe do it an hour before landing.

An hour before landing Michelle came by my dad’s seat to take out the tray table and put a tablecloth on his table. My dad said “no no no no, I don’t vant anymore of zha food.” She just looked at him and walked away. As she walked away my dad said “why isn’t she listening to me? I don’t want more food!”

30 seconds later the crew did something that caught my dad way off guard, and even caught me off guard.

They sang happy birthday to my dad. The whole damn song… like, singing it… on a plane!

Here’s a video, though I only caught the tail end of the song (I was so shocked by the singing myself):


Singapore Airlines first class birthday cake surprise

Not only was there a cake, but there was a dry ice display and a nice card signed by our first class crew, the captain, and the first officer.

Singapore Airlines first class birthday cake

Singapore Airlines first class birthday card

My dad was left truly speechless. We were full at this point, so they cut us a small piece, and then my dad asked that they share the rest with the crew and other passengers.


Perhaps along with the cake in the Emirates first class lounge, this was one of the two moments that caught my dad most off guard. It’s one thing to offer a cake, but to sing?! Wow!

This morning we Skyped my mom and he was telling her about the lobster.

“Zha lobster was unbelievable. This iz zha lobstah dreams are made ov!”

Anyway, I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but this is hands down the best trip I’ve ever taken. Even selfishly, being able to take a loved one on a trip they’ve never been on before is the greatest gift I could ask for. It puts our hobby in perspective so much, and I’ve never seen my dad in shock for as long as he’s been on this trip.

Admittedly not everyone would be down for a “surprise” trip, so this isn’t something you can force. For example, my mom wouldn’t enjoy a surprise trip — she would want to know where she was going, both so she could prepare, and also so she could look forward to it. But for someone like my dad that’s down for anything, this is just the most fun I could ask for.

  1. Ben – I am lost for words mate. Such a nice surprise from the Singapore airlines crew and the gesture they did for your pops. Though I know he felt a little off in the beginning after flying emirates A380 I am sure he enjoyed it just as much specially with the surprise. Again, this has been so cool to see and follow. Special moments with your dad that you two will always remember. The meals look very very good and glad the service was great on board. Love the videos!

  2. I laughed so much, when I read the Birthday wish from the captain “dear Schlappig”:-D

    Anyway..if you could read that to your dad, as I’m from Germany as well: alles Gute nachträglich, Herr Schlappig. Was gibt es Besseres als den Trip seines Lebens zum runden Geburtstag zu erleben:-) Viel Spass noch auf eurer Weltreise.

  3. Your dad sounds like a really sweet, adorable and awesome guy.

    I got a similar surprise birthday celebration from Singapore Airlines (even though I was in the economy class!). They offered to sing but I politely declined because I didn’t want to attract too much attention in a full A380 cabin. This is why Singapore Airlines is the best airline in the world.

  4. Very nice post. Love it. Your dad is a such a gentleman, who knows how to enjoy life and adventure. Great you are having such a good time together. So are all of us who are following the blog – and enjoying very mile.

    Seems no one in the video noticed the turbulence. Your dad due to the delicious looking “lobster feast” and the guy in the background did not notice that his wine glass almost fell over. The food on SQ is apparently is so good it puts you into a trans!

  5. Your dad is amazing! Actually I thought his accent would be way bigger, based on your blogs ;). A really humble person, mostly loving the fact he’s travelling with his son, no matter if it’s first or fifth class. Enjoy these days, he so deserves it.

  6. Ben,
    This trip is incredible. I hope your dad is enjoying the readers comments as well. I’ve been reading your blog for over 3 years and I can’t tell you how many trips my family took because of your tips. Thanks to credit cards bonuses I was able to fly my grandmother business class to NYC from Brazil to visit her first great grandson. I was also lucky to win one of your giveaways and got 30K SPG points and had a wonderful vacation in Mexico. Tell your dad how many people you’ve touch with your work. This miles game is not about points and credit cards. This game is about creating memories otherwise people couldn’t afford. Happy Birthday to your dad and thanks for sharing the videos.

  7. Your dad has a spectacular way of speaking. It is with almost ineffable joy that I listen to his words, the cadence, and most of all, his ability to express his excitement in such a relatable way. It really brings some joy to my day.

  8. ‘Benny’ there are no more words that can describe the excitement one feels by following you two on such a memorable birthday celebration ‘around the world’! Thanks for sharing it and for inspiring so many of us to pursue those aspirational dreams. And yeah, your dad rocks, virklicht!

  9. Your dad’s excitement is amazing to witness, hope the rest of your journey is amazing! Happy birthday to your dad!

  10. Awesome! You dad’s reactions are priceless! He’s so lucky to have a son like you. I hope to one day be able to do something similar for my parents. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful moments with us and keep them coming!

  11. Welcome to Australia!!! Singapore Airlines’ service is really outstanding — in all class levels!
    Your dad’s enthusiasm really never fades, and I suspect he will have equal joy no matter what class you travel in , no matter what city you go to. It’s always a joy to see a great father-son relationship. I had planned to travel with my dad too as we both travel similarly and enjoy the same activities, but he passed away sooner than expected. So I took my mom , who though loves travelling, has the opposite travel style than me (she is all about shopping). But nevertheless, I still enjoyed every single moment of it. Moments like these rack up quality time on the heart mileage 🙂

  12. I’ve gotten my boyfriend into watching these videos with your dad. He said he’s going to get tired of saying thank you, but I doubt it. Your dad seems totally thrilled by the whole thing and I’m glad you guys are sharing the experience with us.

  13. hey coins, how do you go about (pre)ordering bday cakes onboard on EK and now SQ??

    did you just plain jane order a cake/specify a bday cake and everything else the crew did to spruce it up was above and beyond what you were expecting — so was a total surprise for you guys?

  14. May we all remember to be as excited as your dad when we have the great opportunity to travel. Love following along with his excitement, though I am definitely jealous of his dream trip!! 😉

  15. Your dad is too cute!! I’m so glad that he is having so much fun. One of the best trip reports that you have written!!

  16. @ Adam — Yeah, both Emirates and Singapore will offer a birthday cake if you’re flying around your birthday, so I just called them to let them know my dad was celebrating his birthday. The rest they did. 🙂

  17. @ BHill — Hahah, and the guy seated across from us was an SQ captain, so I guess he just wasn’t fazed by it at all. 😀

  18. Lucky,

    You are an amazing son who obviously seems to have an amazing dad as well! I remember taking my mom and stepdad on a first class flight on AA to Aruba about 12 years ago. It certainly wasn’t SQ medium haul but I still treasure just how much they enjoyed flying in the “pointy end”.

    Also, the first time my wife flew CX long haul JFK-HKG in First, she said to me as she started on her caviar, “Honey, I will NEVER make fun of your points hobby again”!

    It’s moments and memories like these Ben that make our “obsession” so worth it. Enjoy every second of this trip with your dad.

  19. You are a good soon, Benny! Keep the reports & videos coming 🙂 I love watching your dad’s reactions..he seems like a very fun guy!

  20. Dear Ben,

    My wife and I have a saying… “if you know the children, you know the parents.”

    I have great kids too, but your parents are obviously very special to have a son like you.

    Congrats and enjoy!

  21. Seems that the singing is standard.
    Had the same delightful treatment on Business to Bali a few months back!

    Being Singaporean, I usually fly SQ and I often decline flying other airlines as I’m worried about the service!

  22. What a great post, really! The memory of this trip will last a lifetime for you and your Dad. Thank you so much for sharing the trip with all of us!!!

  23. I love the bond that you have with both of your parents and the special things that you obviously enjoy doing for them. That said, I guess I just don’t understand why it left you speechless when they sang happy birthday to your dad; it’s pretty much standard fare at any Applebees. I guess when you become accustomed to the service levels of international F, you start to look elsewhere for superlatives.

  24. @ Andy — Yes, I expect it in a restaurant, though I’ve never witnessed it on a flight. Ever. And didn’t expect it. Maybe my expectations are too low (said no one ever, otherwise). 😉

  25. Ben, favorite trip report. As many have said. We are even more thankful than your dad to be able to witness this!

    Hope you guys get to enjoy this 1000% more over the next week of traveling. The videos are awesome. Glad you decided to go with those!

    Looking forward to flying more loved ones in premium cabins, as you said, their reactions are almost as enjoyable (if not more) than the trip itself.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  26. So awesome to see your dad having a great time and the trip going well! Yeah, A380 Suites are fancier but — let’s be honest — even a flight in a “regular” First is a pretty darn great experience for most travelers, especially for shorter routes like this one.

  27. I was once a group leader of 148 passengers on a flight. AI SIN to BOM (continuing on to ORY) We knew that one of our passengers was celebrating her birthday. The flight crew made an announcement and in unison 148 people sang happy birthday and a cake was brought out to the birthday girl. She was stunned.

    Anything within reason can be planned. You just need to know the right people and ask nicely. Oh yes we were all in economy.

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