I decided to put this up first as I felt that this review deserved the priority. I was initially booked on Business Class on both legs (SQ 618 and SQ 619) but 1.5 weeks out, Suites on the SQ 619 was still available and after some thoughts, I decided to make the plunge given the special nature of this trip (and giving in to my weak spot for Suites). I guess it was well worth it! What I experienced on this flight was a total contrast to my anniversary flight on SQ 308 last year.
At 7 hours and 10 minutes (listed flight time), SQ 619 come with both pyjamas and amenity kit (available for night flights or day time flights > 7 hours). The meal service on SQ 619 was a full lunch meal service that came with satay and the caviar course. For those who want to try out the Suites, Osaka is certainly a good option at 70,000 miles (65,000 before 24 January 2019). Do note that the A380 is only available during the winter period (after which it will revert to the Dreamliner without any First-Class cabin). If possible, choose SQ 619 over SQ 618 as one does not get a full meal service on a supper service.
The A380 has always been my favourite plane – it is indeed sad to see it go. We won’t see the A380 fade into the sunset anytime soon as most of the planes can still fly for at least another 10 years. However, many airlines may cut short their A380 services earlier depending on the prevailing economic sentiment (read oil price and demand). Qatar Airways has already announced their intention to retire their A380s in 2024. Meanwhile, I shall try to enjoy flying this piece of engineering marvel as much as I can.
I have written quite a few times on the A380 old Suites (I have yet to try the new Suites) hence I shall not write much about the cabin. My previous Suites review would be as follow:
SQ 26 (Part 1) (SIN-FRA-JFK) – 2015
SQ 26 (Part 2) (SIN-FRA-JFK) – 2017
My focus of this review shall be on the outstanding crew in the Suites and the meal service (particularly the Kyo Kaiseiki).
One advantage of staying in Namba was its proximity to Namba Station where the limited airport service starts from. One can either choose to travel on the regular Nankai service (920 Yen) or pay a little more (1240 Yen or 1490 Yen depending on class of service) on the Rapi.t service. I would certainly recommend the Rapi.t service as the travel time is at least 20 minutes faster and all seats are reserved. The train journey was smooth and brings you straight to Kansai International Airport. We arrived early and there was no queue at the check in counter (for all 4 classes).
After checking in, we were given our boarding passes, a lounge voucher (printer on the golden boarding pass) and a priority lane voucher. Unlike other countries where priority lane is open to both Business and First-Class passengers, the priority lane in Japan airports is strictly for First Class passengers only (I found that out flying back from Haneda back in 2017). The priority security screening was indeed helpful as the regular line was very busy! We got past the security check in less than 5 minutes and probably another 3 for the immigration counter.
As Singapore Airlines does not maintain their own lounge in Kansai Airport, the lounge service is contracted to JAL Sakura Lounge. Although there is an ANA lounge and Royal Orchid Lounge in Kansai, but they aren’t great. Unlike the lounges in Tokyo, the Sakura Lounge in Kansai is small with no separate section for First class flyers. The lounge is small and extremely crowded in the morning.
Food selection was rather limited with no noodle bar unlike its counterpart in Haneda or Narita. You have few hot food selections, salad and some bread roll. Beverage selection looked slightly better, but I did not pay much attention other than trying out their sake. They do have the Japanese curry rice though.
Alternatively, you can use the lounge voucher to one of the listed restaurants as the voucher is valued up to 2000 Yen (about $25). I initially wanted to use the voucher at Ganko Sushi – but items seemed rather limited with no sashimi available. Do be careful if you are to spend your time here as it takes about 15 minutes to get to the gate (as one must take the shuttle train).
If one has time, one can try to spend the voucher in one of the restaurants and try your luck to enter either the ANA lounge or Royal Orchid lounge (no guarantee that you will be successful).
Kansai airport has a special waiting area for First and Business Class passengers. Although this waiting area was empty, the Economy Class waiting area was very full! There was one large group of students traveling to Singapore (which probably accounted for at least 25-30% of the Economy Class passengers).
The plane we flew in was 9V-SKH, a 10-year-old plane that still houses a small Economy Class section at the rear of the upper deck. Once boarding announcement was made, someone came over to invite us to board and accompanied us (and helped us with our hand carry) to the aerobridge. Halfway, the flight crew came over to greet us and helped us with our things. They were certainly a cheerful lot, and they were intrigued with the shirt I wore (my SQ 22 inaugural t-shirt which my friend Pier made for our trip to Newark).
Suites was certainly empty, at only 3 out of 12 seats occupied. We were seated in 3C/3D, we had 2C/2D turned down into bed mode and 3F was our dining room.
The crew of this SQ 619 is probably the warmest and friendliest set of crews I have had in my last few years of flying with Singapore Airlines. They were helpful, accommodating of our requests and went above and beyond to make sure we had a pleasant journey. Although I only mentioned in passing that this was our 15th anniversary trip, they went all out to make our flight even more special and memorable. The crew of SQ 619 comprising Flight Manager Enzo, Chief Steward Alex, Leading Stewardess Chermaine and Leading Steward Faidhi deserves a round of applause and compliments for making Singapore Airlines a great way to fly! They certainly made Singapore Airlines proud showing us what the legendary Singapore Airlines’ inflight service is all about.
These pictures show the level of attention that the crew had go about to make our flight more memorable:
Photo credit – “In-flight studio director Chermaine” helping out with the decoration and the photo
Once again, a shout out to the crew of SQ 619
- Inflight Manager Enzo
- Chief Steward Alex
- Leading Stewardess Chermaine
- Leading Steward Faidhi
You guys have been great and thanks for making this flight extremely pleasant and memorable. I certainly do hope to see you guys again on board!
As Osaka is not included on the BTC list, we had our lunch option from the in-flight menu. It is good that we can now view our meal choices before the flight and now it is even better that we can choose the item we want pre-flight (making it BTC-like). That certainly helps on a full flight where the more popular options may run out first leaving those at the back disappointed. This also helps reduces wastage.
As our flight departs at 11am, lunch was served, and we had a full meal service:
- Canapes (Satay)
- Appetiser (The caviar course)
- Main Course
Japanese option – Kyo Kaiseiki
We were not offered fruits and pralines, but even if offered we were probably too full to fit any in.
The satay was certainly much better than what I had last year on SQ308. The sauce was certainly much better. Although good, I probably feel that Malaysia Airlines’ Satay still has an edge over Singapore Airlines’. I have included a picture of the satay I had last year on SQ308 for comparison (especially on the satay sauce)
The caviar serving was quite generous and instead of small thin crackers as what we had last year, we had back the Melba toast. Although my wife had the Kyo Kaiseiki, the crew was kind enough to give one serving to my wife too.
The Chinese oxtail soup was lovely and tasted great while the salad was good with the wasabi dressing (Singapore Airlines’ salad somehow never seems to impress).
I opted for the fillet of black cod with XO sauce. I have learnt from my experience to always go with cod fish / seabass on board. Once again, the cod did not disappoint – it was tender and juicy and tasted great. One thing though is the lack of the XO sauce taste. Overall, the main was still great.
The tiramisu dessert was ok, not spectacular but neither was it lousy.
After a few tries with the Kyo Kaiseiki, I have generally come to avoid them but without a BTC menu there wasn’t much choice left and so my wife decided to risk the Kaiseiki again. I would say the Kaiseiki from Osaka was good (much better than what one gets ex-SIN).
The first course was the Sakizuke and Makouzuke. I particularly loved the Salmon-trout aburi. It was fresh and tasty.
The Oshinogi was a standard Cha Soba.
Next came the Futamono which was nice and tasty wagyu fillet. The beef was tender and not with excessive amount of fats.
The final course before desert was the combination of Yakimono, Gohan, Kounomono and Tome-Wan – by then we were extremely full. My favourite item on this course is the halibut with sea urchin.
Despite being full, there was still some room left Hojicha Tea Ice Cream.
The hardware of the plane remained the same (although the SKH looked more well maintained than the SKS I took to London last year). The bedding products, pyjamas and amenity kit have been changed from Ferragamo to La Lique. The La Lique black-themed pyjamas looked much better than the grey / blue of the Ferragamo while the quilt felt more comfortable. I received 2 similar looking amenity kits this time, I only realised it at home as Chermaine helped me to keep them in a bag as per my request (as I had my old pyjamas with me on board). Normally, there should be a his and hers amenity kit.
The other change being that Bang & Olufsen H9 headphones replacing the old Bose QC25. I have only managed to test the headphones for one movie (about 1.5 hours) hence I can’t really comment on the comfort, but I can say that my ears did not hurt after one movie. The B&O seems sharper on the mid/high and less on the bass (vs. Bose). It is also sturdier and heavier hence you won’t find it in the headphone compartment by the side (as it is too big to fit in) and it will be distributed by the crew instead.
The Bang & Olufsen has a much bigger footprint and looks sturdier
Despite being 12 years old, I still love the 2007 Suites especially on the cabin floor space. The individual suite may be smaller than that of the new Suites, but the total cabin space is certainly great (especially if the cabin is empty). I still hope to try out the new Suites one day, when 2 saver award ticket is available. For now, I shall look forward to my SQ 25 in June from JFK back to Singapore!
Singapore Airlines – a great way to fly!
P.S. – One unwritten perk of flying in on First Class/Suites is the ability to use not only the First Class Lounge as arrival lounge, one can even use The Private Room as well! Your luggage will probably be at the ‘odd-sized luggage’ section (someone would have cleared it for you).