I’m just back from 3 weeks whizzing from New Zealand on Singapore Airlines through Singapore to Istanbul (in one hit – 21 hours flying plus a 6 hour layover in between), then home from London via 3 days in Singapore, so I have a few tips to share with you about how to handle (even enjoy!) a long haul flight in the cheap seats…
Note: this post does not apply to those passengers who spread themselves out in business class, or good Lord, the first class cabins with sliding doors and private beds. This post is for the mainstream, the masses, those of us who might be lucky enough to get an aisle or a window or unlucky enough to sit between two strangers.
The bright side
Let’s start on a positive note, because we all know 20-something hours to Europe does not reek of positivity. But happily Singapore Airlines does a pretty good job of easing the tedium. For starters there’s the extra room in the seats. Instead of a 3-4-3 configuration, as on other 777-300’s and 777-200’s, SQ has sacrificed a seat and gone for 3-3-3. This means a bit more room for your butt and a wider aisle for passing strangers in the night.
Harking back to the flying days of yore when there was a bit more glamour associated to travelling around the world, all economy passengers on SQ get a hot towel to clean their hands, faces or whatever (!) before take off, and a menu with dinner/supper/lunch/breakfast choices. They also serve a Singapore Sling, the iconic cocktail of this rock in Asia, for free. We also got a little Givenchy toilet bag (alas with no Givenchy product) filled with a pair of socks and a toothbrush and paste. I now have 4 of them.
Tips for a bit of shut eye
I always take a sleeping tablet if the flight is a night one and I want to be able to stay up the next day. (I also take one the next night in the new city to quickly shift me into that time zone). Check with your doctor, but I prefer Temazapan which is only available on prescription and doesn’t leave a metallic taste and you also don’t wake up drowsy. A glass or two of red wine is also quite helpful, but don’t tell your doctor I said that!
On Singapore Airlines you can select your seat (and check in) on the internet. My suggestion is to go for somewhere down the back as they tend to be the last to fill up. This paid off on the 10.5 hour flight between Singapore and Istanbul when I had a whole row of 3 seats to myself.
Entertainment on board
In your seat pocket you’ll find magazines galore, including a Duty Free mag – yes they still wheel a trolly through selling goods – plus the airline magazine called SilverKris, and the entertainment guide – KrisWorld. Browse through this tome and you’ll see 860 choices of movies, TV shows, radio, audio books and games.
One of the first international airlines to install WiFi on long haul flights, you can pay US$29.95 for 26MB of data or $11.95 for 10MB. This means hundreds of Tweets or emails, but not so much web browsing. It also comes with a disclaimer that it is only available over those countries who permit such activity.