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SQ321 London Heathrow (LHR) - Singapore Changi Intl (SIN)
Date: 4 March 2005
Departure (scheduled): 22:15
Arrival (scheduled): 18:55
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Cabin: Economy
Seat: 34G

This was my very first flight on Singapore Airlines (SIA or SQ), an airline I had heard much about and I was keen to see what all the fuss was about, despite only travelling in economy . Also this was my first ever trip in a non-BA 747...

I arrived at T3 at Heathrow and immediately realised that I didn't really know my way around, I had only come here once before for a United flight in April 2003. But I soon found the SIA check-in. Due to my Star Alliance Gold (*G) status, we were able to check-in at the Raffles (Business class) check-in.

I had done an online check-in 48 hours before the flight, and had been disappointed by the lack of available seats; there were no exit row seats available even. I mean come on, what IS the point of online check-in! But we had good seats, 34 F & G in SIA's 747.

The lounge was very smart and offered some good food options, including spring rolls, samosas and soup in addition to the standard sandwiches, although I found it a little tucked away in T3 and certainly a very long way from Gate 35, where we departed from. The lounge got quite busy and we decided to head to the gate a little early in order to try and beat the queue.

When we got to the gate however, most of the rest of the plane had beaten us there! There were several hundred passengers already in the gate holding area, and there was standing room only. It was clear (and not that surprising) that this would be a full flight.

Boarding commenced about 15 mins later, so not too long a wait. We were first on board due again to *G status and having loitered around by the gate (my favourite trick ). The seats were very comfortable for economy seats with enough legroom, about the same as BA, although an annoyingly placed and totally unnecessary foot rest on the seat in front occasionally dug into one's shins. It was around 30mins until everyone else had boarded and we pushed back. Hot towels were handed round ... in economy surely this must be some mistake!

Take off was very quiet and smooth, surprisingly quiet in fact. Oh the joy of sitting quite far forward on a 747! I had noticed that the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, Krisworld, which I had heard so much about and has audio and video on demand, had been fully switched on before take-off .

Having taken off to the West, we did a big looping turn and headed initially towards Amsterdam. I started to play around with the IFE, which allowed me to build a playlist of songs, watch an episode of Little Britain and a documentary about Singapore. The screen was clear and the sound was good, as well as the system itself being very user-friendly. The only downside, was that of the 60 films available I didn't want to watch any of them! But I put this down to my tastes, as there was a very up-to-date choice of recently released films.

Somewhere over Germany menus were dolled out (full booklet menus ... in economy!) and the meal service started. I had a lovely prawn salad starter, with a Chinese pork and rice main, which was excellent. Wine was poured by the glass from proper bottles, I must say I prefer the mini bottles that BA gives you. Although top-ups were offered several times. Desert was served separately, and consisted of Minghella's ice cream (from the Isle of Wight).

SIA's economy seats seem to recline a bit further than BA's. This surprised me when the chap in front fully reclined after dinner and I could hardly see my screen! So I fully reclined in turn and was actually most comfortable! I donned my BA Club World eye shades that I had bought along (eye shades were not provided in the economy amenity pack) and fell asleep somewhere over Hungary. I managed to sleep for around five hours, until just past Delhi, and once I awoke, feeling remarkably fresh I hasten to add, I decided to try and stay awake, as the flight was due in to Singapore in the evening, so I wanted to feel a little tired so I would sleep properly on arrival. There were many in the cabin doing the same thing.

The next three or so hours were spent simply listening to music and TV programmes on the wonderful Krisworld. Then about 2 hours out of SIN, a snack was served. Firstly, they didn't call it breakfast, which is good as we were going to land at 7pm, but there was a bowl of muesli on the menu. What surprised me more was that there was a choice (again) of main course. I opted for the egg noodles with chicken, making two Chinese options on the flight! It was again delicious. So two plentiful, delicious meals in one flight .

We descended from cruising altitude to landing into Changi in about 20 mins, which was amazingly quick and very much appreciated. Changi once again never ceases to amaze on its efficiency, spaciousness and apparent emptiness. We could have been the only people there! Immigration was a breeze, bags were soon on the belt and we were off in a taxi on our way to the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel.

All in all, a very positive experience on my first time on SQ. Much better than BA, and I would find it hard to revert the next time I have occasion to travel to SE Asia or Australia again.