In an effort to invite Singaporeans to re-discover Singapore Airlines during this current pandemic, the premier airline has created a suite of experiences which includes a first-ever dining experience aboard a stationary aircraft aptly known as Restaurant A380 @ Changi.
Happening over two weekends from 24 October to 1 November, Singapore Airlines will be hosting lunch or dinner in two of their A380 double-decker superjumbos at Changi Airport. Despite it already being fully booked, I was lucky enough to get a Business Class seat as part of their dinner experience on 24 October. Here’s how it went.
Upon arrival, all diners were required to undergo temperature taking and check-in with SafeEntry in line with COVID measures, as well as the typical airport security check before entering the gate holding area.
After clearing the security check, I was permitted entry to take part in a variety of pre-dining activities to help occupy the time until it was time for dinner. These activities included a digital caricature session, a batik rose making craft activity and a heritage showcase which I really enjoyed, featuring current SIA cabin crew in uniforms that have since evolved from the early years of 1957 to the present day.
I arrived at around 5pm and most of the activities were already underway, including the heritage showcase which seemed to happen at an interval to accommodate photo-taking. Throughout the roughly two-hour wait, before dinner commenced at 7pm, I noticed other diners coming in at their own time with some even arriving just before boarding.
EXCLUSIVE A380 AIRCRAFT TOUR
In addition to the dining experience, the aircraft tour was probably one of the other highlights for me. Being a frequent Economy class flyer, it was a nice opportunity to see beyond the confines of the familiar Economy Cabin and into the more luxurious (and pricier) cabins that I have only ever heard of.
The exclusive aircraft tour is available as an additional opt-in option for diners. Due to social distancing measures, only limited spots are available for the tour and is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The tour was conducted in small groups of five starting in the upper deck of the aircraft where the Suites and Business Class were located before ending on the lower deck, where the Economy and Premium Economy cabins were located.
Photo opportunities were available in each cabin, including the cockpit, where the pilots will take the photo for you to ensure the airlines’ safety and security is in place. This is the first time a cockpit tour is conducted since they were stopped after 911.
Here’s a closer look at the Suites and Business Class cabins.
DINING ABOARD THE A380
Settling in my comfy Business Class seat, dinner began promptly with a quick announcement from the cabin crew that almost made me feel like I was up in the air. The Business Class menu featured a six-course meal with SIA’s signature satay for a starter, alongside your choice of appetiser, main course and dessert, followed with SIA’s cheese platter and fruit platter.
Instead of picking the International Selections that are usually served on the Business Class, I opted for acclaimed chef Shermay Lee’s specially designed Peranakan menu for this experience.
The menu featured Chicken, Prawn, and Jellyfish Salad with Coleslaw Dressing (for the appetiser), Nonya Grandma’s Nasi Lemak (for the main course), and Nostalgic Local Gula Melaka Ice Cream Sandwich (for dessert).
The dinner set-up for Business Class is unlike those in Economy. My dinner table was not only bigger than the usual Economy tables but it was set with a table cloth, a set of salt and pepper shakers, and cutlery. My food even came served on plates alongside an option to enjoy two alcoholic beverages such as their selection of champagne, wines, and the Singapore Sling, or a free flow of non-alcoholic drinks which included their fruity mocktail, the Citrus Delight.
Though some would argue that there is nothing special about airplane food, I actually found the meal to be pretty appetising and pleasant. While I don’t usually fancy seafood, I particularly enjoyed the flavourful Nonya Grandma’s Nasi Lemak which felt a bit like a deconstructed Nasi Lemak served with fish in a tangy tamarind-numeric gravy, rich sambal prawns, fried ikan bilis, cucumber pickles, and keropok.
Compared to the International Selections’ cheesecake dessert, I felt that the dessert under Shermay Lee’s menu was not only lacklustre in presentation but a little underwhelming. While the gula melaka ice cream definitely scored in the taste department, the portion didn’t feel worthy enough to be included as a whole course in the $321 Business Class menu.
The meal duration lasts about three hours and it really is up to you how you want to spend that time, especially when the dishes are served based on how fast you ate. I am a naturally fast eater so I was done with my meal in about less than two hours and I used the remainder of my time to catch up on episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with the full access to KrisWorld.
WAS THE EXPERIENCE WORTH $321?
For me, I did feel like perhaps an additional hour after my meal to fully enjoy the Business Class amenities would have added more worth to the experience, but for a fraction of the cost of an actual Business Class ticket, it is actually a pretty good bargain, especially for those of us who are frequent Economy flyers wanting to experience a few hours of luxury with ample amount of legroom and comfort.
Although we were not able to take home souvenirs from the event such as a printed menu of the day’s meal, every participant of the event was able to take home a goodie bag filled with limited edition SIA souvenirs. Both Suites Class and Business Class diners were also given an extra amenities kit as part of their goodie bag. I was given the soon-to-be-launched Penhaligon’s amenity kit for Business Class which features a lip balm, hand lotion, facial mist and perfume oil in a leather green pouch.
Though it may not be anything like actually flying out of the country, Restaurant A380 @ Changi provides a good and rather memorable experience for those who are looking to fill a bit of that travel void during this uncertain time.
Restaurant A380 @ Changi is priced from $53.50 for Economy to $642 for Suites. All seats are currently fully booked but a waiting list is available for 31 October and 1 November. For more information, click here.