Fascinating India: SQ First Class on the 773 to Delhi

SQ406 Singapore Changi SIN – Delhi Indira Gandhi DEL
STD-STA: 1725-2040
Actual: 1805-2054
Boeing 777-300 9V-SYI
Gate F42 Seat 1F

Since my flight was departing from Terminal 2, I had to leave the lounge earlier and proceed to the other terminal by skytrain. Not to mention security screening is conducted at the gates itself. The security process was interesting as one of the agents enquired about the cost for me to book the First class flights and I just answered that it was a miles redemption which was the fact. Upon entering the gates, boarding was just about to start for the elderly but as I was close to the door, and the agent spotted the First class boarding stub, he invited me to board anyway. That was great customer handling by airports. Why does airport guard agents not use the same principle to cater to travellers?

Cabin upon Boarding
First class cabin upon boarding

The aircraft I boarded was one of the several 777-300 with a refitted First Class seat that serves some premier Asian destinations like Beijing, Sydney, Melbourne and Delhi and sometimes does head out to Jakarta as well. As many would have known, Singapore Airlines is updating to new First class seats for its 777-300ER so the cabin I entered would probably be obsolete soon. However it was still in good condition and has a nice warm earthy tone to the whole cabin. The seat itself was one of the widest I have been in, probably comparable to that of Cathay Pacific First Class.

Seat 1K
Seat 1K
Looking left from Seat 1K
Looking left from seat 1K

Beside the TV screen there was also a vanity mirror which was kind of a neat touch as there was also some lights above the mirrors that can be controlled from the seat. While the seat was excellent and comfortable, the cabin was kind of weird since it left a lot of space that was not utilized in the front and back of the 2 rows of First class. It felt like that with that space, SIA could have added an additional row of First class!

First Class on the 777-300
First class cabin on the 777-300

The service started as usual with hot towels, and the crew coming around with a selection of magazines and newspapers. I requested for a copy of ‘Mens Health’ and grabbed a copy of ‘Businessweek’. For the welcome drink, I chose Dom instead of Krug but that was a bad choice as I think I very much prefer Krug. What made the difference for this flight was the how pro-active the crew were at making me feel comfortable as I went around the cabin taking photos, the steward offered to take one photo for me and even asked if it was my first time onboard First class on SIA. This created a relaxing ambience for the flight.

2004 Dom Pérignon Champagne for Welcome Drink
2004 Dom Pérignon champagne for welcome drink

Cabin occupancy was 6 out of 8 seats and that left for the pair of middle seats in the front empty. As we pushed back on time, there was some wait for the runway and I got to see the some interesting new planes including a Lufthansa MD-11 freighter and a Scoot 777-200ER. During this time, the inflight service manager also came over to greet the First Class passengers and I also got a immigration and customs form from a crew member.

Lufthansa MD-11 Freighter
Lufthansa MD-11 freighter
Scoot 777-200ER
Scoot 777-200ER

The delay in getting clearance for take-off meant it was past 6pm when we took off. During the delay, the cabin crew came around, passed out the menus and asked for our pre-dinner beverage and I asked for iced milo which is probably one of my favourite drinks onboard Singapore Airlines. The clouds were converging into Singapore but this created a nice view once we were at the top. Once the seat belt sign came out, the crew came around once more with socks, eye-mask and slippers for this evening flight. This was the low point of Singapore Airlines I believe as Thai Airways even has the decency to offer a Rimowa amenity kit with L’Occitane amenities for their short 6 hour flight to Tokyo. I think SIA can do a lot better in this respect.

Take-off from Changi Airport
Take-off from Changi airport
Amenity Kit on the Day Flight
Amenity kit on the day flight

After that the crew member took meal orders and for this flight, the menu read as follows:

Chef's Selection Page

Dinner Menu to Delhi

Dessert Selection

The menu includes an Indian celebrity chef’s specialty as well as the description of the dishes in Indian. Meanwhile beverages including wines are listed in a different menu:

Champagne and White Wine List

Red Wine List

Sweet Wine Selection

Cocktails and Aperitifs

Special Cocktails Selection

Spirits and Beers Menu

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

Coffee Selections

Tea Choices

Singapore Airlines has what is perhaps the most comprehensive drinks list ever and I thought they were excellent for such a short flight though I never did manage to try if they ever stock up on any of the choices they put in the list. I did have to say the iced milo provided before dinner was a bit bland and feels like they did not add enough Milo powder.

For dinner, I had pre-ordered the Chinese style cod and it was served with seasonal oriental vegetables, Chinese black mushrooms and egg fried rice. This dish was designed by Singapore Airlines International culinary panel chef Zhu Jun. But before the main meal itself, the crew came around with satays and I do love Singapore Airlines’ satay service. I asked for an all-chicken satay selection as I prefer them to the lamb satay. And I did not forget to ask for extra peanut sauce! The satay was presented with a pack of refreshing tissue.

Satay as Pre-dinner Snack
Satay as pre-dinner snack

I started the inflight entertainment system while enjoying my satay and noted that the interface was an older version that is also found in the Business class cabin of the 777-200s that serve regional Asian routes. This meant a much more cumbersome interface but it does have a better screen than the Business class seat. I started watching some TV series like How I Met Your Mother and House of Lies while enjoying my meal.

Next up in the meal was the king crab appetizer which was tasty and refreshing due to the pineapple slices. Though I think the tartness of the pineapple was far too strong for the sweet taste of the crab to register and makes it a bit of a waste of king crab legs.

Marinated Alaskan King Crab
Marinated alaskan king crab

In between the appetizer and the soup, the crew came around with a bread basket and I got the garlic bread as well as one of the crispy pepper roti.

Garlic Bread and Crispy Roti
Garlic bread and crispy roti

For the soup, I went with the chicken consomme which I enjoyed since it was light and tasty. The flavour in the soup was just nice and sets the balance between the appetizer and the main course.

Chicken Consomme with Vegetables
Chicken consomme with vegetables

The next course was a salad of baby spinach, arugula and frissee, with semi-dried cranberry, pecan nuts and shaved parmesan, that was served with balsamic and virgin olive oil and honey mustard lime dressing.

Salad Course
Salad course

It is probably the best salad I had on a plane since the vegetables were fresh and crunchy while the crew was light on the dressing just the way I like it so that I could taste the nuts and berries included in the salad. It has a very nice overall texture and would be something I would enjoy in a gourmet restaurant!

Chinese Style Cod with Fried Rice
Chinese style cod with fried rice

For the main course, the cod was not very well presented at all with a lot of rice. Fortunately the cod was well cooked and marinated. In addition the fish was very fresh and cooked just right which is something not easy to do for a thick piece of cod. While this dish did not look good, I did enjoy the main course.

Warm Chocolate-Cashew Brownie
Warm chocolate-cashew brownie with coffee ice cream

Finally for the dessert, I picked the brownies and ice cream and I was so happy with this choice that I asked for an extra serving of ice cream since I really love coffee ice cream, especially the ones by Haagen-Dazs! During the meal I also ordered mango lassi for my drinks in addition to mineral water both of which were refilled constantly. At the end of the meal, the crew also handed a bottle of Evian water to every passenger in First class cabin.

Center Row Seats
Center row seats

Feeling full after the meal, I made my way to the lavatory to freshen up and one of the crew came by to ask if he can change the seat to a bed. Once I was out from the lavatory, the seat has been converted to a plush bed with comforters and blankets. Turndown service is another of those things much appreciated in First class! During this time, I also took the opportunity to ask for postcards and playing cards and the crew came back with some goodies for me as a memento presented in a SIA branded bag. This is what I call attention to detail and the crew for this flight did not disappoint!

Bed after Turndown Service
Bed after turndown service

I continued watching the rest of the House of Lies before catching nearly 2 hours of shut eye before the captain announced the start of our descent into New Delhi. The crew actually came by the cabin with more hot towels (which should be the third after providing one at the end of the meal service).

Inflight Moving Map
Inflight moving map after my short nap

The purser also came by to ask about the flight and ask for any suggestions for improvements and all these are signs that SIA does take into account passenger feedback. For the remainder of the flight I just relaxed as the plane landed without any incident into a slightly foggy winter night in Delhi.

A Last Look on SQ First
A last look on SQ First

Arriving into Delhi, I noticed a great clean airport that shares many similarities to Changi airport including having an efficient baggage claim. The immigration was also quick with a separate queue for First and Business class passengers so that made it fast. At the baggage claim, my luggage was the first to appear after being tagged with the First class priority labels. It was not a hassle clearing customs for me and there was stalls selling SIM card and currency exchanges after exiting into the arrival hall. The arrival terminal also has a dedicated radio taxi queue similar to Indonesia as I caught one for the 20 minutes drive to Hyatt Regency Delhi. It was a cool and crisp night with a little bit of fog as I would enjoy the nice winter weather in Delhi.

Watching House of Lies
Watching House of Lies on my bed in SQ First

I would have to say I was sufficiently pleased with this flight and the only way to make it better would probably be to add a nice amenity kit (something by Rimowa would be excellent) as a memento. For the short flight, I was pleased with the food offerings and impeccable service from the crew for a nearly full First class flight. From the moment I boarded I knew the crew serving this flight would be great by the way they interacted with the passengers and they do try to make this flight a memorable one for me! This once again proves Singapore Airlines is a great way to fly!

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