Flight SQ212. Sydney to Singapore
Airbus A350-900, one of 22 in the Singapore Airlines fleet.
KrisFlyer, Star Alliance
Business class, seat 14K.
Seven hours and 50 minutes, non-stop.
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This daytime service operates daily from Sydney to Singapore. There are currently 17 flights per week between Sydney and Singapore in total.
This flight, taken well before the emergence of the latest COVID-19 variant, was the inaugural service from Australia of Singapore’s new Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) program which allows approved and fully-vaccinated Australians to travel to the island city state quarantine-free. Only fully-vaccinated passengers are permitted onboard, with masks mandatory at all times, except for eating and drinking, on the plane and within the airport terminals. As it stands, applications to access the VTL must be made seven days before departure with a documented negative COVID-19 test, required within 72 hours of your flight, taken in Australia from a recognised pathology laboratory, along with an International Vaccination Certificate. Print out all of your documents and pop them in a folder for easy access and presentation. Expect sudden changes to travel rules and requirements.
Singapore Airlines passengers are required to check-in three hours before their flight’s departure time due to the pandemic and the additional time required to scrutinise the requisite and voluminous documentation. Those days of arriving at the airport as late as possible are over and be sure to check on the latest requirements right up to the day of your departure.
There are 40 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, 28 inches (71 centimetres) wide with 44 inches (112 centimetres) of pitch. This is a specially-configured seat for Singapore Airlines’ medium haul or regional services. The seat has a wraparound shell that affords a degree of privacy, directly reclines into a comfortable flatbed, extending to just under two metres. Even though the seat is tailored for shorter routes, expect most of the features and comforts of a business class seat like an adjustable armrest, easily accessible outlets for connecting or charging devices and a pop-out and fold-out table that’s perfectly-sized and stable for dining and working.
The checked baggage allowance for business class is a generous 40 kilograms. KrisFlyer Elite Gold/Star Alliance Gold members are entitled to an additional 20 kilograms of checked baggage. The business class cabin baggage allowance is two pieces of up to seven kilograms each.
Thanks to the excellent, and seemingly much improved inflight Wi-Fi reception aboard this Airbus A350-900, I spend much of the flight working on my laptop with the odd nap between time (don’t tell my boss). But if you want to spend the flight being entertained you are in luck, with this business class seat featuring a 23 centimetre high-definition touchscreen streaming myKrisWorld content. KrisFlyer members can sign in and receive personalised recommendations and business class passengers enjoy access to additional content.
Despite its absence, or at least our absence from it, this carrier’s famed high standards haven’t declined as this is one smooth and serene daytime flight from beginning to end thanks to the cabin crew and, of course, the exceptionally comfortable business class seat.
After arriving at Sydney International Airport at 6 am, three hours before departure, breakfast, and particularly coffee, beckoned at the terminal before boarding. This means I skip the generous breakfast onboard, believing that another small meal will be offered towards the end of the flight. This doesn’t materialise possibly due to the limitations imposed by COVID, but there are snacks and drinks available for the famished. In-flight meals can be ordered in advance online through Singapore Airlines “Book the cook” service. Meal options include the “Popular Local Fare” dishes inspired by Singapore’s beloved hawker stand cooks, some of whom have won Michelin Guide recognition. Watch for some exciting forthcoming menu enhancements, however the onboard espresso coffee offering needs attention or more effort and focus.
Passengers can obtain a COVID-19 PCR test, with a result within 90 minutes before departure, at the Histopath testing centre open 6am-9.30pm and located directly outside the departures level of Sydney International Airport. It costs $79 and there is also a branch at Melbourne International Airport. If you feel like a stress-reducing splurge, book a night at the Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel; it’s located next to the terminal building which means you can secure your test in the afternoon before you fly with a chance to relax at the hotel and, importantly, get an early night.
Nothing could be more reassuring in this uncertain world than to be flying again with the venerable Singapore Airlines. This inaugural flight for the opening of the VTL does nothing but confirm, if not enhance, its formidable reputation.
See also: Is it worth the hassle? On board the first travel-bubble flight to Singapore
See also: Twenty things that will surprise first-time visitors to Singapore
Anthony Dennis flew courtesy of Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) and Marina Bay Sands (marinabaysands.com)