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Singapore's Up, in the Air

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Friday, Mar 5, 2010


 



I just flew in from there to here, a long trans-Pacific flight on Singapore Air. Making the time most passable was the favorable jet stream which reduced travel time by 2 hours; but so, too, did the individualized entertainment units on the back of the seat in front, which helped make life stream by quicker than usual. Rather than being at the mercy of a “one-message-fits-all” main screen offering, it was a treat to be able to select a movie to match my mood and interests. Thus, on Singapore I had a chance to sample Precious (too grim), 2012 (preposterous), Twilight New Moon (as if I’d really watch that twaddle), Fantastic Mr. Fox (animation not quite my thing), Whip It (not quite “Juno”, but surprisingly good), and Up in the Air (oddly riveting—even on a second viewing).


And the greater sense of control made me feel less subject—less an imprisoned body strapped into a chair, unable to regulate the conditionals surrounding my being. With choice came a greater sense of empowerment, a lessening of the normal sense of pain and suffering associated with air travel.


 



The overly attentive crew also helped make the time pass (although I won’t dwell on the subject status of the stews—the fact that SA management has made a concerted effort to present its female staff as in-flight models; their form-fitting costumes showing enough cleavage and leg, and topped with ample make-up, to prompt travelers to wonder whether they haven’t accidentally stumbled into a Victoria’s Secret photo shoot).


 



Leaving the T&A aside, though, effort is what I want to remark upon here. Having made this Trans-Pacific run for over two decades now, and having sampled Northwest, Delta, United, American, Air France, Korean, JAL, Continental, Thai, and Garuda, among others, it is notable to note the ascendancy of Singapore Air, as measured in the effort department. From attentiveness, to food quality, to (copious!) availability of spirits, to professionalism, this is an airline that has become the new Korean Air. If the latter was once the Avis of airlines—trying harder to reach number one—then Singapore is the new Korean, the next Avis. They are doing it better, at about the same price, as their bigger, more established sister.


 



Which brings us to a couple of questions, if you’d care to weigh in . . .

  
First off, is there a carrier that, based on your past experience, you most prefer to fly?


 



Next, based on past experience, is there a carrier that you would never again wish to fly—and which you implore friends and family to avoid at all costs?


 



Finally, based on your experience, are there certain factors that most make a difference in selecting an airline? If so, what are they? Let’s say your top three . . .


As for me, in the past, this answer would almost surely have been Korean—possibly Lufthansa or KLM in Europe. But as of now, after this most recent trip, it is Singapore that is ascendant. For reasons other than the movie it showed on the seat consoles, Singapore is Up—Up, Up—in the Air.


 



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