SQ has an Edge but VS Not Lagging Far Behind
My recent business trip to Washington DC, with a layover in London, had me travel by two airlines. From Singapore to London it was by Singapore Airlines, my favourite, and to Washington Dulles Airport from there by Virgin Atlantic.
Most flights from Singapore to Washington have two stops (Frankfurt and New York, for instance) but with the SQ-VS combination there is only one stop in London.
Collaboration: My booking was through Singapore Airlines but my meal preferences did not appear to have been passed over to the partner airline. I guess there is definite room for improving collaboration among airlines.
Overall, Singapore Airlines delivered a pleasant experience, living up to its high service standards. Virgin Atlantic exceeded my expectations and does not lag far behind.
While checking in online, I found that SIA was charging an extra US$75 for a preferred Economy class ticket. This appears to be a new phenomenon.
Mean Practice: Having paid close to S$4000 for a Singapore-Washington ticket I thought this was a mean practice. Aping what budget airlines do will only undermine the SIA. Virgin Atlantic also charges extra for seats with better legroom – possibly only three inches more.
With oil prices at a historic low, the profitability for airlines has improved. So these devious tactics expose their insatiable greed.
If SIA does not keep tabs on its service standards it will soon lose out to its competitors as Emirates and a few other airlines are winning acclaim from travellers. Complacence may bring its rating down.
Through the following table I have tried to capture how the two airlines stack up.
|Parameter||Singapore Airlines (SQ)||Virgin Atlantic (VS)||Notes|
|Aircraft from Singapore to London||Airbus A380-800||Lavatories too small and inconvenient (for long flights slightly bigger ones will be ideal)
But they did not face passenger seating, unlike in Virgin Atlantic.
|Aircraft from London to Washington||Airbus A330-300||Lavatories were facing passenger seats – ugly configuration|
|Aircraft from Washington to London||Airbus A330-300|
|Aircraft from London to Singapore||Boeing 777-300ER||I found this better than A380 – impressive business class, touchscreen monitor, etc.|
|Seating (Economy||Legroom in Economy can be better
The inconvenience aggravates when the passenger in front stays reclined all through the journey.
|SQ outsmarts VS in both legroom and width||I think the reclining facility must be done away with as that is mostly abused by passengers. Sitting erect is good enough – I mostly stay that way.
|Food||I was able to get my Indian vegetarian meal on way to London but not from London to Singapore.
· Boring peanuts
For a near 14-hour flight, more snack servings are needed
|Though options were limited they had multiple servings, including High Tea during the eight-hour flight from London to Washington.
· Tasty pretzels
|The airlines will have to come up with plans to clear food trays sooner than now.
Typically, it takes about an hour for the clearing.
But in one of the VS flights that was done in about 15 minutes.
|LCD Entertainment System Monitors||11-inch Touchscreen only for the return flight (777-300ER), not for the A380 flight, which also had a 11-inch screen but not touchscreen
a 110V AC power port and a USB port
|Smaller Touchscreen (possibly 9 inches) but in both flights
a 110V AC power port and a USB port
|The USB port on my SIA 777 flight from London to Singapore did not work.
|Video / Audio||Wide selection in multiple languages||Limited selection|
|Amenities||A good overnight pack with a pair of socks, toothbrush and paste but no ear plugs.
|A good pack with a pair of socks, toothbrush, paste, ear plugs, etc.
|Suggest putting a comb in the pack
SIA does have combs/razors in the toilets
|Timing||A little behind schedule||Landed ahead of schedule|
SQ will continue to be my preferred airline but I will not rule out VS.
G Joslin Vethakumar