Review: Quick Singapore Layover & Singapore Airlines A330 Business Class to Male, Maldives

Nov 26, 2013

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This is the first post of in the series from my recent “Around the World” trip to the Maldives, India and Dubai. Follow along to read my reviews on several different aspects of my trip. Other posts in this series include: Hotel Review: Maldives Airport Hulhule Island Hotel

On my trip down to the Maldives earlier this month, I had a bit of a long itinerary to get there. I had redeemed 60,000 United miles and $24.20 to fly EVA Royal Laurel business class from JFK to Taipei and had a short layover there before taking another 4.5-hour flight on EVA to Singapore (also on the 777-300ER, though a regional one equipped with angled lie-flat seats).

My friend and I had an 8.5-hour layover (we arrived at noon and flew out at 8:30pm) before continuing on another Singapore flight to Male, and though the airport is beautiful, we decided to day trip into the city instead and go see the sights and visit a hawker center for a quick lunch.

Checking out the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands - landmarks old and new.
Checking out the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands – landmarks old and new.

I went to Singapore for the first time last year and really liked it – it’s so clean and orderly, easy to get around, and has great food, so spending a day out and about sounded like a good idea to beat jet lag and reenergize before the final flight to Male.

From the airport, a 24-hour shuttle service goes into the city center for a fare of $9 SGD ($7) for adults and $6 SGD for children. A public bus service also goes to the city and tickets cost $2 for the hour-long journey. However, taxis into Singapore cost $18-38 SGD ($14-29) depending on where you’re going and take approximately 30 minutes, so that’s what we chose, and I ended up paying about $25, which was worth it to me for the ease and speed of it.

We were starving (after all, I’d missed one of my meals on the EVA flight!), so our first stop was the hawker center, where  I made a quick Instagram video of all the delicious wares being purveyed and what we enjoyed:

I love these hawker centers because the food is like the best possible street food, but they’re sparklingly clean and hygienic so you don’t have to worry about food poisoning. Last time I was here I had a delicious soup with fish balls, but this time it was chicken and rice for me, and it didn’t disappoint.

We stood in line at the hawker stall with the biggest line.
We stood in line at the hawker stall with the biggest line.

One good strategy for getting great food is choosing a stall with a long line – all those people can’t be wrong – and the food was worth the wait!

Our appetites sated, it was time to do a few fun touristy things in the city for the few hours we had. Our first stop was the see the iconic Merlion and scope out the Marina Bay Sands hotel from across the harbor. We couldn’t resist taking “the” touristy photo to get in Singapore…

Singapore MerlionThough I think it looks like the Merlion is a cap on my head – the joys of being 6’7.

It was about 90 degrees out, so with just a little more time to kill, we headed out to Orchard Road to browse the megamalls and enjoy the air conditioning before heading back to the airport.

Because we were flying business class, we were given access to Singapore’s SilverKris Lounge at Changi Airport (there’s one location in Terminal 2 and one in Terminal 3).

The main living room area of the Krisflyer lounge.
The main living room area of the Krisflyer lounge.

The lounge was pretty nice, as you’d expect, with all the usual amenities like free WiFi, a buffet spread and bar with free drinks, shower suites, office spaces, meeting rooms, etc., and we pretty much had it to ourselves.

The buffet spread was actually pretty extensive and since we had eaten several hours earlier, we grazed for a while and had a little snack of dumplings and noodles.

SIN Lounge lots of hot food
The hot food buffet was pretty large.

And a glass of ice-cold Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc that hit the spot.

SIN Lounge LIbations

But by that time, my friend and I were a bit too bleary to really take advantage of all the lounge amenities – and this was the point at which I started to think that maybe I’d built in too much transit time in my itinerary – as you’ll see from this YouTube video we made:

 Luckily, we didn’t have too much longer to go before it was time to board the flight, and when the lounge attendant made an announcement that our flight was boarding, we high-tailed it out of there back into the airport and to our gate.

Changi is beautiful, but I was ready to go!
Changi is beautiful, but I was ready to go!

The seating configuration is 2 x 2 x 2, and my friend and I had secured two seats together along the left side of the plane so at least we could sit together and doze off on the 4-hour flight (we got in around 10pm local time). There are 30 seats altogether in a single cabin of 5 rows.

Our seats aboard the A330.
Our seats aboard the A330.

I really like Singapore Airlines and had a great experience flying them from Newark to Singapore last year, but their regional business class wasn’t that impressive. The large beige-leather seats were comfortable, don’t get me wrong, but they’re just your average angled lie-flats in a fixed shell with 60 inches in pitch and 24 inches wide that recline to 172 degrees, so though I was able to relax and sleep most of the flight, I wouldn’t call it amazing.

The seat was comfortable but not amazing.
The seat was comfortable but not amazing.

The seat did have an AC power adapter so I could charge my computer, and one of Singapore’s innovations is iPod and iPhone jacks in the seats so you can actually play your own music and movies on the entertainment system.

You could also use Singapore’s “Book the Cook” service and choose from over 60 dishes created by the airline’s council of chefs – you just have to book at least 24 hours in advance – but we didn’t take advantage of that, or the meal service since we just wanted to sleep.

Deplaning in Male, Maldives
Deplaning in Male, Maldives

All in all the flight was pleasant but not terribly remarkable. However, considering that it was part of my 60,000-mile award that had already included EVA Royal Laurel class all the way from New York, the connection to Singapore and then this 4-hour flight in Singapore business class, I’d still consider it a great redemption, and would definitely fly Singapore’s regional business class again.

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