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Singapore Airlines B777 - 300ER
Melbourne to Singapore
First Class, seat 1F
8 hours, 20 minutes
There are 35 flights a week from Melbourne to Singapore.
There are only four first class seats on the A777, in a configuration of 1-2-1. With a pitch of 67 inches (160 centimetres) and width of 35 inches (89cm), this feels more like a two-seater leather chaise lounge. Panels run along the window side, with compartments for storing magazines, phones or other electronics, and three charging ports. To the left, a TV remote (which you'll need, as the telly is miles away) and a second set of reading lights. A monstrous, 24-inch (61cm) television takes up a good portion of your compartment's frontage, along with an HDMI and universal plug, another large storage compartment and make-up mirror. A wide compartment underneath the television is where your 82-inch (208cm) lie-flat bed – and legs – extend, and underneath this, a compartment for carry-on luggage, which you'll need to use as there are no overhead bins.
Move your entire family over with a 50-kilogram luggage allowance, and if you're really stretched with that, KrisFlyer and Star Alliance gold members get an extra 20 kilograms on top of that. Plus you can take two piece of cabin luggage up to seven kilograms each.
I don't sleep on this daytime flight as I'm too excited trying everything available to first-class passengers, right from the first question of "Krug or Dom Perignon?" (to which the answer is always yes). The seat is wide, with plenty of space to stretch out your legs – my feet just reach the leg rest. Time is best spent lounging against the cushion on the left watching your telly, or against the large armrest on the right while gazing out one of your two windows, pondering which champagne choice you should make next.
The first class amenities kit from luxury French brand Lalique consists of a scented candle, lip balm, soap and body lotion, which actually smells like a million bucks (as well as probably costing similar) with the carefully thought-through addition of a zip-lock bag. Plus you also receive the luxury of all airline luxuries, a pair of jet-black Lalique pyjamas, which are comfortable and even a wee bit stylish.
The entertainment offering is huge but no different to that in business, however here you're sitting a respectable distance away from the screen, with Bang & Olufsen noise-cancelling headphones. A tray of newspapers and (pleasingly, some trashy) magazines is also wheeled around before take-off.
There are two flight attendants and three passengers in first today, and the other two passengers spend most of the flight asleep. So I'm it. Between meals the attendants are topping up my champagne or mixing me cocktails. They've seen my itinerary and make suggestions on how to best use my time in Changi. The bathroom is mopped out with alarming regularity. Both diligently check on my wellbeing and beverage status without being overtly intrusive. And I never have to buzz for anything.
There's a distinction between business and first when it comes to food. Singapore Airlines has a number of chefs who serve across different routes, and from Australia, it's Sydney chef Matt Moran. Moran offers recommendations at the front of the menu, and my flight attendant suggests skipping the soup entree and eating two appetisers instead. Sage advice considering one offering is caviar (recommended with a side of vodka), the other lobster; neither of which is on offer in business.
My main course is an upmarket Hainanese chicken rice, with perfectly seasoned greens, fragrant rice and a pungent onion sauce. The dessert – pistachio dacquoise with orange mascarpone cream – is incredible. There's a cheese tray and chocolate, high-end teas and decent coffee (like the Dom and Krug, available only in first). You can match all meals with Henschke reds from South Australia or German whites, which Singapore Airlines' food and wine team travels around the world to select. And if nothing on the menu appeals, you can jump online and "Book the Cook" – a unique service that allows you to choose off-menu items online before you fly. Take me back.
Two More Things
Singapore Airlines has a small dedicated first class lounge in Melbourne Airport, which has a small dining area with an a la carte menu. Included is a special SIA laksa, one of the greatest versions of the dish I have sampled and a must-have if you get the chance to visit. The first class lounge – separate to business – in Changi is a much more spacious affair that was nearly empty on both my visits. Centred around an impressive bar, there's also a dining area with a large selection of Chinese, Malay and Indian food, and made-to-order noodles and omelettes, depending on the time of day (sadly, no laksa). Transitting passengers will appreciate the bathrooms with huge showers.
During the flight, and something I have not experienced since my first overseas trip 20 years ago, the plane made a diversion to fly over Uluru. The attendants apologetically interrupted my second-first course so I could see it from the other side of the plane. There has to be very special conditions for this to happen (such as wind and weather; it can interfere with other routes; it can delay the flight) so the pilot has to get special permission to deviate from the course, plus it also takes up extra fuel.
Making business class feel like economy, this is the flight experience of a lifetime. Unfortunately, there's no going back.
Our rating out of five
Five (I'd give it six stars if I could)
Kylie McLaughlin was a guest of the airline.