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Singapore Airlines ditches ‘flight to nowhere’, will launch other on-ground initiatives

Lunchtime on A380s, tour of training facility, and home delivery of in-flight meals to be rolled out in October and November for Singapore customers. The big question is: how much will these experiences cost?

Singapore Airlines yesterday officially confirmed that it will not be launching sightseeing flight-to-nowhere, but instead focus on offering on-ground experiences in the upcoming months.

The three experiences will still leverage the use of its A380 aircraft, but in a different way. On top of that, SIA will also offer home delivery of its famed catering, as well as its training facility at Upper Changi.

Singapore Airlines scrapped flights to nowhere after huge media discussion

Singapore Airlines was rumoured to launch ‘flights to nowhere’ weeks earlier, following news of other airlines launching similar flights.

Qantas was the most recent to publicise its 7-hour sightseeing flight around Australia, with tickets snapped up ‘in minutes’. Even earlier in the year, EVA Air launched a flight to nowhere as well on its famed Hello Kitty aircraft for Father’s Day in Taiwan.

EVA Air Hello Kitty

Singapore Airlines has confirmed today that it will not pursue the “flight to nowhere”, much to the disappointment to many fans who have been anticipating it.

In the weeks leading up to yesterday’s announcement, there were much abuzz about the environmental impact of such flights, with protests by environmental groups locally as well as forum letters arguing for and against such flights.

Discover your Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines will be offering three experiences for customers in Singapore, namely: Restaurant A380 @Changi, Inside Singapore Airlines, and SIA@Home.

Restaurant A380 @Changi

Available on: 24 & 25 October 2020 (Sat & Sun)
Booking from: 12 October 2020 (Mon)

For two days only, you will be able to step onto a plane and have a meal, although the plane will not be moving anywhere.

This event will allow customers to have “an exclusive dining experience with SIA’s award-winning service inside the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft”.

For this experience, customers will enjoy a special menu, featuring international options as well as selected Peranakan dishes curated by Singaporean chef Shermay Lee. Customers will also get two alcoholic beverages and free flow non-alcoholic drinks with the meal.

Dining on an A380…. on the ground. (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

In addition, SIA will also be switching on its in-flight entertainment system KrisWorld, so you can do the rude thing by putting on your headphones and tune out of the world while you eat.

In-flight entertainment (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

Adding on to the experience, customers will also get to visit a heritage showcase of SIA’s uniforms through the years, as well as go on an aircraft tour (limited slots only).

Singapore Airlines has confirmed that it will be using the A380 with the latest cabin products for this experience, so customers will be able to see the latest business cabins and suites. However, that means that there will only be six exclusive suites used for the experience, which will be highly sought after.

Singapore Airlines A380 suite (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

How much will this likely to cost?

SIA’s A380 with the latest seat configuration can seat a maximum of 465 passengers across four cabins: 8 suites, 82 business, 44 premium economy and 343 economy class. Factoring in social distancing, it’s more likely that SIA will host only possibly a third of that number.

Given that in-flight meals usually cost a premium (a simple steak can cost up to S$50 to be loaded on the aircraft), the experience probably wouldn’t come too cheap. Also, given that alcohol is served on the ground, SIA will have to pay duty on all the booze that are served for this lunch as well.

There are also some other costs associated with hosting this event, including the operational costs of keeping the aircraft running while on tarmac, manpower costs, security costs (you will need to be escorted to the aircraft presumably) and of course, the souvenirs.

Our guess for the Restaurant A380 @Changi pricing will be as such:

[UPDATE: Singapore Airlines have announced their prices for the activities.]

  • First Class: $380 per head
  • Business Class: $200 per head
  • Premium Economy: $100 per head
  • Economy: $68 per head

Inside Singapore Airlines

Available on: 21, 22, 28 & 29 November 2020 (Sat & Sun)
Booking from: 1 November 2020 (Mon)

This is essentially a back-of-house tour at the SIA Training Centre located off New Upper Changi Road. The tour will include:

  • A visit to the heritage gallery
  • A look into the training area for cabin crew and pilots
  • Sustainability showcase
  • Craft activities such as balloon sculpting and batik rose-making
A look into Singapore Airlines’ training centre (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

There are also some additional activities that comes with a fee, including a hand at the flight simulator. The activity descriptions provided by SIA are as follow:

  • Satisfy your in-flight cuisine cravings: Choose from a selection of our popular in-flight meals, including our all-time favourite satay, at any time during their visit. Visitors may earn miles for these in-flight meals too, when they use KrisPay.
  • Indulge in retail therapy: Visitors can get great deals on KrisShop merchandise, including airline exclusive products. Visitors can download the KrisPay app for contactless payment, and to earn KrisPay miles with their purchases.
  • Flight simulator experience: For aviation enthusiasts, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to experience the training that goes behind being a pilot. Become the pilot in command and go from take-off to landing in the very same flight simulator our pilots use for training. Very limited slots will be available on each day.
  • Junior cabin crew experience: Little ones can turn into junior cabin crew for a day in this memorable experience, where they can get a chance to dress up and take home their very own SIA sarong kebaya uniform, learn customer service skills, and role-play in a mock-up of our A380 Business Class cabin.
  • Wine appreciation: Learn about the SIA wine sourcing approach and enjoy four wines – including labels from the largest Burgundy cellar in the skies – accompanied with cheese. Designed for wine enthusiasts and conducted by our air sommeliers.
  • Grooming workshop: Those who have always admired the impeccable grooming of our cabin crew can learn how to achieve the Singapore Girl look in this workshop conducted by our cabin crew trainers. Participants will be guided through a demonstration on makeup application and the secret behind the perfect Singapore Girl chignon. Customers will also bring home their own makeup palette at the end of the session.
Try your hand at the SIA flight simulator (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)
Grooming workshop (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

How much will this likely to cost?

SIA Training Centre can obviously host a lot more people than the Restaurant A380 @Changi initiative, so I will imagine that pricing will be a lot friendlier.

As reference, Changi Airport has a 2.5-hour “Best of Changi Airport” tour conducted by Tour East, and is retailing on Klook for $22.

Flight simulator experiences are actually available in Singapore commercially, albeit at a rather steep price. Flight Experience offers the use of its Boeing 737 simulator from $175 for 30 minutes, moving up to $395 for 90 minutes.

Kidzania (while it was still operating) used to charge $58 per child, so one can assume that SIA will make a premium out of this experience for the kids. After all, parents are known to be willing to spend quite a bit on their little ones. Qantas has also not too long ago sold children sized cabin crew uniforms, retailing at about A$70 per set.

Our guess for the Inside Singapore Airlines pricing will be as such:

[UPDATE: Singapore Airlines have announced their prices for the activities.]

  • Visit: $30 per adult, $15 per child
  • Flight Simulator experience: $200-$250 (for 30 minutes)
  • Junior Cabin Crew experience: $100-$120 per child, including sarong kabaya
  • Wine appreciation session: $30-$40 per person
  • Grooming workshop: $120-$150, including makeup palette

SIA@Home

Booking from: 5 October 2020 (Mon)

The last option probably requires the least effort on your part, simply because all you need to do is to book online and everything will be sent to your home.

SIA@Home is essentially a home food delivery service, except this time you will be feasting on SIA’s in-flight business and first class fare, along with wines and if you wish, on SIA’s dinnerware and glassware.

SIA@Home (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

There will be a choice of 10 options to choose from, deisnged by SIA’s international culinary panel chefs and inspired from four destinations: Australia, Japan, France and India. Meals will also be paired with a choice of wine or champagne that has been selected by its wine panel experts.

Sample SIA@Home menu: New Delhi (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)
Sample SIA@Home menu: Tokyo (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

SIA will be offering the following bundles, all of which will include amenity kits:

PackageInclusions
Wine and Dine– First Class or Business Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– Wine options: One bottle of Burgundy red or white wine (for first class), One bottle of French wine or brut champagne (for business class)
– Two amenity kits
Champagne and Dine– First Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon champagne
– Two Lalique amenity kits
Wine, Dine and Tableware– First Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of Burgundy red or white wine
– Two Lalique amenity kits
– One 22-piece tableware set (Wedgwood dining ware and Lalique crystal ware)
All-Inclusive First Class Experience– First Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of Burgundy red or white wine
– One bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon champagne
– Two Lalique amenity kits
– Two sleeper suits
– One 22-piece tableware set (Wedgwood dining ware and Lalique crystal ware)
All-Inclusive Business Class Experience– Business Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of French wine or brut champagne
– One 22-piece tableware set (Narumi dining ware)
– Two Penhaligon’s amenity kits
First Class Signatures– Two servings of signature First Class Oscietra caviar
– Two servings of satay
– One bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon champagne
– Two Lalique amenity kits
Lalique amenity kits (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)
Singapore Airlines first class dinnerware (photo credit: Singapore Airlines)

Once purchased, Singapore Airlines will send its ‘cabin crew concierge’ to contact you for the meal and wine selection, as well as delivery dates.

SIA has also put together a digital guide to assemble the meal, as well as provide an interactive “360 degrees aircraft cabin videos” and “specially curated playlist” while you enjoy your meal.

If you are feeling fancy, there’s also the option of ‘Book-the-chef’ where you can hire an exclusive chef experience to reheat, plate and serve your meal, although I’m pretty sure if you have any cabin crew friends who has galley experience, he or she might be able to able to do the job.

How much will this cost?

Now this is a tricky one.

In-flight meals are typically expensive compared to other forms of catering, not because of the ingredients, but because of the technology and process of preparing it long ahead of time, while ensuring that its safe and good for consumption in-flight. In addition, there’s wastage to account for.

An economy class meal can cost anything between $15 to $20 for the airline, while all components of a business class meal service can hit north of $100.

However, for a home delivery model, the cost will come down significantly, and that’s if SIA worked out a special arrangement with its ground handler.

For wines and champagne, the selection will not be cheap. A 2008 Dom Perignon retails above $200 in Singapore, so you can imagine this will be the heavy component of the bundle.

As for amenity kits and dining ware, airlines typically purchase them in bulk at a good rate, so the cost to the airline is nominal. Case in point: when SIA was doing a staff sale for some of its service wares and pyjamas, large business class plates were going at S$2 a piece, while the PJs were going for $218 for a box of 10 sets. Having said that, the retail value of these item will be significantly higher, with a set of Wedgwood dinnerware typically going for upwards of $100.

Our guess for the SIA@Home pricing will be as such:

[UPDATE: Singapore Airlines have announced their prices for the activities.]

PackageInclusionsPrice (For two people)
Wine and Dine– First Class or Business Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– Wine options: One bottle of Burgundy red or white wine (for first class), One bottle of French wine or brut champagne (for business class)
– Two amenity kits
First Class: $280
$498
Business class: $160
$288
Champagne and Dine– First Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon champagne
– Two Lalique amenity kits
$400
$598
Wine, Dine and Tableware– First Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of Burgundy red or white wine
– Two Lalique amenity kits
– One 22-piece tableware set (Wedgwood dining ware and Lalique crystal ware)
$480
$638
All-Inclusive First Class Experience– First Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of Burgundy red or white wine
– One bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon champagne
– Two Lalique amenity kits
– Two sleeper suits
– One 22-piece tableware set (Wedgwood dining ware and Lalique crystal ware)
$680
$888
All-Inclusive Business Class Experience– Business Class meal for two based on your choice of menu
– One bottle of French wine or brut champagne
– One 22-piece tableware set (Narumi dining ware)
– Two Penhaligon’s amenity kits
$360
$448
First Class Signatures– Two servings of signature First Class Oscietra caviar
– Two servings of satay
– One bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon champagne
– Two Lalique amenity kits
$400
$498

Final thoughts

These are exciting times, isn’t it? It’s rather refreshing to hear that SIA is indeed listening to the conversations both on- and offline, and offering alternatives.

While the abortion of flights-to-nowhere were indeed a killjoy to many avgeeks who can’t wait to take to the skies again, the plethora of activities the carrier has offered in lieu of that is pretty significant.

Most of us would have been grounded for more than a year, and I can imagine that the very limited seats – maybe up to 600 tickets for the two-day Restaurant A380 @Changi event – will be snapped up in minutes. SIA has said that they will review after the events and decide if they want to add more dates after that.

We are personally more interested to find out how much will these experiences cost, and how fast they sell. When Qantas put its Boeing 747 fully stocked carts out on sale, all 1,000 carts were sold in 2 hours – a pretty hefty feat. Given SIA’s cult-like following, I would imagine almost the same.

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