Tanmoy Mitra experiences luxury in the skies as a business class guest of Singapore Airlines’ maiden Airbus A380 flight into India
It is at 30,000 feet above sea level that it strikes me — I am part of history. That I am looking at the most succulent marinated Alaskan king crab with mango citrus dressing (served on Givenchy-designed serviceware) and holding fine wine only makes the realisation sweeter. Being on the Singapore Airlines A380 carrier, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, is definitely a high (pun unintended).
The Airbus A380 is one sleek way to fly. PIC/AFP
On cloud nine
After a three-day trip to Singapore, I am at the swanky Terminal 3 of Changi International Airport much before the scheduled departure of our flight. In a matter of minutes, I clear baggage check-in and security check. Such are the perks of being a premium class flier, I chuckle.
Between choosing to amble around the glitzy airport and being at the SilverKris Lounge, I pick the latter. The lounge, I soon find out, is for the aircraft’s business class passengers and is comfortable, to say the least.
Even after spending a couple of hours at the lounge, I am reluctant to leave — a feeling I manage to suppress only because of a better experience that awaits me. The boarding area is abuzz — to mark the special occasion — and we, the passengers are introduced to the pilot and the first officer of the A380. After making the most of the photo-op, selfies being clicked all around, I find my anticipation peaking. This is it.
Travelling business class on the A380 means gourmet meals and the finest wines
Bigger and better
I sink into my large, comfortable seats, mentally comparing them to the economy class seats I have occupied all my years of flying. I am itching to press the array of buttons around my seat and check out all the possible positions I could recline in — and I do. One push and my seat is a comfortable bed. Another, and it readjusts itself into another position. The seats are designed in such a way that passengers can also relax and read, watch movies and dine in the most comfortable position.
As if waiting for me to end my antics, a crewmember comes over the minute I am done fiddling with the seat’s control panel. I am presented with welcome drinks of apple, tomato and fresh orange juice. And since special occasions call for a special something, a glass of champagne is served to each flier moments after the superjumbo takes off
In-flight entertainment aboard the Airbus A380 means an array of choices between films and interactive games for children and adults
As I slowly sip my champagne, a plate of satay arrives, with options of chicken and lamb for non-vegetarians. For company, I tune into KrisWorld, the in-flight entertainment system on board. I have important decisions to make — there are 100 movies on offer — including the latest Bollywood and Hollywood blockbusters — world cinema and more than 180 popular television programmes. There are interactive games for children and game lovers, too.
Soon, dinner is served and I see the cabin crew going around with a selection of the finest wines, other spirits and non-alcoholic drinks. I soon learn that on the culinary panel of the airlines is chef Sanjeev Kapoor, among others, who has designed an extensive in-flight menu comprising regional delicacies and gourmet dishes.
The Alaskan king crab salad is too beautiful to consume, but eat I must. For the main course, I opt for Pan-fried Lamb Loin with Rosemary Sauce. The meat is served with roasted vegetables and mint pea mash, which goes well with a glass of Singapore Sling, an alcoholic cocktail which is a concoction of gin, cherry brandy, pineapple, lime and orange juice.
On board, it seems, there is no end to good things. How else would a generous scoop of Movenpick ice cream with berry compote appear on my seat minutes after I finish my meal? After devouring the elaborate culinary delights, I settle for a restful sleep.
The five-hour flight from Singapore to Mumbai is a breeze. As the A380 taxies at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal’s runway, it is welcomed with a water cannon salute. It is all larger than life, and unforgettable — much like the Airbus itself.
Inside the Airbus A380
>> Singapore Airlines became the first international airline to launch Airbus 380 operations in India after the government lifted restrictions on the international superjumbo in January 2014
>> The airline will fly the Airbus 380 daily from Mumbai and Delhi
>> The A380 has 471 seats, including 12 suites, 60 Business and 399 Economy class seats
>> At present only four airports — Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru — have the required infrastructure to handle A380 operations
Singapore, in style
While in Singapore, one is spoilt for choice.
Stumped at the options on offer, I pick something which concerns my first love — nature.
The Night Safari at Singapore is a tourist hotspot and for good reason. What really sets it apart is that it is an open-air zoo which encourages travellers to view animals at night in their natural, nocturnal habitats.
Singapore has an excellent public transport system with three main modes of transport — the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) or the Metro, buses and taxis. I board an MRT from a Metro station near my hotel, get out and hop on a bus and finally make it to the Night Safari.
I opt for the guided tram ride and the 40-minute expedition to observe some of the world’s most fascinating nocturnal animals.
For 40 Singapore dollars, the time on the tram is well-spent. The Night Safari has animals from across the world and I explore on foot the four walking trails to observe them. They are at ease behind sensitively-lit enclosures. It is a relief to see animals out of cages, separated from us visitors by unobtrusive barriers. It is one experience one cannot forget soon.