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It is high time: Onboard Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380

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
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
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
from Changi.

In-flight entertainment aboard the Airbus A380 means an array of choices between films and interactive games for children and adults
In-flight entertainment aboard the Airbus A380 means an array of choices between films and interactive games for children and adults

Mid-air delight
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.

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