At The Airport
There is only one single row of check-in counters at Male International Airport. Singapore Airlines check-in counters occupy four leftmost counters in the terminal building, with two counters dedicated to Business Class and the other two for Economy Class passengers. Lines are clearly marked for Business and Economy Class passengers with Singapore Girl standees and overhead monitors. There wasn’t any queue at any counters by the time we arrived at the airport. The check-in was pretty swift, and the friendly ground staff presented us with our boarding passes and separate lounge invitation passes and gave us directions to the immigration and the lounge. Male International Airport has dedicated fast-track queues for Business Class passengers at the immigration counters. We did not have to wait long before clearing immigration, which was also done efficiently.
Male International Airport is a very small airport. There is only one lounge serving all passengers flying Business Class on all the airlines departing the airport, including Singapore Airlines. Leeli Lounge is located right after the duty-free area in the airport and has a seating capacity of 150 pax. As the airport was not busy during our visit, we had no problems finding a spot in the lounge. Leeli Lounge exudes a comfortable and relaxing vibe thanks to the soft colours of the chairs matching the earthy tone around the lounge. It is a great place to chill with a cold drink while waiting for our flight. The lounge seating comprises armchairs and small side tables, which can be a hassle for eating. Catering was lacking at Leeli Lounge despite the menu stating quite a substantial offering. Choices for food are somewhat limited. As Maldives is a Muslim country, there are no alcoholic drinks served at the lounge.
As of this writing, Singapore Airlines uses its B737-8 Max for day flights and A350-900 for evening flights from MLE to SIN. We took the Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max for this flight back to Singapore.
Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max has a small Business Class cabin with only 10 seats. I thought the Business Class cabin felt refreshing. The use of white on the walls and black seats with a slight touch of orange and ash grey made the small Business Class cabin look airy, spacious and classy. The pilots used different mood lighting during the various phases of the flight. I like the nozzle installed on each seat’s ceiling, allowing passengers to regulate their preferred temperature. The small Business Class cabin feels like a private jet when the curtains are drawn.
There is only one lavatory behind the cockpit in the Business Class section of the aircraft, which suffice to serve the 10 passengers in Business Class (there were only six of us in the cabin on this flight). The lavatory is on the small side but functions as it was meant to do. The cabin crew diligently kept the lavatory clean and tidy throughout the flight, and all the amenities were neatly placed. Singapore Airlines provided additional Penhaligon amenities such as hand lotion, face mist and eau de toilette on top of the fabric handkerchiefs in their Business Class lavatories. What I liked about Singapore Airlines is that they are probably the few airlines in the world that fully stocked their lavatories with amenities such as dental kits and shavers, even in their Economy Class lavatories.
The 10 Business Class seats onboard Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max are arranged in a 2-2 configuration with a 1-1 seat in the centre (which I called the throne seats). Each seat has a pitch of 44″ and measures 21″ wide. All Business Class seats can recline 180°, allowing passengers to turn it into a flatbed. For this trip, I was able to snag one of the two middle-row throne seats. The Business Class seats are very comfortable with their thick paddings, providing excellent cushioning for the 5-hour flight. The Business Class seat is so spacious that I had three window panels to view out from the seat. The seats can also be configured into a lounge mode, which makes dining and watching movies very comfortable. When converted to bed mode, I find the head position to be a tad too low. Perhaps I had not been able to figure out the optimal recline to get comfortable with one pillow. When lying down, I had to get another pillow for the right height for my head. But once the pillow situation had been resolved, the thick paddings in the seat made lying down so comfortable that I could get a 2-hour wink. The seats offer great privacy due to their fold-in wing design, especially when the seat is fully reclined into bed mode. The seat control buttons are located on the inside of the armrest next to the aisle, easily accessible in any seat mode. Unlike the widebody aircraft, the seat controls onboard the narrow-body B737-8 Max are a little different. The seat controls feel scaled-down compared to those in their widebody aircraft, with pseudo-touchscreen buttons dedicated to the footrest, upright mode (for take-offs and landings), forward seat movement, and lighting. It took me a while to get used to operating the seat control buttons.
The throne seats onboard Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max Business Class in the centre row of the cabin have more storage space than the couple seats. The storage on the 2-2 seats is limited to the seat pocket under the personal TV and the small side pocket in the centre console between the two seats. The pocket under the TV has a retractable feature, which can stow smaller items such as passports or mobile phones. The side pocket where the additional reading light, a hook for headphones and a USB charging outlet can be found offer limited storage space. In addition to these storage spaces, the throne seats are fitted with an enclosed small cabinet on the aisle side of the console for passengers to store larger items. Apart from the cabinet, an open shelving found at knee level in the window side of the seat offers passengers more storage space. Due to the slanted design of the foot well, the cabin crew advised not to stow our carry-ons in the foot well during take-offs and landings.
There are more charging outlets in the throne seat compared to the couple seat. Besides the USB charging outlet under the headphone hook, the throne seats are also fitted with a universal power outlet and an additional USB charging point on the window side of the seat. There are two side tables on either side of the throne seat. The side table on the aisle side is designed with a depression for passengers to place their glasses on. I find the side table on the window side perfect for placing items like laptops (when not during take-off and landings), pillows and blankets. I would be cautious not to place smaller items here. The tray table is found on the console on the aisle side. With a push of a button, the tray table pops out vertically, which can double as a privacy divider. I thought the bifold tray table was quite large for a narrow-body aircraft, allowing passengers to work on their laptops while not dining.
Each Business Class seat has a 16″ LED Personal TV for passengers to obtain entertainment from Singapore Airlines’s KrisWorld. I like the menu design of KrisWorld, which makes scrolling and searching movies or TV shows very easy to navigate. KrisWorld offers a huge selection of entertainment, from the latest Hollywood Blockbusters to TV shows, keeping passengers entertained. When the seat is in upright or lounge mode, watching on the eye-level TV feels comfortable. However, I found the TV position in bed mode to be a tad too high, as the TV was not designed with a tilt function. Despite that, I was still able to watch movies while lying down.
Selection of entertainment from KrisWorld can be made via the touchscreen on the TV or the touchscreen IFE controller stowed under the aisle side armrest. I like the mobile phone-like design of the IFE controller, which makes it very intuitive to use. Other than displaying the progress of the movie I was watching, the IFE controller can also be used to display the flight progress while a movie is being played on the TV. The attendant call button and a light switch for the reading light on the side of the seat can be controlled by the IFE controller, while the overhead reading light is activated via the button on the ceiling above the seat. Singapore Airlines provided Business Class passengers with noise-cancelling headphones, which are very comfortable and effectively blocking ambient noise. I find myself having to remove the headphones whenever the cabin crew comes around and speak to me.
I like how Singapore Airlines maintained a physical menu booklet for its Business Class passengers. Shortly after take-off, the cabin crew sprung into action to serve passengers warm nuts and beverages. Another half an hour later, the meal service began. We were served Prawns with Lemon Scented Oil for appetiser. The salad was refreshing, with the Lemon oil not overpowering, and the prawn tasted fresh. While digging into the appetiser, another cabin crew offered us the bread options. I always find the garlic bread served onboard Singapore Airlines very tasty. Shortly after we finished the appetiser, the cabin crew came around, serving us the main course. For this flight, we had four options for the main course. I opted for the Lamb Korma, which is cooked to perfection. The Lamb Korma matches the puffy Tomato Rice very well. It is not too spicy, and the taste is not too overpowering. Initially, I thought we had to choose from the three dessert selections on the menu. I was quite surprised that Singapore Airlines served all three dessert options to its passengers. I like the Ile Flottante, which is light and complements the vanilla sauce very well. The almonds that came with this dessert gave the extra crunch. The fruits served were sweet and refreshing. As I am not a cheese person, I skipped the cheese platter (partly due to being full at this point). Overall, I thought Singapore Airlines had strong catering out of Male International Airport for this flight.
The service onboard was outstanding! We were warmly welcomed by the Leading Stewardess – Alicia, and Flight Stewardess – Sin Li, serving Business Class passengers. Despite working on a turnaround flight, both Alicia and Sin Li were ready to make us feel comfortable. All Business Class passengers were very well taken care of by Alicia and Sin Li for the duration of the flight. Both cabin crews were seen patrolling the cabin often and checking in with passengers if we required more drinks. Soon after we were settled in, Sin Li sprung into action, serving pre-departure drinks while Alicia went around the cabin, confirming or taking orders for the main course. Alicia also took note of my food allergens when she came around to confirm my choice of main course. Serving drinks in glasses and warm nuts were nicely presented in a small porcelain bowl, making the experience feel premium.
Alicia and Sin Li were seen introducing each course of the meal to every passenger during meal service. Alicia even went the extra mile to caution me that my choice of main course might contain my food allergen, as she couldn’t make out the texture when she pre-tasted the option. Alicia even went the extra mile by serving me a salmon steak, considering I might not have eaten much. As my friend is also allergic to prawns, Alicia took the initiative to serve him smoked salmon instead of prawns for the appetiser. I like how Sin Li recommended the food she deemed tasty to passengers, which came across as sincere and human. When deciding what to drink (other than coke), Sin Li recommended me to try out one of their Mocktail – Midsummer Breeze, which I liked very much as it was refreshing. When spotted my glass empty, Sin Li immediately replaced it with another glass of Midsummer Breeze. Overall, Alicia and Sin Li took care of us well despite having worked 5-hours for the flight from Singapore to Male.
I immensely enjoyed this flight from MEL to SIN. The Business Class seats on Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max were very comfortable, thanks to the thick cushioning used for the seats. The seats were so comfortable that I managed to doze off for 2 hours during the flight. I recommend choosing the middle-row throne seats when flying on Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max, as it provides more privacy and storage space. The impeccable service rendered by Alicia and Sin Li made the flight enjoyable. Their thoughtfulness and attention to detail are what made this flight memorable. I hope to see them again on my upcoming flights with Singapore Airlines.