At the Airport
Singapore Airlines flight to Male flies out of Singapore Changi from Terminal 3 building. There are several check-in rows dedicated to Singapore Airlines. Row 6 in the middle of the departure hall is dedicated to all Singapore Airlines Business Class passengers. Row 7, located right behind Row 6, is dedicated to passengers flying on Premium Economy Class and KrisFlyer Elite Gold members. Row 3 is designated for all Singapore Airlines passengers flying in Economy Class, with self-service and over-the-counter check-ins. We attempted to queue for the over-the-counter check-in. However, the queue did not seem to be moving after waiting 5 mins in the queue. Too few counters were opened to service the number of passengers checking in. The self-service check-in was fast and easy. However, there were insufficient ground staff to help passengers when we faced issues.
Singapore Airlines deploys the B737-Max 8 and A350-900 aircraft between Singapore and Male. The airline used to have three daily flights serving Singapore and Male. However, this has been reduced to two flights recently.
Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max has 144 seats onboard in two cabin classes, with only 10 seats in Business Class and 134 in Economy Class. This Singapore Airlines single-aisle Economy Class cabin looked refreshing and spacious with the blue and white mood lighting during boarding and disembarking, matching the grey and turquoise colour fabrics for the seating. I like how the pilots use mood lighting to calm passengers. Halfway through meal service, we met into turbulence. The pilots immediately switched on the blue lighting to complement the white lighting to calm passengers.
There are only three lavatories on board serving all 144 passengers. The two lavatories in Economy Class are located at the back of the aircraft. The lavatory onboard felt cramped, and the mirrors did not seem to help in making the space feel any bigger. Despite the small size, unlike other airlines, Singapore Airlines provided toothbrushes in their lavatory on top of the usual hand soap. The cleanliness of the lavatory was questionable, and it seems that the cabin crews on board this Singapore Airlines flight did not bother to keep it clean for this 5-hour flight. Moreover, the trash bin latch in the lavatory came apart, and the cabin crew was not even proactive in finding a sticky tape solution to fix the situation.
The Economy Class seats onboard Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max are arranged in a 3-3 configuration, each having a seat pitch of 30″, 17″ wide and capable of reclining 3″. The seats are uncomfortable for this 5-hour flight from Singapore to Male. The cushioning was terrible, and I could feel the metallic structure of the seat about halfway through the flight. Singapore Airlines did not provide any pillows on the seat, making being stuck on the seat for prolonged hours torturous. To make matters worse, the air conditioning onboard was very weak despite having individual air nozzles.
Aside from the comfort of the seat, I like the clean design, which only has one reclining button at the side of the armrest. All other functions, such as the attendant call button and the reading light, were fitted on the bulkhead above the seats. Each Economy Class has a sizable tray table, sufficient for passengers for our meals and drinks. I like the inclusion of a depression on the tray table, where we can place our drinks without having them move around during the flight. The seat pocket was relatively standard, and unlike its twin-aisle aircraft, the seat pockets onboard Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max only had one huge compartment, which means passengers would have to dig deep into the seat pocket for smaller items (such as the provided earbuds) placed inside the seat pocket.
Each Economy Class seat onboard Singapore Airline B737-8 Max is fitted with a 10″ touchscreen personal TV that provides entertainment through KrisWorld to passengers during the flight. The touchscreen on the personal TV was very responsive, which made the IFE controller redundant, so Singapore Airlines did not fit IFE controllers in their Economy Class seats. Economy Class passengers were given earbuds (which we can take home after the flight) to use with the IFE. The earbuds were pretty good and comfortable to wear for the 5-hour flight. I thought Singapore Airlines did a great job organising the entertainment options on KrisWorld in an intuitive and easy-to-use format. The numerous entertainment options, ranging from the latest Holywood blockbusters to timeless classics, were arranged in categories, making searching for the movies or TV shows we wanted to watch very easy. Headphone jacks and USB charging outlets were found underneath the personal TV.
The catering provided for this flight was a hit and a miss. I like how Singapore Airlines eliminated the awful and difficult-to-eat takeaway boxes and provided more meal items in its Economy Class. Each Economy Class passenger was given an appetiser, a main meal, a dessert and a bread bun. Two choices of proteins were made available to Economy Class passengers on this flight – Chicken with noodles and Fish with potatoes. I opted for the chicken with noodles, and the chicken was flavourful and tender, but the noodles were dried up. My friend opted for the fish and commented the fish tasted awful and was very flaky.
The service on board this flight fell short of the high standard that Singapore Airlines came to know about. Cabin crew were seen blocking the aisle during boarding, creating an unnecessary jam during the flight’s busiest time. The only time we were given smiles was during boarding when the pursuer greeted each passenger and handed out earbuds. Otherwise, smiles from this set of cabin crew were a rare commodity; most of the time, they did not even bother to smile or maintain eye contact with passengers, especially the female pursuers taking care of the section where I was seated. This set of cabin crew did not even bother to check in with our allergens, unlike those on my previous experience with Singapore Airlines. Meal service, however, was done in an efficient and well-oiled manner. The cabin crew sprung into action, distributing snacks and water about 45 minutes into the flight. The main meal was served about 1 hour after snack service. Despite being a 5-hour flight, the cabin crew did not bother coming around the cabin to serve more drinks. Drinks seemed to be provided on a request basis. The cabin crew were also not seen patrolling the cabin often to clear trash or to check if passengers were comfortable. They were only seen walking around during meals and the mandatory take-off and landing checks. Service onboard seemed rushed, as though the cabin crew wanted more time to rest in the galley.
Singapore Airlines B737-8 Max was a disappointing experience. The seat was poorly cushioned and was not comfortable for this 5-hour flight. To make things worse, the cabin was warm, as though the pilots skimmed on the air conditioning to save fuel. Service by the cabin crew felt rushed, with most of them wearing poker faces throughout the flight. The presence of the cabin was kept to a minimum, as though they wanted more time to rest.