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When you fly on a carrier like Singapore Airlines, good service and features are almost taken for granted. As would be the case with most top rated companies. But great brands are built on one, and only one, foundation: its people. And so I realized with SQ on a recent trip to Australia.

I had to make a last minute change and return to India sooner than planned. I requested for a ticket change at the airport – the fee quoted was approximately AUD 400 (Rs. 20,000) for my business class ticket. When I requested for a waiver of the same, the manager on duty took the initiative to call the India office of SQ, took verbal approval and waved me through without charging anything. All this happened with minutes left for the flight to take off. In most other situations, the staffer would not have even offered to help. And certainly not waived the charges just on the basis of a telephonic approval. The manager did not even need to do this – rules can stay as rules. The attitude of the staff – not just the savings – was enough to send my spirits soaring. It was the cherry on what had been the perfect trip – yes, there is such a thing.

ABOUT THE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE
My trip to Australia was primarily to cover Vivid Sydney, a festival of light, and to explore the state of New South Wales. I was hosted by Destination NSW (the tourism agency of the state) and Singapore Airlines. While the explorations were memorable, flying SQ was an experience in itself.

* The seats: Just flying business class does not always ensure comfort. Ask me – I have paid more than a pretty penny to airlines for business class only to feel disappointed and a tad cheated. I got flat bed seats on the overnight Delhi – Singapore leg – helped me get a shut-eye for at least a while. (Don’t blame the aircraft – I am poor sleeper on flights!!). I would have liked the same on at least the Sydney – Singapore overnighter (other legs were in the day) but the seats did recline enough to give me a comfortable ride. It helped that I was flying in low season and the cabin was not full – yes, even business class can feel overbearing at times when full.

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* The food: I thought airlines transported people while restaurants treated them. SQ does both. It has invested in gourmet chefs to spoil you with their menu. Some of these include Alfred Portale (USA), Carlo Cracco (Italy), Matthew Moran (Australia), Georges Blanc (France) and Sanjeev Kapoor (India).

I don’t like eating on flights in general – works well for my system, and I also avoid largely forgettable food – but it was not easy turning your back to the SQ kitchen. Especially when they present you with warm waffles topped with strawberries, cream and more.

* In-flight entertainment: If flights are an opportunity to catch up with your movie viewing, you need the SQ Box Office. Hollywood and Bollywood are amply represented – as are other regions – with a vast library of new and ever-popular titles. These included (in June 2016) Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Hail, Caesar!, London Has Fallen, Deadpool, Race, Dilwale, Crimson Peak, The Revenant, The Big Short, Spotlight and Steve Jobs to name just a few. Then there were TV series and drama, programs for the young, documentaries, food shows, music – the list goes on. We know of couch potatoes – there could well be a breed called the SQ potatoes.

* Shopping money at Singapore’s Changi Airport: Shopping is most joyous when someone else pays for it. When you hop off a SQ flight at Changi, the airline has shopping vouchers waiting for its transit customers – the sight of it is also the best antidote for bleary eyes. The value of each varies between S$ 20 – 40, and are valid at most shopping and dining outlets within the airport. No conditions attached – these are as good as cash. Click here for full details.

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* Explore Singapore while you wait for a connecting flight: Given a good airport, I can spend hours there. I just love lounging and shopping at airports. But the traveller in me always wants to explore more – which would hold good for most of us. Depending on the transit duration at Changi, SQ will take you on different tours of Singapore – covering the city’s sights, heritage and more. For free. Sounds too good? Click here to know how it works. Pity I missed out during my trip to Australia – but I should plan my connections with longer layovers next time.

* Connectivity: We all want many options when booking flights – to minimise time wastage and fatigue. SQ has 99 weekly flights from 11 cities in India to Singapore on its combined Singapore Airlines and SilkAir network – with 35 onwards weekly connections to Sydney alone. And likewise to many other locations across the planet. Take your pick.

Looking for special fares from India to Australia? Grab them while they last – click here.

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