The long white cloud

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Probably the best airline in the world...


A quick note to praise anything Singapore. Firstly the airline, one word, superb. I don't do long haul that often and only ever economy, but that said, the service was first class. Singapore Airlines seemed to me to follow a rather unusual ethos of providing a customer-focused service. They seemed to have latched onto this notion that taking a customers money is only half of the transaction, the other half being to provide a good a service as possible in return (British companies you may wish to scan that last sentence a few times). According to the legroom page, they were nothing special (and for economy you are never going to get that much), but they to have a few crucial extra centimeters that meant the difference in being able to push your legs under the seat in front, rather than keeping them bent up to your chin. Food, pretty good - for airplane food - and was even approved by Gordon Ramsey, no really. But the jewel in the SA crown has to be the in flight enterntainment. When I first saw the brochure on the plane, i thought it was a mistake, a leaflet that had somehow traveled from first class to taunt the scrotes at the back of the plane. Over 100 on demand films and loads of your favourite TV shows. But if films and TV not your bag, then how about computer games ? No, well, then there's card games, chess checkers, mahjong, against the computer or against someone else sat on the plane. Not to mention roulette, blackjack etc. It's a perfect example of a technology that is ideally suited for a particular situation ie fun things to do when you have a lot of dead time on your hands. Not rocket science, is it ?

And then Singapore itself, never been before, would definitely go back. Only there for a few days, so my opinions (as always) are only worth what you paid me for them. Reasonably priced, warm (OK very humid), very clean, and the people are friendly (except the bloke who ripped me off in one of those bicycle cum rickshaw thingies). Lots of fantastic opportunities to eat lots of different foods, and unlike a lot of places there is little chance of getting a dicky tum (the country's food hygiene laws are pretty stringent). We ate from both street hawkers and restaurants, without so much as a dose of indigestion. The food was cheap also, and we usually managed to have lunch for under $12 (about 4 of your shiny English pound coins). Towards the end we saw the Americanesque shopping mall culture of Singapore, shopping cathedrals with mile after mile of pointless shops selling pointless tat to people with too much money in their pockets, which wasn't quite as nice as trips around the Chinese temples or leisurely drinking tea in a Chinese teahouse. But to be fair, it has been the deliberate embrace of capitalism by the Singapore government that has lifted it's citizens out of abject poverty and into the high standard of living that they enjoy today, as well as making it much more accessible to foreigners like me.