Flight Review – Singapore Airlines SQ308: Singapore to London-Heathrow by Airbus A350-900 (Long Haul) (12 September 2021)

Singapore Airlines SQ308 from Singapore to London-Heathrow

Singapore Airlines SQ308 is a daily morning flight from Singapore to London-Heathrow. I had searched for a student fare on my one-way journey to the United Kingdom, and Singapore Airlines SQ308 was the cheapest option available, though this means being on a full day time flight. With the very reasonable fare, especially for a one-way journey, I decided to purchase it.

Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test before flying to England (OUTDATED)

At the time of my journey, I needed a Pre-Departure COVID-19 Test before flying to England. England accepts both a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or Antigen Rapid Test (ART) 72 hours before departure. However, this has recently been scrapped, and only the Day 2 test on arrival into England remains.

I got my ART done at Raffles Medical Raffles City Shopping Centre, which does Pre-Event Testing (PET) and links to the Ministry of Health (MOH) HealthHub system. This gets me a nice, official, physical Negative test certificate which is accepted at check-in. Ironically, the certificate wouldn’t have been accepted in Singapore on the day of my flight, as Singapore only recognizes it for 24 hours.

Do note that this procedure is no longer applicable. There is no more Pre-Departure COVID-19 test needed before flying to England.

Do also note that different entry measures apply for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. England seems to have the easiest measures to enter the UK with.

Check-in at Changi Airport Terminal 3

With all my documentation in place, check-in for my flight was a breeze at Changi Airport Terminal 3.

Despite being a quiet transit area, key duty free shops remain open for departing passengers and eligible transit passengers.

Over at Hudsons Coffee, an Australian chain of coffee retailers, they were selling rice, bee hoon, and pasta bentos for S$5.50. I guess this helps to attract whatever business they can get now, considering that an Apple Crumble would cost S$7 in the regular menu (which is the usual stuff available during pre-COVID times). I was looking forward to grabbing a ‘Singaporean’ breakfast before my flight, but Hudsons was virtually the only food outlet open in the transit area and it was rather unfortunate that the food offerings were so poor. Hopefully with more flights, the other food outlets would reopen to provide more choices to travelers.

Boarding

Walking to my gate, I caught my first glimpse of my flight to London. 9V-SMQ would be flying me from Singapore to London-Heathrow.

Heading to the toilet before entering the gate hold room, I noticed that even toilets are now segregated between arriving and departing passengers.

While arrival passengers will physically pass through this part of the transit area, they are not allowed to use this toilet while in their marching platoon to arrivals or transit.

My departure gate at Gate B5. This gate hold room was shared with another flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

My boarding pass for my Singapore Airlines SQ308 flight from Singapore to London-Heathrow .

As I was seated up front, I was one of the last to board the plane as I was called last.

Exit Row Seat

Despite holding a low student fare, Singapore Airlines has very kindly assigned me a free exit row seat when I checked-in online about 2 days before departure.

My exit row seat was facing the bulkhead, so the IFE monitor and literature pouch was mounted on it too.

I was to learn that this legroom comes with a comfort trade-off of having anyone who needs the toilet queue up in front of me. The rear toilets were closed off for crew use only and thus the toilets in front of me were the only ones available for passengers to use. This was fine when there were only a few passengers on board, but as my flight was really full and very busy, this was a rather unsatisfactory arrangement.

Before take-off, the hot towel (oshibori) service has been removed.

The plane took off at 9.14am – 14 minutes delayed from schedule.

Breakfast

Another physical amenity that has been nerfed is the hardcopy paper menu. This has been replaced with an online portal which is accessible a week before the flight.

There were 2 options for breakfast – Chicken Patties or Singapore Fried Carrot Cake.

For a Singapore meal before going with western daily for the next few months, I decided to get the Singapore Fried Carrot Cake.

Although the internet disagrees with me, I was pleased to find prawns in my Singapore Fried Carrot Cake.

This Singapore Fried Carrot Cake is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten on a plane. You don’t always get Carrot Cake with prawns in Singapore, but it’s actually an amazing combination.

This would have been a fitting meal on Joseph Schooling’s Olympic Gold medal flight back to Singapore.

The usual Singapore Airlines drinks are on offer throughout the flight.

While the cocktails menu isn’t available as an actual list, here’s a screenshot of the Business Class cocktails menu. My guess is that Economy Class’ cocktails are everything except the SilverKris Sling, as it contains Champagne which is not offered in Economy Class.

Dinner

Dinner was served at around midway through the flight, which feels a little bit off for me. There would be another 7 hours or so of flying without further meals till I land at London-Heathrow. This is unlike Malaysia Airlines MH4 where a snack was served midway, followed by dinner about 2 hours before landing.

There were again 2 options for dinner – Crusted Baked Fish or Soy Chicken with Egg Noodles.

Having done an Asian option at breakfast, I decided to go for the Western option this time.

The Crusted Baked Fish was also a decent meal, tasty and the fish of good quality.

Delectables

A variety of snacks were also available on request throughout the flight. Following the early dinner, some snacks helped to stave off the starvation. I guess this also provides flexibility on when one wants a snack, rather than following a rigid service schedule.

Apologies for the bad photo, but you can see how full the flight was to London. It feels like I was flying back into 2019 if I had ignored the masks.

Arrival into London Heathrow

My Singapore Airlines SQ308 flight landed at 3.50pm – 10 minutes delayed from schedule. A short taxi later, and I arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 2, also known as The Queen’s Terminal.

The arrival and departure path is physically segregated, with an escalator ride down to the arrival path.

Being an afternoon arrival, immigration was almost empty, and I was through within a couple of minutes. I was also surprisingly not asked any questions by immigration.

My bags were also out on the belt just a few minutes after I got there from immigration.

And that’s it. I’m in England. That’s the entire arrival procedure.

England Day 2 COVID-19 Post Travel Test

While getting through immigration and out of the airport was super easy, there was still a Day 2 test. This is fairly easy too.

I booked my Day 2 test from Nationwide Pathology which was the cheapest Day 2 PCR Testing Package for Fully Vaccinated Travellers I could find at £40 (~S$73.84). The most important part was to generate the reference number required for the passenger locator form which I need to fill up before entering the UK. The self test kit was then sent to my indicated postal address.

After creating and mailing back my sample, that was it. There’s no further things to do. Welcome to the UK.

It seems that a cheaper Day 2 Lateral Flow Test is now available for Fully Vaccinated Travellers, which brings the price down even further to £19.50 (~S$36) from Nationwide Pathology, and there’s even a £12 (~S$22.15) test from another website, Simply Test Me.

Conclusion

Travelling is starting to return, and the vibes from the crew were visibly different from my previous flights in the last two years. When I flew in February 2020, COVID-19 was still largely unknown and I chatted with the crew about the uncertainty and fear that the virus was bringing, then still largely confined to China. When I flew again in September and December 2020, flights were next to empty and the crew reluctant to engage with passengers at all. While everyone was still required to don masks and the crew face shields during the flight, they were now flying regularly again and passengers were starting to fill planes once again.

I felt that the service on Singapore Airlines had been reduced a fair bit, attributed as with many other things to the pandemic. Little touches like the printed menu cards, drinks on boarding/take-off, ice cream after meals and so on make all the difference between a budget airline and a premium one as SQ prides themselves on. I hope that the pandemic does not prove to be an excuse to make these cuts permanent, and that in the not too distant future the full Singapore Airlines experience will return.

In the meantime, it is a joy to take to the skies once again.

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