February 29, 2012

This was my first time flying Singapore Airlines: NY to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Singapore.

SIA’s service was more memorable than any other airlines I’ve traveled with so far!

Traveling with SIA was an experience, not just a long flight.

The SIA cabin crew was standing outside our gate for a good half hour before boarding the NY to Frankfurt flight. Truly a crew, in complete unison: From the women’s up-do style, sarong kebayas (reference first photo for traditional batik-printed outfits), open toe slip ons, purses to the men’s perfectly hemmed suits, sleek comb overs and freshly shined dress shoes. Color and fit. Sharp. Their interactions felt just as much like a team as their uniform appearance. The visual of SIA’s applause-worthy branding made a good first impression!

Attendants enjoyed each others company just as much as genuinely providing to costumers on our flight. Everyone looked just as well rested as they showed in their service, from take off to touch down. And even more neat in visual presentation was the hierarchy of rank amongst women flight attendants (chief, general, etc.), all who have the same sarong kebaya print but are differentiated through fabric color.

Memories had built throughout the Airbus A380 flight. 20 hours of! Some:

1. Being handed a cute, little zip-equipped pouch quietly stamped with, “Givenchy for Singapore Airlines”. My feet were in the comfort of baby-bottom-soft socks for 20 hours. Werd. (Photo 2)

2. Drinking out of a petite, glass cup (vs. disposable plastic cups) with humble SIA brand mark sign-off. (Photo 3)

3. Eating with -thee- Asian soup spoon! I used my Asian soup spoon for everything. Scooping my rice, fruits, dessert. I love the Asian soup spoon. One more time for the Asian soup spoon! (Photo 4)

4. Flowing offering of beverages. Tea, mango and pineapple juice! Complimentary wine was made clear, without asking. Non-alcoholic or alcoholic, gots to drink and fly wisely (Boo to bathroom trips)

5. Leaning comfortably. Stretching easy. Staring out grandly. The seats had a friendly recline. My long limbs made use of the pleasant leg room. And the huge windows made me feel like a little kid on my first airplane ride. Yerp, I flew economy!

6. Non-stop watching and listening. I caught up on/revisited some good documentaries (iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World, Planeat), films (New Year’s Eve, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, The Adventures of Tin Tin) and music (Amy Winehouse’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures album, Jazz/Instrumentals channel)

7. Reading “Warning: Death for drug traffickers under Singapore law” in bold, red type right after flight attendant handed over the immigration form with a big smile on his face. The juxtaposition! They don’t play. (Photo 5)

8. My neighbor for both flights was a motherly mother of two, middle-aged Malaysian woman who was on her way, from NJ, to the homeland to visit family. Her and her husband have a weakness for cruises. She gave me the scoop on Singapore and Malayasia must-sees/eats, and was very generous with sharing her veggie-friendly food. Also, she loves playing cards. She asked our stewardess for four SIA card sets, that turned out to be two for her and two for me. 

After going to the Singapore Airlines site this morning to look into domestic flights, I ended up reading SIA’s history section before even flight searching. Singapore Airlines, since 1972, has called their “epitome of Asian grace and hospitality” air stewardesses Singapore Girls. Random fact: “In 1993, she became the first commercial figure ever to be displayed at Madame Tussaud’s, the world-famous waxwork museum in London. Madame Tussaud’s said that she was selected to reflect the ever-growing popularity of international travel”. Applying to become a ‘Singapore Girl’ is one of the most competitive in the industry, and comes with requirements that contribute to such an impactful brand image and travel experience.

I went on to read an article about SIA’s “Singapore Girl” marketing approach and the question of if the brand should adapt to modern times given SIA’s long time embracing of ‘traditional traits of an Asian woman’. What does this mean? Really, any paid flight attendant, man or woman, should be hospitable with customers for a flight costing time and money, yeah? In terms of image, there are specific requirements such as hair/lipstick/nail polish color but that is like a style/brand guideline for any company (Funny, a French man, Pierre Balmain, designed SIA’s famous sarong kebayas). SIA has been culturally proud and grounded (evident in confidence of sarong kebaya wear since 1972) for years. And the brand provides -genuine- people interaction, timeless and ideal for any customer service. “Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?” answers this question. Curious about the of percentage international vs. domestic SIA customers. I appreciated the grounding in Singaporean (a face for mixed Asian culture) roots for my international flight experience. Again, it didn’t feel like just another long flight.

Oh, and Givenchy didn’t stop at the socks, of course. Business class is provided Givenchy sleep wear, slippers and bedding. Frequent flyer points incentive.

In conclusion (PSA tone): "Singapore Airlines, a great way to fly