Gone were the days when I only fly Singapore Airlines, and can only talk about Singapore Airlines. It was a bygone era of generous expense accounts and business travel, moving around with the same crowd doing the same things behaving the same way.
Now it’s a celebration of diversity – the good, bad and ugly coming in the form of the cheapest ticket in town grabbed during a small discount window solely to travel from one place to another, never mind the long layover or the less favourable reviews. I have time and patience.
Here I am, alone in Helsinki airport in transit for 11 hours after having flown 12 hours on its national carrier, Finnair. First time for me. In fact, it’s been first time on many airlines in the last 2 years and I must say, it’s quite an experience.
I had expected the service to be, you know, basic. Professional but basic and it was. The mature stewardesses looked more like discipline mistresses in black gloves and police blue uniforms. No nonsense. Boarding was smooth. No one was late. Plane left and arrived precisely on schedule.
Then the surprise. Dinner was served by not one but a team of dashing young Asiatic stewards. Yes, when you fly at the back of the coach such things do matter. It was a treat. They were polite, attentive and friendly. I was half fearing that the earlier crew of black gloves would bark down the food choices at me. So it was a really pleasant dinner somewhere over the Bay of Bengal.
And that’s not all. Throughout the flight, my sinuses were acting up and I was sneezing my nose off. Handsome steward came over with a cup of hot lemon water. Told you they’re nice. I simply had to interview him.
Where are you from, may I ask?
Singapore, the lad said. He was with Finnair for two years and before that Singapore Airlines. There were four of them on this flight. We had a good chat and as we parted, he offered me a couple of ginger-nut muffins which he’s sure I’ll like, big chocolate cookies and the couple of snack packs.
“Take care of that cold,” he said, “and have a good time in Madrid”.
I’m sure I will with such a nice start to the journey.
How about that? You don’t always have to fly Singapore Airlines to feel home away from home. Just find a fellow Singaporean for the special in-flight experience.