Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Children and Singapore Airlines

Over the past few months we took two trips on Singapore Airlines, both from India via Singapore, the first one to Australia in November of 2006 and the second one to Bangkok and Vietnam in April of this year.

Both times we were traveling with our son, who is now seven, and our daughter, who was five months old on the first trip and 10 months old on the second.

For the older children, Singapore Airlines is as good as any other airline, perhaps slightly better. Their website has a feature where you can order the childrens' meals in advance so you can be sure of what they are getting to eat, which is particularly useful on long flights. The air hostesses are very friendly to children and there is the usual complement of toys and games and the entertainment system to keep the children busy.

For infants and toddlers, the facilities are not that great. The bassinets are tiny flat beds that are only good for children less than a year old. Even then, there is absolutely no space for the infants to wiggle around even the slightest amount. They are strapped down with a wide belt that goes from the neck down to the stomach. So basically the kids have to lie on their back and not move a muscle.

Unfortunately, none of this was helpful to little N, our daughter. She sleeps on her side most of the time and she wiggles around quite a bit in her crib. Plus Singapore Airlines' policy is to have the parents pick up the babies out of the bassinet every time the pilot makes a turbulence warning announcement. For some reason, both times, the number of announcements was mind-boggling, way more than we had encountered on other airlines. By the end of the flight, we figured it was almost better not to have had little N in the crib and we ended up holding her for most of the time the second time around.

The cabin lights and the too frequent announcements on the flights were also irksome and not only for the children.

I wish all airlines would get the reclining kind of bassinets, the ones that are similar to car seats and in which the children are belted down like in car seats. Children don't have to lie flat on their backs (is particularly helpful if their noses are stuffy) and they can at least move their arms and legs. British Airways is the only airlines I've seen this in and unfortunately the rest of their service is not that great.

Singapore Airlines is generous with baby food (Heinz) and diapers for the little ones and their staff is truly baby-friendly, which is a delight.

P.S. Their uniforms are the best in the whole world. I don't know who designed the air hostesses' dresses, but hats off to them. They are sensuous - tucked in at the right places, flaring at the right places, very feminine and alluring, and it's amazing how gracefully and comfortably they are able to move about in what seem to be form-fitted clothes. And they have shoes to match! I would be jealous if I weren't so enthralled.

10 comments:

Sunil said...

The Singapore girl is a really iconic example of brand creation. The uniform was designed by Pierre Balmain and is an adaptation of the Malaysian Sarong. It represents asian values of hospitality and caring. More @ http://www.brandchannel.com/features_profile.asp?pr_id=209

Saloni Ramachandiran said...

I personally feel a lot of considerations and hence modifications in the services rendered by airlines all over the world for Infants and Senior Citizens is a must!

I have seen both infants and elders undergo a lot of discomfort during their air travel....

mumbaigirl said...

Just travelled Singapore Airlines ourselves and noticed many things that could be improved upon. But the uniforms-my husband thoroughly approved! I even toyed with the idea of buying one at Singapore airport so I could get it copied!

Sujatha said...

Sunil, thanks for the information and the link. They've created a brand all right!

Saloni, I agree. Older people have a tough time with travel as well and in these times there's really no way to avoid having to travel.

MG, welcome back! Hope you had a great time. You should have bought it! Then I would know from you how it feels to wear it. I didn't know they had them for sale. I would have checked it out myself.

BT said...

Singapore Girl uniform was designed by the late Pierre Balmain from Paris.

Anonymous said...

I think that the reason infants and elders do not get better care is economics and capitalism. There aren't enough infants/elders traveling for Airlines to create these special services and make it affordable at the same time.

Sujatha said...

Anon, it's not a question of creating specialized services, it's about being mindful - speaking softly around sleeping children, turning the lights off when they are not necessary (a lot of other airlines do this) and being considerate. Don't think that takes a lot of money.

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