30 (Sun) August 2015
Coconut Panna Cotta
by Singapore Airlines
on Flight SQ 917
-Somewhere over the Pacific Ocean-
Mission to the Solomon Islands, Day 1.
On my way to Honiara. Flying from Manila via Singapore via Brisbane, arriving tomorrow morning — 24 hours, door to door. Tuesday through Thursday, I’ll be helping to facilitate a workshop on national health policy planning. Leaving Friday, back in Manila by Saturday.
3 flights on the way in, 3 flights out, the trip will bestow opportunities to have 6 meals in the air: 4 on Singapore Airlines, 2 on Solomon Airlines.
In light of my prior dining experiences on Singapore Airlines (see generally 3.282 Murgh Dum Biryani; 3.287 Mushiu Tomato), both in economy class, I was giddy with the anticipation of the culinary delights that the carrier would offer this time, in business class, long haul.
Meal 1: lunch (SQ 917) (MNL > SIN)
Underwhelmed. For the main course, maybe should’ve gone with something more Asian, something more within Singapore’s culinary wheelhouse, but fell for the “exclusively created by” tag next to the pork dish. The best part of the meal was dessert, including the cocktail, an awesome synergy of tropical flavors: mango + coconut + pineapple. Ending on a high note, the meal was okay overall.
The dichotomy between the array of services available to business class travelers compared to the utter lack of services available to economy class passengers is depressing.
For starters, the lounge offers unlimited food, beverages, reading materials, televisions, computer and internet access, electric outlets, massage chairs, showers and restrooms with toiletries. Priority boarding allows for immediate transition from one comfort zone to an even more comfortable zone. On the plane, champagne before take-off, customized meal service, movies and games with noise-cancelling headphones, slippers, fully reclining seats.
At the airport in Manila, I’ve seen groups of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers), some looking like they could use a hot shower and a meal, huddling to share a newspaper and passing around a bottle of water that’s probably been refilled from the tap.
When I’m not blessed with the privilege of business class, when things aren’t readily there for the taking, I have to run a cost-benefit analysis in making even the most trivial decisions: paying for a Coke Zero before the flight, rather than enduring the thirst long enough to receive a free one from the beverage cart an hour or more after take-off; sitting on the floor to charge my laptop through a socket behind a vending machine, rather than run the risk of the battery dying while playing a movie on the plane.
Granted, the better services are paid up front for by the higher priced ticket. Just noting the irony that the haves get everything in overabundance, while the have-nots get nothing at all — a reflection of reality in general.
By coincidence, I watched a Beatles documentary last night in which Ringo Starr makes the same observation, describing how he had to make his own drum kits as a kid, whereas now drum manufacturers give him a brand new kit for every gig that he plays.
Meal 2: dinner (SQ 235) (SIN > BNE)
Underwhelmed, again. And this time, the main course was thoroughly Singaporean — in fact, part of the airline’s Singapore Heritage Cuisine promotion. Oh well.
Better luck on the way back, I’m hoping.
BEST IN CLASS: an on-going ranking of dining experiences on business class flights that I’ve taken, taking into consideration but not necessarily based on the average ratings of all items tried.
- Qatar Airlines — MNL>DOH(Doha) + DOH>DME(Moscow) (5.279 Assorted Hot Mezzah)(3.05); DME>DOH + DOH>MNL(Manila) ( (5.286 Chili Mango Prawns)(2.42)
- Asiana Airlines — ICN>MNL(Manila) (6.048 Ssambap)(4.0)
- Korean Air — ICN>NAD(Nadi) (5.175 Prestigious Repast) (2.5); MNL>ICN(Incheon) (6.021 Bibimbap)(2.5); MNL>ICN(Incheon) + ICN>NAD(Nadi) (6.101 Coconut Carrot Cream Soup)(2.4); NAD>ICN + ICN>MNL(Manila) (6.111 Asparagus Cream Soup)(2.13)
- Singapore Airlines — MNL>SIN(Singapore) + SIN>BNE(Brisbane) (6.237 Coconut Panna Cotta)(2.5)
- Philippine Airlines — MNL>MEL(Melbourne) (5.335 Chicken Tausi)(2.63)
- Etihad Airways — MNL>AUH + AUH>AMM(Amman) (6.154 Shakshouka)(1.58); AMM>AUH + AUH>MNL (Manila) (6.160 Zaalou-Crusted Chicken Breast)(1.69)
- Cathay Pacific Airways — HKG>MNL(Manila) (5.182 Har Gao)(1.0)
- Fiji Airways — NAD>HKG(Hong Kong) (5.181 Sliced Roast Lamb) (1.0)
* Tentative, pending return flights.