S'poreans snap up SIA dining offers to support airline, enjoy experience

  • AseanPlus News
  • Sunday, 18 Oct 2020

Amy Tay and her husband Tan Si-Rong on an SIA flight to Australia in August 2015, where he proposed to her. - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

SINGAPORE, Oct 18 (The Straits Times/ANN): They have been dating for about a year and on Oct 25, Nicholas Lim and his girlfriend, Eleanor Teo, will be boarding an aircraft together for the first time.

The couple's destination is no far-flung locale, but Singapore Airlines' restaurant in an A-380 plane, which will be parked at Changi Airport next weekend and the one after.

The pair, who opted for the economy cabin lunch at S$50 each, are among the lucky 3,500 or so customers to get a seat for lunch or dinner.

More than 900 seats that were available for SIA's Restaurant A380 @ Changi dining experience were sold within 30 minutes of bookings opening on Oct 12. Prices ranged from S$50 for economy to S$600 for Suites.

Two aircraft will be deployed, with guests occupying about half the seats to stick to safe distancing guidelines.

Besides the meal, Teo, a 31-year-old who works in a charity, and Lim, 34, will get to explore the world's largest passenger aircraft in the three hours they have on the plane. They also plan to catch the Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey movie.

Teo, a fan of the DC Comics character, wanted to watch the movie when it was released in cinemas in February but hesitated due to the rising Covid-19 cases then.

"For S$50 per person, the experience is reasonably priced, since you get a three-course meal, watch films on board and receive a souvenir," said Lim who works in a non-government organisation.

He is opting for a Peranakan meal of ayam tempra and brinjal sambal, while Teo has picked a Japanese-style lunch.

The Straits Times spoke to five Singaporeans who bought either the Restaurant A380 @ Changi dining experience or the SIA @ Home package, which offers customers first- or business-class meals delivered to their doorstep.

SIA, which reported its first annual loss in its 48-year history, launched the initiatives to engage customers amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Another initiative, which would see SIA opening the doors to its training centre, will accept bookings from Nov 1.

Those who secured a seat or meal said the experience is "worth paying for".

Amy Tay booked a Suites lunch for Oct 25 using the 80,250 KrisFlyer miles she took years to accumulate.

The 34-year-old auditor said she has not travelled since 2017 due to family and personal commitments.

Having spent five years in the United States, where she studied at the University of Michigan before working in New York City, Tay said that boarding an SIA flight always gave her a "warm and fuzzy feeling when I see my fellow Singaporeans".

In August 2015, her then boyfriend, Tan Si-Rong, proposed while on a flight to Australia. She said the airline gave her a cake, which travellers could ask for in advance if they are travelling on their birthdays.

"SIA has been good to me when times were good for them. I want to help them out now that times are tough," she said.

Tech consultant Felix Wee, 28, who has secured a spot for a Suites lunch on Oct 24 is worried SIA, which does not have a domestic market, cannot recover as quickly as airlines elsewhere.

Another customer, who only wanted to be known as Dr Goh, bought French chef Georges Blanc's first-class set offered under SIA @ Home, which opened for orders on Oct 5.

The meal was delivered on Oct 11.

She had bought the meal to support the airline, out of concern that thousands of jobs in the aviation industry are at risk due to Covid-19.

"Chefs, bakers, even concierge staff may lose their jobs, not just the cabin crew and pilots," the 50-year-old said.

Dr Goh described the meal as outstanding, adding that it was a wonderful experience to have a three-star Michelin dinner at home, especially for her elderly and vulnerable parents and in-laws. - The Straits Times/Asian News Network

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