“I know the price is steep for a dining experience… but since we are not going anywhere, this will be something that is memorable.”
They were among about 400 people who were first to experience the Restaurant@A380 experience on board two of the mammoth planes on Saturday (Oct 24) afternoon.
An initial 900 or so seats were made available for lunch on Oct 24 and Oct 25, and were sold out within 30 minutes after bookings opened. SIA then announced that it would have lunch sessions as well on Oct 31 and Nov 1, as well as dinner on all four days.
The three-hour lunches and dinners cost $50 per person in the economy cabin, $90 for those who wish to be in premium economy, $300 for business class and $600 for the suites.
Almost 200 SIA staff, including cabin crew, volunteered to help out at the event, which saw some buzz returning to a section of the transit area in Terminal 3 for the first time in months since the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
Those attending the lunch had to hand over their passports for safekeeping and also to have their bags checked just as when boarding a plane. For example, some of those who had bottled water in their bags were required to pour it away to clear security.
Some cabin crew modelled SIA uniforms of the past as passengers waited to board. When those rostered for duty on the planes arrived, they were applauded by the people waiting in the transit area.
Many of those on the A-380 plane were also taken on a tour of the aircraft, which included a session in the cockpit and the opportunity to view the seats in different cabins.
There were also staff members enforcing safe distancing.
Mr Lee Lik Hsin, SIA executive vice-president (commercial), who spoke to the media on the sidelines of the event, said: “We are very, very grateful for the support that has been shown to us by the people of Singapore.
“This weekend is all sold out, but there are still some slots available for the next weekend… if the demand continues to be strong, certainly (opening up more dining sessions) will be something we will think about.”
Mr Lee said that there has also been strong interest in SIA’s other new non-flight initiative, home delivery of its premium meals, with more than 500 packages sold so far.
In response to how these initiatives have helped SIA financially, he said: “All these are revenue-generating, but we are an airline and we do have to get back to flying. So we do hope to be able to do that as soon as possible.”
But, for now, the opportunity to dine onboard a plane is as good as it gets for most since international air travel is still hindered by border restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Retired civil servant Emily Loo, 68, who was in economy class with her husband at Restaurant@A380, said: “We managed to see the suites section today, which was very impressive, and we also got to see the cockpit and take a photo with the pilots.
“We had wanted to travel to Taiwan and Hong Kong, but this experience does help to make up for not being able to do so.”