Singapore Airlines has been offering an interesting 5th freedom route within Europe since July 2021. As an extension of the Singapore – Copenhagen flight, the 5-star airline flies from Copenhagen to Rome (and back) three times a week.
Travel-Dealz author Peer recently took the opportunity to fly to Italy in the Airbus A350. Below is the review of an unusual European flight.
Table of Contents
Before starting the review, here are, as usual, a few key facts about the flight:
- Flight: SQ 352 CPH-FCO
- Seat: 59K
- Aircraft: Airbus A350-900 9V-SMS (Delivery: November 2017)
- Month: August 2021
- Departure: 08:15 (+1h delay)
- Arrival: 10:35 (+1h delay)
- Flight time: 2h 20min
Especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we at Travel-Dealz have been preaching time and again to book tickets directly at the airline. This avoids unnecessary problems and additional fees, and you do not have to hold at the hotline forever when rebooking.
However, I only booked my flight to Rome a week before departure. Due to the stable flight schedule and low ticket price, I looked for options in the Travel-Dealz flight search and found what I was looking for. At MyTrip.com the tickets only cost €63 instead of €80. A very fair price for a European flight, including 23 kg checked baggage.
The payment via Sofortüberweisung went through without any problems and MyTrip issued the ticket within a few hours.
Status Match to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Until April 2021, American Express was still offering a status match to the Shangri La Golden Circle, for which I had, with wise foresight, registered in good time. So I was able to apply for the match to the KrisFlyer program in September 2021. I immediately got the KrisFlyer Silver status and after any three flights with Singapore Airlines, I’d even get the Star Alliance Gold status for one year.
More on this is below in the Travel-Dealz article. Please note, however, that the campaign can only be used if you have already carried out the 1st step (match from Amex to Shangri-La) in the past:
Unfortunately, the benefits of being a KrisFlyer Silver member are quite useless. At least I was able to choose one of the standard seats in the back of the plane before check-in. Unfortunately, I was denied access to the emergency exit seats, but for two hours of flight time, that wasn’t a big problem.
The online check-in went smoothly 48 hours before departure and was done within a few seconds. The seat can also be changed online after check-in – something that should be obvious, but some airlines are still unable to offer this.
When I arrived at Copenhagen Airport, I first looked for a way to check in my luggage. The fastest solution for this would be the self-check-in machine. It can also print out the luggage label, which then has to be attached to the luggage.
Personally, I’m not a fan of such machines and turned left to the priority counter. There, the employee asked directly about the Italian entry requirements:
- Vaccination card or Covid test
- Questions about health (contact with infected people? Symptoms such as coughing? Etc.)
- Online confirmation of the PLF (Italian registration form). It is best to be able to show this as a PDF (or printed out) as the QR code was not enough.
At the Airport
The plane for the 5th-freedom flight comes from Singapore, makes a short stop in Copenhagen, and then flies on to Rome. In the past few weeks, however, the plane has always arrived in Copenhagen an hour late. The reason for this is probably that Singapore Airlines has been flying around the Afghan airspace:
So there was enough time for a short visit to the Carlsberg Aviator Lounge (with Priority Pass) before I went to the gate shortly before the originally planned departure time. The flight took off from the E gates, a short walk from the main terminal.
A separate boarding area was set up there especially for the flight to Rome. In order to gain access to this, the boarding pass, vaccination card, and PLF had to be presented again. There was no passport control because the flights start in the Schengen area. An airport employee handed out an additional paper form that every traveler must fill out:
Nobody wanted to see this form, neither at the gate in Copenhagen nor when entering Rome. Nevertheless, of course, it doesn’t hurt to fill it out to be on the safe side.
The estimated 120 passengers were well distributed in the boarding area, and there were even long wooden tables to work on a laptop. Bus boarding then started around 30 minutes after the scheduled departure time. The boarding groups were ignored, and all passengers were called out at once, but everything was more or less civilized. I was delighted with the water bottle that every guest was given before boarding the bus.
Of course, the A350 could easily be handled without buses. The reason for the bus boarding is apparently: The plane arrives at a non-Schengen gate so that all disembarking passengers must first complete a passport check. Since Copenhagen – Rome is a Schengen flight, such passport control would be superfluous. This passport control is bypassed by the bus that goes straight to the plane.
Cabin & Comfort
The interior was still quite fresh and made a warm impression. The combination of different gray and brown tones really appeals to me.
The Airbus A350 is designed for a 3-3-3 configuration in economy class, and this is what Singapore Airlines has chosen to install. In contrast to the Boeing 787, the plane is wide enough for this. The seat measures around 46 cm (18 “) in width, which is also achieved by having very narrow armrests.
In my opinion, however, the distance between the seats is more important than the width of the seat. And unfortunately, Singapore Airlines disappointed me a bit in this regard. Although the seat spacing is stated to be a good 81 cm (32 “), my knee slightly touched the front seat in some sitting positions. This is not unusual with a height of 1.98 m, but still a negative point.
Fortunately, I had reserved a seat at the very back of the A350. It took some time to get out of the plane, but some of the seats around me remained unoccupied. I had a complete block of three seats to myself and was able to bend my legs without any problems. On the other hand, it was rather cramped further upfront.
Another negative was also evident on the comparatively short flight. The seats are relatively thinly padded and thus feel hard. Other passengers probably share this impression as well, as complaints about the A350 are mounting on Tripadvisor. The fact that the headrests cannot be adjusted high enough is hardly an issue.
For a flight through Europe, this is all complaining at a very high level. The seats in the Singapore Airlines A350 are always more comfortable than the unpadded chairs in a European Lufthansa cabin. But if you’re really going to fly to Singapore for 12 hours, you might be well advised to have a seat at the emergency exit.
Food & Drinks
Singapore Airlines is known for its excellent service even in Economy Class. Usually, hot meals are also served on short flights such as Bangkok – Singapore. So I was all the more curious about what to expect on the similarly long flight from Copenhagen to Rome.
When the employees came down the aisle with small sandwiches, I was a little disappointed at first. The disappointment quickly vanished. The sandwich with egg salad was surprisingly tasty, and clearly better than a high-quality sandwich on Lufthansa’s long-haul flights. The request for a second sandwich was met without any problems.
The passengers actually had the choice between an egg salad sandwich or a chicken sandwich. The latter option, however, was no longer available. Since the service began at the front of the cabin and there were only three other passengers behind me, this is acceptable.
Along with the sandwiches, the typical round of drinks with juice, soft drinks, coffee, or alcoholic beverages was served. There was only this one round of drinks – okay for two hours of flight time, especially since everyone still had the water bottle from boarding.
In any case, compared to what the competition is serving on the same route, the onboard service was beyond reproach because on SAS, Norwegian, and Ryanair flights, all meals have to be paid for.
As one is used to from Singapore Airlines, the service was always professional and friendly. The employees didn’t show that they had departed from Singapore 17 hours ago. There is nothing more to report at this point because a two-hour flight through Europe does not offer very many moments with the crew.
On-board entertainment is ensured on the one hand by the large windows and on the other by 11″ screens at each seat. The latter can be controlled either via the touchscreen or the remote control below.
The selection of films and series was quite impressive so that passengers shouldn’t get bored even on longer flights such as to Australia. And if they do, there is still live TV with selected channels such as CNN or CNBC.
The entertainment system can be linked to the personal KrisFlyer account to synchronize bookmarks and content preferences.
In theory, 2 hours of internet access on the flight should cost a hefty €16. Only sending text messages would apparently be free (for KrisFlyer members). In fact, things turned out differently: I was able to connect my laptop and smartphone to the internet for free and surf at a speed that was sufficient for browsing.
The speed test measured 3 Mbps downstream and 0.5 Mbps upstream. That is enough even for working with your laptop. However, this is not advisable for long periods of time, because the seating position in economy class is simply too uncomfortable for that. In addition, should always take care to ensure that the backrest of the front seat does not shatter your laptop screen.
When entering the plane, there was a small hygiene kit with disinfectant gel, a surface wipe, and a surgical mask on every seat. Masks are compulsory during the entire flight and also at Copenhagen Airport (otherwise, masks are no longer required in Danish public transport).
There is an international socket between each seat. So three passengers share two sockets each. There are also two USB ports next to the touchscreen. One is primarily used for data transmission, the other is designed as a charging socket.
The table in the front seat is (sadly, as usual) positioned rather low. At least, it can only be folded out halfway, for example, to put down a drink or tablet.
- Check in & Boarding
- Comfort & Cabin
- Food & Drinks
- In-Flight Entertainment
The Rome – Copenhagen route is one of the most comfortable ways to fly economy class within Europe. However, I don’t want to spend 12 hours on this plane because the hard product is essentially identical to the economy class of Lufthansa, LOT, or United.
I would book the flight to Rome again at any time – and I will probably do so because now exactly two flights with Singapore Airlines are missing for me to get my gold status at Krisflyer. The route is currently scheduled until March 2022, so there is still some time.