Could this really be the world’s best airline flying with kids?
We welcome to the blog today, mum of three Karen to share her experience flying long-haul with premier Asian carrier Singapore Airlineswith 3 children.
We’ve flown with Singapore Airlines a number of times – once from Singapore to London Heathrow when I was newly pregnant with twins but didn’t know it yet (that was fun as I spent the whole journey feeling desperately sick!), and again when we moved from the UK to Australia – flying from Heathrow to Brisbane via Singapore. This time was a one way journey with four-year-old twins and a just-turned two-year-old.
This post is part of our Flying with Kids series. You can read all our family airline reviews here.
How we chose our flights with Singapore Airlines
We chose the flight on our first trip because it was the return leg of a round-the-world ticket that included certain airlines and Singapore was a good destination for us to hop to other destinations from so it was purely for convenience.
More recently, when we emigrated, we chose the flights based primarily on price as we were spending a lot of money moving abroad and didn’t want to waste unnecessary money on the flight to start our new lives. Convenience also played a part as we wanted to fly right through without too long a wait in between flights and we liked the idea of arriving in the evening to minimise jet lag.
We researched prices on price comparison sites and also directly on the airline’s own website. We found Singapore Airline’s own website was user-friendly and the price was often slightly cheaper. We ended up booking the flights with Flight Centre though as they matched the price and gave us a small extra discount.
Thought about using Singapore’s budget airline Scoot? Read here for a comparison long-haul, low-cost experience.
Luggage allowance on Singapore Airlines
On our most recent flight, as we were activating permanent residency visas, we were eligible for an increased luggage allowance (40kg) each. Our daughter turned two in the month we were moving, but we decided to book her a seat of her own rather than travel with her on our lap while she was under two. We figured it was such a long journey so it was worth the extra cost.
(This proved wise as she struggled to settle on the flights and it would have been so difficult with her on one of our laps for 23 hours).
Related Reading: 10 Toddler Flying Mistakes we’ve made (and I bet you have too)
Bring your credit card to the airport!
A few days before our flight, we received an email advising us that we needed to bring the credit card we’d purchased the flight on with us to the airport. It gave us a panic as we’d cut the card up and closed the account already. I rang the airline and they said it was OK to bring the statement with us which showed the payment, so we did that.
I’d never been asked this before for flights or holidays but it’s worth bearing in mind. We weren’t asked to show the card or statement at check-in, but at least we had it with us in case.
Travelling with a buggy (stroller) on Singapore Airlines
When we booked the flights, we were told by Flight Centre that as our daughter was two and had her own seat we weren’t able to take our buggy with us to the gate and we’d have to check it in as hold luggage. We later found out this was incorrect as there were lots of other families on board with kids aged 2 – 4 who had brought their buggy to the gate. It was annoying not being able to take it to the gate, as chasing three young kids around an airport isn’t fun!
As we needed to take the buggy to Australia, we cleaned it thoroughly (Australia’s rules are strict when it comes to dirty wheels) and wrapped it in bubble wrap and bin liners and packed it as hold luggage and included it within our 40kg pp luggage allowance. It travelled well without any issues.
As we had such a large luggage allowance and our shipping container wasn’t going to arrive in Australia for another six weeks, we took a lot of bags with us to make the most of the generous luggage allowance.
In total, we ended up with 13 pieces of luggage including two rucksacks to use as cabin luggage, three Trunkis to use as the kids’ hand luggage, lots of suitcases and the buggy. (You can learn moe about travelling with kids ride-on suitcases here)
When the taxi dropped us off, we quickly realised we couldn’t fit it all onto the luggage trolleys and manage the kids on our own. Luckily, Heathrow has a porter service so we rang the phone, based at the taxi drop off point and a minute later two guys came out and loaded everything for us onto trolleys. This honestly was the biggest relief ever and it was worth every penny. They walked our luggage right to the check-in desk making the whole process easy.
Related reading: Top tips for parents flying alone with kids
Checking in for Singapore Airlines at Heathrow
The check-in queue was empty when we arrived, so we went right to the front.
Although your visa is loaded onto your passport electronically, the check-in staff wanted to see in writing that we had visas as they wanted proof we were allowed the extra luggage allowance. Luckily, I had printouts of our visa letter in my hand luggage.
We had to wait for an agonising few minutes while they debated about whether we were due the extra luggage allowance that both Flight Centre and Singapore Air had previously confirmed to me over the phone – this was stressful with three little ones running around, especially given we were already feeling quite emotional and stressed out about moving.
We started to panic about what would happen if they told us we couldn’t bring it all as we had so much stuff! It was all good in the end and they eventually let us through.
Seating on board Singapore Airlines
On the A380 between London and Singapore, there are three seats by the windows and four in the centre in economy. So for the first leg of our migration journey we booked the three by the window and two in the middle with the aisle in between us.
On the smaller 777 which took us from Singapore to Brisbane, there were two seats in the window rows and four in the centre. We took up the two window seats with the rest of us sitting across the aisle in the middle. We were happy that we were able to all sit grouped together and having the aisle in between us meant we could swap seats to keep the kids entertained if anyone got bored.
Not sure how seating works on your aircraft? Check our SeatGuru to see how you can be seated
Meals on board Singapore Airlines
When the meals came out we saw all of the other families were getting kids’ meals. We asked and were told this should have been pre-booked when we booked our tickets but Flight Centre hadn’t mentioned this to us. It meant our kids had to have adult meals on the first flight as they didn’t have any extra kids’ meals on board. A member of staff was kind enough to call to the next flight pre-order kids’ meals for our connecting flight though. On the second flight, the kids got chicken nuggets which made them much happier.
The kids didn’t really want to eat on either flight and just picked at things so I was glad that I’d bought some snacks at Heathrow to nibble on. Ditto, I was pleased that I bought a few bottles of water because although they come around with drinks trolleys regularly, it’s handy to have drinks ready when the kids needed them.
Entertainment on board Singapore Airlines
Travelling long-haul with kids is always a bit unnerving but despite our fears, our twin boys travelled like pros. They sat watching endless movies without any problems and they worked through the puzzle books we’d brought them and played Where’s Wally happily for hours.
Our daughter was a bit too young for any of it though and she really struggled on the flights, despite the sticker books, toys and colouring we brought for her.
She felt travel sick on the first flight and was very grumpy and by the time we got onto the second flight she was very unhappy, frustrated and overtired as she couldn’t sleep. The staff on board were great, trying to cheer her up, bringing bribes of ice cream and chocolate and whatever they could do to help calm her down. They also didn’t mind us pacing up and down the aircraft.
Singapore Changi Airport
We didn’t have long enough at the airport to explore but from our previous visit, we knew Changi was a huge airport with lots of fun options including a swimming pool on the roof and a tropical butterfly garden plus a number of rest opportunities including hotels, rest areas and sleeping booths. You can see a great review on everything to do staying in Changi Airport here. For flights with more time to spare, there is even a free Singapore tour that you can book flying Singapore Airlines!
If I was going to have a wait at Changi, I’d visit the Changi website in advance to plan what I was going to do so I could organise my hand luggage to suit.
Fly straight through or stopover in Singapore?
We choose to travel straight through for our migration because we wanted to get to Australia faster. Singapore sounds like a fantastic stopover destination though, so for future trips, we would love to stay there to explore and break up the journey.
Related Reading: Best Family Hotels for a Singapore Stopover
Arriving in Brisbane
Brisbane is a small airport but we found it challenging to get around with all of our luggage and three little, overtired kids and no buggy as this time we couldn’t ring porters up for help!
In the end, a member of the immigration team came over to help us get out with our trolleys. We found the staff to be so welcoming and helpful. I’m not sure we’d have ever made it out without someone taking one of the trolleys for us!
Would we recommend Singapore Airlines?
We would happily fly with Singapore Airlines again. Changi is a fantastic airport and the only real negatives about our experience came from booking with a third-party provider and getting the wrong information about the buggy and food.
About the Author – Karen Bleakley
Karen is the founder of Smart Steps to Australia – a website that helps UK families move to Australia without the stress.
Thanks to Karen for sharing her airline experience and confirming for us once again the Singapore Airlines really is one of the premier airlines in the world for family travellers.
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Disclosures: All opinions expressed are those of the guest author. This page contains affiliate links that may earn us a small commission at no additional cost to you. You can read our full disclosure policy here.