May 29, 2017 marked the first day of the mid-year school holidays in Singapore, which was why six seats on the inaugural Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight from Singapore to Stockholm (via Moscow), departing at 12.20am on May 30, were taken up by Nah Bee Luan and her family (below).
Her 13-year-old daughter had done well for her Primary School Leaving Examinations last year, so the doting mother decided to take the entire family – including her husband, son and parents – on a “delayed reward trip” to Sweden and Norway for 16 days.
“My husband purchased a guide book on Sweden and Norway. At the same time, I noticed a good deal for this flight so I quickly bought the tickets,” shared Nah, as she waited at Gate B8 at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3, before SQ362 took off.
Unsurprisingly, the mood was nothing short of celebratory, with champagne served at the entrance of the gate, and a delicious buffet spread of Singaporean and Swedish delights, including chicken satay, Kottbullar Swedish meatballs (above) and Dromskinka (pork ham marinated in port wine).
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Soaking in the atmosphere was Tim Eu (above), who was transiting through Singapore after flying in from Melbourne. The Australian was headed to Stockholm – his first trip as well – for a week-long conference and had been booked a seat on the flight without realising its significance.
“I was a bit overwhelmed when I walked in but it’s all quite exciting. The greetings have been wonderful and there is nothing like enjoying champagne in the [gatehold room],” he enthused.
Also en route from Australia to Sweden was student Oskars Sylwan, who was going home after working and travelling for three months on the continent’s east coast. He had flown Down Under on another airline, but was enjoying the difference on the return leg on SIA, “It’s nice. I definitely didn’t know I had booked the inaugural SIA flight back.”
Gracing the event was guest-of-honour, His Excellency Hakan Javrell (above centre), Ambassador of Sweden to Singapore. In his speech, he shared the highlights of his home country (co-founder of Skype, developer of Spotify, and the Stockholm archipelago with its 30,000 islands, just to name a few), while expounding on the importance of this new route.
“It marks a big step in the relationship between Singapore and Sweden, bringing the two nations closer together – connectivity, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?” said H.E. Javrell.
Training manager Andrew Sim can identify with that idea. He flies to Stockholm up to twice a year for business, and was delighted when he learnt that the route is now available. He previously had to travel via Bangkok and endure a lengthy layover.
“Now I don’t need to leave home earlier, and can save six hours of travelling time. It’s a great flight,” said Sim, “SIA is always my preferred airline when possible.”
As the clock inched towards boarding time, passengers witnessed the ribbon cutting ceremony officiated by H.E. Javrell, Trade Commissioner of Sweden to Singapore Emil Akander, and Campbell Wilson, SIA’s Senior Vice-President (Sales & Marketing).
Providing entertainment were four members from SIA’s Cabin Crew Performing Arts Circle (above) who sang three songs, including the always-popular Come Fly With Me by Frank Sinatra.
As they queued to board, passengers were each presented with a goodie bag (above) containing a certificate thanking them for their support of the inaugural flight, a batik luggage belt and a cloth pouch printed with a Dala Horse, a well-recognised symbol of Sweden.
Whether the next leg of their journey was for work, leisure or just going home, these travellers definitely had a memorable start to their journey.
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– TEXT BY LOW SHI PING
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.