Singapore Airlines has traditionally been one of the world’s best airlines. The airline boasts a Skytrax five-star rating, routinely takes home World’s Best Airline awards, and most importantly, has fostered a reputation as an airline that consistently delivers a high-quality flight experience across both the hard and soft products.
One of the main perks that Singapore Airlines offers for its premium passengers is the Book the Cook service, which allows customers in First Class, business class, and premium economy to choose their meals in advance from a much wider selection than the regular in-flight menu.
Since I’m flying with Singapore quite a bit over this period, I thought I’d go over the Book the Cook service in detail and show you how you can enjoy your own customized gourmet meals onboard your next Singapore Airlines flight.
Which Flights Allow You to Book the Cook?
You can view the full details of Book the Cook on the Singapore Airlines website. Passengers booked on a Singapore Airlines flight departing out of certain cities will be eligible to Book the Cook, regardless of whether their reservation is a revenue booking or an award booking.
The eligible departure points are as follows for Suites Class and First Class passengers (the former referring to the airline’s higher-end First Class product available on Airbus A380 aircraft):
Meanwhile, business class departures out of the following airports are eligible for Book to Cook:
And lastly, Book the Cook is available to premium economy passengers flying out of the following cities:
It’s my understanding that it’s the departure point alone that determines your eligibility to Book the Cook. Therefore, although many of Singapore Airlines’s destinations (such as Bali, Hanoi, Osaka, or Istanbul) are not listed above, you can Book the Cook if you’re on a flight from Singapore to those airports, but not if you’re booked in the opposite direction.
That makes perfect sense, since serving Book the Cook meals onboard flights departing out of Singapore is simply a matter of transporting the meal from the kitchen a few hours beforehand and loading it onboard the aircraft, whereas flights departing from an outstation would require the meal to be either prepared onsite or loaded on the preceding flight out from Singapore – both of which require significantly more work to prepare.
That also explains why the range of meal selection is vastly superior on flights out of Singapore…
Which Meals Are Available?
If you head to the Book the Cook page and click on each destination, you’ll be shown a menu that outlines the gourmet meals you may choose from. Note that Book the Cook is only available for the dinner and/or supper meals, and not for continental breakfast or refreshments.
If applicable, flights out of certain cities will feature specialized local dishes on the menu. For example, flights from Beijing to Singapore allow First Class and business class passengers to choose from Western, Chinese, or Singaporean menus, each of which feature five or six dishes. New York flights offer striploin steak, Dubai flights come with a Gulf flair, Seoul flights allow you to choose traditional Korean dishes, etc.
Meanwhile, if you’re flying out of Singapore, pretty much anything goes. You have access to the Western, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, Malay, Thai, or Indian menus. You even get to choose from the airline’s “Deliciously Wholesome” dishes, which are internationally-inspired healthy dishes with a heavy emphasis on nutritional value.
Just take a look at the options available to Suites/First Class customers and business class customers on ex-Singapore flights. There are so many delicious dishes to choose from – the Suites/First Class menu has sixty-eight items, while the business class one has forty-seven – it almost made me feel anxious when I had to pick just one.
In general, Suites Class and First Class customers get the best dishes, with business class a small step below (for example, they might get Seafood Thermidor when Lobster Thermidor is available at the very front of the cabin). Meanwhile, premium economy customers have access to a comparatively more limited menu with about eight or nine dishes, but the convenience of getting to secure your desired meal in advance is still a very nice perk.
If you need help choosing, check out The Mile Lion’s excellent Book the Cook wiki, a compilation of passenger-taken pictures that shows you what each item on the menu looks like.
Taking all of the above together, what have my experiences with Book the Cook been like on my recent Singapore Airlines flights? Well, let’s see:
On my round-the-world luxury hotel trip, I flew Singapore Airlines from Hanoi to Singapore, but looking at the above lists, we see that this flight wasn’t eligible for Book the Cook.
On the same trip, limited award availability meant that I flew in economy on the way to Beijing, while Jessica flew in business. That flight was eligible for Book the Cook, but Jessica told me she planned to skip the meal and go straight to sleep (it was a redeye flight), so we didn’t make use of the service. That’s what I get for being nice – useful perks gone to waste! 😉
On my current crazy Aeroplan trip, I’m going to fly Singapore Airlines business class from Singapore to Perth, and I had access to the spectacular varied selection of international menus. After deliberating between the chirashi sushi and the prawn and chicken laksa, I figured the airline might well do Singaporean food the most justice, so I went with the latter.
On the same trip, I’ll be flying in Singapore Suites from Auckland to Singapore, and since it’s a 9-hour flight, I get to choose two meals: a dinner and a supper. I’ve booked the lamb loin and the Lobster Thermidor for now, but you know what? The king salmon also sounds tempting…
How to Book the Cook
Book the Cook is essentially an expanded version of the “select your meal preference” option that almost all airlines offer as part of their Manage Your Booking page, so the easiest way to Book the Cook is via the Singapore Airlines website. Enter your booking reference and last name to pull up your booking, then scroll down to “Meals” and click “Select / Change”.
You’re allowed to choose from the In-Flight Menu, Book the Cook, and Special Meals. If you find that nothing on the Book the Cook menu tickles your fancy, you can directly choose from the In-Flight Menu that would be presented onboard anyway.
In fact, if you’re travelling on a flight that doesn’t offer Book the Cook, you can still secure your first-choice meal this way to ensure that they don’t run out of it on the flight and force you to eat something else.
Meanwhile, those with special dietary requirements will want to select something from the Special Meals menu, as they would on any other airline as well (don’t worry, there are more options than what’s shown in the below screenshot):
Clicking into Book the Cook, then, you’re presented with the menu from which to make your selection. Here’s the Asian, Indian, and Western menus for my Singapore Suites flight from Auckland to Singapore:
Like I mentioned, I’ve got the lamb loin and Lobster Thermidor chosen for now, but I’m not 100% set on it yet. There’s a good chance I’ll make a last minute panic-switch in favour of the king salmon or the beef rendang. (I’m not the biggest fan of mushroom sauce, so the Wakanui Beef Fillet gets a pass from me.)
After that, click “Confirm”, and you should see your meal choices reflected in Manage Your Booking. You can make choices and changes up to 24 hours in advance of your flight.
You can also Book the Cook by calling Singapore Airlines. Sometimes, if you book a complex award trip involving a Singapore Airlines flight, the itinerary doesn’t properly show up on the Singapore website, so calling in may be the only way to Book the Cook.
Redeeming Miles for Singapore Airlines
Speaking of award tickets, it occurs to me that there are plenty of intricacies as to how you can book Singapore Airlines business class or First Class using miles (whether that’s partner airline miles like Aeroplan or Singapore’s own KrisFlyer miles) so I thought now would be a good opportunity to go over these finer details.
In general, Singapore Airlines very very rarely releases award availability in long-haul premium cabins to their Star Alliance airline partners. So if you’re looking for business class or First Class awards from Singapore to North America or Europe, don’t hold your breath.
Every now and then there are a few windows of opportunity when award space on a certain route gets released – last year, for example, there was a period of about two weeks when you could redeem Aeroplan miles for the Singapore Airlines flight to/from Los Angeles in business class for two people. Stuff like that almost never happens, so it was a golden opportunity to try out Singapore’s long-haul business class product.
On the other hand, the airline is decently generous in terms of award space on its regional routes within Asia-Pacific. For example, if you’ve tried your hand at planning an Aeroplan Mini-RTW trip to South East Asia or Australia, you’ll likely have noticed that Singapore Airlines frequently shows up in the results when you search within the region.
Therefore, given enough flexibility, you’re very likely to find some Singapore Airlines space on medium-haul regional routes like Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth, and Auckland. In Auckland’s case, the flight clocks in at over ten hours in duration, so you can certainly classify it as a long-haul flight!
And speaking of Auckland, remember that opportunity to book Singapore Suites on this route that I had pounced on? Well, it’s still available throughout the rest of 2019! If you’re planning to be in Oceania and would like to try one of the world’s most best First Class products, this is a rare opportunity to book it using Aeroplan miles.
Besides regional routes and the occasional spurt of long-haul availability, the only surefire way to redeem miles for Singapore Airlines flights is via the airline’s own KrisFlyer program. In Canada, you can transfer Marriott points over to KrisFlyer at an optimal ratio of 60,000 Marriott points = 25,000 KrisFlyer miles, or you can transfer your HSBC Rewards points at a ratio of 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 9,000 KrisFlyer miles.
Through KrisFlyer, you can access awards on North American or European long-haul routes in business class or First Class (and attain Singapore Suites on the A380). Availability will still be competitive via KrisFlyer, so as an added perk, the program allows you to waitlist awards and ensure you’re the first in line if space does open up.
Book the Cook, by Singapore Airlines, is a unique service that allows premium passengers to customize their in-flight dining experience to the tune of up to 68 gourmet dishes. It’s one of the little things that add up to making Singapore Airlines among the best airlines in the world. If you have an eligible Singapore Airlines flight coming up, make sure to glance over the Book the Cook menu, lock in your selection at least 24 hours in advance, and look forward to enjoying a delicious onboard meal!