Singapore Airlines has one of the best reputations as a premium airline in the world. Their business class wins regular awards and they are on most people’s wish list of airline products to fly. So I decided to check out their new A350 Business Class to see if it would live up to all the hype.
Singapore Airlines (SQ) are very good at boarding on time and always start with business class and PPS Club Members as a priority. I was welcomed on board and personally escorted to my seat in the small, four row business class cabin, behind the larger, main business class cabin.
This is a significantly nicer, quieter cabin, however at boarding all economy class passengers pass through it, which is major disadvantage! SQ do an excellent job though of boarding very quickly and ensuring an on time departure. So, some upside!
On first appearance it was a beautiful cabin. Large seats, I believe the widest in the sky, tasteful decor and a rich, luxurious look with dark tones and leather seats. A design palette that altogether made for an inviting cabin to enter.
Unfortunately looks and comfort are two different things! I found this seven and a half hour day time flight extremely uncomfortable. Largely this was due to the design of the seat.
I had selected a window seat in row 20. This should have been ideal with the A350 layout of a 1-2-1 configuration in business class. However, the seat faced straight ahead but the footwell was at an angle, so I spent the entire flight angled sideways if I wanted to put my feet up.
In the sitting position there is also limited legroom, and certainly no room to stretch out. If you are a short person you might be ok but at nearly 6 feet, I found the position of the seat exceptionally uncomfortable.
The only seats with better legroom are the bulkhead rows in rows 11 and 19.
A large pillow was provided at each seat but it was hard to find a good spot to position it. There was a wonderful range of storage though and this was carefully thought out. There was ample space for devices, including a laptop and/or iPad, as well as smaller spaces for water bottles, headphones, and other personal items such as glasses and phones.
It was possible to charge multiple devices with both power and USB ports available, located in easily accessible places. There were a variety lights to suit a multitude of lighting needs.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that headphone jacks was provided in two locations, both left and right of the seat, providing greater convenience for travellers.
Singapore Airlines provides a large screen, although interestingly it is not a touch screen, and it is positioned well for viewing from the seat or bed. A wonderful feature is the ability to tilt the screen down; enabling any passenger to find the most suitable viewing position.
There is also a small controller beside the seat that is used to navigate the entertainment system. It took a bit to work out how to use it as it wasn’t the most intuitive in-flight system I’ve used. It did offer a wide variety of movies, TV series and documentaries. I enjoyed listening to the wide selection of music options.
An inflight map displays the planes location throughout the flight. SQ use the Voyager 3D maps system for their map display. Interestingly, Singapore Air does not provide access to the tail camera like many other airlines using the A350, which I found very disappointing.
On the flight breakfast and a snack were served. After the fruit platter, I passed on the cereal and yogurt and had the seared beef fillet in red wine sauce. This was served with spinach.
A bread basket was also offered and it was nice to choose sour dough bread with Beerenberg Strawberry jam. Strawberry ice cream was offered as dessert, which had the SQ branding printed on top.
A small selection of wines were available including Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. The red wine choices included a South Australian Shiraz. I also enjoyed a traditional Singapore Sling. When in Rome !
The second meal, offered about one and a half hours out from landing, was a choice of noodles or a grilled sandwich. I chose the sandwich knowing I would get to feast on plenty of Malaysian food in the coming days.
I found the Singapore Airlines crew to be efficient, but seriously lacking in personality and customer relations skills. On my flight it was obvious there were a couple of new crew members who really were not up to Business Class service standards; which given the SQ hype was seriously disappointing!
The service was impersonal, and delivered quickly without much thought to the passenger and their comfort. For example, headphones were collected 50 minutes before landing as were your unused socks and slippers.
No amenities kits or pyjamas are offered at all, placing Singapore Airlines well below the top class standards of many other business class products we have flown.
Expert Traveller Recommends…
Singapore Airlines has a reputation for being one of the best airlines in the world. Unfortunately I found this flight, and the in-flight service particularly, didn’t live up to the hype or the high standards I was expecting.
I also found the design of the A350 business class seat to be seriously inadequate, with other airlines doing a far better job. I would not choose to fly this aircraft again, especially at the premium price that SQ charges for business class, which is often well above its competitors.