Amazing Service + Decent Seat = A Great Way to Cross the Pacific
With Singapore Airlines, you can get from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Newark (and soon Seattle) to Asia non stop on their 777 and/or A350 service. Since I almost always find the service on Singapore to be excellent, and the premium cabin seats to be spacious, I never hesitate to burn miles and points to fly them across the Pacific. This was my first trip in the “new” business class, so I was excited to finally try it out on my way to Asia. Here’s how it went…
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How I Got Here
I’m sad to report that this flight is the result of an award redemption that took place a mere two weeks before some of my KrisFlyer miles were set to expire. Like Asia Miles, Singapore’s KrisFlyer miles expire 3 years after you earn them. You can extend that expiration by 6 months at a cost of $12 USD per 10,000 miles, and while that’s not ideal, it’s certainly worth it if you’ve got a bunch of miles expiring and no chance of using them before the expiration date.
Singapore will charge you 95k miles to get from SFO/LAX/SEA to SIN, and 99k from EWR to SIN in business class one-way. Yes, that’s a lot, but I think Singapore Airlines is worth it. For most of us, we’ll be transferring points over from one of:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Capital One Rewards
None of these transfers are instantaneous, but in general, you should see the miles post to your KrisFlyer account within 1-2 days max. Of these programs, the one I’d probably opt not to transfer from is Capital One, as those transfer over at a 2:1 ratio, significantly reducing the value of your points (all other airlines except for Emirates currently transfer at a ratio of 2:1.5).
Check-in was a breeze, which I did on my phone so that I could cruise right from my Alaska flight to T3 and hit the precheck line. United basically owns T3, so the precheck line can be crowded, but I used my Clear membership to cut down on the wait time.
When you fly Singapore out of SFO in business or first class, your lounge is the new Polaris lounge. This lounge, while a tad on the crowded side, is great. Plenty of food and beverage selections, and ample/varied seating, from private little cubes to cafe-style dining. Showers, private lavs, and a helpdesk round out the amenities in the SFO Polaris lounge.
Boarding can be “painful” in large business class cabins like this one, but I managed to get down to the boarding area early so that I could be one of the first people on board.
Singapore’s 777-300s divide business class into two separate cabins — the mini cabin of 2-3 rows right behind first class, then a large cabin behind door #2. Whenever possible, I 100% recommend you go with the forward mini cabin, but given that I booked this ticket only 3 days before departure, that wasn’t going to be possible. In fact, I was stuck in seat 21K, which is marked as missing a window :-/ As you can see below, though, there is a window, you just have to lean forward to be able to see anything.
Singapore opts for overhead bins over the window seats only, which makes the cabin feel more open than it otherwise would. Aside from that, expect a nice palette of light and dark earth tones, nice accent lighting in each seat, and your standard cabin lighting scheme for 777 longhaul.
Where to Sit
Hands down row 11 is where you want to be. In practice, though, these seats are hard to get as they’re typically reserved for PPS members. Still, try calling SQ and/or monitoring the seat map up until check-in time, as you might get lucky if you’re just a non-elite on an award ticket like me. Anywhere else in the small, quiet mini cabin will be good as well. The bulkhead immediately behind the galley is also a good option, though I’d warn that you will have a lot of people walking by you headed to the lav, and plenty of cabin crew traffic during meal service. That said, take a look at this legroom:
And compare that to your standard business class seat anywhere else in the cabin, and you’ll see how nice these bulkhead seats are — almost as spacious as the first class seats on these same aircraft!
There are rows marked as having no window, and indeed they are missing a full-view window, but in practice you can get creative and still see out if you’re so inclined.
Ah, the Singapore Airlines business class seat. Having polled some other frequent flyer friends, I’ve found these seats to be somewhat polarizing, and I get why.
People tend to love the following:
- the seat is super wide
- great IFE
- separate sleeping surface (some find these dedicated sleeping surfaces more comfortable)
- moderate privacy
People tend to hate the following:
- small footwells off to one side (vs straight in front of you)
- the separate sleeping surface requires getting up to change from sit/lounge/work/eat mode to sleep mode
- moderate privacy
So yeah, there’s all that. On balance, though, I find these seats to be quite good. Definitely not my favorite, but I would have zero problem spending 17+ hours in this seat from EWR to SIN on the A350-900ULR. Check out my full gallery of shots below:
Of course I always have a preference for a window seat in a 1-2-1 config like this, but I also sat in a ‘middle’ seat for the HKG to SIN leg of this journey and thought it was just fine. There’s a good privacy divider between the two seats, so you won’t notice your neighbor too much.
Sleeping in the Seat
While I’m not necessarily a fan of having the separate flip-down sleeping surface (I like to be able to just recline in and out of sleep mode as I doze in and out of sleep), in this case, I’d say it works for me — mostly because the sleeping surface is wide, aside from the footwell, so you really feel like you have a good amount of space to adjust your sleeping position. Contrast that to something like Delta One on the 767, and those seats feel claustrophobic and coffin-like. Also, I’m a side sleeper, and depending on which side I was on, I found this seat to be an almost perfect match for my preferred sleeping position.
Because there were plenty of empty seats on this flight, I had the seat next to me made up as a bed so that I could go between the two as desired. If you spot an open seat like this, be aggressive and ask for the bed to be made so you can claim it as your own, cus if you don’t then someone else will! Oh, and grab an extra pillow or two from behind an empty seat 🙂
Getting work done
Traytables for these seats are of good size (that’s a 15″ Macbook Pro pictured below), and they’re height adjustable, so I think working in these seats is great. Additionally, you won’t have to have any beverages on your traytable, threatening to kill your computer if you hit turbulence, as there is enough space on the console to place a beverage and a snack.
This is one area where I really feel like this seat falls short, unless you’re at the bulkhead. Because the footwell is off to either the right or the left, you can’t stretch your legs out without turning that direction, and the IFE screen is still right in front of you, so you’ll have to cock your head to one side to watch a movie. I did appreciate that the leg rest comes all the way up to create a somewhat continuous surface from the seatback into the footwell, but something still felt “off” to me.
Food & Beverage
I’m probably biased, but I actually think Singapore’s food is better than on many other airlines. That said, airplane food is airplane food, so know that going in and you might be pleasantly surprised. The wine and alcohol selection was good, and when it comes to food you will always have a Western and an Asian meal option. I eat Western food all the time when I’m home, so I typically opt for the Asian meal.
IFE & Video Screen
The IFE selection on Singapore is great. As a frequent flyer, odds are I’ve seen all the Hollywood movies on offer on any given flight, so it’s refreshing to encounter a strong international selection of films and shows on IFE. The screen is 18″ diagonal, so on the larger size for business class seats out there.
One thing I like about Singapore’s setup is the ability to have flight info displayed on your remote while you watch movies and such on the seatback screen.
Singapore gives you noise-canceling headphones, but as always I ended up using my own Bose headphones.
Singapore doesn’t hand out amenity kits, rather everything is a-la-carte. I like this approach, as I think it ultimately cuts down on waste, and you have access to anything you need — all you have to do is ask. You’ll find the lavs stocked with shaving and dental kits, as well as cloth towels which are a nice touch. The eye shades are what I would call average, but they get the job done.
Speaking of amenities, it might seem counterintuitive since planes are basically one big white noise machine, but this was the first time I flew with my Bose noise-masking sleep buds, and it was great — much better than just earplugs alone for me. YMMV, but they’re worth checking out if you’re a fan of white noise when you sleep…
Cabin Crew & In-Flight Service
Singapore’s cabin crew is almost always excellent. I have friends who prefer a more “hands-off” approach to in-flight service, but IMO Singapore cabin crews strike the right balance between letting you have your downtime and making sure you’ve got everything you need. And if you don’t? They’re always in the galley and happy to help.
On this particular flight, it was my friend’s birthday, so, noticing we were on the same PNR, one of the FAs pulled me aside and said that they had prepared a birthday dessert for him and wanted to bring it out while I was there, and suggested I sit down in the seat across the aisle for a bit. I did, and sure enough, they brought out a cake with a birthday card, a little Singapore Airlines bear, and a bottle of champagne. Very thoughtful, and above-and-beyond, in my experience. So, a quick shout-out and thanks again to that very special cabin crew on SQ 001!
The Bottom Line
Singapore business class is a great way to travel. Even with their recent devaluation, I still consider the experience to be a relative bargain in the points world, and I highly recommend you check out Singapore Airlines when flying to/through Asia. Yes, it’s not perfect, but it is excellent, and excellent every time I fly them, whether it’s in business or first.