Flight: Singapore Airlines SQ 317
From: London Heathrow (LHR) To: Singapore (SIN)
Class: Premium Economy
Singapore Airlines have launched a Premium Economy service on their Singapore to London A380 flights. On the 29th of August I flew as a guest of Singapore Airlines on the inaugural flight of this new cabin class.
The following flight review covers what to expect, from checking in to the inflight services and amenities.
This was my first time flying with Singapore Airlines and my first time in any premium economy class on any airline, so this is a straight review rather than a comparison of other classes or airlines.
Singapore Airlines provided my ticket to review the new cabin class, but there was no conditions of review (otherwise I would not have accepted).
Singapore Airlines A380 Trivia
Singapore Airlines was the launch customer of Airbus A380 and were also the first airline to fly the A380 to Heathrow, on 18 March 2008. The airline has 19 A380’s in service at the time of this post.
I have flown on an A380 before but I still marvel at their size and I never tire of watching them take off at airports. Boarding the aircraft was the last reminder that this is a double decker plane. Once onboard I forget that there is another deck above (or below) us.
Online Check-in and Book The Cook
Check-in online is available from 48 hours to 2 hours before departure. I checked in early to select my preferred seat (for me that is an aisle seat on long-haul flights).
An included benefit of Premium Economy is the Book The Cook service. While checking in you can select from a range of menu options before you fly. For this flight I ordered the Chicken Kiev and the Full English Breakfast.
Other menu options included:
Beef Fillet Steak
Oriental marinated fish with fried rice
Seafood thermidor with pasta
Thai green chicken curry
Full English Breakfast
Check-in at Heathrow
Checking in at Heathrow was quick and efficient. I arrived at the airport early as I was also reviewing the SilverKris Lounge (you can check in earlier than the usual three hours if you happen to get to the airport early).
There was no queue at the Star Alliance check-in so I went straight to the economy desk. I then found out that I could have used a dedicated check-in counter but by then it didn’t matter.
Premium Economy passengers are able to use the fast-track security at departures, which aims to get you through security process in under five minutes. Sure enough I was through in under five minutes and happy to have avoided the morning crush of security check at Heathrow.
Flight 317 departs at 11.30am and arrives the next day in Singapore at 7.20am (12 hours and 50 minutes).
Premium Economy Seating
The Premium Economy cabin seats are in a 2-4-2 configuration. For comparison, most A380 (or 747) economy seats are 3-4-3, so there are two less seats in every row. Even before I sat down the seats looked noticeably wider.
Here is a comparison of the Premium Economy seats with Economy seats on the same aircraft.
Premium Economy: 38″ (95cm)
Economy: 32″ (81cm)
Premium Economy: 19.5″
Premium Economy: 8″ (20com) / 125 degrees
Economy: 6″ (15cm) / 155 degrees
Premium Economy: 13.3″ (33cm) (includes noise-cancelling headphones)
Economy: 11.1″ (28cm) (standard headphones)
Premium Economy: Leather upholstery with seat stitching design (no seats next to each other will have the same design)
Economy: Fabric upholstery
While there is only a 1.5″ difference in the seat width the cabin looks more spacious due to each seat having an individual arm-rest. As you can see in the photo there is more space between each seat.
Also not mentioned in the seat statistics is the space between each row. The person in the seat next to me was able to pass me easily without me having to get up or twist to my side, and reclining doesn’t impose on the passenger behind you.
With the forward seat further away than in economy the tray tables are stowed in the arm-rests, which is where you will find the USB ports. There are also power outlets for each seat.
A basic amenities kit is issued which includes a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a pair of socks.
In the seat pocket is a copy of inflight magazine SilverKris, a menu and entertainment guide for Premium economy, and the duty free catalogue.
Pre-lunch peanuts and drinks are served after take-off. Champagne is also offered but I don’t drink so I passed.
As I previously mentioned I selected by meal before flying, which I ordered the Chicken Kiev. This consisted of breaded chicken breast filled with garlic butter, served with a tomato sauce, basmati rice mixed with pomegranate, and grilled asparagus.
The meal was was excellent and it was the first time I’ve ever had pomegranate seeds with rice, which was a good match with basmati rice.
Later on in the flight a dessert of sorbet ice cream was offered.
After lunch I settled in for a movie marathon. Even with a far more comfortable seat than the usual economy offer, I am a light sleeper so I didn’t try to sleep. On long-haul flights I resign myself to watching as many movies as I can.
Apart from the wider seats and arm-rests, the most noticeable upgrade was the inflight entertainment screen. This is an upgrade from 11.1″ (28cm) in economy to 13.3″ (33cm) here in Premium Economy.
To best compare, have a look at an 11″ and 13″ Macbook Air side-by-side at an Apple store and you will notice the extra two inches of screen space.
And to top off the entertainment experience Premium Economy includes active noise cancelling headphones (by Phitek). I’ve always struggled hearing the audio over cabin and engine noise so this made watching movies inflight an enjoyable experience (and I now have to get my own set of noise cancelling headphones).
After an all-night movie marathon watching movies I missed on the big screen, breakfast was served.
I had the Full English Breakfast as a homage to departing from the UK. Plus I wanted my first Asian meal to be in Singapore for second breakfast, so I opted for the western breakfast.
The in-cabin service was excellent and I loved the uniforms of the iconic Singapore Girl. Alas, I didn’t get any cabin crew pictures so I will save that for my return leg.
Arrival at Singapore Changi
The flight arrived on time and like my experience at Changi earlier in the year, going through immigration was a breeze.
The flight arrived at a gate closest to the immigration hall. I don’t know if this is by design (being one of the flagship flights of the airline) or if gates are allocated by availability. Either way it was one of the quickest international arrivals (from landing to standing in the arrival hall) that I have ever experienced.
Singapore Airlines Resources
Singapore Airlines flies four times daily from London Heathrow and daily from Manchester to Singapore for onward connections.
Photos from this flight can be viewed in the Singapore Airlines photo gallery.