Aircraft Type: B777-300ER
Class: ‘New’ Business Class
Flight time: 12:34
Date: May 2015
Best for: Solos and Couples doesn’t matter, this carrier is great for business, but also those wanting to experience luxury travel.
The crowd: Mainly English or Antipodean travellers, with most connecting on to luxury beach or city breaks. An older more sophisticated set.
Business or pleasure: The carrier is well positioned for both. Routes mean they attract passengers from Europe and Australia flying on to a variety of destinations in Asia. With wifi onboard, power-ports a plenty and large tables, those who mean business can work away.
Routes: Connecting on with their regional carrier Silk Air, the airline flies to almost every beach and city destination in Asia and direct flights to North America, Europe and Australasia and Asia being their main target markets.
Frequent Flyer Programme: KrisFlyer, powerful and connected to the Star Alliance as well as key strategic partners, such as Virgin Atlantic.
Best bits: Everything, there is nothing we could really fault.
Worst bits: Annoying we have to pick anything, but If we had to, I guess the sleeping position hasn’t got as much freedom as we wanted.
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Report
On another trip to the great reveal of Singapore Airlines‘ brand new Premium Economy seat, we had the opportunity to fly in their latest business class seat, yet another signature product for SIA by JPA Design as well as experience the airline’s latest lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2. We had high expectations, after all, last year our judging panel rated the new business class product with a 100% rating, and naturally came top of the pack. Since then competition has become fierce, with Etihad nipping at their heels to provide the very best business class product. Having reported on Etihad’s Business Class, it was time to give the current market leader a run for their money. We took a lot of photos, so don’t forget to take a look at the gallery at the bottom of the page.
On the Ground
Singapore Airlines has moved along with the rest of the Star Alliance team across to very successful and quiet Terminal 2. Having recently opened up their new lounge (moving from the Plaza Premium lounge) the airline now has a full business class service for its most lucrative passengers.
The check-in area for the carrier is in Zone A, and the business class check in desks are hidden away behind the self check in kiosks. Being hidden away, there is very little queue anywhere, and we were able to walk up straight away.
We were greeted with a very warm welcome. The carrier offers different queues, either for KrisFlyer members, business class passengers, first class passengers, and offering the A380 on the route as well, their prestigious Suites class too. Check in took a matter of minutes, and our initial seat request (20K) was honoured. With boarding pass in hand we were told to head through the fast track channel, which unlike the ones found in T4 or T3, actually do feel faster and worthy of the name.
Once through airside, we headed downstairs, and made our way through to the B gates, a satellite terminal which hosts most of the long haul aircraft. Our only downside to the Heathrow T2 experience, which is becoming a bug-bear for many frequent travellers is the lengthy walk from the main terminal to the satellite gates.
Even with the moving walkways running the length of the subterranean corridor, by the time we were at the end, with bag in hand, we were a little puffed out – and had a bit of a shine to our face when entering the lounge.
Talking of the lounge, Singapore Airlines new lounge is situated next to the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge, and the entrance, which is fairly unassuming expands out into a well appointed and luxurious lounge.
The brand new lounge impresses, with those in First Class or the Suites taken a swing to the left, through a private unmarked door and the rest of us heading to the right into the expansive Business Class lounge. We’ve covered the lounge in detail here. On arrival we were impressed by the quality of the finish.
The overall design is very light and airy. Whilst it may not have the same pizzaz or character as other lounges at Heathrow, including the Concorde Room or the infamous Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, its key to remember this is an outstation, and the clean and understated design matches the sophisticated design ethos of the carrier.
After walking through from the reception, the lounge opens out into a buffet dining area with seats for dining. The buffet bar is kitted out with hot dishes including Indian and South Asian fare as well as a cold deli counter and snack bar. There is plenty to keep even the fussiest of diners catered for, and for those on a liquid diet, the fully stocked and staffed bar can make a variety of cocktails, wines and beers to order.
The interior design by ONG&ONG includes some lovely details. From the large contemporary light chandelier through to the dedicated private booths, which are the perfect refuge to set up base before your flight. The booths, with padded leather and personal lights and power ports (both USB and UK plug sockets), mimic the interior design of the new cabins.
Its here we made ourselves at home before heading off to the gate. Sampling in a delightful Ginger Mojito and a glass of champagne, accompanied by a curry with rice. For passengers travelling with others, or looking for more comfort, there is a wide range of seating options, from high-back chairs through to comfortable arm chairs, some facing each other, or others side by side to offer a little more privacy.
The lounge also offers showers, which are more than just functional, with large stone tiles, they are clean and contemporary and offer plenty of space to freshen up before flying onwards to Singapore.
Before heading off to the gate, we had a chance to quickly sign the guestbook before leaving the lounge. The gate was only a 5 minute walk from the lounge, and as there was no queue for us, we were boarding only shortly after the flight was called.
We boarded through the first door, meaning we headed through a very well appointed First Class cabin and a mini Business Class cabin. Being seated in the main business class cabin, we passed the door where economy passengers were boarding from. On first impressions there is very little difference between the first class and business class seats and this is a good thing, as the business class product feels like a first class product, and not the other way around. The forward mini cabin features 8 seats in a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration with the best seats in the house being the front row (11 A, D, F, K). The main cabin features a further 34 seats, with the best seats here being the two middle seats at the front (row 15 D & F)
The airline has used lighting to great dramatic effect, with spots and pools of light subtly giving the cabin a softer feel. As there are no artworks adorning the walls, the lighting, carpet and seats have to set the tone, and the swathes of polished copper & rose gold, myriads of checks and houndstooth fabrics, and soft flowing curves gives the cabin both a high-end residential and luxury car feel that brought a smile to most of the passengers onboard.
The mood lighting options mainly stayed in the pink to violet spectrum with hints of gold, helping accentuate the colours found in the seats. The toilets are well appointed too, and are very clean, but don’t offer any extraordinary design touches to write home about.
The seats really are the crowning glory for the cabin. These large and expansive seats offer swathes of space, and exceptional finishing. Framed in a metallic copper, the 30″ wide seats that convert into 78″ long beds are decked out in a variety of luxurious materials, including a beautiful quilted and stitched leather seat back.
The curved shell is sleek and incredibly ergonomic. The wings offer block the occasional glances from your neighbours, who are staggered slightly to give increased privacy. the seat numbers, situated on the seat wings, are illuminated to help find your way back at night, as well as offering a ‘Do Not Disturb’ function to ensure you aren’t woken if you want some privacy.
On arrival to our seat we were disappointed to find the row had a window missing (something we would have spotted if we stopped by SeatGuru) so after everyone had taken a seat, we asked if we could move to another seat. Whilst the cabin crew tried to organise this and take our jacket, it gave us the opportunity to explore the seat.
The seat might not be as wide as the previous incarnation of the seat, it has swapped seat width for more storage (not to say this is a narrow seat. Infact its the widest we have sat on. The seat faces the TV monitor in front, however there is a foot well slightly positioned to the side, which becomes part of the bed when deployed. On the side work surface, in its copper/gold carbon-fibre is a storage bin, which when opens reveals your personal noise cancelling headset. It then becomes a useful storage space for valuables. Next to this is a push-release super sized dining table.
Situated above is a storage cubby hole for newspapers, a personal directional reading light and one of two ports for the headphones to connect to. Just below this is a USB and unseat power socket, perfectly positioned for powering devices.
On the inside of the seat wing are a further three lights, which are angled perfectly depending on your seat position, coming in two different intensities. This combined with two further light switches on the side panel, means you can create an almost-infinite amount of lighting options depending on what you are up to.
Infront is a wide arrange of cubby holes and shelves, which serve to store books, personal belongings or a welcome glass of Champagne. To the side of the shelf is a vanity mirror, which when opens reveals two lights, perfect for checking your make-up before landing.
The seat is very comfortable, and offers a wide array of seating positions, many more than the previous seat, making finding the perfect ‘suite-spot’ easy to find.
To turn the seat into a bed, its best to ask one of the crew, however, it can be done by passenger too. The bed is found on the reverse of the chair, and is deployed by the flick of a handle on the back of the seat. The seat folds down, filling in the gaps and turning the seat space into a long bed, which needs to be slept in on the diagonal to get the full length of the seat. For those who don’t like placing their feet in a footwell to sleep, pick the front row seats, where the configuration means that you have a seat-wide bench instead giving full freedom to sleep in any position.
As part of the seat front panel is a large TV screen (18″) although many times we made the mistake of pressing the screen hoping it was touchscreen. Instead the inset controller acts as both a second screen and a very capable IFE controller.
The controller is fast, responsive and very intuitive, although it took us a few attempts to get into the full swing of things. The IFE library is extensive, with just short of 300 movies and vast amounts of TV programming. You can literally get lost in the entertainment system and it is built for the long haul traveller. In an innovative move, the TV also has a latch button at the top which allows the passenger to angle the screen down, meaning our small issue with these type of seats has been addressed effortlessly.
Our only criticism of the device, (and maybe its because we aren’t teenagers, and therefore lacking a built in understanding of everything electronic) is that although its easy to add films and programs to our seat, we couldn’t for the life of us work out how to then watch them. One benefit of having our headphones already in our seats meant that we could start watching our movies as soon as we sat down, enjoying it with a glass of champagne.
Singapore Airlines is one of the best restaurants in the sky. Whilst they don’t offer ‘Dine Anytime’ like rival Etihad does, their cuisine is exquisite, and an added element ‘Book The Cook’ allows passengers to select from an extensive menu prior to the flight, and have the dish delivered to their seat. Whilst we didn’t trial this on the outbound flight, we did on the inbound, and the experience is excellent, and we didn’t even need to mention we had booked it, as the cabin crew knew when we ordered our after-take off drink.
On taking a seat, we were offered either a non-alcoholic cocktail or glass of champagne. Taking the champagne we were pleasantly surprised by a very smooth champagne that worked both on the ground and at altitude.
Shortly after take off we were served by silver service a chicken Satay, Singapore Airlines signature dish. Excited to trial such an iconic dish we weren’t disappointed. The taste was excellent and we wanted to flag down the crew to have a few more.
We then tucked into the Menu.
Yum Woon Sen Kung Marinated Thai style prawns with vermicelli salad
Seared tournedos of beef in green peppercorn jus, sautéed mushrooms, carrot and gratin potatoes
Char Siew Rice Chinese barbecued pork with steamed rice and leafy greens – a popular Singaporean dish
Grilled corn fed chicken breast with mustard sauce, roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes
Braised cod fillet with Laksa gravy, vegetables and steamed rice
Summer Fruit pudding
Tiramisu glacé Tiramisu ice cream with cocoa powder and chocolate garnish
Somerset brie, blue stilton and black bomber served with quince paste, grapes, nuts and crackers
A selection of fresh fruit
Gourmet coffees and selection of fine teas with pralines
The starter was fresh and light, and beautifully presented. Whilst cold, it was still refreshing and vibrant in taste. We wish it was slightly larger though.
Trying to stay as authentic as possible, we opted for the Char Siew Rice, which came with its own hot sauce. There was plenty of rice, and the pork was hot, tasty and more than enough for one portion. The colour was equally as vibrant. We loved the fact the condiments for each dish are served on the side, providing as close to restaurant service as is possible at 35,000ft.
As if performing a choreographed ballet, the attentive and immaculate cabin crew managed to clear and serve each course with immaculate precision, and whilst operating from a trolley, managed to make the service attentive and personal. Allowing us to digest for a few moments before the dessert, we then decided on the Tiramisu which was delightfully light and devilishly moreish.
Whilst we were then were offered Cheese and crackers as well as a healthy option of fruit, we decided to decline, opting for rest instead, and asked for a Hot Chocolate to send us to sleep. The decadent drink was a chocoholics dream, and we were happy to be offered a few Charbonnel et Walker chocolates to satisfy our sweet tooth.
We managed to sleep the whole way through the flight, which whilst a treat, was disappointing, as we wanted to sample on the light bites menu, which featured a variety of noodles, sandwiches and snacks.
Waking naturally about 3 hours before descent, we were pleased to see the cabin crew preparing for breakfast, and we had built up a little bit of hunger over the 8 hours rest. Our table was quickly dressed, and whilst watching a movie, orange juice and a fresh Illy black coffee were brought to us after being asked by attentive crew who noticed us waking up.
We then had a large breakfast to choose from:
Choice of apple, tomato and freshly squeezed orange juice, or smoothies
Sliced fresh fruit
Choice of cereals or yoghurt
Thosai masala with potato bonda Indian style rice pancake with minced mutton, sambhar and coconut chutney
Fresh Toast with orange mascarpone and maple syrup
Mushroom Omelette with beef sausage, roasted tomato and potatoes
Assorted breakfast rolls with butter and fruit preserves
Whilst we were happy to delve into every single option, we limited ourselves to just the bread basket, which had an impressive array of treats, and the signature Thosai masala, which was deceptively spicy, and very fragrant. It was definitely the right choice, and very filling. The cabin crew also constantly went around ensuring everyone had enough pastries.
Throughout the flight there was an extensive wine cellar on offer too. With A Taittinger Prelude “Grand Crus” Champagne, a 2013 Mount Nelson Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru La Chantrerie, 2010 Chateau Larose Trintaudon Cru Bourgeois, 2011 Chateau Tour Haut Caussan Cru Bourgeois, 2012 Dandelion ‘Lioness of the McLaren Vale’ Shiraz and a 2011 Ferraton Pere Et Fils Crozes-Hermitage La Matiniere. Although we also recommend dipping into the extensive cocktail list, including Silver Kris Slings, Sunrise Breezer, Rumba, Screwdriver, Skyhigh, Kris in Love and the signature Singapore Sling or Dry Martinis on offer.
Sadly, before we knew it our flight had come to an end, our seats prepped for landing, and our decent into Singapore Changi airport came too soon, which after 13 hours on a plane, seemed as ridiculous to us as it must to you.
As you would come to expect, Singapore Airlines is all about extras. Once sat, both slipper-socks and eye masks are handed out. In a bizarre move (compared to premium economy and First Class) passengers in business class don’t receive an amenity kit, which we think is a shame, even though all the amenities are at your disposal if you are in the toilets or merely ask for them. Inside the toilets, there are plenty of combs, dental kits and shaving kits, along with a range of fragrances.
Naturally passengers will enjoy Phitek active noise-cancelling headsets too, which are very effective at blocking out the noise. For those needing a little more help, can simply ask for ear plugs.
Singapore Airlines also offers a wide range of magazines, one for an impressive inflight duty free shop, another for the extensive IFE collection, and a main magazine, called SilverKris, which is both contemporary and enjoyable to read, matching the aspirational nature of the carrier.
We also loved the two pillows offered to each seat, a square one and rectangular one, which is perfect for nesting into at night, and considering the size and fullness of them, they are really supportive of getting a great overnight sleep.
Singapore Airlines win countless awards constantly, and are lauded as one of the best airlines in the sky. Sometimes these accolades can seen unwarranted, but after this experience, we can’t fault the carrier at all. They really are a market leader in almost every single way. They now have one major competitor that we can see, in the form of Etihad and their new fleet, which in certain aspects have the competitive advantage, including amenity kits, less restrictive sleeping positions and ‘Dine Anytime’ service. But Singapore equally win, with comprehensive IFE, equally luxurious finishes, excellent food and wine, and naturally, the epitome of luxurious inflight service by some of the best cabin crew in the sky. We have no doubt that Singapore are still at the top of their game, and the latest cabin offering has only helped reinforce the carrier as a 5-star airline. Compared to the older business class seats, this seat doesn’t come with a radical design shift, but the experience, is light-years ahead.
The Big Picture