We recently flew Singapore to Adelaide on board the A350 in business class, this is the new ‘regional business class’ for Singapore Airlines.
Before leaving Singapore, we visited the SilverKris lounge at Terminal 3 in Changi, which is, unfortunately, starting to lag behind other major competitors. We visit this lounge several times a year and it is now a bit underwhelming. Nothing stands out in the lounge and there is a distinct lack of seating considering the number of people that need to access this lounge in the evenings. It could double in size and still barely handle the demand. Every time we visit this lounge it is a fight for seats, you're lucky to find one or two spares. This means it is full of people and bags, lacking a feeling of luxury, unlike the expanse of the Qatar Airways Doha lounge, as an example. Apart from the noodle stand, the food is average buffet fare, the drink selection is fine despite the lack of barista coffee. It is worth noting that there are no boarding calls in the lounge and limited screens listing the departure time or gate updates.
Upon boarding the first thing that strikes you is how new the plane and seats all seem. The latest product is staggered in a 1-2-1 layout, a huge improvement on the old 2-2-2 seat configuration which has angled beds. This seat design uses the alternating cubby hole style beds, where your legs extend into a foot well which becomes the work/storage area for the person in front of you. The 2 seats in the middle are next to each other in one row and then separated in the following row and so on. Whilst the seats on the window side alternate between being up against the window or into the aisle, depending on if you prefer more privacy or easier access. The 2 seats next to each other do have a privacy screen if you had to sit next to a stranger but are really designed for couples. One thing we really enjoy on Singapore Airlines is the extensive magazine and newspaper selection upon boarding, something that a lot of airlines like Qantas have cut back on. We were offered the standard choice of drinks upon boarding, champagne, juice and water, before settling into our seats.
The seat is very spacious with ample storage in and around the seat, including under the footrest for bulkier items, a magazine pocket next to the footrest and a compartment in the main console complete with charging capabilities. This compartment is big enough to store personal items that you will need during the flight, headphones, or a small tablet. The seat and entertainment controls are both in easy reach in the armrest of the seat. The seat controls are easy to read and convert the seat into a flatbed. The tray table slides out from under the entertainment screen, making the table completely independent from the seat and can be used when the seat is upright or flat.
Compared to the previous seats on this route, these are now fully flat beds and the staggered seat design results in a straight flatbed, compared to the design found on longer haul Singapore Airlines aircraft where you end up having to sleep across the seat on an angle. Whilst aligned straight and reclining to be fully flat, they are on the narrow side although it didn't really bother us. The upside is that they can be reclined to fully flat without having to stand up and fold the back down to create the bed. This makes it much easier to fall asleep than on the other design and is also handy for watching movies partially reclined, as the long haul seat design has a huge gap between how far you can recline in seat mode compared to when it is made into the flatbed.
The seat was presented with the blanket, pillow, eye mask and slippers with the headphones in the storage compartment. Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines continues to disappoint in the lack of amenity kit and pyjamas, for what is meant to be one of the world's best business class cabins it is starting to become an expected norm that at least one of these would be included. If it was a lower quality airline with a cheap price point it wouldn't be such an issue. We do appreciate the slippers though, which are a nice inclusion and not offered by all airlines. If you like to use earplugs we'd suggest bringing your own and the provided noise-cancelling headphones are quite low quality. Again, it would pay to have your own pair along with your preferred skin care. Unfortunately the pillow, whilst attractive from afar, is more of a throw pillow than something you'd want to sleep on. The material was hard and a bit abrasive, it was a bit small and not very comfortable. A slightly larger and softer pillow would make a big difference.
As always the KrisWorld entertainment system was full of the latest movies, tv shows and games to keep you occupied during the flight. The screen is extremely responsive, has an amazing resolution and the menus and navigation are second to none. The controller is amazing, it may be slightly complicated if you weren't especially technologically adept but they have made an effort to include a walk through and icons on how to use the system, either with the controller or via touch controls. The only downside with the entertainment on Singapore Airlines is the incessant adverts before every program, which can become a bit annoying if you watch something for a few minutes and then decide to watch another program. An option to skip a certain number of ads, like on YouTube, would be much appreciated.
While there is complimentary Wi-Fi on board, there is not really enough to do anything with, as only 30mb of data is included for business class passengers. After this has been used you will be prompted to purchase a package depending on your needs, as this was an overnight flight we didn’t worry about purchasing any additional data. But during a day flight, this would be quite useful.
We were offered a choice of meals, to either eat a proper dinner or just be woken up for breakfast. We opted for the latter so we could get some sleep, as the flight leaves just before midnight. The menu reads in a way that you really just have one choice of meal service instead of having both, but we noticed some ate on both occasions without too much push back from the staff. Unfortunately, the breakfast was a bit of a let down with a limited choice of cooked options and average continental items. The sausages were a strange taste, the frittata lacked flavour and tasted a bit like cardboard, pastries were underwhelming and even the fruit was disappointingly unripe. It seems the staff are keen to try and subtly push people to take the breakfast option rather than stay up until 2am having dinner, which makes sense, but then they should really have some more impressive breakfast options.
Whilst most of the passengers went to sleep shortly after take-off, at least 3 travellers opted to stay awake and have the dinner service. This meant that the lights were on for the first 2-hours, of a 6-hour overnight flight, and then they are turned on again 1hr 50mins prior to landing for the breakfast service. Also, the overhead lights are extremely bright on this flight, coupled with the very large screens which omit a lot of light into the cabin, so utilising your eye masks were a must to get some shut-eye.
The breakfast was rather paired back and could easily have been done with 1hr and 15mins before landing. Qantas is very good at this to leave enough time for people to sleep, Singapore Airlines haven't reacted in this regard which is disappointing. There was a significant amount of time between finishing breakfast and the start of the descent.
Whilst the meals and amenities could use improvement, the lovely service from the world's best flight attendants, the comfortable flat beds and excellent entertainment system still make Singapore Airlines an excellent choice for business class flights between Adelaide and Asia. On top of those benefits is the far superior aircraft with the A350 delivering a very quiet flight, you really notice the difference with the lower cabin pressure and higher humidity too.