Singapore Airlines’ ultra-long-haul route from Newark to Singapore — discontinued a few years ago — was truly a legendary flight. On the wings of an Airbus A340-500, it clocked in just shy of 19 hours westbound, making it the longest regularly scheduled flight in the world. But when fuel prices rose, Singapore Airlines was forced to get rid of the inefficient A340-500s, and the ultra-long routes with them.
Then came a new generation of aircraft that offered enough fuel efficiency to make lengthy routes more profitable. Singapore Airlines’ Star Alliance partner United got the jump on launching a direct flight between the U.S. and Singapore, flying a Boeing 787-9 from San Francisco. Singapore Airlines (SQ) struck back with an Airbus A350-900 on the same route a few months later, but it wasn’t done there. SQ has its sights set on the return of the ultra-long-haul direct flights to Newark and Los Angeles. And very soon, it will have just the plane to do it: the Airbus A350-900ULR (for “ultra long range”).
Read on for more on what this very special aircraft means for Singapore Airlines, and what it could mean for you.
The beautiful terminal at Singapore Changi Airport – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter
I recently needed to travel between Singapore and Hong Kong while on vacation. There are a lot of options for airlines and equipment for that four-hour flight. I had done the opposite route on the way there in Cathay Pacific business class on an A330. Since I’d never had the opportunity to fly Singapore Airlines (SQ), despite the rave reviews, I decided to transfer points from my Chase account to my SQ KrisFlyer account to redeem for first class. I figured the flight, while not long-haul, was long enough to get to experience the airline.
This article will focus on the ground experience at the excellent Singapore Changi Airport, which many consider to be the best airport in the world. I can see why.
Entrance to the private check-in area
Inside the private First Class check-in area – Photos: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter
Dedicated immigration line for First Class passengers
We arrived at the terminal via the MRT train. Given the chance again, I would have just caught a cab or an Uber, since it was nowhere as convenient and timely as, say, the Hong Kong airport express train. Also, when you arrive via car, you can be dropped off in the driveway of the private First Class check-in area. Instead, we had to wander through the terminal to find it – luckily my wife has become more patient with these types of adventures.
A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER – Photo: Aero Pixels | FlickrCC
In February, 2017, I had the opportunity to fly business class on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles to Tokyo/Narita. As luck would have it, I was on a Boeing 777 that had recently been retrofitted with Singapore’s new business class product. I took a few photos to share the experience.
In 2014, I flew on Singapore’s previous 777 business class product and wrote a review. The new seats are a big improvement.
The business class product
Check-In & LAX Star Alliance Lounge
Check-in at the Singapore Airlines ticket counter was fast and friendly. Security lines at 6:45 am were short.
After surviving the TSA, I immediately directed my attention to breakfast at the Star Alliance Lounge. Located on the 5th floor, the lounge is quite large. The area is filled with dining tables, couches, and comfortable chairs. A variety of breakfast foods were offered including a cereal bar, quiche, scrambled eggs, danish, bagels, and assorted breakfast meats (with and without pork). A nice selection of fresh fruit and cheese was also available.
Drink selections were numerous. My first stop was the espresso machine, which makes a mean latte. I had two to make sure I was ready for the 11-hour flight. No sleeping with a window seat!
For photos and a full review of the LAX Star Alliance Lounge, see the 2013 AirlineReporter post.
A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER taxis for departure at Sydney – Photo: Rory Delaney
It has been over eight years since my last Singapore Airlines (SQ) flight. I have always had a great fondness for SQ; after all, it was the first airline I traveled on internationally when I was just four years old, going from Australia to Europe. Even when I flew them eight years ago, they were still in my opinion the carrier to beat in economy class. With much excitement and anticipation, I booked my next series of flights with Singapore Airlines, as they turned out to be the cheapest and most convenient option for a recent work trip to Southeast Asia. I was curious to see if they were still able to deliver a class-leading product in economy class, even with the ever increasing threat of competition from the three large Middle Eastern carriers.
I ended up taking four flights for my trip, but I will focus on the first flight I took from Munich to Singapore. This flight left the strongest impression on me, and the fact that there were only about 80 passengers in economy class made for a very comfortable flight.