I have been lucky enough to fly quite a few different Business Class products on a variety of airlines over the years. Often, those airlines will directly ask me what I thought about their product and question which was my favorite. Each and every time, I find a few nice things to say about their product, but ultimately then have to admit that Singapore Airlines’ Business Class product on the Airbus A380 has been my favorite. None of the airlines have been insulted – at least I don’t think – because Singapore really does have a top-notch product.
When I learned that Singapore was updating their already impressive product, I was intrigued. Recently I was invited, along with Bernie Leighton (a Managing Correspondent for the site, who also holds elite status on all the airline alliances) to check out their first Boeing 777-300ER to feature Singapore’s new interior. Our tour took place at the Boeing Everett Delivery Center just hours before the plane was delivered to Singapore Airlines and took off, and I wanted to share both of our thoughts.
We also want to be able to share a bit more than thoughts and photos. You have the chance to WIN A SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 777-300ER MODEL. Keep on reading to find out how…
After getting a run down of the new product by Singapore and a tour of the Boeing Everett Delivery Center, we watched as the new 777 was pulled up to one of the gates and we boarded with huge smiles on our faces. It never gets old being one of the first people to board a brand-new airplane with that “new plane smell.”
Unfortunately, the In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system was not up and running. It takes a couple of hours to get loaded and the plane just changed hands from Boeing to Singapore right before we boarded. Even without the fully-functioning IFE, we were still quite impressed.
THE NEW FIRST CLASS
The First Class cabin is intimate, with only eight seats set in two rows of a 1-2-1 configuration. The seat and cabin feel luxurious, with enough privacy to be exclusive. The seat size is impressive with 35″ of width and a length of 82″ when made into a bed. There are not any overhead bins, which really gives the section a feeling of grandeur. There are plenty of nooks and bins to store all your belongings in the seat or in one of the First Class cabinets up front.
Although the hard-product in First Class is impressive, passengers who pay the premium are also getting a higher level of service including a dedicated team of three flight attendants, better food, improved drinks, and amenities.
Bernie’s First Class Thoughts: I really appreciated the changes they made to the seat control panels for the First Class seats. The old ones were a bit hard to access from certain angles. The headphone rest is also an improvement. I am also a fan of the additional padding on the seats that appears to be always deployed. I may have bashed myself a few times on the old seats.
THE NEW BUSINESS CLASS
The new Business Class seat stays big and in a 1-2-1 layout, just like first class. Although the space between the armrests remains at a staggering 35″ (almost three feet), the actual seat cushion has been reduced by about 2″ due to passenger feedback about the seat being too wide – yes: too wide. Having previously flown the older business class product, I can attest that it was insanely wide with passengers easily sliding back and forth.
Replacing the extra cushion, the seat offers additional working and living space while providing more privacy over the previous model. It is just one of those products that welcomes passengers to take a seat and enjoy the ride – you’ll almost be upset when it is over.
When converted to a bed, it gives an ample 78″ of length. Although the seat can reach 132 degrees of recline while in seat mode, it requires a “turn-down service” to be changed to a fully-flat bed. It takes an extra minute or so to convert the bed (the flight attendants will do it for you), but it proves to be worth the effort, especially with the additional comfy mattress pad.
The IFE screen is not as big as First Class, but still a very respectable 18″ wide, with similar features such as the touch screen remote and HDMI/USB ports.
Before heading back to Economy, I decided to try my patented (okay, not really) “Laptop Test.” This is simply seeing if I can eat, work on my laptop, and watch a movie without having the screen blocked by my laptop. Not too many products can accomplish the challenge, but this seat passed with flying colors and I had room to spare.
Bernie’s Business Class Thoughts: Singapore’s two Product Innovation Specialists explained how their color ‘story’ came from high-end luxury cars and restaurants. Having done that style of dining in Singapore, I can attest that a lot of the colors are in fact very bold. The color story for the section is definitely right on the nose, especially when combined with the lighting. The product is very modern, but not in a way that will fall out of style quickly. It is really, really, well done.
My complaint about their old product was that it felt like I was sitting in a huge chair with no walls. They’ve managed to make the seat feel more private on both counts. I won’t have to worry about sloshing side to side any more in turbulence. It is one of the few Business seats out there I would actually pay for (the others being Cathay Pacific and American Airlines, if you were wondering).
THE NEW ECONOMY CLASS
Finally we get to the back of the plane with the new Economy Class – and it felt big. Typically, when going into an economy section of any plane (filled or not) I start to feel a bit claustrophobic, like the walls (and elbows) are closing in on me. I stood at the entrance of the section and stared for a minute or two trying to figure out what was different (besides the colors and seat fabric) that helped me feel a bit more at ease.
The biggest reason is that Singapore Airlines is still configuring their 777s in a 3-3-3 layout, whereas a vast majority of airlines have gone to 10-abreast. Singapore also gives economy passengers 32″ seat pitch, which is more than tolerable, even for those who might be a bit taller.
The airline successfully makes use of new lighting to give the feel of additional space. The cabin also provides overhead bins that store up into the top of the airframe, which truly gives the cabin more space.
Bernie’s Economy Class Thoughts: Economy feels like they are trying to mimic Economy+ on many other airlines, which is a good thing. The IFE screen is huge (11.1″) and is bigger than other airlines’ Business Class screens.
The things like the padding and contour changes do make it feel a lot more spacious than most economy classes, and the footrest is a great use of space that doesn’t conflict with under-seat storage. Each tray table has a clever mirror, but I’m not sure how long they will stay unscratched.
This is one impressive product, and it should be. The airline has put about $150 million just into the interiors of their eight new 777s. Although the airline has not officially announced if the rest of their long-term fleet will get the new product, I would expect that sooner or later it will be updated – which will not be an easy nor quick task. But the airline understands the need to provide a consistent product to customers. Yes, their previous cabins were impressive (and still are), but soon passengers will be demanding these new seats on more than a few aircraft.
If you want to check out the new interior yourself, you can now. The airline’s first 777 with this product started flying between Singapore and London on flights SQ318 & SQ319 late last week. Singapore will continue to take delivery of the remaining 777-300ERs and add them to additional high-volume routes.
Once again, it seems that Singapore is setting the standard for interiors and they know that to stay in the lead, they cannot rest on their laurels. Other airlines should be paying attention and I am sure that they are.
WIN A SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 777 MODEL
Not everyone will be able to enjoy the new Singapore Boeing 777 interior, but you DO have a chance to win your very own Singapore Airlines 777-300ER model. Singapore Airlines is kind enough to share the model with some of the biggest AvGeeks (aka you).
The contest is easy. In the comments, just put where you would like to fly the new Singapore product.
Could be London, San Francisco, Tokyo or heck, even Delaware (we love you Delaware). You can only enter once and must provide your email address in the comment form (it will not be public and only use to notify the winners). Any cheating and you are disqualified.
You have until Saturday, October 5th at 5pm PDT to add your comment and at that time I will run a random number generator three times and determine the winners. First names and last initials for the winners will be posted here after the contest. Good luck!
UPDATE: The contest is now over and the three random winners were: Leo S from The Netherlands, Robin E from Salt Lake City and Christian K from Los Angeles. Thanks everyone for competing!
ADDITIONAL SINGAPORE AIRLINES PHOTOS
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