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.
As I was connecting from a Lufthansa flight from Prague, I did not get a chance to experience the check-in process at Munich. Even so, the Singapore Airlines staff at the boarding gate were very courteous. I had a slight issue with the paperwork for my Vietnamese visa but they handled it in a professional manner. At the time of booking, I had selected the bulkhead extra legroom seat. Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines has gone the way of many other airlines whereby they charge for seat selection of extra legroom seats. The added cost for this seat was $75 for the 12-hour flight; not too bad and well worth the money.
My initial impressions of the crew while boarding really set the tone for the flight. I was impressed by how genuine they all were in their greeting. Every crew member I passed on the way to economy class acknowledged me. This was such a shock to me, particularly after one too many flights on the ME3 carriers where something like this is practically unheard of these days for the lowly economy passenger. Given our light load, across all classes, boarding was completed very quickly. The ever-so-classy Singapore Girls distributed amenity kits, menus, and hot towels (actual quality towels, not just cheap alternatives).
Singapore Airlines is one of the few carriers still in service with Boeing 777 aircraft who continue to maintain a nine-abreast layout in economy class across the entire fleet — even for new deliveries. This really cements the economy class seat on the Singapore Airlines 777-300ER as one of the best in the industry. The extra width, when compared to a 10-abeast layout, is the first thing you notice and certainly makes the flight in economy class that much more bearable and dare I say, even comfortable.
While the hard product and extra legroom seats are great, one minor criticism I have of the aisle bulk-head seat: they protrude into the aisle. When crew and passengers are walking past, they tend to bump the seat quite often, but once again, thanks to the light load this was not an issue on my flight. I could see it being annoying on full flights, more so as the premium economy passengers have to walk back into economy class to use the lavatories.
After departure, the service commenced. First there was a drink run followed by lunch about one hour into the flight. Given that this was my first flight with SQ in over eight years, I decided to try the signature Singapore Sling cocktail. It was very tasty, despite being made from pre-mix, but hey I was in economy class after all (the premium cabins get it mixed fresh).
For lunch there were three choices: meat, fish, or Asian curry. I went for the Asian chicken curry this meal, which was very impressive for economy class — both in terms of quantity and quality. I was initially a bit concerned as there was no dessert on the tray, but I need not have worried as the crew distributed magnum ice creams after the main service.
During the flight, the crew would pass through the cabin routinely every half-hour offering water and juice, as well as a choice of sandwiches, potato chips, and chocolates for those who were feeling a bit peckish. Again I have not seen such proactive service by the crew of other airlines in any of my recent economy class flights, and no this was not just a one-off case because the flight was so empty. This level of service was consistent across all of my Singapore Airlines flights, and the others were considerably more full or even at capacity.
Breakfast was served two hours prior to landing and once again I went for the Asian noodle option; you simply can’t make a wrong choice with the Asian dishes on SQ.
I managed to get close to six hours of sleep during the flight, but I should mention this was only thanks to the fact that I had one too many Singapore Slings and, given the light load, I had three seats to myself to form a makeshift bed. However on my return flight, I did not have the same luxury and still managed a good 4-5 hours of sleep in the seat itself with generous recline, width, and legroom.
In terms of the in-flight entertainment system (IFE), Singapore Airlines might not have the same depth of offering as its competitors, but even so there was a solid selection of new releases (Zootopia, my new favorite movie) and old favorites. Singapore Airlines has selected the Panasonic eX3 system for its 777-300ER aircraft, with the best airshow map feature out of all of the current systems, in my opinion. All economy class seats also come with USB and power sockets and, given the wider seats, there was no issue in watching some movies on my laptop.
Across all of the flights I took with Singapore Airlines on this trip, I was most impressed by the consistent service from the crew, something which I have not always found to be the case even from other so-called premium full service airlines. Singapore Airlines delivers an economy class product that has clearly survived the test of time and increasing competition from other carriers. Singapore Airlines understands that even the humble economy class passenger should have the opportunity to experience a truly premium experience. We can only hope that they keep this up in the future, and given the recent introduction of their new Airbus A350, we are certainly confident this will be the case for years to come.