A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER taxis for departure at Sydney - Photo: Rory Delaney

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.

Preparing to board SQ327 on a very rainy Munich afternoon Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Preparing to board SQ327 on a very rainy Munich afternoon – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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.

Not the worst economy seat to spend 12-hours in Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Not the worst economy seat to spend 12 hours in – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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).

The "Singapore Girls" are always such a pleasure to fly with Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The “Singapore Girls” are always such a pleasure to fly with – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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.

While the extra legroom is welcome, the aisle seats protrude into the aisle which can become a bit annoying Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

While the extra legroom is welcome, the aisle seats protrude into the aisle which can become a bit annoying – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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).

The best way to start an SQ flight, the signature Singapore Sling cocktail Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The best way to start an SQ flight, the signature Singapore Sling cocktail – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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.

What really sets SQ economy class apart from the competition is the little touches, like premium sencha green tea Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

What really sets SQ economy class apart from the competition is the little touches, like premium sencha green tea – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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.

The Panasonic eX3 system is one of the best IFE systems today Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

The Panasonic eX3 system is one of the best IFE systems today – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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.

While the IFE selection may lack the same depth and variety as its competitors, they have Zootopia which is a win for me Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

While the IFE selection may lack the same depth and variety as its competitors, they have Zootopia, which is a win for me – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

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.

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC A native of Australia, Jacob’s interest in aviation first came about as a child going on a long-haul flight between Australia and Europe to visit relatives. In addition to being a pilot himself, he has worked in operations for a charter airline, been on-the-ramp handling aircraft, worked as a slot coordinator for major airports, and currently works as an aircraft charter broker for corporate and VIP clients throughout Eastern Europe. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys photography, plane spotting, and travel. Email: jacob@airlinereporter.com.

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Review: Flying Short-Haul Economy on a KLM Boeing 737-900
10 Comments
Plane-Crazy Joe

Jacob, I’ve flown four long-haul segments on SQ: from LAX>NRT>LAX, twice, on 380s. They were flown this year and last year. All flights were in Economy Cabin. ALL four were SUPERLATIVE; the BEST product and service I’ve ever experienced in Cattle Class. Even BETTER than the four long-hauls I’ve had on Emirates! So, I can attest to your report! EVERY meal service was excellent; preceded by a LARGE Hot Towel – the size of a small, REAL, towel – service. Each meal offered REAL SILVERWARE – not the typical plastic crap! Furthermore, NO other airline has supplied me with an Amenity Kit, in Economy! Aside from the kit, I was given an eye mask as well!

I wasn’t charged for Advance Seat selection on either itinerary. So, I’ll have to check into exactly where these charges apply now.

The only negative factor I experienced on all segments was the continuing Symphony of the Flushing Toilets at the rear of the cabin! They seemed MUCH LOUDER; due to EXTRAORDINARILY LOW NOISE level of the 380’s cabin! However, the legendary Singapore Ladies had that issue covered; supplying me with ear plugs!

Finally, to readers of your report, I HIGHLY recommend flying Singapore! They won’t disappoint you!

Grace Magoche

The best airline for economy class. The first time I flew with SQ to Brisbane from Dublin I had a neck problem and needed a heat pack, the air hostesses were so attentive and caring throughout the journey I will forever be grateful and yes I have highly recommended SQ to family ,friends and workmates

A few years ago, flying back to SFO from HKG, I experienced what was to be first of many outstanding service provided by SQ. For whatever reason, HKG has an absolutely ridiculous and absurd policy of checking to see whether you brought any water bottle at the gate as you board the aircraft even after the fact that it was purchased after security. My water which I purchased after security screening was confiscated by HK security and of course I was quite upset as I usually have a bottle to sip throughout the flight to prevent dehydration. When I stepped onboard, I complained to the male pursuer (of course not his fault) and he was understanding. Then throughout the flight, he continually asked me whether I needed water. It is this level of attention in service which sets SQ apart from all the other airlines. All my flights since on SQ, between SFO and HKG, have been superb, their flight attendants are very courteous and attentive. It is this type of characteristics of SQ which are missing from many other airlines especially US carriers and especially UA. US airlines don’t realize that good customer service can make up for many of the deficiencies in their hard product. Also, the seats are comfortable, even in economy and the food portion sizes are quite generous.

Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and we will be waiting for your
further write ups thank you once again

Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and we will be waiting for your
further write ups thank you once again

Caddilac

The most impressive things about SQ in my opinion is all about consistencies. They are able to deliver the service level regardless of short or long haul flight. Unlike some other competition that has cut the cost down quite a bit in the economy class. Some other carriers with multi national crew on board delivering different level of service due to the different culture the people have, lacking the consistency on SQ.

Out of the many SQ flights we’ve taken, I narrate one that happened in 2010. My wife was travelling alone for her father’s funeral – Dunedin-Auckland on NZ, Auckland-Singapore-Bombay on SQ

Upon receiving the news of her father passing away, we booked flights with a travel agent at around 3 pm with the first leg DUD-AKL starting at 7 pm. For some reason she needed paper tickets and 4 hours time between booking and flying the first leg wasn’t enough for obtaining paper ticket. SQ phoned us and asked her to proceed with her first leg to AKL, and her paper tickets would be ready at SQ check-in counter at AKL

My wife was worried and concerned – what if the paper tickets were not ready and she’ll be denied boarding. She’ll be in a transit city with nowhere to go. SQ also told her to approach the First/Business Class check-in counter. After landing in AKL, my wife proceeded to SQ’s First class counter and immediately she was handed over her paper ticket by a very emphathetic staff member (they knew she was travelling alone for bereavement reasons)

On board, even though the flight was reasonably full, SQ gave her a seat in the middle with the remaining 3 seats vacant (B777 3-4-3) so she can lie down on a row of 4 seats. The FA’s didn’t insist her to eat when she refused dinner, but throughout the flight asked her if she’d like to eat something. Due to not eating anything, my wife developed a bloated tummy. The FA’s quickly gave her a tablet and made her lie down so she could feel comfy. My wife took some breakfast and upon landing the FA’s made her disembark first before other Economy passengers

All this attention to a distraughted woman travelling alone to attend her father’s unexpected death and funeral – in SQ’s Cattle Class. “Thank You” SQ – “Thank You” indeed

KC Choi

I attest to all of the testimonies presented here. In this day and age where competition is so great and pressure to cut-cost is huge, Singapore Airlines is ensuring it is ahead with its products – even Economy Class. Who knows, an Economy Class customer may aspire to fly Business or First Class someday. SQ is still my airline of choice. It is indeed a great way to fly and provides service that even other airlines talk about.

I was stationed at Bergstrom in 1966.

It is possible to check the availability of Extra Legroom Seats during the booking procedure before actually completing the purchase.

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