Booked: The Crazy Aeroplan Trip
|Review: Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN–PER|
|View all: Reviews • Travel Talk|
Singapore Airlines is known as one of the world’s leading airlines, but its regional business class product has been in need of a refresh for quite some time.
Until last year, most of its regional routes were operated by a fleet of Airbus A330s, which come with older, angled-flat business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration (a product I had flown not too long ago).
That’s why it was exciting news when Singapore announced it would be the launch customer for the Boeing 787-10, which eventually debuted in April 2018 and would gradually become the new backbone for its regional routes, featuring an all-new lie-flat business class product.
Stepping off my Turkish Airlines flight, I was excited to be making an immediate connection onto the Singapore Airlines 787-10 that would bring me down to Perth, Australia. In fact, my inbound flight had been delayed slightly, so I saw a Singapore Airlines representative holding a placard with my name on it when I disembarked, ready to whisk me to my next departure gate onboard a dedicated buggy service.
As is customary at Changi Airport, I had to go through airport security at the departure gate, since they operate a dedicated security checkpoint for every gate instead of a central checkpoint for the entire departures hall. Soon after that, the gate agents called priority boarding, and I made my way onboard a Boeing 787-10 plane for the very first time.
Business class on the Singapore Airlines 787-10 is housed in one large cabin at the front of the plane. There are a total of 60 business class seats, spread across 15 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Singapore uses the Stelia Opal business class seats on this aircraft, and it would be my first time trying out this seat type. The seats are staggered such that each seat’s footwell sits underneath the console unit of the seat in front of it; in addition, the window seats alternate between being closer to the window and being closer to the aisle, while the central seats alternate between being close together and being far apart.
As a solo traveller, I selected Seat 11A in the front row, which is a window seat that’s closer to the aisle. Along with Seat 11K, this is one of the best seats in the house, and you’ll see why very soon.
(And yes, that’s despite SeatGuru giving it a “Beware” rating!)
(If you can’t secure Seats 11A or 11K, then I’d recommend choosing one of the window seats that are actually closer to the window, since those afford you more privacy. Meanwhile, travelling couples would probably want to select the middle seats that are closer together.)
The cream and walnut seat finishes make for a beautiful colour palette, and the textured pattern on the curvature of the seat shell was also an elegant and modern touch. Big thumbs-up to Singapore Airlines for choosing some swanky new visuals for their brand-new aircraft – it’s certainly a big improvement from the regional seats on their A330s, which were starting to look a little tired.
Because of how new this product is, it’s a real pleasure to sit down and admire all the little details of the seat, starting with the incredibly sharp KrisWorld entertainment system. Both the picture quality and the responsiveness of the touch screen are very impressive.
To the left of the entertainment screen here in Seat 11A is the key feature that makes this seat such a winner: this little nook is used as a baby bassinet if required, but if there are no babies on the flight, then the two lucky passengers in Seats 11A and 11K can simply use this area as additional storage space!
I kept my backpack here throughout the flight, and really appreciated having such a generous amount of space for my belongings. Needless to say, if I were flying this product again as a solo traveller, I’d aim to select Seat 11A or 11K without a moment’s hesitation.
Underneath the entertainment screen is a footwell that becomes part of the bed in lie-flat mode, and underneath that is another storage area.
If you weren’t sitting in one of these bassinet seats with the huge space on the side, you’d be able to store a small personal item, such as your purse or backpack, in the space down here.
Then, to the left of the footwell was the literature pocket.
The tray table is released from underneath the entertainment screen with a small push, and slides outwards into place. It can then be folded over to become a full-sized table.
I do prefer this type of sliding tray table compared to the ones that fold out from the side, as I find them to be easier to use and less likely to get in your way if you need to stand up during your meal.
As I was playing around with the seat, the flight attendant came by to offer me a hot towel and a choice of welcome beverage. I selected the champagne over the water and orange juice.
She also confirmed with me the dinner I had selected via Singapore’s Book the Cook service (a chicken and prawn laksa dish), as well as asking me if I wanted to continue with the same champagne after takeoff or switch to another drink (I chose to have the red wine instead). The world-class service on Singapore Airlines was well underway!
Anyway, back to the seat itself, where the spacious seat console plays host to several interesting nooks and crannies. The most significant feature is a large storage unit with a latch that can be opened and closed. All the pre-departure amenities, such as the headphones, menu, and slippers had been waiting for me here when I arrived at my seat.
As you can see, there are two USB ports and one power port within the storage unit itself, making it ideal for charging your small electronic devices and closing the latch to keep everything organized within.
Adjacent to the storage unit is a small pull-out vanity mirror, which is an underrated feature that you don’t find on many airlines.
Then, a bit lower on the side of the seat console is a set of illuminated seat controls, which look quite stylish and are also highly functional.
I will note that the Singapore 787-10 business class seat doesn’t allow for the position of individual parts of the seat (headrest, seat-back cushions, etc.) to be customized; instead, you can only use the seat controls to slide between various degrees of recline, from upright mode all the way to lie-flat mode.
Beneath those controls are the entertainment controller; since the touch-screen monitor was easily within arm’s reach, though, I didn’t end up using the standalone controller at all.
There are armrests on both sides of the seat, which can be lowered to be at the same level as the seat cushion. I had read a few other reviews of the 787-10 business class seat that indicated the seat was slightly on the narrower side; however, with the armrests lowered on either side, I didn’t think the width of the seat was a problem – at least in upright mode.
On the opposite side of the seat “shell”, you’ll find a set of reading lights, which can be toggled between several modes depending on how strong you like your lighting.
As you can see, the structure of the seat is curved in such a way that affords maximum privacy, even looking across the row. Once you’ve sat back and settled into your seat, you really do feel as though you’re in your own private suite, which is a real luxury to have on a regional flight within the Asia-Pacific.
We pushed back from the gate relatively efficiently after boarding was completed, but before that, I took the time to inspect some of the pre-departure amenities that had been left at my seat.
Perhaps it’s because of the relatively short duration of these flights (clocking in at around the 5-hour mark), but Singapore Airlines doesn’t provide a full amenity kit on their flights down to Perth; instead, I was only given an eye mask and a set of slippers, which I decided to put on for now.
There was also a set of headphones, which I later used to watch a movie during the meal service. The audio quality was good enough, although they weren’t fully noise-cancelling.
Lastly, there was the business class menu, which contained both the food and drinks list for this evening’s flight. If you read my airline reviews regularly, you’ll know that I usually keep a copy of the menu with me to include a scanned copy in the review; however, I must’ve misplaced the Singapore Airlines business class menu somewhere in my house in the days since taking this flight.
I’ll update this section if I find the menu again, but for now, I’m unfortunately unable to recreate the menu here, and I do apologize for that.
The safety video was displayed on the screen as we taxied across the tarmac of Changi Airport, along with a helpful video explaining all the features of the business class seat.
As we initiated our takeoff sequence, I browsed through the KrisWorld entertainment channels, looking for something to watch over dinner before getting some work done for the remainder of the flight. I was impressed with the vast selection of over 100 movies and TV titles on Singapore Airlines.
In particular, it was cool to see that you could choose between Complete Seasons and Back-to-Back Episodes of a huge number of TV shows.
I decided to watch something light-hearted, so I put on Johnny English Strikes Back for a bit of mindless entertainment.
My intention had been to watch the movie over dinner, but the meal service didn’t actually begin until about one and a half hours into the flight, which was something I found mildly surprising. By that time, Rowan Atkinson had basically saved the day already, and I ended up finishing the movie midway through the appetizer course.
As is commonplace onboard Singapore Airlines, the meal began with a round of delicious chicken satay skewers… which I unfortunately ate too eagerly to be able to photograph. Oops!
No worries, you can catch a glimpse of those satay skewers in this Instagram post:
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Work work work on the swanky new @singaporeair Boeing 787-10. A stylish biz class seat and top-notch food & service as usual. One more round of chicken satay, please... 🍢🥘 . . . #singaporeairlines #businessclass #b78710 #boeing #dreamliner #australiabound #sixcontinents #seat11a #luxurytravel #frequentflyer #upintheair #traveladdict #wanderlust #crazyrichasians #richinmiles #notcash
That was followed by the appetizer course, which was a delectable cold soba noodle dish with seared albacore tuna. As someone who loves noodles and seafood, I savoured every single bite, and was very tempted to ask if they had another plate available – before thinking better of it and deciding to save my stomach for the upcoming chicken and prawn laksa.
Check out the searing action on that albacore tuna. Yum!
Garlic bread was offered on the side, and it was very tasty, although the combination with the Eastern flavours of the soba noodles wasn’t the most complementary.
After I finished my appetizer, it was withdrawn from the tray, and replaced by a steaming hot bowl of chicken laksa as my main course. This was my first time experiencing Singapore’s signature Book the Cook service, where passengers departing from Singapore can choose from over 50 Asian and Western dishes (and passengers departing from outstation airports can select quite a few locally-inspired dishes as well).
The chicken and prawn laksa did not disappoint in the slightest. I wasn’t expecting the laksa in the sky to taste anything close to the level of the stuff you’ll find at Singapore’s famous hawker stalls (since the dish gets prepared on the ground, frozen, and then reheated onboard), but it certainly did come close.
The laksa soup, in particular, was rich in that delightfully spicy and coconut-y flavour, and I finished the whole thing down to the very last drop.
After the main course, I washed down the sharp flavours of the laksa with some smooth chocolatey goodness in the form of tiramisu cake…
…and also tried a few bites of the cheese plate, although as is often the case on these multi-course business class meals, I wasn’t able to finish the whole thing.
On another note, I also thought the arrangement of the cheese plate felt a little cheap, since I’d expect the crackers to be removed from their packaging on an airline of Singapore’s calibre, as much of a first-world complaint as that is…
To finish the meal, I ordered a nice cup of Earl Grey tea, and the kind flight attendant treated me to a small piece of candy as well.
By this point, we were past the halfway point of the flight, with two and a half hours having elapsed since takeoff. Like I said, while the crew’s service was exemplary throughout the meal, I did find the service speed on this particular flight to be on the slower side.
I visited the business class restroom after the meal, which was right around the corner from me in Seat 11A.
Despite the 787-10’s larger size compared to the -8 and -9 variants, it’s not the most spacious restroom in the world; however, as you’d expect from Singapore Airlines, it was kept immaculately clean throughout the flight, and there are also a variety of amenities on hand in case you need them (especially since we didn’t receive amenity kits in business class this time).
I spent the next few hours intermittently working on my laptop and simply relaxing in my seat with my tea. Singapore Airlines has equipped their newest planes with wifi, and business class customers can connect to the service for free, simply by entering their last name and seat number.
That’s excellent news, because the normal wifi prices aren’t very generous at all (you’ll get at most 200MB of data for US$28).
When I wasn’t working, I’d place my laptop in the bassinet space where it was easily within reach. This generous amount of space is definitely a real luxury to have if you manage to book it as a solo traveller.
I wasn’t planning to sleep on this flight, but I did experiment with putting the seat into lie-flat mode to see what it would feel like if I did want to sleep.
The verdict? In lie-flat mode, the seat does feel slightly narrow – the lowered armrests somewhat alleviate this issue for your upper-body area, but not really in the long and slender footwell. On the plus side, the seat is indeed quite long, and there was plenty of room lengthwise for my 5’11’’ frame to maneuver.
Overall, I’d say that the seat is perfectly acceptable for getting some sleep, despite its slightly elongated size compared to your average business class seat. It’s certainly a huge improvement upon Singapore’s older regional A330s, which still only offer angled-flats in business class!
As the captain announced that we were nearing our arrival in Perth, a rather amusing video from Australian customs was displayed, warning visitors about the importance of strong customs controls in safeguarding Australia’s unique biodiversity.
The crew also came through the cabin to pass out some bottled water, candies, and chocolate treats to thank us for flying with Singapore Airlines.
My eyes were glued to the windows all the way along our descent into Perth Airport, since this would officially mark my travel milestone of finally visiting all six inhabited continents.
As I stepped onto Australian soil for the first time, I bade farewell to a very pleasant flight onboard the Singapore Airlines 787-10, knowing that I’d probably be back soon on my next big Aeroplan Mini-RTW journey with far-flung Perth as the destination.
For a long time, Singapore Airlines’s lacklustre regional business class product on their Airbus A330s belied their stature as one of the world’s five-star airlines. With the introduction of the new Stelia Opal seats on the Boeing 787-10, that’s definitively no longer the case.
The 787-10 business class seat is a true pleasure to fly on, with ergonomic seat features and ample storage and surface space (especially if you can snag one of the bassinet seats, 11A or 11K). Moreover, I was delighted to try out Singapore’s Book the Cook service for the first time, which gave me a delicious laksa dish as the star of an already impressive meal service. I’d make every effort to fly on the Singapore Airlines 787-10 again the next time I’m jetting around the Asia-Pacific.