Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class
BACKGROUND Singapore Airlines (SIA) began this non-stop service to San Francisco on October 23, 2016, using one of its new A350-900s. CHECK-IN Flight SQ32 leaves from Changi’s Terminal 3 building. Singapore Airlines’ Business class check-in is in row 6 and there are ten counters available. LOUNGE Turn left from immigration and up the first escalator to the lounges. The Silver Kris lounge is a huge space with varied seating sections, though many don’t have easy connection to a power port for mobile devices, which is unusual. However, there’s an extensive area of business desk booths near the entrance. Wifi is easy to connect and fast. The buffet food counters offer a typically varied range of hot and cold dishes, plus a good selection of beverages. To the left of the entrance are six shower rooms. BOARDING The plane was at gate B8, a 10-15 minute walk away from the lounges. Security checking was swift, and boarding began at 0855 for the 0925 scheduled departure. Once on board, my jacket was taken and a juice offered, and the aircraft pulled back from the gate on time. THE SEAT I was in a central seat (20D) – it smelled and looked brand new, with smooth leather seats in neutral grey tones. The seat is very wide and comfortable, and a sliding panel separating you from your neighbour provides reasonable privacy. A good-sized cushion was also a plus.
There’s no overhead bin above the central seats so it feels very spacious. Other storage options are plentiful but relatively limited in size. Good reading lights are behind both shoulders, and beneath one is a panel containing a universal socket, HDMI port, two USB ports and an iPhone socket. The 18-inch monitor has no touchscreen function but the control centre does and is easy to use. SIA’s “Companion App” allows you to browse content pre-flight and place movies, etc in a “Favourites” folder for access on board. You can also link your smartphone to your monitor and use it as a control device – useful if you’re lying down. Wifi is available and provided the fastest speed I’ve managed so far on a plane. WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE Business class uses a straight 1-2-1 configuration (A-DF-K) of 42 seats across two cabins (26 in the first and 16 in the second) separated by the galley and washrooms. Window seats provide a little more privacy, and seats towards the front of the first cabin create distance from the galley. THE FLIGHT Soon after take-off a tray was brought round with canapés and drinks, and my meal order was taken – there’s an extensive à la carte menu but I chose the (celebrity San Francisco) chef’s selection of grilled asparagus with prosciutto ham; seared bass fillet with kale, raisins and pumpkin purée; and chocolate bread and butter pudding for dessert – it was all excellent.
The fully flat bed was easy to prepare and I lay down to sleep (blanket and pillow are behind the seat-back). The footwell is offset so you lie diagonally, but this was not a problem. What was a problem was the noise level – being a morning flight many people stayed awake for almost all of the flight, and there was constant coming and going, and much clinking and chatter from the galley. I gave up after a few hours and watched a movie.
At 0615 (US time) we were served a choice of American, continental or Asian breakfasts; my American was substantial and tasty. ARRIVAL We landed more than 90 minutes ahead of schedule at 0837, having made excellent time over the Pacific. For once the US customs and immigration process was swift – I collected my bag and was away from the airport by 0915. VERDICT A spacious seat product on a very good plane, enhanced by excellent service and internet extras that add value. Because of the day-long timing of the flight, however, you’ll need to be a heavy sleeper to get any shuteye. Jeremy Tredinnick
DEPARTURE PRICE 0925 Internet rates for a midweek return business class flight from Singapore to San Francisco in mid-April start from S$6,990 (US$4,842) including taxes and surcharges. JOURNEY TIME 15 hours 45 minutes SEAT PITCH 140cm/55in SEAT WIDTH 71cm/28in CONTACT SEAT RECLINE singaporeair.com 180 degrees