A380 Premium Economy
CHECK-IN AND BOARDING
Singapore Airlines had been a relative latecomer to the premium economy concept, but has jumped into the fray beginning in August with a Premium Economy product on its A380 service from Singapore to Sydney, with Hong Kong flights added shortly thereafter. The flight I was booked on is one of the first of the new HKG-SIN service. It was a chance to preview a product that’s set to roll out in the US beginning Jan. 6 from San Francisco and Jan. 17 from LAX.
My car from the hotel was quite punctual, with the result that I arrived at Hong Kong International with plenty of time to collect my boarding pass, but not enough for a lounge visit. Thus I was whisked through the security screening with hardly a backward glance at HKG.
THE SEAT When I arrived at the gate, I was able to circumvent the long lines for general boarding thanks to the priority boarding offered Premium Economy Class passengers. This goes along with priority check-in and baggage handling which are also part of the upgrade.
Once aboard, I saw that Premium Economy is a separate cabin from the others on the A380. It’s evident that SQ has determined to make this a standalone product with its own signature features. The color scheme and accents all set the stage for a different flying experience from anything else on the aircraft.
The seat itself has enjoyed lots of coverage in the press since it was unveiled back in February, and the product in person does not disappoint. The leather finish and appointments reminded me more of a high-design executive office chair than an average airline seat. With both an extendable footrest and calf support, the 19.5-inch-wide seat (18.5 inches on the 777) has plenty of spread-out room in the 2-4-2 configuration.
At first I was baffled by the seat control button; I mistook it for a power seat, but it’s really just a mechanical release. It’s up to you to supply the reclining power. And recline it does, a full 8 inches, giving room aplenty to kick back and enjoy the generous 13.3 inch IFE touch screen. Together with the provided noise-canceling headphones, the brilliant picture quality produced an immersive entertainment experience that was one of the best I’ve enjoyed in any class.
THE FLIGHT The cabin service began almost immediately after takeoff with complimentary champagne. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the service was exemplary – it is, after all, Singapore Airlines. It seems whatever class you’re in, this airline’s philosophy of service is consistently the same. The tangible product may vary from class to class, but the intangible quality of service is always flawless.
The Premium Economy menu looks like a baby brother of the one found in Business Class. For late lunch I chose the pan roasted chicken with seasonal vegetables and potatoes, which was accompanied by a pleasing Shiraz-Cabernet blend. The dinner was overall excellent, but the potatoes could have used some help. Delightfully, all was redeemed by the cup of Haagen Dazs at the end.
ARRIVAL As this was a daytime flight, I had no chance to try out the seat for sleeping comfort. But the space offered lots of thoughtful little touches – like two USB ports and individual power – which kept me entertained and productive throughout the trip. So when we touched down at Changi for an on-time arrival, I deplaned feeling rested and ready to discover Singapore.
VERDICT Singapore Airline’s Premium Economy is literally in a class by itself. It debuts in the US in January, offering big upgrades in comfort and amenities, and as always the carrier’s justifiably famous service. For value-conscious business travelers, this is the way to fly.