Sin­ga­pore Air­lines

A380 Pre­mium Econ­omy

Business Traveler (USA) - - TRIED & TESTED -

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.

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