TRIED & TESTED FLIGHTS

MANCH­ESTER-HOUS­TON

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS - Tom Ot­ley

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines’ MAN-IAH

BACK­GROUND

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines has 19 A350s in its fleet, and or­ders for an­other 50. This flight starts from Sin­ga­pore and flies via Manch­ester five times weekly. The flight has a two-hour stop when it ar­rives in the UK in the morn­ing and then flies west­ward to Hous­ton. It then re­turns from Hous­ton to Sin­ga­pore via Manch­ester.

CHECK-IN

I ar­rived at Manch­ester In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal 2 at 0800 for the 1020 de­par­ture on SQ52. There were sep­a­rate queues for econ­omy, pre­mium econ­omy and busi­ness pas­sen­gers, though at 8am there were only a few peo­ple queu­ing in the check-in lanes. I didn’t have any bags to check. I was given a sticker for fast-track se­cu­rity that saved a lit­tle time, but the rest of the air­port was busy. Pre­mium econ­omy pas­sen­gers do not get lounge ac­cess.

BOARD­ING

The flight started to board from the gate at around 0930. I man­aged to get on early, so I could film the cabin (see youtube/busi­nesstrav­eller).

TH­ESE AT

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines has a three-class con­fig­u­ra­tion of the air­craft: 187 econ­omy seats, 24 in pre­mium econ­omy and 42 in busi­ness. There is no first class. The pre­mium econ­omy cabin is lovely and small at just 24 seats, ar­ranged in a 2-4-2 lay­out across three rows. Each seat is 19-inches wide, with a 38-inch pitch and a re­cline of eight inches. The front row of the cabin (row 31) has more leg room, and a sup­ple­ment is charged for seats here (£76 for this trip). There was a bot­tle of wa­ter at the seat and af­ter take-off we were given a small amenity kit con­tain­ing a pair of flight socks, a tooth­brush and tooth­paste. Ear plugs and eye mask are avail­able on re­quest. Added ben­e­fits of pre­mium econ­omy in­clude a larger IFE mon­i­tor (13 inches), Ni­cholas Feuil­latte cham­pagne, and a slightly ex­panded food choice.

BEST SEAT

The front row seats are best, though the mid­dle four seats here are where the bassinets go if there are ba­bies on board. The back row (row 33) has bassinets di­rectly be­hind, in the front row of econ­omy. Go for win­dow or aisle seats (AC or HK). There are no ded­i­cated wash­rooms – you walk back into econ­omy to find them.

THE FLIGHT

There was a de­lay while we waited for de-ic­ing, and it was about 1130 be­fore we took off. We were kept in­formed by the pi­lot through­out. Shortly af­ter take-off, drinks in­clud­ing cham­pagne were brought round. The wifi was switched on at 1200. I was tempted to use it, but thought it was quite ex­pen­sive at $25.95 for the flight. I re­alise it’s costly to pro­vide the ser­vice, and I doubt any air­line has worked out how to make money from it. But if it is of­fered, it needs to be at a bet­ter price.

There was a choice of three main cour­ses (chicken, fish or beef). I had stir-fried beef in black pep­per sauce with Chi­nese veg­eta­bles and fried rice, fol­lowed by Haa­gen-Dazs ice cream.

About an hour af­ter lunch, the lights were dimmed to al­low pas­sen­gers to sleep. The air­craft is so quiet that you can hear snor­ing on the other side of the cabin. Some trav­ellers worked, keep­ing their de­vices charged with the in-seat power, and us­ing the wifi. I watched a cou­ple of films, worked for a while, dozed and then read a book. The seat re­clines by eight inches, but also moves for­ward, so you don’t im­pinge too much on the per­son be­hind (nei­ther does the per­son in front squash into you). It felt com­fort­able, whether work­ing on my lap­top or watch­ing a film. The only prob­lem was that my front row leg rest and calf rest were bro­ken, and de­spite the best at­tempts of the flight at­ten­dants, it could not be fixed. I didn’t mind be­cause my feet were propped up on my bag.

AR­RIVAL

The flight went by sur­pris­ingly quickly. Be­fore land­ing we had an­other meal with a choice of sand­wiches, and some fruit and a choco­late bar. We landed only slightly late from our de-ic­ing in Manch­ester and came off the air­craft im­me­di­ately af­ter busi­ness class.

VERDICT

An ex­cel­lent flight – I ar­rived feel­ing no more tired than when I set off. The pre­mium econ­omy seat on the A350 is very com­fort­able, the ser­vice friendly, and the food choice, pre­sen­ta­tion and qual­ity were all good.

The air­craft is so quiet that you can hear snor­ing on the other side of the cabin

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