Sin­ga­pore Air­lines A350-900 busi­ness class

HOUS­TON-MANCH­ESTER

Business Traveller - - TRIED AND TESTED FLIGHT - Tom Ot­ley

BACK­GROUND

This was the overnight re­turn flight from Hous­ton into Manch­ester, with a flight time of eight hours.

THE LOUNGE

I was a tran­sit pas­sen­ger at Hous­ton, so went to Ter­mi­nal D to the United Club Lounge, which has had a makeover (see the re­view on busi­nesstrav­eller.com).

BOARD­ING

At Gate D1 there were sep­a­rate queues, in­clud­ing one for busi­ness class and top-tier card hold­ers. Once on board, I was di­rected to my seat and my jacket was taken.

THE SEAT

Busi­ness class seats are ar­ranged in a four-abreast 1-2-1 con­fig­u­ra­tion (A-DF-K). There are two cab­ins: the first has 26 seats, while the sec­ond has a fur­ther 16. I was in seat 21K in the sec­ond of the two cab­ins.

The seat has var­i­ous pre-set po­si­tions in­clud­ing “lazy-Z” and “sun­deck”. There is no leg or foot rest, so this can be un­com­fort­able for shorter pas­sen­gers, as the seat re­clines and your feet can be left hang­ing. In-seat ameni­ties in­clude an 18-inch LCD mon­i­tor, van­ity mir­ror, a “busi­ness panel”, fea­tur­ing a power adap­tor, along with USB ports, HDMI out and an iPod plugin. A read­ing light is con­ve­niently lo­cated above the panel, too. In-flight wifi is also avail­able at $25.95. The IFE mon­i­tor is lo­cated within arm’s reach of the seat, but the best way of con­trol­ling it is with a de­tach­able touch­screen con­troller. Two com­part­ments in the arm rest area pop open. The first is for the tray ta­ble while the other holds the noise-can­celling head­set. The tray ta­ble is ex­cel­lent – large and sturdy. Each seat comes with a big, soft cush­ion for lum­bar sup­port. To turn the seat into a bed, flight at­ten­dants flip it for­ward, con­vert­ing it. If you pre­fer to grad­u­ally re­cline your seat un­til you are hor­i­zon­tal and asleep, this isn’t the seat for you.

BEST SEAT

The front row seats have the most room when the seat is in bed po­si­tion; worth know­ing if you are tall or large. Oth­er­wise go for win­dow seats.

THE FLIGHT

Ser­vice was quick, max­imis­ing our time for sleep. Shortly af­ter take-off we were of­fered hot tow­els and wel­come drinks, along with the menu. There was a good choice of main cour­ses. Be­fore the flight I or­dered my meal pre­flight via the web­site (search for “Book the Cook”), and chose a North In­dian chicken biryani. The pre­sen­ta­tion of the This is one of the best busi­ness class seats on one of the best long-haul air­craft food and wine (de­tailed in the re­view on busi­nesstrav­eller.com) was im­pres­sive, with food be­ing brought to the ta­ble, but I also ap­pre­ci­ated the speed with which the ser­vice was car­ried out.

When con­verted, the seat/bed is strange, since you have lots of room un­til it nar­rows for the footwell. It’s not dif­fi­cult to get com­fort­able, and lying on my side with my knees bent meant my feet didn’t feel so trapped. I also found it strange that the seat­belt lay across my up­per chest rather than round my waist.

When I woke, about 90 min­utes be­fore land­ing, I had chicken noo­dles (also pre­booked) and some Illy cof­fee.

AR­RIVAL

We ar­rived into Manch­ester slightly early and had no de­lays dis­em­bark­ing the air­craft.

VERDICT

This is one of the best busi­ness class seats on one of the best long-haul air­craft. The quirks of the seat are per­haps the only neg­a­tive point – the fact that it needs to be flipped to be turned into a bed, and the lack of a foot rest for shorter fly­ers. That said, it re­ally is a su­perb busi­ness class seat and ser­vice.

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