Singapore Airlines A350-900 business class
This was the overnight return flight from Houston into Manchester, with a flight time of eight hours.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
We arrived into Manchester slightly early and had no delays disembarking the aircraft.
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.