Trip Report: SQ Premium Economy Experience BOM-SIN A380

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Experience BOM-SIN A380

BACKGROUND

Singapore Airlines had started retrofitting its A380s with its brand new Premium Economy Class (PY) product. During the retrofitting exercise, the usual A380 service to BOM had been temporarily downgraded to a 777-300ER. However, a couple of months later, the A380 was back on the SIN-BOM sector with the new Premium Economy class on offer.

The SQ PY product looked decent from the ads and publicity material I had seen; although the seats themselves were nowhere close to say the Turkish Airlines Premium Economy seats on their 777-300ERs. I had experienced the Turkish PY some time ago and felt that the seats were pretty close to a regional Business Class product. Nevertheless, I was sure SQ would more than make it up with the onboard service.

I had a trip to Singapore coming up, and was contemplating trying out the PY product on SQ. It meant spending around 150 USD more (one way) as compared to a Y ticket. I was not sure whether it was worth it, but in the end decided to try it out on one leg.

I hoped I had made the right choice and SQ would not let me down.

REACHING THE AIRPORT

I was to fly on SQ 423, the signature overnight departure out of BOM, operated by the A380. This flight has seen a couple of equipment upgrades in the recent years – from a 777-300A to a 777-300ER to the A380 right now.

I left home early anticipating heavy evening traffic on my way to the airport. I wasn’t wrong. What is usually a 20-minute taxi ride in no traffic, turned into an almost 40 minute crawl. Anyway, I reached the airport well in time, and made my way to the SQ check-in counters.

CHECK-IN

There was a longish queue at the Economy counters, but thanks to my Star Gold status, I could use the Business Class check-in counters, which had only 2 people ahead of me.

The check-in process took less than five minutes, and I was handed my boarding pass and the Indian immigration departure card.

Next up was security check, which again took not more than five minutes, and then I joined a long queue for immigration. As it is the start of the peak international departures wave out of BOM, almost all counters were open, and our queue progressed quickly. Post immigration, I made my way to the “Loyalty Lounge” to relax for a bit.

After downing a couple of Kingfishers at the lounge, I made my way to our boarding gate.

Our aircraft was parked at Gate 68 today.

There was a sizeable queue of passengers at our boarding gate, which meant that the flight was quite full.

BOARDING

Sector: BOM-SIN

Airline: Singapore Airlines

Flight: SQ 423

Aircraft: Airbus A380-841

Registration: 9V-SKH

Seat: 31K

Boarding for our flight was announced at 2305, 30 minutes before STD, but ten minutes later than what was printed on the boarding pass. From the massive queue that had formed at the gate, I doubted if we could push back on time.

The boarding was sequential, with Suites and Business Class passengers invited to board first, followed by Star Alliance Gold members. With a quick scan of my boarding pass, I made my way to the aerobridge. SQ Premium Economy Class on the A380 is situated on the lower deck just aft of Door #2, and I boarded through one of the two lower deck aerobridges.

The Premium Economy Class features a comfortable 2-4-2 seating configuration.

I had selected seat 31K, a bulkhead window seat in the first row of the PY section. This meant that I had massive legroom to stretch on this overnight flight. The regular seat pitch in PY is 38 inches.

The seat itself was comfy, wider than the standard Economy seat (up to 19.5 inches wide) and the recline is up to 8 inches. There was a wide double armrest between two adjacent seats. This was good, as I hate people hijacking the entire armrest. The rear portion of the armrest is slightly raised and includes a USB charging port and the headphone port.

Each seat also comes with an adjustable LED reading light, which can be moved to any angle that’s comfortable for you.

Small amenity pouches had been placed on each seat. These were limited edition pouches with SG50 themed motifs and consisted of socks and a toothbrush kit.

The boarding process took around 40 minutes, which meant we were ten minutes past our departure time by the time it was completed. The crew passed around the menus for the supper service on this 5-hour flight.

The menu had a distinctive “Premium Economy Class” branding.

Headphones had already been placed in the seat pocket.

SQ offers bulky active noise cancellation headphones in PY. I was keen on trying them out later on.

The IFE system in PY consists of a 13.3-inch full HD LCD screen. For my row of course, the IFE screen was mounted on the bulkhead wall. The position of the screen means that one has to always look slightly upwards at all times in order to view it. A better arrangement would be to place the screen inside the armrests.

Our captain came online made an announcement that we had closed our doors, and were waiting for our pushback clearance, which would take around 10 more minutes. We finally pushed back at midnight, almost half-an-hour post our scheduled departure time.

THE FLIGHT

One after another, the four RR Trents came alive. The A380 cabin is incredibly quiet, and even with four engines powered on, one could easily talk to fellow travellers without raising one’s voice.

We began taxiing towards Runway 27. There were 3 aircraft ahead of us in the takeoff queue and after nearly 7 minutes of taxiing, we turned in to Taxiway N3 and held short of Runway 27.

Now this was interesting, as heavy aircraft and especially the A380 usually departs using taxiway N1, which allows maximum runway length to be used. However, as N1 was currently shut for maintenance, we would depart from N3 tonight. The cabin lights were dimmed and then turned off for takeoff.

After a couple of minutes of holding for a landing, we turned on to Runway 27 and waited. The four Trents were slowly spooled up to takeoff power, and we began our takeoff roll. The sound of the engines even on the takeoff roll is incredibly low. After a 35 second roll; we lifted off into the night sky in the westerly direction.

After a nice bank to the left, we set course in a southeasterly direction towards Singapore.

The cabin lights were turned back on and the crew began preparation for the meal service. The Premium Economy cabin looked pretty full, so the demand seems to be there.

The drinks trolley appeared first, which is how I like. I enjoy having a drink or two before eating the main meal, and hate airlines that serve drinks during/after the meal.

Singapore Airlines serves champagne in PY, so I decided to try it out. It was served in transparent plastic “flutes”, not real glass ones. Fair enough I think. A pack of roasted almonds and cashews was served alongside. A nice touch!

With champagne in hand, I decided to explore the entertainment on offer. Didn’t feel like watching a movie, so I decided to watch back-to-back episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”. Always a favourite of mine on flights!

The main meal service began soon after. There were three meal options on offer – one international and two Indian.

I opted for the international meal, which consisted of apple coleslaw with toasted almond as an appetizer, “Cayenne Pepper flavoured chicken stew” with sautéed vegetables and potatoes for the main course, and an apricot cheesecake for dessert. It looked quite filling for a five-hour flight.

The meal was served with a bread-roll & butter and a bottle of water.

The crew asked for a second round of drinks, and this time I chose the signature SQ Singapore Sling.

After finishing my meal, I reclined my seat, pulled out the calf rests. I cannot sleep on flights, so it would be helpful to at least catch up on a quick nap.

The cabin crew passed around bottles of water to keep us hydrated through the flight. Another nice touch!

The cabin lights were dimmed and slowly turned off.

ARRIVAL

Roughly an hour before arrival, the captain came online and announced that we would begin our descent into SIN in 20 minutes. The cabin crew did a quick round of drinks, offering water or orange juice.

As we began our descent, the rising sun presented me with this beautiful view out my window.

It became brighter as we approached SIN. The A380 is super quiet on the approach leg, and one can barely hear the engines. Soon we lined up on Runway 02L, and made a smooth touchdown, 10 minutes post our scheduled arrival time.

After a longish taxi, we docked at Terminal 3, which is my favourite terminal at Singapore Changi Airport. The exit from the aircraft was quick, as we were the second group after Suites to leave.

As I made my way to the Arrivals area, I clicked a final departure shot of the superjumbo that brought me to SIN.

I walked towards Immigration, and saw hardly any queues at the counters. This would be a quick SIN immigration for a change at least for me.

SUMMARY

It was a good, positive experience for me in Singapore Airlines Premium Economy on board their flagship Airbus A380. There is a distinct difference in both the hard product and the onboard service as compared to the standard Economy Class. The seats are wider, come with fold out calf and foot rests and recline further. The grey-orange upholstery also adds another level of distinction as compared to Y class.

The F&B service is superior with a wider choice of food including the famed “Book the Cook” available for PY. Champagne (even though it is not the best) is served through the flight along with assorted nuts.

Even though it was worth spending the extra bucks for the PY experience, I feel SQ needs to drive it up a notch or two higher. The seats although good, could be made better – especially in terms of seat width and recline. The Turkish Airlines PY seats on the 777s as quoted earlier are a good example. The amenity kits could be equipped better. Eyeshades and earplugs should definitely be a part of it.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into the Premium Economy experience on Singapore Airlines.

Thank you all for reading!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s