Review | Singapore Airlines New Next-Gen First Class (Singapore – Sydney)

I have flown Singapore Airlines in Economy, Business and Suites, and this flight would complete it all, so that I have flown all 4! It was truly wonderful to experience SQ’s amazing new, next generation First Class product, despite the somewhat unpleasant flight timing.

Flight Details:

Carrier: Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Flight Number: SQ 231
Route: Singapore (SIN) – Sydney (SYD)
Duration: 7h 15m
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (With SIA’s next-gen interior)
Registration: 9V-SWV
Cabin Class: First Class
Seat Number: 01F
Date: 17/01/15

Well, what a wonderful journey! We began in Bangkok, flew Business class to Singapore, and had a 12 hour transit there before boarding this flight. First Class boarding passes, luggage tags, priority tags and even The Private Room invitations were all given in Bangkok, despite the fact that SIA does not operate First to BKK.

Singapore and ‘The Private Room’ (First Class Lounge)

Upon arrival in Singapore I met with a top Singapore Airlines executive for a brief meeting. Following this, we headed up to the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 3 for a brief rest. The entrance is quite beautiful. It’s very open, with blue and purple lighting, and has two solid agent desks. There are usually several agents milling around this entrance area. We showed our First Class boarding cards, and one of them immediately escorted us towards the lounge. They airline gives passengers gorgeous and super-classy golden invitation to The Private Room (TPR), however it’s more of a novelty/ formality, as they don’t actually take it. Last time I flew the Suites, I handed over the beautiful card. This time, I kept the cards and just showed the agent our First Class boarding cards… It was enough for them!

TPR Invitations. In the days when TPR was more exclusive, the “Entry to TPR is strictly by invitation only” would actually have made sense.

 

TPR Invitations

Anyway, she escorted us past the Business Class lounge, past the First Class lounge, and then into ‘The Private Room’. This was all at about midday, so the lounges were incredibly empty, so much so that in The Private Room, there were just two other people, aside from us! Ok, so let me explain the lounge deal:

Business Class Lounge – For Business Class passengers only
First Class Lounge – For PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club members (the highest levels of SQ’s frequent flyer program)
The Private Room – Exclusively for First Class and Suites passengers

In previous years, TPR was only for full-fare paying First Class or Suites passengers (so this excluded redemption bookings and discounted/ saver First Class fares). Meanwhile, people on saver First Class fares or redemption bookings would use the First Class lounge. Back then there seemed a use for both lounges. NOW, (I assume this is due to the extremely low number of people on full fare First Class/ Suites tickets) they have opened up TPR to ALL First and Suites passengers. It may seem quite useless having these two lounges, and usually, it is! However, at peak times during the day both lounges actually seemed quite bustling.

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Lounge Signage

Anyway, as we arrived at TPR we were given hot towels and menus, as well as drink offers. We just had some water for now, relaxed and took some photos, as we planned to leave the airport and go into the city for a bit. The lounge itself is wonderful. It’s set up with several ‘pods’ (which are incredibly wide) along the windows, each with two seats (one facing the other). The seats themselves are large and made from a beautiful leather with a similar colour to the Suites seats. There are stylish granite tables next to each of these seats, along with a lamp. The lounge is like a long rectangle. To the right (when facing from the entrance downwards) are the ‘pods’. The left is very open with lounge seating, and two very large HD screens displaying CNN and BBC. All these lounge sofas and armchairs are also incredibly comfortable. Towards the end of TPR is the dining room. It has a lovely wooden floor with classy leather seats, and tables lined with crisp, high quality white linen. Most tables have two seats, whilst others have 4, and one has a large leather bench seat. There is a small buffet with desserts and cheeses. TPR offers a full menu (presented in leather folders embossed with “The Private Room” with entrées and mains from all over the world. There is a separate dessert menu as well, with amazing ice-creams. The very end of the lounge has a couple of computers, private phone call rooms and a family room. I needed something printed, so asked the agent to do it, and she happily took it to the back room and had it done.
We left the lounge to leave the airport for a while, and left our hand luggage in TPR. The agents all said “See you again soon”

Here are some pictures of The Private Room:

Living Area Seating
Luxury Leather Seating

 

Artworks and Armchairs

 

TPR viewed from the entrance downwards… Pods on the right, living area to the left

 

This is what you see as soon as you enter TPR

 

 

Concierge Desk

 

Large HDTV

 

Leather bench in the dining room

 

 Dining Room

 

 Dining Room

 

Dining Room

After several hours in Singapore, we returned to Changi. In Terminal 3, there is a drive-in check-in area for First Class. Off to the left at the beginning of the departures plaza is a lit up sign saying “First Class”. Unlike last time, the taxi driver knew about the First Class check-in and easily turned in. Last time there was a big ordeal getting him to turn in! As we stopped, and while I got out my wallet to pay the taxi driver, the staff approached the taxi and waited till I had finished before opening the doors. After checking that we had no bags, I handed over our passports and boarding cards and said that we were in transit. The agent took the cards and asked us to have a seat while they check a few things. We were literally the ONLY passengers in the check-in area. The area is a lounge in itself! In fact, this area outshines the Business and First Class lounges of many other airlines, but it’s JUST CHECK IN!! There are comfortable sofas and armchairs around the area, as well as privacy dividers. We sat down for a while, took some photos and then were handed back our passports and boarding cards. The agents stuck on the golden SIA logo (which indicates we may use the private immigration channel), and even gave us another two TPR invitations! One of the men (a very courteous and friendly man) escorted us out of the lounge and up to the private First Class immigration channel before wishing us well.

Below is the First Class Check-In at Terminal 3:

Seating area whilst the agents do the check-in

 

 The road itself is painted red as well!

 

Road entrance

 

Foyer

We headed straight to TPR for dinner. As we got to the lounge, there was no checking, but instead “Welcome Back”. We were welcomed and escorted once we reached TPR, and I asked the agent for hot towels and some water. We then went to the dining room and had a look at the menu. I ordered the Dim Sum for the entrée. It was beautifully presented in a steamer box. There were 3 different dim-sums and all had absolutely wonderful flavour. I had a TWG Jasmine Tea to accompany it. I ordered a baked snapper for the main, and once again it was beautiful! Gorgeous presentation, however it was a very small portion. It had moderate flavour, and very tangy vegetables. I was a bit disappointed that the lounge staff were not so attentive. It was evening now and it was a fair bit busier than before, but I still do expect at least one agent to be in the dining room to take requests. I was trying to get a water refill, but there was no one to ask!

Some pictures from dinner at TPR:

 

 

Dim Sum Entrée

 

Dim Sum Entrée

 

TWG Jasmin Tea

 

Beef burger

 

 

Baked snapper presentation

 

Dessert selections

We were originally seated in seats 02A and 01F. We wanted windows but didn’t want to be separated so much. I asked the agent if she could try and sort out having the seats both on the windows but together on one side. She later came back and gave us the new boarding cards with seats 01F and 02F! An excellent effort.

I took a shower in TPR bathroom, which is incredibly beautiful. It’s all a lovely granite finish on the walls and benches. There are three central sinks (with sensor taps), each with its own amenity basket containing combs, brushes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shavers and Salvatore Ferragamo cologne. They also have proper linen towels (the same ones they use for hot towels) arranged in perfect pyramids, as well as paper towels, as well as concealed in-wall hand dryers! So many choices! The shower rooms are also nice with a grant seating bench, stool, granite vanity and sink (with the same amenity basket), a full length mirror, coat hanger and huge shower. The shower has a rain head, hand-held nozzle as well as back jets. The one thing I always notice when showering in the Singapore Airlines lounge at T3 is that the water temperature is never quite right (same in the Business lounge and TPR).

Salvatore Ferragamo Cologne

 

TPR Bathroom

The Flight

At about midnight we left the lounge with “Goodbye”s from all the agents and headed down to the gate. Security was quick and we were given express passes, immigration cards and Ebola health forms. We were in the gate for less than 5 minutes before they called for First Class boarding! Boarding was conducted through 2 air-bridges, at door 1L and 2L. First and Business boarded together through 1L, while Economy boarded through 2L. It’s kind of weird…Behind door 1L are two rows of First Class, a divider, two rows of Business Class, and then a divider and galley at door 2L, before the rest of Business Class. So, Business passengers walk through First class and PAST another door before reaching their seats. I guess it really is the only way to give Business Class a priority lane. However, it’s a bit annoying for First Class. On the A380 there is a dedicated air bridge just for the Suites.
The welcome was a little shaky as the steward was also welcoming Business passengers, and there was no escort to the seat. There was only one other FA in the cabin (the LSS) and she was attending to another passenger on the other side. She eventually came over and introduced herself and offered drinks. She talked a bit about the new KrisWorld, and I told her I know all about it and met an SIA exec and discussed it earlier in the day! She then said “Oh, have I flown with you before?” I was amazed! She said that she vaguely remembers someone asking for the flight details (pilot names, registration etc.) on a previous flight. She then said “Well, welcome back!”. She was a truly excellent LSS and delivered service with a wonderful smile and also introduced the flight time before arranging  drinks. She also asked if we wished to change into something more comfortable (the SIA Givenchy pyjamas), but I said I would do so after take off.

I was very impressed with the new cabin! This aircraft was one of 5 777-300ER’s that were delivered very recently with a brand new Economy, Business and First Class (these seats will be retrofitted onto other 777s and the A380s, as well as delivered on the A350). This was my first time experiencing the next-gen product. The lighting was wonderful, matching the blues and purples in the lounges. The seats have a new dark brown leather with a similar coloured cushion and orange accented stitching. The side paneling is brushed aluminium, and the seat numbers are illuminated. There are easy (but slow) controls for the footrest and recline, as well as lightning. Unfortunately my attendant call button and overhead lights were not working. There is also plenty of storage under the 23-inch IFE screen. There is a small cupboard with orange leather and warm lighting as well as a large mirror and light. Below the ottoman is plenty of storage for luggage. There is also a small bench just below the IFE screen, which is very useful for leaving things while sleeping. The tray table is huge and can be slid out from under the IFE screen. It has incredibly flexibility, and can be put at any height and slid to any position. I noticed that the colours in the cabin are all fairly dark and contemporary. The leather is a deep brown, and the pillows and linen in bed mode are all dark grey/ blue, as are the slippers and eyeshades and amenity kits. I think it all works really well to present a simple and contemporary cabin look.

Singapore Airlines First Class 01F Seatback

 

The Cabin

 

Storage under the IFE Screen

 

Vanity Mirror

 

Storage for phones while charging

 

Ottoman area. Notice the literature pocket is to the left (where the brown leather folder is. This, by the way, is the menu)

 

The Cabin 

 

Seat number when “Do Not Disturb” is activated
Seat number sign

 

Seat control panel

 

Looking back to 02F

 

 

IFE Screen and bench below (where the water is)

 

Aisle. Notice how the aisle is a different colour to the carpet for the seat.

 

Touch screen controller for KrisWorld. Sliding door can conceal it.

After the seat belt signs were turned off, the LSS gave me a pyjama set and a coat hanger, and I changed in the lavatory. As I came out one of them hung my clothes, and I returned to find socks, slippers, eyeshades and a Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit at my seat! The kit is AMAZING, with a bottle of cologne, as well as hand cream, lip balm and a cleansing towel.

The lavatory:

Fold down leather bench

 

 

Singapore Airlines uses linen towels in Business and First Class lavatories

 

Salvatore Ferragamo amenities

 

Automatic sensor tap

 

Salvatore Ferragamo Amenity Kits:

Ladies kit. It looks more like a designer clutch bag!
Ladies kit contained Signorina Perfume, Hand Cream, Lip Balm and a Cleansing Towel along with this information leaflet

 

Gentlemen’s Kit

 

Gentlemen’s kit: Acqua Essenziale Cologne, Hand Cream, Lip Balm and a Cleansing Towel along with an information leaflet

 

“Salvatore Ferragamo Parfum for Singapore Airlines”

 

Singapore Airlines logo on the rear of both kits

I also remembered that this aircraft features wifi and cellular connectivity. On the A380 and other 777’s, they offer OnAir wifi, where the wifi name is “OnAir”. Furthermore, they charge by the mb (around US$10 per 10mb), which is incredibly expensive. On this new 777, wifi is offered and named “KrisWorld”. Even better, the rates are much better, and very similar to Etihad’s service. For long flights US$21 is very reasonable for unlimited use! Charging by time is much better, as it doesn’t limit data at all. The interface is also A LOT nicer and more contemporary.

As this was a midnight red-eye flight, the menu was limited, and offered a refreshment after take-off, before landing, or both. I ordered the Singapore Bak Kut Teh, which was quickly delivered by the IFS. It was a soup with braised pork ribs, as well as a bowl of rice and two bowls with a Chinese vegetable and chilli. The ribs were incredibly tender, but had little taste. I actually didn’t know the ‘correct’ way to eat this dish! How did the bowl of rice and vegetables come in to play?? I have NO IDEA!! I wasn’t that hungry so just had some ribs and the soup and left the rice.

Initial table set-up

 

Initial table set-up

 

Singapore Bak Kut Teh

 

Singapore Bak Kut Teh

 

Chinese vegetables

 

Towards the end of the meal service the captain came on and announced there would be some very rough air for about 10-15 minutes. This was once again over the Java Sea, over the exact area where Air Asia flight QZ8501 crashed earlier. I experienced very similar turbulence in the same area on my outbound flight. The turbulence was pretty bad but subsided quickly.

I then asked for the bed to be made, which the LSS did very quickly. It was INCREDIBLY comfortable, and had a wonderful, thick duvet and plush pillows. I absolutely loved it, and slept for a few hours.

While you watch a movie on the IFE, the controller can display things like the flight map. Notice the map shows we are over the spot where QZ8501 crashed. This was during rough turbulence. 

 

 

Sorry for the bad photo…. The strip lighting under the IFE screen and ottoman can be turned on and off.

 

Sorry for the bad photo… lighting at night

 

A little while after I woke up (about 90 minutes before landing) I noticed the lights were now very, very dim. They very gradually got brighter until they were at a ‘sunrise’ colour and setting. I loved how it happened so slowly! I asked for a granola and yoghurt as a light breakfast. I had it with a breakfast tea and a fruit plate to start off.

Fruit Plate

 

Granola

 

Table set-up in the morning

The LSS also brought by a paper with details on the aircraft and pilot names (as I had asked the IFS for this earlier). I also asked the IFS if he could show me the new Business and Economy as well. He later sent the Chief Stewardess to show me the seats. I noticed that whilst First was still very dark, Business was very bright, with lights fairly high up and window shades open. She showed me one of the bulkhead seats and I explored it all for a while. I then went back to economy, and it was even brighter, with lights at the full setting! It was too crowded, with people in a massive line, so I decided not to explore the cabin too much.

Here is the New Business Class Seat:

Business Class Bulkhead seat

 

Business Class Bulkhead seat

 

 IFE controller, tray table and storage

 

More storage and tech ports

 

 

Three different reading lights

 

Seat control panel…far more comprehensive than the previous seat

We landed a bit earlier than scheduled, but this was when the real drama began. We were taxiing towards the gate and then stopped on the taxiway. The captain came on and said:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, air traffic control has just advised us that another aircraft is currently in our allotted gate, and that there will be a delay of approximately 25 minutes. The seat belt signs are still on, so please remain seated. Thank you for your cooperation and apologies for the delay.”

I was quite happy, as we were able to spend more time in SQ’s First Class! Once we reached the gate after the 25 minutes, and once we had stopped and the engines were switched off, I quickly noticed that the seat-belt sign was still on. Once the engines are switched off (as they had just been), the seat-belt sign is usually turned off. I knew something was up. The captain then came on again:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, my apologies. We have a sick passenger onboard, and I just ask all passengers to remain seated as we wait for the paramedics to arrive. Thank you for your understanding.”

Emergency vehicle approached the aircraft for some unknown reason

 

Ambulance arriving

 

Ambulance arriving

So we were left again! By now, the lady in the seat across from me asked the LSS if she could go to the bathroom, and she happily said “Yes”, so I used the restroom while we were still at the gate. We were waiting a while and the I finally saw the ambulance approach the aircraft. After a little while, a ground agent came on the PA:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, unfortunately there is a burst water pipe at the end of the airbridge. We will shortly be towing you to the next available gate.”

Another delay!! I was actually loving this! And NO SARCASM. I absolutely love being on an aircraft, especially in First Class, so this delay was awesome. At some point the captain actually came out of the cockpit and walked back to Business or Economy, and then back. He then asked the crew to arm the doors and we were pushed back and pulled in to the next gate.

They were using one airbridge (at 2L, instead of 1L), and we were able to disembark. I sad goodbye to the LSS and she shook my hand and said “See you again soon!”

My first experience in the Singapore Airlines Suites was very different, as it was a day flight, and the crew were able to be very attentive. This flight, being a red-eye, was very different. I don’t feel as though the crew were as great, although the seat and bed were amazing for the night. Absolutely loved the whole experience and can’t wait to do it again!

I shall leave you with some window views:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Ratings

Cabin State: 5/5
Seat: 5/5
Crew: 5/5
Food: 5/5
Ground Procedures: 5/5

You may be interested in the previous reports in this series:

SQ Business Class (BKK-SIN)
SQ Economy Class (SIN-BKK)
SQ Economy Class (SYD-SIN)

Well I am currently not sure what the next report will be, but stay tuned!

Fly Well.
Travel Safe.
And Enjoy Your Journey.

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