Review | Singapore Airlines Premium Economy (Sydney – Singapore)

At last I had the opportunity to experience SIA’s new Premium Economy IMG_9804Class. Operating the flight was a 777-300ER, fitted with the all new First, Business and Economy Class cabins, refitted with only a single row of First, and with the all new KrisWorld.

This is the first component of my November trip, with the following reports to come:

Flight Details:

Carrier: Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Flight Number: SQ 222
Route: Sydney (SYD) – Singapore (SIN)
Duration: 7h 15m
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER (With SIA’s next-gen interior)
Registration: 9V-SWV
Cabin Class: Premium Economy Class
Seat Number: 32D
Date: 04/11/15

There was no line at check-in, although SIA does offer a priority queue for Premium Economy guests. The process was rather slow, with the agent first questioning whether I had a visa for China. I explained I was in transit and did not need one, at which point she needed to see my onward ticket from Beijing. She then needed to see my North Korean visa, and spent a great deal of time finding a Korean speaking agent to decipher what was written, and then enter all the data into the computer.

Following this, luggage was tagged with Business Class priority flags (note that SIA actually offers 35kg for Premium guests, surprisingly higher than their competitor’s – Cathay Pacific –  25kg), and I was presented with boarding cards to Singapore and then Beijing, as well as an Express Path card for Sydney Airport Departures.

Immigration was relatively quick, and I was able to trial the new ‘Departures Smart Gate’, which worked like a charm. The process of entering a passport and having a picture taken takes less than 10 seconds, and it shall be incredibly fast once the system is fully rolled out. At the time, they were trialling the system only for Express Path guests.

By the time I reached the gate, boarding had commenced, with a priority lane for Premium Economy (along with First Class, Business Class, PPS Club and Star Alliance Gold).

Boarding was speedy, and I was quickly greeted by the famous SIA crew and shown to my seat. After having my coat hung, I explored the seat in more detail.

SIA configures both the 777-300ER and A380 Premium Economy in a 2 – 4 – 2 layout, with ample legroom and seat width. I was seated in 32D, an aisle seat in the middle block, where – on this flight – the middle two seats were free. The new KrisWorld features a 13.6 inch, high definition touch screen monitor, as well as a touch screen controller that resembles a smart phone, to act as a secondary display. There is ample storage in the seat back area, as well as in and below the armrest. As well as extended recline, the seat also provides a calf rest and footrest. Legroom, seat pitch and seat width are all increased from Economy.

(Click on photos for larger view)

SIA tries to make Premium Economy service close to the Business Class level. Before take off the stewardess approached each passenger individually and took orders for the lunch service after take off. A really nice personal touch, also increasing efficiency later on.

After take off, a drinks service commenced, with the usual Economy selection as well as free flowing Ernst Rapenau champagne. I opted for my usual SIA Apple Spritzer.

When it came to the meal service, all serving was carried out trolley-less, another attempt to bring the service to a Business Class level. Whilst still served on trays, the trays had a tablecloth laid out, with the items placed on top. This is what a lot of airlines do for their Business Class meals.

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Menu card with 3 selections for the main meal
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Meal service

The meal itself (Supper) was at the average Singapore Airlines level (which is far above the rest of the industry), and 3 choices were available. Passengers could also ‘Book The Cook’ in advance, however I opted for the onboard selection.

Unlike in Economy, the tray does not come with dessert, which was served individually following the service. It consisted of an incredible Australian made ‘Hokey Pokey’ ice cream (that was surprisingly creamy, unlike the usual frozen inflight ice cream), as well as offers of tea and coffee.

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Australian Ice-Cream

The service was suspended half way through, because of turbulence. The captain has asked the crew to be seated and suspend service, and this lasted for quite some time.

While finally clearing the meal trays, the crew offered a bottle of water to each passenger, which could easily be stowed in the specially design holder at the base of the seat.

The rest of the flight was filled with exhausting the KrisWorld selection, and speaking to the cabin crew. The Premium Economy cabin is just behind Business, and just in front of Economy. Whilst, obviously, the curtain between Premium and Business was closed, the curtain between Economy, and Premium always remained open. I can understand leaving it open during service (as the galley is at the back of the first Economy cabin), but following this they really should have closed the dividers for added exclusivity.

About 2 hours prior to landing, the second service began, with a light refreshment served. Similarly, the crew took orders for this prior to the service, and delivered the meals by hand, without trolleys.

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The “Singapore Fried Carrot Cake” – Highly touted by the stewardess

We landed about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, thanks to a persistent tailwind across the Australian continent, and disembarked in a timely manner.

Whilst this flight seemed to have fairly ‘average’ SIA crew, it was a solid first encounter with the Premium Economy product. I am impressed with how Singapore Airlines has handled the product, and I look forward to many more flights with it in the future.

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