Update 2019-02-26: Please note that the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express Card Canada is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. Get the details here!
My flight from Jakarta on Singapore Airlines in first class arrived just after 5:00pm, which gave me just over 90 minutes before my departure to Bangkok. An epic thunderstorm rolled in just after we touched down so I spent the first 15 minutes at Changi Airport gazing out the windows at the torrential downpour. I was excited to try two of Singapore Airline’s premium products as reward seats are hard to come by using partner programs and normally reserved exclusively for KrisFlyer members.
Because I had arrived in first class and my connecting flight was in business, I was eligible to access the Singapore Airlines first class lounge (not the private room, as that’s reserved exclusively for passengers departing in first class). The lounge itself was nice enough, though not as nice as The Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX or The Cathay Pacific Lounge at YVR and I had only enough time for a glass of champagne before boarding was called. Like other airports in Asia, security checks are done at the gate, which I generally dislike, though Singapore Changi Airport is very efficient, and the whole process didn’t take longer than a few minutes. I managed to get a shot of the Airbus A330-300 waiting to take us to Bangkok.
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Singapore Airlines 978
Singapore (SIN) – Bangkok (BKK)
Friday, February, 3
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 16K (Business Class)
Boarding was right on time, and I was one of the last passengers on after walking from the lounge. I was greeted by name at the door and guided to my seat by one of the friendly cabin crew. She asked what I would like as a pre-departure beverage and offered to help store my belongings as there’s no seat storage during taxi, take-off, and landing. I asked for some champagne and told her I could store my bags, though she insisted on helping. Singapore Airlines serves Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve in business class, which is very nice.
The regional business class certainly isn’t cutting edge compared to Cathay Pacific Reverse Herringbone seats or Japan Airlines Apex Suite, but perfectly comfortable for a short 2-hour flight, especially if you’re used to domestic first class in North America or short-haul ‘business class’ in Europe. The cabin features 30 angle flat seats with 24.5 inches of width and a 60 inch pitch in a 2-2-2 configuration over five rows.
I had selected seat 16k, which is a window seat in the last row of business class. SeatGuru warned that the close proximity to the lavatory could be bothersome, but I didn’t even notice. The seat was very comfortable for an older regional product and offered a lot of storage for small items. There was a pillow and blanket waiting along with noise cancelling headphones. The cabin was nearly full though thankfully the seat directly next to me remained vacant.
Although there was no under-seat storage for large bags, the space was well-designed with other storage options for personal belongings including a couple of cupboards under the in-flight entertainment screen, laptop storage beside the seat, water bottle holders, and iPod/phone storage.
The in-flight entertainment selection was solid, with a 15.4 inch monitor and a great selection of movies, television, and music. The headphones provided were decent, though nothing compared to the Bose Headphones offered in most first class cabins. The in-flight entertainment remote was stored next to the seat controls and very easy to use.
As usual, I was more interested in the action outside than a re-run of some mediocre American television show.
We departed on time and were airborne after a short taxi. The weather was still not great and the captain had the seatbelt sign on for at least 20 minutes, which is unusually long in Asia (in my experience). Views from the flight were unique with lots of storm clouds.
I had to use the bathroom since pushback, which made for a very uncomfortable climb, especially with all the bumps and I was first to the washroom when the captain finally turned the seatbelt sign off. The washroom was typical for an Airbus A330, with some little touches by Singapore Airlines like fresh flowers and Miller Harris Amenities. There were also cabinets with toothbrushes, combs, etc, and real hand towels.
Menus were distributed prior to take-off and the crew was quick to come around and start meal service for the short 2 hour flight as soon as we levelled off. I was surprised a full meal was offered given the short length, given most North American carriers don’t even provide snacks on short haul routes. The menu options were somewhat limited, but perfectly acceptable.
I was most excited about the coffee and tea selection, though unfortunately the bumpy flight meant meal service and hot drink options were suspended multiple times and I wasn’t able to sample anything. For the main dinner, I selected the pan roasted chicken breast with vegetables, which was delicious. The appetizer was just ok (I’m not the biggest fan of duck) and the dessert was amazing. I also had a piece of garlic bread, which was good, but not very memorable.
Meal service took about an hour, which left about 30 minutes until our arrival in Bangkok. I decided to relax for a bit and listen to some music. The cabin lights were dimmed for a short while, though each seat is equipped with an individual reading light. Seat controls were very simple and easy to use and it wasn’t hard to find a comfortable position to lounge. Although not ideal for an overnight flight, I found these angle flat seats even more comfortable in the lounge position than Cathay Pacific business class and Japan Airlines business class. Do be cautioned, however, that these seats aren’t ideal if travelling next to a stranger, as climbing over someone for aisle access in the relaxed position can be awkward.
Like most business class products, the seat had full power for electronic devices, and also featured a plug to stream the in-flight entertainment options to your personal iPod.
About 20 minutes after meal service ended we began our approach to Bangkok, which was rather bumpy. I did manage to get a couple pictures, though it was quite dark at 8:00pm
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We landed just a couple minutes early and were at the gate after a short taxi. The crew came around again offering assistance to passengers retrieving their belongings from the overhead compartments, and offered me a farewell by name as I left the aircraft.
Singapore Airlines premium seats can be hard to snag for Canadians, as most of the reward inventory is reserved for KrisFlyer redemptions, with very few regional routes being released to partners like Aeroplan. I was fortunate enough to try this short regional flight along with first class from Jakarta to Singapore and now see why the airline is constantly rated as one of the best in the world by industry professionals. On both my flights, the service was personalized, the menu options were fantastic (especially considering the short flight times) and the in-flight entertainment options were extensive. It’s true that the hard product was dated on this Airbus A330, though angle flat seats are certainly adequate for a 2 hour evening flight and were surprisingly comfortable in the lounge position. One thing to consider is the lack of direct aisle access from the window seats, which could be awkward if travelling next to a stranger.
Overall I was very impressed with my flight and can’t wait to try some of their more up-to-date products on a long-haul route. For Canadians hoping to snag a premium reward seat, Starwood Preferred Guest points transfer to KrisFlyer at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 SPG points transferred. Applying for The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card or The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card would be a strategic way to earn enough points in welcome bonuses to redeem for a premium cabin flight on Singapore Airlines, but act soon as the future of SPG (and the ability to transfer to airline partners) is unknown with the recent takeover by Marriott!