[Airline Review] – Singapore Airlines A350-900 (SQ708) – Premium Economy Seat, SIN – BKK (13 May 22)

At the Airport

Check-in

All Singapore Airlines have operated out of Changi Airport Terminal 3 since the pandemic due to the closure of Terminal 2. As both my friend and I are KrisFlyer Elite Gold members, we can use the check-in counter in row 8, dedicated to Premium Economy Class Passengers and KrisFlyer Elite Gold members flying to all destinations served by the airlines. Despite the short queue at the counter, the movement of the queue was a little slow due to document checks before boarding. The document checks for Thailand were very straightforward, and we only had to show the ground staff our Thailand Pass. Our check-in was processed quickly, and we were headed to the customs within minutes.

SilverKris Lounge

As KrisFlyer Elite Gold members, we were invited to use the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge. However, as the lounge was closed for renovation during our visit, we used the SilverKris Lounge instead, located next to the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge. The newly renovated SilverKris Lounge can be separated into two distinct areas. The area next to the entrance has more natural light and serves mainly as an area for passengers to lounge and relax, furnished with numerous armchairs. Further, into the lounge, the other area serves more as a dining area and is furnished mainly with dining tables. Food is served buffet-style in the dining area, furnished with a brown and earthy tone. The entrance to the First Class lounge is also found in the dining area of the SilverKris Lounge. The SilverKris Lounge was very crowded during our visit to this lounge, and we had a hard time looking for empty seats.

We used the SilverKris Lounge as the KrisFlyer Elite Gold Lounge was closed for renovation.

As we took the morning flight, food options available in the SilverKris Lounge were mainly breakfast. Food choice was extensive, ranging from local to western-style breakfast. The food was constantly top-ups by the diligent lounge staff ensured there was sufficient food to cater to the overcrowded SilverKris lounge. In addition, there are plentiful drink options ranging from soft drinks to fruit juices to tea and coffee and a bar for alcoholic beverages manned by a bartender whipping up cocktails for passengers. However, despite the comfortable lounge and the endless food options, we did not have a pleasant experience at the SilverKris Lounge, mainly due to the crowd.

The Aircraft

Singapore Airlines uses one of the three variants of the A350-900 aircraft for this flight. The airline uses the 3-class variant for this flight, fitted with Business Class, Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats. As Singapore Airlines do not sell Premium Economy Class for the SIN-BKK-SIN route, we were able to choose the Premium Economy Class seats by paying an additional S$41.30. Despite flying in the Premium Economy cabin, the service we received was the same as in the Economy Class (we had a near Premium Economy Class experience, such as priority check-in and lounge access due to our status with Singapore Airlines).

Singapore Airlines A350-900 safety card

The Cabin

The 3-class A350-900, Singapore Airlines aircraft, has 253 seats onboard, spreading across the three cabin classes with 42 seats in Business Class, 24 in Premium Economy Class, and 187 in Economy Class. The Premium Economy Class cabin is a small section wedged between Business Class and Economy Class onboard the A350-900 aircraft. Seats in the Premium Economy Class are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration. Due to the small number of seats, the Premium Economy Class feels more cosy and private.

Premium Economy Class cabin
Seats in the Premium Economy Class are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Passengers travelling in Premium Economy Class share the same lavatory as those in Economy Class. The nearest lavatory to the Premium Economy section is located to the rear of the forward Economy Class section. The lavatory feels a tad small but sufficient for passengers to do their business. The lavatory is sparsely stocked with hand soap, a small bottle of facial mist and some toothbrushes. I was surprised to find Business Class toothbrushes in this lavatory; not too sure if it is intended or a way for Singapore Airlines to clear their Business Class toothbrush inventory. The lavatory was not kept clean by the cabin crew, probably due to the short flight and the passenger load. The lavatory floor felt sticky, and I spotted a used toothbrush on the sink top.

The Seat

The Premium Economy Class seats onboard Singapore Airlines feel very comfortable. The grey leathered recliner seat has a pitch of 38″ and measures 19″ wide, providing me with excellent legroom. A pillow and fleece blanket was provided on each seat at boarding. There are two seat control buttons on the right armrests, one for adjusting the seat’s recline and the other for deploying the calfrest. I thought the calfrest and footrest made the ride on the Premium Economy Class even more comfortable. However, the footrest did not seem to be able to fully deploy when I stowed my carry on bag under the seat in front of mine (it id advised to stow carry one baggage in the overhead bin to be able to utilise the footrest fully). However, when reclined and with the calfrest fully deployed, the Premium Economy seat feels very comfortable. It is so cosy and comfortable that I dozed off after breakfast while watching the inflight movie.

The Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Seat
Premium Economy seat recline buttons on the inside of the right armrest

The Premium Economy Class seat tray is stowed under the left armrest, which seems fairly small. But it is sufficient for its purpose of consuming meals on and a working desk for those who want to get some work done. A couple of USB charging outlets and headphone jacks are found between the two Premium Economy seats. Singapore Airlines also fitted two power outlets at the lower part of the centre console between the two seats for passengers who want to charge their laptops or tablets. On top of the overhead reading lights, each Premium Economy Seat is also installed with another reading light next to the seat’s headrest, akin to those reading lights found in Business Class seats.

There are more in-seat storage areas in the Premium Economy Class than the Economy Class seats. We were able to stow away some small items in either of the seat pockets in the Premium Economy Seat. The netted top seat pocket is extremely useful in putting away my passport and some small items and is large enough to stow a tablet. The lower seat pocket, where in-flight literature used to be found, provided additional storage space during the flight. Between the two seats in front of us were a couple of small open shelving, which were meant to store water bottles. Since this is a short 2-hour flight, bottled water was not provided. Hence we found no other practical use for this open shelving. Despite being a relatively new product, the Premium Economy Seat that I selected started to show signs of ageing. Firstly, the recline buttons did not work well. I had to press hard to recline or bring out the calfrest. Then there is the tray table, which was slightly loose at the joints, causing the tray table to slant downwards at a gentle angle. Fortunately, this defect did not affect my meal consumption, but it did affect me when I used the table to fill in the passenger arrival card. The headphones also show signs of wear and tear where the PVC leather around the ear cups was peeling off. I highlighted these defects to the stewardess, who did not seem to bother registering my concerns.

The noise-cancelling headphones showed signs of wear and tear

In-Flight Entertainment

Each Premium Economy seat is fitted with a 13.3″ touchscreen personal TV. The touchscreen function on the monitor is so responsive that the remote control seems redundant. The numerous entertainment options – movies, television programmes, music, and games- are classified into intuitive operating menus. The IFE onboard this Singapore Airlines flight to Bangkok is loaded with the latest Hollywood blockbusters (some were still screened in cinemas), making the 2-hour flight time seem short.

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class is fitted with a 13.3″ touchscreen TV.
The touchscreen function of the personal TV in every Premium Economy seat is very responsive.

Stowed on the seat’s left, the IFE controller resembles a portable gaming device. The touchscreen area of the IFE controller is very responsive. I was able to display the content of the movie that I was watching or the flight map on the IFE controller without disrupting the show I was watching on the TV screen. The noise-cancelling headphones provided are the same as one would receive in the Business Class. The headphones effectively block out noise, but putting them too long makes my ears feel uncomfortable.

Meal

The biggest difference in flying pre and post-pandemic (other than the need to wear a face mask) lies with the meal service. Gone were the appetisers and buns that usually come with the meal. The inflight meal was only limited to the main dish, a dessert and a cup of coffee. The meal we received in the Premium Economy Class is the same as those in Economy Class. We were given chicken sausage options with scrambled eggs or pork congee for this flight. I opted for the Chicken sausage, packaged in a paper box, it was tasty, but the potato wedges buried under the scrambled eggs tasted soggy. The portion felt a tad smaller than pre-pandemic times, and the presentation was not as appetising as before.

Service

The service rendered by the ground staff at the Singapore Airlines counter was good. We were warmly greeted by the ground staff, who processed our check-in with much efficiency after checking the document that we required to enter Thailand. We were also reminded that the gate where our flight would depart was located in Terminal 1 and was briefed on how to get to our boarding gate and the time required to travel by foot to our gate. The ground staff even gave crucial information on the latest time we should make our way to the boarding gate to make it for the flight.

The service onboard felt rushed. Like in all other airlines, we were greeted by the pursuers, who directed us to the aisle we should be walking down to get to our seat. Pursuers were patrolling the cabin diligently, conducting pre-flight checks and helping passengers stow their baggage in the overhead compartment. Once airborne, pursuers were only seen during meal service and conducting pre-landing checks. Even the meal service felt rushed. It felt that the pursuers were only interested in fulfilling their task of distributing the food. During meal service, I brought the defective tray table and the seat control button issues to the stewardess. She did not acknowledge my concerns and gave me the impression that she pretended not to hear anything. The touch-and-go service is far from the personable and warm Singapore Airlines service I was familiar with.

Meals were distributed about 30 mins into the flight

Afterthought

I thought the Singapore Airlines Premium Economy seats were very comfortable, especially with the seat reclined to the maximum angle and the calfrest fully deployed. Coupled with the pillow and the fleece blanket provided, I can see myself getting great rest quality for longer flights. However, the seat that I selected seems aged. The seat control buttons were ceased up and are hard to press, and the tray table is slanted at an angle that constantly casts doubt in my mind if the food tray will slip when I was consuming the small portion of in-flight catering. In addition, the service on board was not impressionable and felt rushed. Even when I raised the issues with my seat to the stewardess, my concerns were met with deaf ears.

Flying over Singapore

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