At the Airport
Singapore Airlines occupies half of the check-in counters in Row K, right smack in the centre of the massive Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport departure hall. As with other airlines, Singapore Airlines segregated the queues for the different cabin classes. Four counters are dedicated to Economy Class and two for Business Class passengers sharing with KrisFlyer Elite Gold members. Even though we were three hours plus early than our scheduled flight time, the friendly ground staff welcomed us with the biggest smile anyone could find at the airport. Our check-in was done expeditiously, and we were handed our boarding passes within minutes. The friendly ground staff gave us very clear instructions on our boarding gate and boarding time, at the same time, invited us to use the recently reopened SilverKris Lounge at Concourse D. Passengers flying on Singapore Airlines (or any airline) can use the fast track immigration located at Row A, next to the Thai Airways check-in counters. There was no queue at the fast-track counters, and we could whizz through immigration in no time.
Royal Orchid Lounge
As Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance member, we could use any Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge scattered throughout Bangkok Suvarnabhumi. The nearest Royal Orchid Lounge is right after the fast-track immigration counters, and this is where we headed first. The Royal Orchid Lounge seems to be refurbished recently, it differed from what I remembered pre-pandemic. The newly renovated lounge feels more posh and relaxed. The first thing that welcomed us as we walked through the entrance to the Royal Orchid Lounge was a bar serving up all sorts of cocktails and alcoholic drinks (it is a pity that they do not serve the Thai Airways signature drink – Violet Bliss). The Royal Orchid Lounge clearly distinguishes the dining area from the lounging areas. The dining area is located nearer to the buffet tables that come with proper tables and chairs for passengers to dine comfortably. The lounging area, furnished with armchairs and a side table, is located towards the centre of the lounge. The flora feature walls tastefully decorate the lounge and function as barriers between lounge chairs, creating a semi-private space for passengers to relax (instead of staring awkwardly at each other). Unfortunately, the buffet selection at the Royal Orchid Lounge is a tad disappointing. There is very limited food available in this lounge, we were only given a choice of four hot food items to choose from. While I applaud Thai Airways for catering a section for Halal passengers, I think they can do better than offering only plain rice in their Halal section. Lucky for us, we were not too bothered about the limited food selection at Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge as we wanted to check out the recently reopened Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge.
Singapore Airlines recently reopened its SilverKris Lounge in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, which was closed due to the pandemic. The SilverKris Lounge is located in Concourse D, in the centre of the airport airside. There is clear signage throughout the airport leading passengers to the SilverKris Lounge. The SilverKris Lounge is very classy and functional in design, with most of the seating dedicated to dining and a small section for lounging. There are more options at the buffet table in the SilverKris Lounge, consisting of food from Thailand and Singapore. I was pleasantly surprised to find Singapore Airlines’ signature satay in the SilverKris Lounge in Bangkok, which was not even offered in the SilverKris Lounge in Singapore. The food at the buffet was tasty, and the diligent lounge staff were constantly seen topping up the food. The SilverKris Lounge is a great place to chill out before a flight and is not too crowded. I like the SilverKris Lounge in Bangkok better than the Royal Orchid Lounge we visited.
Singapore Airlines uses mainly the A350-900 and B787-10 to fly between Bangkok and Singapore. Occasionally, Singapore Airlines might deploy their A350-900 long-range aircraft, configured with Premium Economy seats (the airlines will not sell these Premium Economy Class seats instead these seats were sold as extra legroom seats) for this short 2 hr flight. The aircraft we flew today is the version of A350-900 that was configured for medium-haul flights with regional Business Class seats.
Singapore Airlines A350-900 medium-haul aircraft is fitted with only two cabins with 40 Business Class seats and 263 Economy Class seats. The 40 seats in Business Class are split into two sections, with 28 seats in the forward cabin, the larger cabin and 12 seats in the smaller rear cabin. Singapore Airlines uses an earthy tone in its Business Class cabin, giving passengers a calm and relaxed feel. In addition, the use of appropriate mood lighting colours during different phases of the flight helps passengers feel more relaxed throughout the flight. The 1-2-1 seat configuration in Singapore Airlines’ regional Business Class product gives all passengers direct aisle access.
There are three lavatories, one located up front right behind the cockpit and another two between the two Business Class sections, serving all 40 passengers in Business Class. In terms of size, the Business Class lavatories on Singapore Airlines A350-900 are no different from that in Economy Class. However, Singapore Airlines differentiates its Business Class lavatories from Economy Class by fitting them with brown leather backsplashes on the bulkhead. The patterned flooring also gives the Business Class lavatories a more premium feel. Singapore Airlines is one of the few airlines that packs its lavatories with amenities for guests’ convenience, even in Economy Class. In Business Class, Singapore Airlines packs its lavatories with more amenities to differentiate it more than that from Economy Class.
Singapore Airlines regional Business Class seats have a seat pitch of 60″ and measure 28″ wide, providing its passengers with excellent legroom and enhanced privacy despite not having a door, thanks to the cacoon seat design. More privacy is afforded to the couple seats in the centre and those by the window. A large fluffy pillow and thick premium blanket are placed on the seat, waiting for me to use when I board the aircraft. Singapore Airlines regional Business Class seats feature a 180° lie-flat bed which I could comfortably catch a wink in the short 2 hr flight from Bangkok to Singapore. The seats come with several handy modes programmed into the seat control buttons on the side of the seat. I like these control buttons as they allow me to switch the seat from the most upright position for take-off and landing to an angled lounge mode perfect for binge-watching movies, to the lie-flat mode for me to catch a nap. Besides the seat controls, Singapore Airlines also included light controls and attendant call buttons on the touch-panelled seat control buttons.
A large solid table is stowed under the IFE screen. With a push of a latch, the seat table pops out in its storage mode, which is half the size of the table. Passengers who do not need the large table can use it in its storage mode. The seat table folds out to its dining mode, which is twice the size of its storage mode. The seat table does not feel wobbly and is perfect for dining and working on a 16″ laptop. Under the IFE screen is a footwell, which is meant for passengers to stretch their feet into when the seat is deployed in its bed mode. Singapore Airlines fully used the space under the footwell by leaving it empty to double up as a space to stow carry-on or for passengers to place their shoes.
There is no lack of storage space on Singapore Airlines’ regional Business Class seats. There is a small cabinet at the side of each side for passengers to stow smaller items like mobile phones and passports. The small sliding door installed at the cabinet ensures the items inside remain secure and out of sight. Within the cabinet, passengers can find an international power socket and two USB charging outlets, making it very convenient for passengers to get juice for their devices. A hook next to the cabinet creates space for passengers to hang the headphones provided by Singapore Airlines when not in use. Singapore Airlines designed the space by the cabinet as a side table, which doubles up as a cocktail table, for passengers to place small items on. I thought the biggest flaw with the Singapore Airlines regional Business Class seats was the placement of the seat pocket. The seat pocket is placed at the lower corner of the seat on the back of the seat in front. Passengers wanting to access the seat pocket must unbuckle their seat belts and stretch for it. The seat pocket seems to be meant only for Singapore Airlines to place in-flight magazines and safety cards as it is too shallow (and tight) to fit in anything else.
Singapore Airlines fits its Business Class with a large 18″ LED touchscreen TV. The LED TV can be tilted downwards so passengers can still watch the numerous options on KrisWorld lying down on the flatbed mode of the seat. The entertainment options on KrisWorld are laid out in an intuitive menu for passengers to browse and select from hundreds of shows, from the latest blockbuster movies to TV shows and even games. KrisWorld can be accessed via the touchscreen function on the TV or via the mobile phone, like IFE controller found under the seat controls at the side of the seat. Singapore Airlines supplies noise-cancelling headphones to its Business Class passengers. These headphones effectively cancel out the ambient noise from the aircraft cabin and are comfortable to put on, thanks to the thick cushion padding ear cups. Passengers flying on Singapore Airlines are given free wifi to do simple web browsing. Instead of having to be a KrisFlyer member to gain access to complementary wifi, Business Class passengers are automatically given free wifi even if they are not enrolled on Singapore Airlines’ loyalty programme. The wifi is stable, but the slow connection speed only means passengers can use it to browse social media, check emails or chat.
It seems that Singapore Airlines is returning to pre-pandemic meal service. As soon as we were settled in our seats, the cabin crew came around to serve pre-departure drinks to all passengers in Business Class. We were given options of champagne, orange juice and plain water. As I was torn between champagne and orange juice, the cabin crew got me to try their newest cocktail – Bellini. However, as I am not a drinker, I did not quite like the strong alcoholic taste in the cocktail and went back to orange juice.
Passengers flying in Business Class can choose their meal among the three options months before the flight. Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines does not offer its signature “Book the Cook” service for flights originating from Bangkok. I opted for the Indonesian Fried Rice, while my friend chose the Pan Fried Salmon. Due to the short flight duration of 2 hrs, the appetisers, desserts and main course are served at one go on a tray. As we had pre-ordered our meals from the Singapore Airlines app, we got our food before the rest of the passengers. After the meal was served, another cabin crew came around, giving us the choice of bread. I had to go with Singapore Airlines’ signature Garlic Bread. Of the three courses of the meal served, I thought only the appetiser was tasty. The Indonesian Fried Rice I had was disappointing in taste and presentation. I thought the presentation of the meal did not enhance its appetising appeal, the fried rice looked haphazardly splattered on the china, and the vegetables looked like a mess. The grilled chicken tasted blend, the fried rice tasted like plain steamed rice, and the vegetable was overpowered with spiciness. The sticky pudding dessert looked like some mouldy bread, but I tasted the dessert nonetheless. The pudding was too sweet for my liking that I had to wash the taste with Coke. My friend also commented the Pan Fried Salmon he opted for tasted bland and dry.
Service on Singapore Airlines Business Class was exceptional. The excellent service started the moment I boarded the aircraft. Despite being the last passenger to board the aircraft, the cabin crew assured me we still had plenty of time to taxi. The cabin crew showed me to my seat and ensured I was comfortably settled in. Another cabin crew offered me pre-departure drinks, introducing Singapore Airlines’ latest cocktail, Bellini. When told I do not drink too much, the cabin crew offered me another glass of orange juice in case I was not too fond of the cocktail. Before taking off, the cabin crew – Stephanie stopped by every seat under her charge to introduce herself to all the passengers she would be taking care of during the flight.
I brought to the attention of another cabin crew that my seat was not cleaned properly (there was trash in the seat pocket and stains on the table). The cabin crew apologised profusely and immediately sprung into action to get the situation sorted out. The cabin crew was seen checking in to ensure I was comfortable in my seat. As I pre-booked my meal, a cabin crew confirmed that my selection did not contain the allergens I indicated in Singapore Airlines’ database. The meal was served pipping hot by Stephaine when we reached cruising altitude, while another of her colleague came by shortly for drink orders. Despite a full flight, I find cabin crews onboard made an effort to check in with passengers if we required anything else.
Towards the end of the flight, a passenger sitting across from me started to make noise about the requirement to submit an online arrival card in Singapore. He kicked up a ruckus that the ground staff did not inform him of this requirement. Instead of brushing him aside, I witness Stephanie patiently helping the passenger fill out an online form while her colleagues stand in for her to conduct pre-landing checks. I overheard Stephaine volunteering to share her mobile data with him when we landed to ensure the passenger could enter Singapore smoothly. Despite it being the passenger’s fault for not checking the immigration requirements, Stephaine handled the situation with much patience and professionalism.
Singapore Airlines’ regional Business Class seats are very comfortable even for a longer flight time (Turkish Airlines fitted their new Business Class seats with the same product). The seat provides passengers with a lie-flat bed to catch a nap comfortably with great privacy. The IFE is intuitive to use and packed with loads of entertainment options that will be sure to make flight time feels shorter. However, I felt catering onboard was a tad disappointing, with my meal looking like a mess and my friend’s main course tasted bland and dry. I like the SilverKris Lounge at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, it looked premium and the quality, as well as the variety of food offered, is far better than Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge, where Bangkok is their home base. The service we received onboard Singapore Airlines was impeccable. The cabin crew were friendly and helpful. They ensure all Business Class passengers feel comfortable despite being a full flight.