Contributed by Hirofumi Suda
Date: August 31, 2017
Flight No.: SQ403
Route: Delhi Indira Gandhi International to Singapore Changi
Airline: Singapore Airlines
Type: Airbus A380-800
ATA: 7:36AM (+1)
Flight Duration: 5 hrs 24 min
The first flight of my trip to the United States, which also ended up being a round-the-world trip, was onboard a Singapore Airlines A380 in premium economy class.
It was the first of the three flights that helped me reach my destination – Phoenix – with the other two being Singapore to Los Angeles (via Tokyo Narita) with Singapore Airlines and Los Angeles to Phoenix with United Airlines.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Checking-In for the Flight at Delhi Airport
The trip started with a small delay that was communicated very well by the airline.
On the day of the flight, I received a call, an e-mail as well an SMS that the flight would be delayed – from 9:55PM to 11:10PM. As such, I headed to the airport a bit later than originally planned.
Once at the airport, as a Star Alliance Gold member, I was able to use the business class check-in counters.
On the counter, there was a notice regarding the delay as well as the compensation for it.
It mentioned that passengers would be eligible to receive a dinner coupon which I found to be quite impressive for a delay of less than one-and-a-half hours. Interestingly, however, the check-in agent didn’t offer me the coupon. Perhaps, it was because I was eligible to use their SilverKris Lounge. Whatever the case, I didn’t bother to investigate or ask for it.
After checking in all the way to Los Angeles, I headed straight to Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris lounge.
On my way there, I noticed an award trophy proudly placed in the middle of the pathway to the main transit area.
Apparently, Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport was named the best airport for service quality in 2014 and 2015 by Airports Council International. At first, it raised my eyebrows, but upon closer inspection, I found out that the award was in the 25 to 40 million passengers a year category.
Still, I thought it was a commendable achievement.
Since the SilverKris Lounge was quite crowded during my visit, I also peeked into Lufthansa Lounge which was right next to it.
Singapore Airlines’ Efficient Boarding Process
At the gate, two lanes were set up opposite to each other.
Lane 1 was for Suites (First) Class, Business Class, and Singapore Airlines’ own program status holders. And, lane 2 was for other Star Alliance status holders, Premium Economy and Economy passengers, including me.
At each lane’s entrance, the staff checked boarding passes to make sure passengers boarded in the intended order. Overall, the boarding system worked as intended and was quite efficient.
Singapore Airlines A380 Premium Economy Class Cabin
As this was my first time flying in international premium economy class, I was quite curious to see how different it is from regular economy – both in terms of comfort and service.
On the Singapore Airlines A380, the premium economy class cabin is located on the main deck and is in a “2-4-2” eight-abreast configuration. That is two less seats per row compared to the airline’s regular main deck economy which is in a “3-4-3” ten-abreast configuration.
While the seat width varies depending on the aircraft type on the A380s it comes out the widest at 19.5 inches. In fact, I found there to be a notable difference in comfort between the A380 seats and the 777 seats that I had on the next flight. More about that in the next review, though.
As for the seat pitch, premium economy offers 38 inches of space across its fleet. For comparison, the airline offers 32 inches in regular economy class.
Onboard Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class
When I entered the cabin, the first things that struck me were the spaciousness of the cabin and the large orange pillows on the seats that looked quite comfortably.
Also, besides the seat itself being much more spacious than its economy class counter-part, there were some differences in features as well.
First, there was a calf-rest. I didn’t find it too useful or comfortable, though, due to the limited amount of legroom. At the same time, there was also a footrest which certainly helped make the flight comfortable.
Second, there was a pair of armrests between seats meaning there was no need to “fight” for one armrest. And, no need to worry about someone’s arm invading “my territory” (as often happens on flights in and out of India).
On the negative side, while the seat had much more space than an economy class seat, I found it a bit cramped when the passenger in front of me reclined. Especially so during meal times, since the passenger in front of me wasn’t asked to put his seat back into the upright position like Singapore Airlines usually does in economy class.
Also, as someone that likes to place a pillow against the wall and lean on it, I didn’t like the fact that due to the structure of the A380 there was a wide gap between the seat and the wall.
Lastly, while the cabin felt exclusive, there was no separate washroom for premium economy passengers. Instead, the one in economy class had to be used.
Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Seat Features and Amenities
Besides the above impressions, I would also like to look briefly at several other seat features and amenities that were provided in Singapore Airlines premium economy class below.
Storage Space & Seat Pocket Contents
The seat pocket was divided into two parts. The front side of it contained all the magazines and other printed materials, while the back side had enough space to fit a large laptop.
There was also a small space on the side of the seat that could fit small items like phones or compact cameras.
The airline’s KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system offers over 1,000 programs from all over the world, and as such, it is hard to get bored even on long flights.
Especially so with the 13.3 inch screen and noise-cancelling headphones that are offered to premium economy passengers.
Power Outlets & Reading Light
Under each seat, there was a universal power outlet. There were also two USB ports – one under the IFE screen and another one in the armrest next to the headphone port.
An adjustable reading light on the side of the seat – ideal for reading without having to disturb the seat mate – was provided as well.
A simple pouch containing a pair of socks and a toothbrush set was provided. While it was nothing fancy, it was more than enough for the relatively short flight.
And, while I am not sure if economy class passengers were provided with the same, the washrooms were well stocked with toothbrush sets, combs, razor kits, and other amenities.
The one thing I wished the airline provided, though, is an eye-mask.
The Cruise: An Israeli Movie
As there were still some hours of cruise left after I was done with exploring the seat and IFE system, and so on, I decided to watch a movie.
As I love watching movies from around the world, I picked Past Life – an Israeli movie listed under recommended selections. The movie is about an Israeli family with a holocaust connection in the past – I won’t get further into the details, though, so that I don’t spoil it for you.
Personally, I thought the movie was quite interesting, especially as it’s based on a true story.
The Cruise: The Best Indian Curry in the Skies
During the flight, one meal was served.
The main differences are that premium economy passengers can enjoy a Champagne service and they can also pre-book the main dish on flights from select airports by using their Book the Cook service.
Unfortunately, the service is not available out of India, but I still managed to have a great meal on the flight.
Below is the menu:
I found it impressive that they offer 3 main courses in economy: Western, Indian vegetarian, and Indian non-vegetarian. On top of that, the appetizer differs between the Western and Indian options as well. Kudos for offering such a variety on not-so-long flight!
I chose “Punjabi Lamb Curry” (the Indian non-vegetarian dish) along with hot masala tea for the drink. Before the actual meal service, a hot towel was provided.
As for the meal, the tray included the following: lentil potato dumplings with yoghurt and tamarind sauce (aloo pakora), a bread roll, crackers (papad), spicy pickles (achaar), plain yoghurt (dahi), a water bottle, and the main lamb curry served together with a tasty spinach and mushroom curry, as well as rice.
Usually I can’t handle much Indian food due to the amount of spices used, but the Singapore Airlines’ Indian dishes are mild, non-oily, and simply delicious!
In the past 20 years I took this flight more than a dozen of times, and I keep choosing an Indian option without disappointment. Actually, I think Singapore Airlines serve the best Indian curry in sky!
For dessert, Magnum ice-cream was served. I had the same one 15 years ago on the same segment, so I guess it must be the airline’s tradition.
By the time the meal was over, the flight was just leaving Indian airspace. As I was tired, I decided to sleep a bit.
Good Morning Singapore!
Not long after waking up, we were flying over Malaysia and over Pulau Ubin – a Singaporean island mostly covered with dense forest.
When I was 17 years old, I visited the island by myself to bike around it. The sparsely populated island with some traditional “kampong style houses” is a stark contrast to the busy modern life in the skyscraper-filled Singapore that most people know.
If you are a nature lover and visiting Singapore, I’d strongly recommend visiting the island which is accessible by boat from the main island.
Once we flew by Pulau Ubin, it was just a short time until we landed at sunny Singapore airport, bringing the flight to an end.
Once I got of the aircraft, I headed to KrisFlyer Gold Lounge to enjoy some breakfast. On a separate note, one of the things I love about Singapore’s Changi airport is that the arrival and departure areas are on the same floor which saves a lot of walking time.
Singapore Airlines A380 Premium Economy Class Summary
Singapore Airlines never disappoints me.
From check-in to arrival, their service is professional and very efficient. Some people complain about Singapore Airlines’ service being robotic, but as long as they do their job properly it does not bother me much.
The Singapore Airlines premium economy was an interesting product with the extra comfort compared to regular economy class.
While I will have some more comments at the end of my next report about the long haul flight to Los Angeles, I can say that as with all Singapore Airlines flights I’ve taken so far, the service, food, entertainment system, as well as amenities were great.