Singapore Airlines is known for the best cabin crew in the world and I will not disagree. Yet, people are still somewhat polarized when it comes to Singapore business class. Can the rest of the Singapore business class experience live up to the prestige that Singapore Airlines has?
In this review, I will go into details about my experience flying Singapore Airlines business class on the A350, covering things like the seat, food, bed, and the service. Then I will go over why I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Singapore Airlines business class.
This particular segment of my journey back to South East Asia was one of the reasons why I went to Europe. The other reason was to fly Garuda Indonesia Jakarta (CGK) London (LHR) route.
- Jakarta (CGK) -> London (LHR): Garuda Indonesia 777-300 Business Class
- London (LHR) -> Athens (ATH): Aegean Airlines A321 Euro Business Class
- Athens (ATH) -> Rome (FCO): Aegean Airlines A320 Economy Class
- Rome (FCO) -> Singapore (SIN): Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class
- Singapore (SIN) -> Jakarta (CGK): Garuda Indonesia 737-800 Exit Row Economy Class
This FCO-SIN flight was a fun daytime flight, but not a great flight if you care about food or reclined seat. Not saying it was bad, as I enjoyed the flight and I was in bed-mode the whole time, but I will describe more about the food and seat below.
- Andronis Athens (3 nights on cash)
- Le Méridien Visconti Rome (3 nights on cash)
As I went to Europe during the winter, the cash rates were very reasonable.
Here are the details for the flight:
- Route: Rome (FCO) -> Singapore (SIN)
- Flight No.: SQ 365
- Aircraft: A350-900
- Registration: 9V-SMH
- Class: Business Class (J)
- Seat: 21K
- Date: March 5, 2019
- Scheduled Departure Time: 10:55 am | Actual Departure Time: 11:08 am (+13 minutes)
- Scheduled Arrival Time: 5:45 am | Actual Arrival Time: 5:55 am (+10 minute)
- Actual flight Time: 11 hours, 47 minutes
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Booking Singapore Airlines Business Class (SQ J)
I booked this flight using Singapore Krisflyer miles, which is actually the only way to book premium cabin seats with Singapore Airlines.
As this flight was booked during KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes it was only 38,000 miles and 41.70 Euros ($46.30 USD).
The normal mileage cost would have been 92,000 miles. That means, during this redemption sale I got 41% of the regular business saver redemption price. For an 11-hour business class flight, I was happy with this redemption, especially as it costed the same as an economy saver flight using KrisFlyer miles.
Fun fact: Singapore doesn’t charge close-in booking fees. You can book however close you want to the departure date as long as there is availability. I had no problem booking 13 days in advance.
I transferred American Express Membership Rewards Points to Krisflyer, which took about 24 hours to transfer, and once they were in my account I went ahead with redeeming my miles. You can also transfer other currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.
Warning: When transferring points (Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and ThankYou Points) to KrisFlyer, it can take up to 48 working hours to complete the transfer. Weekends aren’t working hours, so you need to take into account the weekend delay.
As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I went to Europe was because of this flight. I wasn’t planning on visiting Italy so shortly after my last visit, but seeing how I never have flown Singapore business class before (I have only flown Singapore A380 suites and 777 first class) I thought it could be a good chance to try out a new product and get some Italian food.
Check-in at FCO is usually crowded as there is limited space throughout the whole departure hall at terminal 3. Once I found Singapore’s check-in counters, I was greeted with a pretty empty queue area. There was no one in the business class line making it a breeze through the check-in procedures.
To be honest, I forgot to take photos of the check-in counters as I was surprised how empty it was compared to my last visit to FCO.
FCO terminal and lounge experience
This was not the first time I found myself at FCO. FCO is a decent airport; it even has a Star Alliance business class lounge for Schengen departures, but as I am not flying intra-Schengen I was stuck with a lounge provided by Singapore Airlines called Passenger Lounge.
Passenger Lounge offered no views as it was in the basement, offered hot food items that were cold, and the lounge also was freezing. Let’s just say I ended up leaving the lounge after getting some water and a bagel to roam around the terminal as I was stuck in E-Gates.
What are E-Gates? FCO satellite E-Gates are a satellite terminal accessible by train, Singapore Airlines uses E-Gates at FCO airport. Once you’re at the satellite terminal you cannot go back to the normal terminal. If you wanted to go back to the main terminal, you will have to go through security again.
So, my suggestion is to wait to go to E-Gates and go stay at the main terminal until a few minutes before boarding. The main terminal at least has a decent Plaza Premium Lounge.
Singapore business class cabin
Singapore Airlines A350-900 business class cabin has 42 seats configured in 1-2-1 configuration. There are 3 lavatories, one in the forward cabin and then two more in the middle of the two business class cabins. Business class seats are spread across two cabins, the most forward cabin is the larger cabin with more seats making it feel more crowded. Then there is another cabin filled with business class seats forward of premium economy, which feels more intimate.
I was seated in the mini business class cabin in front of premium economy, which was great as there were only 4 seats occupied in this cabin, all of which were occupied bulkhead seats.
Singapore bulkhead seats are actually much better than non-bulkhead seats. So, if you can grab a bulkhead seat on a Singapore business class flight, you will have a better and wider seat with much more legroom plus no restrictive footwell.
What is unique about Singapore business class is that each seat is exactly the same besides bulkhead seats. So, each window seat is a window seat, while the middle aisle seats are always the same length from each other.
Overall, the cabin is pretty standard with no fancy lounges or bars on-board like Virgin Atlantic 787. In the middle galley, you can find some snacks, but nothing to write home about.
Singapore A350 business class seat
I knew all the bulkhead seats were taken on this A350 flight, that’s what I get for booking last minute. However, in the lie-flat position, this seat isn’t too bad if you’re sleeping on your side.
Design, comfort, and privacy
These seats are wide and it’s amazing. When you’re in the upright position, the width is great and feels like you can easily seat 1 and a half people in this seat.
However, legroom is sad.
I am someone that never reclines the seat as I prefer it upright or in the lie-flat position, but this amount of legroom is annoying for me in the upright position. Plus, if you recline your seat, your legroom goes away as your seat moves forward reducing your legroom.
It feels like you are almost on top of the IFE and yes you can use the ottoman and footwell in the corner of the seat for more legroom.
Plus, on top of all of this, the footwell is to the side off in the corner making you sit at this kinda weird angle. (This is where bulkhead seats on Singapore Airlines shine. If I booked a bulkhead seat, it would have been a huge footwell, but with only 8 business class bulkhead seats on this plane none were available.)
The rest of the seat was pleasantly thought out. From the armrests to the width of the main seat making it feel very roomy for my upper body. Plus, counter space for the seat isn’t bad.
The privacy is alright. It helped as I was seated behind the occupied bulkhead seats which were the only occupied seats in my cabin. These are the most private seats in the world and still no comparison to seats with a door or Apex Suites true window seat.
I especially enjoyed the little features throughout the seat.
Seat features (controls, storage, extras)
Singapore does think about what the passenger might want and need, plus a little extra. Storage for this seat might seem minimal until you realize the cubbies and compartments are situated in a convenient way with enough room.
First off we have the storage underneath the ottoman and footwell. I could store my briefcase underneath.
The cubby next to the IFE screen which offers more than enough room for even a DSLR with a small lens. I wasted the space with my iPhone SE, wallet, passport, and headphones. (Note, the mirror has a cover that slides down.)
Located near the armest there are a few other storage options, one of which has the universal outlet and two USB ports.
Next to the aisle are your seat controls and 3 different reading lights.
There is even a coat hook.
Here is a video I shot during the flight showing all the seat features along with the legroom problem I wrote about above.
Singapore business class not-so-amenity kit
Singapore Airlines doesn’t provide an amenity kit in business class. They instead give you the bare minimum at your seat like socks, eyeshades, and slippers, a huge departure from other airlines like EVA.
You can find toothbrush and toothpaste along with a few other goodies stocked in the lavatories.
Singapore business class headphones and IFE
The IFE that Singapore provides on the aircraft is one of my favorites after Emirates ICE.
Singapore has a wonderful leave and resume feature, where you can continue the show or movie you were watching on your next flight if you didn’t finish it. I also like their in-flight map, one of my favorite channels on any airline.
You control the IFE by using the remote using the buttons or touchscreen as the IFE screen isn’t a touchscreen.
Movie and TV selection are really good, but I only cared about the in-flight map and content that I already had downloaded on my phone.
The provided headphones I didn’t use.
Singapore business class wifi
Wifi offered onboard my Singapore Airlines flight was priced without any data limits.
The wifi package I selected could last up to 24 hours and it only costed me $21.95. Speeds were alright, I could stream YouTube videos most of the time without a problem, but during certain times of the flight it would cut out, which is normal for long-haul flights.
Singapore business class boarding and take-off experience
When I boarded and got to my seat, I was offered a pre-departure drink. I ended up having champagne and guava juice. Plus a hot towel.
With about a 10 minute delay, we were off to the skies for our 11-hour journey.
Singapore business class dining
I love to eat when I travel, both on the ground and in the air I might indulge myself a little too much. Yes, I admit I have a problem and have cut back, but food is life.
To my disappointment, I had one of the worst meals offered by any airline on this flight. The taste was just terrible, even the dessert was terrible. No, I didn’t get sick or anything like that, just the taste and quality of the food served was bad.
What is the worst meal I had on a flight? Back in 2015, I flew Delta from Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG) on their 747 in economy comfort (now called Comfort+). I had non-meat pasta for the meal after take-off and I got sick. Yes, it’s economy, yes I got sick, and yes Singapore comes in second place to the worst meal I had on a plane (yet it’s a maybe distant second).
Yes, this is the first time flying Singapore business class, as I have only flown their suites and first class on routes with book the cook. Those meals offered in first class were alright, nothing special, but not JAL or ANA first class catering quality and taste. I expected this flight to offer just alright food as there was no book the cook service. Sadly, I was wrong…
Anyways, without further ado, here is my review of Singapore business class dining experience.
Within minutes of reaching 10,000 feet in the sky, I was greeted by one of the attentive flight attendants asking for my drink order. I asked for champagne (Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve) and with my champagne was napkin and wet wipe.
Then another flight attendant came by asking if I wanted satay. I, of course, said yes as I love satay!
I was presented with lamb and chicken satay with cucumber and onions. The satay was cold, very chewy, and so hard to bite into both lamb and chicken that I thought I had a problem with eating. At least the peanut sauce was good.
After my attempt to finishing the hard as a rock yet chewy satay, the table was set. Business class catering without a tray is always amazing as it allows customizability with your meal that feels like a first class dining experience.
Yet, next up was definitely the worst dish out of all that was served on this flight.
Balik smoked salmon with balsamic vinegar pearls was by far the worst dish. The salmon was super chewy, a rubber-like texture. The potato cake was a cold ball of no taste that was chewy. And on top of all of that, the balsamic was nonexistent. Even without the salmon, which tasted terrible and was disgusting, how can rocket salad be so bad?
I enjoy eating salmon and have had it on many airlines, but this wasn’t salmon and after two bites of eating the salad I couldn’t keep on going.
After the appetizer, I was presented with a selection of bread and of course, I selected garlic bread. It was garlic bread and definitely the highlight of the meal. 🙂
At this point, I was worried about my main dish, which was the Thai style prawns with choo-chee curry sauce.
It tasted like uncooked curry powder that was left out with rice for a few days. The vegetables and the prawns were actually surprisingly not chewy. However, I couldn’t get rid of the boxed curry powder taste. (Yes, it felt like they mistakenly poured too much curry powder into the dish and didn’t bother to fix it.)
After all that food, which I didn’t actually finish, a cart came around with a selection of dessert and cheeses.
I selected the sbrisolona, an Italian almond cake, and a cheese plate.
The sbrisolona was cold and rock hard. It seems like a theme with most of their food to be hard to eat. The cheese, on the other hand, was cheese and I enjoyed eating it — I just wish I had more garlic bread to get rid of the powdered curry taste stuck in my mouth. (Yes, I drank a few glasses of water, but there was still pure powder in my mouth.)
Before touch down
Starting off the meal before landing was a selection of fruit. The fruit was sour.
After the fruit, I skipped the appetizer and went for the main course. I also got a selection of bread that came with the main course. I ended up grabbing two pieces of bread filled with fruit, which tasted great and not sour like the selection of cut fruit.
For the main, I got the fried rice vermicelli with chicken in XO sauce. This dish, without any surprise, wasn’t good. The noodles were very hard. It had a good flavor, but as the texture goes, it’s hard to eat. At least the mushrooms were fine.
I finished the meal with a good cup of cappuccino.
The before landing meal was fine. I would say it’s better than the meal after take-off but surprised how this meal also was plagued by weird flavors that were too sour and chewy hard food.
I didn’t enjoy any of these dishes on the flight. While the dishes were edible, I still cannot get over the fact that the salmon salad was so bad, chewy, and rubbery. Plus, the curry dish was so overpowering (I honestly wonder if a mistake happened during the cooking process and they accidentally poured the whole box of curry powder into this batch. Yes, I am repeating this because it baffles me how they could mess up curry like this).
Either way, most of the food errors presented on this flight were not at the fault of the crew, but at the catering company. Whoever caters their flights from FCO really needs to try again with these dishes.
And yes, I did comment about the quality and taste of the dishes to the crew when they asked how was my meal. They were very apologetic and I made sure they knew it wasn’t their fault, but this doesn’t give them and me much faith in their catering after this dining experience.
The food menu for my flight reads as followed:
Singapore does a good job with their selection of beverages. I like their choice of champagne and wine.
The beverage menu reads as followed:
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Singapore business class service
Singapore Airlines has some of the best cabin crew members in the world. In 2019 they won the best cabin crew in the world by Skytrax awards and I do agree that they have some of the best flight attendants in the world. Service is typically very warm, mostly attentive, and friendly while being professional.
The cabin crew on my flight was wonderful, we ended up having an amazing conversation during the flight and they gave me a birthday present, even though my birthday was later that week. Along with the gifts, they gave me a personalized card. During the flight, they also made sure I always had a full glass and had enough to eat. They were always enthusiastic.
I would fly again with that cabin crew in a heartbeat. 🙂
Singapore business class lavatory
The lavatory was clean and remained clean the whole flight.
You can find amenities like toothbrush and toothpaste along with other goodies like perfumes the whole flight.
Singapore business class bedding
Singapore Airlines business class beds are quite interesting. First of all, the beds have to be flipped manually by a flight attendant as the seat doesn’t reline into the lie-flat bed mode position.
While you are in bed mode, you have to then ask the flight attendant to flip up the seat if you don’t want it in bed mode. For me, I don’t mind it as I always keep my seat in the lie-flat position, but to others that want to transition frequently you might find yourself somewhat annoyed by it.
Anyways, I found the bed alright. It was firm, which I like, but the footwell being off to the side made me have to lie at an angle. Plus, it’s not a long bed, even for me as I am 5’10”. I found it better to lie on my side for the bed.
The bedding itself was good and they gave me two pillows which make a huge difference.
Landing at SIN
We landed at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) about 10 minutes late. I said my farewells to the crew and thanked them so much for the small gifts.
Once I disembarked, I made my way to the transfer counter to check-in for my Garuda Indonesia flight to Jakarta (CGK). Once it came time for boarding I got this beautiful picture of a Singapore A350 from the ground before I boarded the elite ground bus to my Garuda aircraft.
Did I have a good flight? Yes.
Did I leave the flight hungry and unhappy about my meals? Yes.
Would I fly Singapore Airlines again and skip the meals or hope for book the cook? Yes
I wouldn’t fly Singapore Airlines for the food, but I would for the crew. (I’d eat in the lounge before). If you can get past the awkward seat as I did and fly during the day time where sleep isn’t needed, you will enjoy the flight along with the crew. If you can score a bulkhead seat, that is even better!
However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Singapore Airlines business class again for the food and the seat. I would much prefer flying another business class product between South East Asia and Europe.
This article was originally published by Steve Smith.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.