Singapore Airlines First Class is supposedly among the world’s best first class products. Every blogger, FlyerTalk post, news article, and airline rating program raves about Singapore Airlines. The airline has a solid 5 star rating for Skytrax and a brand following that is second to none. Whenever Singapore Airlines is mentioned in aviation geek circles, people gasp in delight. Yet after flying three flights on Singapore Airlines First, I must ask, is Singapore Airlines overrated?
I know, blasphemy you say, but hear me out…
Singapore Airlines First Class Seat
Singapore Airlines recently introduced a refreshed first class seat. The new color scheme and updated upholstery is not a major overhaul from the previous generation seat, but it does build upon its success. Despite being a “new” seat, it’s not the best in class. The open suites on Singapore Airlines First class are 35 inches wide and has a pitch of 81 inches. Singapore Airlines outfits their B777s with four seats across the cabin. The seat is so similar to the extra large business class seat, business class nearly cannibalizes the First class hard product.
Comparing the seat to similar aircraft, Singapore Airlines does not offer the most spacious seat. Forward facing first class is common in First class, as is four seats across the cabin. Yet, Singapore Airline competitor Cathay Pacific offers a wider open suite at a slight angle. Cathay Pacific first class is only 3 seats across and 36 inches wide with a similar pitch. Size wise, Singapore Airline seat is on par with the competition, but not earth shattering or better.
Singapore Airlines first class seat is big, and makes into a fantastic bed. The seat itself does not fully recline, but instead flips forward into a bed. This restricts the actual recline of the seat, but makes for a fairly comfortable bed. This is both good and bad as it protects the sleeping surface, but highly restricts the positions one can rest in. The other problem is that feet may feel somewhat restricted as the bed extends under the TV.
Dinning for two
One of my favorite aspects of flying First class with a companion is the ability to dine together. Every airline I’ve flown in First Class including Qantas, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, American, Etihad, and more allows customers to dine together in one suite. Singapore Airlines first class footrest is actually an under TV cutout. Since the entertainment console is above the footrest, it does not convert to a seat.
Guests could attempt to squeeze in side by side on Singapore Airlines’ First Class extra wide seat, but it won’t be comfortable for eating. The seat is wide enough to be comfortable for a picture or enjoying a movie; but the lack of elbow room would not be conducive to eating. If guests want to dine together, they must book the center seats. Even my Flight Attendants acknowledge that this was an issue with the seat design and a common complaint. Most other airlines offers space for two to dine together.
Japan Airlines First Class is similar in design to Singapore Airlines, but they have designed the seat to allow dining for two. The foot rest has an extra set belt and the TV is far enough back to allow a passenger to sit on the foot rest. The tray in front of the TV can be configured to allow use of the ottoman by a second passenger.
Food and Booze
Singapore Airlines goes above and beyond when it comes to in-flight dining, however it’s extremely inconsistent. Nearly all flights have “book the cook service” but on some flights there were only one or two options to choose from. Sleeper Service, Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner offer very different dining experiences. Supper service is only a main dish, breakfast dishes do not have a variety of book the cook options, and lunch service does not include caviar. Even on long haul flights, Singapore Airline only serves caviar at dinner time! Meanwhile Cathay Pacific serves it on every long haul flight every time and from my experience JAL offers it at lunch and dinner time.
On a sleeper service flight between Singapore and Seoul, meal service is only a main dish. No Appetizer, dessert, bread, salad or anything was part of the meal service! A 2,800 mile flight with the most basic meal. Is this truly first class?
Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines does offer both Krug and Dom Perignon along with fine wines and high-end spirits on First Class flights. I would say that Singapore Airlines does excel here. From my experience, most other airlines only offer one high-end champagne.
Singapore Airlines service is refine and very personalized. I found that the Singapore girl was attentive but not overbearing. Preferences are remembered and communication was superb. Water glasses are never empty, wine glasses refreshed, and even bread plates are warmed before bread is served to make sure the bread stays warms. Singapore Airlines Singapore girls do not overlook any detail while serving customers. Yet, is this service really any better than say Etihad, JAL, or Cathay Pacific? I think not, but that is of course just a matter of opinion and may vary the crew to crew.
Singapore Airlines ground service is nothing to write home about. The airline offers the “private room” which offers exclusive lounge access to first class passengers only. The lounge within a lounge is just a lounge.
Qantas, Etihad, Thai Airways and Cathay Airways offers unique first class lounge experiences which include services such as massage services, facials, custom shaves and even oversize cabanas in Hong Kong. Singapore Airline just offers al la cart dining. Yet then again, so does just about every other airline. So I ask, what makes The Private Room so great?
The Private Room is more exclusive as access is restricted to first class passengers only. Other airlines First class lounges can be accessed via guest privileges or status. This makes the Private Room more intimate and less crowded. Yet I could not argue it makes the lounge better.
Another service that Singapore Airlines lacks is ground transfer service. No escorts to gates, limousine transfer to hotels, or exclusive lines through security or customs. In Doha, Qatar Airline whisks passengers through customs and security with dedicated lanes and lounges. Airline representatives tend to customs paperwork for travelers while guests enjoy coffee and snack instead of queuing in custom lines. Etihad offers limousine service to and from the airport, and even some airline business class such as Hainan offers airport transfer in select cities! Singapore Airline does none of this.
Is Singapore Airlines First Class the Worlds Best?
Flying First class is a luxury that most people will never get to enjoy. I have been extremely fortunate that I have mastered the mile and point games to secure first class and business class flights around the globe. I feel extremely lucky to be able to have the in-flight experiences that I have had. Flying first class is always enjoyable and beats economy any day! As I play the world’s smallest violin with my observations, I must disagree with the masses. Singapore Airlines is not the world’s best!
Some airlines just do it better than others. Singapore Airlines definitely excels and soars above their North American competitors, yet Singapore Airlines First class is not the worlds best in my opinion. Singapore Airlines is on par with some of their largest competitors and offers fantastic service. Yet after flying Singapore Airlines First Class, I can say it’s nice, but not my favorite first class product. I’d take JAL, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, Qantas, or Etihad over Singapore Airlines if available. But I would never fly say American Airlines First Class over Singapore Airlines if I had the option to choose.
Singapore Airlines First Class is a highly sought after product, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly Singapore Airlines First Class again. Maybe, just maybe, the A380 would impress me more, but as it stands now, Singapore’s First Class, is just another product plying the skies.