Trip Report: SQ business class SIN-ICN-SFO

cover photo by kaddisudhi

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SQ 16 SIN-ICN

0925, 24th April 2015, Terminal 3

Cost: 68,000 miles + S$391.90 in taxes

We arrived at Terminal 3 at 0730 for a 0925 departure. SQ has a special check in area for First Class and Solitaire members. There is a separate driveway to pull up to at the start of  T3

The check in area is fancy but isn’t really a place you want to spend longer than necessary. There are 4 or 5 dedicated counters to check in passengers, while the rest of your party can wait in the seating area. My father handled the formalities and I took the opportunity to take a few photos

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There’s no drinks or newspapers here- the idea is to expedite your check in as much as possible so you can get to the lounge. Our bags were checked through to SFO and we were in and out (in-n-out, haha) in less than 5 minutes.

Outside the SQ reception area is a dedicated passport control checkpoint for First/Solitaire passengers with 2 automated kiosks and 1 ICA officer. Photos aren’t allowed here so I don’t have any.

Past immigration and it was through to the lounge.

When it comes to lounges, SQ plays it pretty safe. Its lounges are never going to be up there with the crazy out of this world ones like Virgin Atlantic in London (free spa treatments, haircuts, full ala carte menu dining for all passengers) or Turkish Airlines in Istanbul (mini race car track, golf simulator, pool table, library, PS4) , but it’s always going to be solid enough. It’s a comfortable place to wait and there is a good food selection in the First class area.

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Entrance to first class lounge
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Reverse view showing bar
Bar service only starts at 4pm so they laid out everything here for you to help yourself. No champagne though

The other thing about the First class lounge is that there’s actually a lounge within the lounge called The Private Room. This is only for Singapore Airlines First Class passengers (it used to be worse- only for First Class revenue passengers as opposed to award tickets, but thankfully they did away with that silly rule).

The implication is that the dining in the First class lounge is really intended for (1) Solitaire PPS Club members and (2) Star Alliance First Class partner airline passengers. You’d think this might limit their incentive to stock the good stuff here, and you’re sort of right, but I found the selection to be good nonetheless.

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Freshly prepared breakfast options- waffles, pancakes, grilled sandwiches, kaya toast and soft boiled eggs
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Cereal & Muesli bar
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Buffet selection- vegetarian noodles, dim sum, chee kway
Second live cooking station- this one had fish congee (really good) and prata to order
Second live cooking station- this one had fish congee (really good) and prata to order. They’ll also prepare eggs to your liking
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Obligatory fruit platter
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It’s never too early for ice cream. They used to have both Ben and Jerry’s + Haagen Daz here

My mum, dad and I had the following

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Fish congee, which was excellent
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Waffles with maple syrup- meh
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Prata with fish curry. Excellent
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Mixed selection of dim sum and noodles from the buffet
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Obligatory table shot

The lounge has a few internet workstations, a slumber room and a good selection of newspapers. Again, there’s no way this lounge can ever hope to be as hip as a Virgin Clubhouse, but it’s probably more in line with SQ’s image as a quietly dignified airline (not that there’s anything undignified about free haircuts)

We boarded at 0900 onto SQ16, operated by 9W-SWA today. SWA was actually the first 777-300ERs to be delivered to SQ and unfortunately its age is showing (see photos below). SQ2 was recently switched to one of the 777WNs with the new first, business and economy products and I was hoping against hope that a last minute equipment swap would land us on SWU, SWV, SWW, SWY or SWZ, all of which have the new products, but alas.

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Seat 12F
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Legroom on 12F
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Tearing fabric in seat
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Stains
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More stains

As you can see from the photos above, the leather is starting to peel in several places, there are non-removable stains and the velcro has torn off in minor areas. But when you consider this product has been around since 2008, that’s some significant mileage that has been put on it

I was greeted at the door but not escorted to my seat, unlike the previous few times I flew Business. Maybe they’ve changed the SOP. In any case it wasn’t a big deal because I was in 12F, the mini cabin just after First Class. These are arguably the best seats on the 77W because they’re quiet (provided you don’t get a snorer next to you) and they don’t seat babies in this section

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The menu for the flight

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I had already ordered the Book the Cook (BTC) service from SIN-ICN and for one meal from ICN-SFO.

Takeoff was uneventful and we were shortly at cruising altitude. Abut 30 minutes after the seatbelt sign went off the crew started with the satay service. SQ views this as a precursor to the main meal as opposed to part of it, so they don’t dress the table before they serve it. I’ve always found that weird, given that the appetizer comes directly after the satay, so there’s no reason why they shouldn’t just dress the table at the onset. Anyway, photos-

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Appetizer of chicken and lamb satay with peanut sauce
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Prawns with salad, garlic bread on the side
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Singapore chicken rice
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Movenpick maple walnut ice cream

The chicken rice was surprisingly good. The last time I ordered chicken rice on BTC (maybe 6 years ago), the chicken had that microwave taste- the kind you get when it’s been nuked to death. This time the chicken was soft and tender, even a little bloody (which I know is a big no no to Westerners but you need that kind of texture for chicken rice chicken). Rice was fragrant and the sauce was acceptable for something served on a plane. The garlic bread that went with the salad was excellent too- out of some stations the garlic bread is more like a burnt hockey puck which has been clearly over toasted, but this garlic bread was warm, moist and soft.

The meal was completed about 2 hours after take off, after which it was time to do some work. This flight unfortunately did not have wifi (it’s always a bit of hit and miss with SQ- some of their 77Ws have wifi but others don’t. I’m guessing because SWA was one of their first 77Ws they’ve not gotten around to installing wifi).

The movie selection was great but nothing in particular that I was dying to watch. They had the entire Hobbit series plus the Hunger Games- I ended up watching Memento again.

After 5.5 uneventful hours we landed at ICN. As with all flights going to the USA we had to alight and clear security again. One curious thing about ICN is that security took forever to clear, which was very surprising for an Asian airport where things normally go so smoothly. They were clearing maybe 1 person every 2 minutes at the checkpoint.

Through security and it was time to hit the lounge again. SQ has a dedicated lounge in ICN. The spread was decent for a satellite lounge-

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Overview of lounge
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Assortment of pastries
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Hot food selection- some fried rice and veggies, plus a clear soup
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Drink selection
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Full spread
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Other half of the lounge

We re-boarded after an hour to a fresh crew and the flight left at 1750. With eastbound flights that stretch over the night, it’s normal that the crew try and complete meal service asap so that passengers can sleep. I was surprised therefore that it took nearly 2 hours before they started serving the meal.

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Satay again
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Hot smoked salmon plus garlic bread. Salmon was really tough
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Book the cook: Stir fried pork belly with fragrant ginger and spring onion sauce, served with black mushroom, carrot flowers, pak choy and steamed Jasmine rice
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Haagen Daz Belgian chocolate ice cream

The BTC pork belly and jasmine rice was ridiculously good. The pork was tender and the rice was firm and fragrant. I’ve recently developed a new appreciation for rice from Korea and Japan, and I’ve decided to buy a bag and try making it myself when I get back

After the meal it was time to sleep

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I don’t know how to feel about the SQ business class bed. The sheets are Givenchy branded and it’s full flat, but I’m more partial to the type of seat that reclines into a bed, as opposed to the kind you need to flip over. The reason is that when you can manually recline you can opt for any degree you want. I find sometimes that the airline’s version of 180 degrees puts a lot of pressure on the lower back, so I prefer to sleep at maybe 170 degrees or so. In any case this time the bed just felt right and I slept like a baby.

I woke up half way through and saw that the crew had set up a snack station in the gallery

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Snack area- fruit, junk food, writing kits, playing cards and a sleeping cap teddy bear (not pictured- it went into my bag rather quickly)

Satiated, I went back to bed again. 2.5 hours before landing I was awoken for breakfast

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Fruit platter
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Udon noodles with seafood- very good

I deliberately went easy on breakfast because I was anticipating eating a double double In N Out upon landing.

After breakfast there was still around 90 minutes to landing, so I decided to snooze a bit more. A little while later I felt someone tapping at my arm. I awoke to this

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They figured out it was my birthday and catered a cake out of ICN. That was really sweet of them and very unexpected. And they gave me a second bear.

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It was a cheesecake and really quite good, but again I was saving my stomach for In N Out, so my dad and mum and I took one slice each and gave the rest to the crew.

We landed 1 hour ahead of time at SFO. Overall the flight was another solid SQ experience. SQ has announced plans to retro-fit its new cabin products into its existing 77W fleet, and I hope it does so sooner rather than later because the current product is showing its age. Still, it’s amazing to think that SQ’s last gen business class is still miles ahead of some competitor’s current gen.

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2 thoughts on “Trip Report: SQ business class SIN-ICN-SFO”

  1. hi! How did u get access to the first class lounge flying on biz? And can you get 3 saver tickets on biz to US? I’ve only ever seen 2 at a time

    1. hi there! Thanks for reading. My father is a Solitaire PPS member so he’s able to guest people he’s travelling with into the First class area of the lounge so long as they’re on a star alliance flight. Sorry, no hacks for that one. But 3 business saver tickets are definitely possible! You will never see more than 2 available at one go (in fact, even seeing 2 these days is quite an accomplishment sadly), but the trick is to waitlist and keep calling Krisflyer membership services at the 2 week mark asking them if they can open the waitlist. Also, it’s generally better to make the bookings on 3 separate PNRs- that is, make 3 separate bookings for business saver tickets rather than putting them all on one reservation. You should be able to get at least 1, possibly 2 at the t-14 mark (14 days from your departure). For the last one, keep calling membership services (it does help if you have some status with them, even KF elite silver does help your case slightly) and ask them if they could “send a chaser”. SQ award space is manually inventory controlled. That means the system does not automatically release unsold tickets in excess of the initial allotment even when the departure date draws near. Someone needs to go into the system and approve that release- and that’s what the chaser is supposed to help you with.

      I’m reminded of another story where my family and I were looking at options to fly home from Barcelona. We were at the 3 days before departure mark and suddenly realised that there was an incredible amount of space on SQ67- even when I clicked for 6 redemption tickets at the business saver level I was told that it was available for immediate confirmation. So it’s definitely possible to get 3 saver tickets- but you have to (1) be patient (2) be willing to take a bit of a risk and book your flights at the last minute. Hope this helps and let me know if you have more questions!

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