Trip Planning: Hacking the SQ Waitlist
Singapore Airlines Ground Experience and The Private Room
Singapore Airlines SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review
Singapore Airlines SilverKris First Class Lounge MEL Review
Singapore Airlines MEL SIN A380 Suites Review
First Class for the Family – SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review
Singapore (SIN) – Melbourne (MEL)
Date: Friday, 17 March 2017
Seat: 1F/2A (First Class)
I may have given all manner of excuses for flying my family on F in my previous posts, but it’s time for some honesty; Prior to this flight, I’ve not had the chance to experience SQ’s First Class. That was pretty much the real reason why I shelled out all those additional miles.
Hindsight is 20/20, and seeing that we had already secured bulkhead J seats prior to the upgrade together with the fiasco we endured at ticketing, it was a terrible mistake. But for what it is worth, Milelion gets its very first trip report for this product!
SQ currently has 27 Boeing 777-300ER in their fleet, in 3 different configurations. The first 2 are similar, and consist of 8 First Class seats, 42 in business and 228 at the back. If you see this configuration on your seat-map, there is a 6/9 chance that you’d be flying the old 2006 product. The other 3 planes already sport the refreshed 2013 seats. I don’t think there is any practical way to determine which product you’d be flying, so it’s best to assume it would be the former. The good news is that the rest of the 77W fleet have the new products in the new configuration of 4F/48J/28S/184Y. Once you see this configuration at seat selection, you can be confident of scoring the new products (barring any last minute equipment change of course).
Our flight had 8 in First Class, and so it was a pleasant surprise when we stepped into the cabin to find that we’d be flying the new products. Having wanted to give our daughter as much undisturbed rest as possible prior to the flight, we were one of the last passengers to board, and the rest of the F cabin was already full.
I took a quick peek at the Business cabin behind, and was momentarily taken aback. In the 3-class 77W configuration, the Business cabin is divided into a small 8 seat cabin immediately behind F, followed by the main J section with the rest of the 34 seats. This makes for an extremely intimate front J section. In my late night stupor I actually thought to myself: ‘Why is it 16F on this plane?’ before I realized it was actually Business! The 2013 business class seats are really thoughtfully designed and i feel they afford a step up in privacy compared to the 2006 version, almost looking like First Class.
In terms of the hard product, the main advantage F provides over J is the dedicated legroom and additional storage space each passenger gets. Being over 6’ tall, the major gripe I have about SQ J is the small and angled foot cubby. In contrast, the F seat has a large (almost too large) cut out for your feet, and space enough for at least 2 cabin sized luggage.
In terms of numbers, the F seat is also wider at 35” compared to 28” in J, and the screen is also bigger at 24” compared to 18”. But I don’t feel it adds much to your personal comfort. The wider main seat does mean that 2 people can sit together comfortably, but you’re not allowed to do that for a prolonged period of time anyway.
In terms of seat functions, the tray is built in under the LCD screen, and just to the right of the tray lever is the usual power socket and a HDMI input. The left side has a generous storage cubby in which the Bose headphones could be found.
Cubby with Bose headphonesSeat and lighting controls where on the partition along the aisle, together with the headphone jack and little rack to hang it when not in use. The new generation entertainment controller was behind a small sliding door in the armrest. In the other armrest, there was another small compartment with a USB and charging port, presumably for your personal device.
More small but functional storage spaces that just make sense – just remember to take your phone / personal electronic device when you deplane!The seat itself was more than adequately wide, and done up with a lovely dark brown leather. I had no issues with the extent of the recline in seat mode, but then again it was only a short while before I asked for the turn down to get some sleep.
Vanity mirror which I only found after landingOf course, First Class is never just about the hard product. The soft product is really what sets the best F experiences from the mediocre. If it is your first time flying at the very front of the plane, you should try to maximize your experience by picking a daytime flight where there will be a full service, instead of a red-eye where the service is abbreviated and you’d be wanting to sleep for most of the flight anyway. Some of the things you’d be missing out on a red-eye include the canapes (usually satay) and caviar for the appetiser. Also, each passenger only gets one meal by default; you either choose dinner (after takeoff) or breakfast (before landing).
You have to love how SQ cabin crew are trained to answer questions like politicians. On their routine welcome rounds, the following exchange ensued.
‘I see that you have placed a book the cook order for the Rack of Lamb, would you prefer to have that immediately after take off, or before we land sir?’
‘Can I have that for dinner now, and then have another meal for breakfast?’
‘Certainly! We can prepare a fruit platter for you to enjoy before we land.’
Saying yes without actually saying yes is a useful skill to master. Anyway, here are the customary shots of the menu for your reference.
I shan’t put up the full menu here but I’ll just add quick note on the vino for those interested. I realized we haven’t covered the wine selection in our previous trip reports but I feel it’s worth a mention. We all know that SQ famously serves both Dom Perignon (2006 is the current offering now) and Krug Grande Cuvee (NV) for their in-flight champagne, but they have a well curated list of reds and whites as well.
There is usually a seasonal selection; on this flight the Penfolds RWT (Red Wine Trial) Barossa valley Shiraz (2012) was on offer. This is obviously a step below the premium Penfold’s Grange, but still runs up to about S$200/bottle at retail. I’m usually not big on Shiraz, but this was impressive with a superbly balanced palate of dark fruit and savoury flavours.
The Old World selection is typically from Bordeaux, and in this season was either Cos d’Estournel (2004) or Pichon Lalande (2004). Both are Deuxiemes Cru (2nd Growth) in the 1855 classification, and are excellent (and expensive) wines. The Pichon was the wine available on my flight, and it was a delectable pairing with the BTC Lamb Rack I had.
Rounding up the reds was the 2010 Chateau Corton-Grancey (Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune). For the whites there was a 2013 Riesling from Goldtropfchen, Mosel and a Chardonnay from Mornington Peninsula (Port Philip Estate, “Red Hill”, 2013). You can’t go wrong with a Riesling from Mosel, and I had a refreshing glass prior to landing. I didn’t get to try any of the rest though.
Crew service on this ‘Sleeper Service’ was polished and efficient, but was way too rushed if your intention is to savour the experience. The table was set and the main course was served immediately.
After my BTC order on my last trip from SIN LHR in R was mixed up and I ended up with a rather depressing Yu Pian Mi Fen, I just had to find out what the lamb rack was like. The meat was done to a perfect medium, and tasty with just a slight hint of the usual mutton smell. The sauce was a little too viscous and too salty for my liking though, I wonder if that was due to insufficient time for reheating.
My wife had the Boston Lobster Thermidor, which is essentially the same as what you get in Business, just with double the serving of Lobster. Every time I have the chance to BTC out of SIN, I struggle to choose between the Lobster which I know will be good or explore something I’ve not tried before. Well, this was another hit for the lobster; it was excellent as always.
Boston Lobster Thermidor – My wife had this prior to landing (or rather, I pilfered most of it)
After a rather muted fruit platter, it was time for bed. Similar to Suites class, you are also given a turndown service in First. This is in contrast to J where you’re expected to make your own bed. I took the time to change to the PJs and take photos of the toilet. Does anyone really want to see more photos of the boring SQ First class toilet though? Looks exactly like what you get in business with some leather trimmings, the same Tuscan Soul amenities from Ferragamo… Let’s leave those out.
I couldn’t get any pictures of the bed before it was messed up as I had to get my daughter to bed, but here’s the end result. There’s more than enough space for an adult and child. That being said, it does pale in comparison with what you get on Suites class though.
I went to sleep and the next thing I knew, my daughter was stirring and it was 2 hours to landing. I was well rested, but that’s the frustrating thing about redeeming miles for a red-eye. You go to sleep and before you know it, it’s almost over!
I was given my second fruit platter as promised, and issued an express immigration pass. The priority queue was terribly hard to find at MEL though, and we ended up taking a normal lane which was empty anyway.
Conclusion? With the bad ground experience, limited sleeper service, and the alternative of bulkhead J seats on the same flight, it definitely felt as if the additional miles we spent on F were wasted. That being said, my daughter has now crossed her 2nd birthday and is no longer eligible for infant fares. We either have to redeem a normal award ticket for her, or pay child ticket fees which are only slightly cheaper than the usual adult fare. It is extremely difficult to find 3 F/R award seats in advance. First Class for the Family is sadly no longer practical, so I guess it was fun while it lasted.
Stay tuned for my review of the SilverKris First Class lounge in MEL, and of the MEL SIN leg in SQ Suites. Hopefully those will be completed in better time than this one!