If you do a search for “what seat should I pick” on SQTalk or Flyertalk’s SQ page, you’re going to get threads that are hundreds of posts long. And that’s completely understandable, because for many people, flying business or first class will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The last thing you want is to have it ruined (ok, ruined is a strong word) by a poor choice of seats.
Let’s get one thing straight- at the end of the day a poorly-chosen business class seat will still be infinitely better than the best-located economy class seat. That said, most of us would prefer not to end up in a seat next to a screaming baby, with queues (and smells) from the loo and light from the galley. So here’s where some advanced planning and knowledge can be really useful.
This is a difficult post to write because seat selection is a ultimately a highly subjective affair. What I like/dislike may not be what you like/dislike. Therefore I’m going to try and be as comprehensive as I can with all the pros and cons of each seat. It’s highly recommended that you read this post in conjunction with the post on SQ premium cabin seats for best results.
I’m going to first cover some general principles I apply, before going into specific aircraft types.
General Seating Advice
(1) Avoid bassinet seats
Unless you’re traveling with an infant, it’s advisable to avoid being anywhere near these seats. The last thing you want is a cranky baby making it impossible to sleep on the seat you paid so many miles for.
This is less of an issue in First Class because (1) the cabin is smaller so good luck avoiding the noise and (2) you tend to see infants more in Business Class than First Class.
How much of a berth to give this seats? It really depends how sensitive you are to noise. My rule is a minimum of 4 rows, but you’ll need to take that call. If you’re the gambling sort, you could request a bassinet seat at check-in (they tend to be blocked till then) and hope that there are indeed no infants on board, meaning you get a whole row of empty seats to yourself. Or you could be surrounded by fussy babies all flight long.
Another point that a lot of people forget is that the last row of business class tends to border the first row of premium economy/economy class (you won’t have this problem on the A380) which is also where you find bassinets. So you might think you’re really clever by getting a seat way at the back, only to find yourself within earshot of babies behind you.
(2) Avoid the galleys
Galleys are a source of light and sound pollution, and although SQ crew are much better at noise discipline than some of the crew I’ve seen on North American airlines (ahem United ahem) where the galley is basically one big social area, it may still be an issue for light sleepers. This is especially the case when the crew start preparing breakfast before landing, where the smells of food and clink of diningware may be annoying to some.
SQ has blackout curtains that separate the galley from the row of seats in front of them, and to the crew’s credit they’re quite religiously trained about putting the curtain back in place every time they pass through it. The problem is, passengers are not and when you have a set of loos at the front of the cabin don’t be surprised if the multitude of passengers making their way past your seat to pee means a constant light on/light off effect (you’ve got a sleep mask, use it).
(3) Avoid the loos
Loos mean queues. And in the absence of their phones to play with, people become busybodies, watching your IFE screen behind your back (better hope no naughty bits come on just then), examining and passing silent judgment on the cleanliness of your seat area and gazing on your 5 ‘o clock somewhere stubble.
Again, SQ’s crew do a great job on toilet cleaning especially on long haul flights, but if you fly often enough it’s only a matter of time before you encounter certain passengers who, shall we say, put a strain on such services.
If you’re a light sleeper, you need to keep in mind the loud noise of the vacuum flush can be disturbing.
Specific Aircraft Seating Advice
Because First Class cabins are so small, I’m going to focus this article on Business Class seat choices.
Regional Business Class Seat (all A330-300/B777-200/B777-300s)
This seat can be found on 3 different SQ aircraft types, the seat maps for which I’ve shown below:
These seats are 2-2-2 configured, so if you’re traveling by yourself, you obviously want to pick a seat in the middle so you’ll have direct aisle access. However, avoid Row 11 D&F (on all 3 aircraft) and Row 16 D&F (on B777-200s) like the plague. Why?
Because the nature of the cabin is that these rows have additional legroom in front, which makes them an enticing shortcut for passengers wanting to cross between aisles (the crew, of course, are trained not to do this). So you’ll get inconsiderate people cutting in front of you to cross over from one side to another, especially if you don’t recline your seat.
Also your IFE screen is pretty much open for the entire cabin to see, versus the other seats where it’s recessed into the back of the seat in front of them.
Row 11 (A330-300s) and Row 12 (777-200,300) have the bassinet seats in any case and tend to be blocked until you get to the airport, so it’s unlikely you’ll pick these by mistake.
If you’re traveling with a companion, definitely go with the two seats at the side (A&C, H&K). The window passenger will have more privacy, and I suppose it’ll be less of an issue stepping over someone you know to get to the aisle.
If you’re a single passenger and all the D&F seats are filled, your best bet is to go with a A/K seat especially if it’s a night flight, so you don’t get disturbed when your seatmate wants to go to the loo.
Light sleepers should avoid row 16 (A330-300), row 15 (B777-200) and row 20 (B777-300) as you have both a galley (A330-300 + B777-200) and a set of toilets (all 3 aircraft) at the rear of the business class cabin.
2006 J Seat (all B777-200ERs)
The B777-200ERs have all been retrofitted with SQ’s 2006 business class seat, which is a welcome change from the Spacebeds they used to have. You’ll find these aircraft flying routes like Istanbul, Mumbai, Christchurch, Brisbane and Perth.
This is a fairly straightforward cabin with only one business class section. Seats are 1-2-1 which means A/K are the windows, D/F are the middles.
For solo travelers, it’s a no-brainer to go for A/K. Remember how I said that you should try to avoid the galleys? On such aircraft, some people actually do the opposite, because 11A/K provide additional room for your feet. The 2006 J seat normally requires you to sleep diagonally, but if you pick this seat you can sleep straight.
Contrast this to the regular seat, where your feet have to squeeze into a cubby. For what it’s worth, I’ve never found this a problem but there are plenty of complaints online.
If 11 A and K are taken, 11D and F will also let you sleep straight. Note that 11 A and K are more susceptible to light pollution from the galley because of their angle. D and F are relatively protected because they’re directly in front.
If you’re traveling as a couple, go for the centre D&F seats. You’ll have to learn forward a bit to talk, but otherwise it’s not too difficult to communicate. If you’re a solo passenger who can’t get an A or K seat, there are privacy dividers that extend out from the middle of the seat.
Avoid rows 17 and 18 as these are near the loos.
2006 J Seat (almost all A380-800s)
There are two types of A380-800s that have the 2006 J seat. One has 60 business class seats on the upper deck…
The other has 84 business class seats, also on the upper deck.
This seat is more or less identical to the one you’ll find in the B777-200ERs, so the same advice about picking a bulkhead if you want to sleep straight applies. Go for Row 11, 17, 91 and 96 (the latter two if you’re on an aircraft with an all business class upper deck).
One interesting thing I want to point out about the all business class upper deck version is that there’s what looks to be a single row mini-cabin in row 96
In reality though, it’s not quite a mini-cabin but rather part of the third business class section. That said, you’ll enjoy sleep straight seats (the is a latch beneath the IFE screen that lowers the footrest after TTOL) and a sense of privacy from the rest of the cabin because of the higher than usual walls. Do note that these are bassinet seats, though, so this could backfire if you have a baby-heavy flight (rows 17 and 91 will tend to have their bassinets utilized first). The other downside is that you’ll be just in front of the rear toilets.
The other thing to note about the A380-800 is that the A&K seats enjoy extra storage space thanks to the storage bins at the side. These are cavernous, with enough storage space for just about everything you can bring onboard.
People have asked me whether they need to be concerned if they’re seated near the steps. The answer is no- apart from TTOL, virtually no one uses the steps. They’re roped off in flight and any passenger foolhardy enough to try and traverse them is quickly shooed away (Row 96/ Row 11).
If you want a smaller cabin with more personalized service, you can try for Rows 11-16, as these have relatively fewer seats than the 2nd and 3rd (if applicable) business class sections.
2006 J Seat (some B777-300ERs)
There are only 3 777-300ER aircraft left with the 2006 J seat, so very soon you might not see this configuration anymore.
I’ve mentioned all there is to say about this seat, so I’ll just add one more thing: if you see 8 seats in the forward J mini-cabin, you know you have the 2006 J seat. Many travelers prefer the forward cabin because it’s private (you have your own set of crew to serve this area (at least that was the routine a few years ago, some people note it’s changed)), there are no forward toilets (so no chance of interlopers entering your cabin) and there are no bassinet seats here. It’s kind of like a perfect confluence. Whenever I saw this configuration, I’d often find myself selecting a D/F seat in the forward cabin even if there were A/K seats available in the rear J cabin, just for this reason.
Edit: I’ve been told that row 11 in this cabin is blocked for PPS members so if you’re not holding status you may not be able to get a seat here. Try asking at check-in, but odds are your flight will have at least a handful of PPS member onboard so don’t count on it.
2013 J Seat (most B777-300ERs/ all A350s)
The 2013 edition of SQ’s business class seat can be found on 24/27 of their B777-300ERs and all the A350s.
Since the 2013 J seat shares similar design DNA to the 2006 J seat, similar advice will apply here. If you don’t get a bulkhead seat (row 11 & 15 on the 777-300ER, row 11 and 19 on the A350), you’ll be sleeping at an angle with your feet going into a cubby. As you can see in the photo below, the mattress pad does not cover the cubby so it’s possible depending on how worn your seat is that your legs may be ever so slightly higher than your feet.
Here’s what that cubby looks like if you have the window seat.
As always, A&K are preferred for single travelers, but if you land a seat in the middle you have a rather effective privacy divider. This one extends further than the divider in the 2006 seat.
A special note about the A350- avoid seats 18D/F because they’re really close to the loo. And I don’t just mean in front of them, I mean they’re almost side by side.
2017 J seat (two A380-800s)
I’ll be flying SQ’s new business class seat back from Sydney later this week so I imagine I’ll have some new insights then, but for now let’s look at what we can tell from the seatmap and other people’s reports.
The new A380 puts Suites and business class on the upper deck, with 78 business class seats in total. The interesting thing is that the 2017 J configuration (78 seats) is denser than the 2006 J one (66 seats), meaning they’ve put more seats in the same space.
I don’t think that necessarily means more cramped seats, because (2017 Suite design aside), SQ has always been very good with using space.
The big selling point of the 2017 J seat is the ability for all D&F seats to form a double bed. That’s only really the case for 11/91/96 D&F, as this AusBT review shows.
Otherwise, you’re realistically looking at something like this:
I would avoid Row 24 because these seats are just next to the toilet. Not only that, but this is toilet central for the upper deck- both the forward cabin and rear cabin will be converging on this area to use the loo.
Let’s be clear- no one will walk away from a business class flight on Singapore Airlines saying “my entire experience was ruined because I picked the wrong seat”. It’s certainly good to know the lay of the land and how certain seats may have an advantage over others, but I wouldn’t fret too much if I didn’t get my “ideal” seat. It’s going to be a great experience either way! Book the cook, load up on champagne and even the loudest of crying babies will seem like a dim haze.