Review: Singapore Airlines B787-10 Economy Class Singapore to Seoul

Last Updated:

Heading to Seoul on the VTL? Here's what you can expect from the post-COVID Economy Class experience on Singapore Airlines.

While there’s technically no such thing as a “VTL flight to South Korea”, travellers from Singapore must take non-stop flights from Singapore to Seoul in order to enter South Korea without quarantine.

Singapore Airlines operates 6x weekly flights on this route:

Flights Days
SQ608
S M T W T F S
SIN
0125
ICN
0850
       
SQ600
S M T W T F S
SIN
0805
ICN
1530
       

Since I didn’t fancy doing a red eye (especially not in Economy), I chose SQ600 and its morning departure slot. After completing the check-in formalities for travel to South Korea, I paid a quick visit to the temporary SilverKris Lounge (which will only be around for a couple more days) and headed to the boarding gate. 

🇰🇷 BTS (Back to Seoul)
🇸🇬 Singapore- South Korea VTL 🇰🇷
✈️tl;dr: Singapore Airlines B787-10 Economy Class
Economy Class is Economy Class, but it’s so much better when you get empty seats next to you.
The Good The Bad
  • Personal IFE, in-seat power and USB charging throughout
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi for KrisFlyer members
  • Slimline seating may be uncomfortable for overnight flights
  • No IFE remote, gesture-only controls

SQ600 departs at 8.05 a.m, and boarding normally begins 30 minutes prior to departure. For whatever reason they decided to start earlier this time, and when I reached the gate at 7.30 a.m most people were already onboard.

Boarding for SQ600

Today’s flight was operated by a 9V-SCN, a Boeing 787-10 delivered to SIA in September 2019. I previously toured this aircraft as part of an SIA launch event, so for a detailed look at the Business & Economy Class seats, check out this post.

9V-SCN

While cabin crew used to hand out amenities onboard, the SOP has been changed to minimise contact with passengers. Economy Class passengers now help themselves to earphones and an SIA Care Kit just before they enter the aircraft.

Headphones and SIA Cares Kits

The crew also distributed bottles of mineral water at the door.

Bottled water

The aircraft was quite full by the time I boarded, and as you can see from the photo below, there’s no more seat blocking.

B787-10 Economy Class section

At the height of the pandemic, instructions were to spread out passengers as far as possible, and on some flights it was not uncommon to have an entire row to yourself. But that was always financially unsustainable, and IATA lobbied heavily for seat blocking to be lifted. They eventually got their wish, and planes are flying full once again.

B787-10 Economy Class section

If you’re concerned about social distancing, do note that Singapore Airlines, unlike Emirates, does not provide an option to guarantee an empty seat next to you. Instead, its website merely says “Please note that vacant seats in the rows near you may be occupied subsequently.”

In other words, it’s up to you to identify any empty seats and move over- but do it only after the cabin doors have closed. Even better, ask the cabin crew if they know of any, because they’ll have the full picture. 

A total of 301 Economy Class seats are installed on SIA’s B787-10 aircraft, split into 150 in the forward section and 151 in the rear. 

Note that rows 57 and 69 are missing a window, while two sets of couple seats are available in row 74 and 75. Extra legroom seats are in row 58 (and cost extra $ to reserve), while the forward zone (also costs extra $ to reserve) is defined as rows 41-47. 

Since I was intending to take things slow at Incheon Airport in order to properly document the VTL arrivals process, I didn’t mind taking a seat at the rear. I’d heard from a friend that on B787-10s, SIA blocks the ABC seats in rows 71-73 as an isolation area should they have a suspected COVID case onboard. I figured that by choosing row 70, I’d at least be able to recline without guilt.

Indeed, the seats behind me were blocked out upon boarding…

Blocked seats

…and not only that, I managed to get the entire row to myself. Frequent flyers affectionately call this “ghetto Business Class”, since you can flip up the armrests and have a flat (albeit short and narrow) bed. 

Row 70 A/B/C

Trust me, having an empty seat (or two) next to you makes anEconomy Class flight so much more comfortable. There’s no jostling for the armrest, no cowboy stepping to go to the toilet, and you don’t need to be intimately acquainted with each other’s odors and choice of IFE content for the next few hours. 

Singapore Airlines uses the Recaro CL3710 seat for Economy Class on its B787-10 aircraft. It has a slimline design, which makes it more suitable for regional routes than long-haul flying (because the lack of padding will really add up over time). Seat pitch measures in at 32 inches, and here’s an idea of how tight it was for me, at 1.8 metres tall. 

Seat pitch

Economy Class passengers have a personal 11.6-inch high-definition touchscreen. However, there’s no IFE controller, meaning you’re entirely reliant on swiping to navigate the KrisWorld system. Bulkhead rows are the exception, since the screens are too far in front to be navigated via touch. The lack of a controller makes it difficult, if not impossible to play games (not that the available titles are great anyway).

IFE screen

The IFE screen can be pulled outwards, allowing for a wider range of viewing angles, or making it easier to store an item in the small pocket below the screen.

IFE screen

On the control panel are light and call buttons, a single USB charging port and an earphone jack. It looks like at one time there may have been plans to add an NFC terminal for cashless payments or pairing wireless headphones, but that was later abandoned. 

Buttons and connectivity

Beneath the armrests dividing the seats are EmPower universal outlets, with three passengers sharing two outlets (again, the exception is passengers in the bulkhead rows, who each get their own power outlet). This is a feature that SIA has chosen to omit from Economy Class on its B737-8s, which I think is a mistake. 

In-seat power

The tray table unfolds in two stages. The first fold unveils a mirror and cup dimple, the second opens up the entire table. 

Tray table
Tray table
Tray table

I took a quick look at the headphones that were distributed. You can keep these after the flight, but really, they’re flimsy and cheap and there’s no reason why you’d want to. The jack accepts any standard 3.5mm cable, so you might even want to bring your own set for better audio quality and comfort.

Economy Class headphones

The SIA Care Kit contains a disposable mask, a disinfectant wipe and a bottle of hand sanitiser. 

SIA Care Kit

Today’s flight was easily 90+% full, reflecting the strong interest in travel to Korea. Safety announcements were made in both English and Korean, and passengers were reminded they had to keep their masks on at all times except eating or drinking (or wearing the oxygen mask, as helpfully clarified). 

The captain then came on the PA to welcome us onboard. He said that today’s flight time would be around 5 hours and 30 minutes, and there’d be some bumpy weather en route. 

Path to Seoul

There was no takeoff queue at Changi, and we departed on time. 

View on climb out of Changi

One of the coolest features of the B787 are its dimmable windows. There’s a gel between the glass which responds to electric current- when the passenger presses the dim button, the current increases and the gel becomes darker, letting less light through. When the passenger presses the light button, the current decreases and more light comes in.

The cabin crew have a master control switch which allows them to change the color of a single window, a section or the entire aircraft. As soon as we reached cruising altitude, the windows were automatically dimmed. 

Dimmable windows

Once the seatbelt sign went off,  I connected to the plane’s Wi-Fi network and got online.

Inflight Wi-Fi

All KrisFlyer members receive a complimentary 2-hour “chat package”, provided they entered their KrisFlyer number at the time of booking or check-in (i.e. it needs to appear on your boarding pass). If you forgot to do this, it’s too late to do anything once on the plane. 

The chat package supports text-only messaging on chat apps like WhatsApp, and they weren’t kidding about that. I wasn’t able to send any images at all; the connection kept timing out.

Fortunately, I have a Boingo Pass courtesy of my (long-cancelled) Citi Prestige Card, which gives me unlimited onboard Wi-Fi. I have no idea why my subscription is still active, but I’m not about to question a good thing. 

Speeds were mediocre, but the connection was fairly reliable throughout the flight. 

In case you’re wondering, here’s an idea of how much allowance you have to use your laptop in Economy Class. There’s a reasonable gap between the seatback and lid of your laptop, although it’s always a good idea to pull it slightly closer to your body, in case the person in front suddenly reclines. 

Clearance between laptop and seatback

Meal service started about an hour after take-off. Breakfast would be served on this flight, and FYI, paper menus are no longer provided on SIA flights. Passengers can instead connect to the inflight Wi-Fi and navigate to https://inflightmenu.singaporeair.com/ to view the selection (visiting the menu page does not require an active Wi-Fi package).

You may have read about Singapore Airlines’ new-look Economy Class meals, which are served in lightweight brown paper boxes with paper-wrapped bamboo cutlery. These have received mixed reviews- some love the reduction in plastic waste, others believe it looks like a cheap take-out box and undermines the premium image of SIA. 

Whichever camp you fall into, you won’t have to deal with that issue on this flight. The new concept meals are available on flights under 3.5 hours. On all other flights, the traditional plastic casserole and plastic-wrapped metal cutlery are still served. 

Chicken bulgogi

I chose the chicken bulgogi, which was in high demand (I’m fortunate they finished serving my aisle first, because they ran out by the time they got to the rear passengers in the other aisle). I’m no expert on Korean food, but I’ll say that this is the kind of saucy dish that holds up well in an airplane cabin environment. 

There’s no champagne in Economy Class of course (or Premium Economy for that matter), but passengers can still chose from a selection of wines, liquors and beer. 

If the meal isn’t enough to satiate your hunger, you can request for snacks from the crew. Economy Class passengers get the same snack menu as those in Business Class, with Kit Kat, dried cranberries, packaged nuts and instant noodles all available. 

Snack items

While eating, I hate watched a bit of the Simpsons, lamenting how far the show had fallen since the days of Marge vs. the Monorail. 

More of a Shelbyville idea

I began the flight in the aisle seat 70C, then halfway through to myself: why not make full use of the widest seat in the sky? And so I did, enjoying a wingspan that even First Class passengers don’t get…

The joys of solo seating

About halfway through the flight I visited the lavatory to freshen up before taking a nap. It’s tight quarters, regardless of which cabin you’re in. 

Economy Class lavatory

On the plus side, both the tap and the flush are contactless, activated by a wave of the hand. 

Wash area
Toilet

Before taking a nap, I requested for a pair of earplugs and an eye mask from the crew. Eye masks may be proactively given out on overnight flights, but the earplugs are by request only. 

Earplugs and eye mask

Now, having three seats to yourself sounds like an awesome setup for a nap, but reality is a bit more disappointing. The seat cushions are so narrow that sleeping on your back isn’t really an option. You’ll also need more than one pillow, if only to cover the immovable armrest near the window. Then you’ll need to raise your knees, to avoid your feet spilling into the aisle. Forget about tossing and turning, there’s simply no room. 

Flat bed in Economy Class

All in all, sleeping flat in Economy is like making love in the shower. The concept sounds exciting and you want to try it at the first opportunity, but you soon realise it’s very uncomfortable and nothing like the publicity materials. And your back hurts afterwards. But you tell everyone it was great. 

The captain came on the PA again about 30 minutes before landing, and we touched down ahead of schedule at Seoul Incheon.

Final approach to Seoul

Passengers were told that disembarkation would take place by zones, and to kindly remain seated until their zone was called. Fat chance- as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, everyone sprung up to get their things.

Disembarking

It took a further 14 minutes to disembark, and then it was time for the on-arrival process for VTL travellers. 

Conclusion

While some service routines have changed post-COVID, the most notable difference will be having to wear a mask the whole flight. It feels like the crew were stricter here, possibly because the crowding in an Economy cabin presents a higher risk than in Business or First. I had my mask off with a drink on the tray table (and it wasn’t like it’d been there forever), and was asked to put it back on between sips. 

Singapore Airlines offers a solid Economy Class product on its regional flights, although the slimline seat design may prove uncomfortable for overnight flights on the upper range of the threshold. 

Of course, it makes a world of difference when you have an empty seat next to you, and even if that means selecting the back of the plane, it’s a trade well worth considering.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

Similar Articles

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
6 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
D K

Thanks Aaron – answered my concerns about seat blocking – unfortunately I suspect everyone will start running to the rear of the flight at boarding and then migrate to the doors prior to landing. Business class it is for the foreeable future – Sigh!

SQ Flyer

Enjoyed the detailed review of the experience in Y. Some might say opting for the row in front of the inflight quarantine zone is a high risk, high reward strategy.

Overseas calling

Its actually not allowed for you to change your seats on board by yourself unless you ask the FAs.Then they will change it officially in their seat plan.This is to track you in case theres any cases of Covid on board.

lol

The milelion makes love in the shower :O

Abc

I thought some long haul configured planes use these seats as well in economy?

Sam

The seats are very uncomfortable and are too high. Can’t get view of cabin on 787-1000.

CREDIT CARD SIGN UP BONUSES

Advertisment

Featured Deals

Advertisment

Follow us

7,110FansLike
2,641FollowersFollow

RECENT COMMENTS

TAGS