After an excellent experience on Japan Airlines First Class, I arrived in Tokyo Narita to catch a Singapore Airlines flight back home.
Transit was seamless, even on separate tickets. Back in San Francisco, Japan Airlines had already checked my bag all the way through to Singapore and issued a boarding pass for the connecting flight. All I had to do was take a 15-minute bus ride from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1.
While I originally redeemed an Economy Class ticket for this flight, I was offered an upgrade to Premium Economy for just S$168. This was too good to turn down, especially since I haven’t done a proper review of Premium Economy ever since the product launched in 2015!
|✈️ tl;dr: Singapore Airlines B777-300ER Premium Economy|
|SIA’s Premium Economy is more Economy+ than Business-, but any incremental comfort is always welcome. The question is whether you’d be willing to pay full price.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
|⏱️ 17 hours in San Francisco|
Premium Economy Seats
Singapore Airlines offers a Premium Economy cabin on the following aircraft:
|Aircraft||Number of PY Seats||Configuration|
While you may occasionally get an A350-900LH aircraft on a regional route like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, the Premium Economy cabin will not be sold on this flight. You can select a Premium Economy seat for greater comfort, but the service standards will follow Economy.
Today’s flight was operated by a B777-300ER, with 28 Premium Economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. In case you were wondering, armrests in Premium Economy are immovable (except the one between seats E/F), so even if you miraculously end up with the centre four seats to yourself, you won’t be able to lie flat.
Premium Economy seats were built by ZIM Flugsitz, with JPA Design providing the customisations (JPA also handled the Business Class seats on the A380-800 and B777-300ER). Seats are upholstered in grey leather, with orange accents provided by the trim and pillows.
Each seat is 19.5 inches wide with 38 inches of seat pitch and 8 inches of recline, plus an extendable leg rest. But it’s not just inches that matter- why these seats are much more comfortable than Economy Class is because they have additional padding for the back. Sitting on a slimline Economy seat for more than a few hours is no joke when you have chronic back pain.
In terms of seat selection:
- Seats 31 A/C and 31 H/K enjoy extra legroom (but lack a window) because of the emergency exit row, and can be pre-selected from US$60 at the time of booking, or for free during online check-in. Solitaire PPS and PPS Club members can select these seats anytime for free
- Seats 31 D/E/F/G are bassinet positions, so you may be moved if you select these seats and there happens to be a travelling family
- Seats 34 D/E/F/G are at the rear of the cabin, but still enjoy regular recline thanks to an offset built between the seats and wall
I ended up picking 31H, which indeed has legroom for days.
The main downside of these seats is that you’re directly facing the crew during take-off and landing, which can be awkward as you both stare into the distance, trying not to make eye contact.
Between each pair of seats is a console with a USB charging port and headphone jack. You can find an additional USB port on the seatback in front of you, or in the podium between the seats for those in 31 A/C and 31 H/K.
Down by your legs is a storage area, where two bottles of mineral water had been placed. The in-seat universal power outlet can also be found here.
A flexible reading light with three different brightness settings is built into the side of each seat.
The tray table is about 50% larger than what you’d find in Economy Class, though it still won’t be able to accommodate a laptop plus drink at the same time.
A touch-sensitive IFE remote is stored in the armrest, together with manual seat controls (installing electric motors would have been too expensive, not to mention heavy).
Since the opposite wall would be too distant to mount an IFE display, passengers in the 31 A/C and 31 H/K seats have a 13.3-inch HD screen that folds out from the armrest. This is touch sensitive, although you can also navigate from the handheld controller if you so wish.
Food & Beverage
While pre-departure drinks aren’t served in Premium Economy, Singapore Airlines has restored post-take-off drinks service. Shortly after the seatbelt sign went off, the crew brought around the drinks cart with water, soft drinks, juices, and wines.
Oh, and champagne. Yes, Singapore Airlines has restored champagne to Premium Economy, after removing it during the pandemic. There was some uncertainty as to which label they’d be pouring, but I can now confirm it’s Ernest Rapeneau, the OG Premium Economy champagne (SIA also served Champagne Jacquart Mosaique Brut and Nicolas Feuillatte Premier Brut at various times).
Interestingly enough, Singapore Airlines has catered 375ml bottles, instead of the full-size 750ml. On a per unit basis, the former are more expensive (though I did find a great deal at a Trader Joe’s near SFO for US$9.90 per bottle), but I suppose you still save if it means less wastage.
There’s no sommelier’s commentary in the inflight menu, so here’s the grower’s description:
Intense and nice straw colour, fine bubbles, persistent mousse. Floral notes (white flowers), fresh lime and exotic fruits. This wine is fresh and frank with hints of warm biscuit and nuts aromas.
It’s obviously no Dom, but I thought it was perfectly serviceable. Drinks were served with peas and crackers, as well as almonds and cashews (the latter on demand).
Meal service started shortly after. Premium Economy passengers can enjoy Book The Cook service when flying out of Singapore and certain outstation airports, including Tokyo Narita.
|🍽️ Premium Economy Book The Cook Availability|
Selections must be made at least 24 hours before departure, except Auckland (36 hours) and Newark (48 hours).
The options out of Narita weren’t that extensive, but pre-ordering means you’ll get your meal before everyone else.
- Japanese Style Seafood Doria
- Beef Hamburg with Fried Potatoes
- Sautéed Chicken with Teriyaki Sauce
- Potato Gnocchi
- Pork Loin with Teriyaki Sauce
The regular menu read as follows:
I chose the chicken teriyaki, which came with a side of ham and marinated farro, a bread roll, and of course more champagne (the crew learned quickly what my drink of choice was). Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream was offered after the meal.
Let’s be honest: this is more or less an Economy Class meal, but it was tasty all the same. Moreover, with only 28 passengers to serve, the crew could complete the service faster and offer more frequent drink refills. Trays were cleared quickly, unlike in Economy where it might be taking up space for an hour.
Snacks were available in the galley throughout the rest of the flight, consisting of dried cranberries, Nature Valley bars, Kit Kat, and Gardenia sambal ikan bilis buns.
Singapore Airlines offers Wi-Fi on all its aircraft except the B737-800s, with pricing as follows:
|✈️ Singapore Airlines Wi-Fi Pricing|
Unfortunately, there’s only one time-based plan; all the others are volume-based. You’ll be surprised how fast 200MB vanishes when you’ve got multiple tabs open with attachments downloading!
You may be eligible for a complimentary Wi-Fi allowance, depending on your cabin of travel and membership status.
|✈️ Singapore Airlines Free Wi-Fi Allowances|
|Suites & First||Unlimited|
|Premium Economy||100MB||2-hrs chat||N/A|
|Wi-Fi allowances do not stack; for example, a PPS Club member in Business Class would only receive 100MB, not 100+100MB.|
- All KrisFlyer members receive a free 2-hour chat package (suitable only for text-based messaging via apps like WhatsApp and Telegram)
- Solitaire PPS and PPS Club members, as well as passengers in Business Class, receive a free 100MB allowance.
To enjoy allowances arising from membership, you must provide your frequent flyer number during booking or check-in; it’s too late to add it once you’re onboard the aircraft.
Singapore Airlines is currently running an unlimited Wi-Fi trial for Business Class, Solitaire PPS and PPS Club members, but only selected B777-300ERs are eligible. The aircraft I was flying today was one of the unlucky ones.
All passengers have access to the Krisworld entertainment system, with more than 1,400 on-demand options including movies, TV shows, music albums and games.
New releases this month include Elvis, Lightyear, and Jurassic World Dominion.
In a major upgrade from the flimsy earbuds in Economy, Premium Economy passengers receive wired noise-cancelling headsets.
Premium Economy passengers do not have their own dedicated lavatories, and share them with the Economy Class section. There’s a total of five lavatories for 212 passengers, two in the mid-section, and three at the rear of the aircraft.
Lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight, with the cabin crew sometimes nipping in between passengers to keep things fresh.
The only thing of note here is that Singapore Airlines has swapped its bathroom hand soap from the generic stuff to Skin Cottage, which I found to be moisturising with a pleasant scent.
Singapore Airlines’ Premium Economy is more Economy+ than Business-, but for the price I paid (S$168), I have few complaints.
It’s much more debatable whether I’d have been willing to pay the full asking price, which on this route starts from a whopping S$2,670 round-trip. As much as I appreciate the champagne, extra legroom and more comfortable seat, that’s a big jump from Economy pricing, and perhaps closer to what other airlines might charge for a one-stop Business Class itinerary.
Likewise, I doubt I’d be willing to redeem this with miles, since Premium Economy requires 72% of the miles for Business Class, yet isn’t nearly 72% as comfortable.
So if you get offered a discounted upgrade like I did, by all means go for it. Otherwise, it might be better to gut out the flight and save the money for a nicer hotel on arrival.
Would you be willing to pay full price for Singapore Airlines Premium Economy?