I fly for work a lot, but I’ve only ever really experienced “First Class” on airlines that are not nearly as swanky or as service-oriented as many of the Asian airlines I’ve now had the pleasure of flying. All this flying, and the fact that I have my American Express linked to my KrisFlyer account through UOB, means that I racked up just enough miles to spend them on a swank Business Class upgrade on a recent trip to Hong Kong and back to Singapore for work.
SIA’s Business Class aboard the new 777-300ER v. the old version of Business Class
I spent the days leading up to the flight (#SQ866) absolutely floored with excitement. My level of excitement could be compared only to the days following my booking experience of upgrading. My work colleagues got to hear all about my excitement just prior to splurging with my built up miles stash, and I savored every second of the experience. Who knows when I’ll rack up enough miles to do this again!
SIA has now completely and entirely spoiled me for life.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve flown American Airlines “First Class,” and British Airways “First Class” with my mom on some long haul vacations we’ve taken, and I am not in the least bit impressed by my experience on those two airlines. I’ve also flown SIA’s Premium Economy, and it even puts the First Class on many other carriers to shame! That is how you know an airline is truly special … when your experience is way above your expectations. It’s not just lip service with SIA—they really deliver from the moment you check in to the moment you land.
Recently, I know that Qatar Airways was awarded Best Business Class Seat by Skytrax Awards. I don’t know how they beat out SIA’s newest version of Business Class, except that maybe they have more planes that are the newer version of First/Business class than SIA does? SIA is certainly an award-winning airline, and I hope to one day try Qatar Airlines to see how they compare!
New Plane v. Old Plane
There was a distinct difference in the physical experience of flying out of Singapore on the newer plane versus flying back from Hong Kong into Singapore on the older plane. I never thought about why people from Singapore and those who fly SIA a lot always seem to ask me which plane type I flew on, but now I think I’m beginning to understand. It can make a dramatic difference in your experience.
Above is the Business Class seat on SIA. Let’s talk about my favorite features:
- Special space to put your feet up so that you can lie-flat AND the foot rest comes up a little bit to fill in any gaps to fully support your legs: maximum comfort!
- Shout out to my knee-grannies (aka people with knee problems) … this feature really does allow you to fly with very little knee pain!
- The cushy blankets
- The separation between you and your seatmate: at maximum level
- The seats themselves were extraordinarily comfortable to curl up in
- Loved that the table for eating / working was adjustable in HEIGHT – this is a really big deal for me because it’s often too low or too high, making typing really irritating
- A real pillow? Oh SIA … you love me, don’t you?
- The bathrooms – they are, dare I say it, lovely for airplane bathrooms
You can see a lot of the features in the video on this post! The real treat of the SIA experience though goes beyond just the features of the plane, it’s the service! The level of service received from the SIA in-flight staff is always very, very high. Even when I fly economy, I am consistently surprised by how kind they are, and when I go back to flying United to head home over the holidays, I am completely shocked by how rude those service staff members sometimes are in comparison. No one that works for SIA would ever spill things on me and then not apologize or offer to help clean it up. And I sit here remembering that happening on a long haul flight to the US on a United flight last year and shudder to think about the next 26 hour trip I get to spend with good ol’ United …
But back to the important part of the review: I cannot describe the difference in service accurately enough to really convey how much more relaxing business travel is when you sit in the Business Class section of an SIA flight. SIA provides all of the standards that you’d expect:
- Beverage when you board
- Being led to your seat
- A higher level of assistance with your baggage
- Pre-ordered meals that are an upgrade from Economy
The staff has personality though, and you feel almost like they know you in some cases. This is the ultimate marker to me that SIA does service very, very well, and prides themselves on that. This is what truly makes me want to fly SIA again and again. It remains very difficult for me to go back to other airlines that don’t have this level of service on anything longer than a 2-hour flight.
Other favorites of Business Class? I know that I will be able to get out my laptop and work comfortable, catch up on the news by reading the newspaper while we are taxiing to take off, recline and take a nap if it’s a really early flight or if I’m not feeling well, and I won’t be disturbed by a cart knocking my arm halfway off or someone next to me who just can’t get it together in the way of keeping their elbows to themselves.
I don’t really mind much about the entertainment (which is already really nice in the other cabins) because I’m working or reading or some of the other parts of the experience, but I will cherish the moment when eating lunch on the way up to Hong Kong that I thought, “Is there a chef in the front that’s just prepared this?? What the …” I didn’t know it was possible for airline food to be that delicious. I thought it always tasted like sandpaper shavings and cardboard.
Let’s turn now to the differences between the new planes and the old planes and why I will now pay attention, like Singaporeans and other frequent fliers of the world surely must do! … to which type of plane I’m upgrading on! [Moral: Do not use your frequent flier points for an upgrade to an experience that is any less than the best one possible!]
The thing is, flying economy is a great experience on SIA most of the time, but having had such a SWEET experience with the new planes going up to Hong Kong, my expectations were high for on the way back. I was disappointed to see the old style plane and seats, and I did not particularly enjoy my seat mate, who was fidgety in a way that men shouldn’t be in public … I think he must’ve needed a new set of underwear.
The seats are entirely different between the two types of planes. But a lot of the experience remained the same. I could comfortably get my laptop out and work, and they brought me DELICIOUS TWG Chamomile tea with honey beautifully dissolved in it for my sore throat:
And the staff was kind, the meal just as delicious, so, while the seats might not have been as nice, I would still highly recommend booking with SIA. The experience leaves you feeling cared for by a staff that really wants you to have a pleasant journey and isn’t counting down the minutes until they can be rid of you to run away from their jobs. I have been so, so lucky to have this experience, and I hope that I get to do it again! I think in my next work life, I will put being flown Business Class on SIA into my contract!
Spoil Market Rating: Market 100% Spoiled!