This is our review of the Singapore Airlines Premium Economy experience, flying from London to Singapore.
Over Christmas, I decided to brave the travel restrictions and endless PCR tests to travel to Thailand with my family to visit my sister. With BA having dropped their direct flight to Bangkok until October 2022, I looked at a number of different routes.
Singapore Airlines fitted the bill nicely with a direct flight to Singapore and a short-ish hop to Bangkok. Having never flown with the airline before, I was keen to try them. My (and my baby’s) economy ticket was upgraded by the airline, but we paid full fare for my husband.
Singapore Airlines is a relative latecomer to premium economy, debuting the cabin in 2015. This was over 20 years after Virgin Atlantic and EVA Air launched their premium economy cabins. It is available on the Airbus A350, A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – the majority of the long haul fleet, in other words.
At the airport
Singapore Airlines has a pre-departure app where you can check-in and do all the usual app-based activities like check flight status. In addition, Premium Economy passengers can also use a service called ‘Book the Cook’, allowing you to pre-order your meals and even select wines in advance. Unfortunately, because I had to do a last-minute flight change, I wasn’t able to trial this but it has good reviews.
On arrival at Heathrow Terminal 2, there was a dedicated check-in lane for Premium Economy which we were thankful for as the queues were sizeable. Both Singapore and Thailand have stringent entry requirements and considerable paperwork was required, which meant agents had to spend longer than normal with each group.
(I mean literal paperwork. If you are travelling to Thailand soon, please note that Thailand border control insist on having everything printed, including mobile QR codes.)
However, the staff at the Singapore Airlines desks were friendly and helpful, making everything as efficient as possible. For example, they continued to process our check-in whilst my husband raced off to get a missing piece of paperwork printed.
Onboard Singapore Airlines Boeing 777
Lounge access is not included as part of a Singapore Airlines Premium Economy ticket, but if you have an Amex Platinum card you can use the Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow T2 (review here). The Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge at Heathrow T2 is reviewed here.
Premium Economy passengers are boarded ahead of Economy. All passengers are invited to take a care kit from the jetbridge containing a surgical face mask and sanitising wipes.
Our flight from Heathrow to Singapore was on a Boeing 777-300ER which has a small, four row Premium Economy cabin. There are just 32 seats in a 2-4-2 formation. Each seat is 19” wide – a fraction bigger than British Airways Traveller Plus’ 18.5” seat (reviewed here). There’s an 8″ recline, adjustable headrests and pop-out calf-rests for additional comfort.
We travelled with an infant, so were automatically assigned a bulkhead row with bassinet. These seats really do have a lot of legroom. My 6″4” husband had zero complaints and the leg room was so spacious that it doubled up as a play area for our daughter. We were in the middle section, but the window bulkhead seats appeared to have even more leg room thanks to the emergency exits.
Like most airlines, tray tables in the bulkhead rows are folded down into the armrest and are a little smaller than in other rows:
From a connectivity perspective, there is a USB charging point along with the headphone socket usefully situated between the seats at the back of the arm rest. The adjustable reading light is also here.
There’s a further power outlet by the foot rest that takes both a British and US three prong plug. There’s onboard wifi, which you must pay for. Members of Singapore’s loyalty programme, KrisFlyer, get 2 hours free access to messaging-based apps such as Whatsapp and iMessage.
The seats are upholstered in grey leather, with orange accents and an orange cushion. I found the cushion much softer and plusher than I’ve experienced in Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy (review here) which was a nice surprise, and the bagged grey blanket provided was pretty soft too and not super static-y.
All passengers are given a solid pair of headphones with ear covers for additional hygiene protection:
It was a day flight so we were not provided with an amenity kit. That said, we weren’t provided with one on our night-time return flight, despite the app saying there would be one. However, the Premium Economy bathrooms did have some stocked amenities including toothbrushes, hand sanitiser and hand cream, which is frankly all I want.
In the middle section of bulkhead seats, the in-flight entertainment system is embedded into the wall in front, which was well situated and easy to see. Screens were both touch screen and console operated, with the console situated in the armrest.
The screen quality was really good and navigating around the entertainment options was straightforward and smooth.
The film and TV selection was comprehensive, with both full box sets of TV shows as well as just a selection of episodes. Because I was entertaining a small person on a daytime flight, I only managed to watch one film (Another Round if anyone’s interested, which I highly recommend), but the sound quality was very good, helped by the decent headphones. Having had several flights with rubbish IFE sound in recent years, it does make a big difference when it all works well.
Premium Economy food onboard Singapore Airlines
I am technically a vegetarian, but due to the aforementioned ticket change, hadn’t been able to order a veggie meal for my flight.
The purser tried very hard to salvage a veggie meal on the flight but there weren’t any spare. That was absolutely fine and I really appreciated he had tried to find one at all. As I was hungry I decided to opt for a tomato and chicken pasta and leave the chicken.
The meal that arrived was good, the tomato sauce tasted fresh and the pasta wasn’t overcooked. It came with a decent quinoa salad starter which was light and had a citrus zing.
My husband opted for seafood noodles which he said were ‘ok’. Unlike premium economy on other airlines, food is still served in plastic boxes rather than on crockery, which was a little disappointing but you do still get metal cutlery.
At just under 13 hours, it was a long trip and the meals were pretty far apart. I think the theory is that you’ll get yourself onto Singapore time this way but, 8 hours in, I was pretty hungry.
Luckily there are lots of snacks available in the premium economy cabin, all situated in a regularly replenished basket by the galley. I grabbed some crisps and a cereal bar, but you could get muffins, chocolate, nuts or ask for a cup of instant noodles from the crew.
For breakfast I was able to have a veggie option. It included apple pancakes, served with a sort of custard and accompanied with a fruit bowl, a croissant and a yoghurt. I really enjoyed this breakfast, and my husband, who had a cooked breakfast (photo above), enjoyed his much more than dinner.
It is worth noting that on my return flight, whilst I didn’t utilise the Book the Cook option, I had requested a vegetarian meal. Oh how I wish I’d Booked the Cook! Plain rice, plain boiled vegetables and plain slabs of unseasoned tofu were very uninspiring. Special meals should not be treated as an afterthough.
On the whole my flights were great but I do want to mention this because I think it’s an easy thing for the airline to improve.
Service on Singapore Airlines
On every leg of my journey (including the hop between Bangkok and Singapore), the service was excellent. Every staff member was helpful and friendly, relaxed enough to chat when they had time but without compromising on delivering what we needed.
We were warmly welcomed on the way out from Heathrow, and my daughter was gifted a cute snuggly Frozen toy, which very much set the tone:
I particularly appreciated that on all flights before a meal was served, one of the crew would check whether we wanted a meal kept warm and brought later. This meant that my husband and I could take turns looking after the baby whilst the other ate. This was a small but considerate move that was very helpful to us.
A decent seat and some of the best service I’ve experienced on an airline means that I enjoyed my Premium Economy experience with Singapore Airlines.
I do think some other airlines do better when it comes to things like crockery (and vegetarian meals!) in Premium Economy but, for me, this omission was far outweighed by the helpful cabin crew and clean, comfortable cabin.
Singapore Airlines is part of Star Alliance, so don’t forget you can earn miles with airlines such as Lufthansa and United if you aren’t a member of the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer scheme.
It’s also worth reminding you that, as well as flying from London to Singapore, Singapore Airlines also flies from Manchester to Houston, Texas – plus, of course, Manchester to Singapore, as Manchester is a stop on the way. It also flies from Frankfurt to New York, a route Rob is reviewing – in First Class – in May.
You can find out more about Singapore Airlines on their website here.