Initially I had not planned on writing a review about my continuing journey from Singapore to Jakarta since I have covered flights between the 2 cities in all classes on Singapore Airlines. After all it is just a flight under 2 hours, and usually with regional seats found in older planes. However on this flight, I was flying on the Airbus A350 and I expected the same cabin as the long haul flight I had from Singapore to Munich. I did not expect Singapore Airlines to fit these A350s with the same seats that debuted on their 787s.
I had spent most of the transit time in Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge, first at Terminal 2 where I landed before moving to the Terminal 3 Silver Kris Lounge which is larger and has more seating capacity.
SQ964 Singapore Changi SIN – Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK
Airbus A350-900 9V-SHB
Gate E5 Seat 20K
My pleasant surprise started when I stepped onboard the 4-month old plane when I took this flight in April. Plane is fitted with the new regional Business Class cabin in 1-2-1 configuration which is the first time I am taking a flight with this new seat as well.
The Business class cabin was split up into 2 separate sections, with seat rows 11-18 located in the larger frontal section just directly behind the cockpit. Seat rows 19-21 is just behind the boarding door with a pair of lavatories by the walkway between the 2 sections. The galley for Business class was located in the front of the plane
I had been assigned a seat in the smaller mini-cabin with just 3 rows of seats, making for a total of 12 passengers in this smaller section. Since this aircraft was meant to fly regional medium-haul routes, there was no Premium Economy. Instead, there was a partition and a set of curtains separating Business and Economy cabin, with the galley serving Economy class placed at the back of the plane.
In the smaller cabin, seats 20A and 20K were closer to the window. Though it is the odd numbered seats in the front Business Class cabin that solo travellers would want since those are closer to the windows. On the seat, passengers would find the new pillows which are larger with patterns to match the upholstery on the privacy shield of the seat. There was also a blanket wrapped in plastic.
Hot towels and welcome drinks offered on boarding as I was one of the last to board a full Business Class cabin. I had the special welcome mocktail of orange and pineapple juice with soda. Other choices available on the tray was orange juice and champagne.
On the left side of the seat, there is a large storage cabinet with a door that can be closed to secure the contents inside. The power outlets with 2 USB output are also placed inside and makes it readily accessible. Passengers will find the noise cancelling headphones Singapore Airlines provides here.
Along the rims of the armrest, there are the light switches for the seat along with the seat controls to convert the seat into a full lie-flat bed. The cabin crew call button and the power off button for the inflight monitor are also found here. Below the controls, there was the detachable and retractable inflight entertainment controller. This was a new version with its own mini touch screen display that shows the route and time to destination as default.
The inflight magazine and other literature for the flight are found in the seatback pocket which is awkwardly placed. This makes it hard to access the magazines when seated in the take-off/landing position. Being seated in the window seat also might make the ingress and egress out of the seat a little bit more difficult. But other than that, passengers face the front directly and not at an angle in Singapore Airlines’ long-haul Business Class.
Legroom in the regional Business class seat is actually more generous than that in the long haul seat, due to the staggered configuration, rather than the herringbone setup.
This also meant that the personal monitor is not straight-in-your-face and an optimal distance away as I watched the safety video that was shown upon pullback at 17:22.
As we began our pullback, the crew had to ensure the storage cabinet was closed and that all electronics are disconnected from the power outlets. I find that this is now the norm in all the airlines I have flown so far.
While this was a day flight that ensures the cabin was bright even with the lights dimmed, there was a set of 3 LED lights that passengers could access from the seat in case they needed more illumination on a night flight during the pullback.
The glowing sunset casts a very nice light on photos taken during the taxi and I spent most of the time enjoying the view out as we passed by the iconic Changi Airport control tower and an arriving ANA 787 Dreamliner. There was the variety of low cost carriers from Air Asia and Scoot along with premium Middle-Eastern airlines like Etihad’s 777, which spends a fair amount of time parked in the tarmac in between its flight.
Fortunately there was not a long wait for take-off and the A350 was soon up in the air, providing clear views during the initial ascent. Singapore can be seen to be investing in making Changi to be world’s best airport as they break ground on a brand new terminal.
The view on take-off included those of the army barracks at Pulau Tekong just north of Changi where all Singaporean males have to spend a couple of weeks in for their basic military training.
The flight then made a turn to head southbound providing a vantage spot to see the location of the new terminal with respect to the current airport layout in Changi. Basically Changi Airport will more than double in size by the time the new terminal is fully operational. And that is a reason why this small city state manages to succeed time and again, with proper planning and prudent investment.
Our heading towards Jakarta meant we passed by Batam Island which houses the nearest major Indonesian city to Singapore. By this time we were technically over Indonesian airspace.
Past Batam Island, there was not much else to see outside the window and I go back to checking out the other features of this new Business class seat. For one, there was a retractable armrest on the side where the seat controls and inflight entertainment remote was placed at. This armrest can be raised or lowered as required to be flush with the bed. This makes the seat more snug than the long haul Business class seat which is not a bad thing at all.
In addition to that, there was a vanity mirror that could be retracted out from the storage compartment. This feature will likely please the ladies who needs to brush up on their make-up before arrival.
And for the ultimate test of the seat, I reclined it into a full lie-flat mode once it was safe to do so. In the ‘bed’ mode, the seat was definitely an upgrade to the angled flat Business class seats I was on between Shanghai and Singapore. However the space constraints did make the space feel smaller than the long haul Business class seat. Thus in the full lie-flat mode, the wider Business class seats for the long haul flights are definitely superior.
With the features of the seat checked, I tried out the entertainment system. Featuring the new updated interface there was a highlights screen in the home menu showcasing what is new and recommended for each month. The new menu is certainly nice to use and Singapore Airlines still leads in terms of movies and TV shows, especially for Asian travellers as there are plenty of choices in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Indian cinema. The touch screen controller with its own display is another gadget I enjoy since I get to check on the flight information including our location on the map while enjoying the movie.
With such a short flight time, the crew got to work immediately after take-off as they had to serve a meal. The menu for the flight was:
The tray table for Business class passengers was setup not long after reaching cruising altitude. I was also offered my choice of beverage, though I just asked for water. Dessert for the flight which was a cherry cheesecake was placed on the tray along with my glass of water, a coffee cup and the cutleries.
For my main course, I ordered the chicken kway teow, which is a variation of a popular Singaporean street food and it was delicious enough for the flight. Bread was also offered from the basket and I asked for the garlic bread, and I think Singapore Airlines offers more tasty bread selection than any other airline I have flown on so a thumbs up to them for continuing this even on one of their shortest routes.
Towards the end of the meal, I asked for a glass of iced milo, another common Singapore beverage, while coffee and tea was also offered. The attentive service and providing passengers with the whole beverage service for such a short flight was a testament to the efficacy of the cabin crew, and I appreciated that as a passenger.
After the meal service, I continued to play around with the entertainment system and remote control since there was not enough time to finish a movie.
On our descent into Singapore, the glorious sunset outside meant it was a beautiful view both out of the window and inside the cabin. If I must say, the ambience alone was worth it for this sunset flight.
And it was all the better since our flight had to wait for landing due to the busy runway conditions in the evening at Jakarta. That meant I could savour this flying experience for a while more in this wonderful cabin.
Eventually though, all good things have to come to an end and as do this flight as we landed in Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta airport. By the time we landed and were ready for disembarkation, the last lights of the day were on the horizon.
Similarly, I leave the last photos of the review for the bulkhead seats which was slightly different from my seat due to the extra storage space above the monitor. However there was still the same cubicle under the monitor for the seat. The only difference is that there was an additional storage unit for passengers on the bulkhead window seats (11A, 19A, 11K and 19K). This was a nice space if you want to place your shoes.
To sum up, Singapore Airlines is still a great way to fly and even more so with this amazing Business class seats for medium haul routes. Consider that some airlines use this kind of seats for their long haul flights and you know that Singapore Airlines has continued to up the ante. These full lie-flat seats are definitely a step up from the angled flat seats used in the A330s and some 777s. I also liked the fact that Singapore Airlines has made the seats different and added their own touch to the cabin to better suit their frequent flyers.
In fact, this seat is so good that if flying on a day flight, I would actually prefer to fly on planes with this seat configuration rather than the wider long-haul Business class seats. One reason is that passengers sit facing the front towards the monitor instead of being in an angle. On a day flight when one is more prone to watch the entertainment system, this is more comfortable for the back.