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You’ll soon have a new class of service option when flying Singapore Airlines to Europe or Asia. The Star Alliance carrier’s premium economy class is already flying on select routes, including Singapore to Frankfurt and London, and will soon launch in the US, beginning with the airline’s San Francisco to Seoul (and on to SIN) route on January 6, 2016.
To celebrate the new launch, Singapore sponsored last night’s Travel Massive event in New York City, with the airline’s new seat taking center stage.
We had a chance to try out the new seats — on the ground. They’re comfortable, but cozy. Seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration on Singapore’s long-haul planes, including the A380 and 777-300ER.
Premium economy seats are 19.5 inches wide — by comparison, Cathay Pacific’s and Qantas’ premium economy seats are the same width, while Lufthansa’s are just 18.2 inches wide. Meanwhile, Singapore’s regular economy seats are 19 inches wide, which is quite generous for a standard coach product.
Each seat has an extendable leg and footrest, with a slightly different configuration for the bulkhead seats (above).
There’s also an adjustable headrest, making it slightly easier to sleep with your head at a slight angle.
The tray table pops out of the center console, rather than folding down from the seat in front. Premium economy customers get the full meal-service treatment, complete with a white tablecloth. Singapore even offers Book the Cook in premium economy, so you can select your meals in advance.
Each seat also comes equipped with a water bottle and a universal power outlet, for keeping laptops charged during the flight.
You get two USB ports with each seat — one above the center console, and a second below the TV. Singapore provides noise-canceling headphones in premium economy, though we didn’t get to try those out.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the huge 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment system. Unfortunately we didn’t get to test it during the event, since the airline didn’t have a media server on hand, but we’re told to expect HD quality and plenty of content to keep you busy on a very long flight. Also, note that Singapore will soon allow you to pre-select content using a smartphone app — when you board, the system will sync with your phone and load up the movies and TV shows you selected before boarding.
Of course, you can also select content on the display itself, or by using the airline’s fantastic new wired remote — it’s the same model I tried in Etihad’s A380 Apartment.
You can display the moving map or other content on the remote, letting you watch two things at once. You can also play games, control your lights or page a flight attendant.
Premium economy will be available from all of the cities above, some of which already have service.
In the US, the new seat will first launch on the San Francisco to Seoul to Singapore 777 route, where it will be available beginning January 6, 2016. It’s expected to be available from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore beginning January 17, 2016 on the A380, and then New York to Frankfurt to Singapore later in 2016.
On that first route, expect to pay $1,600 round-trip from San Francisco to Seoul or about $1,725 if you’re continuing on to Singapore. Economy fares, meanwhile, will run you about $700 to Seoul or $900 to Singapore, so there’s definitely a significant premium for the better seats.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to book premium economy using miles just yet, either from KrisFlyer or partner programs. We’ve reached out to Singapore for clarification, but unfortunately the airline isn’t able to provide a timeline for when premium economy redemptions and mileage upgrades will be available. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.