Where to Sit When Flying Singapore Airlines’ A350: Business Class
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In just a few days, Singapore Airlines will launch its first nonstop flight to the US since discontinuing its Newark and Los Angeles nonstops in late 2013, nearly three years ago. The carrier plans to re-introduce nonstop flights to New York and Los Angeles in 2018, with an extended-range version of Airbus’ latest plane, the A350-900ULR, but in the meantime SQ will begin daily flights to San Francisco, with the A350 model available today.
Due to the fact that Singapore partners with all four transferrable-points programs, it’s relatively easy and affordable to book an award flight in any of the plane’s three cabins. One-way business-class awards will run you 68,000 miles + $250 at the Saver level, but availability is much better for Standard awards, which require 102,000 miles. One-way premium economy awards, meanwhile, are widely available for 55,250 miles (plus about $250), while one-way coach bookings require 29,750 miles (again, plus roughly $250 in taxes and fees).
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While TPG Senior Editor Kaeli Conforti will be onboard Sunday’s inaugural flight to review Singapore’s A350 business-class seat and service, a few days ago I had a chance to travel on this exact aircraft on its delivery flight from Airbus’ final assembly line in Toulouse, France to Changi Airport in Singapore (SIN). It was a fantastic experience, especially considering that there were just over a dozen passengers on a plane designed to accommodate more than 250. But, even onboard the world’s most advanced commercial airliner, some seats are significantly better than others — considering you’ll be spending 16+ hours onboard this plane on the Westbound leg, you’ll want to choose yours very carefully. I’ll dig into which you should pick below.
Nearly half the A350 is occupied by just 42 business-class seats, so as you might expect they offer quite a bit of personal space. Seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and are spread between two cabins, with 26 between doors one and two and 16 in a smaller cabin just behind.
Naturally, with 10 fewer seats, the smaller cabin is more intimate, and offers additional privacy. Neither cabin has overhead bins above the center seats, which allows for much higher ceilings throughout. There are two lavatories for business-class passengers (located between the two cabins) — the forwardmost lavatory is reserved for pilots, and is inaccessible during the flight.
Seats are very wide, at 28 inches, and have 60 inches of pitch, with a bed length of 78 inches. Each seat has an 18-inch display with a touchscreen remote (touch is disabled on the main display).
Singapore offers tons of movies and TV shows, so you should find plenty of content to keep you entertained throughout the flight. There are also in-seat power and USB ports, a bit of storage and satellite Wi-Fi available throughout the plane.
Note that these seats have a rather unique design in that they don’t recline into the lie-flat position — instead, the seat-back folds forward into a bed. They’re still quite comfortable, and some people may actually prefer this design, but it does mean that the seats don’t recline quite as much as you may be used to. In other words, if you tend to spend most of the flight with your seat reclined halfway between upright and lie-flat, you might be disappointed with this design.
Which Seats to Pick
This June, I flew from Singapore to Frankfurt and on to New York on the airline’s A380, which offers an older business-class seat. In some ways, I prefer the older seats, since they’re even wider. There’s no question that these new seats (installed on the A350 and select 777-300ERs) are more luxurious though.
One downside to both seat versions is that the “cubby” for your feet is quite narrow. I’ll dig into that a bit later, but the bulkhead seats do not have that issue, so right off the bat I’ll say you should focus your efforts there. Now, the question becomes which bulkhead seats should you pick?
Personally, I’d go with any of the seats in row 19, which is the first row in the second cabin, just behind the galley. All seats in that row offer a full-width ottoman, and the center seats, 19D and 19F, feature an ottoman that’s a bit deeper than those at the window seats (19A and 19K). If you’re traveling solo, I’d still grab a window seat though. The only downside to row 19 is that these seats are just behind the galley, so a bit of light and noise may make its way through the curtains.
If all the seats in row 19 are taken, I’d use the above strategy with row 11, which is the first row on the plane, just behind door 1. Again, 11D and 11F (in the middle) offer a bit more space for your feet, though 11A and 11K are perfectly adequate as well.
Which Seats to Avoid
Now, this may come as a bit of a shocker, but if you can’t get one of the seats I mentioned above, I’d recommend selecting a flight on which they’re available. That’s not to say that all the other seats are terrible — they’re not — but seats in rows 11 and 19 are vastly superior, since they offer significantly more space for your feet.
If you can’t manage to score one of those eight seats, you can expect to find a fairly narrow footwell just beneath the far left or right side of the seat in front of you. Your feet essentially tuck under the armrest of the seat in front — if you’re in 12D, for instance, your feet slide under 11D’s armrest. That leaves relatively little room to stretch out, and, because these cubbies are at the far left or right side, you’ll need to sleep (or even recline) at an angle. After 16 hours, you’ll probably resent the folks in the bulkhead seats up front.
Singapore’s A350 is an incredible aircraft, and I found it to be very comfortable overall. I had also been warned in advance about the narrow footwell in the non-bulkhead seats, so I was sure to claim 19K for myself as soon as I boarded (fortunately, nobody on my flight had been assigned a seat in the rear business cabin, so 19K was mine for the taking).
I did spend some time in other seats as well, including an hour or so in 16A, and rows 11 and 19 clearly offer a tremendous advantage.
To recap, if you can reserve seats 11A, 11D, 11F, 11K, 19A, 19D, 19F or 19K, you can expect to have a very comfortable ride. If you’re a bit on the taller side and you don’t like to sleep at an angle, any other business-class seat may very well not fit the bill. So, be sure to book early if you need to fly on a specific date, and don’t forget to pick your seat!
Have you flown in business class on Singapore’s A350?
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