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With Singapore Airlines launching nonstop service from San Francisco tomorrow, we’ve spent the last few days exploring the carrier’s brilliant new Airbus A350-900 — which I had the great privilege of experiencing on a nearly empty delivery flight from Toulouse, France to Changi Airport last week.
Given that there were only a couple dozen people on the plane (including the crew!), I had an opportunity to try out many different seats in business class, premium economy and coach — today, I’ll be digging into which seats to pick (and which to avoid) if you’re traveling in economy.
If you’re looking to redeem miles to fly Singapore’s A350, fortunately you have plenty of options, since the carrier partners with all four transferrable-points programs. You can book a one-way flight in economy for 29,750 miles (plus roughly $250 in taxes and fees) — by comparison, you’ll need 55,250 miles for premium economy and 68,000 miles for business class.
You can boost your KrisFlyer balance using the programs and credit cards outlined below:
- Citi ThankYou Rewards – Citi ThankYou Premier Card and the Citi Prestige Card
- American Express Membership Rewards – The Platinum Card from American Express, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
- Chase Ultimate Rewards – Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Ink Plus Business Card
- Starwood Preferred Guest – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express, Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.
If you’re flying Singapore’s A350 from San Francisco, you’ll have roughly 16 hours in the air — that’s a lot of time to spend stuck in an economy seat. Fortunately, some seats offer quite a bit of legroom, and other quirks make certain seats a not-so-great pick. Let’s dig in to see which you should pick.
Singapore’s economy section takes up less than half the plane, but it sports a total of 187 seats (of the 253 you’ll find on the A350-900). As you can imagine, that means you’ll find a bit of a tight squeeze in SQ’s least expensive cabin. Still, some amenities and other perks make coach on Singapore more appealing than most economy-class alternatives.
Economy seats are arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration, with the exception of row 47, which has seats in a 2-3-2 config (to leave room for the cabin’s exit doors). Economy seats are 18 inches wide (standard on the A350) and have at least 32 inches of pitch. By comparison, Qatar Airways’ A350 offers between 31 and 32 inches of pitch, and Finnair’s A350 offers 31 inches of pitch in economy and 35 in Economy Comfort.
Each economy seat has a power outlet and a USB port, along with a generous 11-inch touchscreen in-flight entertainment system with plenty of movies and TV shows to choose from. The plane also has decent satellite Wi-Fi, but depending on which coach seat you end up with, you might not have enough room to use your laptop comfortably during the flight.
This aircraft has two economy cabins — a small forward cabin with 51 seats and a much larger rear cabin with 136 seats. There are four lavatories between the two cabins (also shared with premium economy) and one at the back.
As you may have gathered from the seat map above, the smaller economy cabin is much more appealing overall, but scroll on for a deep dive into which seats are best.
Which Seats to Pick
Just as with business and premium economy, the bulkhead seats here offer significantly more room than what you’ll find elsewhere on the plane. You won’t be able to stow your bag at your seat, but it’s certainly worth the tradeoff for such a long journey. Bulkhead seats in both cabins offer lots of extra legroom, but seats in row 47 (in addition to 48A and 48K) give you even more space to stretch out.
So, in order of best to very good, below are the seats I’d pick.
Row 47: 47B, 47J, 47C, 47H, 47D, 47G
Row 41: 41C, 41H, 41D, 41G, 41A, 41K
Row 48: 48A, 48K
As you’ll see above, I left out all of the middle seats. Nobody wants to end up stuck between two other passengers for 16 hours, even if you’re sitting in the bulkhead.
Which Seats to Avoid
It’ll come as no surprise that middle seats should be avoided at all costs. If you have no choice but to pick a seat in the middle, opt for an “E” seat (in the middle of the center section), since you’ll be able to exit into either aisle. If you have to choose a “B” or “J” seat, make sure it’s in row 47 or 41.
Additionally, seats at the back of the cabin (I’d say beginning at row 57) may be affected by light and noise from the galley at the back of the plane. And it’s important to note that passengers may choose to stand at row 47 when queueing for the lavatories, so if you think that’ll be a bother then go with row 41, instead. You also won’t get as much recline if seated in 61A, 61B, 61C, 61H, 61J, 61K or 62G, 62E and 62G, so avoid those seats — especially in the middle.
While Singapore Airlines’ economy seats and service are superior to what you’ll find on US-based airlines, this is still regular old coach. Middle seats should absolutely be avoided, and I’m sure you’ll find things not to like about any coach seat on the plane. Fortunately, if you do opt to fly in economy on this aircraft, there are a handful of (relatively) good options.
Have you flown economy on Singapore’s A350?
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