Flight Review: Singapore Airlines First Class (777-300ER) From San Francisco To Hong Kong
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To The Point
Flying in first class aboard Singapore Airlines was a wonderful way for my wife and I to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. The Pros: the service, food, drinks and seat all beat our high expectations. The Cons: there aren’t as many planes with this product as there used to be.
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Chase Sapphire Reserve
What’s better than flying Singapore Airlines’ first class to Hong Kong? Having it be a last-minute surprise. At the time, my spouse and I had been married for 10 years and I wanted to celebrate by going on a trip with the points and miles I’d accumulated over the years from being a TPG aficionado. This flight took us to the first of our destinations, Hong Kong, and after a few days there, we ventured onward to Bali for almost a week. Planning the trip was definitely easier than keeping it a secret.
Singapore Airlines can be stingy with first class award seats from the US to Asia, so your best bet is to book when the booking window opens, which is approximately one year out. Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer program now has two levels of redemptions, Saver and Standard, and I was able to find two tickets on the Saver level for San Francisco (SFO) to Bali (DPS) via Hong Kong and Singapore (SFO-HKG-SIN-DPS.) The last leg to Bali was in business class, as it was the highest class available on the route. If you’re looking to book this itinerary as I did, it would run you 182,750 Krisflyer miles for a couple, or 91,375 miles per person, taking into account the 15% discount you get for booking online. [Editor’s Note: Some of these values have changed since the author purchased his tickets; check with Singapore Airlines before booking your itinerary].
In this situation, I had to book over the phone since I had mixed cabins — with SFO-HKG-SIN in first class and SIN-DPS in business — however, the friendly Singapore Airlines agent still gave me the 15% discount over the phone. In addition, the carrier only charges $100 for a stopover, so I built in a four-day break for us in Hong Kong. For Krisflyer miles, I transferred from my Ultimate Rewards account, which is linked to my Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
If you just flew from SFO to HKG, it would still run 82,500 Krisflyer miles per person before the discount. So, as you can see, it can be a great value to tack on extra legs to your trip. Using Singapore’s award chart, we traveled from Zone 12 to Zone 2. If you just traveled from SFO to HKG, you would be going from Zone 12 to Zone 4. Another perk of extending the trip past HKG is that we got access to Singapore Airlines’ Private Room at Changi International Airport, which TPG visited last year.
If we had paid for this itinerary in cash, it would have cost us $8,862.81 per person, but by using Krisflyer miles, I was able to get a value of approximately 9.7 cents per mile for this redemption. Since Ultimate Rewards are valued at 2.2 cents per mile according to TPG’s latest valuation, I would say I made it rain by getting almost 5x that value.
Check-In and Boarding
The Singapore Airlines check-in counters opened around 9:30pm for our 1:15am departure. With only eight seats in first class, there was virtually no wait to check in.
The boarding area was huge. It was about a 10-minute walk from the lounge to this lower level gate location.
When it was time to get on the plane, there was a lane just for first-class passengers.
The whole check-in and boarding process was smooth with practically no waiting anywhere.
Since we were flying in Singapore First Class, we had access to both the United GlobalFirst Lounge and the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge. Unfortunately, the GlobalFirst lounge was closed by the time we made it through security, but we went to both the United Club and Singapore SilverKris lounge in the three hours we had to kill.
First, we made our way to the United Club, which is open to all premium-cabin passengers along with those holding the United MileagePlus Explorer Card. As you can imagine, it was fairly packed.
You first pass a beverage station to your right.
Next, you’ll see an area with various food offerings to your left. None of them looked appetizing.
As you walk farther in, a well-stocked bar will be on your right — the bar area also has great views of the tarmac. Some low-end beverage options were complimentary, but most drinks came with a charge, which is fairly commonplace now at domestic clubs for the big three US airlines.
We didn’t stay too long at the United Club and decided to spend most of our time at the Singapore SilverKris Lounge. It’s a bit of a maze to find it, as you have to head down some uninspiring hallways to reach this tucked-away oasis.
The lounge entrance is on the left side of the hallway. You can’t miss it.
The lounge can be accessed by all passengers in first as well as business class, which is fairly common for outstation lounges. I thought it was impressive that Singapore even has its own lounge considering how few flights are offered from SFO each day.
The food selection was much better in here than at the United Club, with sandwiches, snacks and even a DIY-laksa station.
A small bar was set up on the opposite side of the food — the selections were minimal but at least it was all complimentary.
It had been a whole three hours since we ate last, so I took advantage of the make-your-own laksa station. I thought the spicy kick of the laksa would go well with a Tiger, a lager from Singapore.
After that, I thought a shower was in order before our 14-hour flight. There were a limited number of shower rooms available, but you can put your name on a list and an attendant will then walk around the lounge yelling your name whenever your room is ready — perhaps the buzzer system made famous by American fast-casual restaurants would be a better way? Anyway, the shower room was quite spacious.
The shower itself was huge and had more than adequate water pressure.
Overall, the lounge experience at SFO was not first class. However, that seems to be the standard with these kinds of outstation lounges that combine business- and first-class passengers. As I mentioned though, we weren’t able to see the United GlobalFirst lounge due to our late takeoff. If you have a long layover, I wouldn’t recommend carving out extra time to experience the lounge like I would if I was going to be flying Singapore Airlines First Class from SIN.
Cabin and Seat
The first-class cabin on this 777-300ER has only eight seats in two rows. With a 1-2-1 configuration, they’re very wide at 35 inches, along with a seat pitch of 71 inches. As you enter the cabin, you are enveloped in a warm, relaxing color scheme of taupe, brown and orange.
There’s also a beautiful and large high definition monitor.
Since we were traveling together and it would be dark outside for basically the whole flight with nothing to see out the windows, we picked seats 2C and 2D. The seat controls were at shoulder level on the aisle side of the seat and were easy to use.
Below the seat and to your right was plenty of space to place magazines, newspapers and other reading materials.
Below and to the right of the TV screen, the power ports were clearly marked.
Directly below the TV screen was a large footwell that came in handy when the seat was in lie-flat mode. Unlike some other premium-cabin seats, the footwell was large enough that you didn’t have to contort your feet into awkward positions while sleeping.
When it was time to sleep, the top-notch flight attendants changed our seats into comfortable 180-degree beds. The seat width came in handy here since we could toss and turn without hitting the sides. If there was one shortcoming of the bed, though, it was the lack of padding. Some airlines like Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines have much better padding when their respective first-class seats are converted into beds.
The business-class cabin is located directly behind first class and is separated by a thin wall. It’s also arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration and the seats are very similar as far as I can tell. The biggest difference is in the soft product, as you will soon see.
Behind the 11 rows of business class was the economy cabin — this 777 did not feature premium economy. Its 3-3-3 configuration offered wider seats than the 10-abreast 777s that are now becoming commonplace at other airlines, from Emirates and Air France to United.
The first-class seat and cabin on this updated 777-300ER are simply amazing and the colors, comfort and technology make this product one of the best ways to fly long-haul.
Before takeoff, we were given Ferragamo-branded amenity kits. My male amenities were presented in this high-quality neutral-colored pouch.
The contents of the bag were fantastic. The after shave, lip balm and cleansing towel were all useful, but the real prize was the full-size Ferragamo cologne — in my wife’s female amenity kit, she also received a full-size perfume. Note that on our eastbound transpacific flight 12 days later, Singapore Airlines gave us different versions of the Ferragamo fragrances.
Singapore Airlines pajamas were also distributed in this handy bag — these pajamas had been made by Givenchy in the past but now are nondescript.
Getting the right size pajamas on an airplane is always a gamble. My size L had a top that was too big and pants that were too small, though this was no doubt a first-world problem.
The lavatories on this plane were nothing extraordinary but it was nice to have two of them for eight passengers. The mood lighting was cool and the lavs were kept spotless throughout the whole flight by the crew.
The toiletries in the lavatory were also high-quality Ferragamo products.
As for the Wi-Fi on this aircraft, I didn’t actually use it. However, the rates were clearly marked: one hour for $11.95, three hours for $16.95 and the full length of the flight for $21.95. The entertainment options of the IFE screen were vast.
The airline also provided Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
I feel that Singapore Airlines hits all the right spots with its amenities and in-flight entertainment. With the combination of designer toiletries, high-end headphones and a vast entertainment selection on a sharp high-definition display, you truly feel like you’re flying in first class.
Food and Beverage
This is the part of the flight I was looking forward to the most, as I’d heard amazing things about Singapore’s service. Since this flight left at 1:15am, there was an abbreviated “supper service” as opposed to a more extensive dinner service. It still offered four choices for a main supper course and two choices each for the appetizer and soup courses, plus dessert, a cheese selection and fruit. And since this was such a long flight, a wide variety of snacks, including noodles and sandwiches, was also available between the two meals. Breakfast service would start about two hours before landing. Again, there were many hot and cold options from which to choose, with four choices for the appetizer and main courses.
With Krug and Dom Perignon to choose from, Singapore hit a home run with the Champagne selection. The wine list was extensive as well. As for spirits and cocktails, many of the usual suspects you would find in international first class, including Johnnie Walker Blue Label, were offered. Coffee selections were pretty impressive, too, and included Jamaican Blue Mountain, which can retail for $50 per pound and up.
While boarding and settling in, my flight attendant apologized that he “only” had Dom Perignon (approximately $170/bottle) since the Krug (approximately $190/bottle) could only be opened up in the air.
It was presented beautifully and served with warmed nuts.
Once the seatbelt signs were turned off, it was time to start working on the Krug Grande Cuvée.
For my first course, I had the Malossol Caviar with Crabmeat Salad.
For my next course, I’d used Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook service to pre-order a shrimp and wonton noodle soup, which was spectacular.
Since this trip was a surprise, I pre-selected the rib eye from Book the Cook for my wife, and she was rewarded with a properly cooked steak.
After a great night of sleep, I woke up about three hours outside Hong Kong.
I thought that this would be a good time to try the Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. The FA highly recommended I pair the coffee with Milano cookies, so I obliged. The coffee was simply spectacular — I had about four cups before landing, so I definitely hit the ground running in Hong Kong.
For breakfast, I went with the delicious chicken and mushroom congee.
My wife chose the granola with Greek yogurt for breakfast.
After breakfast, the crew surprised us with more Krug, teddy bears and some sweet treats to celebrate our anniversary. This was completely unexpected but indicative of the fantastic service we experienced on this flight.
I could not find any faults with this flight — the service, food, drinks and seat all beat our high expectations. Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines has been reducing the overall number of first-class seats on routes from the US since it introduced the smaller A350-900, and aircraft that doesn’t have the first-class product. Additionally, these 777-300ERs, with eight first class seats, are being replaced with planes that have only four seats and a premium economy section. If I had the chance, though, I would jump on the opportunity to fly first class on Singapore Airlines again.
Have you ever flown in first class on Singapore Airlines? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos by the author.
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