In July 2022, Singapore Airlines made some modest changes to its award charts. I had a tonne of Krisflyer miles sitting in my account from the transfers made for the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold status offered on transfers from various financial institutions. While there was no real plan, I was playing around with some use cases for over 200K Krisflyer miles sitting idle in my account.
Singapore Airlines re-launched their US non-stop flights, which are some of the longest flights in the world, back in 2018. The airline had commissioned Airbus to make seven special A350-900 aircraft fitted with extra fuel tanks, which came to be known as the A350-900ULR aircraft. From SQ’s side, given that the plane would fly for about 18 hours (for the US East Coast flights), the airline put up only Business Class and Premium Economy cabins on this flight. Having flown these SQ ULH flights on the A340 before Singapore Airlines closed these flights, I wanted to try these out on the A350 now.
Booking the flight
Saver Availability showed up on the Delhi – Singapore/Singapore – Newark flights in Business Class, where the ultra-long-haul variant of the A350, the A350-900ULR, would operate from Singapore to Newark. This is usually very hard to come by, so I took that as a sign, especially when people were blocking all sorts of tickets anticipating the change of KrisFlyer pricing in the coming days. While I wasn’t sure about the state of the world and if we could make the trip, we booked two tickets for travel from Delhi – Newark via Singapore in July 2022. Eventually, the trip was booked as follows, all in business class:
- Delhi to Singapore on the A380 departure out of Delhi at 10 PM, arriving in Singapore the following day at 6 AM
- Day in Singapore
- Singapore to Newark on the A350ULR departure out of Singapore at 11:30 PM, arriving in Newark at 6 AM (same day)
For each passenger, the total cost was 121,000 SQ Miles plus INR 3132 in taxes per head. The exact itinerary would now cost you 136,500 KrisFlyer miles if you could find Saver availability. Else, 179,500 KrisFlyer miles would be needed for redemptions using the Advantage inventory.
While the Delhi to Singapore leg was booked on the A380, Singapore Airlines pulled away the A380 and assigned a Boeing 777 much later after booking. The Boeing 787-10 day flight between Delhi and Singapore was full, so we had no option but to continue with the Boeing 777 assignment if we wanted to continue with the trip.
At the Airport
Shipra and I arrived at the Delhi Airport at about 6:45 PM for the Delhi- Singapore flight leg. After a quick check of the tickets at the gate, we were let in. The Singapore Airlines counter for Business Class and elites was empty.
AI-SATS, which is half-owned by Singapore Airlines’ group company SATS, handles ground handling for Singapore Airlines in Delhi. Shipra and I had a bag each for check-in. Document Check and Check-in were done in six minutes, and we were handed our boarding passes. On the Boarding Pass, the lounge invitation was also printed.
We went through immigration and security checks, and it took a total of five minutes between both of these, given that early evening is not a rush hour for international departures, and the assigned counters were open at Passport Control. The queue for Security Checks of Premium Cabin customers worked as intended.
From there, we walked past the Encalm Lounge at Delhi T3 International (accessible via bank instruments such as credit cards), which was backed up like never seen before. You can read an earlier review here and figure it is missable if you are a discerning traveller.
We headed to the Air India Lounge, used by Singapore Airlines for their premium cabin and frequent flyer customers. You can expect a separate post about the lounge experience.
As soon as boarding was announced, we headed to the gate, which was about 15 minutes away from the lounge. The gate looked deserted as if everyone had already boarded. But that seemed not the case once inside.
We were scanned in and on our way to the jet bridge.
Singapore Airlines SQ403
Delhi (DEL) – Singapore Changi (SIN)
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Departure: 09:55 PM
Duration: 5 Hours 30 minutes
Arrival: 5:55 AM
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 12A (Business)
Meal Service: Dinner
Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Product
Singapore Airlines operates a four-class configured 777-300ER product on this route. There was one row of First Class seats in a small cabin right at the front of the aircraft, and behind it was the first of the two business class cabins on the plane. The first cabin has 12 business class seats between door 1 and door 2, and beyond the second door, there is a second, bigger business class cabin with 36 seats. All seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering direct aisle access to each passenger.
In our case, we selected two seats behind each other since we both would have appreciated a window seat and not being into each others’ faces on this flight. Picking the bulkhead row also means you get access to a bigger, open footwell compared to the cubby, which is small and forces you to sit diagonally in the case of the other seats.
However, we were on 12A and 14A right behind the bulkhead. As you can see, the cabin alternates between dark brown and grey seats.
The seats are spacious, 28-inch wide and 55 inches seat pitch, and all stitched in leather. So, it is as if you are seated on a lovely couch at home. Singapore Airlines’ seats are handcrafted from Scottish leather and diamond-stitched.
To the left of the seat was a compartment with a storage area, a reading light, a headphone jack, and power outlets.
Given the era in which the last seat was designed (about 15 years ago), you are well covered if you use an iPod but on your own if you’ve moved to charging with USB-C wires.
In front of that and to the left was the entertainment controller and a storage compartment for headphones, though you could also store something else in there if you wanted to. A bottle of water is also placed in the storage unit.
The entertainment controller also doubled up to show the essential flight-map movements from time to time, apart from the usual controls and the ability to select movies to watch and so on.
The headphones Singapore Airlines offers in business class are reasonably high quality and, in the current era, come with ear pads which you can use along with the headphones if you want enhanced hygiene.
In the front of the seat, there is the wide 18-inch HD-enabled entertainment monitor. Other useful things are fitted in the same console, such as a vanity mirror and a glass holder, and a storage compartment for personal effects such as passport and spectacles.
The tray table could also be extended from the left armrest and was a single table that couldn’t be folded. However, the table adjusts to various positions of the seat and height levels. It is one solid slab, so you don’t have to worry about your laptop being wobbly if you are working on these planes.
More reading lights fitted into the panelling of the seat on the other side.
And then, there was a panel in the armrest where you could adjust the various seat position. These controls have been placed here from the perspective of offering common controls for both the seat and bed mode, and unfortunately, they are pretty fragile (not tactile) and could be easily triggered when you are lounging around.
Singapore Airlines’s business class seat places the foot cubby in an angled manner towards the sidewalls of the plane, which make it very, well, disliked by some folks. But you have to be tall to be one of those people to dislike this seat.
While sitting in when you want to lounge in your seat and watch a movie is weird, the seat works out fine to sleep. But more on that later.
There is space to store your shoes somewhere in the bottom of the whole seat unit.
This seat has plenty of storage, an area many other airlines don’t do especially well, so kudos to Singapore for that. Also, with the side wing on each seat, you hardly have a view of someone else, so the privacy aspect is covered very well, albeit without a door.
After take-off, I quickly hopped over to the lavatory, and it was spruced up pretty well. As with most Singapore Airlines jets, the lavatories had been covered with leather cushions to enable people to use them to sit if they were changing or tying up their shoes, etc.
The usual amenities are stacked on the side panel, hand cream and EDT.
Since Singapore Airlines does not provide amenity kits, they load the essentials on their aircraft lavs. You will always have toothbrushes, shaving kits, sanitary napkins and combs on an SQ aircraft.
One great touch for Singapore Airlines is their detailing, such as providing towelettes rather than tissue paper only.
Singapore Airlines Business Class On-Board Service
As soon as we entered the plane, a member of the cabin crew walked us to our seats. After settling in, she returned to offer us pre-departure beverages. The usual water and juice were available. I requested a diet cola, and it was brought promptly to me. They also went around distributing compression socks, slippers and eye shades. As this is a short flight (under six hours), amenity kits are unavailable, and neither are sleeper suits on this segment (in business class). Hot Towels were also distributed before take-off.
Menus were already placed in the seat pockets. The cabin crew came back again to take dinner orders.
This was a short flight, so there would only be dinner service. For those interested, I have for you here a look at what was on offer for dinner. I’m putting out both sectors (Singapore to Delhi and Delhi to Singapore) for those interested.
Singapore Airlines offers four meal options in this sector, basically Indian Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian and Western Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian options. The Indian options are all prepared by SQ’s kitchen in consultation with Sanjeev Kapoor’s kitchen, who is empanelled on the Chef’s panel for Singapore Airlines.
They also have their famed Book-The-Cook service on this sector, offered to Business Class and First Class passengers. For reference, here are the Book-The-Cook options from Delhi in the Business Class section. Remember, this is the full list of options, and a subset is offered depending on the day of your flight.
Because I usually like to try the Indian options departing ex-India and arriving back, I had already selected the Mutton Biryani for my dinner entree. The crew reconfirmed this. Shipra chose the Chicken Glass Noodle Soup for her entree.
For drinks, here is the wine list on board this flight. Besides these options, the usual cocktails, drinks menu and a full coffee menu from Illy were also available.
The flight boarded and departed precisely on the dot. We pushed back at 21:55 hours according to the plan.
We were parked near the runway, so we taxied by some stored Jet Airways aircraft and a parked Vistara 787-9.
Soon enough, we entered Runway 28 for our departure from Delhi.
After take-off, I started browsing through the 1800 or so pieces of content this aircraft IFE was loaded with to find me something to watch. Here are some highlights of the content available.
Eventually, I settled for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, a movie I’ve watched before, but the fun of reruns on airplanes is that you can sleep midway.
As soon as the plane levelled out. The crew started to prepare for service. I had requested some Champagne to be served after take-off, which was brought right after. Amusingly though, no ramekin of nuts was served. I suppose I had to ask for it specifically, or it was assumed that everyone would like to head straight into Dinner. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this Champagne, so I nursed it and never finished it.
There was a bit of a flurry around the cabin, and some people were being served what looked like Vegetarian Seekh Kebabs to me from a distance. I assume a part of the cabin had requested the Indian Veg Meal, and hence, they were being served these rather than the Satay. Momentarily after, the crew brought the first course, the Singapore Chicken Satay. Always delicious, especially with that delicious peanut sauce.
The crew then brought out the drinks cart and laid out the table. While I was offered a top-up on my Champagne, I told them I did not like the champagne too much. I was encouraged to try the 2016 Chateau Livran, a French wine from Bordeaux.
Next up, the crew brought out the Appetiser, a Marinated Scallop and Smoked Duck Breast with Basil Pesto. I can appreciate everyone does not have the taste buds for Duck, especially since it is not so prevalent in India, but this one was a good appetiser.
The crew also brought out the bread basket. They had paranthas, poppadum, dinner rolls and garlic bread on the basket. Singapore Airlines does some fantastic garlic bread, so I went with a helping of that.
The Main Course for my dinner meal was the Mutton Biryani, which was brought out hot and served with Dal Tadka and Shammi Kebabs. The Mutton was soft, and the meal hit the spot. Pity a lot of the meal service was being done in a dark cabin, so the pictures did not come out as good as the meal was.
After the wholesome dinner, I was offered dessert. I had little appetite left, but I went with the ice cream.
The meal service lasted until about midnight (two hours into the flight). When I got done, I noticed that Shipra was already catching her 40 winks, and I requested that my bed be prepared as well.
With Singapore Airlines, the setback has to be flipped down to make the bed rather than have the seat flatten out into bed mode. This requires manual work but can be done quickly. When I got back to my seat from the restroom, the bed was ready, with a second
There was a lightweight blanket, but it kept me warm during the night.
I had no use for Wi-Fi tonight, but I wanted to check the speeds. As Business Class passengers, both Shipra and I were eligible for it free of charge, as was also flashed on the messaging inbox of the IFE.
I had a decent 3 Mbps throughout the flight whenever connectivity was active. There were certain legs of the flight where connectivity broke, but most of the time I was up, there was connectivity available.
Coming back to bed mode. I could comfortably get a few hours’ nap before I woke up without any alarms. We were roughly thirty minutes or so out from arrival in Singapore Changi.
At this time, I tried resuming my movie play, but it was too long to finish on this flight. So, I switched to watching the moving map.
As I quit the movie, the IFE offered to save the film so that I could continue watching on the next flight.
One of the reflections of 2006 technology, apart from the iPod connectivity option, was that there was no touch screen on this IFE. I’d frequently tap the screen to do something, only to realise the only screen with touch technology was the IFE controller in the side unit.
Soon enough, we arrived into the familiar sights of Singapore. I must admit, though, it has been a long while since I turned up before dawn in Singapore. Changi was all lit up.
We docked in about 15 minutes before the scheduled arrival time in Singapore, and First Class passengers deboarded through gate 1L while Business Class disembarked through gate 2L.
Overall, it was a good flight, and we arrived in Singapore on time to spend a day at the Lounge and Singapore before heading over to the long ride to the US. We proceeded straight to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge to catch a nap.
Overall, Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER is a beautifully done-up product and a legit backbone of the Singapore Airlines fleet. The business class cabin is comfortable and spacious, and out of Delhi, I’d prefer the 777 over the 787-10, which is also an instrument I’ve tried. The hospitality is just right (not over-friendly and not underwhelming). With wifi, I can also get some work done if needed. The F & B offering is solid. The only surprise was no touch screens.
Have you flown Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER? What has been your experience with the 77W for Singapore Airlines?
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