Review of Singapore Airlines flight Singapore Paris in Premium Eco

Flight SQ336
Seat 34G
Flight time 14:00
Take-off 18 Jan 19, 00:15
Arrival at 18 Jan 19, 07:15
SQ   #2 out of 124 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 525 reviews
SevenTwenty
By 1157
Published on 26th January 2019

Introduction and Booking


This report covers a recent flight taken from Singapore to Paris with Singapore Airlines. While it was originally booked as an economy flight, I was given the option to bid SGD 280 (about USD 205) for an upgrade to premium economy. Given that I don't usually play the miles game, and not on this particular occasion, it seemed like an interesting deal – particularly as premium economy ticket prices were going at around triple the price of standard economy.

Two days before my flight, I received an email from Singapore Airlines notifying me that my bid for premium economy was successful. In addition to a superior hard product, premium economy customers on Singapore Airlines get the option to pre-order their meals in advance through Book The Cook. While the meals are not presented any differently from your standard economy offering, the larger number of choices you have make this a very nice bonus to have. In any case, even if the passenger does not choose to take up this option, they still have three choices available to them in premium economy instead of the usual two in economy.

A look at the choices. Not shown but available were Hainanese chicken rice (including a version with roasted chicken), nasi lemak with fried chicken, and spiced nasi biryani – all regional specialties typical of Singaporean cuisine.
photo 0001_2

I ended up choosing beef brisket for dinner…photo 0002_2
…and dim sum for breakfast.photo 0003_2
The day of the flight would find me in Changi Airport's Terminal 3. This is the terminal of choice for most of SQ's long-haul flights to Europe. Late night is a particularly busy time at this terminal, given that most of these flights are timed to have a business-friendly early-morning departure.

Despite this, the terminal was pretty quiet…photo 20190117_211841photo 20190117_211846
As a Singaporean resident, I benefit from the use of automated passport clearance gates, making immigration clearance an especially painless procedure.photo 20190117_230347
FIDS showing my flight under its codeshare of VA5674. Today's flight would depart from gate B4.photo 20190117_230356

The Flight


Singapore Airlines
SQ336
Singapore Changi (SIN) - Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Boeing 777-300ER
9V-SWV
January 18, 2019


Singapore Airlines runs 10 Boeing 777-300ERs weekly to Paris; one is the daily SQ336 service, timed for a business-friendly early morning arrival. The other is the thrice-weekly SQ334 service, timed for a mid-morning arrival. All the aircraft on these flights are outfitted with their 2013 seat products, including touch-screen IFE systems. Premium economy, however, would only debut two years later, after much hand-wringing about whether the airline ought to introduce the class or not.

Today's star was 9V-SWV, a 5.4-year-old Boeing 777-300ER delivered in September 2013, originally without premium economy; she would later receive those fittings in November 2017. The premium economy cabin on Singapore Airlines' 777-300ERs features 28 seats, arranged in a staggered 2-4-2 configuration. While we're on this topic, I personally draw my limit at 2-3-2 in premium economy; I think Singapore Airlines gets away with doing this only because they are a five-star airline and because the staggered configuration does indeed add a sense of roominess to the cabin.
photo prem economy
Singapore Airlines' premium economy seats are outfitted in dark grey leather with orange accents, which give them a very smart and refined look. Despite the airbrushing regularly associated with the promotional media of products like these, the real-life impression does not disappoint… except, of course, on one minor count. You'll see that the window seat in front had a loose panel near the foot rest, which is especially noticeable when you compare it to its aisle-seat sibling.photo 20190117_234611photo 20190118_070439
Premium economy features a larger IFE screen, about the same size as a typical laptop screen. While the software is identical across the entire aircraft, the larger screen size does make for a more vivid viewing experience.
photo 20190117_234528
Every seat has double armrests with cup holders at each end. This certainly helps reduce the feeling of being cramped when you're in the middle two seats. This, I found, did indeed go some way toward sweetening the prospect of 2-4-2 in premium economy.photo 20190117_234811
The IFE handset, as well as the controls for the seat recline and calf rest, are located in the side of the seat.photo 20190117_234816
There is also a small cubby located underneath the controls. I didn't use it though – the very inconspicious design was practically an invitation for you to leave something behind there by mistake.photo 20190118_133459
There is also another cubby located in the opposite side. Note, however, that this larger cubby is not available to window-seat passengers, who get a regular armrest instead.photo 20190118_030357
The legroom was excellent and certainly in line with what I expected from premium economy, though I probably get an advantage from the fact that I'm a small person to start with.photo 20190117_235047
These seats offer 38 inches of seat pitch versus 32 in economy. Oddly enough, I found that it didn't actually make that much difference, and I actually had to raise the calf rest before I felt comfortable with the pitch.photo 20190118_101201
The seatback compartment in front has a double pocket, which is useful if you have a laptop that is too large to stow in the cubby. I still wouldn't recommend putting too many stuff in there; the design of the compartment is such that the pocket will sag outward significantly the more you put things in it.photo 20190118_134015
The tables for each seat are stowed in the armrest.photo 20190118_010440
There are also USB charging ports and personal reading lights for each passenger. The reading light is especially useful, since the fixed position of the overhead lights often result in the passenger having to adopt awkward positions in order to read their book. For what it's worth, premium economy passengers still have their own overhead lights, which tend to be useful more for illumination given the clearly superior quality of the personal reading lights.photo 20190118_010959
There are also water bottle compartments as well as individual power plugs located underneath.photo 20190118_034757
We pushed back at 12:15am sharp, and the safety video started playing while we were en route to the runway…
photo 20190118_001633photo 20190118_002018
We took off at 12:35am, starting our 13-hour voyage across the continent…photo 20190118_004546
Shortly after takeoff, oshibori and amenity kits, containing socks and a toothbrush kit, were distributed…photo 20190118_010502
A shot of the cabin just after takeoff.photo 20190118_010642
Meal service started as we were overflying Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…photo 20190118_010800
The beef brisket I had ordered a couple of days ago was served. One bonus to Booking The Cook is that you get your meals first, along with those with regular special meal requests. The meat was very well-cooked: firm, juicy, and very flavorful. The meal is also served with a scone and a side dish of chicken pasta.photo 20190118_013029
I did, however, run into an unexpected wrinkle… the water that came with the dish was literally frozen…photo 20190118_013205
I went to get a replacement cup of pineapple juice instead, but quickly ran into another wrinkle… the chicken pasta was also frozen! Without describing the problem, I told the flight attendants I would need their assistance when they were done. That assistance only came a good half hour later, by which time everything had thawed. The flight attendants apologized profusely, which I reminded them was not necessary: I had intentionally withheld the problem because I knew if I had identified it upfront, they would have descended upon me right away. Such is what happens when you deal with a five-star airline!photo 20190118_013911
One advantage to an armrest table that you don't really think about until you actually experience it is that it gives a sense of having significantly more room, since you are able to easily access the seat pocket in front of you while eating. Due to the spatial logistics involved, this is much more difficult to do with the seat-back table typically found in regular economy.photo 20190118_015645
Afterwards, bottles of mineral water and ice-cream were distributed.photo 20190118_023227
By the time we were done and settled in, we were halfway over the Indian Ocean.photo 20190118_024625
One wrinkle to premium economy on the 777 is that it doesn't have its own bathrooms, meaning you have to walk through the entirety of the first section of economy to get to them. it is worth it, though, as these bathrooms have significantly more room than you might expect from a typical aircraft john…photo 20190118_034011photo 20190118_033932
The bathroom was also well-stocked, with mouthwash, napkins, and tissues. The only issue, though, was that the trashcan was nearly full, which only got worse toward the end of the flight.photo 20190118_033938
I went to sleep shortly afterward, and when I woke up, we were overflying Afghanistan.photo 20190118_072640
Midnight snack time!photo 20190118_101424
Us working our way across the Black Sea.photo 20190118_100537
Almost exactly three hours before arrival, the lights turned on for meal service.photo 20190118_104815
By then, we were already about to make landfall over Romania.photo 20190118_111623
Oshibori were distributed beforehand for the passengers to freshen themselves up with.photo 20190118_113019
A shot of the cabin as people were getting ready for their breakfast. The roominess of the staggered-row cabin is particularly visible here, especially taking into account that almost everyone was reclining their seats at the time.photo 20190118_113113
If you're familiar with Chinese dim sum the way I am, one thing that might throw you is how closely your mental image of the food may be associated with a sumptuous selection spread out over several tables… this one looked like a tasting sample by comparison! This dish, however, was very aromatic and well-cooked. And nothing frozen this time around! Included in the selection were steamed popiah (a type of Chinese spring roll), har gow (steamed prawn dumplings), shumai (pork dumpling in this case, though fillings can vary), and lo mai gai (glutinous rice, usually with shiitake mushrooms).photo 20190118_114844
By the time we were done, we were about to cross into Germany.photo 20190118_123409
Along the way, I got a surprise request from the flight attendants to fill in a comment form on their service. I think they were in love with me after the way I had handled the frozen pasta incident!photo 20190118_130347
And of course, not forgetting a small gift from them. Yay to pushing that five-star airline service, Singapore Airlines!photo 20190118_133648
About to make landfall over Luxembourg…photo 20190118_131257
…and crossing northeastern France on our way in…photo 20190118_133405
… with a nice view of the town of Laon down below…photo 20190118_133851
Descending into Paris Charles de Gaulle…photo 20190118_064839
Aaaaaand touchdown!photo 20190118_065030
At 13 hours 45 minutes gate-to-gate, this was officially the longest flight I'd ever taken by total time taken. Good way to end off my first experience with premium economy!photo 20190118_065324
Passing by some Airbus A340-300s belonging to the Armée de l'Air (French Air Force).photo 20190118_065645
And, finally, approaching Terminal 1…photo 20190118_065335
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Verdict

Singapore Airlines

9.5/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment8.0
Meal/catering10.0

Singapore - SIN

9.5/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness8.0

Paris - CDG

4.5/10
Efficiency4.0
Access7.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness4.0

Conclusion

Given the huge divergence in list price between premium and regular economy, and the small size of the cabin, it is very clear that premium economy is much better taken as a upgrade bonus than as a regular class of service. And my experience on this flight confirms this impression once and for all. I genuinely did enjoy my experience, but in being a bit contrarian here, it is abundantly clear that Singapore Airlines is able to get away with 2-4-2 in this class only thanks to its excellent service and the superior design of its hard product.

One other thing worth noting, for this flight at least, is that premium economy does not get its own set of cabin crew; the cabin crew for this section is shared with those for the economy section behind. While the flight attendants are noticeably more attentive, as is probably befitting of this class, their response time tends to be much slower as a result. I think this can be contrasted to, for instance, regular economy on the upper deck of Singapore Airlines' A380s. Even though the number of seats in both scenarios is comparable (28W+67Y versus 88Y), attention tends to come very quickly on the A380's upper deck since the flight attendants have a physically smaller cabin to sweep.

Information on the route Singapore (SIN) Paris (CDG)

4 Comments

  • Comment 485554 by
    KL651 TEAM 4265 Comments

    Thanks for this nice FR.
    Well SQ Premium sure feels premium compared to other carriers like LH or AF, from the seat that is definitely roomier to the service with BTC meals.
    But the price expresses that too! So this last minute upgrade is money very well spent, especially given the longer than normal duration of the flight.
    Did the crew replace your chicken salad or did they just apologize?

    • Comment 485714 by
      SevenTwenty AUTHOR 3 Comments

      Agree with what you have said. It does appear that taken in individual parts (the level of service, the hard product), premium economy does really feel premium. However, on the whole, it is true that it is simply a slightly enhanced version of regular economy for three to four times the normal list price...
      I do believe they would have replaced the salad right away had they not been serving other people at the time. However, in reality, they took so long to get back to me that by the time they did, the salad had already thawed. So in the end all they could do was apologize!

  • Comment 485641 by
    TheLostSwede 2 Comments

    I've had exactly the same problem with the frozen water, so it's not a unique problem. I can't say I've ever had frozen food though, except ice cream.

  • Comment 485687 by
    JW19 98 Comments

    SQ does have a great soft product, however the physical product of their premium economy does lack behind many, especially the way meals are served. Fine airlines like Qantas, EVA and more uses real china and glasswears for PE, they also have special amenity kits and some like Ana and JAL even provides lounge access, all for a price of usually around 30 to 40 percent more than economy. They way SQ are pricing this product and the marginal difference between economy and premium eco in service dilutes its value and hence why SQ see poor yields here.

  • Comment 485844 by
    meog 19 Comments

    What are the reasons of the hard verdict for CDG?

  • Comment 486495 by
    dreamweaver888 65 Comments

    I’m surprised at the error with the frozen food and also with the bathroom trash not being addressed — that’s not in keeping of my expectations for SQ. The meal plating is also below par for PE. However, other aspects of the experience seemed more typical and the report is lovely as a whole.

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