Singapore Airlines (SIA) unveiled a new first class seat in 2013, co-designed by BMW Group Designworks USA and manufactured by Jamco America. It debuted on the carrier’s fleet of B777-300ERs, with Singapore-Tokyo Narita being one of the first routes to offer it.
I arrived at T3 of Changi Airport shortly before 2200. I had forgotten about the dedicated area for first class passengers, so I went to the check-in aisle instead. The staff seemed to have problems finding my booking in the system, but in the end, this was resolved and I was escorted to the exclusive check-in lounge. It’s a classy and spacious facility where top-tier customers can relax while their boarding passes are issued. Once the booking was found, the process was speedy, and I finished fast-track immigration at around 2240.
The area reserved for first class passengers at the Silver Kris lounge in T3 is called Private Room, which consists of a lounge area with big windows and a cosy dining room with elegant banquette seating. You can help yourself to the buffet, but why do so when there is a decadent à la carte menu? Divided into Western and Asian choices, the food selection included US prime beef burger with foie gras; rocket leaf and fried quail egg; baked cod with green peas and tomato mango confit; and marinated chicken with spicy garlic sauce. I chose the lobster, which was served with Provençal ratatouille, asparagus and Parmesan cheese shavings. It really hit the spot when paired with a glass of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2004.
I was in the restroom freshening up with the L’Occitane face splash and Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul Bianco di Carrara toiletries when boarding was called. To make sure I made it without a hitch, staff called a buggy for me and reached the gate at 2340. It would have been a sprint if I’d had to go on foot. I quickly settled in and was promptly offered a welcome drink of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2004.
I was seated at 1F, on the right-hand side of the front row in the eight-seat cabin. This flat-bed offering has a fixed-back shell design with curved side panels, which adds to the sense of space. At 82 inches, it is also two inches longer than the old product. It features an “ergonomically sculpted” cushion for better lumbar support, an adjustable headrest, a padded headboard and an additional layer of mattress. With its beige and brown leather upholstery, it feels extremely luxurious. As is the case in business class, the seat also employs the flip-down mechanism to convert into a flat bed, but what’s superior is the cubby, which is roomier and located right in the centre, meaning that the passenger does not have to lie down diagonally to sleep.
For inflight services and entertainment, take your pick from the touchscreen video handset, and enjoy movies and TV shows from the 24-inch LCD TV with 1,080-pixel high-definition resolution. The Bose Quiet Comfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones complete the experience. To the left of the monitor is a panel with USB and HDMI ports (in addition to a power socket) for charging and streaming of the passenger’s own entertainment content. On the aisle side, a back-lit panel enabled me to call for service, control the lighting and adjust my seat to relaxing positions. There is also plenty of
If I were to complain, it would be about the table. It was rather difficult to pull out and stow (even the crew struggled with it), and it was also slightly wobbly when in use.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE
With only eight seats in the first class section, there can be no bad choice. I was in the front, so it felt extra private.
The plane pushed out at midnight while the safety video played, and took off around 20 minutes later. The seat-belt sign was off in about 10 minutes and I was offered Givenchy pyjamas and slippers while warm nuts were served. My inflight entertainment system didn’t work in the beginning but it was quickly reset and fixed. The crew addressed me by my surname and the service was top-notch, welcoming, smooth and helpful every step of the way.
Dinner order was taken 40 minutes after take-off: this flight is called the “sleeper service” so there was the choice of having the main meal served to you before you go to bed, after you wake up, or both if you feel really peckish. Since I’d had a main course at the lounge, I requested my meal two hours before arrival. I didn’t really need it, but the kyo-kaiseki multi-course Japanese set designed by chef Yoshihiro Murata of century-old Kyoto institution Kikunoi, seemed too good to pass on.
About half an hour after I finished my meal, descent began, and the plane touched down after a flight time of six and a half hours. I was the first to disembark in about 10 minutes, and immigration and customs took about half an hour.
You have to give it to SIA: it knows how to do things in the classiest manner. Throughout the journey, the staff were charming and warm, and I felt right at home. The kaiseki experience was superb and the flat bed was very comfortable.
SEAT WIDTH 35in/90cm
BED LENGTH 82in/208cm
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees