This morning, I attended the preview of Singapore Airlines’ new Premium Economy Class at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Like many frequent travellers, I was keen to find out how Singapore Airlines’ Premium Economy will bridge the gap between its Economy and Business Class services.
The 35kg baggage allowance and priority check-in and baggage handling is a good place to start. But if there’s one design feature with the power to make or break a traveller’s inflight experience, it’s the seat (above).
Premium Economy’s 18.5- and 19.5-inch-wide leather seats (above) remind me of those found in sports cars, with one notable exception: they don’t contour to your body, allowing you the space to reposition during long flights.
All of the basic comforts you’d expect are here, from the adjustable headrest to the calf-rest and foot-bar. But what of that nemesis of the tall person: legroom? I’m 5’8”, and with my chair upright, I can stow a bag underneath the seat in front and my feet don’t reach it. Fully extending my arms in front of me, with outstretched fingers, I can just touch the monitor. In short, there’s a noticeable increase in space from an Economy seat.
While the seat doesn’t recline completely, it does go back 8 inches, which is enough to provide a more comfortable sleep than the one you’d get in Economy.
There are some nifty additions to the chairs, too. There are mobile phone holders in the seatback, with left and right markers to indicate which chair they correspond to, and each seat has two USB ports. Water-bottle holders are built into the front of the central armrest, and there are non-slip cup holders on top of it. Individual reading lights wrap around the passenger from the back of the seat.
There’s also storage in the armrest for headphones, should you prefer to use your own. But there’s little reason to bring yours along. Premium Economy provides Phitek noise-cancelling headphones, which are effective enough to drown out the din of the media preview happening around me.
The inflight entertainment system is pretty slick, too. It’s based on hardware from Panasonic Avionics, and has a customised user interface. The 13.3-inch HD monitor is also the largest in its class.
Yet another distinction is advance food ordering using the Premium Economy Book the Cook service, and glasses of Ernest Rapeneau Brut Prestige champagne. While we saw displays of the menu items available for Premium Economy passengers, such as rosemary beef brisket and pancakes with maple syrup and scrambled eggs, we didn’t get a chance to taste test the meals.
I did get to play with the limited edition amenity kit given out to each Premium Economy traveller. There are two designs, and each set contains a toothbrush, toothpaste and soft non-slip socks. The pouches clip together, so frequent fliers may be inclined to use them to house different currencies.
But the other question we all want to ask, of course, is about price. On the same return flight, from Singapore to Sydney in August, Singapore Airlines website today quoted the following fares:
Premium Economy Class – S$1,890.60
Flexi Economy – S$1,540.60
Flexi Saver Economy Class – S$1,380.60
*All prices quoted included taxes and surcharges.
For my money, I’d happily pay the difference to have the extra space.
To book a Premium Economy Class flight, visit the Singapore Airlines website.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.