Singapore Airlines 981, BKK – SIN

SQ 981

BKK – SIN

Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

Economy Class, Seat 65D

 

Prologue

Being based in Southeast Asia, we fly a fair bit with Singapore Airlines during our regional travels. While the Star Alliance carrier is known for its industry-leading long -haul cabin products, the regional offering has often been comprised of older, less impressive products. We were thus very excited that Singapore Airlines is renewing their short-/medium-haul fleet with the new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner and the latest generation of seats in what is touted a considerable upgrade, experiencing it on a routine hop from Bangkok to Singapore.

 

Check-In

 

Check-in for the flight was easily done with the Singapore Airlines mobile application 48 hours prior to departure, allowing us to skip the line at the Economy Class check-in desks. In contrast, the Internet Check-in desk had no queue and we were able to get our paper boarding passes from the lovely Thai agent then proceed directly to clear security and immigration, which can be crowded at Suvarnabhumi International Airport during the evening peak hours.

 

Lounge & Ground Service

Bangkok being a major hub for Star Alliance, there is no shortage of lounges available to premium passengers and elite status holders including the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounges, Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge and the smaller Turkish Airlines Lounge that we chose to visit this time. Despite there being only a handful of Turkish Airlines flights at Bangkok, this newly opened lounge situated near gate D8 operates around the clock and is also accessible to Priority Pass members, making it a great option for flyers without lounge access through their ticket.

 

Entering the main lounge area, the space is decorated in a consistent fashion to Turkish Airlines’ global lounges of white and dark wood, with ample sofa/armchair seating and a manned bar in the center serving wine and spirit housepours. Several smaller spaces to the side of the room house a small, sparsely-furnished work area and male/female Muslim prayer rooms.

 

Notably, electrical outlets seemed to be lacking in the lounge and only the seats near the walls had them. With these taken and boarding taking place soon, we gave up the notion of doing any work, made ourselves comfortable in one of the seat pairs and headed to check out the food offerings.

 

 

The beverage station was set up along the wall and offered a range of hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Adjacent to it was an open kitchen serving tasty hand-made Turkish snacks and bread, paired with the traditional Turkish tea and coffee. This was a nice touch by the airline to showcase a part of its heritage abroad, although the chef seemed to have difficulty keeping up with demand with the food disappearing as soon as they were dished out. The rest of the food selection was unfortunately rather limited and not appetizing, with a small buffet of international, Asian and Arabic options as well as salads, cut fruits and sandwiches.

 

The male and female restrooms each have a single shower room located within and their use can be requested from the reception. Availability is likely to be limited at peak times and we suggest booking it early with the staff to avoid long waits. Regrettably, the room was fairly basic in set-up comprising a dressing area with an inner stall, with toiletries from Thai brand Nature Touch and towels in a sealed package provided. This would have been acceptable for a contract offering, but was underwhelming for an airline-operated lounge catering to premium customers of some of the Star Alliance’s leading airlines.

 

Boarding & Departure

 

General boarding for our Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner was already underway when we reported at gate D7. We were able to join the line on the jetway without delay after the mandatory boarding pass and passport checks, where the crew were busy greeting and directing passengers at the door. Set up on a trolley for pickup were a selection of Thai and Singaporean newspapers, along with the disposable earphones used in Economy Class.

 

A modest load in Economy Class tonight meant every passenger had ample space for their cabin bags and the Dreamliner’s larger overhead bins ensured that the usual scramble for storage could be avoided even with a full flight. Unlike other flights, the crew were noticeably absent from the aisles during boarding as they rushed to turnaround and prepare the cabin for departure back to Singapore.

 

Oshibori service commenced as passengers settled in and the doors were closed. The towels were much thinner compared to previous years (an unfortunate consequence of cost cutting measures), but were otherwise piping hot and nicely scented.

 

Seat

 

Like the other Dreamliner operators, Singapore Airlines has configured the jet with a 9-abreast, 3-3-3 layout in Economy Class. First impressions of the new seat were good, with the alternating blue and grey upholstery giving the cabin a clean, smart look under the purple mood lighting – a considerable visual upgrade over the dated cabins in the older Airbus A330s and Boeing B777s.

 

Designed and manufactured by Germany’s RECARO, the seat measures a rather tight 19 inches wide with a 32-inch seat pitch on paper. Settling in, we found the actual product to feel more spacious and legroom was also decent. Although of a slimline design, it was well-padded offering good back support and comfort for our 2-hour flight.

 

The multi-way, adjustable winged headrest could also be shaped to offer better head support (especially useful on red eye flights), combining with the generous recline to optimise passenger comfort. There were no footrests fitted to this regional aircraft. In yet another improvement over the older products, the armrests between seats could also be folded flush with the seat back to create a makeshift flat bed.

 

 

The tray table retains a space-saving bi-fold design, incorporating a small vanity mirror. Immediately above it is a storage nook for small items such as glasses or cables, with the fold-out cup holder on one side and the connectivity panel on the other. This had the reading light and attendant call buttons, headphone jack and a USB port for device charging, complemented by the in-seat electrical outlets beside the seat pocket below.

 

Crew

There were four crew members working the rear Economy cabin and service was efficient, albeit not particularly warm. They were polite and call bells were attended to promptly, but the interactions were brief and felt routine in contrast to some of our other flights. Once the fasten seatbelt signs were switched off, the crew sprang into action for dinner service but were otherwise largely absent from the cabin after trays were cleared until just before landing.

 

Meal

 

The choices for mains this evening were Braised Beef with Potatoes or Fried Noodles with Prawns, served with a side of spicy pomelo salad, bread roll, a cup of water and a coconut cake dessert. We chose the former and found the beef to be tender and flavourful, although the sides of sweet potato cubes and mashed potatoes was a puzzling choice and made for a very starchy meal, which we paired with a Kiwi sauvignon blanc. Overall, one of the better Economy Class meals we’ve had on Singapore Airlines.

 

Entertainment

 

The new seat features Singapore Airlines’ biggest personal screen in Economy Class yet, measuring 11.6 inches and boasting a touchscreen feature in-lieu of the wired remote control. The Krisworld inflight entertainment system does not disappoint with an extensive library of high-definition content, ranging from Hollywood new releases to Singaporean short features. This latest version also allows passengers to personalise their entertainment by logging in via the airline’s mobile application to curate content, and save preferences. Onboard wi-fi was available on the Dreamliner for a fee, but we did not utilise it on this short flight and instead settled for the recent remake of “Hellboy”.

 

Arrival & Deboarding

About 40 minutes before landing, the pilots announced our descent into Changi International Airport. With traffic in the skies from the late night European departures, we were placed in a holding stack for some time and they made sure to share this information with the passengers. After 10 minutes circling off the Malaysian coast, we were permitted to land and touched down smoothly on the runway, taxiing to the parking position in Terminal Two to conclude the flight.

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