SQ11 Business Class (LAX-NRT) and Star Alliance Lounge LAX

LAX used to be the other route operated on Airbus A380-800 besides JFK.  Things changed as of October 2016 when it was downgraded to a 77WR with a second service to LAX added (SQ7 and SQ8, at the expense of SQ15 and SQ16).  SQ11/12 operates via Narita and SQ7/8 operates via Incheon.  While getting Suites on SQ11/12 was not easy, it wasn’t tough either.  Since the change, it is almost impossible to get even one seat on First Class, let alone 2 (especially you have no status on Krisflyer)!  With only 4 seats, getting 1 will definitely be tough.  Business Class on the other hand, was still doable.

I was initially due to fly SQ7 via Incheon and onwards to Male.   I decided to change my itinerary and switched over to SQ11 with a Tokyo stopover.  SQ7 previously cost me about USD $370 per person while SQ11 cost me SGD $145.  In total, I paid 68,000 miles (+ another $290) for my flight, which would cost otherwise 93,500 miles if I am not willing to pay USD $100 for the stopover.  Currently, you pay 88,000 miles but you only pay $23.60 for tax! Flight timing has also changed, SQ11 previously leaves LAX in the evening, arriving Narita at 730pm and Singapore at 330am!  With the change, SQ11 departs at 10am, arrives Narita at 130pm and Singapore at 9pm.  This new timing is more palatable for those arriving in both Narita and Singapore for sure.

 

After checking out from Crowne Plaza, we took the shuttle bus to Tom Bradley International Terminal.  Check in was fast, but unfortunately security screening took a little longer in the absence of a dedicated Priority Queue.  Thankfully, the queue moved faster than I expected.  Within 30 minutes, we were at the Star Alliance Lounge.

The Star Alliance Lounge caters for the Star Alliance flights out of LAX (SQ, UA, NH, OZ etc.).  It is unfortunately not open for 24 hours.  The lounge is large and spacious, with both indoor and outdoor seats.  There is also a dining area with food counter and a separate bar.  Food spread was ok for the morning with hot food available.  There is a DIY noodle station available too!  Another advantage of the lounge is that there is boarding announcement.

 

After our breakfast, we moved on to the gate where boarding has already commenced.  I chose seats 14D/F as these are the only 2 available from the mini cabin after my switch from SQ7 (my original seats were 11D/F).  I was initially hesitant about these 2 seats as they were just in front of galley (but it turned out to be ok).

The bird carrying us to Narita is 9V-SNC (Singapore Airline’s newest 777-300ER at 1.5 years old!).  This plane is fitted with the 2013 cabin which is what I have wanted to try.  The difference between 77WN and 77WR is 8 vs 4 seats in First Class.  Service wise, we still have the great Singapore Airlines service.  Difference however comes from the hardware.

Here are the differences between the 2013 and the 2006 cabin:

  1. Seat width – the old J seats are wider, hence additional arm rest pillow is provided. The new seats at 28” is just nice I feel
  2. Seat controls – the new J has more seat control giving more freedom in adjusting the seat
  3. TV – 18” 1080p vs 15.4” 720p, need I say more? The new TV gives you the in-your-face feeling which is great for movies.  The drawback of the new screen is the glare which is more prominent that the old screen
  4. Absence of hump after conversion to bed
  5. More storage area
  6. Table that can be swivelled to different angle
  7. Touch screen remote control
  8. New Noise Cancellation headset (from Phitek to Bose, which is a good touch)

 

Here are some pictures of the 2013 Business Class seat:

 

Here are some pictures for the food:

MENU:

 

BRUNCH:

 

IN FLIGHT SNACKS:

 

LUNCH:

 

Here are my thoughts on the food:

Firstly, BTC option ex-LAX is lousy.  There isn’t much choices available to start with.  Secondly, Hanakoireki isn’t great as personally I don’t find it good (and it reminds me of the $10 food court bento set).  I personally felt that the delectable tasted much better than the main meals.  For the crab ravioli, it was rather bland and the prawns with cabbage was average at best.  The in flight noodle and the beef burrito was good while the ice chocolate was one of the bets I have had on Singapore Airlines (if not the best!).  For those growing up in Malaysia / Singapore, think of the Milo Truck during school sports events!

 

As usual, amenity kit is absent from Business Class.  You are only given a pair of slippers, socks and eye shade.  Shaving kit and toothbrush set are available in the toilet.

 

I feel that the new J cabin is more comfortable in the seating and lounging position with a great TV and an upgraded headset.  Bed felt about the same.  The ability to lie flat itself is something that I won’t complain.

If you are looking to fly on the 2013 J, it is only carried on 77WN/77WR (9V-SWA to SWE which are refurbished 77WR, 9V-SWU to SWZ which are 77WN and the newest 3 777-300ER which are 9V-SNA to SNC).

Here are some pictures for comparison between the 2006 vs 2013 J Cabin:

Wider seats for the 2006 J (some find it too wide as they are not able to rest the other arm)

15.6″ 720P vs 18″ 1080P – that sums up the difference

Slightly more storage compartments in the 2013 J

The old cabin’s foot well seems narrower

Both still require you to slant your body to fit your feet

Both cabin gives you a much wider foot space for bulkhead seats

More seat function control in the new J and interactive touch screen remote control

The newer Bose is definitely superior over the old Phitek (and more comfortable too)

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