SQ974 and SQ973 Economy (SIN-BKK-SIN) – The Dreamliner makes a debut

 

I just came back from a conference in Bangkok and I managed to position myself to try out the new 787-10 in which Singapore Airlines was the launch customer. The 787-10 is meant to handle the regional flights currently being managed by the A330-300s and 777-200s which is way due for replacement. While the SQ974 is still being flown on an A333, SQ973 is being used as one of the short haul route for crew familiarisation before being used for its intended purpose – regional flights (KIX and PER being the first 2 destinations). So how was the flight?

My last SQ Economy Class was in 2013 on SQ12 (using the 2006 cabin on an A380). The A330 uses the exact same seats as what I had back in 2013. Configured at 2-4-2, the seat gives you a comfortable width of 19”. I was seated in 54K, and I had the whole row to myself. The A330s are mainly leased and hence, it is time to return these planes and bring on the Dreamliner!.

The food was OK, nothing spectacular. I had some food in SATS Premier Lounge prior to departure hence I was quite full already.

 

My main focus was mainly on SQ973.  9V-SCA (which made its first flight on 3 April 2018) is currently the first and only 787-10 on the list but more will be coming soon.  Being an early flight (departs BKK at 940am), I had to wake up at 540am as my transport was arranged for pick up at 640am. As it was an early Sunday morning, traffic was very smooth and it took me only 30 minutes to reach BKK. During check in, I tried to see if I can top up with cash to the next upgradable fare category and use my miles to upgrade to try out the new regional Business Class. Apparently, Economy was overbooked hence tiered members were probably upgraded. Nevertheless, I was happy to try out the Y seats too.

Without priority boarding, I chose to arrive at the gate just before closing. I was given seat 58G which is a bassinet seat. Although not as great as the Priority seats, the pitch is still better than the standard seats. The seats are arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration, giving it a width of only about 17-17.5”. Comfort wise, the smaller width can be a challenge for those who are bigger sized. For a regional flight, this is still acceptable (it can be a challenge for long hauls though as 17” width is becoming a norm with a 3-4-3 configuration on a 777). For those in the priority / bassinet seats, the remote is stored at the side hence making it very easy for one to accidentally pressed a button (and disrupting your movie in the process).

 

Each seats come with a glossy touch screen TV but the controlled seems much streamlined compared to those from 2006 design. This gives a brighter and more vibrant display than the previous version which was matte (giving it a more limited brightness). Just like its counterpart in Business Class, the glossy surface will reflect a lot of light making it less comfortable to use on a daytime flight when the shades are up.

 

As I was not seated at the window seat, I had not the opportunity to try out the e-shade. Someone did dim the shade to the maximum and from the look of things, it can go pretty dark.

The overhead compartments are spacious and it has an interesting design in which the compartment can be opened with a bi-directional latch.

 

Service on this flight was good despite it being a full flight. Apparently, pre-departure drinks has been removed for short haul flights but hot towels are still served before take off. It was certainly challenging distributing meal to 301 passengers on a 2 hour flight but the crew did it spotlessly. Everything went smoothly.

It has been long since I last tried the Economy Class catering on Singapore Airlines, but I would say the main of curry chicken with rice was excellent. Although I would have preferred a spicier curry, it is probably just nice for those who doesn’t fancy spicy food. The chicken was tender and juicy, with no fats / skin on it. It was also not too salty.

img_3673

 

Wifi is available on board, but unfortunately I was not able to try out the speed as it was not in operation. Hence, I was not able to compare it to the speeds I had on the A380 and A350.

The airshow for the 787 uses the Voyager 3D which looks much better than the old flight path.

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I was glad to see a familiar face on this flight, Mr. John Chan. He was the IFS on my SQ26 flight to JFK last year en route to Montreal (in which he was supervising the SIN-FRA segment). Just like my last encounter, he was full of smiles, friendly and warm. Unfortunately, his station in in the J cabin being the flight supervisor.

As I was disembarking, I managed to catch some pictures of the Business Class cabin. Hopefully, I can get an opportunity to try it out once it is launched on the regional flights.

 

The Boeing Dreamliner is certainly a pleasure to fly in, even in Economy. Pair it up with the famous SQ touch, the flight was certainly pleasant. I guess my SQ308 experience was more of an oddity (which was fairly unfortunate given that I was flying in Suites). As more are rolled out, travelers can take note of the planes during the booking but do note that last minute plane swap can still occur.

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