7 Things That Make Singapore Airlines Economy a Great Choice for Long Haul Travel

Singapore Airlines unveiled their new cabin products for their Airbus A380 at a big media event in Singapore on Thursday. The biggest buzz was around the new suites, offering a separate seat and bed and with a wall that comes down between seats so that couples traveling together could have their own room and double bed on the plane.

That’s amazing — but there are only 6 suites on the plane. There are 78 business class seats, and the divider comes down between middle seats to offer double beds. There are 44 premium economy seats. But on the world’s largest aircraft there are 343 economy seats. Most passengers – by far – will be flying economy.

So here’s Singapore Airlines crew singing to the attending media before showing us the products:

As much as I love great premium cabin products, most passengers fly economy and I went straight to look at the new economy seat first. I think what I actually appreciate the most about Singapore Airlines is the thoughtfulness that goes into their economy product. Economy here doesn’t mean “self loading cargo.”

Here are (7) things I love about Singapore Airlines economy. They are little things compared to double beds in business class and designer pajamas. But it’s the little attention to details that make long haul travel in back a bit more civilized.

  1. You’ve still got 32 inches of pitch that’s a greater distance from seat back to seat back than you’ll find on US airlines.

  2. Six-way adjustable head rest so in addition to a seat that they say offers better back support (I’ll leave that to those who have flown twelve or more hours in the seat to judge), you can nestle in comfortable in a variety of positions moving the head rest up and down, forward and back, and adjusting the sides.

  3. An adjustable foot bar to rest your feet on which is something you usually only get in premium economy, and that I wish US airlines offered in domestic first class.

  4. A cup holder and coat hook along with placement of the pockets in the seat back in front of you, a pouch for your phone that’s convenient to charging ports

  5. Large 11.1 inch touch screen video all the better to watch Singapore’s extensive KrisWorld entertainment system.

  6. A pillow and blanket and they’re reasonable sized too.

  7. Economy passengers get premium economy meals. To be sure premium economy gets more choices and even pre-order options, and portions may be larger, but the entrees in premium economy and economy are the same. Economy class passengers are served food I’d actually eat.

With more and more being taken away from economy on most airlines as premium cabins get the bulk of attention, it’s just nice to see an 18.5 inch wide economy seat (United and American offer many seats at just 17 inches wide) and with investment in the little touches that make all the difference in tight quarters over a long flight.

Most of the attention at the unveiling event was on the premium cabins, but a willingness to invest where most people sit is something I think Singapore Airlines ought to be shouting from the rooftops.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Looks great! When does Singapore get approval to fly U.S. domestic routes? We need more competition.

  2. Great story Gary! I too of course prefer to fly premium but this information is very good to know and Singapore Airlines should take pride in their Economy product.

  3. Thanks for writing this report Gary. SQ long haul economy class in my opinion is exceptional, compared to other airlines. It would not surprise me if it is the best in the world.
    I flew SQ Economy Class SFO to SIN RT 3 years ago and it was a comfortable and enjoyable experience. I thought the inflight service for economy class was excellent and comparable to the service that I get flying J.
    It was the only long haul flight economy class I took in the past 4 years. The rest of my flights are either in J or F, so even though I don’t normally fly economy, it was a good experience and I would do it again if necessary.

  4. Honestly, the only two things that would matter would be the pitch and food quality. I always wondered what size legs you’d have to have to use the foot rest.

    Anyone who makes long haul economy better is obviously doing a service to the travelling community. The problem is always going to be space. You make money packing people into planes; you make less money packing fewer people into planes. The idea that you can generate enough incremental revenue by people willing to pay more for more legroom in economy class is, sadly, unproven. “Just being nice” isn’t usually a good business strategy.

  5. I fly SQ long haul economy twice a year- overall happy about the updated seats, but wish they would have gotten rid of the foot rests. Yes, they are good for people 5’6″ or shorter, but for us longer folk, it just uses up some of the leg space.

    I also call foul on the “economy passengers getting premium economy food” point. The two times I have flown premium economy, I used the “book the cook” function to order what i want, but the generic PE meals I saw them distributing were definitely a step up from normal SQ economy fare. So if they are starting to serve the same food to both PE and E, my guess is it’s a downgrade for PE. Fine for me, as long as they keep the “book the cook” which they seem to be doing.

    What I am most excited about is the expanded PE cabin. Hopefully with 44 seats, they will bring down the redemption cost for PE to help fill it up- half way between business and economy isn’t right. I will note for your readers that PE saver redemptions are readily available on SQ, so a decent option when you can only find standard redemptions for other classes…

  6. I’m flying Singapore long haul economy right now and the middle seat really isn’t any better. Horrible!…………………………………………………….

    WHEW!. just woke up at home. I was having a nightmare. Gotta take a xanax to calm down.
    It must be this office chair

  7. The “foot bar” is a negative. At least at my height (6’2′), I would have to scrunch up to use it. And, if it’s anything like the foot bar on Turkish, when it is retracted it take up space and cramps my legs.

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