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SIA's New A350 XWB: SQ337 DUS-SIN in Economy

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  • SIA's New A350 XWB: SQ337 DUS-SIN in Economy

    I went on a short trip to Germany earlier this week, and returned to Singapore via Dusseldorf. This gave me the opportunity to check out Singapore Airlines' latest Airbus A350 XWB on the DUS-SIN sector, a route which SIA began flying earlier this year, in July 2016.

    SQ's current long haul economy class products on the A380, 77W and 77WN are already among the best I have experienced. What enhancements does SQ's latest iteration of their economy class product on the A350 offer?

    How does SQ compare with other A350 operators, such as Finnair or Qatar Airways, who also operate this type out of Singapore?

    Interested? Read on...
    Last edited by yflyer; 26 December 2016, 03:05 PM.

  • #2
    Dusseldorf Airport is a very pleasant and user-friendly facility. It is large and fairly busy, but not overwhelming in the way that megahubs like Frankfurt or Dubai can be.

    It consists of 3 long piers connected by a large, curved terminal building and landside atrium.

    The spacious atrium gave the landside area a very open, airy feel, and it was nicely decorated for Christmas.

    SQ337 is an 11am departure. Check-in that day opened at 8am, and there was already a queue at the economy class check-in ten minutes before that time.

    There were no queues at J or PEY/Internet check-in and I checked in my bag and obtained my boarding pass without any delay.

    Last edited by yflyer; 26 December 2016, 03:05 PM.


    • #3
      There is a nice range of F&B and shopping in Dusseldorf Airport, but I skipped the shopping and headed straight to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge, which is the designated Star Alliance Gold Lounge in DUS.

      This was not as large as the LH Senator lounges in FRA, and the decor was more generic than the Lufthansa-themed design elements you found in FRA or MUC, but it was not crowded at the time I was there, and had all your lounge essentials, including wifi, wine/liquor, breakfast spread, working area, and showers, as well as a smoking room.

      Nice selection of bread...

      Hot and cold breakfast selections...


      • #4
        The SQ gate that day was A79, in the part of the terminal where international flights departed, which meant that there was an EU passport control checkpoint that you had to pass through after leaving the lounge, before you reached the gate.

        Today's flight was operated by 9V-SMH, the 2nd newest A350 in the fleet, and just over a month old.

        The gate area itself wasn't particularly spacious. On the bright side, there was an F&B outlet right next to the gate, where you could stock up on snacks before the flight.


        • #5
          Boarding began on time, with Business Class and PPS members boarding first, followed by Krisflyer/Star Gold and Premium Y.

          This was a 3 class aircraft, configured with J, PEY and Y cabins.

          First, the business class cabin, equipped with a version of SQ's latest 2013 J seat, that has been tweaked to fit the A350 cabin, which is slightly narrower than the 77WN cabin.

          The J cabin is laid out 1-2-1. The J seat can recline into lounging position. To go fully flat, you fold the seat down, and this gives you a flat sleeping surface, which includes this cubby hole in the front of your seat.

          For those who want even more space in J, the bulkhead J seats offer more space.

          Note that the window side bulkhead seat (above) has a slightly different design from the middle bulkhead seats (below).


          • #6
            Next, the Premium Economy Cabin, which is a separate cabin in between J and Y, configured 2-4-2.

            Note that while these seats share similar design elements to SQ's PEY on the A380 and 77WR, the actual seat frames are different, and appear to be slightly narrower than A380 or 77WR PEY, although they are still wider than regular Y, and have very good recline.


            • #7
              The Economy cabin is laid out in a comfortable 3-3-3, which looks to be standard for the A350.

              While not as airy and open as SQ's 77W/77WN Y cabins or the cavernous A380 main deck, the A350 Y cabin has decent ambience.

              Lots of legroom in the emergency row...

              The bulkhead seats (Row 47 D,E,G) are great too. Note that the armrest between D and E seats is a movable armrest, whereas the armrest between E and G is a fixed armrest with a folding tray table, so a D bulkhead seat might be be preferable to G.

              The seats themselves are very comfortable contoured seats.

              Recline is good...

              ...with the front of the seat pivoting forward slightly when reclined.

              All seats except emex and bulkhead rows have a paddle shaped footrest. The slimline armrests can be raised all the way up.

              How do these seats compare with those on the 2006 Y on the A380 or 2013 Y on the 77WN?

              The A350 seats are quite comfortable. In terms of perceived seat width, the A350 Y seats appear to be fractionally narrower than the A380 or 77WN.

              Just as an illustration, I laid out two Krisworld guides on the A350 seat base...

              This next picture shows an A380 main deck Y seat with the same two magazines laid on it. As you can see, the A380 Y seat has just a little more width.

              All that said, the difference was not huge, and the A350 9-abreast Y layout feels quite comfortable. The seat definitely feels more spacious than a 10-abreast 777 or 9-abreast 787.
              Last edited by yflyer; 25 December 2016, 07:20 PM.


              • #8
                IFE was the brand new Krisworld system that looks different from the 77WN Krisworld. Even some of the earlier A350's (Like 9V-SMB) had the previous Krisworld system. I'm not sure if the earlier A350's have been upgraded to this new system, or if the new system will only be installed on new frames moving forward. In any case, the new Krisworld IFE is excellent. More on the IFE later in this TR.

                I did not bother opening the white plastic packet containing the complimentary earbud headphones that SQ provided. The SQ earbuds sound terrible. I used my own headphones with a 2-pin aircraft adapter, which sounded much better.

                Apart from the main screen, which is a touchscreen, each seat also comes with a touchscreen controller with hi-res display.

                Each seat has 2 USB ports. There is also A/C power in Y, using a universal socket that will fit most plugs, including 3-pin UK, 2-pin US/Europe / Australia etc.

                For bulkhead and emex seats, the A/C and USB sockets are under the seat.

                There is a white reading light above the seats, but no individual air vents (SQ doesn't have individual air vents on other aircraft types either).

                A view of the rear of the A350, where there is a large galley.

                Last edited by yflyer; 26 December 2016, 12:04 PM.


                • #9
                  On this flight, I was seated at 48A.

                  The row 48 window seats, A and K, just behind the emex, have no seat in front of them. This gives you the best of both worlds: direct aisle access, as well as a large window.

                  That said, on SQ's A350, these window seats come with a strange protrusion for the IFE box that extends far out of one side of the seat, and I found that this got slightly in the way of my legs.

                  Not a showstopper, but I wonder how other airlines like Finnair have a similar seat on their A350 without such a large protruding IFE. For comparison, this is how the equivalent seat on Finnair looks. The IFE protrusion on the Finnair seat is much smaller, and didn't intrude into my legroom.

                  The tray table for 48A folds out of the armrest.

                  This feels like quite a sturdy table, which doesn't droop to one side the way some tables on older equipment do...

                  Last edited by yflyer; 26 December 2016, 12:07 PM.


                  • #10
                    The bathrooms are done in cream and grey tones, with a splash of colourful trim.

                    The tap is sensor operated, and so is the dustbin lid!

                    The drawers are a new design, which you push inwards in order to open...

                    Amenities, such as toothbrushes, in the drawer...


                    • #11
                      A very hot towel prior to take-off...

                      And an amenity kit consisting of a toothbrush and socks...

                      Our cabin crew, who were superb on this flight, strapping themselves into the pair of emex row crew seats for take-off...

                      Push-back and taxi...

                      ...for a take-off to the southwest...

                      ...and climbing over the River Rhine, with the Altstadt (Old Town) and Rheinturm Tower just visible in the distance....

                      ...before breaking through the clouds into clear blue sky...

                      Last edited by yflyer; 25 December 2016, 08:44 PM.


                      • #12
                        Cabin service began with peanuts...

                        ...and a full drink service...

                        I asked for a Bloody Mary...

                        I also took the opportunity to sign up for inflight wifi...

                        On this flight, it was time-based internet, which is my preferred charging model because you don't have to worry about how many megabytes of data you have transferred. This can be used on one device at a time. I had no problem switching form my iPhone to my MacBook and back again, although I could not connect to both simultaneously.

                        Later, just before meal service, I also asked for a Singapore Sling...


                        • #13
                          It was soon time for meal service. The new IFE allows the cabin crew to broadcast text messages to passengers on their IFE screens...

                          Today's menu...


                          A choice of 3 main courses...

                          Mid-flight snacks...

                          ...and breakfast prior to our 6.15am scheduled arrival.

                          For my lunch, I chose the pan fried chicken with spaetzle...

                          Special mention must go to the breadroll, which was a brown bread that was quite tasty.

                          A pretty decent Nicoise salad, with small, tender shrimp...

                          The main course was very good as well, with a generious portion of chicken and an equally generous portion of spaetzle...

                          ...which I accompanied with a glass of Chardonnay, poured from a full size bottle.

                          Dessert was apple pie. The portion size for dessert was on the small side, but it was tasty.

                          Last edited by yflyer; 26 December 2016, 12:09 PM.


                          • #14
                            The cabin ambience in the A350 Y cabin was good. Although this was a completely full flight in Economy, the cabin did not feel overcrowded. It felt bright and airy. I would have no reservations flying the A350 on long haul flights in Y.

                            The first half of this flight was flown in daylight hours, and there was quite a bit to see out the window...

                            We overflew the Romanian port city of Constanta, which is the largest port on the Black Sea, and a harbour which has seen use since at least the 6th century BC...

                            Stunning views of the harbour, and the Black Sea coastline...

                            ...which corresponded well with the inflight map view...

                            We also had great views of snow-capped hills and mountains as we flew Eastwards over Turkey.

                            The map viewer was great in terms of locations and views. One enhancement I would want to see on the map view is more place names listed. The major cities and landmarks are there, but we passed many towns, cities and geological features on the ground which were shown on the map as well, but which had no names or tags attached to them.

                            We flew over a pair of imposing mountains near the Eastern border of Turkey...

                            I could see these features on the map viewer, but there was no name identifying what peaks these were.

                            It was only after I landed that I went to Google Maps to explore the map of the area, that I learned that this was Mount Ararat, which consists of two dormant volcanoes, Greater Ararat and Little Ararat, a mountain range with great historical and religious significance.

                            Last edited by yflyer; 26 December 2016, 02:41 PM.


                            • #15
                              The new Krisworld IFE system onboard is very impressive.

                              The first page you see is "Spotlight", with highlights of the different entertainment options available.

                              From this page, you could use the touchscreen to click and swipe through to the different entertainment options.

                              The user interface on this edition of Krisworld is very intuitive and easy to use, unlike the previous Krisworld iteration, which could be a little confusing initially.

                              There was a massive selection of movies and television programmes to choose from...

                              Music playlists which served a similar function to radio channels...

                              As well as CDs on demand...