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Old 13th December 2019, 08:05 PM   #1
yflyer
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Default SIA A350-900 from Singapore to San Francisco in Economy (SQ32/31 SIN-SFO-SIN)

In mid-November this year, I flew nonstop from Singapore to San Francisco on SIA’s A350-900 in Economy Class, on SQ32. I returned to Singapore a week later on SQ31, also a nonstop SFO-SIN sector. After recent nonstop flights from SIN to LAX and SFO on United, it was nice to be back on SIA again for this long flight to one of my favourite cities.



SQ has, by now, a very large A350 fleet. This aircraft type serves regional, long haul, and ultra-long haul sectors. Each of these variants has a different cabin configuration and seat product. Looking just at the long haul A350-900 fleet, the most recent examples differ from the earliest A359’s in that the newest planes have the latest 2017 Economy Class cabin product (Similar to the Y seats on SQ’s regional A350), whereas the earliest long haul SQ A350's have an earlier 2013 Y product.

Both my SIN-SFO and SFO-SIN sectors were operated by 9V-SMZ, a very new plane, SIA's 42nd A350, delivered on 31 Oct 2019, less than 3 weeks before my flight. This aircraft had the latest Y cabin products, which makes the cabin product featured in this TR different from from my previous TR's on SQ's long haul A350's. I was also to find, on this trip, that the service format on the SIN-SFO sector differed from my earlier SIN-SFO on SQ in terms of meal timings. More on that later.



SQ's cabin service is usually very good, and often excellent, in my experience. But over the years, I have found that the longer the flight is, the more personalised SIA's cabin service gets. As flight times get longer, the cabin crew have more time to get to know pax, and their likes/dislikes. While you still get wonderful service on short sectors like the 2 hour SIN-BKK or 5-6 hour sectors to India, China or Japan, these flights are really too short for anything but perfunctory smiles and greetings.

I would argue that the best SQ experience is often on really long sectors like SIN-LHR or any SIN-USA sector -- on these long haul flights the crew have ample time to get to know pax and subtlely (Or not so subtlely...) tailor cabin service to pax preferences, which can really make the experience quite special. And conversely, it is an opportunity for pax to get to know the cabin crew a little better too, if one is so inclined. This is true of J and F/R...it can also be true of Y / PEY. Was this the case on these flights? Read on to find out!

TR INDEX

1. Flight - SQ32 SIN-SFO in Economy on 9V-SMZ (Airbus A350-900)
2. Hotel - Hilton San Francisco Financial District
3. Hotel - Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport
4. Run - Golden Gate Bridge at Dusk
5. Dinner - Lord Stanley
6. Airport - SFO and United Club
7. Flight - SQ31 SFO-SIN in Economy on 9V-SMZ
9. Final Reflections

Last edited by yflyer; 17th December 2019 at 02:32 PM..
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Old 13th December 2019, 08:41 PM   #2
yflyer
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SQ32 is a 9.20am departure out of Changi T3...



Christmas decor up in the T3 check-in area...



Surprisingly, there was a fairly long queue at the Krisflyer Gold / Premium Economy check in counters. As I had no check-in luggage, I decided to use the self service check-in kiosk...



This was a very straightforward and quick process. I was also through the automated passport gates, and into the airside area, very quickly.

I made a quick visit to the temporary Krisflyer Gold Lounge aka Marhaba Lounge...



I then headed to the boarding gate, where there was a separate queue for Business Class / PPS / KF Gold / Star Gold pax...



At the gate, Airbus A350-900 rego 9V-SMZ...



On time boarding...



Newspapers and earbud headphones by the gate (Usual advice applies: Bring your own earphones/headphones...the complimentary ones sound terrible)...



A very warm greeting (And boarding pass check...) at the aircraft door...


Last edited by yflyer; 18th December 2019 at 09:14 AM..
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Old 13th December 2019, 09:22 PM   #3
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This was a 3-class long haul A350...

Business class was the 2013 J product, similar to that found on SQ's 77WR, laid out 1-2-1...



I have only tried 2013 J on the 77WR/77WN, never on the A350. I tried to upgrade to J with points, but alas the flight was completely full in J.

Window-side J seat...the 1-2-1 layout is great because all windows seats also have aisle access...



Bulkhead J seats on this aircraft are more spacious in that they have no cubby hole for your feet, and instead have the full seat width available in front of the seat.



The next cabin was PEY, laid out 2-4-2.




Last edited by yflyer; 15th December 2019 at 02:48 PM..
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Old 13th December 2019, 09:31 PM   #4
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I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Economy cabin on this aircraft had the new 2017 Y cabin product, laid out 3-3-3.



On my previous SIN-SFO flight on an SQ A350, the aircraft was fitted with the 2013 Y seat. This was also a very comfortable seat, but not the very newest. For reference, the SQ 2013 Y seat on earlier versions of the A350 can be seen in a TR here.

Row 41 bulkhead Y seats...



The row 48 window seat is a very desirable seat, as there is no seat in front of it...



For these row 48 window seats, the fold-out IFE screen is now housed in a much smaller housing than on older SQ A350's with 2013 Y, where previously the row 48 window seat IFE screen housing was larger and protruded a little even when folded, which I found a ilttle uncomfortable as it took up seat width. They have resolved this with the 2017 Y seat on the new A350's.



Restrooms and a corridor across the left and right aisles after row 47, where the exit doors were.



A view from the rear of the aircraft...


Last edited by yflyer; 14th December 2019 at 04:09 AM..
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Old 13th December 2019, 09:35 PM   #5
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Seat recline was very good (By Y standards).



Seat width was good as well...



Legroom was good.



Unfortunately SQ seems to have removed all the footrests from the Y seats. I, for one, would have preferred footrests, especially for such long sector. While some pax are ambivalent about these foot rests (Some don't like them as they take up space), I have always used these footrests while resting/sleeping.

IFE was the latest Krisworld system, with a large, bright widescreen touch screen, and a huge movie and TV selection, not to mention games and flight information.



The screen could be angled for more comfortable viewing when the seat in front is reclined.



The seat back has light and call buttons, and a USB port to for charging your devices (Bring your own cable). The headphone socket is also on the seat back, and this works for both airline headphones with 2 prongs, but also works with regular headphone miniplugs: plug your headphones/earbuds into any one of the 2 sockets, and you get true stereo!



Fold-out cup holder...



Tray table with vanity mirror...





A/C power with universal socket (Which supports 3-prong UK plugs) in between the seats ahead of you.



No individual air vents. Seatbelt signs etc on an LCD/LED-type display.



Overall, a very comfortable Y seat. I would have liked to have footrests, but apart from that, this was a state-of-the-art Y seat.

Last edited by yflyer; 15th December 2019 at 09:40 PM..
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Old 14th December 2019, 04:32 AM   #6
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Pre-take off hot towels...



A proper hot towel is just one of the ways SQ differentiates its economy class service from other airlines ...



Local-themed safety video, which features actual SQ cabin crew...



A fellow SQTalker once recounted how he did a double take when, after the safety video, the actual cabin crew member in the video came by his seat...

Last edited by yflyer; 18th December 2019 at 09:17 AM..
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Old 14th December 2019, 04:33 AM   #7
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Voyager 3D Maps...



A variety of map views and options available, with views adjustable via touch screen by swiping and screen gestures. There was also a route preview mode...



Today's flight to San Francisco was an amazingly short 13 hours 45 minutes -- there were very strong tailwinds at this time of year helping us along. Of course, to balance the books, the return flight would be much longer as these would now be headwinds the aircraft would have to battle from SFO to SIN in a week's time.



As this was a very long sector, weight saving measures were taken, for example there were no duty free sales on this flight, and neither were there magazines stocked in in the Y cabin.

Last edited by yflyer; 14th December 2019 at 04:42 AM..
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Old 14th December 2019, 04:49 AM   #8
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The meal service format on this flight was lunch followed by breakfast 6 hours into the flight, with snacks served in between.

The Economy Class menu...



Amenities were now listed in the menu. No Y amenity kits were handed out to all pax, if you wanted one, you had to request it (Which was fine by me...).



I did request a kit, and eye shades, which were promptly delivered to my seat...





Continuing with the menu...

The beverage selection...



Three choices for lunch: An international / western and an Asian selection...



...as well as an Indian vegetarian selection...



Quite a substantial snack selection in between meals...



Three choices for breakfast...

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Old 14th December 2019, 09:09 AM   #9
balajih67
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Are there a lot of indian travellers going to and from sfo? I have seen in every sfo to sin flight there is a menu option for indian vegetarian.
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Old 14th December 2019, 10:39 AM   #10
yflyer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balajih67 View Post
Are there a lot of indian travellers going to and from sfo? I have seen in every sfo to sin flight there is a menu option for indian vegetarian.
Hi balajih67! Yes there are often many Indian travellers to and from SFO, with many in transit in Singapore to MAA, BLR, HYD etc. I believe many are in tech, working for Silicon Valley tech companies.

For many years now, there has been an Indian vegetarian option on the SQ menu to/from USA. In the past, I believe many of the SIN-SFO flights were also Air India codeshare services (I know SQ1/2 used to be AI codeshares), so the Indian veg option may have been introduced to cater to that segment. That said, I have often requested the Indian veg option on flights even though I did not pre-order one, and there is usually one available for me.
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Old 14th December 2019, 10:48 AM   #11
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Cabin service began with a full drink service.

I asked for half a glass of white wine, and half a glass of red wine, which the cabin crew member in my section of the cabin was happy to serve me...if anything the servings were more than generous...



The white wine served in Y these days is Frontera Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, which is not a fancy wine by any means, but I thought it was perfectly fine for casual drinking...



The usual red wine in Y on SQ is Vina Borgia, a Grenache from Spain. This was a decent but unexceptional wine -- about what you would expect in Y.



Just one red and one white wine available in Y on SQ. I wish SQ would go the way of QF and offer a range of different mini-bottles of wine in Y -- that would be one way of making the Y experience more interesting, at least for wine lovers.
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Old 14th December 2019, 10:56 AM   #12
yflyer
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After beverage service, lunch was served...



I opted for the chicken...

The tray as served.



SQ still uses metal cutlery, but there was now no real glass in Y: beverages were served in a plastic cup.



Lunch today looked very appetizing.

A refreshing coleslaw with tuna....



I thought the main course was very successful...



Tender, tasty chicken with a sauce that complemented the meat very well.

I also realized why the menu described the accompaniment to the main to be "beluga" lentils...these dark round lentils really could almost pass for caviar...



Dessert was mango mousse cake, which looked a little low-budget, sitting unadorned, still in its own little plastic cup, but it was quite tasty.



And at least on this long sector, there were also cheese and crackers, a snack which has long since disappeared from SQ's Y meals on shorter sectors.


Last edited by yflyer; 15th December 2019 at 08:44 PM..
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Old 14th December 2019, 11:11 AM   #13
yflyer
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Lights were dimmed, as pax settled in to rest. Unlike UA's Dreamliners on the SIN-SFO sector, there were no electronic window shades that could be centrally darkened. It was up to pax whether or not to shut the window shades.



Movies and TV aside, there was a great music selection onboard.

There were playlists and CD's on demand...



...as well as radio channels...



Sound quality for both music and movies/TV was superb when played through your own headphones.

I found the sound quality on the Panasonic IFE on this long haul A350 to be noticeably better than the sound quality on the Thales Avant IFE that is found on the same 2017 Y seat on SQ's regional A350's. On the Thales IFE, sound seemed a little more constricted and less clear and dynamic. This was just one of a few differences I found between the Panasonic and Thales IFE systems that pax will encounter on SQ's newest planes. I'll discuss the differences between Panasonic and Thales IFE in a future, separate, post.

The one minor issue I had with the IFE user interface on this aircraft was that it was a little tricky to set the volume exactly right, since there was no actual button to increase or decrease volume: you had to set it on a slider on the touchscreen, and it was quite tricky to make small adjustments.



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Old 14th December 2019, 11:18 AM   #14
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Wifi was available on this flight.



Wifi was complimentary for Business Class and PPS Club members...



The rest of us would have to pay quite exorbitant rates based on data usage (No time based or unlimited plans)...



I found the best way for me to use wifi was to sign up but only connect it for a quick check of Facebook and WhatsApp, before disconnecting it, and then reconnecting again the next time I wanted to check. This was the only way for me to ration my data allowance to last for any reasonable amount of time.

Last edited by yflyer; 15th December 2019 at 08:45 PM..
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Old 14th December 2019, 11:22 AM   #15
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About 5 hours into the flight, we were off the East coast of Japan...



The cabin crew came round with snacks on offer, and I asked for a pastrami sandwich...



...and a Bloody Mary...

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