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Old 19th May 2018, 10:42 AM   #1
yflyer
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Default SQ32 SIN-SFO Non-stop on SIA's A350-900WXB, Comparing 1-stop vs Non-stop, & SF Dining

While we eagerly await the delivery of SIA's Airbus A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft, and the resumption of ULR routes such as SIN-LAX or SIN-NYC, SQ currently operates a non-stop SIN-SFO service using their standard Airbus A350-900XWBs.

At the end of April this year, I flew to San Francisco on SQ32, Singapore's non-stop SIN-SFO service, in Premium Economy. This flight, which was completely full in all classes that day, took pax from Singapore, at 9.25am, on a 14+ / 15 hour hour flight, to land in San Francisco at 9.40am the same day. (A short fifteen minute hop on the clock dial, I like to joke, where they manage to pack in 2 complete meal services and snacks in-between).

While non-stops to the USA are not a new thing, they do offer quite a different passenger experience from the previous one-stop services. How does SQ's service compare with UA's non-stop, operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners? And within the SQ family, what is the difference between the non-stop and a one-stop service, say SQ1 SFO-HKG-SIN, operated by Boeing 777-300ER's?

I'll cover SQ32 in this TR, as well as my impressions and comparisons with UA's non-stop Dreamliner service, and SQ's one-stop SQ1, which I flew home a week later.

While in San Francisco, and the Bay Area, I did my usual run across the Golden Gate Bridge and also managed a quick jog around SF's colourful Chinatown, where I found tradition and kitsch side by side.

I also indulged in several excellent meals, the most memorable of which was at a restaurant whose name and location I did not know until I actually arrived at their doorstep…

That took place on the evening when I finally managed to meet HUGE AL on his home turf (Or at least one of the cities he frequently spends time in...I get the impression that "home" is, for him, an amalgamation of several great world cities...), where he treated me to a mindblowing dinner at a restaurant that I would never have discovered on my own.

It was a cool, windy, Friday evening when I met up with HUGE AL at Union Square.

“You haven’t told me where we are eating…”, I remarked.

“No, I haven’t…”, he replied, as we hopped into an Uber, and headed through the streets of San Francisco, towards a restaurant whose location was known only to HUGE AL and the Uber App…

But more on that later...starting at the beginning now...

TR INDEX

1. Flight: SIN-SFO on SQ32 in Premium Economy
2. Golden Gate Bridge Run
3. Dinner at SPQR
4. San Francisco Chinatown Run
5. Dinner at Foreign Cinema
6. Hyatt Regency Santa Clara and San Tomas Aquino / Saratoga Creek Trail
7. Dinner at Olla (San Jose) and Faultline Brewing Company (Sunnyvale)
8. Cinco De Mayo
9. Dinner at The Progress
10. Dinner at Francisca's
11.Flight: SFO-SIN (via HKG) on SQ1 in Economy

Last edited by yflyer; 8th September 2018 at 09:25 AM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 12:27 PM   #2
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SQ32 departs from Changi Airport Terminal 3...these days I love the drive up to the T3 departure area, where you can see the Changi control tower, and behind it, the Jewel, a shimmering, futuristic glass dome...



The landside check-in area was not busy at 8am the morning...



...although the airside shopping area was bustling, as usual...



The boarding gate was A15, one of the more distant gates, accessible via Skytrain, or just a longer walk from the centre of the terminal...



At this gate, there was a separate security queue for FF's...



I spent a few minutes in the holding room before an on-time boarding...


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Old 19th May 2018, 12:42 PM   #3
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Today's flight operated by A350-900WXB, rego 9V-SMT, a 5 month old aircraft, delivered in Dec 2017...



A warm greeting at the aircraft door...



This was a 3-class aircraft, with Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins...

Business class, laid out 1-2-1, was the 2013 J product, with fold-down fully flat seats...



This is similar to the J seating on the 77WR, although dimensions have been slightly altered to fit the A350 cabin, which is slightly less wide than the 777 cabin.



Bulkhead seats have a full-width front, rather than a cubby hole.


Last edited by yflyer; 19th May 2018 at 02:52 PM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 12:47 PM   #4
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The PEY cabin, laid out 2-4-2...



The bulkhead PEY seats offer a lot of legroom. There is sufficient legroom for the inside middle seat PEY pax to cross over to the aisle without requiring the aisle seat pax to get up.

Note that only the middle armrest in the row of 4 folds upwards.



The window-side 2 seater pairs...



Not sure how a stray J pillow ended up on seat 31C...in any case PEY seats each came with a large and soft fabric-covered pillow (and blanket...).
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Old 19th May 2018, 12:56 PM   #5
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A look at the spacious and bright Y cabin, laid out 3-3-3.



These are very comfortable seats, based on the 2013 Y design, but different from the 2013 Y seats on the 77WN/77WR.



Seats have retractable paddle shaped footrests. There are no underseat obstructions.





Fold-down tray table, with vanity mirror...





Large, touchscreen HD Inflight Entertainment (IFE)...



Universal A/C power sockets.



Seat recline is very impressive.



The seat base pivots and moves forward slightly...



Overall, these are great Y seats -- wide and comfortable.

Compared to the Y cabin of UA's Dreamliners which operate the same SIN-SFO sector, the A350's 9-abreast cabin is noticeably more spacious, with seats slightly wider and more comfortable. Although the large windows on UA's Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft give the UA Y cabin a bright open feel, the 9-abreast 3-3-3 layout on the 787 feels tight by comparison. This is a key aspect of the Y cabin where SQ's 9-abreast A350 Y cabin is clearly superior to a 9-abreast 787.

Last edited by yflyer; 23rd May 2018 at 11:33 PM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 01:08 PM   #6
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For those choosing the last row seats in any of the Y cabin sections, you don't need to worry about limited recline. There is sufficient space for full recline for all these last-row Y seats.



Row 47 and 48 Emex row seats.



Note that row 47 B/C and H/J are 2-seater pairs, and 48 A/K are window seats with no seat in front of them.

On this flight, 48B/C were designated as crew rest seats. (You can see stickers across the top of the seat.)

A view of 48K...

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Old 19th May 2018, 01:14 PM   #7
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Back in the PEY cabin, my seat was 31E, a middle bulkhead PEY seat.





This seat has a movable reading light with two brightness settings, as well as USB.



Recline is controlled by buttons on the armrest.



Each PEY seat has a retractable thigh/calf rest. For regular PEY seats, the footrest is in the seat in front. For Bulkhead seats, the footrest is integrated into the thigh/calf rest...



Universal A/C power...



Noise cancelling headphones are provided.


Last edited by yflyer; 19th May 2018 at 03:24 PM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 02:59 PM   #8
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This is a comfortable PEY seat. However, the width of the seat is narrower than the SQ PEY seats on the A380 and 77WR, which have a different larger seat frame.

Here's a pic with Krisworld magazines on the seat to help gauge seat width of the A350 PEY seat...



For comparison, here is the A350 Y seat on the same plane...



You can judge for yourself whether the difference is significant.

My personal impression is that, given A350 PEY is 8-abreast, and Y is 9-abreast, there is insufficient differentiation between PEY and Y seats on the A350, as far as seat width is concerned. By contrast, on the A380, the PEY seats are 8-abreast 2-4-2 on the main deck, while main-deck Y is a whopping 10-abreast.

All that said, it was a comfortable PEY seat to sit on, and recline and seat pitch were very good. Definitely a step up from regular Y, overall, although I still prefer the SQ A380 / 77WR PEY seat.

And of course, UA offers economy plus, which is just 9-abreast 3-3-3 Y with greater seat pitch, and not a true PEY product (Although they are planning to launch one).

Which means, as far as SIN-SFO non-stop is concerned, for the sandwich class who want something in between Business and Economy, it is either UA Economy Plus, or SQ Premium Economy, and at least between these two choices, SQ PEY is the clear winner.

Last edited by yflyer; 19th May 2018 at 03:06 PM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 03:09 PM   #9
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Hot towels and safety video....



A smooth take-off towards the north on Runway 02C...



Bulkhead PEY seats have the screen mounted on the wall ahead.



These are quite a distance in front of you, which means the movies/TV appears smaller, but also means that the touch screen becomes a little awkward (and tiring) to use, since you have to reach forward.



Thankfully there is a handheld controller which you can use to control the IFE, instead of the touchscreen.


Last edited by yflyer; 19th May 2018 at 03:27 PM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 03:12 PM   #10
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In the seat pocket, a revamped SilverKris magazine...





To me, this revamp is a timely refresh...the content appears more substantial and in-depth...I enjoyed reading this more than previous editions of the magazine.

Amenity kits were handed out...


Last edited by yflyer; 19th May 2018 at 03:31 PM..
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Old 19th May 2018, 03:33 PM   #11
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Post-take off cabin service began with a round of drinks...



While Champagne was available onboard for PEY pax, on this flight, this was not offered in the initial round of service, perhaps because it was still early in the day. (But champagne is fine as a breakfast beverage, no?...)

I opted for an apple juice...

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Old 19th May 2018, 03:39 PM   #12
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The lunch menu...



SQ's PEY catering concept is essentially Y meals, with an additional choice of main course, the option of BTC, and the addition of champagne to the beverage list. I personally don't think this is enough differentiation from Y catering, but SQ's Y meals are normally quite good, and I did see many other passengers order BTC (Book the Cook) selections, which are not available to Y pax.



Beverage list...



Today's lunch...



The Braised Lamb dish was available in PEY only.

Mid-flight snacks...



Breakfast...



3 courses, with the carrot cake only available to PEY pax.

For completeness, here is the return SQ31 menu, comprising lunch, snacks and dinner...





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Old 19th May 2018, 03:45 PM   #13
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I chose the braised lamb for lunch, paired with red wine...



While SQ uses metal cutlery (In both PEY and Y), I wish they would use proper glasses rather than plastic cups in PEY. A cloth napkin rather than paper would have been a nice touch too.

A decent starter...



The braised lamb was tasty.



Ben & Jerry's ice cream for dessert...



Note an extra piece of cake on the tray, not listed on the menu.

Strawberry cheesecake ice-cream...that really hit the spot!

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Old 19th May 2018, 03:47 PM   #14
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After the meal service, pax settled in for the long flight...



There are many ways to get comfortable on a plane, this is one of them...



The pic above shows the seat fully reclined...fairly generous recline -- certainly far more than you got in Economy.

I found it quite possible to rest, and even sleep, in this seat. A very comfortable way to fly...the added space and recline of PEY did make a difference on this 14+ hour ULR sector.
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Old 19th May 2018, 03:55 PM   #15
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Wifi was available on this flight.



However this was data-volume based wifi, with comparatively small and costly packages on offer (Some free data allowance for PPS)...





I opted for the 60MB plan. Although this is a ridiculously low data quota for web surfing, it would be sufficient for WhatsApp, and perhaps some email and Facebook, and perhaps sending a few photos...

...or so I thought...for Smartphones (And tablets/PCs too, I suspect), on a wifi connection, there tend to be many background activities that use data bandwidth...and unless one is very scrupulous about switching these off, the data usage just drains away very quickly...

..in no time, my allowable data had zero'ed out. Not a good situation at all.

That said, I found out how to manage this: On the web page, you were able to temporarily pause internet. I found that by explicitly pausing / un-pausing SQ internet connection, ie enabling it only when I was using my iPhone, eg. while on WhatsApp, or Facebook, and then pausing it immediately after I finished what I was doing, I was able to stretch out the data usage so that the meagre data allowance would last longer...using that approach, 60MB could conceivably last the entire flight.



I wish they would just go to time-based plans, and scrap usage limits altogether, though.

A quick look at the bathooms on this aircraft. There are no dedicated PEY bathrooms. You need to head into Y.

The bathrooms are done in two colour schemes: Blue and Yellow/Orange...



...and in typical SQ fashion these were periodically refreshed by the cabin crew during the flight, which meant that they remained pretty clean throughout the entire 14+ hour flight.

What I also appreciated was the small linkway between the two aisles, so that restrooms on both sides were accessible to pax.


Last edited by yflyer; 20th May 2018 at 03:36 PM..
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