On Tuesday we published our full review of the new Singapore Airlines regional business class product on the day it entered commercial service between Singapore and Bangkok. The new cabin, as installed on the latest 787-10 aircraft, features 36 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access for all passengers, which also convert into fully flat beds.
Needless to say we were very impressed with the step change from the older ‘2009 RJ’ regional business class seat and despite a few drawbacks we think passengers will be really happy with this new seat and should seek it out where possible as an alternative to ‘2009 RJ’ as it’s rolled out across the regional fleet.
On Tuesday’s flight we had the advantage of securing two of the ‘window’ seats, one more closely aligned with the window itself (seat 12K) and the one behind which still features a window but is more exposed to the aisle (seat 14K).
In the middle section the pairs of seats alternate row-by-row between aisle-aligned ‘divorce seats’ and cosier ‘love seats’. On the return flight the following morning we picked the two middle seats situated most closely to one another, the ‘love seats’, of which there are five pairs in total on the new 787-10.
Note: Please remember this is not a full review to our normal level of detail, it’s a supplement to our main review of the new ‘2018 RJ’ product and designed for those who already read our initial review published on 3rd April. Please refer to that page for the full details of this new seat.
- Flight: SQ973 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Singapore Changi T2
- Class: Business
- Seats: 11D & 11F
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 787-10
- Aircraft Registration: 9V-SCA
- Aircraft Age: 0.1 years
- Date: 4th April 2018
- Departure / Arrival: 09:40 / 13:05
- Flight Time: 2h 25m
- Cost: 14,000 KrisFlyer miles* + THB750 (c.S$32) per person
* We secured this redemption as part of the regular KrisFlyer ‘Spontaneous Escapes’ special offer with a 30% miles discount. The normal business saver miles rate for this route is 20,000 miles.
We first broke the news in mid-February that the new regional business class on the Singapore Airlines 787-10 would feature these five ‘couple pairs’, also known as ‘love seats’ at alternate rows in the middle section.
At the time Singapore Airlines were keeping their own detailed seat map of the cabin well under wraps so we used the information about disabled access seats from ExpertFlyer to create our own seat map prediction, and determine that these would be the seats to choose when travelling as a couple in this new cabin:
This is the final Singapore Airlines seat map for the 787-10 business class cabin, published after the first aircraft landed in Singapore. As you can see, to say we were pretty close is an understatement – our prediction was spot on.
That means if you want to book the ‘love seats’ you need to secure one of these seat pairs – ideally in advance or at online check in:
- 11 D/F, 14 D/F, 16 D/F, 18 D/F or 20 D/F
Pro-Tip: The Singapore Airlines booking system hasn’t caught up with their new PDF seat map, so it’s not very useful in helping you choose a seat in this cabin as it does not show which window seats are more private vs. aisle-exposed nor which middle pairs are separated or in the couple arrangement.
You’ll want to bookmark our SIA 787-10 fleet guide page to help you make a more informed seat choice when you fly on this new plane.
What was the alternative?
We’ve said it before – but basically the new Qantas business class layout retains the space efficiency of ‘staggered 1-2-1’ seating (where in bed mode your feet go under the console of the passenger in front).
That means the rows can shift closer together and more seats can be accommodated, without passengers having to sit or sleep at an angle to the fuselage direction.
What Singapore Airlines have done here is actually quite clever – retain privacy by installing a large divider screen between the closest middle seats, while offering a nice option for couples by not using the divider.
If you’d asked us 6 months ago we would have put money on them doing it the ‘Qantas way’ as pictured above, especially for regional routes. In hindsight what they’ve done should satisfy everyone.
The crew were quick to welcome us and offer a range of reading materials and a choice of welcome drink, comprising juices or water. Once again Champagne was on request as the departure time was before 10am, however the crew happily poured us each a glass of the Charles Heidsieck.
One of the main concerns with the new regional business class is the narrow access to both the window-aligned seats and the middle ‘love seats’ from the aisle. We alluded to this in our full review, proving the access gap measurement at just 9 inches. That’s certainly a ‘sideways movement’ for most, and possibly a challenge for larger passengers.
The row 11 ‘love seats’ take advantage of much more generous access in this regard. Because there is no seat in front, the design of the forward console allows for a much larger gap between the aisle and the seats – some 15 inches in fact – 66% wider.
The Row 11 beds are bigger
Well, a bit bigger. The main advantage is the foot well, which is 25% wider (17″ vs. 13.5″ at the other seats), slightly deeper by about 1″ (25″ vs 24″) and much more ‘square’ in shape as it does not narrow towards the foot end. The height of the foot well is the only aspect which remains consistent with other seats – at 12″.
We then measured the seat in bed mode and not surprisingly the length of the bed is 77″ (6ft 5in), one inch longer than at other seats due to the slightly deeper foot well. Not advertised – but very useful to know for taller passengers.
This increased length along with the significantly wider foot well and the improved access space from the aisle will be a welcome advantage on overnight flights for taller / larger passengers, or those who regularly shift sleeping positions.
We assume the increased dimensions also apply at seats 11A and 11K for the same reasons (though we didn’t have the opportunity to measure those, visual assessment would confirm the foot well design looks identical).
Under Seat Storage
The square nature of the foot well in the row 11 seats is replicated in the under seat storage located directly below and that’s a big advantage if you want to keep your larger carry-on bags within easy reach.
This area is significantly bigger than at the row 12 – 20 under seat stowages. It means carry-on products like the Rimowa Salsa Air 33L should comfortably fit in this space – that wouldn’t be possible in the other seat rows on this aircraft. It would be a squeeze, bit even the Salsa Air 38L should fit too.
The seats themselves in this cabin are all identical in design and only differ in aisle / window alignment, so all our observations from the full review of our outbound flight on 3rd April apply equally to these ‘love seat’ couple pairs. We therefore won’t repeat all the features again but instead just highlight the differences here.
We already noted the dimensional differences – but another interesting point is that as a consequence of the different console design in front of the row 11 seats the literature pocket is modified.
At other rows these sit directly behind the curved shell of the seat in front, meaning they aren’t suitable for stowing electronic devices like laptops or tablets within easy reach.
At all four row 11 seats however the console in front of the seat is square, meaning the literature pocket is a more useful standard shape for stowage.
Note that the small overhead locker at the very front of the cabin above seats 11A and 11K is not for passenger use.
With overhead lockers in the middle of the cabin as well as above the window seats – and a large locker directly behind this small compartment – there’s really no issue. On a relatively full flight we had no problem finding space.
The dividing privacy screen is important as it only exists at these couple pairs (it’s not necessary at the alternating ‘divorce seat’ middle rows) and let’s face it – you might find yourself in one of these seat pairs next to someone you don’t know.
While you are close together in this seat pair – the dividing screen, which is mounted all the way to the floor, actually extends a few inches above each seat base even in the fully retracted position. If you had images of this seat pair becoming a ‘mini-suite’ with the divider down – think again. It remains well defined as two separate seats at all times.
The divider itself has the same design used in the new Singapore Airlines A380 ‘2017 J’ business class cabin between the D/F seats. On that aircraft however the divider can be further lowered to seat base level when the seat is in bed mode, but in the new regional business class on the 787-10 it cannot.
The divider rises using a hydraulic system where you simply press down to release it from the stowed position. The constant speed and smooth motion is strangely satisfying. Here’s a video showing it in action:
To re-stow the divider it’s simply a case of pressing down on the top of the screen until it locks into the stowed position again.
Food and Beverages
A brunch menu was served on this flight in business class, with ‘book the cook’ options also available in advance.
For this flight we both chose from the in-flight menu – the Plain Omelette with ham, mushrooms, tomato and potato, and the Thai chicken biryani with spicy mint sauce and cucumber salad.
Before brunch was served the crew offered a drinks service including wine. There were two white wines and three red wines available, in addition to the Charles Heidsieck Champagne.
Here’s how the Champagne and the two white wines score on Vivino out of 5:
- Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Réserve (France) – 4.1 stars
- Weinhaus Ress Riesling Kabinett 2015 (Germany) – 3.5 stars
- Domaine des Tourterelles Viré Clessé (France) – 3.8 stars
Here’s how the three red wines scored:
- Château Larose Perganson Haut-Médoc 2014 (France) – 3.9 stars
- Domaine des Tourterelles Viré Clessé (France) – 3.7 stars
- Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2016 (Italy) – 3.6 stars
I opted for the Khao Mok Gai (Chicken Biryani) dish:
It was a really tasty meal with fragrant rice, mildly spicy with a great cucumber salad accompaniment. The mint sauce is presented in an interesting half potato shell. As usual with the shorter regional business class flights the fresh fruit starter and strawberry short cake dessert are all presented at the same time.
You’ll need to be flying on the regional business class product for over 3 hours (e.g. to Manila or further) to get the full tablecloth setting with courses served sequentially.
Eddie chose the omelette:
A good dish overall as a breakfast option, perhaps a little less filling than the biryani however.
The concept of ‘love seats’ sounds very intimate but don’t get confused with a ‘double bed’ – it isn’t one and nor do Singapore Airlines suggest that.
Even with the divider down, the seat in bed mode is physically separated from your immediate neighbour.
Once the divider is extended of course privacy improves significantly, and with the side console of these seats located between the seat and the aisle it becomes a very cosy individual space.
We discussed it on the flight and both agreed that we would be happy sitting or sleeping here alongside a stranger with the divider in use, so don’t be dismayed if these are the only seats you can get flying solo on a longer overnight flight.
The so-called ‘divorce seats’ in this new regional business class product are located at alternate rows between the ‘love seat’ pairs. They retain excellent privacy from one another due to the storage console for each seat being located alongside the same storage console for the seat ‘next door’.
While both seats are aisle-exposed, privacy is maintained by the ‘wing’ of the seat shell. There really are almost no bad seats in business class on this plane.
Once again we were served by an excellent Singapore Airlines crew on this flight, a totally different ‘batch’ from the previous day so it was their first experience of the new aircraft on a revenue flight. Training is obviously on going with several more crew than normal on board, the same applied on our flight the previous day.
Cabin service was highly attentive throughout, cabin crew addressed us by name and nothing was too much trouble. We asked if we could take some photos of the economy cabin after the passengers had disembarked and the in-flight supervisor was happy to show us around for about 10 minutes – a very nice touch.
The cabin crew really love the 787 over the A350, helped by the full galley at the front (the A350 only has a ‘dry galley’ there, so they must serve the business class cabin from the galley at the second door).
They also appreciate the many storage compartments throughout the plane – one of them they showed us in the economy section was frankly big enough to accommodate a small passenger.
We said it before in our full review from the outbound flight – but Singapore Airlines has truly redefined their regional business class product with this latest version. Compared with the current 2009 regional business class seat, this new product is a winner in almost all aspects and as it’s rolled out to more of the fleet it will be a welcome treat for those flying regularly with Singapore Airlines in this cabin.
The ‘love seats’ provide a nice option to sit close to your travelling companion – talk together, dine together and sleep ‘in close proximity’ at least.
Singapore Airlines has ensured that privacy remains good if you do wind up sitting in one of the ‘love pairs’ next to a stranger – an inevitability on medium-haul routes between the major business cities like Bangkok, Jakarta and Hong Kong.