Singapore Airlines operated close to 50 Boeing 777-200s almost a decade ago, but today the numbers have significantly dwindled to just eight in the active fleet at the time of writing; three 777-200s and four 777-200ERs.
Those four extended range versions feature the airline’s oldest Business Class seat currently in service, the huge 30″-wide model introduced in 2006 and also still widely used on the airline’s older Airbus A380 aircraft, where it boasts a 34″ width.
We took a trip to Hong Kong and back to try them out.
- Flight: SQ868 Singapore Changi T3 to Hong Kong
- Class: Business
- Seats: 11D & 11F
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-200ER
- Aircraft Registration: 9V-SVC
- Aircraft Age: 17.9 years
- Date: July 2019
- Departure / Arrival: 19:55 / 23:50
- Flight Time: 3h 55m
- Cost: 30,500 KrisFlyer miles + S$49.80 per person
- Flight: SQ857 Hong Kong to Singapore Changi T3
- Class: Business
- Seats: 15K & 16K
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-200ER
- Aircraft Registration: 9V-SVE
- Aircraft Age: 17.6 years
- Date: July 2019
- Departure / Arrival: 09:05 / 13:00
- Flight Time: 3h 55m
- Cost: 30,500 KrisFlyer miles + HKD330 (S$57.80) per person
This review is a combination of our experiences on both these flights, which is why you’ll notice some photos taken at night (SIN-HKG) and others during the day (HKG-SIN).
2006 Business Class
Over 1,000 of the 2006 Business Class seats are still in service with Singapore Airlines at the time of writing (December 2019). At 30-34 inches armrest-to-armrest they are commonly known as some of the widest airline seats in the sky, and yes that includes most First Class offerings.
The seats are being gradually phased out by SIA as older aircraft leave the fleet, in the case of 777-200ERs, or (very slowly!) retrofitted with newer versions, in the case of the A380s.
That said, it will be a few more years before they are gone, especially with the slow pace of A380 refits.
We originally chose a middle seat pair at row 15, however four days prior to departure at the “minus 96-hour” point we logged on and managed to secure the bulkhead row seats 11D/F, previously reserved for selection by PPS Club members.
You can see which seats Singapore Airlines blocks for advance selection and whether you can usually get your hands on them at either 96 hours or 48 hours before departure by checking our comprehensive guide here.
We chose the 11D/F pair as there’s a little more room in the bulkhead row.
We checked in around 4 hours before departure at the Jewel Early Check-in Lounge, as we then wanted to review the Changi Lounge directly opposite using our Priority Pass. You can read that review here.
We were only popping to Hong Kong for the weekend so with hand luggage only the self-service check in machines are a quick and efficient way to get your boarding card.
The only downside? It’s a flimsy piece of paper without the smart dark blue Business Class banner along the top!
After visiting the Changi Lounge we walked across to T3 around 2 hours prior to departure time, cleared immigration and headed to the SilverKris Business Class lounge.
There was nothing really new to report here, except that Tattinger was being served in the SilverKris Business lounge that evening, rather than the usual Charles Heidsieck. Note: Even on board now, Singapore Airlines has predominantly switched to Laurent-Perrier.
As with most evenings it started off relatively quiet in the SKL with plenty of seats available, but soon became much busier. Nothing quite like the 9pm to midnight levels though, when it becomes extremely busy most nights.
We’re definitely looking forward to the long overdue revamp of this lounge, which will hopefully be opening in 2020.
The biggest enhancements will be a full service manned bar, plus some of the airline’s ‘productivity pods’ for a more private experience. We’ll be sure to get a full review online once the new facility is up and running.
Boarding commenced at 7.30pm and we got on first to snap a few photos of the Business Class cabin before it got too busy.
As we took photos the crew even apologised that the Business Class seats on this aircraft were “so old”, a reflection of how common the latest models are rolling out even on shorter routes like this.
What surprised us was the quality of the seats. Despite their age, the leather and many other fittings had obviously been recently replaced. In many ways the seats looked nearly new.
As we took our seats in the middle pair at 11D and 11F, the crew addressed us by name and offered a welcome drink option of water, juice or Champagne.
The 2006 Business Class seat features a handy little fold-out drinks shelf alongside the TV screen at the aisle side of each seat. In the past your welcome drink was always served here, but interestingly on the last few flights we have taken with this product fitted – the crew no longer use it.
Perhaps too many drinks were being spilled when kept here, as passengers get in and out of their seat when they realise some of the belongings they need are still in the overhead locker.
Nonetheless you can still fold it out and use it if you prefer. We opted for a glass of Champagne, still the Charles Heidsieck when our flight was operating but increasingly (and eventually completely) to be replaced by the less expensive Laurent-Perrier Brut.
The Business Class menu for the flight was waiting at our seats. We’ll take a look at this in more detail later in the review. In fact on both our flights we opted for a pre-ordered ‘Book The Cook’ option.
There is also the usual array of newspapers and magazines offered, which were also available on the airbridge as we boarded.
On both flights our ‘Book The Book’ order was verified on the ground and the crew took our after takeoff drinks order.
Amenity kit and pyjamas
As Singapore Airlines Business Class regulars will know, you’ll have to be flying in First Class to get an amenity kit or pair of pyjamas with this airline, and even then you’ll usually have to be flying on a longer route than this (6-7 hours+).
There are rumours however, confirmed by a corporate tender request and later by an IFM on one of our recent A380 flights, of a Business Class sleep suit coming in 2020. It’s unlikely though that these would be offered on short-haul flights like this one, even if they do materialise.
The SIA Boeing 777-200ER has two toilets located at the back of the Business Class cabin, behind row 18.
Even on a full flight the passenger to toilet ratio is generous at 13:1, so on this evening service with a light load there was never any wait to use one of the toilets.
Despite the lack of amenity kits, some basic toiletries are available in the toilets including Penhaligon’s products.
There is no Wi-Fi installed on the Singapore Airlines 777-200 or 777-200ER aircraft, so you’ll be out of touch during your flight.
If you’re flying this 2006 Business Class seat type on an A380 however, Wi-Fi is available. Those aircraft (A380 Versions 1 and 2) have an older and slower system installed, with 30MB free Wi-Fi allowance per flight for Business Class customers.
If you step on an A380 Version 3, with the new 2017 Business Class seats, that’s either a new or retrofitted aircraft with the latest Wi-Fi equipment and a 100MB free allowance per flight in Business Class.
See our Singapore Airlines in-flight Wi-Fi guide for full details by aircraft type.
The 2006 Business Class seats have the older 15.4″ standard definition IFE screens, so you won’t get cutting edge crisp movies or the most extensive selection when flying in this cabin.
Nevertheless noise cancelling headphones are provided, which work well and have their own hook at the seat side for easy stowage when not in use.
You’ll still also find the usual moving map flight information display and a range of the latest movies (we counted 327 on our flight!), games and TV shows, despite the selection not being up to the more extensive range found on the latest systems.
There is no touchscreen function, instead the system is controlled be a handheld remote which you’ll find in the armrest.
It looks a little antiquated, but it does the job!
The seat controls are located in the armrest.
These are the older style fixed buttons, controlling the ‘Do Not Disturb’ function, cabin attendant call and overhead reading light.
Two rocker switches allow you to recline the seat into a more comfortable position, or extend the leg support.
We’re all becoming more used to the latest ‘haptic touch’ seat controls on newer Singapore Airlines aircraft in Business Class, but there’s nothing wrong with these old switches – provided they work. Responsiveness doesn’t seem to be a strong point.
The aircraft we flew on to Hong Kong was showing its age in this respect, with the seat recline button on my control panel activating the overhead reading light. With a firm push and hold, it eventually triggered the correct function, with a little ‘strobe lighting’ effect going on overhead!
A spacious table extends from the armrest furthest from the aisle, and provides a good sturdy working or dining surface.
Lifting the flap reveals the table release mechanism, which operates on a ‘spring-push’ basis.
Once the table is extended, you can also adjust the height by an inch or so to better suit your seating position for a more comfortable dining or working experience.
Unlike some newer designs, like the 2018 Regional Business Class, there is no ‘half-leaf’ option with this table.
If you need to leave your seat during mealtime, to use the toilet for example, the table extends forwards and to the side to allow this. Simply move it away from you as though you are about to retract it back into its stowage (without doing the latter, obviously).
Even though the armrest at the aisle side is fixed, doing this allows relatively easy access for most people thanks to the generous width of this seat.
There is a small storage container next to the armrest furthest from the aisle, with a closing lid. This is usually where the crew will stow your headphones prior to boarding, so the flap tends to be left open when you first arrive at the seat.
This compartment will accommodate your smaller items like a mobile phone, kindle and passport, but isn’t big enough to cope with a laptop.
Another small storage area is located at floor level, formed from a small opening occupying just less than half the footwell closer to the aisle.
This isn’t big enough to accommodate a cabin sized suitcase or anything like that, however it will easily take most handbags or rucksacks.
Aside from these two storage facilities in the seat, and a magazine stowage to the side which might accommodate a few items, you’ll have to use the overhead lockers to store the rest of your belongings, including any larger bags.
Luckily on the Boeing 777 these are very spacious and are also fitted overhead the middle seat pairs in Business Class. If you’re flying this seat on the Airbus A380 the overhead lockers are smaller and are only available above the window seats.
There is also a vanity mirror with integrated lighting, and a storage space for small items to the side of the TV screen.
The 2006 Business Class seat has a single multi-standard power socket under a flap alongside the TV screen.
That means you shouldn’t have to worry about having an adapter as this socket will accommodate most plug types including Singapore, UK, US and Australian formats.
Do note that unlike the (near-identical) seat fitted to the airline’s older Airbus A380 aircraft, there is no USB charging socket on the 777-200ERs.
Some older A380 Business Class seats also do not have a multi-standard power socket, instead having a US-style one.
At first this socket seems awkwardly placed, with the latest Business Class seats typically featuring power and connectivity directly alongside your seat within easy reach. However there is a handy shelf alongside the plug socket designed to accomodate your devices where they are on charge.
Unfortunately this renders them slightly out of easy reach, especially if the seatbelt sign is on, however you can always store smaller electronic devices directly alongside you instead while on charge.
The only disadvantage there is that the wire to the plug is suspended between the seat and the socket, which might get in the way at times especially during meal service.
The newer seat designs here work much better in our opinion.
As always, we check on the Vivino rating (out of 5 stars) for the Champagne and wines offered. This selection was available on both flights, from Singapore to Hong Kong and also from Hong Kong to Singapore.
Click on the menu images below to enlarge.
|Wine connoisseurs||Champagne & White|
|White & Red||Red & Port|
With the exception of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, these were all old world wines.
|Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Champagne N.V.||4.1 stars|
|William Fèvre Chablis ‘Champs Royaux’ 2017||3.8 stars|
|Bouchard Père & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé 2017||3.7 stars|
|Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc 2018||3.8 stars|
|Clarendelle Bordeaux 2016||3.6 stars|
|Château Tour Haut-Caussan Médoc 2015||3.9 stars|
|Nipozzano Chianti Rùfina Riserva 2014||3.8 stars|
|Nittardi Chianti Classico Riserva 2016||4.2 stars|
|Dow’s 10 Years Old Tawny Port
Singapore Airlines is progressively replacing Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Champagne with Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne on all its flights in Business Class.
Note that not all wines listed on the menu are served on every flight, only one of the French whites is served alongside the New Zealand option, plus one French red and one Italian red out of the four listed in total.
On both of our flights the French white offered was William Fèvre Chablis (alongside the Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc), while the reds were the Château Tour Haut-Caussan and the Nipozzano Chianti.
|Shi Quan Wei Mei Introduction
(click to enlarge)
|Shi Quan Wei Mei Option SIN-HKG
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The airline’s Shi Quan Wei Mei selection is offered in Business Class on Hong Kong flights, a rotating seasonal menu using locally sourced produce.
This is served alongside the regular Business Class menu, with dinner served on SQ868 to Hong Kong.
There were some nice options on the menu, however we both opted for a ‘Book The Cook’ selection in advance. I went for one of my favourites, Beef Rendang, while Eddie opted for the Indian-style Braised Lamb Shank.
To start though there was an appetiser of Marinated Scallops, with a vegetable salad.
We both went for the airline’s infamous (excellent) garlic bread on the side. It was a small starter but the scallops were tasty and the salad was fresh.
The lamb was tasty with good flavours, though it was a little fatty for Eddie’s liking. The Indian accompaniments including the Dal were excellent though, so overall this was a great dish.
The Beef Rendang was very good as usual, a ‘Book The Cook’ dish I’ve had many times on Singapore Airlines. The Ikan Bilis (dried anchovies) are a perfect accompaniment, in the right quantity depending on your taste!
One slightly negative aspect of the dinner service is that the crew serve this cabin on shorter flights in a ‘horseshoe’ fashion, starting at the forward right ride at seat 11K, down to row 18 on the right side then across to the left aisle from the back finishing at 11A.
As a consequence Eddie in 11F got served first, while in 11D I was served practically last. That meant we didn’t eat any of our meal at the same time, which was a little strange given that we were sat together.
After dinner we had some cheese, served with crackers and grapes.
The crew also came round with a selection of chocolates.
On the return flight we again ordered our in-flight meals from the ‘Book The Cook’ menu. I went for the Roasted Tasmanian Salmon with persilleade sauce, and Eddie chose the Hainanese Chicken Rice.
As this was brunch, service started with breakfast breads / preserves and a fruit plate. Champagne was the ideal pairing!
Eddie enjoyed the Chicken Rice, with traditional accompaniments, but it wasn’t the best he’d ever had by a long way.
The Tasmanian Salmon dish was unfortunately overcooked and the salmon was dry, one of the more disappointing ‘Book The Cook’ experiences I’ve had.
The Singapore Airlines 2006 Business Class seat converts into a fully-flat bed, and it’s true to say this one divides opinions among frequent travellers.
Like the seat itself, it’s super-wide at 30″, however it narrows significantly at the foot end forcing you to sleep at an angle to appreciate the full 76″ length.
It’s also necessary to leave your seat in order to convert it into bed mode, or ask the cabin crew to do this for you. That’s because the entire seat back folds down to reveal the mattress pad on the back.
Once you’ve had enough of bed mode it’s the same process to return to the regular seating position, requiring you to leave your seat.
That’s no longer the case in the airline’s newest Business Class products on the refitted Airbus A380s or the latest Regional Business Class version on some Airbus A350s and all Boeing 787s.
We generally find this seat difficult to get comfortable in when sitting, and not the best in bed mode either due to the small foot cubby.
It does split opinions, as a seat and a bed, but personally it’s a product we won’t be too disappointed to see the back of in the coming years.
In fact it’s Eddie’s least favourite Singapore Airlines Business Class seat, even against the 2009 Regional version, as he finds it so difficult to find a comfortable seating position!
If you’re flying on a Singapore Airlines 777-200ER in Business Class, this is how the seat map will look:
The seats themselves though come in two different colours, a light brown and a ‘chocolate’ dark brown.
Whichever you prefer, you might assume it’s totally random and so will be pot luck once you get on board anyway. It won’t, there is a set pattern for each aircraft and Singapore Airlines sticks to it religiously. Here’s how the light brown / dark brown seating alternates on the 777-200ER:
The eagle-eyed among you may also have noticed the seat side panel trim colour between the seat pan and the aisle alternates in the same way, opposite to the leather tone used.
On the day we flew we did a little poll on our Instagram story asking which seat colour our readers preferred.
It’s by no means a scientific test, but more than two-thirds of our readers prefer the darker brown seats.
So if like 68% of our Instagram followers you’re a fan of the darker brown seats, you’ll have to go for the middle pairs in rows 11, 12, 16 or 17. For window seats your choices are significantly scuppered – only 14 A/K and 15 A/K have the dark brown leather upholstery (4 out of the 12 window seats).
Seats to choose
Bulkhead seats are always ones to go for if you want to avoid the small cubby hole for your feet while sleeping once you’re in bed mode.
It’s especially true on long overnight flights when you’ll need to sleep, and arises because the lack of a seat in front means a full-width bench replaces the small space, providing a much more generous sleeping surface.
On the 777-200ER it means picking any seat in row 11. That’s 11A or K for solo travellers and 11 D/F, like we sat in on our flight to Hong Kong, for couples.
With the toilets located at the back of this cabin, many people also prefer row 11 for its lack of foot traffic, though it is the closest to the forward galley meaning some light and noise from that area.
If you can’t secure row 11 you’ll no doubt want to opt for an A or K seat as a solo traveller, or one of the D/F pairs when flying as a couple.
Unlike some of SIA’s newer Business Class seats, there is no privacy partition between the middle seat pairs in the 2006 J seat on the Boeing 777-200ER. That can make it a little awkward there if you’re sat alongside a stranger, but the seats are sufficiently far apart that it doesn’t usually cause an issue.
A privacy divider is installed between the middle seat pairs on the Airbus A380s, however.
Seats to avoid
Our only exceptions in this cabin for solo travellers are seats 17A and 17K, which are missing a window – right where you want one!
Remarkably, Singapore Airlines does not label 17A and 17K as ‘windowless’ on its seat map for the 777-200ER. From a passenger eye perspective though, there is no view outside. You have to lean forwards and peer out of the partly obstructed window to have a mostly rear-facing view.
The last middle pair, seats 18D and 18F, are slightly in the door area, which can be cold and suffer passenger / crew chatter, as a natural place to congregate.
They are also directly in front of the two toilets in this cabin, meaning the highest footfall and potential noise during the night. Not a big issue on a Bangkok flight, but perhaps an annoyance overnight from Singapore to Istanbul (thankfully the latter flight has now switched from this aircraft type to the A350).
We had warm and friendly service on our outbound flight to Hong Kong, which in our experience is typical of Singapore Airlines. The only downside was the ‘horseshoe’ service flow used on shorter flights, which meant we didn’t eat at the same time with Eddie served first, but my meal served last.
On our return flight from Hong Kong to Singapore the crew were quite standoffish in comparison. I had to press my call bell several times to get a single drink prior to descent into Singapore.
Even when I did get a crew member’s attention, she seemed taken aback that I would want a glass of Champagne prior to landing (we were only just at top of descent), which then just made me feel awkward for asking.
It was quite surprising as we usually have excellent service on board, it just seems like we got unlucky on the homebound sector.
Where the 2006 J seats are flying
Despite the gradual phasing out of these older seats there are still over 1,000 of them installed across the fleet.
The majority are on the older Airbus A380 Version 1 and 2 aircraft, with the remainder on the 777-200ER fleet. As of December 2019 you’ll find these seats operating to and from:
- Auckland (SQ285/286)
- Bangkok (SQ972/974/975/977)
- Beijing (SQ802/807)
- Delhi (SQ403/406)
- Dhaka (SQ448/449)
- Frankfurt (SQ25/26)
- Ho Chi Minh (SQ183/184)
- Jakarta (SQ951/968)
- London (SQ308/319)
- Melbourne (SQ217/218)
- Mumbai (SQ425/426)
- New York JFK (SQ25/26)
- Phuket (SQ992/993)
- Sydney (SQ222/231)
- Tokyo (SQ637/638)
These flights are being replaced progressively with newer cabin products, including the latest 2017 J seats on the new and refitted A380s, so do check our continually updated Business Class Seats by Route page for the latest information.
“The oldest Business Class seat in the airline” is not what sets your pulse racing before you go in to a flight review.
Quite unlike my review of the two-week old 2017 J seat on the brand new A380 in January 2018, where I think my pulse was actually racing on boarding, our expectations for this flight were for a good Business Class seat, sadly long past its prime.
What we found in fact was a cabin in great condition for its age. On both aircraft we flew on (9V-SVC and -SVE, which are still in service at the time of writing), the seat upholstery and many fittings had obviously been relatively recently replaced.
The food on our flights was generally up to the usual high Singapore Airlines standard, with the unfortunate exception of my overcooked salmon on the return sector.
Unfortunately the service on the return sector was also a bit of a let down, and a sharp contrast from the friendly, personable crew we had serving us on the flight to Hong Kong a few days earlier.
Comfort in this older Business Class seat is a divisive issue, it’s certainly both loved and loathed by those we speak to. Generally, we do prefer the newer 2013 and 2017 long-haul Business Class seats.
Having said that you probably can’t complain with a seat of this size and quality on the Singapore – Hong Kong route (or on some other short routes where they are still used, like to Bangkok and Jakarta).
|Review:||Singapore Airlines 777-200ER Business Class|
|Summary:||An older Business Class seat refurbished to surprisingly new condition on both our recent flights. Service and food was a bit varied this time, but this is still a solid product despite its age.|
|Among Business Class flights:|
3 out of 5
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)