The SIA Airbus A350-900 fleet operates predominantly long-haul flights from Singapore to destinations in Europe, the USA and South Africa. The aircraft is also used on selected flights to Australia, Japan, and some shorter flights to Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Hong Kong.
|42 J (2013 J)
24 W (2015 W)
187 Y (2013 Y)
|A350 aircraft in service at 5th April 2018: 21|
For now, all of these aircraft are in the same configuration – 42 of the latest business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, 24 premium economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, and 187 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.
Later variants to be delivered in 2018 will include a regional configuration and a ULR (ultra long range) variant. The exact layout of those aircraft is yet to be announced. Once they are revealed, we’ll share our thoughts here.
A350 Business Class
The latest business class seats (which we call 2013 J) are fitted on the A350. Effectively they are identical to the brand new business class seats first introduced on the 777-300ER Version 2, but as the A350 fuselage is narrower than the 777, some sacrifices were made.
The aisles are much narrower than on the 777, and the seat itself is slightly redesigned too. It’s narrower, the footwell is smaller, and the seat pitch is reduced compared with the 777-300ER Version 2.
You’ve probably got the message there – but if you have the choice between the A350 and the 777-300ER Version 2 in business class on the same route, we recommend the latter, as the seat is simply bigger.
Having said that, the A350 business seat is still the very latest product with great privacy and the latest IFE system, and potentially trumps the 2006 J seat still fitted to the current A380s and the 777-300ER Version 1 aircraft, though we still prefer those seats over the A350 business, due to the squeezed dimensions of this product.
The possible exception is if you can secure a seat in row 11 or row 19, we’ll be trying those out in January and will report back. Hopefully it beats our row 12 experience earlier this year.
Business class on the A350 is split across two sections, the larger forward section which occupies the entire forward portion of the aircraft between the first two doors, and a smaller cabin behind the second door.
In both cabin sections, the front row of seats (row 11 and row 19) are the best seats on the plane as they have more space, especially for your feet as the small “cubby hole” style footwell found in other seat rows is gone – replaced by a spacious full-width bench which also makes the bed bigger once the seat is converted. In these seats there is no need to extend your legs at an angle while sleeping.
We have a slight preference for row 11 because the forward galley on this aircraft is a ‘dry galley’ which means there is less noise than at the main galley ahead of row 19, which is also the business class bassinet position across all four seats.
Unfortunately both rows 11 and 19 are reserved for PPS Club members at the advance seat selection stage, for this very reason. Once online check-in opens 48 hours before departure, you may be able to secure them.
There is a toilet in the forward galley, but it is often reserved for crew use only. Whether this is policy or just depends on the crew on the day is unclear. When we travelled on the aircraft it was available for passenger use, but reports seem to suggest that is rare, and more often the crew do not permit you to use it.
The other two toilets are positioned by the second door, and these are the primary two toilets for use by all 42 business class passengers.
Row 17/18: Proximity to the galley and toilets means more foot traffic and potentially more noise in this row. Although there is a full galley between row 18 and the first row in the second business class cabin (row 19), be aware that row 19 is the only bassinet position in business and that some noise is therefore possible. Avoid.
Row 19: If there is a screaming infant in the bassinet, say goodbye to a peaceful flight if you’re seated here (otherwise, they are great seats, second only to row 11 – see above).
Row 22: There is no galley area separating row 22 and the first row in the premium economy cabin (row 31), just a partition wall, and row 31 is the only bassinet position in premium economy. If any infants are travelling in that section – some noise is possible. Avoid.
If travelling solo, one of the window seats (A or K) is preferable, giving you the highest level of privacy.
As a couple it’s up to you whether you prefer two A or K seats one in front of the other, or the slightly more sociable (but still sufficiently private) D/F middle pair. We tend to go for the middle pair, as it’s easy to talk and provides the best food envy at meal times.
A350 Premium Economy Class
Premium Economy is the smallest cabin on the A350, occupying just three rows with a 2-4-2 configuration, for a total of 24 seats. Sadly it’s the same story as with the business class cabin – when comparing with premium economy on the 777-300ER Version 2 and A380, the seats have had to shrink to maintain a 2-4-2 configuration in the narrower A350 cabin.
The aisles are narrower, and seat width has been sacrificed from 19.5 inches to 19 inches, though seat pitch remains the same at 38 inches (6 inches more than economy).
We can’t help thinking that Singapore Airlines should have gone with a 2-3-2 configuration in this cabin, like both Lufthansa and China Airlines opted for on their A350 aircraft. We’ve seen this cabin on the SIA A350, thankfully on a walk-through not as a passenger, and it’s honestly not something we would choose.
The first row in the cabin, row 31, has additional legroom, but be aware of a few drawbacks – firstly it’s the bassinet row (though there’s probably no escaping the sound of a screaming baby in this small cabin), secondly the IFE screens are mounted on the bulkhead wall in front of you, not housed in the armrest as with other seats in this cabin.
Seats 33D and 33G have been reported to suffer from knocks and bumps during cabin service, as they protrude into the aisle further relative to the economy section behind. Avoid.
Solo travellers will probably want to opt for one of the aisle seats (C, D, G or H), or possibly a window seat (A or K) depending on personal preference. For couples, the window pairs (A/C or H/K) make perfect sense.
There are no dedicated toilets in the Premium Economy section, and you aren’t allowed forward into the Business cabin to use their toilets, so that means heading back through an economy section of five or six rows, to use the main bank of economy class toilets by the third main set of aircraft doors.
A350 Economy Class
The economy class cabin on the A350 is split across two cabins, a smaller forward section, which also houses the main bank of toilets for economy and premium economy passenger use, and a rear section between the third and fourth main aircraft doors.
Extra legroom seats can be found at rows 47 and 48 on this aircraft, but beware the bassinet positions at one of the seats (47G) .
Two rare seat pairs are found at 47 B/C and 47 H/J, otherwise the remainder of the A350 is in a 3-3-3 configuration which isn’t ideal for couples.
As there is no seat ahead of seats 48A and 48K, these also have ample legroom.
It’s easy to avoid proximity to the toilets by choosing a seat towards the front of the first economy cabin (we would suggest rows 41 to 43), or the middle of the main cabin, around rows 50 to 55.
While the smaller forward cabin may look attractive, remember that premium economy passengers will be walking through to use the toilets at the back of this section, and also that the main bassinet positions for economy class are in this section. Our opinion is to aim towards mid-cabin in the second section.
Row 61 A/B/C and Row 62 D/E/G: These seats, right at the back of the plane, have limited recline, and are right next to the rear toilet and galley meaning more foot traffic, queuing and noise. Row 62 in particular is a sole middle trio of seats wedged between the toilets on one side and a galley on the other, which sounds horribly claustrophobic. Avoid.
Row 46: The last row of the smaller forward economy class cabin is right in front of the main bank of four toilets on the aircraft, so it’s back to the foot traffic, queuing and noise issues. Avoid.
What did we miss? If you have personal experience of specific seats to favour or avoid on this aircraft, please let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll certainly try to incorporate your feedback.