Flight check: Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 – Business Class

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BACKGROUND: With its hub at Changi International Airport, Singapore Airlines flies to 62 international destinations in 32 countries. The A350-900 – with its ultra-quiet business class cabin – was introduced on the Johannesburg route in 2016. Flights from O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airport depart every day. Flight time to Singapore is usually 10 hours and 25 minutes.

CHECK-IN: There was no queue at the counter as I was the only business class passenger checking in. The ground staff member was professional and courteous, helping me with ‘fragile’ stickers for my scuba diving equipment. You may take two pieces of checked luggage, at a maximum of 40 kilograms together, and a maximum dimension of 158cm. Check-in online is available from 48 hours to one-and-a-half hours before departure, but I prefer to do it in person. I was allocated my preference of a window seat near to the front of the plane.

LOUNGE & BOARDING: Passport control was moderately busy, but with a steady stream, so I was through quickly. Singapore Airlines uses the Azure lounge at ORTIA, which is adequate but nothing special. It was easy to eschew the hearty buffet fare, knowing that the business class meal was likely to be refined cuisine, accompanied by curated wines. Priority boarding was on time. A wide selection of national and international magazines and newspapers were available on a trolly outside the plane door. Warmly greeted by immaculately-groomed cabin crew, then escorted to my seat, I accepted the steaming hot towel to refresh my hands, before sipping a flute of Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve French champagne.

THE SEAT: In business class there are 42 individual cubicles, across two cabins, with a padded leather 71cm seat that has two automated positions of ‘lazy-Z’ and ‘sundeck’. When you are ready to sleep, cabin crew will help you to unfold the seat into its fully-reclining flat position. Configuration is 1:2:1, so all seats have direct aisle access. Storage is ample, with generous overhead compartments, plus stowage space in the cubicle. Amenities include noise-cancelling headphones for the audio and video, with 46cm personal screens for the KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system, AC power, individual USB and laptop charging point, and a PC/tablet holder. Non-slip socks and an eye mask were in the pod, with all other amenities available in a drawer in the toilet.

THE FLIGHT: Departure was relaxed and taxiing onto the runway was on time. Shortly after take-off I was handed a menu and snacks and drinks were handed out. My height-adjustable table was covered with a white damask table cloth and set restaurant-style with porcelain crockery and stainless steel cutlery. My wine of choice – a 2017 Bouchard & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé was served in a stemless wine glass. Supper included a starter of Sesame Duck Breast, followed by a choice of main course between Beef Tournedo, Prawn and Pork Dumpling, and Chicken with Fettuccine. Although I requested rare beef, it arrived overcooked and dry. My hostess apologised profusely and offered another choice, which I de-clined. Dinner ended with strawberry ice-cream and a selection of cheese. When cabin lights were dimmed and my bed made up with a fitted sheet and light duvet, I managed five hours of good sleep. A light lunch with Parma Ham as an appetizer, with a choice of Pork Bolognaise, Stir-fried Prawns or Chicken Tikka Masala, was served. The curry was tasty, whilst the TWG teas were particularly interesting, so I tried several kinds.

ARRIVAL: We touched down on time and exit was immediate. I walked ahead of passengers from other seating classes to passport control, which was efficient and organised. On entry to Singapore, your passport is scanned and new fingerprint technology used to record your thumb prints, before your passport is stamped. Note that when exiting the country, automated lanes accept your passport and check your prints on the BioScreen system, so no exit stamp is given. A visa is not required for South African passport holders.

VERDICT: A luxurious and relaxing experience, whilst the 22h30 departure time suited me and the hospitality was unequivocally the best I have ever experienced.

Gillian Mclaren

W: singaporeair.com