Reviews

Review: Singapore Airlines Airbus A330 business class: Brisbane-Singapore

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, January 15 2016
Singapore Airlines Airbus A330 business class: Brisbane-Singapore
Route

Brisbane - Singapore

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330-300

Airline

Singapore Airlines

Flight

SQ246

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

11D

Notes
The Good
  • Attentive service
  • Eat dinner in the lounge, sleep through until breakfast
The Bad
  • Angled-flat beds, no amenity kits
  • Unintuitive entertainment system
X-Factor
  • Huge range of drinks including vintage Champagne, cocktails and espresso
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

With three daily flights from Brisbane to Singapore including morning, mid-afternoon and late evening departures, Singapore Airlines provides business travellers with the most robust schedule of any airline serving the route.

Aboard SQ's Airbus A330s, business class passengers can stretch out in angled-flat beds while sipping vintage Champagne and watching a good movie or using the sturdy tray table and handy power outlets to remain productive throughout the journey.

Lounge

Singapore Airlines runs a dedicated SilverKris lounge at Brisbane Airport for business class guests and eligible frequent flyers, which you'll find immediately to your right as you commence the winding trek through duty-free.

Inside there's a range of both hot and cold food options perfectly tailored to dinner and dessert prior to this evening flight.

The WiFi comes free if not a little slow – averaging 3.54mbps down and 0.33mbps up during our tests – and although there were enough seats for every guest, the lounge felt overly crowded closer to departure once most passengers had checked-in.

Read our full review: SilverKris lounge Brisbane Airport

Seat

Unlike Singapore Airlines' flagship Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 business class seats which boast fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for every passenger, the A330's seats come in a six-across, 2-2-2 layout...

... and are angled flat with an eight-degree incline when in bed mode, rather than fully-flat, stretching to roughly 188cm in length when the footrest is fully extended:

That's relatively on-par with Emirates' Boeing 777 business class seats and Qantas' older Skybed 1s which both ply the same route, although it's a significant step behind the new Qantas Business Suite which sometimes appears between Brisbane and Singapore and will eventually be offered on every Qantas Airbus A330 flight.

Nonetheless, there's still ample room to stretch out, particularly at the bulkhead in row 11...

... and if you'd rather work or sleep than converse with your seatmate, a privacy divider can be deployed:

Adjacent is a twistable reading light and further below a cocktail space...

... a recess for your laptop or tablet with convenient access to AC and USB power...

... more nooks at the front to keep your water bottle or smartphone at hand...

... a handset for operating the inflight entertainment system, handy pre-set seat controls with a choice of fully upright, dining, 'resting but watching TV' and sleep modes...

... additional keys to get the bed into that perfect spot, and a remote control for the inflight entertainment system.

For solo travellers, we'd suggest choosing the 'D' and 'F' seats as these form the centre group with an aisle on either side, which means you naturally enjoy direct aisle access with nobody climbing over you, unlike the other pairs where you'll only enjoy one benefit or the other.

Meal

The journey begins with a drink before take-off and a second round once in the air, with 2007 Taittinger Brut Millésimé on the menu...

... along with five wines, nine cocktails, six mocktails, 11 spirits, three liqueurs, six different coffee blends, espresso options including cappuccinos and mochas, 14 teas, beer, water, juice, soft drinks, Milo and plain milk.

If that's not enough to satisfy on an eight-hour overnight flight, we daresay you're hard to please.

Speaking of overnight, with a departure time of 11:35pm and a 5:35am arrival into Singapore, passengers can choose to have either supper after take-off or breakfast prior to landing, or indeed both if it takes their fancy.

As did almost every passenger on the flight, we ate in the lounge beforehand and slept through until breakfast, starting with a small fresh fruit plate...

... and progressing to French toast with berries, orange-flavoured mascarpone cream and maple syrup on the side...

... and a choice of breads and pastry items including tasty warmed croissants with jam.

The fruit was fresh, the bread nice and soft and the accompaniments flavourful, and with heartier options available for hungrier travellers such as a full American breakfast with eggs, sausages, beans, tomatoes and mushrooms, we couldn't fault the inflight food.

Our only criticism is that SQ's widely-regarded 'Book the Cook' service – allowing travellers to choose from roughly 10 dishes when departing Sydney and Melbourne – isn't offered on flights from Brisbane, although is offered on the journey home from Singapore.

Entertainment & Service

The KrisWorld inflight entertainment system provides over 1,000 individual options spanning movies, TV shows, audio tracks and games, served up via a 15.4-inch screen and noise-cancelling headphones...

... and operated via a remote control with its own screen, which also conveniently alternates between displaying the local destination time and the time remaining on your flight: handy to have at hand without interrupting your viewing.

While most KrisWorld menus are easy to navigate, the 'all movies' listings were less so – with exactly 307 titles, the only way to wade through and reach the bottom of that list is to press the 'down' button quite literally 307 times, which is as unintuitive as it is silly:

Made it through but decided on something further up? You'd best get clicking, then, as there's no 'previous page' button either...

Service from the crew, however, was top-notch, with passengers on today's flight greeted in the aisle as they entered the business class cabin before being shown to their seats and offered drinks, reading materials and to have their jackets hung up.

On both the Brisbane-Singapore and Singapore-Brisbane legs, requests of the crew such as for drinks or to "please not wake me for breakfast if I'm sleeping" needed only be asked once and were always remembered, with call bells answered within a matter of seconds.

Before take-off, slippers, socks and an eyeshade were also provided with other goodies such as toothbrushes, combs and moisturisers available in the lavatories, although at odds with almost every other international airline, true amenity kits aren't available in business class.

Read: Singapore Airlines: no plans for business class amenity kits

While the on-board service, meals and, for the most part, the inflight entertainment content combine to create an overall positive experience on board, we simply can't overlook what is a last-generation angled-flat seat on an overnight flight where sleep is paramount.

That's particularly so when alliance partner Virgin Australia has been replacing a variation of the same seats aboard its Airbus A330 fleet with new fully-flat beds on domestic flights to Perth, let alone a longer route like Brisbane-Singapore.

We can only hope that eventual upgrades to Singapore Airlines' A330 fleet come sooner, rather than later, to bring the seat in line with SQ's great food and service.

Also read: SQ mulls Airbus A350 flights to Australia, A330 upgrades

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Singapore as a guest of Singapore Airlines

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

JakeDrake

JakeDrake

13 Mar 2014

Total posts 27

Nice review. Isn't "angled flat" an oymoron - it's either flat or it's not? 

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Most business class seats these days are 'flat' in one way or another, otherwise they'd be simple seats with a 'generous recline'.

What sets them apart is that 'angled flat' beds run flush or in a straight line from top to bottom of the seat yet on an angle compared to that of the floor (so you still get a 'flat bed' as such but with the entire bed on an incline), whereas 'fully-flat' beds are not only flat/flush from top to bottom but are also parallel to the cabin floor or ground, so are more 'horizontal' than 'sloping sleeper'.

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 511

No something can be flat. Take a wall for example, but it is vertical. So you can have a bed that is flat AND at an angle.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

You're reminding me very much of Omar's 'flat bed' on FlyLo right about now... :P

rowwdy

rowwdy

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 137

Who in turn reminds me of Akbar Al Baker...

emirates777

emirates777

08 Mar 2013

Total posts 28

The A330s wont be upgraded. Instead they will be replaced by the A350s which come on line from March this year. The A330s should all be gone by next years end.

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 511

By 2019. The first batch of A350's are replacing 777-200's and A330's. When the A330's goes depends upon when their leases are up. (all are leased and were onyl intended as a stop gap)

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 511

Hey Chris, your comment that the new Qantas product "sometimes appears" makes it sound like the new seat is the exception. Of late the MKI skybed is the exception.

Essentially every time Qantas operates a -200 on 51/52 it is new product and when a -300 it is now a 7/9 chance.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

'Sometimes appears' avoids saying 'always appears' and having a reader book a Qantas flight, expecting the new Business Suite based on our article and ending up with a Skybed 1 by schedule or aircraft swap, and being disappointed. Safer to say 'sometimes' until all refits are complete. :)

ianvagg

ianvagg

25 Mar 2012

Total posts 3

The service was great but the seat was poor -not worth the price -would not fly business class out of Brisbane again until the seat changes -we were spoilt with Etihad who no longer fly to Singapore

Jonnie

Jonnie

09 May 2015

Total posts 34

2-2-2 seating is nice. ..better than AF and EK's 2-3-2 on many of their planes.

Bra

Bra

QF

11 May 2015

Total posts 24

I often use the SQ overnight services BNE-SIN-BNE and can sleep on the not so flat beds by using a folded blanket on the end of the "bed" to make myself more or less horizontal. These aircraft have some of the smallest toilets even in business. But the SQ service is good apart from serving dinner at 1230 am BNE-SIN when all you want to do is sleep. I agree they wont improve the A330s (these were leased cheap following the A380 delays) so roll on the A350 or better still the B777 ER if thety can get a good load factor.

timgee

timgee

23 Jan 2016

Total posts 1

Say what you will about a flat bed that's not quite flat, but extra marks for having Bob's Burgers on the IFE system!

sgb

sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

I can't bide business class that does have 180 degree flat.

marlo

marlo

30 Oct 2015

Total posts 3

Its annoying how Singapore and Qantas treat Brisbane as second class. If you dont want a drink the current offer by Singapore is pretty average.

Booster

Booster

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

17 Feb 2016

Total posts 47

We get a pretty ordinary product on the medium haul Sing to Syd leg I think and the A330 is tired and not a patch on the 777 service.Their 'sleeper service' is an Ok idea but waking pax for b'fast 'two hours' out of Sydney is a silly idea. If United and Air Canada can manage to wake you up an hour out and still put on a decent breaky why can't SQ. Its not like its a full breakfast. I usually stir around 50 mins out and grab cereal and some fruit.

I have also had a broken seat on the A330 on two occasions. Once it got stuck and the other it couldn't move at all. Fortunatley I was relocated on both occasions. 

 

Jhh291

Jhh291

09 Dec 2016

Total posts 1

Singapore Airlines has now introduced retrofitted 777-200 on the SQ246 flight from Brisbane. But unfortunately not for the red eye return journey. They use the old business class seat as used in the A380. Should be a improvement although, I never personally had difficulty sleeping on the regional business class seats. Length wise I found them on aswell i am 6'6. I do however like the 1-2-1 layout as I like the window seat but don't like climbing over somebody when nature call's. 

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