Review: Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 regional business class

Whether you're travelling from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or even Perth, this is the seat that awaits on most flights.

By Chris Chamberlin, September 28 2021
Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 regional business class
Aircraft Type

Airbus A350-900

Airline

Singapore Airlines

Seat

Regional business class (flatbed)

Notes
The Good
  • A comfortable, well-designed seat that ticks most boxes for most travellers
The Bad
  • For taller flyers, the bed can feel narrow towards the end, except at the bulkheads
X-Factor
  • Couples will appreciate the centre, 'close together' pairs

Introduction

Despite international travel restrictions, Singapore Airlines is still flying regularly to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth for those who can travel.

Most of those flights – and indeed, all services to Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide – are served by the airline's regional ('medium-haul') Airbus A350s.

These jets offer a staggered layout in business class, affording each traveller plenty of personal space.

You'll even find these jets operating daily to Sydney, with Boeing 787s – equipped with the same seats in business class – also covering every flight to Perth.

Whether you're travelling with an exemption right now, or gearing up to fly as restrictions ease, here's what to expect aboard Singapore Airlines' regional Airbus A350s.

Flight

As you settle in onboard, you're entering a calm atmosphere courtesy of mood lighting throughout the cabin. 

The lights are adjusted depending on the time of day – blue when you're cruising during daylight hours, for example, and a warmer hue when waking up to breakfast on an overnight leg.

As the lights can fade on gradually and make the cabin progressively brighter over several minutes, it's a much more pleasant way to awake versus the 'lights on now' approach in older generations of aircraft.

Seat

Singapore Airlines' regional business class seats come in a 1-2-1 configuration, which means solo pods along each side of the plane, and pairs of seats in the centre. 

It's a staggered layout, which means every second row sits close to the aisle, but still with a wrap-around shell for privacy.

Every other row instead resides further away from the aisle, with a console between the seat and that aisle.

You'll find your personal place not by looking for numbers overhead, but by glancing at the shell itself.

As you settle in, there's a coat hook for your jacket – but as the crew offer to hang these before take-off, you'll mainly find it useful prior to descent when those jackets are returned.

Waiting at your seat will be a pair of slippers, socks, and an eyeshade.

Inside that nearby nook is also where you'll find headphones and the day's menu, along with AC and USB-A power outlets, and a contactless reader – more on that later.

To the power outlet first – it's international-style, which means you can use a wide variety of pins without an adapter, ranging from Australian and Singaporean/UK to European, US and more.

That's great for small phone chargers, but the orientation of the outlet finds the shell getting in the way when connecting larger transformers, such as for a Microsoft Surface or a MacBook.

Fortunately, adding one of my own travel adapters afforded some extra space between the outlet and the side shell, allowing me to plug in and stay powered up.

When these plugs aren't in use, you can slide a panel shut to keep any other items secluded within.

If you need a quick touch-up or want to check your hair after rising in the morning, a mirror also pulls out from the side.

A nearby hook provides a place to hang your headphones when not in use, to free up space within that cabinet, and on the shelf below.

That shelf is large enough for items like laptops, tablets, personal headphone cases and more: and also houses a grooved beverage holder – perfect if you don't want the tray table open.

Just below that finds a strip of controls for customising your lighting and seat position, as well as to call the crew, or signal that you shouldn't be disturbed unless essential for safety.

Right next to that is your headphone outlet. Although it's a standard airline three-pin connector (left, right, power for noise-cancelling), personal headphones can be connected to a single audio plug while still receiving stereo sound.

Up to your side are more lighting controls, with a trio of map lights facing in different directions, as may be useful when sitting in different positions. Each has a separate control.

Down below and in front, a literature pocket where you'll find the safety card, as well as various reading material. It's also a great place to keep the day's menu at easy reach.

Looking directly in front, the seat's shape provides a great footrest when sitting upright: particularly when wearing heeled shoes.

Above that is a larger space in which to stretch out, which later forms the tail end of your fully-flat bed.

The bed stretches to 1.9 metres in length – and if you plan to doze, consider choosing a seat positioned away from the aisle in this staggered layout, such as 15K, pictured above.

The bed gets narrower towards the end in most rows, although at the bulkheads, your feet get more space in the cubby – so taller travellers may prefer these seats, even if that means asking for a change at check-in, as they're usually blocked for families before then. 

Whichever you pick, there's plenty of space towards the shoulder end of each seat – although the bed could be made more comfortable with bedding, which the airline doesn't provide.

Spotted that stray armrest in the picture above?

It has a button at the edge, to control its height.

Press it in, push down, and it lowers to be in line with that bed, providing some extra wiggle room.

The armrest on the opposing side also changes height in line with the seat's position.

Looking for the tray table? That's the groove in front of you.

Press it in to unlock, and the tray begins to slide forwards.

Pull it towards you, and out comes a half-sized table, complete with a cup holder.

Fold it open like a book, and you've got the full table – great for dining, and sturdy enough for hours of laptop work.

Two final features of the seat: there's a handy space on the floor between your side console and the row in front, which is great for keeping a laptop bag out of the way while you're working.

As well, if you're trying to access the overhead locker but are struggling to reach its height, each seat has a built-in step against the aisle, to make that task easier.

One extra seating tip: if you're travelling as a pair, you may prefer to aim for one of the centre duos nestled closer together, being rows 11, 14, 16, 18, 19, 21.

If you wind up in one of these rows with a stranger, there's instead a privacy divider you can pull out between the seats.

Entertainment

On the entertainment front, Singapore Airlines' regional Airbus A350s certainly have you covered.

The 18-inch high definition touchscreen serves up a wide variety of content, and it's where you'll find the expected 'moving map' to keep tabs on your flight.

On these planes, that map can becomes interactive and offers a pilot's view, with added details such as heading, ground speed and altitude.

Remember that contactless reader from earlier? You can pair your phone with the system to carry your viewing preferences and watchlist from flight to flight.

It's a nifty feature, but as these planes are WiFi-equipped, you can do the same by logging in to your KrisFlyer account, which then means easily browsing your choices via the screen or the supplied touchscreen remote. 

That remote is found to your side, and offers an easy way to check on your flight's progress without disrupting your movie.

It can also be used to navigate through the menus, to save leaning forwards with every press.

But if you'd rather browse the system the 'traditional' way – via the main touchscreen, without logging in – that's fine too.

In that case, the system can still help recommend content based on your interests if you answer a few quick questions.

Finally, if you'll be enjoying your movie or TV show while lying down in bed, the screen tilts forwards to provide a better viewing angle.

Noise-cancelling headphones are provided, but the connection supports BYO pairs, too.

Verdict

On the one hand, Singapore Airlines' regional (or 'medium-haul') business class certainly isn't as roomy as the seats you'll find on its 'long-haul' A350s – or indeed, on the 'ultra-long-haul' jets from Singapore to New York.

But on these comparatively shorter routes, such as between Singapore and Australia, they still tick most of the boxes for most flyers.

Taller travellers, however, may prefer to aim for the bulkhead rows to maximise the bed width around their feet, for the best chances of a good night's sleep.

Also reviewed: Singapore Airlines' 'long-haul' A350 business class seat 

Chris Chamberlin travelled from Brisbane to Singapore as a guest of Singapore Airlines.

Chris Chamberlin

A Brisbane-based contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

04 Sep 2019

Total posts 18

As a 6ft tall male, these seats are terrible, very cramped, not long enough and I felt very constricted by them - experienced them from singapore to tokyo.

The original A350 international business class seats on Singapore are far better, way roomier and wider for someone as tall as me. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1272

Completely agree. Flew one of these SIN-SYD and it was uncomfortably cramped and narrow. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 71

The issue of the J "flatbed" seats on SQ and the awkward footwell angles and discomfort when sleeping is chronic and well documented on many aircraft types. 

With each new aircraft little has been done to correct this, despite consistent passenger feedback.

The few seats, often in the first rows of cabins, which have wider spaces, are largely irrelevant compared to the overall seat numbers.

Rigid, inflexible thinking can define this airline (dining together in the new F suites on the A380 was a similar oversight, "corrected" with a token gesture) in some areas. 

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 643

That winged shell that blocks window view would have to be the worst aspect from just looking at pics. That would annoy me to no end.

18 Sep 2015

Total posts 101

I've experienced both this version and the long haul version of the A350 between BNE and SIN - both pretty good but the long haul is a bit better and more comfortable. In particular, it has the version of Airbus overhead bins that are not above the windows (only in the centre of the ceiling). In the regional version, if you are in a window seat, you can't stand upright getting in and out, but in the long haul version you can. All that little hatch in the regional version is a pain - you can't close it while anything is plugged in (power/USB) and the cabin crew insist it be closed for takeoff and approach/landing. The bed is still a bit hard, but slightly better than the original A380 business seat. I'm 182cm and had no issue with the footwell in bed mode. On one flight I could not connect my Krisflyer profile to my seat via my phone, nor get internet. But I'd still fly with them as the experience is very good overall.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 696

@Chris Hey Mate are all A350 Business Seats the same layout for example row 14 centre 2 seats, on SingAir it doesn't show which ones are joined for couples.


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