Singapore Airlines revamps premium economy seat for 19 hour flights

By David Flynn, October 5 2018
Singapore Airlines revamps premium economy seat for 19 hour flights

With no economy seats on its ultra-long range Airbus A350-900ULR jets, Singapore Airlines has tweaked the design of its premium economy seats with an eye towards added comfort during those non-stop 17-19 hour flights to Los Angeles and New York.

Best of all, these long-legged A350-900s include a handful of 'solo' seats which swap that potentially chatty or snoring neighbour for a personal storage bin large enough for your laptop bag or a compact cabin bag.

Here is that seat (as snapped by The Points Guy) during production at Zodiac Aerospace's US manufacturing facility.

Singapore Airlines' appealing 'solo' premium economy seat for the A350-900ULR. JT Genter / The Points Guy
Singapore Airlines' appealing 'solo' premium economy seat for the A350-900ULR
JT Genter / The Points Guy

While most of the A350-900ULR's 94 premium economy seats are arrayed in a 2-4-2 grid, six seats in the last few rows – as the A350 gets slimmer towards the tail – have been set aside for what becomes a 1-4-1 layout.

Those are seats 40C, 40H, 41C, 41H, 42C and 42H – and as you can imagine, they'll be prized picks for many travellers (although 42H's proximity to the loo will make it akin to 'the worst house on the best street').

That spacious stowage compartment vastly increases their appeal: not only can you keep a carry-on bag close at hand, you can use the extra space atop the cabinet to spread out your stuff during the flight.

Singapore Airlines tells us the decision to add these six solo seats was made "in order not to compromise on the seat and aisle width. Side stowage was added to fully utilise the space available to ensure our customers have an enhanced experienced during the ultra-long flight."

If you shoot for a solo seat, however, note that this won't be a window seat: Singapore Airlines has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the stowage bin sits between the seat and the window, with the seat itself located next to the aisle.

Premium economy seat pitch remains the same 38" as on the rest of Singapore Airlines' fleet, but the literature pocket at the rear of each seat has been moved up to offer a little extra room around the knees.

Singapore Airlines also says it's improved the seat's padded calf rest extension, and the T-bar footrest which swings down from the seat in front of you has been made substantially larger than the airline's first-gen premium economy seat.

A few other tweaks include making the seatbelt more comfortable by removing the bulky inbuilt airbag and enlarging the shared drinks tray area on the armrest between the seats.

How much extra comfort does this deliver to travellers? We'll report back next week after spending 19 hours in  premium economy on Singapore Airlines' New York-Singapore flight (after the inaugural Singapore-New York flight, where we'll try out the business class experience).


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 445

What's that one behind in the pic, United's First Class seat LOL?

No seriously, the current premium economy seat is very good - certainly worth the money, so I'm looking forward to seeing the review on this new one.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

That seat works. For the ULR flight I could do 42H with a phenergan.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 125

Looking at the size of the orange pillows in the PR shot, you are going to have no room left to actually sit in the seat... lol

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 588

It's a shame that the square post with the headphone socket and usb ports will reduce the shoulder space that could've been made available.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Apr 2018

Total posts 14

The PE seats in my experience on SQ are extremely uncomfortable. The leather finish means that on recline you slip down the seat.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 220

I'm glad I'm not the only one. Dislike leather for that reason

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 704

Just a theory and it might not have been possible but I would have thought an oversized and super wide seat would be even better (sans the locker). SQ could then charge an extra fee (just like NZ does for Premium Economy bulkhead seats) and make the rear seats even more appealing.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2550

That’d be an amazing seat, and SQ could certainly charge a premium for it – but I’d suggest the cost to commission, design/build, test and certify (for safety) this extra-wide design for a handful of seats on a relatively small number of aircraft would prove prohibitive.

19 Jul 2017

Total posts 7

It's odd that they couldn't add a install full rows all the way to the back. I thought Airbus promotes the fact that cabin is the same width from doors 1 to 4. Other 350 operators manage to include 9-abreast the whole way back.

08 Feb 2017

Total posts 2

We did the DFW to Syd with QF in PE last year luckily I had the exit row ( being 6' 6") however my wife and daughter were in the second row middle ( 4 seats) and once the row in front reclined that was it no escape and no comfort. flight time was just under 16 hours and my wife's legs were very swollen. ( BTW she is only 5'6).

Unless you can get an exit row or first row in PE there is no way you will be comfortable for 19 hours. I will be interested in the review.

05 Oct 2018

Total posts 1

I am glad they have taken away the airbags on the belts! Who ever thought of those?

China Airlines - Dynasty Flyer

22 Sep 2012

Total posts 73

2-4-2 seating? I agree the single seats In the 1-4-1 look great but the other rows are horrible. Just this week we took CIs Premium Economy on the A350 and it is 2-3-2. Would have thought Singapore Would give more space for a 17-19hr flight.

27 Apr 2017

Total posts 1

Agreed. My rule of thumb re whether PE is worthwhile, is that the PE cabin should be 2 seats fewer across than Economy. On the Qantas A380 there are 7 PE seats across compared to nine in Economy, and that makes for a comfortable PE seat width. Only one fewer seat doesn't yield enough width IMO.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 588

erm...upper deck Premium seats are 2-3-2 whereas economy is 2-4-2, so only 1 seat less...

09 May 2015

Total posts 33

In what universe is 2-4-2 seating on the relatively narrow A350 ever "premium" anything?

Weird how airlines configure their PE cabins...I recently flew PAL's new A350 frim BKK-MNL return in Economy, which is 2-3-2, while the PE was 2-4-2...what the heck.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

A seatmap shows its 2-4-2 versus 3-3-3-3.


20 Sep 2012

Total posts 75

3-3-3 I assume you mean.

Do remember that the side storage is sort of a necessity for the last rows on an A350, especially for flights the ULR’s designed for

The centre overhead lockers at the back is the crew bunk and does not exist so the people in the 3 rows of 4 have to use the lockers on the sides instead.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

01 Apr 2018

Total posts 11

Having the "solo-seats" for me, means that I could potentially have my feet off to the side closer to the window, rather than having them directly in front. This could allow just the little bit of wiggle room when sleeping.

09 Jan 2016

Total posts 44

Qantas I hope you are listening.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Oct 2018

Total posts 9

I’m planning on availing of the amazing J fare from AMD early next year. Only experienced Y cl on SQ but excellent service just the same.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Singapore Airlines revamps premium economy seat for 19 hour flights