I had originally booked an award ticket from Moscow to Houston on Singapore Airlines First Class. Singapore Airlines canceled their flight just shortly after and I requested to be routed via Singapore (the agents kept suggesting Lufthansa First Class, which had no availability).
I was eventually reissued a ticket from Moscow to Singapore and then on to San Francisco on Singapore Airlines First Class. I did not complain!
About a week before departure, the aircraft was downgraded to an A350 – with no first class. And there went my first class seat from Moscow. Oh well. The Call Center team offered a full refund, but that would be no help, given the tight award space on other Star Alliance carriers.
I showed up at the airport early, but Singapore Airlines only opens check-in at 3 hours before departure. Domodedovo is a rather modern, bright and clean, though bustling, airport. I found a seat and actually enjoyed watching the crowds.
Check-in was very Russian – fast, efficient, cold and wordless. It was less than 30 seconds with no words exchanged besides a call for, “Passport”. By this point, I had given up on most American niceties here anyways.
Immigration was scary, with a duo of immigration officers staring at all of my passport pages for at least 10 minutes and making calls. Nevertheless, I wasn’t asked a single question and after it was all over and done with, I was let go without an issue. I wonder what it was all about…
Singapore Airlines uses the Domodedovo Airport Business Lounge, which is also a Priority Pass lounge. I don’t like this lounge, although there isn’t anything wrong with it either; you can get a drink and use the decently-working WiFi.
Boarding was right on time and I was the first of the premium pax to board. The cabin would fill up to 80% and the same was true for economy.
This A350 is a brand-new plane and it looked really shiny – including the seats. The seats are stacked with much less space than in prior Singapore Airlines Business Class versions, though.
The seat resembles the Cathay Pacific mini-suites to an extent, but there are some drawbacks. You can’t fully recline the seat into a bed without the help of a flight attendant; the flight attendants are eager to help so it isn’t a big deal, but I prefer to be my ‘own boss’. Plus the seat just has a small recline when not fully flat.
The biggest drawback, though, is the extremely small area where you can stretch out. As a 6’4″ person, I had enough space to almost stretch out, but it’s literally a single position with not even an inch of elbow room.
You will be trapped in that position for the entire flight, even if you move your body slightly over the seat console to the side (which is also uncomfortable).
This was a daytime flight with under 11 hours flying time, but I really did not enjoy sleeping in this seat. It looks better than it was. I have slept better in angled lie-flat seats (namely Qatar Business Class from New York to Doha). Singapore Airlines uses the A350 on the San Francisco to Singapore direct flight – that must be torture!
The good news about the A350 is how quiet it is – you barely need any noise-canceling headphones or ear plugs. You can whisper during the flight and will have no problem being understood.
Warm nuts had been served after takeoff and I requested extra since I was hungry. The slow lunch service started at almost 4.30PM local time. I found the appetizer and dessert inedible – in fact, downright horrible.
However, I had chosen the healthy salmon meal (on a plane full of Russian passengers, I must have been the only one) and that was fantastic. This meal saved the day for me.
I tried the focaccia sandwich right after but did not like that either, though.
Singapore Airlines has a new entertainment system that’s standard on all planes. The screen is big and crisp but there’s no touchscreen. It looks great, but the usability is poor. There are too many buttons on the remote and none work intuitively. You will always get it to work eventually, but it’s a poor UI all over.
I was surprised at how quiet the whole flight was, despite many teenagers and young children in the business class cabin. The minimal plane noise helped as well. This was great.
The breakfast options were just as bad as the earlier food; economy class catering must have been better.
In sum, I feel this wasn’t a great flight – certainly not with the high expectations I had. The seat is miserable for sleeping, the IFE is complicated and the food is mostly inedible. Come on Singapore Airlines – you CAN do better!