Flight test: Auckland to Singapore

ELLEN READ
Last updated 15:05 22/07/2013

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Route: Auckland to Singapore business class on Singapore Airlines SQ286.

Aircraft: To me it was a big plane with wings but to the plane spotters out there it was a Boeing777-300ER.

Seat width and length:
The seat is said to be the widest business class seat available. At 30 inches (76.2cm), it is so wide that there is room for a booster cushion to sit beside you. The lay flat bed is 76 inches (193cm).

Configuration: Forward facing 1-2-1 giving every seat aisle access. The two middle seats have a privacy screen than can be pushed down if passengers are travelling together.

Flight time and performance: There was a slight change to the usual schedule to accommodate the Singapore national day parade rehearsal which closed airspace. We were scheduled to leave Auckland at 1 pm and arrive in Singapore 7.50 pm local time. The flight left on time and made up some time during flight but had to hold for a gate so we landed on schedule.

Seat: 11k, window seat. It was not the softest to sit on but was worth it when it turned into a flat bed (although you have to lie at an angle, there is enough room to fully stretch your legs out). The cabin crew will set the bed up for you as it involves flipping the seat back, which was a little intrusive when you're already sleepy. But it does mean you are guaranteed a lay flat bed (some other airlines have a seat button which extends the business class seat into a bed but if that failed inflight it could cause problems). There's a large tray table (height adjustable) for working, power supply, USB port and a decent size entertainment screen. New cabins are coming on selected Singapore Airline long haul flights from September, although New Zealand flights won't see them until 2014.

Luggage allowance: The checked baggage allowance is 30kg. Two pieces of cabin baggage are allowed for business, not weighing more than 7kg each.

Entertainment: Krisworld has a good range of movies, TV and radio. Good full ear-covering Phitek (NZ made!) noise cancelling earphones and a large 15.4 inch screen.

Food and beverages: There were three main choices for each meal, one from a known chef as part of Singapore Airlines' International Culinary Panel programme. The menu also had low carb and healthy options. For the first time ever, there was good airline coffee. Useless information alert: Water boils at a lower temperature at altitude (Singapore Airlines says 88 degrees at cruising altitude) meaning normal coffee and tea may not taste the best; special blends should be chosen.

Service: Singapore Girls are famous for their quality service and this ran true, even including the Singapore Boys. They were quite distant (there is no chit chat about where you are going and why but that suited this unfriendly traveller perfectly) but charming and efficient. Useless information alert: Twenty years ago, a waxwork of the Singapore Girl was unveiled at Madame Tussaud's, the first commercial figure to be displayed there.

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Amenities: Flight socks and an eye mask.

Lounge access: Air NZ lounge at Auckland Airport as part of Star Alliance.

Flight frequency: Twelve times a week from Auckland to Singapore, daily from Christchurch.

Ellen Read travelled to Singapore courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

- Stuff

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