Flight Review: Singapore Airlines First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong

Flight Review: Singapore Airlines First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong

***This is part 2 of my “Plane-cation” trip report detailing a recent trip from San Francisco to New York, via Hong Kong***

1. Introduction
2. Singapore Airlines First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
3. Cathay Pacific First Class Lounges: The Pier and The Wing
4. Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to New York
5. Eating NYC – Bouley, Donuts, and Pizza
6. JetBlue Mint Class New York to San Francisco
7. First Class Showdown: Singapore Airlines vs. Cathay Pacific
_______________________________

While the San Francisco to Hong Kong flight is usually scheduled to leave around midnight, the time change from the archaic daylight savings time system pushed the departure time out to 1:15AM. The benefit of the super late-night departure time was that it allowed me to wrap up a full day of work, come home for dinner, and even take my time packing. By 11PM I had run out of things to do at home and was itching to go.

Without any traffic I was at SFO airport by 11:15PM, and in the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer lounge 15 minutes later. After double-checking that I had reviewed this lounge before, I gave myself the evening off to relax and to sneak in some final email and internet time before logging off for the next 14 hours.

I headed over to gate 98 where boarding was just about to begin. While I’d flown Singapore Airlines First Class three times before, most recently to Singapore, the fourth time proved to be the charm and I was thrilled to finally see the newly refurbished First Class cabin.

While new is usually better, for the most part these seats are structured in exactly the same way as the prior version, but are equipped with updated technology and upholstered in a much sexier, dark-colored leather. Another thing that hadn’t changed was the seat width, and at a whopping 35-inches it’s essentially wide enough for two people to sit next to each other.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong new seat

There were a couple additional enhancements which included an in-seat mirror as well as a storage cabinet for small personal items.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong seat mirror

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong small cabinet

Singapore Airlines is one of the few airlines that actually has two different versions of its latest First Class product. Its Suites Class feature closed suites with doors, while the standard First Class seats have an open design. However, the open version still offers a good amount of privacy since you are well out of eyesight from your neighbors while seated.

There was plenty of room in front of my seat for my backpack and carry-on suitcase. Some of my larger carry-ons won’t fit in this space, and I’ve had to use empty seats in the cabin as storage as there are no overhead bins. That would have been fine on today’s flight which was at just six of eight capacity.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong legroom

The technology updates included a new 24-inch TV which had excellent quality and resolution.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong tv screen

This handheld device was used to control the in-flight entertainment system, and prominently displayed the remaining travel time throughout the flight.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong handheld control

Each passeger was given Bose QuietComfort 15 noise-cancelling headphones to use during the flight, and the seat even had a headphone holder that came in handy.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong bose headphones

The seat controls had also been updated, and were as self-explanatory as you could want.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong seat controls

Amenity kits were distributed and were Ferragamo-branded, and included full-size lotions and cologne. Pajamas were also handed out and I changed into mine before takeoff.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong amenity kit

I had eaten a light dinner at home and had done my best to avoid overeating in the lounge, so I was chomping at the bit for tonight’s supper. Given the late hour, the flight attendants were extremely efficient so that people could eat and then sleep as soon as possible. About 30 minutes after takeoff it was showtime.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong supper menu

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong supper menu desserts

Dinner service started with candied walnuts and cashews.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong candied nuts

I opted for a mix of Western and Asian dishes, starting with the caviar and scallop appetizer. Singapore Airlines doesn’t offer full caviar service as part of its Supper meal, but this was a nice compromise. While the caviar was good, the scallops tasted like rubber. So far, not off to a very strong start.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong dining table

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong scallops

But the Chinese snow fungus soup was delicious, and restored my faith in Singapore’s catering as we headed into the main course.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong soup

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong soup 2

I had taken advantage of the Book the Cook option and pre-ordered the Boston Lobster Thermidor for my main course. Typically this has been one of my favorite dishes on Singapore Airlines, I mean, what could go wrong with lobster smothered in butter and cheese?

Well, something has really off about today’s offering. Each piece of “lobster” was the same exact shape and looked like they had come out of a tube or can. I was already suspicious based on the look of the dish, and after a couple of bites, judging by the rubbery texture I was almost 100% positive that this was not real seafood.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong lobster

Even though I was disappointed with the lobster, the cheese course and the coconut panna cotta were great and a nice finish to the meal.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong cheese

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong dessert

At this point we were about two hours into the flight, which meant that it was 3AM local time I was only two-thirds of the way through The Hateful Eight. I realized that I had no shot of finishing the movie before I fell asleep, so I decided to hit pause and head to bed.

The flight attendants flipped the seat over to form the bed, and set up the linens. The bed was really comfortable and without any turbulence at all, I slept like a baby for the next nine hours.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong bed

After waking up there was just three hours of flight time remaining, which left no time for snacking.

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong snack menu

singapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong snacks menu 2

Instead, I put in my breakfast order.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong breakfast menu

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong breakfast menu 2

Breakfast started with a fresh cappuccino.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong cappucino

Followed by a fresh fruit plate and bircher muesli.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong fruit plate

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong bircher muesli

And as usual I ordered the dim sum plate, but consistent with the last meal, this dish was mediocre at best.

ingapore airlines first class san francisco to hong kong dim sum

I wrapped up my movie, but with just an hour and a half left afterwards it didn’t leave enough time for another. Thankfully, I had self-catered my own entertainment and fired up Catastrophe season 2 on my iPad.

Overall, this was another solid flight on Singapore Airlines, highlighted by the new First Class seat and the superb service that you’d expect from a world-class Asian airline. However, while Singapore Airlines’ food has traditionally been reliably good, for once it left me bit disappointed on this otherwise great flight.

12 Comments

  1. How unfortunate about the catering. Could you not have sent it back for something else?

    Reply
    • I thought about it, but was too tired to deal with it and just wanted to sleep. But in hindsight, I probably should have.

      Reply
  2. I took this exact same flight on April 21.
    I had the best inflight service experience ever. The crew in that flight was exceptional and I truly felt treated like a VIP. The food quality was good for me, but the dining service was the best that I had ever experienced anywhere. I flew British Airways first class last summer and SQ service left them in the dust.
    What made it so special? It was the heart attitude that made the difference – the service was heart felt and genuine, not just perfunctory. The crew really tried to perform at the highest level and tried to anticipate my needs.
    I also flew SQ first class from HK to Singapore, and the service was also excellent but felt more perfunctory – which is OK and not a problem and I am completely fine with.

    I also experienced the newly upgraded seats. However I did not like them as much. The cushions were on the stiff side and not as comfortable as other airlines that I have flown in. I loved the spaciousness. But it did not feel that cozy to me and was much larger than I needed. I actually prefer their new business class seat which I flew in last fall.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the same flight, Jason! Totally agree that the crew can completely make or break the flight, and it sounds like you had the pleasure of having a truly exceptional one.

      Reply
  3. The “lobster” was likely real seafood – just a fish paste called surimi often shaped into imitation crab meat as well. Its a “mystery meat” with many unhealthy additives. OR, if you were lucky, it was just frozen lobster which becomes like rubber.

    Either way – horrific for first class catering — especially on Singapore!

    Thinking about it, wouldn’t business class have been a better option?

    Reply
    • Ah, I think you’re probably right, Bill. I’ve had this dish a few times before and this one was definitely different from the rest.

      Business Class would have been more than sufficient since the red-eye means that most people sleep for the majority of the flight anyways. But strangely enough Business Class wasn’t available whereas First Class was, and even if I had the choice the difference in miles between the two options is only 6,375 on this route which isn’t bad.

      Reply
  4. Thanks for sharing your review, I’m schedule to fly this route next May. Really looking forward to it 🙂

    Reply
  5. How many miles did this award cost- how far ahead did you book it and was it easy to obtain using miles ?

    Reply
    • For SQ I booked it in May 2015 for travel in April 2016.It cost me 182,750 Krisflyer miles.
      This was a once in a life time trip for me. SQ Business Class is perfectly fine for me. In fact I like the Business Class seat better than the First Class seat.

      Reply
  6. Terence, did you run into any problems booking this? I am trying to book this now (online) and keep getting “waitlist” even though 7/8 seats are available. Should I try exactly 355 before the date I want? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Mien,

      That’s not an uncommon problem, even if 7/8 seats are available for purchase often times times there will still be no award availability. I would recommend booking as soon as the booking window opens as you mention above, since simple date changes can be done later on for free, and even more complex changes/cancellations cost at most $30.

      Reply
      • Thank you so much for your prompt reply Terence, you’ve been more helpful than the SQ customer service agents I’ve spoken with 🙂

        Really appreciate it and looking forward to going through some more of your blog posts!

        Reply

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