SQ323 A350 Business Class Experience Amsterdam to Singapore
Flight number: SQ323 A350 Amsterdam (1025) to Singapore (0555)
Flight time: 12 hours 25 minutes
Date: 02 January 2017
Redemption date: 20 January 2016
Total cost: 51000 miles (60,000 miles – 15% online) + EUR179.94 (approx. S$280)
I have been travelling frequently with SQ Economy Class both for work and leisure, but have reached Gold status twice only. There are companies which allow their employees to travel on business class for flight exceeding certain number of hours. My company has economy class policy across all employees; even the CEO takes economy class from Germany to Singapore or from Germany to America. He has even taken budget airlines when he was in Southeast Asia to meet up customer. The following is an account of my first redemption of SQ Business Class and experience, but it is definitely not the last.
SQ Business Class Check In Counter
I arrived about 3 hours earlier in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to process tax refund. After the tax refund was done, I proceeded to the SQ Check in counters which was a short distance from the custom and Global Blue desks. As it was about 2.5 hours before the departure time, there weren’t much people checking in. Thus, I went straight to one of the two designated counters for SQ Business Class passenger to check in.
During the check in, the officer told me that they were full (or perhaps overbooked?) in the business class and were offering any business class passenger who are willing to give up their seat for that day and replace with a next day seat for EUR600. I turned down the offer instantly as I have to fly back for work. Would you have taken the offer?
I have altogether three bags to check in, totaling around 47kg on the weighing belt. The check in officer said I have to pay a few hundreds EURO. I never liked to ask for waiver and told her I will check in two bags instead.
I thought the check in officer could have exercised flexibility and let me check in all three bags without charging me. Perhaps it was a full flight day? Perhaps 7kg was really a lot? Nevertheless she did a fabulous job sticking to the rule. In retrospect, it would be great if I still have my Gold status, then I would have an additional 20kg allowance.
Before I left the counter, she asked if I wanted to visit the lounge, and wrote me an invitation card when I told her yes.
The lounge which I went to was quite a distance after passing through custom. There were two lounges indicated on the back of the invitation card, the one I visited was Lounge 41. Priority pass member can access the lounge too.
The front desk girl accepted the invitation card and directed me to the back of the lounge which was reserved for Singapore Airlines (SIA) passengers. It was quite crowded during this hour (about 9am+) but I have no problem finding empty seats.
Food section was also divided into two, where one was reserved for SIA passengers. I compared the food between the two sections and noticed the additional hot food option in SIA section. As for drinks and cold food option, the varieties were the same. In addition, there were also male and female toilets within the lounge.
Free wifi is available in this lounge. However, it took me a while to get connected. There was a staff stationed near the SQ section of the lounge to ensure that whoever entered it were Singapore Airlines’ Business Class passengers. She would politely ask passengers before they entered the section. She also cleared plates/cups/bottles promptly when you were done with the food.
Side notes on Schiphol airport
You may want to buy your cheese, stroopwafel, and chocolate inside the airport after checked in; I observed that the price inside the Duty free was cheaper than city centre. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to buy in the city centre where your purchases would also add on to the weight during check in. For Godiva chocolate lovers, you can buy to your heart’s content as the price here is much cheaper than in Singapore. In addition, it is also slightly cheaper than in city centre (perhaps because of tax free).
There was already a queue before boarding announcement in both business class and economy class lanes. I proceeded to join the queue when boarding announcement was made; I was within the first ten in the queue. I grabbed a copy of men’s health January 2017 issue from a magazines rack outside the plane door and proceeded to seat 14A.
Something about the seats
When I was redeeming ticket, all business class seats were available for selection. I remembered reading from a review that 11A is no longer the best seat for A350 which was why I did not choose it. I made a visual check onboard and noticed that it did look slightly smaller compare to the other seats as this is the seat where the plane starts to expand from the “cheek” of the plane itself.
However, 11A still offers full leg stretch. If you are not in the first row of business class seats in A350 (row 11 and row 19), you will be forced to stretch both your feet to the side as pictured below.
I particularly like the 1-2-1 layout as it means all the passengers will have aisle access seats. SQ323 A350 seat offers a little privacy and prevents your neighbours from seeing your face no matter whether you are sitting up straight or lying flat.
Personally I feel that those sitting at the A and K seats have the best of both world; they not only have aisles seat but also window seat.
From the picture above, you can see that business class in the middle section of A350 has roomy overheard as there is no compartment. Passengers in the middle section can use the compartments at the two sides.
In addition, they can also place hand-carry luggage below the feet rest area.
There are many compartments in the seat itself and a small mirror for those who want to look their best throughout the entire flight. There are lights on the left and right sides, as well as on the top of your seat which you can adjust the brightness level.
The noise cancellation headphone from Phitek hides in one of the compartments. However, I’m never a fan of headphone. It just makes my ear painful and I find lying side way on the bed to watch TV is uncomfortable to the ear as the headphone is just too big.
A table can be pulled up by pressing a release button next to this headphone storage place. The size of the table is good enough for me. In addition, you can adjust the height of the table to your personal preference.
As for the TV, I was a little disappointed that it is still not touch screen TV; considering that some of the new economy class seat TV is already touch screen.
Slipper and eye mask were distributed by the crew, but they were distributed without any amenity kit I have read in many blogs commenting that it would be great if SIA provides amenities in pouch. Both my hands and my feet rose up in full agreement.
On Board SQ323 A350 Business Class
Welcome drink was served to the passengers when almost everyone was seated. The crew also brought out newspapers and magazines for passengers to choose.
The menu for the lunch was as below
First was Singapore Chicken and Beef Satay, served with onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce. I have to say that the satay and peanut sauce was truly a perfect match in heaven; they really went well with each other.
Second on the menu was the appetizer. I wasn’t really expecting much on seeing the name “Trilogy of salmon”, as I do not like raw food. Surprisingly, the salmons were really tasty. As in the picture below, there were three slices of salmon. All three slices were surprisingly smooth and without any fishy smell.
Next on the menu was the main course. I opted for Braised Wild Pork with Sage and I regretted it! The pork was so tough that it took quite an effort to cut the meat into small pieces. In addition, it took some time to chew and eventually swallowed it. Perhaps it has too much “veins” in it. Given a second chance, I would have chosen the fish instead. Lesson learned.
Dessert was next and I opted for Coupe miserable. I have to say that it was one of the top 5 nicest cakes I have ever had in my life so far; it was not too sweet, the right texture, and the right mix of almond, vanilla crème and caramel. I wished I could have a second helping. I saw my neighbour having the expresso ice cream during the meal requested for another helping when the plane dimmed the lights. I should have requested for another piece right?
Selection of Cheeses
After dessert, we were offered three different types of cheese. I just tried the taste but wasn’t able finish all as I was quite full already.
Coffee and Tea
For the hot beverages, I opted for the Red Christmas Tea from TWG. A bottle of mineral water was also distributed by the crew after the lunch.
SQ A350 Business Class Menu Singapore to Amsterdam
I also took the menu pictures for Singapore – Amsterdam route in case you are interested.
As I am not an easy person to fall asleep even on normal bed, I was awake during the whole 12 hours duration. I watched movies and TV series throughout. In addition, it was a morning flight. The In-flight entertainment systems from SQ are just too many to choose from; to a point that you will end up not knowing what to choose. I think I must have watched a total of 5 movies and countless episodes of “Friends”.
I tried unsuccessfully to change the seat into bed position (so malu right?) and so I have to ask the crew for help. As I was in a reclining position, the crew told me that I have to adjust the seat back to an upright position before changing it into bed position. And so I learned.
In the bed position, you would discover a hidden blanket and a smaller pillow. The length of the bed is sufficient for me to be fully stretched. The seat in a sleeping position is definitely more comfortable than when it is in the sitting position.
In between the first meal (lunch in this flight) and second meal (breakfast), you can also request for snack. I wanted very much to try their seafood noodle and so I requested for it when a crew happened to pass by (the power of attraction?). The seafood noodle looked like instant noodle served in a porcelain bowl and topped with prawns and chilies. However, credit must be given to the person preparing it as it was not salty and suited my taste perfectly.
While on my way to the washroom, I also walked to the galley and grabbed some snacks such as energy bar, chocolate bar and the famous Stroopwafel from Netherlands.
I visited all three washrooms in the business class section. There is one right at the front near to the cockpit. I do not know if it was meant for the pilots but I saw passengers using it anyway. All three washrooms look similar to the ones in economy class section, minus the usual queue. The only difference probably was there were hand lotion, face midst spray and cologne.
One of the washrooms did not have running tap water on that day and the crew placed two bottle of 1.5 litres mineral water in the toilet for passengers to wash their hands.
Back to the point on amenity kit, Singapore Airlines is still one of the relatively few premium international airlines not to hand out amenity kits for business class passengers.
I requested SQ bears from one of the crews and she didn’t seem to know what I was asking for. However, she promised that she would get back to me and guessed what? She totally forgotten and did not get back to me. I decided to put up the same request to another crew and she immediately said that she should have and would get it for me. Within a minute, she was back with the two SQ bears which she put into a plastic bag and passed them to me.
From the Bakery
Look at that big serving! It was a much better choice as compared to the lunch. The noodle was not oily, and bit and pieces of fried onions were added, which add fragrance to the noodle itself. The only bad thing I have to say was the big serving. I was not able to finish the whole plate; not that it wasn’t good, but the serving was just too big for me.
Perhaps it was full business class that day so I didn’t feel the service was exceptional or outstanding. I would equate the service to more or less the same service standard as what I got from SQ Economy Class.
In reflection, maybe I gave people the “please leave me alone” kind of impression that scared the crew away. Thus, overall, I would give a score of 8.5/10 for this business class service. The economy class in SQ already commanded a good score and therefore I do not feel a big difference between SQ business class and economy class. Based on my past experiences with SQ economy class, I would give it 8/10. Many airlines will not score this in my opinion. I hope my next SQ Business Class experience will score higher than 8.5.
So now if you would excuse me, I have to look my best before the plane touchdown!
Next SQ A350 Business Class Redemption, Haneda to Singapore
At the time of this writing, I have redeemed a returned business class ticket from Japan. Taxes for Japan are amazingly low for SQ redemption.
Stay tune to my next review or rather I call my experience report! I have wanted to try 777-300ER business class and have purposely chosen to redeem Haneda-Singapore route. It has good timing; departing at 5.05pm and arriving at 11.05pm. For seat, I selected row 11 bulkhead seat.
But guess what? SQ changed the plane to A350 again. It looks like I will miss 777-300ER business class, but I should count myself really lucky that SQ changed to A350 flight again! What I also noticed was that saver redemption for this particular flight operated by A350 is now very limited with many dates showing “Not available”; not even chance for wait listing. Perhaps if I did not redeem before they announce the change of plane to A350, I may not get this particular flight I was eyeing.
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