- Flight: SQ1 San Francisco Int’l to Singapore Changi T3
- Class: First
- Seats: 1D & 1F
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft Registration: 9V-SWB
- Aircraft Age: 11.7 years
- Date: July 2018
- Departure / Arrival (SFO-HKG): 01:15 / 06:35
- Departure / Arrival (HKG-SIN): 08:00 / 11:50
- Flight Time: 18h 15m (plus 1h 25m stop in HKG)
- Cost: 118,000* KrisFlyer Miles + US$25.99 per person
* Note that we booked this redemption before the January 2019 KrisFlyer devaluation, and therefore secured it at the previous miles rate. The current redemption rate would be 130,000 KrisFlyer miles + US$25.99.
Singapore Airlines has a strict check in opening time at San Francisco of 3 hours 30 minutes prior to departure for all cabin classes. No early check in is possible.
We arrived at the airport slightly before this as we were keen to maximise our time in the brand new United Polaris lounge.
Also due to the late departure of this flight we had already been killing some time in the city having had to check out of our hotel room in the afternoon.
This may have been the case for other passengers too as quite a sizeable queue had formed in advance of check in opening time.
Thankfully there was no queue at the First Class desk and as soon as check in opened we were promptly invited to come forward, with all formalities completed in a matter of minutes.
We were checked in shortly after 9.45pm and there was no queue at security, so despite there being no priority lane for First Class passengers we were through and into the lounge by 10pm.
If you’re planning to skip the lounge and minimise your time at the airport, note that Singapore Airlines check in at San Francisco closes 40 minutes prior to departure time.
If you’re flying in Business Class or First Class with Singapore Airlines from San Francisco you’ll be invited to use the United Polaris lounge there. It’s an invitation you’ll definitely want to take up. Facilities at this excellent lounge include an à la carte dining room, a manned cocktail bar, showers and quiet rooms for a nap.
For this particular departure time we found the lounge to be very quiet, with no wait for the showers (ideal if you had to check out of your hotel several hours earlier, as we did).
Do be aware that à la carte dining finishes at 10.30pm so you may want to head straight to the dining room on the second floor if you want to experience that, assuming you’re flying on this SQ1 departure.
More details are included in our full review of the lounge.
If you are a KrisFlyer Gold or Star Alliance Gold status holder flying in Economy or Premium Economy Class, unfortunately you will not be eligible to use the Polaris lounge and will instead have access to the United Club.
We left the lounge at 12.40am, around 30 minutes prior to departure time, by which time it had become practically deserted (it closes for the night only 20 minutes later).
With a 10 minute walk to the gate boarding was already well underway when we arrived at the aircraft, however there was a dedicated First Class boarding lane and airbridge to the forward left door only for the four First Class passengers, so we were soon onboard and shown to our seats by the crew.
Although when we first booked this flight we were the only two passengers seated in the First Class cabin, we opted for a window seat (1F) and a middle seat (1D) rather than the usual middle pair which is more suited for couples, simply so that we could write a thorough review of both seat types.
By the time it came to the flight itself the other two seats in this small cabin had also been booked, providing a good opportunity to check whether the middle pair had sufficient privacy for solo travellers as I would be travelling next to a stranger in 1C.
The passenger in 1C however was only flying as far as Hong Kong, with no one else joining the First Class cabin there, and so with only three of us flying on the Hong Kong – Singapore sector we secured the 1C / 1D middle pair on that shorter flight.
First impressions of the Singapore Airlines 2013 First Class cabin are a warm, elegant colour scheme. Though the cabin is a single row, it doesn’t feel small with a high ceiling due to no overhead lockers, and soft mood lighting.
The cabin was styled by BMW Designworks, and still looks fresh and modern despite being over five years old.
Originally this cabin featured eight seats across two rows, however with the introduction of Premium Economy it was gradually reconfigured and all 777-300ER aircraft in the Singapore Airlines fleet now have this four-seat version.
One of the first things you notice when you see this cabin for more than a few seconds is that the layout is not quite as simple as that depicted on the Singapore Airlines seat map. In fact the window seats (1A and 1F) are set back at least six inches from the middle pair (1C and 1D).
Another unusual feature is that with only one row of seats in this cabin on these aircraft the airline has (either deliberately or by necessity) included some significant space behind the middle seats ahead of the bulkhead separating First Class from the Business Class section.
This did not previously feature when the two-row First Class cabin was installed on these aircraft, either in the 2006 or 2013 versions.
This area has a bar-height shelf on the back wall, and so could be used to stand with a drink and socialise (we’re not sure what the passengers in row 11 of Business Class directly behind would think of that!).
In reality the cabin crew used it to pass between the two aisles out of sight of the passengers. You would never know they were doing it if you weren’t paying attention (they must be trained to tiptoe).
We liked the elegant colour scheme, with dark brown leather seats, warm orange accents, beige internal wall padding in each mini-suite and a smart brushed mid-grey finish on the outside of each seat privacy shell.
The extended curved partitions improve privacy compared to the older 2006 version of this seat.
The seat itself is huge at 35 inches wide (2013 Business Class measures 28 inches). Two reasonably sized adults could sit alongside one another in the same seat without difficulty.
A full-height privacy divider is raised between the middle seat pair if you are flying next to a stranger. This isolates these seats almost completely from each other, and even though we would still opt for a window seat if flying solo in this cabin it would be no issue at all to be in one of the middle seats either.
On both flights the cabin crew were immediately very attentive and welcoming. Departing San Francisco, Dom Perignon Champagne was offered on the ground, with Krug also available but only after takeoff.
This is typically to save on duty / taxes payable while the aircraft doors are open, however departing Hong Kong on the second leg of the journey both Champagnes were offered on the ground, so perhaps the taxation issue is less significant there.
Hot towels and menus were provided shortly afterwards, alongside a warm, friendly and familiar welcome from all three of the crew who were dedicated to serving the First Class cabin on the evening flight to Hong Kong and the morning flight to Singapore (it’s a different crew on each flight).
There are no overhead lockers in this First Class cabin. This gives a nice open and airy feel to this section despite it being quite small. Luggage storage is therefore primarily under the footrest.
The storage space is an extensive area that would comfortably house even the largest carry-on bags without intruding into the remaining seat space. Excess cabin baggage can be stored by the crew in the galley should the situation arise.
That also means your bags are within easy reach throughout the flight.
Additional storage and a vanity mirror are provided next to the TV, behind a panel with integrated lighting when opened.
It’s here you’ll find your headphones, and there is ample space for several other personal items or devices you might need easy access to during the flight.
Alongside the seat just below the armrest furthest from the aisle there is also an additional storage compartment behind a sliding door.