Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380-800 seats 12 in first class, 60 in business, 36 in premium economy, 323 in economy.
Sydney to Singapore
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
KrisFlyer; points are interchangeable with other Star Alliance partner airlines such as Virgin Australia.
Premium economy, seat 32D
Flight time is eight hours 20 minutes. We're 20 minutes late leaving due to congestion on the runway and we touch down in Singapore five minutes behind schedule.
Singapore Airlines operates at least four daily Sydney-Singapore services but premium economy is available only on the Boeing 777-300ER and the A380-800 services, once each daily.
Premium economy seating is a 2-4-2 configuration in a dedicated cabin. Seat pitch is 38 inches (96.5cm), width is 19.5 inches (49.5cm).
Checked baggage for premium economy passengers is 35kg, carry-on baggage is 7kg. This is more honoured in the breach than the observance.
Singapore Airlines debuted its premium economy service in mid year. I'm in a smart new cabin with orange and multi-toned grey livery. The seat is not a lie-flat but the 8-inch (20.3cm) recline is welcome. I grab a post-lunch power nap and I could imagine a comfortable sleep on an overnight flight. There's just one toddler in the row in front who smiles and doesn't make a peep, and the extra cost makes it unlikely you'd see feral kids doing the wild thing.
Noise-cancelling headphones by Phitek don't fully enclose the ear but sound quality is crisp. When I take them off I'm surprised by the engine noise, and the A380 is a quiet plane. The Kris World Entertainment System on the class-leading 13.3-inch (33.8cm) LCD monitor includes 49 new releases, about 15 from Hollywood with selections from France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, India and Thailand making up the rest. Eight sit under the "Kids" label and there's a sprinkling of docos and stage performances. Among the highlights, Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation, Southpaw, Mr Holmes, Knights of Sidonia, True Detective season 2, Fury Road and the Shaun the Sheep movie. Music selection ranges from My Old Man's a Dustman by Lonnie Donegan to Mozart by Lang Lang, with Puff Daddy somewhere in the middle. There's a strong selection of classical and jazz, Asian contemporary, world music, easy listening, music for kids and 10 headed "relaxation". There's a USB port in front of my seat and one behind.
Brisk and professional; attentive without being overenthusiastic. There's a pre-takeoff choice of champagne, juice and water. Drinks come barely five minutes after the fasten-seatbelt light goes off. When a passenger in the window seat spills his drink the crew are mopping it up almost before the liquid hits the floor. They offer to move him to a dry seat – the cabin is about 70 per cent full – but he declines. The toddler gets heaps of love from the female flight attendants and it's heartfelt.
Premium economy passengers can go online to pre-select a "Book the Cook" meal with a wider choice than the onboard menu. My hoki with lime butter sauce is firm and moist, the French beans glisten like they saw sunshine yesterday and the tagliatelle below are properly al dente and lightly buttered. It looks better than my neighbours' beef and chicken dishes ordered off the in-flight menu, although both polish it off. About 90 minutes before landing a light meal is served with a choice of egg noodles with chicken or frittata. The wine list includes a French red, a riesling and chardonnay and a choice of mid-range spirits, liqueurs, cocktails, beers, soft drinks and teas.
I've been a premium economy sceptic. How could those extra centimetres of legroom justify the extra $900 over the cheapest economy seat on the same flight? But I've been able to work comfortably on my laptop, something I never manage successfully in an economy seat, and I'm feeling fresh when we pull up to the gate. Along with the comfy seat, the upgraded service and the quiet cabin, that's a game-changer for me.
Michael Gebicki flew courtesy of Singapore Airlines.