BEST FOR: The quickest hop from the US Pacific Northwest to many destinations throughout the South Pacific.
PRICE: Roundtrip business class fare started at $6,265
FLIGHT TIME: 14 hours 40 minutes
VERDICT It’s a Singapore Airlines flight, so what more need I say? The food was great, the wine superb, and most of all the service was exceptional. It’s a feeling of welcome other airlines seem hard-pressed to match. Dan Booth
CHECK-IN Following a seamless ticket counter experience, the first stop on the way to the gate was passport control which is automated and biometric. Compared to US airports, security is handled somewhat differently at Changi Terminals 1, 2 and 3; actual baggage inspection takes place at the entrance to the boarding areas.Once airside, I made my way to Singapore Airline’s SilverKris Lounge located on the upper level toward the A Concourse. The lounge offers comfortable seats, a big selection of food from a self-serve buffet, plus a variety of drinks.
BOARDING: As this was the inaugural flight for the new Singapore to Seattle service, I expected a bit of fanfare and was not disappointed. Goodie bags were passed out to all the customers and once on board we were greeting by a choice of pre-takeoff beverages – but since this was an inaugural, Champagne seemed the appropriate choice, even at 9 in the morning.
THE SEAT: This particular version of the A350-900 is a three-cabin aircraft with 24 seats in premium economy and 187 in economy class. Business class is a 1-2-1 affair with 42 flat-bed seats. These are the same seats found on Singapore’s longest haul product which runs from Newark to Singapore. The seatback flips down to make a truly flat bed without the “recliner bump” found on many lie-flat seats.
THE FLIGHT: Exemplary is the word that always comes to mind when describing Singapore Airline’s on-board service. This flight was no exception. The extensive menus were already available at our seats – that part was easy. The most challenging part was deciding among the variety of dishes. I finally settled on the chicken parmigiana, not a very daring choice but altogether satisfying, especially paired with a charming Lodge Hill shiraz.The gods of smooth flight were not with us on this inaugural and for most of the ride, the seat belt sign was lit. Nevertheless the business class seats are wide (a generous 28 inches) and plush making for a comfortable, if somewhat bumpy trip. The 18-inch IFE screen offered an abundance of recent films, as well as some classics from Hollywood’s golden age and a wide selection of TV, music and games.Despite the jostling, I decided to fold the seatback down and make up the bed for what I felt sure would be a futile attempt at sleep. Much to my surprise, I apparently managed to get several hours of rest. Fully-flat beds really do make a difference.
ARRIVAL Upon landing we were met with the obligatory water cannon salute, and as we deplaned, we were personally welcomed by Singapore Airline’s Seattle ground staff. As I was passing through Seattle-Tacoma’s rather dingy international arrivals, I saw a sign that promised a spanking new facility coming in 2020. And none too soon, considering the number of carriers like Singapore Airlines bringing an increasing volume of passengers to the Pacific Northwest from destinations far and wide.