Airline review: This five-star economy class sets the benchmark

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The flight

Singapore Airlines flight SQ 222; Airbus A380-800 economy; Sydney to Singapore; flight time 7 hours 57 minutes.

The loyalty scheme

KrisFlyer. Singapore Airlines is a member of the extensive Star Alliance network. It’s worth joining just for the member perk of free Wi-Fi onboard.

Singapore Airlines economy cabin is a masterclass in service, food and entertainment.

Carbon emissions

On the airline’s own online emissions calculator, my carbon emissions are 486.29 kilograms (in business class it’s a whopping 1410 kilograms) which can be offset for $6, funding projects across Asia. These include an Indonesian rainforest reservation project directly employing 500 locals and more than 47,000 Nepalese families have received clean-burning stoves, reducing wood fires – also improving the health of the (mainly) women and children who tend them.


There are four daily flights out of Sydney, including two on board A380s.

Checking in

Singapore Airlines use DNATA as their ground handling agent in Sydney. Check-in is seamless and fast, with barely a wait despite it being an almost full flight.

The seat

79D. Economy seats have a pitch of 32 inches (81 centimetres) and 19 inches (48 centimetres) width. It’s a 3-4-3 layout on the lower deck and this is the very back of the bus. I chose it as the sole spot with spare seats in the row. Then my long-legged neighbour is offered an available exit seat and everyone’s a winner. Suddenly, I have what I call ‘Economy Business’, a lie-flat-ish bed across the empty seats. I’ve arrived exhausted for the 3pm flight and it’s a perfectly timed lottery win; I sleep most of the flight.


25 kilograms or 30 kilograms depending on the economy fare purchased (ranging from Lite to Flexi). Carry on is one piece up to seven kilograms.


I fall deeply in love with the entertainment system. It’s slick, has a responsive touch screen and is easy to navigate. Plus it’s loaded with more than 1900 forms of entertainment. Creating a playlist is easy and it bookmarks where I have left a show, so I can pick back up again. The only bugbear is the supplied in-ear earphones as opposed to over the head, which I find have a tinnier sound.


This is where Singapore Airlines is unbeatable. The crew are all class; highly trained, discreet and unflappable, they patrol the cabin regularly in formation which makes them seem omnipresent. If you’re a flyer who rarely needs extra help, service won’t be a priority; if you’re travelling with young
children, are elderly, injured or needy (you know who you are) this is where you want to be, with a proactive cabin crew who bend over backwards to make the experience a smooth one. In short, they’re the service ninjas of the sky.

Singapore Airlines flies two Airbus A380 superjumbos from Sydney daily.Credit: iStock


I’m so focused on tucking into my economy-business bed that the fried fish with hot bean sauce barely registers. But the later discovery of their self-serve snack bar depth incites pure glee. When many airlines are cutting back in this area, their cabinets overflow with sandwiches, chips, Kit Kats, dried cranberries and honey granola bars. The piping hot pumpkin, lentil-and-green-pea roti (the tandoor chicken version is also tempting, they’re similar to an enclosed pastry) served in a cardboard box before landing is so delicious I still think about it. The post-meal ice-cream is an unexpected treat.

One more thing

A quick clap for the floral sarong kebaya female flight attendant uniforms, beautifully designed by Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain in 1974 – they’re still the cat’s pyjamas.

The price

From $882 one way, economy class*.

The verdict

Singapore Airlines sets the benchmark in this category; their economy cabin is a masterclass in service, food and entertainment. If I could be on a Singapore Airlines plane every time I fly, I would.

Our score out of five


The writer flew as a guest of Singapore Airlines.

*Fares are based on those available for travel three months from the time of publication and subject to change.

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