I flew Singapore Airline’s Premium Economy between Melbourne-Paris, Rome-Melbourne a few weeks ago and had the pleasure of experiencing the new Airbus 350 on three of the four legs and the larger A380 from Singapore to Paris.
Punctuality, technical standards and new aircraft were all in line with Singapore’s excellent reputation as was the fabulous Changi Airport. But was Premium Economy worth the premium? I’m not so sure...for these reasons.
I opted for the extra legroom after an incident in the Economy cabin of a Qantas A380 the previous year when an inconsiderate passenger in front abruptly rammed their seat backwards into my crossed legs. The injury was painful at the time and lasted for several days.
So with another waking holiday planned, Premium Economy seemed like a good precaution. I even paid a little more for a bulkhead seat and despite a tiny baby with an amazingly patient and unflappable dad opposite, the extra space was fabulous. But that was it.. the full extent of the offering apart from a better headset for the AV system.
Meals were ordinary to the point where I fondly recalled the quality of Qantas Economy meals last year. Wine was served in a plastic cup and seemed to be rationed. PA announcements were barely audible.
But the biggest change I noted since flying with SIA to Paris and Istanbul in 2015 was the level of care and interaction from flight attendants. Robotic and perfunctory may seem harsh descriptions but in the absence of even the slightest interaction, on any of the four legs, I can only conclude that this is the new normal on SIA. Is it generational, cultural, budget driven, are they simply too busy and does it even matter? Well I think it does, to a point, given the iconic status of the Singapore Girl and her depiction in decades of ad campaigns as a caring, empathising communicator across continents. The reality is somewhat different but how hard is it really to train staff in these subtle skills?
So Singapore’s Premium Economy is great for leg room. It’s just a pity about the cold shoulder.