Last weekend, I embarked on a 43-hour visit in the city-state of Singapore. My love for Asia Miles lured me to Cathay Pacific’s triple miles promo for Southeast Asia destinations lure me to book a random trip to the Lion City. I chose Singapore over Manila since Singapore is twice as far as Manila from Hong Kong, and the tickets aren’t twice as expensive. Not only did I enjoy the trip, but I earned 9,552 miles from it in addition to the miles I’ll be getting from my credit card.
I went straight to the airport right after work even though my flight wasn’t until almost 2am on a Saturday. I was very excited for this flight as it was my first time to ride the Airbus A350-900 XWB (extra-widebody). As my excitement was building up, Cathay Pacific gave me yet another surprise in the form of free upgrade to premium economy.
The A350 Experience
The queue for premium economy and Marco Polo Green members was longer for this flight as compared to my usual Manila flights. Upon boarding the plane, the first thing I noticed was the wood-like floor of the galley. After a short walk inside the airplane, I found my seat right away. I was seated on seat 30K, a bulkhead window seat.
The premium economy seats on the A350 is an upgrade of what Cathay Pacific has on the Boeing 777. I like how they used blue rather than the green they used on the 777. The dark gray accent on the headrest added a premium feel to the seats. Beneath the headrest is a small lamp that you can easily adjust to focus on your reading material, making it less intrusive to the people around you. The armrest has a compartment that easily fits your passport, phone, tablet, or even a small netbook. Each seat also has its own legrest that you can adjust to your liking. There are seat adjustment controls for the recline, the angle of the legrest and length of the legrest. The seat width, though, felt narrower than the premium economy seat on a Boeing 777.
The in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen was definitely huge for a premium economy seat at 12.1″. It was designed to be used as a touchscreen tablet. The interface looked really refreshing but has a serious case of taking form over function. Since it was inconvenient for me to navigate the touchscreen when seated in a bulkhead seat, I had to use the remote control/gamepad. Unfortunately, the interface isn’t intuitive when using the gamepad – something Cathay should look into. They use the Cathay Pacific grey/silver for the active selection whilst using the more dominant Cathay Pacific green for inactive selections. It was confusing even for a digital native like me. The older passenger seated beside me had trouble navigating the IFE so I had to help him from time to time. Out of frustration, he gave up and just elected to sleep. It was obvious though that he wanted to play with it.
Right after we reached cruising altitude, they immediately started with the food service. Honestly, I was disappointed how a five-star airline serves packed snacks in premium economy for a four-hour flight. The packed snacks had muffin, fruit juice, small serving of a fruit platter and another pastry in it. In one of my later flights, I asked a flight attendant about it. Apparently, they only serve refreshments on that flight due to its schedule.
I decided to get some nap after my eating snacks since I’ll be arriving in Singapore just in time for sunrise. The seat was comfortable enough to sleep in. Overall, I had a delightful first flight with the Airbus A350!
Landing in Singapore
I always wondered why Singapore Changi always topped the rankings of the world’s best airport. Upon deplaning, I was unsure if I was on the arrivals or departures section of the airport. Apparently, the arrivals area and departure gates are not sterile at the Changi Airport. It was also surprising to see security checkpoints in each gate.
Cathay Pacific uses Terminal 1, the oldest of all the terminals in Singapore Changi. I think the carpet makes it look old. I just followed the signs leading to the arrival’s area until I saw the immigration counters. There was almost no queue at 5:30am so clearing immigration was a breeze. Their immigration is one of the most straightforward I’ve seen so far. The immigration officer didn’t even ask for my return ticket or hotel accommodation. She just asked me how long I’m planning to stay and I said two (2) days.
Right after clearing immigration, I saw the weirdly laid out baggage reclaim area. Since I did not have any baggage checked-in, I went straight through the green channel of customs. From there, I dashed to Terminal 3 to buy a SIM card and ride the train going to the city.
Honestly, Singapore Changi did not give me a good impression. I was probably expecting too much. Nevertheless, all the disappointment I had changed after I used the airport again to depart for my flight to Hong Kong!