Flight Review – Singapore Airlines SQ956: Singapore to Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta by Airbus A350-900

Singapore Airlines is a major player on the lucrative Singapore – Jakarta route with up to 9 pairs of return flights daily. While the typical Boeing 777s are in use on this regional route, one particular flight, SQ956, currently uses the Airbus A350-900 for this short hop.

Similar to ScootCathay Pacific and a bunch of other airlines now, Singapore Airlines now uses FAST (Fast and Seamless Travel) Check-In at Changi Airport as well. While it’s sort of fun to use, that little bit of premium feels lost at the check-in counter now.

Press the Singapore Airlines logo on the screen to start the check-in process.

Remember to only print the exact number of baggage tags you need.

My baggage tag being spat out by the kiosk.

Soon after, my NTUC receipt boarding pass is printed.

After a final reminder from the kiosk, I tagged my bag, picked up my boarding pass and headed over to the Bag Drop counter.

Unlike the 100% self-service bag drop counter for my Cathay Pacific flight from Terminal 4, while you still have to place your bags yourself one by one at the FAST bag drop, the touch screen is not for your use this time, but rather, a check-in agent is stationed behind the counter to facilitate the process. Not sure if I like this half-automated system though.

Furthermore, the boarding pass has lost all its premium value – you used to feel that little bit of prestige in your heart when you held on to the boarding pass with the green Economy Class band on top.

Here’s my FAST and flimsy boarding pass.

Decided to use the mobile boarding pass instead.

Time to head for immigration and to my flight.

My flight was departing from Gate F35, so it’s a walk through the entire length of the departure transit hall from the North departure immigration area.

After the end of the rows of shops, it’s a final diverge to the pier.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t a queue for security screening at the gate. Guess it’s going to be a light load today.

The Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 9V-SME getting ready for departure.

Hmm, not many people as I expected for this Saturday morning flight. Perhaps most people booked their flights based on departure timings rather than aircraft type. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

With no response for passengers with children or needing assistance, it was a quick call for Group 4, or those seating from Row 51 onwards in the aft cabin.

Since the Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 is a long-haul product, the walk to Economy Class requires you to walk through all cabin classes, as the premium demand on long-haul routes is pretty high. Here are the brand new Business Class seats.

The new Premium Economy Class is located just behind the Business Class cabin. Just a cozy 3 rows of seats here.

Following which is the Economy Class cabin. This little cabin of just 6 rows of seats is defined as the Forward Zone which does require an additional surcharge to book if you are purchasing this ticket on a low fare. Hence, I’m not seated here.

Rows 47 to 62 form the main Economy Class cabin on the Singapore Airlines Airbus A350.

Pretty generous legroom for Economy Class. Also, the leg rest is appreciated. I could visualize myself flying long haul pretty comfortably on this, ignoring the budget portion of things.

The KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system has also been refreshed with a touchscreen and a controller. Two USB ports are available – one for charging only, and the other for charging and syncing with the in-flight entertainment system.

In case the touch screen isn’t enough for you, the controller also has a screen on it for you to touch.

Free in-ear earphones are distributed alongside the newspaper rack while boarding the plane. They are yours to take home after the flight.

The free in-ear earphones have a classy Singapore Airlines branding on them.

Some new movies on the KrisWorld entertainment system. Hmm… Murder on the Orient Express. Nah, flight’s too short to complete the movie.

The interactive route map featuring the flight path to Jakarta.

Before pushback, hot towels were distributed to all passengers. I think I haven’t had one of these on a plane for almost five years now. Singapore Airlines might be the only airline in the world which still provides hot towels to every Economy Class passenger.

Pushing back with a United Airlines Boeing 787 at the next gate.

Boat Quay

Soon after, the safety video is played. This new video is played across all aircraft and features familiar places of interests in Singapore, and also acts as an introduction to those coming here for the first time.

Haji Lane

Henderson Waves

Adventure Cove Waterpark

Gardens by the Bay

Watch the new Singapore Airlines safety video in full here:

Some SilkAir and Scoot narrow-body aircraft are parked at Terminal 4. My guess is that this might be an “extension” of Terminal 2 with passengers boarding via Gate F51, the bus gate, to get to their planes here, or just simply as extra “remote” parking bays for T2 since T4 took away some actual remote parking bays anyway.

The prepared cabin, ready for take-off.

Take-off was headed north towards Malaysia.

Making a u-turn to head south to Indonesia.

The view over Batam while climbing.

In the toilet of the Singapore Airlines Airbus A350.

Amenities include hand creams, toothbrush kits, combs and mouthwash which you can rinse your mouth with with the little cups provided. Put 4 squirts into the cup and add water before you gargle.

Reaching cruising altitude.

And breakfast is served! Two choices were available – the Scrambled Egg with Veal Sausage or Chicken with Bee Hoon.

The decision is obvious.

(I’m not sure if anyone would excitedly pick economical bee hoon over the scrambled egg.)

I haven’t had scrambled egg on a plane before, just omelettes or frittata, so this was a refreshing taste. And surprisingly creamy too, since this is, after all, served on a plane where things dry out.

The obligatory Singapore Sling cocktail on board Singapore Airlines to kick start the holiday. (Dry gin, DOM Benedictine, Cointreau, cherry brandy, Angostura bitters and Grenadine, mixed with lime & pineapple juice.) Unfortunately, individual menu cards are no longer handed out so you may have to order your drinks by heart.

Tip: For a non-alcoholic mocktail instead, try the Fruit Spritzer (Apple Juice and 7-Up).

Time to fiddle around with the connectivity options on the plane.

SMS and data services are also available on board. Unlike Cathay Pacific, you have to reply to the SMS with a code in order to activate the service. Still, do remember to switch off data roaming or put it on airplane mode altogether to prevent bill shock.

WiFi on board costs US$11.95 for 1 hour, US$16.95 for 3 hours and US$21.95 for 24 hours, similar to Scoot’s old WiFi pricing.

Scoot has changed to a volume-based pricing instead.

Some flight information in the browser along the way.

Descending into Jakarta.

A last look at my seat.

The rear view of the Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class.

The rear view of the Singapore Airlines Business Class.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford this.

Heading for the terminal building.

Heading downstairs to immigration.

The last time I used Terminal 2, the immigration counters for foreigners were on the side and the middle one was for locals. This time though, they’ve swapped positions.

The wait for baggage took about 15 minutes. And considering that I was one of the last ones off the plane and all other passengers are already waiting for their bags, that’s really slow. Although this ground side of things would be under PT Angkasa Pura II and not Singapore Airlines.

Once done with the baggage, it’s time to head outside for a fresh way to get to the city: via the new Skytrain to the Soekarno-Hatta Airport Rail Link station.

Overall, the Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 was a very comfortable product for a short-haul flight, and I would say that it is a tight race, but SQ might have been the best A350 Economy Class product I’ve tried so far, with my previous experiences being on Thai Airways and Cathay Pacific.

In general for the A350 though, while it is touted as being a quiet aircraft, even with the initial nickname of “Hushliner”, I still find the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to actually live up better to that claim when seated at the back of the plane behind the engines. However, I haven’t had the opportunity to sit in front of the wing on full-service airlines’ wide-body aircraft yet, so no comparisons yet for that.