This past Tuesday (3 April), Singapore Airlines (SIA) operated the world’s first Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner commercial flight out of its Changi Airport hub, ferrying its first set of passengers to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi), while flaunting its brand-new regional Business and Economy Class cabins, at the crack of dawn.
Travel Daily had the unique opportunity of sharing in the Singaporean carrier’s moment of pride and joy, specifically as a passenger on this inaugural — albeit short — flight. Here are our thoughts:
Facts and figures
The 787-10 Dreamliner is the latest variant of Boeing’s new-generation twin-jet, and is also the largest of the three siblings, at 68.3 metres in length (the 787-8 and 787-9 measure in at 56.7 metres and 62.8 metres respectively). SIA will begin operating its first 20 aircraft it chose to deck-out in a regional configuration, specifically for flights of up to eight hours out of Singapore Changi.
Similar to SIA’s Airbus A330-300 fleet, the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner has a two-class set-up. Comprising of 36 Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 staggered layout, and 301 Economy Class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, the new aircraft’s full-load operating capacity of 337 passengers is around 20% more than their A330 in both classes (at 30 and 255 seats in Business and Economy classes respectively).
Interestingly, their 787-10’s Economy Class has the highest seat count of any single-deck aircraft in SIA’s current fleet — with the exception of one particular Boeing 777-200 aircraft that is considered a virtual ‘antique’.
Passengers with the SingaporeAir app can pair up with their screen via the on-board Wi-Fi
Besides its new cabin products, every passenger travelling on SIA’s 787-10 Dreamliner will have access to the airline’s latest in-flight entertainment (IFE) experience, in the form of a content-rich, fully touchscreen-based system. By design, the latest KrisWorld offering (powered by Panasonic’s eX3 IFE system) does away with the physical controller / handset completely.
Passengers with smartphones and the SingaporeAir app installed can pair up with their screen (18 inches in Business; 11.6 inches in Economy) via the on-board Wi-Fi. If this sounds familiar, probably to frequent flyers of SIA, that is because their new A380 also sports the same IFE system.
Speaking of on-board Wi-Fi, SIA’s 787-10 Dreamliner will feature the same on-board internet offering as their Airbus A350 and select Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The airline has employed Panasonic’s Global Communication Services (GCS) for both inflight mobile broadband (via its Ku-band satellite service) and GSM phone services (through Aeromobile).
Uniquely, the ‘Dash-10’, or the ‘78X’, is the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner model to wear SIA’s iconic livery, with up to 49 of the type (inclusive of the previously-mentioned count of 20 aircraft) expected to bear the airline’s silver kris inspired tail logo in the coming months and years.
SIA: the first to operate all three variants of the Dreamliner family
Besides earning the achievement of being the largest customer for the type, the Singapore Airlines Group also became the first to operate all three variants of the Dreamliner family — with low-cost subsidiary Scoot, the first (budget) airline to operate a 787-only fleet, operating the 787-8 and 787-9 aircraft.
While onboard, we got the opportunity to explore a couple the following:
SIA’s newest Economy Class offering, also found on their newest Airbus A380 aircraft, is a brand new seat design featuring a contoured backrest and a six-way adjustable headrest. The seat definitely felt great and we appreciated the firmer, but not rock-hard, cushioning used (possibly because it’s still virtually new).
Although the flight was under two hours, we did not feel the same level of tiredness as most other typical economy class seats can cause, which can only be a good thing! SIA advertises the seat as being 18 inches wide; our trusty tape measure only read 17.5 inches. Unfortunately, we forgot to try out the seat recline because we got excited about the IFE…
The latest iteration of KrisWorld has a handset-less design, meaning no more fumbling. It is well-designed for finger-based navigation, with the responsiveness having noticeably improved since it was originally launched on the airline’s newer and retrofitted Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
Its unique ability to pair-up with the SingaporeAir app on a smartphone, which has also seen improvements, is handy for media playback control and viewing at-your-fingertips, like a basic flight map, remaining flight time and destination info.
Finally, a new myKrisWorld feature offers KrisFlyer members content recommendations based on their personal preferences and viewing history, and, more interestingly, the ability to bookmark and resume content, as well as saving media listening/viewing preferences, for subsequent flights (on the condition that the aircraft uses the same IFE system).
Physically, the IFE feels very solid, including those screens that slot between the seats in the emergency exit row. And yes, those awful earplug-based headsets was our only complaint.
The Wi-Fi is the same system used on SIA’s Airbus A350 fleet and select Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, offering a reliable connection with true broadband speeds.
If you have previously flown on a 787 Dreamliner before, the only notable difference with the 787-10 was the very-slightly-longer cabin toward the rear of the aircraft.
The two Economy Class cabins are pretty evenly split, at 150 and 151 seats for the forward and rear respectively. SIA’s choice in aesthetics for the Economy Class cabin, specifically the darker tone, helped with making the cabin feel less cramped visually.
However, in the nine-row Business Class cabin (of 36 seats), they made sure to fully utilise every possible nook and cranny!
Again, the 787-10 Dreamliner is effectively the largest version of the 787. That also means the same large electronically-dimmable windows and similar lavatory designs (2 in Business; 5 in Economy).
Cabin noise was also similar to that of other 787 Dreamliners, relative to the distance and position of the seat from the engines and doors. The ride felt extremely smooth, thanks partly to virtually-zero bumps along the way.
Where does it fly to?
SIA has one Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft (9V-SCA) in service during the first week of April, with the second (9V-SCB) to start the week after. The airline has scheduled operations for the following short daily return services for crew familiarisation purposes:
Effective: 03APR18 – 06MAY18
SQ970 (Singapore – Bangkok) — DEP 0710; ARR 0835
SQ973 (Bangkok – Singapore) — DEP 0940; ARR 1305
Effective: 03APR18 – 31MAY18
SQ118 (Singapore – Kuala Lumpur) — DEP 1845; ARR 1945
SQ119 (Kuala Lumpur – Singapore) — DEP 2040; ARR 2150
Effective: 10APR18 – 02MAY18; 08MAY18 – 30JUN18
SQ972 (Singapore – Bangkok) — DEP 0935; ARR 1105
SQ975 (Bangkok – Singapore) — DEP 1215; ARR 1540
Effective: 10APR18 – 06MAY18
SQ982 (Singapore – Bangkok) — DEP 1730; ARR 1900
SQ983 (Bangkok – Singapore) — DEP 2005; ARR 2330
Effective from 08MAY18
SQ618 (Singapore – Osaka Kansai) — DEP 0125; ARR 0905
SQ619 (Osaka Kansai – Singapore) — DEP 1055; ARR 1640
Effective from 08MAY18 (following day for SQ216)
SQ215 (Singapore – Perth) — DEP 1845; ARR 2355
SQ216 (Perth – Singapore) — DEP 0110; ARR 0635
All the above-listed 787-10 Dreamliner flights can be booked via the Singapore Airlines web site, or authorised travel agent or web site.
Given this was the world’s very first commercial flight of the 787-10 Dreamliner, it was only natural to expect some kind of celebration to commemorate this proud moment for the airline – after all, Business Class was at ‘full house’ by around T-minus 12 hours to the flight.
Unfortunately, besides the additional crew complement (there were two in-flight managers on board), it was simply the typical Singapore Airlines passenger experience from check-in to deplaning. As someone who has done a number of these inaugural flights, the flight on SQ970 felt disappointing and lacklustre.
Still, despite the relative lack of fanfare at the launch, the product itself is very impressive. Extremely smooth, relatively quiet and with some very smart innovations on the IFE, the 787-10 seems to live up to the hype. Maybe that’s why there was so little pomp and circumstance at the inaugural flight: SIA wanted to let the Dreamliner do the talking.