Touring the 10,000th Airbus Plane (Singapore Airlines’ A350-900)
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Yesterday, Airbus delivered its 10,000th aircraft — a Singapore Airlines A350-900. This same plane will be used to launch nonstop service to San Francisco next weekend, and given that the A350 will soon be flying to the US every day, I’d like to take you on a tour of this brand new aircraft.
TPG and I had the A350 pretty much to ourselves for an hour or so — as you might expect, there are a lot of pictures, so I’m going to break this up into four installments, to launch over the next few days:
- An overall tour of the aircraft, including cockpit and galleys (this post)
- A tour of the two business-class cabins, including the best seats to pick for your flight
- An overview of premium economy, including the most comfortable seats there
- An in-depth look at coach — again, with a look at which seats to choose
If you don’t want to wait, check out TPG’s Facebook Live tour below:
First up is the general tour — I’ll pick up where we left off yesterday.
Singapore Airlines’ configuration of the A350-900 includes a total of 253 seats — 42 in business class (two cabins), 24 in premium economy (one cabin) and 187 in coach (two cabins). Singapore will use a modified ultra-long-range version of this aircraft on its Los Angeles and New York nonstops as well — we’re told to expect more details about which products will be on board roughly a year before service launches in 2018 (I’m betting it’ll be business and premium economy).
As the 10,000th plane Airbus has ever delivered, this particular aircraft has a very special livery — keep an eye out for it at SFO!
One of my favorite A350 features is the curved wingtip, which, in addition to giving the plane a signature look, helps to improve aerodynamics.
Starting with the cockpit — at 6 feet, 7 inches, TPG was bumping his head with the seat in its default configuration.
Fortunately, the seat is fully adjustable, giving him plenty of clearance. The cockpit is very spacious overall.
I find the A350’s cockpit to be one of the most visually appealing — I’m a really big fan of the consistent 15-inch LCDs.
49,000 feet? Yeah, I don’t think so — the A350’s maximum cruising altitude is 43,100 feet.
During the flight, A350 pilots can seal off the forwardmost section of the plane and create their own private suite, including a fully equipped lavatory and a pilot crew rest with bunks and a recliner seat (unfortunately crew rest photos were not allowed).
Like a kid in a candy store, TPG wanted to get his hands on everything — including the ovens back in the spacious rear galley.
All of the appliances are sleek and clean — as you’d expect, given that they’re brand spanking new.
Since this A350 is not yet equipped with galley carts, TPG managed to inspect every nook and cranny. (Can you hear me now?)
There’s another galley between the two business-class cabins. It’s not quite as large, but there’s enough room for a couple of flight attendants to prepare meals.
There are ovens here as well, along with coffee makers and plenty of storage.
There’s even a mirror, which I imagine flight attendants take advantage of quite often during a long-haul flight.
I asked TPG to help out with some in-seat photos — again, keep in mind that he’s 6′ 7″, so chances are you’ll have much more room to stretch out than he did.
Business class consists of 42 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. On its narrower 787-9 Dreamliner, United has seats in a 2-2-2 configuration for its SFO-SIN nonstop — you’ll have much more privacy on SQ. These seats have been confused for first class — this is really one of the most spacious business-class seats in the world, though the seating area isn’t quite as wide as on Singapore’s A380s.
Then, just behind business class you’ll find the cozy premium economy cabin, with 24 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. It’s obviously a huge step down from business class, but shorter people (like me) will find Singapore’s premium economy to be adequate for long-haul flying, and I’ve seen it available for not much more than coach (it’s also often available with KrisFlyer miles). You can see our full review of premium economy (on the A380) here — stay tuned for a deeper dive with the A350 cabin.
Meanwhile, here’s regular coach — again, you’re looking at a 6′ 7″ man, and TPG did fit in a middle seat (though with not much room to spare). Economy seats are arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration — they’re 18 inches wide (standard on the A350) and have 32 inches of pitch. By comparison, Qatar Airways’ A350 offers between 31 and 32 inches of pitch, and Finnair’s A350 offers 31 inches of pitch in economy and 35 in Economy Comfort.
I love the Airbus A350, and with just 253 seats on board, Singapore’s variant is one of the most appealing. By comparison, Cathay Pacific’s A350-900 has 280 seats, Qatar’s has 283, Finnair’s has 297 and Vietnam’s has 305, so SQ passengers can expect more room to stretch out overall — especially in business class.
By the time you read this, I’ll be boarding Singapore Airlines’ A350 delivery flight in Toulouse, France, with 12 hours en-route to Changi Airport. I’ll have plenty more impressions to share about each cabin (and the delivery flight itself) in the days to come. In the meantime, Wi-Fi-permitting you’ll be able to follow along in realtime on my Instagram feed and Twitter, so be sure to tune in!
Which airline operates your favorite A350?
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