April 15, 2024

Singapore Airlines, Manchester – Houston

A midweek Premium Economy flight to America’s Space City with Singapore Airlines afforded extra legroom, fast track through security and out-of-this-world food and service.

THE FLIGHT: I flew Premium Economy class aboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 (SQ0052) from Manchester (MCR) to George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas, on 17 May 2023. The flight time was 9 hours and 50 minutes.

THE CHECK-IN: Thanks to an easy-to-use online check-in process, I checked in at home via the Singapore Airlines app to save time at the airport.

Signing up to the KrisFlyer or PPS rewards programmes, for general or premium travel respectively, meant being able to earn and collect points. They are redeemable against benefits like upgrades, offsetting emissions of future flights and, usefully, for inflight extras like magazines and pre-registering for wi-fi.

Arriving at Manchester International Airport’s Terminal 2 by train, I was in good time for the flight. Having preorganised my boarding pass online made the bag drop a speedy affair – completed in just 10 minutes. There was no queue, and the ground crew were pleasant and efficient in weighing my suitcase and printing baggage receipts before wishing me a good journey. I was soon on my way.

Singapore Airlines’ standard checked bag weight limit for Premium Economy is generous, with two pieces, up to 23kg each (50.7 lbs). The sum of length, width and height of each checked bag must not exceed 158cm (62 inches) and the limit for one item is 32kg. Cabin baggage should not weigh more than 6kg.

Getting through security took around 15 minutes via the fast track (included in this ticket type), which left plenty of time for shopping and a coffee airside.

THE BOARDING: The flight departed from Gate A6. I was among the second group of passengers invited to board the aircraft.

I was travelling with two business colleagues and after a slight delay, we boarded and were quickly directed to our seats, finding the cabin to be spacious and pleasantly quiet. We had plenty of space to safely stow away our hand luggage in the overhead lockers and were able to spread out after take-off.

THE SEAT: My aisle seat, 21D, was one of the airline’s ‘bulkhead no limit’ seats with ample legroom, upholstered in smart grey leather with an orange and blue signature trim. There was a handy hook for hanging jackets and a personal light for reading. The headrest and footrest were adaptable and pillows and blankets readily available.

Premium Economy seatback entertainment aboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 flying to Houston, Texas.
Premium Economy seatback entertainment aboard a Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 flying to Houston, Texas.

THE SERVICE: We were greeted cheerily by Singapore Airlines’ polished cabin crew at the aircraft door, dressed in smart suits or signature sarong kebayas originally fashioned by Parisian designer Pierre Balmain. They were upbeat and professional. Service was impressive, polite and considerate, and no passenger request was too much of a problem.

Sadly, such efficiency didn’t extend to the wi-fi, which was a bit hit-and-miss on this occasion. Usually, passengers can enjoy a three-hour complimentary session, which is handy for checking emails and messages in the air.

There were intermittent problems getting online for free. My travelling companion bought a $14 package, which meant he was able to better access the internet though it was slightly slow.

Sizable personal displays made for relaxing inflight entertainment viewing during the flight, easily navigable through a personal electronic device, a removable console and by the interactive screen. Singapore Airlines’ system, KrisWorld, includes more than 150 days worth of films and television shows, meaning that there was plenty to browse.

TV-wise there was a lot of American programming but plenty for British viewers with the likes of BBC’s Frozen Planet. Sports fans could keep up with live matches.

There was a collection of games designed to keep children occupied.

To aid sleep, you can snooze tuned into a calm-inducing wellness soundtrack.

Toothbrushes and toothpaste were offered mid-flight for freshening up. Being able to download the latest issues of magazines was also an extra touch that I appreciated.

Lily O'Brien's Double Chocolate Mousse served in Singapore Airlines' Premium Economy.
Lily O’Brien’s Double Chocolate Mousse served in Singapore Airlines’ Premium Economy.

THE CATERING: Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel of renowned chefs creates dishes inspired by its destinations. Italy’s Carlo Cracco, Australia’s Matt Moran, Georges Blanc from France and India’s Sanjeev Kapoor are among the seven-strong team. The complimentary food and drink offerings proved excellent.

We enjoyed a welcome drink of Charles de Cazanove Champagne blended with orange juice for a refreshing Mimosa, served with snack bags of peas and crackers.

The selection of available alcoholic beverages included beer, wine, spirits and cocktail combinations including Singapore Slings – of course! Soft as well as hot beverages were also readily available, and the cabin crew frequently offered complimentary juice and water though there were two bottles of still Harrogate Spring Water stowed in our seats’ drinks compartment.

Lunch service commenced after an hour, with an appetiser of cous cous and vegetable salad, topped with smoked salmon, which made for a fresh start to the meal.

As I was travelling with two business companions, we each sampled an option for mains, which included a light pan-roasted fillet of fish with lemon white wine sauce, lentil vegetable ragout and sauteed sprigs of broccoli. There was a heartier tender slow-cooked beef in a mushroom jus with German potato noodles and savoy cabbage. The succulent braised chicken and shitake mushrooms in soy sauce with stir-fried spinach topped with sesame seeds and steamed rice delivered a taste of Singapore. All three of the impressive meals were served with metallic cutlery.

Champagne was offered as an aperitif and each dish can be paired with fine wines, courtesy of Singapore Airlines’ air sommeliers. The lengthy wine list included smooth Chilean Frontera Chardonnay and the hearty South Australian Shiraz went well with the cheese.

Familiar branded foodie products included Jacob’s Cream Crackers, Lurpak butter and brands such as Croxton Manor cheddar, Lakeland Dairies milk and Britvic mixers.

Dessert included fluffy chocolate mousse from Lily O’Brien’s. And post-lunch, while passengers were watching films or catching up on emails, Marshfield Farm clotted cream ice cream was distributed.

Two meals were served on this flight. Before landing the evening meal service began with a prawn and orzo salad. I opted for the Hainanese-style pork with sweet and sour sauce and steamed jasmine rice to follow, though the pan-roasted cod with creamy polenta and green beans was also a winning choice according to my colleague.

Premium Economy lunch service on Singapore Airline's Manchester to Houston flight.
Premium Economy lunch service on Singapore Airlines’ Manchester to Houston flight.

THE VERDICT: Flying to Houston with Singapore Airlines was a pleasure. The clean cabin, spaciousness, excellent food and drink offering, and stellar service meant my transatlantic flight passed by comfortably and quickly.

We arrived refreshed and on time. Houston, we didn’t have a problem!