In flight: New York City to Frankfurt with Singapore Air


I was only a bit surprised to find a wide range of choices available for award flights from New York to Northern Germany in mid-March. After all, it is the middle of winter and most spring break folks are headed to sun and surf or other more traditional destinations. We had our choice of the non-stop United flight to Hamburg or taking a connection in Frankfurt and flying in to Hannover. Given our initial destination of Hildesheim is much closer to Hannover, plus the better flight time (9pm departure rather than 5:30pm) I figured we’d take the extra travel time. Plus it meant I’d get to experience Singapore Air in their economy cabin, rounding out the full set (I did suites a couple months ago and business a year ago). So, thanks to some MileagePlus points I got us booked on JFK-FRA-HAJ with a reasonable layover in Frankfurt for breakfast and a shower in the Senator Lounge.

We got to JFK a bit early so that we could have dinner. We considered the options in the Swiss lounge in T4 and quickly decided to have a real dinner instead. There is a branch of The Palm in the terminal and, despite some previous bad experiences with other airport steakhouses, we gave it a go. Mostly because it was the only reasonable meal option there. And it was surprisingly good. It was helped by our waitress Victoria who was old-school NYC in a good way. But the food was also quite tasty. And by virtue of sitting there rather than in the lounge we got to see this guy and his sparkly backpack. All sorts of good happening there.

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Once on board we were treated to the bonus of having the middle seat between us empty. We almost got lie-flat coach but I was slow to jump into the seat across the aisle. Yeah, loads were light. That was good because the space on board isn’t particularly generous down the back of the plane. There is a foot rest which mostly just got in my way, preventing me from extending my legs under the seat in front of me. And the seats are the articulating ones so the recline slides the bottom forward a bit. Reclining decreases legroom. Yuck.

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On the plus side, economy class got amenity kits (socks & a toothbrush) and earplugs/eye mask were available on request from the flight attendants. Also, free drinks with the dinner service, though it was really only beer & wine. Liquor was available but not on the drink cart so the delay in having the FA go to the galley to get it made it a rather unappealing option. The meal was OK. Nothing special, really, either good or bad. I suppose that’s about all one can really hope for in coach these days.

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On the plus side, Singapore has quite a selection of movies loaded up on their IFE systems. Most were relatively new releases but there were a few from the archives as well. It took three reboots for my IFE to actually work properly (others around me had similar troubles) but once it got working it was pretty good. The in-flight internet was not working, making me 0/2 on trying that product out with Singapore Air. I’m happy my plan was to sleep and not be working.

Oh, and just because I can, a laviator shot on board showing off my RouteHappy shirt.

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Overall I’d say that the timing of the SQ flight was still better than the UA option I had. But seat comfort would have been better on United, especially vis a vis personal space since I can get EconomyPlus for free. The meal was maybe a smidgen better on Singapore Air but with the later departure that matters less. And United’s IFE selection is sufficient for my tastes, maybe even better if you like the classics more than current cinema. In premium cabins there are a many more reasons to favor Singapore Air over United. In economy I’m not so sure about that choice. Especially if you’ve got elite status.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

14 Comments

  1. “In economy Iā€™m not so sure about that choice.”

    A million SQ fanboys just choked on their toast.

  2. Good trip report, didn’t know about the limitations of seat space in SQ economy and learnt about ‘RouteHappy’, so thanks. And the laviator photo looks like a blown up police custody shot, but a good one! šŸ™‚

  3. Good trip report, didn’t know about the limitations of seat space in SQ economy and also learn about ‘RouteHappy’, so thanks. And the laviator photo looks like a blown up police custody shot, but a good one! šŸ™‚

  4. Did LHR-SIN on A380 in May 2012 after flying in premium economy on VS BOS-LHR. I thought the footrests were horrendous as well and I am not a tall person (5’8″). I was fortunate to get the lie flat coach as well but the seats were just a bit too hard. I did like the IFE on SQ though.

    Adam

  5. SQ economy is not great. Have done their 380, 747 and 330.I would choose another airline over SQ any day. At least you got your meal choice. On my flights they twice ran out with stinky fish remaining. Not too impressed. My Economy experience really does not make me want to try their business or first.

  6. Great trip report! I flew four trips to Asia from US last year and only took SQ. Beginning of this year, I flew on UA to Asia for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised. Meals and IFE were maybe slightly better in SQ but the seat pitch was great especially on 21H in pmUA 777. I’d choose UA economyplus anyday over SQ economy for longhaul.

  7. So how many miles did it cost and what were the milage hits for premium seats?

    1. I paid 60k United MileagePlus points round-trip for the award, plus ~$190 in taxes. A business class award would be 100K. There were no biz seats available so it wasn’t really an option for me anyways.

  8. This is a bit late, but looking at this for next April: do you have to call in to book? I’m not seeing this flight available online anywhere. Thx!

    1. Been a while since I looked but I definitely did find the SQ Y inventory online on the UA site at one point. You might also want to check ANA or Aeroplan just to make sure.

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