Singapore Airlines 777 vs. A380 Premium Economy – Which One Is Better?

While Singapore is gradually introducing their A350 into the fleet, the backbone of their longhaul fleet currently consists of the A380 and the 777-300ER. I had the chance to fly both planes in premium economy recently, and most of Singapore’s “premium” routes allow a choice between these two planes (e.g. London, where some flights are operated by the A380 and others are operated by the 777-300ER). I’d say if you were flying in first, business or economy class, the choice is pretty clear cut.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Hong Kong Airport

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

If you were flying in first class, you would probably want to choose the A380, which features a fully enclosed suite that has been consistently hyped for the past ten years (while there probably are better products out there at this point, I agree that their suites are impressive, particularly those which convert into a double bed).

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Suites Class

Meanwhile, if you were flying in business or economy class, you probably would want to sit on the 777-300ER. The 777-300ER features an updated business and economy cabin, while the A380’s business and economy cabins are starting to become dated.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class

This leaves one cabin – premium economy. A number of Singapore’s 777-300ERs feature premium economy, as do most (all?) of their A380s. The difference certainly isn’t as big, as you’d get the same seat either way, which is pretty industry leading, in my opinion. While the padding isn’t great, the seat reclines pretty far back, has a legrest and footrest at every seat (most airlines only feature a legrest in the first row), and they’re practical, with quite a few storage options and two power ports.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Premium Economy

I’ve reviewed both flights that I’ve taken between Hong Kong and Singapore on Singapore’s premium economy, which you can find here:

However, I thought I’d dedicate a post comparing between the two products, so those flying premium economy on Singapore would be able to choose between the 777 and the A380. Singapore Airlines’ 777s and A380s feature the same seat (which is comfortable, though I’d wish the padding was slightly better), so I’m basing the comparison around some other factors that I found interesting.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy

So, what differentiates the cabin products between Singapore’s A380 and 777-300ER economy class, and most importantly, which one would I choose on a longhaul flight?

Cabin Size

Singapore’s A380 lower deck is marginally wider than the 777’s lower deck, which fits one more seat abreast down in economy class. This means that the A380 cabin is ever so slightly more spacious than the cabin on the 777.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Premium Economy Cabin

However, the 777 only features four rows of premium economy, while the A380 features five. Personally I found the 777 premium economy cabin to be slightly confined, actually, and the A380 much more spacious. I can’t exactly explain that, but I guess it has to do with the 777 premium economy cabin being sandwiched squarely between business and economy class, while there’s a certain amount of space between premium economy and first class on the A380. So while the 777 cabin feels private, it does feel cramped at the same time.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy Cabin

Overall, even as someone who values privacy, I’d take the A380 cabin over the 777 cabin purely in terms of size alone. It feels less cramped, and it’s slightly wider.

Sleeping Comfort

While the seats are identical, it’s worth noting that the A380’s window seats feature space between the seat and the window, due to the curvature of the cabin. That’s terrific if you want to store pillows and unused blankets in the space by the window, as it’s big enough, though people usually pay for premium economy to get slightly better sleep quality as it’s less cramped. With the A380, you can’t prop your pillow against the wall and sleep, while you can do that on the 777. That’s value for the window seats, in my opinion.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Premium Economy Cabin

While it ultimately doesn’t matter if you’re not in a window seat, I think the 777 edges the A380 out in seat comfort for that reason alone. The A380 is slightly wider on the lower deck, though, which should translate to wider seats – I didn’t notice a big difference in that regard, though, apart from the cabin seeming more spacious.

Service Pace

The A380 is a huge plane, with over 400 passengers in economy class. That’s impressive up until the point where you have to wait for an hour on a four hour flight to get your tray cleared. On the 777, you’ll still have to wait for 45-50 minutes on a full flight (if you don’t book the Cook you’ll be waiting around 10-15 minutes less), which I don’t believe is acceptable. Nonetheless, the 777 features less waiting time in terms of service pace alone. I haven’t been on a longhaul flight so I can’t judge, but they seem to do things similarly on both aircraft on shorthaul flights.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Economy Class

So yeah, you’ll have to wait less for your tray to be cleared on the 777.

Entertainment

Singapore’s KrisWorld entertainment system is one of the best out there. I think that the A380 probably has the best entertainment system that I’ve ever used, based on the range of entertainment that it provides.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 KrisWorld Entertainment System

However, I do think that they botched the entertainment system completely on the 777, as it’s much harder to navigate. While Singapore tried to make the 777 entertainment system better so it could compete with Cathay Pacific and Emirates’ new systems, instead they fell behind. Ultimately there’s still a wide range of entertainment, it’s just the navigation that has been appallingly altered.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER KrisWorld Entertainment System

The one redeeming quality of the new entertainment system is that I prefer its inflight map, which features more extensive viewing options. However, if you’re not an airline nut that likes to watch the inflight map from takeoff until landing (hell, even I’m not one of those people), you probably wouldn’t appreciate the downfalls that the system has.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER KrisWorld Inflight Map

While the 777 was an attempt to improve the great first generation KrisWorld entertainment system, due to the lack of navigation options, I’d avoid the 777’s entertainment system, and would pick the A380 in that regard.

Exit Row/Bulkhead Seating

Singapore requires a payment for their exit/bulkhead rows, and I think that the legroom they provide is sufficient, so I personally wouldn’t spring for them. Singapore’s A380 features a window at their bulkhead row seat, though not a lot of extra legroom. I don’t have a picture of the bulkhead row, but from the below photo you can get a general impression of what it’s like.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Premium Economy Cabin

I probably wouldn’t spring for a bulkhead even if it was free, as most of the other rows feature two windows.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Premium Economy Windows

Meanwhile, on the 777, there’s a ton of extra space at the exit row, though there aren’t any windows. As an aviation nut, I’d probably avoid the exit row despite its extra legroom, even if assigning an exit row seat was free.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy Seats 31H and 31K

Obviously all this is a moot point if you’re not seated by the window, but the window seats are easy to snag if you book early.

Objectively speaking, I’d say that people would choose the 777’s exit row seats for their extra space, where there’s no reason to pay extra for Singapores’ A380 premium economy seats, as the extra space is marginal and they’re still missing a window. So I’d give the 777 the win, even though I wouldn’t pick their bulkhead seats either.

Bottom Line

I’d say that both cabins are pretty even in this regard, so I’d say the following:

  • If you wanted to stay up and work in a wider, more spacious cabin and be able to quickly navigate around entertainment, I’d suggest booking the A380
  • If you wanted to prop your head up against a wall and sleep, or wanted an exit row and didn’t mind losing the window view, I’d suggest booking the 777

However, I can’t recommend the product enough, and do think it’s one of the better premium economy products out there. I’m eager to try more premium economy products so I’ll be able to weigh Singapore’s premium economy against the other big products out there, though you’ll have a good flight either way – at least if your USB port and your PTV remote aren’t broken and your PTV isn’t glitchy. 😉

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy USB Port

Do you have a preference of aircraft when flying premium economy on Singapore? How does their A350 premium economy weigh up against the rest?

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