Review: Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul Incheon to San Francisco

Filed Under: Awards, Singapore

Singapore 16
Seoul (ICN) – San Francisco (SFO)
Sunday, August 18
Depart: 5:50PM
Arrive: 12:45PM
Duration: 10hr55min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2A (First Class)

The main reason I booked this flight is so that I could fly with Janesis again. For those of you new to the blog, Janesis is someone I met on a Singapore to Tokyo Narita flight last April that’s possibly the most exceptional person ever. There are plenty of airlines on which I’ve received good service, though I don’t think anyone does it quite from the heart like Janesis does. Subsequently I’ve flown with her from Moscow to Singapore and also from Hong Kong to Singapore (though she wasn’t working my cabin on that flight), and in all cases the flights were excellent.

So I was excited to fly with her again. Upon boarding we were greeted at the door by Wilton, the leading steward working first class on this flight, as Janesis was busy in the galley.

We were once again seated in 1A and 2A, and quickly took our seats and settled in.

First class cabin

Once settled in Janesis offered us pre-departure beverages. I ordered a glass of champagne, and she didn’t even have to ask whether it was Krug or Dom I preferred. 😉

Pre-departure Krug

After that we were offered pajamas and an amenity kit. The pajamas were Givenchy branded and while they’re quite stylish, I find them to be a bit too thick and warm.



Meanwhile the amenity kits were recently changed. They used to be Kiehl’s branded, while they’re newly Sothys branded. I still miss the old days where they had Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits with full size bottles of cologne in them.

Amenity kit

What’s interesting is that the amenity kit used to have all kinds of stuff in it, though now it only has a few bottles of lotion. I think this actually makes sense since all the other amenities are available in the bathroom.

Amenity kit contents

We were also offered slippers, socks, and eye shades.

Eyeshades, socks, and slippers

At around 6:45PM the door was closed with two empty seats in first class. The captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 10hr10min. This would be a bit shorter than usual, so would allow us to make up a bit of the time from our late departure.

We pushed back and made the short taxi to runway 33L. It seems they were just switching runway directions as we were departing, because as we were taxiing to 33L planes were still taking off on 15R (in other words in the other direction on the same runway).

The views on the taxi out were great, of everything from Korean Air A380s to airlines I had never heard of.

Korean Air A380

Tarmac views

Say what?!

By the time we made it to runway 33L we were number one for takeoff.

Ready for takeoff

View during climb out

View during climb out

Our climb out was smooth, and as we passed through about 20,000 feet the seatbelt sign was turned off. At this point we were presented with the menus, and then the inflight auditor came around to greet each first class passenger to welcome them aboard. I’ve never (knowingly) had an inflight auditor on Singapore before, but this crew member was dressed in black and had a nametag that read “Inflight Auditor.” she was a delight and couldn’t have been more friendly and proactive, since she not only observed but also helped a bit with the service. I joked that I’d take care of the auditing in first class and that we were in good hands with Janesis, so she could go focus on another cabin. 😉

My favorite view!

The dinner menu read as follows:




Then the wine list read as follows:




Then the drink, coffee, and tea menu read as follows:








The service began with chicken and lamb satay, which was just as good as on the first sector.

Satay again!

Then I had caviar, along with a glass of Krug to accompany it.

Caviar presentation

Next I had the salad, which was also fairly good.

Salad course

Shame on me, but I had eaten so much after the flight from Singapore to Incheon that I decided to skip the main course and go straight for dessert. I ordered the mango cheesecake with ice cream, which was spectacular.

Mango cheesecake with ice cream

The meal service was done within 90 minutes of takeoff.

Airshow after dinner

It goes without saying that the service was phenomenal. Janesis was on top of her game as usual, and her colleague Wilton was excellent as well. They were both incredibly attentive and friendly as could be.

After that I was kind of tired so requested turndown service, which was promptly taken care of.

Turndown service

While I don’t find the seat all that comfortable for sitting, it does make a fairly good bed, and I managed to get about seven hours of sleep.

I woke up about 90 minutes out of San Francisco to this amazing display by Janesis:

Airshow and presents!

She made one of her amazing cards, and left a teddy bear, a deck of playing cards, an origami shirt, and a paper flower. She’s simply one of a kind.

Card from Janesis and the crew

Meanwhile since it was my friend’s birthday recently, Janesis created an incredible handmade card for her which was signed by all the crew members — amazing, amazing, amazing!

Birthday presents!

Since I slept the whole flight I didn’t have anything to eat from the snack menu, though it read as follows:


Within a few minutes of waking up I ordered a cappuccino, and shortly thereafter breakfast service began. The menu read as follows:


I ordered the fruit plate to start.

Fruit plate

Then I ordered some muesli.


And then for the main course I had pancakes with strawberry compote, which might as well have been scones based on their thickness.


While I’m not a huge fan of the ATC delays that are often associated with San Francisco, I don’t think there’s a more gorgeous airport to fly into in the mid-afternoon. As we approached we more or less got a city tour, including an awesome view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Approaching San Francisco

View on approach

Eventually we swung back around and landed on runway 28R.


Our taxi to the international terminal took about 10 minutes, and as usual the views were awesome of all the Star Alliance heavies lined up waiting to depart.

View on taxi

Star Alliance line up

Even though I just got off an ultra longhaul I was itching to get right on the Lufthansa A380 parked two gates from us.

Lufthansa A380

Eventually we parked next to an ANA 777, and after bidding farewell to the awesome crew we headed to the arrivals hall.

ANA 777

The queue in the arrivals hall  for foreigners was the second longest I’ve seen in my life (the longest was at LAX where the arrivals hall was so full that they wouldn’t let us deplane). Real shame that this is how we treat foreigners, when the line for US citizens was short.

Immigration queue

More immigration queue

Anyway, this was a spectacular flight. For one, I don’t think I’ve ever arrived as well rested as I did off this flight. I don’t think I yawned once for the entire day. But beyond that, the service was incredible, as it always is when Janesis is aboard.

On a good day no airline can compete with Singapore, in my opinion.

  1. That immigration queue is disgraceful. The inherent stress of going through immigration is bad enough, adding a couple of hours wait before hand is miserable.

  2. There are countries that treat foreigners and their own citizens a lot worse than we do. But of course you never talk about that on your travels.

  3. I don’t feel bad as i had to wait about an hour at customs in Japan on the foreigners side while the citizen/resident line was so much shorter. It happens.

  4. Love those northern approaches to SFO, right over the city. Truly spectacular. But, erm, that picture is of the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate.

    (On a flight to southern CA once on a prop plane, we took off towards the north and flew around the city, over the Golden Gate and down the ocean side of the peninsula, on a beautiful clear day – at fairly low altitude because it wasn’t a jet. One of the most spectacular views I’ve ever experienced on a plane. I’d trade it for any amount of Diet Coke and Krug.)

  5. Who cares?? Isn’t this like the 10th time you’ve been to Singapore? You need another “hobby”

  6. “Jumping the Shark”…it’s coming. Better plan the exit maneuver soon. Or just spend some more of the fam’s cash

  7. A bit jealous. When I flew SQ F, I didn’t get a card, teddy bear or any of that. Great flight though 🙂

  8. Janesis is AMAZING!!! By the way, on your friend’s display, what was that cat-like thing inside the Menagerie cup? I couldn’t tell whether it was edible or some sort of toy?

  9. Well concerning your comment on immigration queue I am sometimes wondering why we are treating us citizens and permanent resident this way in Dallas. I tend to go through Dallas only in the mid to late afternoon and immigration queue are always lighter for foreigners than for locals …. in the mean time thanks to global entry it can be a breeze ….

  10. Janesis must have some mad ninja skills if she can place all those items, and lined up perfectly, while you and your friend are sleeping right under her when she does 😉

  11. Awesome ! A fantastic trip report as usual. Just saw that you will be at the TravelMagic event in Brussels ! Excited to meet you there Ben.

  12. @ Lucky — are those teddy bears available for purchase or something you can request from a steward(ess)? Might ask my mom to pick one up on her flight back as a souvenir if they aren’t very expensive.

  13. @ Ivan Y — That’s a great question, let me find out. I believe they’re sometimes given to kids onboard, though don’t believe they’re sold. I’ll double check, though.

  14. Thanks, Lucky! My mom loves bears so this would be a cool token. Didn’t luck out with her birthday — it was in August, right in the middle between her outbound (July) and return (September).

  15. I went through SFO a lot and yes it’s usually horribe to wait in the line.

    It’s more interesting to land at 28L though? I guess? …

  16. Is it just me or are the spirits kind of weak? I mean, Jack Daniels? 12 Yr Macallan? Not a fan of JW Blue…something like 18 Yr Glenlivit or Macallan or Oban would be more up to par on SQ F.

  17. @lucky – Thanks for the great review. I took this exact flight in May and had a great experience; I didn’t want to get off the plane! Question for you – I LOVE the Ginger Lemon tea they serve on board and wanted to get the brand/recipe. Do you know what is is or who I could contact to find out? Thanks!

  18. @ Emily — All tea on Singapore is done by TWG Tea Company. So you should be able to buy it at one of their locations.

  19. Hi Ben,

    Given you have experienced many airlines over quite a few years now & taking everything into account, what do you feel is your top 5 (in order) airlines to fly first class with?

    P.S. As an Aussie, I’m hoping Qantas is up there 🙂

  20. @ John — I’m actually working on a post covering just that, so stay tuned. Generally I think it’s tough to beat Singapore, Cathay, Emirates, Qantas, Etihad, Asiana, and ANA, though. More to follow. 🙂

  21. @ Lucky – I told my mom about the bears and she scored a set (boy & girl) on 9/22 DME-IAH flight. They are pretty small but so damn adorable! Thank you for pointing them out as apparently they aren’t widely-known: an SQ lady who helped my mom in IAH (F/J bags were offloaded after Y) didn’t know about them. I fear these bears might become like a LH ducks for my mom although for selfless reasons – she wants to give them to SQ ground grew in IAH & DME who she’s found to be really, really good 🙂

    On a less pleasant side, general level/speed/attentiveness of service in F on the flight was so-so. Perhaps, it was because there were only three crew members for six people in F on this flight (as opposed to six crew for four people in F on IAH-DME outbound). Not only was food service late and slow, but mom felt a bit put to change out of her PJs (in a polite SQ way) but – oh, the horror! – mom said she’d had to ask for drink refills and little things like that which, based on what you report, is a cardinal sin for an SQ crew member, lol

    We have to give the crew a break because it sounds like they were understaffed but I guess this just proves your findings that for SQ service level can vary.

    P.S. On both flights, they were out of white peach parfait ( so mom was pretty bummed. But she very much liked the (or, as she refers to them, as mini-kabobs).

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment but I just wanted to convey our appreciation for your reports and, if anyone’s wondering about their usefulness, they really are a great tool, especially for those of us who don’t travel as much and would like to maximize their experience 🙂

  22. Very nice pictures and detailed experience for the majority of us who never get to travel overseas first-class.

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