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Road Warrior Tested: Singapore Airlines Business Class

Thursday, 26 Apr 2012 | 9:48 AM ET

Singapore Airlines is consistently rated one of the world's best airlines. From in-flight service to innovation in passenger entertainment, Singapore is highly admired by both passengers and competing airlines alike. My flight with them this past weekend supports their achievements and I offer a summary of my experience in this installment of "Road Warrior Tested."

Singapore Airlines A380 on tarmac
Getty Images
Singapore Airlines A380 on tarmac

Route: New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Frankfurt.

Aircraft: Airbus A380. This behemoth of a double-decker airplane seats 471 passengers in three classes of service — "Suites" (first class), business class and economy.

Cabin/Seat Assignment: Business Class featuring 60 lie-flat seats on the upper deck with 55 inches of pitch between rows. Each row contains four seats in a 1-2-1 configuration (single seats along the windows and two seats together in the center of the cabin) allowing every passenger direct aisle access. I had seat 14A along the port-side windows, which offered an incredible amount of privacy.

Service: Stellar. Singapore Airlines is known for their customer-centric focus and they didn't disappoint. I was greeted at the boarding door by two smiling flight attendants and they directed me up the enormous staircase, where two ground workers were ready to assist if I couldn't manage bringing my carry-on bags to the upper level.

At the top of the staircase, another flight attendant pleasantly steered me to my window seat. After settling in, flight attendants brought around a choice of preflight beverages and newspapers and magazines, followed by hot towel service prior to pushback.

Once airborne, slippers and eye shades were distributed and meal orders were confirmed from the elaborate printed menu. Post-departure beverages were quickly provided along with a small bowl of mixed nuts.

All of the flight attendants serving business class spoke excellent English and were attentive, yet used caution to ensure they weren't being intrusive.

When I needed a drink refill or had another request, a flight attendant appeared within moments after I pressed the call button.

Singapore Airlines Business Class seats
Photo by Darren Booth for CNBC.com
Singapore Airlines Business Class seats

Comfort: Superior. Singapore offers the widest business class seat of any airline and it feels awkwardly so when you're used to standard-sized seats. A pillow and cushion are provided to offer elbow and other support in any position.

In the upright mode, a leg rest and recline button allowed for automated adjustment of both features for enhanced comfort. An opposing fixed ottoman was also present.

Placing the seat in lie-flat bed mode requires you to stand and release a handle to lower the seatback and fold out an extender that reaches to the ottoman. It's pre-lined with a bed skirt and a very thick and comfortable blanket and larger pillow is provided.

It is the largest bed in business class I've experienced. Being 6'1", it can be difficult to get comfortable, but Singapore's seat provided ample room length- and width-wise.

I slept comfortably and soundly for a few hours during the flight. To ensure you're not disturbed, there's a button you can press that illuminates a "do not disturb" light on the exterior of the seat.

Singapore Airlines video monitor
Photo by Darren Booth for CNBC.com
Singapore Airlines video monitor

Entertainment: Abundant. The large video screen enclosed in the seatback of the row ahead is controlled with a handset found in the armrest. A huge collection of current and classic movies, TV shows, audio programming and a flight tracking map were available.

It's impossible to get bored and Singapore's offerings were among the best entertainment options I've encountered flying internationally.

Meals: Exceptional. After takeoff, dinner was served and I had pre-reserved my entree selection using the airline's unique "Book the Cook" feature on their website. To compliment the meal, an extensive list of premium wine and liquor was available.

Singapore Airlines entree
Photo by Darren Booth for CNBC.com
Singapore Airlines entree

To begin, marinated prawn with seared tuna and mesclun was served along with a choice of bread. I selected the pan-fried chicken in green peppercorn sauce in advance for my main course, which wasn't on the printed menu, and it was the best chicken dish I've had on an airplane in my 30 years of flying.

Dessert consisted of a choice of either cherry or strawberry cheesecakeice cream, followed by a gourmet cheese plate and a selection of fresh fruit. Coffee or tea and pralines concluded the service.

I have flown with numerous international carriers in premium cabins and my dinner on this flight easily ranks near the top. It was on par or better than what I've experienced in first class on other airlines.

About an hour and a half before landing, a continental breakfast was served with selections of fruit and assorted breakfast rolls.

Summary: My Singapore Airlines business class experience exceeded all of my international first class flights with U.S. carriers. The seat, although beginning to look slightly worn from years in service, was exceptional in comfort and privacy. Service was friendly, efficient and what you would expect from a premier airline. Singapore Airlines didn't disappoint.

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