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Is It Possible to Enjoy Economy Class? Maybe in Singapore Airlines' Next Gen Seat

July 15, 2013 at 12:07 PM | by | ()

Singapore Airlines is an airline of superlatives. Not only do they boast the largest lie-flat bed, the most luxurious airplane suite, and the longest routes in the world, but with today's debut of what they're calling the "SIA Next Gen" seats and entertainment, the words "newest" and "most advanced" now enter the picture. Let's take a closer look.

The Jaunted Series on Singapore Airlines' Next Gen

1. First Class
2. Business Class
3. Economy Class
4. In-flight entertainment

$150 million. That's the chunk of change Singapore Airlines is laying out on just the first eight aircraft installations of next generation products. That amount of money could fly one person in First Class from Singapore to London and back some 14,000 times. Yikes.

The great majority of air travelers sit in Economy and yet, for some stupid reason, airlines rarely make a big deal out of the amenities of their seats. That's typically because there are none, and who wants to be reminded of the (lack of) space? Of course Singapore is a major exception, as they've not only continued to offer large pillows and amenity kits for economy passengers but they've even managed to improve the personal space with this just-announced update.

New economy seats, unveiled along with "Next Gen" upgrades to Singapore's other cabin classes (you must see First Class & Biz!), will begin flying this September between Singapore and London, before rolling out on more routes served by Singapore's new Boeing 777-300ERs and, eventually, the shiny Airbus A350s to come.

What exactly is new and notable:

· See the big picture. Along with the absolute latest in in-flight entertainment, Economy is going to enjoy large and in-charge seatback monitors, measuring 11.1" compared to the current 10.6". What's more is that these will be touchscreen of the GUI (graphical user interface) variety. That's the good type, with crisp imaging and no heavy poking required.

· Super connected. It used to be that economy class suffered a lack of power ports while premium cabins had too many. This has finally evened out, and the new Singapore Economy seat features an iPod ("eXport") port, a regular AC outlet, and two USB ports.

· It's got your back. As exciting as fancier tech is, when you're sitting upright in a seat for any number of hours it's that seat that matters most. The next gen Economy seat will feature new backrest cushions that include side bolsters for a better cradle, but also needed support. More ergonomically designed headrests (winged and adjustable) also held support your head and neck. Even the fabric design and color is fresh—a grid inspired by flight routes.

· Personal space hallelujah. There's a smidge more legroom, sure, but the seat also has better personal storage (like a "spectacle receptacle" we'd use for a smartphone), the necessary coat hook, and mesh storage pockets that offer more storage organization (no more crushing everything in one slip with the airline's magazine). Bonus: pedal-type footrests that make a huge difference on long flights.

Just because Singapore Airlines is spending $150 million to outfit the first bunch of planes with these seats doesn't mean you'll see that reflected in the airfares. Searching a week's trip from London to Singapore in Economy on a 777-300ER this October yielded total fares of 882.15 GBP ($1,331) roundtrip.

Book 'em, Danno.

We're in Singapore for the debut of the Next Gen products as a guest of Singapore Airlines, but all photos, nerding out, and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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