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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Flying the Dreamliner Dash 10 with Singapore Airlines Part 1

Welcome to my first trip report for 2018! 

Its been quite a while since I did a trip report. Hopefully, this is the start of many to come. I hope you enjoy the reports as much as I do. 

Some photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net 

Photo: T.Takaoka

For my part 2, click here


I had made several trips to Ho Chi Minh City for personal reasons and this would be another routine trip to this city. How nice it was when they announced the airline would operate the Boeing 787-10 to Saigon for a short period. So booking with Singapore Airlines was a must even though the airfare was more expensive than the others. I would not mind paying more just to ride on the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner. As the Boeing 787 is my favorite aircraft, I am more than happy to get this off my list. I hope to fly this and the A350 on longer sectors in the near future. Less than 2 hours on these modern aircraft is definitely not enough.

Without further ado, let's get started with this trip report! 

My very first Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner ride, 9V-SCE gets the honor to fly me to Saigon. 


Photo: Cassidy's Vacay

Me, of course!

Website booking 

Booking with the airline's website is not straight forward for me. I am not sure whether its the browser or the website's issue but I kept getting an error whenever I am at the payment page. It was frustrating and I had to turn to the airline's mobile app on my iPhone to get my booking done. How many of you have this problem with SQ's website? 

About the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft 

Photo: Yu Cai 

The idea of this aircraft took place in December 2005 when Boeing discussed with major carriers such as Qantas and Emirates to develop a larger variant to the -8 and -9 series. The capacity of this aircraft would be similar to the A350-900 and Boeing 777-200 series. Since other airlines like EVA Air and Singapore Airlines are keen on this aircraft type, Boeing decided to go ahead and launch it with the latter being the launch customer of this variant. 

The Boeing 787-10's design was finalized with a capacity of 330 seats and the maximum range of 11,910 km. This aircraft was officially launched at the Paris Air Show with Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, British Airways, Air Lease Corporation, and GE Capital is the first few customers for this aircraft type. 

The first flight took place on the 31 March 2017 and first delivery to Singapore Airlines (9V-SCA) took place about a year later (25 March). This airline would deploy this aircraft on high demand regional routes. 

On the day of departure 

Since this flight was in the evening, I had ample time to settle my work and personal stuff. Finishing everything by 2 p.m, I made my way to the airport to enjoy the facilities like plane spotting while enjoying a meal. Seeing lots of new aircraft for the first time, why do I say that? I had been busy with my personal life of late and haven't had time to do plane spotting or what an aviation enthusiast often love to do. 

Time flew fast and soon it was time to head towards the gate. Checking Flightradar24, 9V-SCE was my ride to SGN. I was relieved as everything went according to plan. You won't want to deliberately book a flight for the aircraft type only for it to change, that happened to me before. The flight timing to Saigon wasn't ideal but for the sake of the 787-10, let's do it!

My ride: 9V-SCE (The 5th Boeing 787-10 in the fleet)

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 pushing back 

Flight route: SIN-SGN

Miles: 675 

Carrier: Singapore Airlines
Flight: SQ186
Route: SIN-SGN
Aircraft: Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner
Registration: 9V-SCE
Line number: 697
Load: 90% and above for Y class
Engines: 2 X Roll Royce Trent 1000
Aircraft delivered in June 2018
Configuration: C36 Y301
Seat number: 68K
Flight duration: 1 hour 20 mins
Departure: On Schedule
Arrival: Early 
Departure runway: 20C
Arrival runway: 25L

Boarding started according to zones and of course the elite passengers and family with young children get to board first. No one was there to check but passengers boarded the aircraft in an orderly manner. 

The excitement of boarding my first Boeing 787-10 became overwhelming. Despite my age, I felt like a kid at that point! The crew welcomes me on board, they could sense the 'geek' in me! One of them told me, enjoy the 787 rides and to let him know how I feel after the flight. Nice start to the flight! 

The 787-10 is no difference in interior compare to the smaller siblings (-8 and -9), only thing obvious is the length of the aircraft. I chose the seat at the 2nd section of the economy class on the right side to get a view of the Airport on departure. Runway 20 was in used and usually, 20C was used for departure. 

Once on board, I got to take a quick look at the business class photo. For Business class photos, do check it out on my next trip report. 

Here are the photos of the Economy Class 

This was where I sat, glad to see the window. Do note that some seats are windowless. 

Somehow the colors remind me of Vietnam Airlines

Not the most comfortable seat, I find it acceptable for a few hours, but not more than that. It's quite firm, I wished it is slightly softer but this is to each and his own. What I do like is the 6-way adjustable headrest, you can use it as a pillow.

The legroom space as you can see looks a bit tight 

My experience

The Boeing 787 was originally optimized for 2-4-2 Economy Class configuration and only Japan Airlines has this configuration. Sadly, other airlines chose the 3-3-3 which makes economic sense. I won't say this configuration is the worst, but certainly, it isn't comfortable after a few hours. Space is what most travelers like especially on long haul flights and if you are sitting beside 2 big size travelers, it isn't going to comfortable after a while.

As for me, on this flight. It was bearable and in fact, I can't comment until I experience the long haul 787 flight. That would come in the near future, will do a trip report on that.

Choosing the bulkhead row may be a good idea for those with long legs 

IFE System is the same as the Airbus A350 - I think SQ has done a great job with this one. The international configured A350 has the little mini touch screen just below the tv screen, but this aircraft doesn't have.  

3-3-3 (Boeing 787) vs 3-4-3 (Boeing 777), which is worse? Here is my intake: 

I dislike the 3-4-3 on the Boeing 777 configuration with a passion, its tight and uncomfortable especially on a full flight. While the 3-3-3 on the Boeing 787 may be as bad as well, is slightly more bearable to me. My preference is with the Boeing 787 as it has the electronic dimmed window and has a slightly quieter cabin while on cruise - think that is important for most of us. Not forgetting the cabin experience at high attitude doesn't make you feel dry and thirsty all the time. In fact, you feel fresher when you arrive at the destination if you compare flying on an older aircraft to the same location. 

In-flight Wifi is available on the Boeing 787 aircraft

From my seat 

What's in front of me? 

Flight information is at the tip of your finger

Played around a bit with the system, it works for me on medium-long haul flight. Lots of movies and shows for you to choose from and since its a gate-to-gate IFE system, you don't need to wait to get yourself entertained. This latest version of the KrisWorld system is by Panasonic.

You can't miss these (below). Only thing inconvenient is you have to mind the wires if you need to leave your seat during the flight. 

Do note that you can't charge your device before takeoff due to safety reason. So for charging of your electronic devices, best is to do it after take off and remove it before landing.

I am glad to see the drink holder

The 3 pin socket is located at the green light (below) 2 in each row for Economy Class

As you can see the legroom space is pretty tight for me. (I am 6 foot 4)

The foldable tray - large enough for your laptop 

For the WiFi, I completely forgot to check it out. I have tried it out on my A350 flight, my review to come. 

In-flight meal 

I had a choice between the fish and the chicken. It was normal, nothing special and later on we were served ice cream and that is enjoyable while enjoying the ride across the South China Sea. 

It was a great smooth flight, enjoying ice cream at FL400 on my favorite aircraft. What else can I ask for? 

In-flight service 

Somehow the crew looked stress throughout the flight, apart from the beginning, hardly any smiles from the crew serving both aisles. I flew with Singapore Airlines numerous times this year and the service has been like this. Not bad but certainly you expect more since they are considered one of the top airlines. 

Window shot photos 

My first sight of SilkAir's Boeing 737-8 Max, easily recognizable from its 'split tip' winglet and larger engines compared to the Boeing 737-800 series. 

9V-SGD was behind us, another Boeing 787-10

Flying in good weather. The initial part of the journey especially pass through some clouds was slightly turbulent. 

The electronic dimmed window switch, you can choose what kind of lighting you prefer. Do note that the crew has the control for all the windows, so sometimes you might have to wait for a while for them to unlock. 

You can still view outside even in a dimmed mode (Not the dimmest) 

The flight ended too fast for my liking, touching down early at Saigon Airport. Taxiing to the gate took a short while and the ride of my first 787-10 came to an end. While exiting the aircraft, I managed to take some photos of the interior and asked two of the crew which aircraft do they prefer to work on (787 or 350), the answer is Boeing because they find it easier to work on. 

By the time I finished the conversation with a crew, I realized I was the last one on board. No time to take photos of the J class as I had to leave. 

My rating: 

The website including mobile app: 5/10
Check-in experience: 9/10
Changi Airport: 9/10
In-flight service: 6/10
IFE system: 10/10 (Brilliant)
Cabin interior: 8/10
Seat comfort: 6/10
Cleanliness: 9/10
Punctuality: 10/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Overall rating: 82/100


Flying on the Boeing 787 is an amazing experience. Let's exclude the Y class seating configuration from this. The 787 has amazing wing flex and with the outstanding Boeing Sky Interior cabin, it wins my heart for one of the most wonderful aircraft to fly on. If airlines configured the 787 with 2-4-2 configuration, it would certainly be my first choice wherever I go. 

Back to SQ's 787-10. Personally, I think the cabin atmosphere is pleasant, seat comfort, on the other hand, is on the average side I am afraid. I think like any others especially for single travelers, we are hoping for no one to be sitting beside us - for more space. I am a fan of the IFE system which is powered by Panasonic. I missed out on the WiFi but from the feedback I heard, they work well, certainly useful for long haul flights. In-flight service and meal are not too bad but I expect more from this airline. The more cheerful crew are needed! 

I will do an overview of this airline's Boeing 787-10 including J class on Part 2. (Click here for it)

Thanks for reading this trip report

Charles Ryan