Singapore Airlines Economy vs Emirates Economy – Which Airline Is Better?

Between them, Singapore Airlines and Emirates are two of the world’s best-known premium long-haul airlines. They are well regarded for their luxe premium cabin offerings. But sitting up the front isn’t a reality for most travelers. Most people fly economy class. So what’s the main cabin like on Singapore Airlines and Emirates? Which is better? Let’s take a look.

Who has the better economy class, Singapore Airlines or Emirates? Photo: Los Angeles International Airport

Both airlines offer various aircraft types, and inflight service will vary according to the flight length. This article will focus on long-haul services and aircraft types operated by both airlines – the A380 and Boeing’s 777-300.

Both offer great planes for economy class passengers, but Emirates has the edge

Emirates has a swag of A380s. It is the world’s biggest operator of them. Generally, passengers love the spacious A380 cabin. Singapore Airlines also has A380s, albeit far fewer of them. Typically, you’ll find the Singapore Airlines A380s on flagship intercontinental routes such as Zurich, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Tokyo, and Mumbai.

Both airlines also have large Boeing 777 fleets, mostly 777-300s, but both have some 777-200s. While the Boeing 777 isn’t as roomy as the A380, it is a far superior travel experience to the 787 Dreamliner when flying in economy class. Both airlines get ticks for aircraft choice. But because Emirates has so many A380s, they’d have the edge in terms of fleet.

One of Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ERs. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has a more generous luggage allowance

Depending on your fare bucket, Singapore Airlines will let you check-in between 30 kilograms and 35 kilograms of luggage at no additional cost. Elite KrisFlyer members get an additional allowance when flying in economy class.

Emirates will let economy class passengers check-in between 20 kilograms and 35 kilograms of luggage at no extra cost, depending on your ticket type. Emirates Skywards Platinum, Gold, or Silver members usually get an additional allowance.

Singapore Airlines wins here because of its higher luggage allowance for passengers traveling on the cheapest economy class fares.

Unless you hold elite frequent flyer status with either airline, an economy class ticket will not score you lounge access. But the home ports of both airlines offer several pay-per-use and Priority Pass lounge options.

The Singapore Airlines ground services desk at Changi Airport. Photo: Singapore Airlines

When it comes to a standardized economy class seat, Singapore Airlines shines

Singapore Airlines has three configurations across its A380s. Depending on the plane, there may be more or fewer seats in the main economy class cabin. You can have as few as 245 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 configuration in a premium seat heavy A380 to as many as 343 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 configuration. What is constant is the pitch (32″) and the seat width (19″).

Emirates also has three different cabin configurations across its A380 fleets, ranging from 399 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 configuration to 557 economy class seats in the same 3-4-3 configuration. But not all seat pitches and widths are equal in economy class on an Emirates A380. Seat pitch varies from 32″ to 34″, depending on the A380 you are on. Seat width varies from 17.5″ to 18″, again depending on the plane.

The Emirates A380 economy class cabin. Photo: Emirates

Onboard Emirates Boeing 777-300s, there are again three possible cabin configurations. Across the 777-300 fleet, seat width is constant at 17″, but pitch can vary between 32″ and 34″. Passenger numbers in economy class can vary from 304 to 385 passengers, depending on how many premium seats are on that particular plane. However, the layout is consistent – it’s all 3-4-3 in Emirates 777-300 economy class.

Back to Singapore Airlines, this time looking at the 777-300s. There are three possible cabin configurations for economy class passengers. Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-300 fly between 184 and 228 passengers in a consistent 3-3-3 configuration. Seat pitch and seat width is also consistent across the fleet, at 32″ and 19″ respectively.

Singapore Airlines wins this contest hands down. They win on two fronts. They have consistent seat pitch and width across their A380 and 777 fleets. Further, when looking at the 777-300 economy class seat configurations, Singapore Airlines has a 3-3-3 layout, whereas Emirates has a 3-4-3 layout. I know which cabin I would rather be in.

Economy class seating on a Singapore Airlines A380. Photo: Singapore Airlines

Who does the best food?

As long-haul airlines, both Singapore Airlines and Emirates make a big deal of their in-flight food and drink. Emirates says you’ll always get a multicourse meal in economy class alongside complimentary fruit juices, soft drinks, wines, beers, and spirits. Real champagne is available (non-vintage Moët) for a fee.

You can check out an Emirates long-haul sample menu here. It offers a choice of main courses and desserts.

An Emirates economy class meal. Photo: Emirates

It’s a similar situation over at Singapore Airlines. That airline is renowned for the standard of its inflight catering. You get a choice of meals and drinks are complimentary. Flight attendants are usually happy to find you a midnight snack if your jetlagged body clock tells you it’s lunchtime.

Both airlines allow you to order special meals in advance and seasoned travelers know doing so often results in a superior meal to what everyone else is offered.

All in all, in terms of in-flight catering, it’s a pretty even match.

Who has the upper hand when it comes to inflight entertainment?

Singapore Airlines’ inflight entertainment system is good. It’s called KrisWorld and offers over 1,800 on-demand entertainment options, including movies, TV shows, music albums, and interactive games. You can take a deep dive into what’s on KrisWorld here. Personal LCD monitors are 10.6″ on Singapore Airlines 777-300 and A380 planes and come with handheld control units. Every seat also has USB ports.

As good as KrisWorld is, Emirates inflight entertainment, known as ICE, is even better. There are over 4,500 channels of movies, TV shows, music, and games, on-demand, and in multiple languages. ICE has won countless Skytrax awards for its best-in-the-business features and has been voted the best around for multiple consecutive years. Emirates’ entertainment is truly top-notch. The airline also has easy-to-reach power outlets in most economy seats.

You’ve got to give the best inflight entertainment award to Emirates.

Emirates award-winning ICE inflight entertainment system. Photo: Emirates

Emirates’ economy class passengers have access to user pays inflight WiFi, the cost depending on the length of the flight. Elite Skywards members have access to complimentary WiFi.

All Singapore Airlines’ long-haul aircraft are WiFi enabled. It comes at a cost for economy class passengers, and a purchased WiFi plan is only valid on the flight sector on which the purchase was made. There are some hacks, though. If you join KrisFlyer, Singapore Airlines will give you a limited complimentary WiFi allowance. The higher your frequent flyer status, the greater the allowance in economy class.

What about the service?

Personal interactions with cabin crew can make or break a flight. That’s going to vary person-to-person and flight-to-flight. The cabin crew on both Singapore Airlines and Emirates are uniformly good.

Personally, I prefer Singapore Airlines. I think their cabin crew are consistently outstanding. At times, I’ve found the service on Emirates to be a little automatic rather than personalized.

But that’s my subjective opinion, based on my experiences rather than yours. And I’ll put up my hand here. I’ve been a Singapore Airlines fan since I was a kid. That said if you skip the far inferior Emirates 777 economy class seating configuration, Emirates has a pretty compelling economy class product.

Who do you think offers the better long-haul economy class experience? Singapore Airlines or Emirates? Post a comment and let us know.