SQ 636 SIN to HND (Premium Economy) | Flight and Travel Experience Review


I’m forcing myself to write this SQ 636 flight and travel review because OMG, I took this flight half a year ago! Good grief. Time flies not just when you’re having fun but also when you’re procrastinating.

… ……

The story! After years of not traveling overseas because of work, house shifting, and pandemic restrictions, I finally went on a short holiday last November. (Late 2023, in other words) The destination: Japan. The itinerary: My usual whirlwind kinda thingy. I visited five major cities within eight days.

As for the flight to Japan, I originally booked a coach-class seat on Singapore Airlines SQ 634, which is a day flight. After musing over it for weeks, I concluded it’s just silly to spend the bulk of the day on a plane, then fuss with immigration and hotel check-in at 10 pm.

And so I paid to switch to an earlier flight, i.e., the SQ 636 red eye from Singapore to Haneda. With this new arrangement, I also managed to secure an upgrade to a premium economy seat.

The following is my travel and flight experience that rainy November evening.

Pre-Departure Tour of Changi Airport

SQ 636 departs at 10:45 pm but I was already on my way to Changi Airport at 5 pm. No, it’s not because I’m that panicky or kiasi. It’s because I wanted to photograph the Christmas decorations, Mario installations, and the (then) newly refurbished Terminal 2 before flying off.

It ended up still being a rush! I had hours on hand but the minutes simply sped by as I rushed from Terminal 3 to Jewel, then to Terminal 2 to photograph the Wonderfall. Worse, the whole experience was akin to a military fast march too because I had my laptop, some 4 kg of camera gear, an autumn jacket, and all sorts of travel accessories with me.

After passing immigration at Terminal 2, I headed to the nearest lounge seat and collapsed. Fellow travelers who saw me then likely had a giggle over how disheveled I was.

Changi Airport Christmas 2023
It was a festive wonderland throughout the Changi Airport Complex. If you want to see more of the Christmas/Marios decors, please visit this festive post!
The Wonderfall @ Changi Airport Terminal 2 Departure Hall.
The Wonderfall at Terminal 2 is truly, truly splendid.

After somewhat recovering, I commenced the second part of my route march, which involved exploring the air sides of Terminals 1 to 3. In other words, seeing what has changed since I last travelled in 2018.


In short, nothing much looks to have changed; the prominent mini-attractions like the Butterfly and Cactus Gardens are still there. The refurbished Terminal 2, with its nature-inspired décor and all, certainly provides lots of leafy selfie opportunities, too, and oh yes, it’s a food fiesta everywhere as always.

Dreamscape Changi @ Terminal 2
The Dreamscape is one of the star attractions of the refreshed Terminal 2, a green oasis with a digital sky, fish, and lots of plants. It’s not large but it’s definitely a great spot to chill at before a flight.
Nature-Inspired Decor at Changi Airport Terminal 2
There’s really a lot of greenery throughout the new Changi Airport Terminal 2.
Changi Airport Transit Shops
Lots of shops. I didn’t buy anything, though.

Just a quick shout-out. If you’re transiting through Changi Airport and are looking for uniquely Singaporean souvenirs, head to The Cocoa Trees (shown above; top right). They have various Singapore-made chocolates, including those by Chocoelf. Chocoelf’s creations come in truly unusual flavours like pork floss and soy sauce.

Changi Airport Transit Dining
An almost bewildering selection of food.

Speaking of food, I’ve only just realised while drafting this review that I’ve never been to another airport that has as many eateries as Changi Airport. Not even HKIA or Suvarnabhumi and certainly not the Japanese and European ones. I’m sure you’ll agree when I say say you’ll never be more than five minutes away from food whichever corner of the airport you’re at. Singapore really does take its food culture seriously.

Late Dinner and Pre-Flight Shower at SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3

I have access to the airside contract lounges of Changi Airport, thanks to the Priority Pass membership given for free by one of my credit cards. For this flight, I chose to use the SATS Premier Lounge at Terminal 3.

This was not my first time using this lounge; I had breakfast here when I went to Hong Kong in 2017. If you browse through online reviews of the lounge, you’ll see that it generally has good reviews, too, with a number of travellers fond of the DIY laksa the lounge serves.

Well, hmm ... The service that evening could not be faulted; the counter staff was polite and efficient. Though crowded, the lounge was clean and neat too. Service staff were very quick to clean up plates and tables.

The food, on the other hand, was a drag. The mini-buffet had a reasonable mix of Western and Oriental dishes but everything was bland and the fish dishes were really, really fishy. What’s more, the laksa station was rather unappealing because people had dribbled broth for cooking the noodles with into the gravy.

I was starving by then; it was close to 8.30 pm. Opting not to be picky, I thus piled a plate with a little bit of everything and washed everything down with apple juice.

SATS Premier Lounge (Terminal 3) Drinks Bar
This is the drinks bar. (Next to the fridge is the DIY Laksa station) To view the food, please watch my video.
SATS Premier Lounge (Terminal 3) Food
Alright, I’ll be fair. For a contract lounge, SATS Premier Lounge T3 has quite a good selection of food.
SATS Premier Lounge T3 Shower
The shower room. It was clean. There was no queue too.

On the bright side, there was no shower queue later and I got into a cubicle without waiting. The cubicle was clean too, albeit, wet. After showering, I left the lounge and made a beeline for the Butterfly and Cactus Gardens. I have this ritual of having a … puff at the Cactus Garden before boarding a flight.

After which, I was at the departure gate, all ready for my redeye SQ 636 flight to Tokyo. I didn’t know another rush awaited me. One that made me fume and blush.

Japan Travel Tip: Never Read Just One Travel Guide

What happened was this. Since last year, Japan has required visitors to do this QR code registration thing beforehand. It’s to help speed up immigration processes and hereby, let me just say it works. After landing at Haneda, I passed through immigration within minutes. I had never passed through Japanese immigration so quickly.

The problem, though. A certain website that I read beforehand impressed upon me that the procedure was only necessary for longer stays in Japan. Silly me only realised everyone has to do it after I passed through security, which in the case of Changi Airport, is right before boarding.

Typically, I would spend those last 15-30 minutes before boarding fuming and impatient to leave. This time, I was frantically trying to complete the process. Struggling to fill in all the details. Struggling to get the darn system to accept a photo of my passport. (For some arcane reason, the system kept refusing my uploads)

Visit Japan Web QR Samples
I wouldn’t go into details but basically, you need to get the app to generate two QR codes. (To be saved as screengrabs thereafter) Once in Japan, you scan these codes at the immigration counters to speed up the process.

Throughout it all, I was red with embarrassment as well. Not because anyone was sneering at me but because I used to write Japan travel guides. But there I was. With bags and cameras and everything. Screwing up the most basic Japan travel requirement.

The nightmare was only made bearable thanks to a Japanese Singapore Airlines ground staff; she put up with my panicky questions and was ever so patient. At the end of it all, she even said, “Congratulations, you’ve made it!”

To give you an idea of how long the registration process took me, I was one of the last passengers to board the plane. Also, the final person in my cabin class to settle down. Thank goodness I had an aisle seat and didn’t have to climb over someone.

The lesson learned: Always research travel immigration procedures carefully. Don’t just trust one source.

SQ 636 Singapore to Haneda in Premium Economy Class: Quick Review

First off, I’ve flown Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Class before. My previous trip to Japan was in 2018 and for that trip, I flew premium economy for the return journey.

Secondly, little about the cabin has changed. The seat was exactly as I remembered it. The cabin ambience, well, it’s still in between business and coach. (A little more towards economy …)

As for the food, I pre-ordered Braised Beef Ragout using the Book the Cook service and I loved what was served. Now, this might have a little to do with the dreary meal I had at the lounge but in all honesty, the piping hot ragout was a burst of meaty richness with every mouthful. Really lovely to slowly savour while I watch a movie.

Moving on to other aspects of the SQ 636 flight experience, this was a redeye in a cheaper cabin class, so … … you know what I mean. I’ll summarise the ride as follows:

  • We taxied and queued for almost an hour before taking off; no kidding. The official departure time was 10:45 pm. It was almost midnight when we took off.
  • I didn’t sleep a wink. Not because the seat was uncomfortable but because I’ve never mastered the arcane art of sleeping semi-upright on a plane. Don’t believe I ever will, too.
  • To be clear, I think SQ’s Premium Economy Seat is great. I don’t particularly like the adjustable footrest, which many folks do, but the seat itself is reasonably comfy as far as recline and width are concerned. Good padding, width and pitch, and leg space as well.
  • Despite not sleeping, I was comfortable throughout. That had a LOT to do with the seat beside me being unoccupied. (Real stroke of luck there, the cabin was almost full) I had extra personal space, so to speak.
  • I only watched one movie during this flight; Sir Ben Kingsley’s outstanding Jules. For the rest of the flight, I listened to Jazz music. Krisworld has a small but attractive selection.
  • Two-plus hours of unsuccessful sleep with an eyeshade on sounds like an ordeal but before I knew it, the cabin lights were back on, someone opened a window shutter, and sunlight was flooding the cabin. We were above Japan!
Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Seat.
Okay, I have to resort to using this shot which I took five years ago on SQ 631; it was very difficult to properly photograph the cabin because of other passengers and the low light. Trust me, too, the seat is exactly the same in 2023. For SQ 636, quite well maintained as well, at least for my row.

Am also posting this older pic so that you can compare with what’s in my video.

SQ 636 Premium Economy Cabin
Cabin ambience. (Pictures from this point onward were shot on SQ 636 on Nov 20, 2024!)
Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Leg Rest
The movable leg rests, which a lot of passengers seem to appreciate. I don’t care for it, though. That compartment at the middle of the picture used to have bottled water. Not sure why none were on this flight.
Braised Beef Ragout | SQ Book the Cook (Premium Economy)
My “Book the Cook,” Braised Beef Ragout supper meal. I really enjoyed this, even though it didn’t look that awesome. The cold soba noodles were, well, a preview of Japan
SQ Premium Economy Class Seat Features
Krisworld and other seat features.
Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Noise Cancelling Headphones
I got to mention this, nasty as it is! When I first tried the premium economy class headphones years ago, I thought they were awesome. Today, they can’t remotely compared to my Jabra Elite 10 earbuds. I would say the Elite 10’s noise cancellation is more than twice as effective.

All in all, it was a pleasant and smooth flight.

That being said, I’m not completely without complaints.

The post-departure drink service took really long to start. It’s been a while since I’ve flown but I don’t remember it ever taking that long.

I’m aware that for a mid-haul flight like Singapore to Haneda, only one meal would be served—in this case, a supper at 1 am Singapore time. Still, I thought there would be an apple or something before landing. There used to be.

But there was none. You get a glass of juice or water and that’s that.

I’m sure the cabin crew would have given me something had I asked. (Or made a scene, LOL) But, why should I have to? As a premium airline, SQ should go that extra distance, yeah?

What I’m saying is that there was a certain hint of cost-cutting. Quite a strong hint. I admit I could be imagining things but that’s what I felt as a passenger.

Good Morning Haneda!

Landing at Haneda Airport Terminal 3 was glorious and I mean that quite literally.

We didn’t wait long to disembark. Between the air bridge and immigration was a long walk, with travelators, but golden morning sunlight flooded most parts of the passageway. A splendid, oh-so-splendid Yokoso for all.

ANA Pikachu Plane
A certain world-class superstar was greeting me from outside the window! Pika pika!

As mentioned above, immigration was also a breeze and this really surprised me—I spent no more than ten minutes queuing and passing through. For all my previous visits, I needed at least half an hour to get through. In Mar 2015, I queued for almost an hour at Fukuoka Airport before it was my turn.

And seconds after I’ve collected my check-in luggage, there I was. At the arrival hall. The time was 6.53 am. I left my seat at 6.27 am. I headed to the Lawson at Level 1 and grabbed an onigiri and coffee. Then I was ready for a full day of adventure in the Japanese capital.

Spending the Night at Haneda Airport

I end this flight and travel review by sharing what else I did at Haneda Airport that day. I hope this can offer some suggestions for travellers also landing at Haneda after an overnight flight.

You see, unlike all of my previous Japanese holidays, I did not leave the airport right away. I even returned to Haneda later that evening.

If you remember, I mentioned I originally booked a later flight, one that was going to land at 9.50 pm. Because of that, I booked a night’s stay at the swanky Hotel Villa Fontaine Grand Haneda Airport, which is connected to and right beside Haneda Terminal 3.

Two reasons for this. I wanted to try the classy Izumi Tenku no Yu Haneda Kuko (泉天空の湯 羽田空港) onsen that’s part of Villa Fontaine’s facilities—the star attraction here is a rooftop rotenburo. Secondly, I didn’t want to give myself an aneurysm rushing to a hotel after reaching Tokyo at midnight.

After changing to SQ 636, I decided not to change the hotel booking. I therefore did this. I dropped off my luggage at Villa Fontaine, very helpful staff there, by the way. Thereafter, I made my way to Haneda Airport Terminal 1 and spent two hours at First Cabin, an hourly stay facility. I wanted to have a nap before heading into Tokyo.

The nap sadly didn’t happen, no thanks to a dude in an adjacent cabin that was the definition of urusai, i.e., noisy. That being said, First Cabin has sento washing facilities so I at least enjoyed a good soak and wash, and had a stretch.

FIRST CABIN Haneda - First Class Cabin
I paid for two hours use of a “First Class” cabin as that was the only choice available. It’s clean, spacious, and well-equipped. But the thin walls are an issue …
Haneda Airport Terminal 1
Haneda Airport Terminal 1 looks and feels more like a shopping mall than a domestic airport.

At 10 am, I returned to Terminal 3 and did the exchange process for my JR Pass at the JR EAST Travel Service Center located on level 2—it took me three minutes; I timed it. About this, most travellers will share that you need HOURS to do the exchange at this centre because of the awful morning queue. This is true because I tried to do the exchange at 7.30 am and the snaking queue moved one person after 15 minutes. ONE PERSON.

JR EAST Travel Service Center – Haneda Queue
The queue at JR EAST Travel Service Center – Haneda, at 7.30 am. Frightening, isn’t it?

But when I returned at 10 am, there was nobody in the queue at all. That’s another travel tip for you. If you want to do the exchange here, don’t do so in the early morning when so many flights just landed. Go later, if you can. Take note too that this service center DOES NOT do train reservations.

Tokyo Monorai Haneda Airport Terminal 3 Station
Like any tourist with a JR Pass would, I used the Tokyo Monorail to reach Tokyo Station. This is the Haneda Terminal 3 Station. There’s Pikachu again! You know you’re in Japan when he’s everywhere!

JR Pass in hand, I then rode the Tokyo Monorail to JR Hamamatsucho Station, listening to my favourite Anime openings (like Kiki Kaitan) throughout the 20-minute ride. After which, well, I visited a lot of places before returning to Haneda at about 10.30 pm. (Really long day, wasn’t it?)

I checked into my room at Villa Fontaine and was back at the Terminal 3 departure hall within half an hour. You see, other than being clean, orderly, and modern, Haneda Airport Terminal 3 has what’s got to be one of the best airport rooftop observatories in the world. If you like night lights, if you are a photographer, or if you’re into plane spotting, this is an awesome attraction. One that’s often forgotten.

Haneda Airport Night Shot
Picture taken from the rooftop observatory deck of Haneda Terminal 3.

In other words, if you’re landing late at Haneda, or like me, you’re landing early, don’t rush off. It’s worth spending some time at this airport.

Other travel posts

SQ 636 SIN to HND | Flight and Travel Experience Review (Video)
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SQ 636 SIN to HND | Flight and Travel Experience Review (Video)
What is it like to travel from Changi Airport to Haneda Airport on the overnight Singapore Airlines SQ 636 flight? Here’s what to know.

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