Hiroshima, home to the UNESCO site of the Itsukushima shrine in Miyajima, is also the gateway to the fertile Setouchi region of Japan. Having had to rebuild itself from scratch following the ravages of World War II, Hiroshima is a renewed, bustling metropolis. If I were to compare it to Tokyo, I would say that it is much less hectic, less seedy, with the same modern amenities.
Three flights a week
To get to Hiroshima, the fastest way is to take a direct flight, which takes only 6h 20min. SilkAir operates flights from Changi Airport to Hiroshima three times a week.
For a recent media fam trip to Hiroshima, Ehime and Okayama – nearby prefectures in the Setouchi region – SilkAir was kind enough to sponsor our air tickets in return for a review.
We set off from Singapore on the red eye flight in Economy class, but were lucky enough to get upgraded to Business on our way back. This review will cover both, and perhaps help you better decide whether it’s worth paying the extra couple of hundred for a Business class seat.
SilkAir is the regional arm of our famed national carrier Singapore Airlines, and offers the lite version of a full SQ experience. For example, on the red eye flights, you get a blanket and a small pouch containing a pair of socks, an eye mask, and toothbrush and toothpaste.
There are so many things I like about SilkAir, but for the purposes of this review, I will distill it down to three things:
1. More legroom than on a budget carrier
I was on a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which is used for mid- to short-haul commercial flights. I didn’t take a measuring tape to see exactly how much space there was between seats, but generally I felt that even economy class was noticeably more spacious than on a budget carrier. When the person in front of me reclined, I didn’t feel like I was being closed in upon, and I could still squeeze out if I wanted to go to the bathroom. There are three seats in a column in economy class so of course, if you are on a mid-haul flight like I was, aisle seats are better than window seats for easier access to the bathroom.
If you get Business Class seats, you won’t need to worry about room – not just legroom – at all. The seats are 22 inches wide, which is 5 inches wider than the standard Economy Class seats. And at just two seats per column, there’s plenty of space for you to sidle out if you want to walk around. I read comments on SeatGuru.com that the seats were still not spacious enough, and I think it could be either that the passenger who complained was larger in size than my friends and I, or that her husband’s foot recliner was up and therefore obstructing her way.
Yes, the seats in Business are recliner seats and you can raise the foot recliner part for your comfort. You can’t recline all the way like the First Class seats in Singapore Airlines, of course, but the pitch is deeper than the Economy Class seats. The armrests are also wider and you won’t need to share it with the person sitting next to you.
2. SilkAir Studio offers up-to-date entertainment options
While on a 6-hour flight, you want to have inflight entertainment options at your disposal. Other than offering a rather decent variety of goods available on KrisShop for one’s shopping pleasure, SilkAir Studio provides a mind-boggling array of more than 300 movies and TV programmes, chart topping music albums streamed directly into one’s personal mobile devices. For flights more than two hours, Business Class passengers will receive loan sets of tablets to access SilkAir studio.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that they carried rather recent box office hits as well as Oscar-winning films, such as The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. They also had a whole suite of Marvel blockbusters. With so many wonderful films to catch, I had rather wished that the flight was longer so I could finish them.
But there are a few caveats. Firstly, if you are an Apple user, you must download SilkAir Studio before you board the plane. If you are an Android user, you can only download SilkAir Studio while on the plane, but you need to make sure that your operating system is up to date. Secondly, if your device doesn’t have an analogue headphone jack, you need to have your own headphones on you. Lastly, because SilkAir Studio is connected to the aircraft’s WiFi system, you can only access it when you are at cruising altitude and it’s safe for you to turn on your devices.
Sadly, on my flight there, I didn’t realise that I could have downloaded SilkAir Studio on the plane. I thought I needed to have downloaded it BEFORE I boarded. (That’s for iPhone users.) Then, on my return flight, I finally got it right, but I didn’t have the correct earphones, so I couldn’t hear what was going on in The Shape of Water very clearly. Because the three of us were last-minute add-on passengers in Business Class, the stewardesses did not manage to charge the loan tablet sets for us and we had to use on our own mobile phones. Long story short, you need to be prepared if you want to enjoy SilkAir Studio. If you’re bringing kids, you need to be very, very prepared so they won’t cry when they find out that they can’t watch their cartoons.
Let me summarise what you need in order to utilise SilkAir Studio ok?
- Have a tablet, smartphone or laptop handy. Make sure it is fully charged or bring the charging cable.
- If you’re an Apple user, download the SilkAir Studio app before boarding. Update your iOS so no hiccups can derail your entertainment plans.
- If you’re an Android user, download it on the plane. Update your operating system so no hiccups can derail your entertainment plans.
- Have compatible earphones on you. If you’re bringing kids, make sure that you have earphones or headphones that will fit comfortably on them.
Should you not be able to access SilkAir Studio for whatever reason, there’s still a range of magazines to read in Business Class, and newspapers in Economy.
3. Food decent
The other most obvious upgrade from Budget that SilkAir provides is of course, the food. In Economy, I was served a simple breakfast of a bread roll with butter, fruit, green tea, soba, and kamameshi (seasoned Japanese rice) with broccoli, carrot and meatballs. Not only do I not have to starve if I were on board a budget carrier, the food on SilkAir is pretty tasty.
In Business, the same food is served on proper dinnerware and one is given real fabric napkins. Notice that our snacks are mega-sized and properly plated. In fact, the moment one is seated in Business, you are offered a proper drinks menu and you can order a nice alcoholic cocktail if you so wish.
At the end of the flight, the helpful stewardesses bade us goodbye with cheerful, energetic smiles. It won’t be our last trip with SilkAir!
Read our travel guide to Hiroshima, Ehime and Okayama by clicking on the corresponding links.
Want to win a pair of SilkAir return flight tickets to Hiroshima? Join me, Weekender.sg‘s editor Sabrina Cao, and Sock Peng, the owner of Mylovelybluesky《蓝天白云数格子》for an exclusive forum hosted by Shikoku Transportation Bureau, Okayama Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture, to find out more how you can plan a holiday to the Setouchi region of Japan. High-tea will be provided and there’s a chance to win more attractive prizes* at the event!
*Prizes: SilkAir return flight ticket (Singapore-Hiroshima), JR Nationwide 7-day pass, Kumanofude make-up brush, Imabari towel, Kurashiki canvas tote bag.
Register your interest here.