Singapore Airlines offers a very good, albeit somewhat idiosyncratic business class today.
Their current business class seat is very wide. It offers a good bed with direct aisle access. But you can’t make it yourself and you can’t recline halfway between bed and seat mode. And while fully flat, the seat is short, you have to angle your body to take advantage of a full length bed.
Singapore offers one of the best dining experiences in the sky with their ‘book the cook’ offering, both from outstations and from Singapore where the choices for meals are incredibly extensive (it can take me half an hour to scroll through options and decide what my future self is going to want to eat, and Singapore will have that choice onboard for you). Yet they don’t offer amenity kits, instead stocking the lavatories with amenity items.
On Thursday in Singapore the airline unveiled their new business class seat for the Airbus A380, going into their five new aircraft and retrofitting their other 14 remaining A380s through 2020. I attended the unveiling.
They haven’t announced yet whether other aircraft will get the new seat. (We know that the Boeing 787-10 aircraft will be used for medium haul routes and get its own business seat, the question seems to be whether this is the seat that will go into the Airbus A350 ULR that will serve Los Angeles and New York – Singapore non-stop among other long routes.)
The Airbus A380 features 78 of these seats on the upper deck of the aircraft, in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seat’s personal tv is 18 inches. And the seats remain extremely wide at 25 inches.
The seat reclines flat, meaning it will also be possible to sit in a reclining and relaxing position, so it’s good as a seat and not just for sleeping. And the divider between middle seats goes all the way down to create a double bed and indeed a cocoon for two people traveling together.
Singapore isn’t first to market with a double bed, Qatar’s QSuite offers two and even four people traveling together to take down the walls between suites. And that product won’t be limited to a single aircraft type.
Building the seat designed by JPA Design and manufactured by JAMCO using a carbon fiber composite shell like a Formula1 race car, instead of metal, allows for a thinner base and as a result more underseat storage. This is the first business class seat that can fit a standard cabin carry on bag underneath the seat.
The one complaint that I have is that, as today, there’s a big difference between the spaciousness of the bulkhead seats and the rest of the cabin. Other seats feel a bit claustrophobic (traveling with someone — or just lucking into an empty middle seat next to you — and taking down the divider helps alot). You still angle your body for sleeping.
The seat is wide enough that I feel like sleep at an angle actually feels fairly natural, still I had hoped that their new business class would eliminate the need.
I’d gladly fly this seat long haul. In many ways Singapore offers one of my favorite business class products overall, between the seat and meals and service. And this seat is an improvement over their current generation reclining to go fully flat and with more storage space. However the tight feel makes it not quite as great as it could be, not quite as good in my opinion as airlines like Qatar or Virgin Australia.