Singapore Airlines has one of the world’s best first class products, even though it’s now 10 years old.
I believe their A380 Suites product offers the second best seat overall, behind the Etihad First Apartment.
I also think that Singapore’s main meal service and wine is among the very best in the sky, may even the best, even as midflight snacks lag and as their ground service isn’t close to being top five in the world.
‘Old’ Singapore Suites’
Even though Singapore’s A380 Suites Class remains one of the world’s best, they’re unveiling a brand new Suites product beginning with their first new A380 which will fly Singapore – Sydney and back as SQ 221 and 232 on December 18.
In addition to Sydney A380 destinations are Beijing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Melbourne, Mumbai, New Delhi, New York JFK, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Shanghai Pudong, and Zurich.
Singapore’s 5 new A380s will come with the new Suites product, and the 14 A380s that they’re retaining (out of their existing fleet of 19) will have new suites as well. The retrofit is expected to take through 2020, although since the Pierrejean Design Studio-designed suites are being manufactured by Zodiac UK I have to worry about the ability to meet that target. American Airlines and United have both learned hard lessons working with Zodiac recently.
Unfortunately they’ll be reducing the number of suites from 12 to 6 even as each suite gets larger — an increase in size from 30 square feet currently to 50 square feet. Suites class will be the forward portion of the Upper Deck as Singapore makes the upper deck of the A380 entirely for premium cabins.
I attended the unveiling event for Singapore’s new cabin products and amenities in Singapore on Thursday and had a chance to sit in and poke around what they’re offering. I’ll follow up in separate posts with more about their other cabins as well.
The new Singapore Airlines Suites make use of the greater onboard real estate by offering a separate seat and bed which folds out from the wall. That lets them create a comfortable bespoke seat, and also to create a comfortable bed, rather than trying to do both at once and making compromises.
Some of the suites allow the wall between them to retract, creating a double suite with the beds beside each other.
The seat is 21 inches wide and swivels, reclining up to 135 degrees. While Etihad offers a separate seat and bed for its First Apartment, this seat has greater recline.
Here I took video of a Singapore Airlines flight attendant demonstrating the swivel function of the seat.
I thought that the bed was a little bit hard, which I much liked myself. It’s worth noting that the seat isn’t designed for companion dining but also that they do have a foldable table onboard on request which will support two people dining together.
There’s a 32 inch HD television which swivels to allow comfortable viewing from either the seat or from bed. That’s as big as the television I used to have in the living room of my apartment in Arlington, Virginia three years ago.
Each suite has a closet that’s large enough for a standard sized rollaboard bag, making it I think the largest personal closet of any airline’s seat.
And with the new Suites, Singapore is also revamping their soft product – and that rollout will apply not just to Suites but first class as well. There’s new bedding adnd pillows from Lalique and also new designer pajamas. Lalique is also the provider of crystal glassware.
Singapore now offers Bose headsets and also different amenity kits in each direction — a unisex kit for flights to Singapore, and separate men’s and ladies kits for flights departing Singapore. I found it odd that the unisex kit contains a candle, which is obviously more of a takeaway gift than something to use it inflight. They won’t let you light a fire onboard, even if you’re a Suites passenger.
Talking with executives in charge of Singapore’s inflight service they mentioned considering more of a dine on demand throughout the flight than they have today. As a first or Suites passenger you can take your meal whenever you wish of course (but it’s a good idea to let the crew know that you want to delay rather than skip the meal). That’s not the same as having a menu with all offerings available any time during flight the way some carriers have (and which could solve the limited snack offerings on long haul flights). Apparently this is something they’re looking at.
The Suites mockup that Singapore Airlines presented didn’t include a lavatory, but they provided photos of the lav. There are two lavatories for the cabin of six suites, one of which is very large along the lines of what Qatar and Emirates offer on their A380s in first class (no showers, however).
All in all I love the style of the new Suites. They’re large, they’re gorgeous, incredibly sleek and sexy. Singapore goes from having one of the top first class products in the sky with their current A380 to something much better. Whether it’s ultimately the best in the world is something we’ll have to test out by flying in it, but it’s clearly a winner.
The only regret is that Suites are already tough to redeem miles for, and cutting their number in half down from 12 to 6 will make it that much harder to redeem. Singapore Airlines doesn’t make them available to partner airline frequent flyer programs, but over the past few years has been fairly generous with Krisflyer’s own members (and Chase, Citibank, and American Express points all transfer to Krisflyer, and they’ve even recently eliminated fuel surcharges).
The airline’s top executives explicitly promise that they want members to be able to redeem for these seats too, that they will not introduce a new philosophy making them unobtainable with points. And of course Singapore does offer extra mileage awards which allow redemption of more seats. So while availability probably won’t ever be easy it’s something that many will be able to actually fly.