Flying Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 Suites as My Own Private Jet, Sydney – Paris

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My wife and I booked first class awards in Singapore’s Suites from Sydney to Paris, with a stopover for a couple of days in Singapore. These were one-way awards, and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer charged $100 each for the stopover. This had to be booked by phone, and I had no problem placing the reservation on hold.

I transferred points that had been earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card into my Singapore Airlines account and booking was easy. Of course I had no idea when I reserved the award tickets for myself and my wife that the flights would be so empty up front!

We walked over from the Singapore Airlines first class lounge in Sydney to the gate. An Air New Zealand flight was leaving from the gate next door at around the same time, so the place was pretty packed. We were also a few minutes behind schedule so we waited around a bit, with nowhere to sit. But the wait would be worth it.

I hadn’t even looked at the loads for the flight before boarding, but I looked around and didn’t see anyone else taking up the 12 first class suites in the cabin. Singapore Airlines ‘Suites Class’ is a ten year old product. They’ve just revealed the new suites they’re going to roll out replacing these, but they’re still to this day one of the most gorgeous first class products in the sky.

For example, Emirates has four suites across (one in each window and two in the middle) on the upper deck of their Airbus A380s. Singapore has four across on the wider lower deck. So these are super spacious seats.

One of those ‘wow’ moments at the beginning of a Singapore Airlines flight in first class — besides the cabin itself — is when a flight attendant comes by and asks if you’d like some champagne.

It’s such a modest question, but when you accept it’s followed up with this mic drop: would you prefer Dom Perignon or Krug? Yes, it’s really up to you. And I’ve long said that I believe the only correct response to this question is “what year is the Dom?” since the Krug (preferred by many) is the non-vintage blend while the Dom Perignon is variable in quality year-by-year.

Of course for a limited time Singapore is serving $300 vintage bottles of Krug so take that while you can! My flight though featured the non-vintage, but still exceptionally lovely, Krug.

Bose noise cancelling headphones were distributed next.

Oh, what the heck? I hadn’t tried the 2006 Dom Perignon so maybe we try that too while we’re still on the ground… so we can compare?

It was just then that I noticed we weren’t going to be alone on this segment, one other passenger joined us for the flight to Sydney so we’d be occupying 3 of 12 seats in the cabin for the flight. I hopped on my phone to check loads for our onward flight to Paris in a couple of days and held out hope that we’d have that cabin alone to ourselves.

Another flight attendant came around and distributed menus for our 7 hour flight to Singapore.

Pajamas and amenity kits were distributed as well. I especially like the full-sized amenities Singapore offers.

I had already pre-ordered my entrees. Singapore offers an incredible ‘Book the Cook’ service with a wide varity of choices and you can pick what you’re going to want to eat on the flight. It’s not like ordering a meal on American Airlines where they give you a choice of what they’re going to have onboard anyway (or fruit and cheese). Instead it’s a list of choices and they’ll board it for you.

The challenge choosing is always that there are so many options, and it’s hard to know what your future self is going to want to eat. And you’ll rarely go wrong with the onboard options.

But I didn’t have to worry about what to choose for this flight. Instead I put my energy into the wine. While we pushed back and taxiied out for takeoff I decided to peruse the wine and beverage list.

That’s quite a list! A nice bottle of Macallan, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee (make note of that, definitely going to want that later in the flight!), and I made note of a couple $100 French reds. But departing Australia I was most interested in giving the Penfolds RWT Shiraz a try even though it would be really tight, way too young, and with perhaps not enough time in the flight to let it open.

Up in the air I changed into my pajamas to get comfortable for the flight. Singapore’s A380 have oversized lavatories but they aren’t huge, they are stylish though with great lighting.

They also have several additional drawers of amenities in the lav. In business class there’s no amenity kit usually, just amenities in the lavatory. In first class there’s both.

Back at my seat they brought me a glass of the Penfolds RWT Shiraz. The flight was a bit bumpy which was good, it would do the job of swirling for me. And I readied for the meal, beginning with Singapore’s caviar service.

Out of Singapore I’ll always take Singaporean or Malay options, but out of Syndey I opted for the pre-order lobster… which is often (though not always) good but fairly anodyne.

The orange cake with almond ice cream for dessert was really out of this world.

I didn’t take a glass of wine with it, they offered port but I think I would have enjoyed a sauternes to accompany the orange cake.

After the meal I had a flight attendant make my bed. Normally in an almost empty cabin I’d have them make my bed in another seat, but my wife wasn’t going to nap and I decided to remain next to her so I had them change my current seat into a bed.

Singapore Airlines’ current business and first class ‘flip over’ to become a bed rather than reclining into them. Earlier versions of the seat didn’t have very much recline, and you can’t really convert to the bed yourself you need a flight attendant to do it for you. The tradeoff being they really do get you a better bed. Later versions of the seat were given additional recline. And the newest version of business class does recline into a bed, while the new suites will have a separate bed entirely.

Singapore – Sydney really is too short a flight when you’re in Singapore Suites. By the time you eat a meal, drink a bit of wine, have a short nap, the flight is almost over. I don’t often say this, at least I haven’t said this on a flight that I can think of in several years, but I wasn’t anxious at all for things to end. That’s ok, I’d have a longer flight coming up.

I did doze off for a bit, got up since I wanted to go right to sleep in Singapore when I arrived, I didn’t want to let myself sleep through the flight.

I watched a bit of television, had another glass of Shiraz (I couldn’t bear to have had them open it just for one glass), and soon we were on the ground in Singapore.

Once you arrive in terminal 3 you’re perfectly set up for connections, there’s no transit security to go through since security is at each gate. You can head to lounges or if arriving in Singapore right to immigration. That’s what we did, spent a couple of days in the city mostly eating street food at hawker centers and egg tarts at bake shops.

Arriving back at the airport you cut off to the left just before the main terminal for first class check-in, where they offer a seated check-in experience right in front of immigration and an escalator up to the lounge complex.

I’ll write separately about the Singapore Airlines Private Room, a lounge within a lounge within a lounge for first class passengers. Suffice to say it’s great for food but little else, I don’t find it especially comfortable or interesting otherwise and isn’t in my top 10 worldwide.

Soon enough it was time to board another A380 in Suites Class to head to Paris. And this time crossing my fingers, toes, and anything else I could find paid off because we’d be the only ones in the Suites cabin meant for 12.

Security at the gate was quick, as it always is, they’re only processing people for your flight and turning up just before boarding nearly everyone else has already gone through. I love this arrangement, you can see the boarding queue and if the flight is nearly boarded when you’re going through security they can see you, too.

It’s one of the things that disappoints me in the new Singapore Changi Airport terminal 4, that they’ve gone to central security. Fly Singapore though and you get this arrangement which I find much more civilized.

Once onboard I started with the 2006 Dom Perignon, and then perused the menu.

More pajamas, another amenity kit, headphones distributed, and our midnight flight to Paris was pushing back. An archetypal A380 takeoff, smooth as silk but almost feeling underpowered as she lifts off, and we were up in the air.

With only us to serve, crew were omnipresent and quick with every request. It was late so I didn’t want any more to drink. I changed into pajamas, decided we’d have our meal. I like this flight for eating and going to sleep.

You leave late in Singapore, so you’re probably pretty tired, and you arrive first thing in the morning. As a result there’s no need to try to limit the sleep you’ll get onboard, and on a 14 hour flight there’s plenty of time for it too so you’re also not stressing to get it quickly.

I had a starter and then I had pre-ordered the laksa which is one of my all-time favorite meals in the sky. It’s a huge dish and I don’t come close to finishing it, even half of it, but it’s delicious onboard.

I didn’t do a dessert but my wife did and it looks excellent.

Then, since we had the whole cabin to ourselves and we both decided to get some sleep, we had flight attendants set up beds for us in suites 2C and D. We were sitting in 3C and D, so we would sit together when we’re awake and sleep beside each other in different seats. That’s truly the perfect arrangement especially since there’s really no “in-between” situation with these seats, you’re sitting up with some recline or in bed mode. Having one of each is perfect, no need to choose!

Singapore’s double beds really are an amazing situation, and I got a few hours of solid rest. My wife got up just a bit before me, and was back in our seats already in the row behind.

I thought about a snack and here this is really the one area where I think Singapore falls down in first class. Their midflight snacks are weak. Fortunately they had boarded one of each entree from the main meal. I had pre-ordered mine. My wife had chosen one. As a result, they had one each of the other options left and I thought that the sushi course would make a nice repast.

The rice was actually a bit cold and hard, so it wasn’t perfect, but still a nice snack.

With about 7 hours to go I watched TV and read comfortably in my suite. Then a couple of hours out for my last meal I went with the fruit and I had pre-ordered the Kyo-Kaiseki meal figuring this would be something different and worth a try. It was excellent and also appropriately light.

Boy that was a quick 14 hours! With a suite for eating and entertainment, separate suites with double beds for sleeping, and a Singapore Airlines crew all to myself the time flew by. After breakfast I changed back into my street clothes for landing in Paris. We pulled up a few minutes early, just ahead of a bunch of other flights, so while it was a long walk (and a bit of a dash) to immigration, with priority cards and being ahead of others meant we were through fairly quickly.

And over the course of my 3 days in Paris I kept thinking about how, after flying Singapore Suites as my own private jet, my flight back home across the Pond would be in American Airlines business…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. You sure those points weren’t earned with the CSR, the FU, or the Freedom? You sure those points you transferred, each and every one of them, was from the CSP?

  2. Gary, I had a similar experience flying SIN-FRA-JFK. One other pax to FRA then private to JFK..
    the fantastic free kept me from getting lonely!

  3. Gary, what was your strategy for booking 2 first class awards on this route? Did you have to waitlist anything or was availability open right away?

  4. RWT and Krug 2006 excellent choices.
    My “go to” on book the cook” is always the lobster thermidor *drools* . It is best out of Singapore

  5. Gary, is the availabilty in this route somewhat reliable or a unicorn?

    Thanks for the trip report; gives me some cool ideas!

  6. @Beachfan – availability is less good than it was, on SYD-SIN the new A380 has really tightened up space [getting 77W first is easier]

    @Christian – fantastic… once it began to open up… i’m sure it would have been much better decanted for a couple of hours

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