British Airways has spread its superjumbo wings to Singapore with this week's debut of Airbus A380 flights between The Old Dart and The Red Dot.
Gwyneth Paltrow managed to find herself perched in a BA Club World's business class seat high atop the Marina Bay Sands' iconic 'infinity pool' in a PR stunt for the launch.
It's the fifth route for the British flag-carrier's superjumbo which already flies to Los Angeles, Washington DC, Hong Kong and Johannesburg.
The A380 will feature three days a week on the daily BA11/12 service: from Singapore to London it's rostered on for Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, with the London-Singapore service operating on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
The other four days of the week remain in the hands of a Boeing 747-400, with the daily Boeing 777-300ER service (BA15/16) between London and Sydney via Singapore continuing as usual.
Superjumbo's spacy first class
The British flag-carrier's Airbus A380 features an improved version of the airline’s highly-regarded first class suite, adapted to make better use of the superjumbo’s spacious floorplan.
“The A380 has a massive cabin so we just had to exploit that!” laughs Kathryn Doyle, BA’s Aircraft Product Cabin Interiors Manager.
“The first class seat itself is the same size as on our other aircraft, the difference is the size of the surrounding suite – there’s 30% more space in terms of the actual footprint” Doyle told Australian Business Traveller at the airline's A380 launch of the A380 in London last year.
The extra room is most noticeable in width, especially at the foot of the suite when the seat converts into a lie-flat bed, compared to the same cabin on BA’s Boeing 777 or 747-400, along with extra space for your inflight knick-knacks and a much larger personal wardrobe.
BA's A380 business class: a better middle seat?
BA has also made some tweaks to its Club World business class seat and cabin in the A380 as well as the shorter-range Boeing 787.
The result, BA says, includes a middle seat that you might actually want to book.
That seat is in the new Club World ‘triple’ on the upper deck of the A380, as seen on BA's A380 seating chart below.
The superjumbo splits its 97 business class seats across the main and upper decks, with the lower deck retaining the conventional 2-4-2 layout with a ‘quad’ in the middle.
“The 787 is a bit narrower than the 777, as is the upper deck of the A380” explains Frank van der Post, BA’s Managing Director of Brands and Customer Experience, as to how the new 2-3-2 layout came about.
However, the middle seat contains more space than its wingmates, “an extra two inches on either side” plus extra storage space and shelving, van der Post told Australian Business Traveller.
This includes a small shelf at the traveller's right where you could stow your reading glasses, iPod or phone during the flight.
“I think the middle seat, which is normally a very unfavourable seat, is going to become the most preferred seat on our A380” van der Post predicts.
Due to the alternating or ‘ying-yang’ pattern of BA’s Club World seats, all middle seats in the triple face backwards while its siblings face forwards.
But sitting in the ‘wrong’ direction (at least for take-off and landing) will mean you get a seat with more space and more privacy explains BA's Kathryn Doyle.
“If you’re working on private documents on your laptop, or are a businesswoman travelling on your own, you can out both screens up for the ultimate in privacy” she says.
“There’s also an extra area where you can put your laptop, shoes and phone – every Club World still has a drawer but the middle seat has a cheeky extra bit.”
BA has also improved the mechanics of the Club World seat, Doyle says.
“We’ve done some work with the manufacturers on improving the motion of the seat and made it quieter to move” she told Australian Business Traveller.
“And the footstool is a lot easier to use – we’ve done a lot of what we call ‘naive testing’, getting Joe Bloggs off the street to have a go at using it.”
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