First review: Singapore Airlines' new A380 business class seat

By James Fordham, December 14 2017

Singapore Airline is making plenty of noise about its all-new Airbus A380 business class seats, but how do they stack up in flight? Australian Business Traveller joined the delivery flight of the Singaporean flag-carrier's newest superjumbo – a non-stop 13 hour trek from the Airbus factory at Toulouse to Singapore – to see if the seat lives up to the hype.

The seats are a radical departure from the airline's original and very wide A380 business class benches.

They retain the forward-facing layout and 1-2-1 configuration, but the width has been reduced – from 30 inches to 25 inches – to allow more storage space for items next to you and also to improve on the tight foot “cubby hole” issue with the previous seats.

Many business class passengers on SQ's current A380s have remarked that those seats felt too wide, but with these new seats also being three inches narrower than their Airbus A350 and Boeing 777-300ER counterparts (which measure 28 inches edge to edge) some passengers will feel that Singapore Airlines has taken a step backwards.

One change that's definitely for the better: the previous A380 business class seats had a limited recline angle and required you to get up from the seat and flip it over if you wanted to convert it to a bed. Thankfully, the new seats have a more conventional tilt-and-slide mechanism for converting directly into a fully-flat bed – with the exception of some middle seats that also require you to pull out a foot storage “ottoman.”

The A380's new business class itself is a bit of a departure from what we’re used to seeing on Singapore Airlines, with 78 seats directly behind the six-suite first class cabin – which are all on the upper deck now, essentially creating a premium space separate from the rest of the aircraft.

The business class cabin is divided into three sections of 50 seats, 20 seats and 8 seats, with no social area or inflight-bar as other premium airlines have adopted. Bathrooms are in the middle and rear of the business class cabins.

The position of the paired centre seats has been swapped around so that in the A380 the passengers are sitting closer together, away from the aisle – the previous seats had passengers nearer to the aisle, which means solo travellers will prefer the window seats when possible.

The divider between the seats can be dropped into a half-height position if you're travelling with a colleague or partner and want to chat. 

In keeping with Singapore Airline’s ‘Space Made Personal’ mantra, those middle seats can also be converted into what the airline claims is a double bed – although you won't exactly be snuggling up with your seatmate, even with the divider all the way down. 

In fact, given how the sleeping position for these seats angle away from the aircraft's centreline and towards the aisle, there's not much 'togetherness' for travellers – it's more like sleeping next to somebody rather than sleeping with them.

The exception to this – which you can count on Singapore Airlines to trumpet loud and long in its publicity and marketing – is a set of three middle seats each located behind the cabin's three bulkhead walls. Those paired seats – specifically 11D/F, 91D/F and 96D/F – are much closer to a 'double bed' concept, and include a more spacious footrest area.

Here's my seat at 12K in fully-flat bed mode with 78 inches (1.98 metres) of space to stretch out…

…while the extended seat shell and divider between the middle seats retain my privacy.

There are also different seat positions (labelled Lazy Z and Sundeck) that let you relax in comfort if you don’t want to fully recline.

Legroom is plentiful...

...with ample room to make yourself comfortable.

The headrest also features wings for you to rest your head on, typically a feature only found in Economy seats.

Fitted to the sides of the seat are two little armrest wings, which fold away when you want to put the seat into bed mode. One issue we found is that the seat controls are at elbow height and we hit them accidentally several times during our flight.

The ability to recline your seat beyond the slight recline of the previous A380 seats allows you to get into a more comfortable pre-sleep position – good for watching something on the screen – and it's easy to get out of the reclined seat without having to adjust it.

There's also good privacy throughout the cabin, thanks to those seat shells. 

Once it’s time to snooze, the cabin crew will set up your bedsheet, cotton duvet, and two pillows.

But how how comfortable is it for sleeping?

Some Australian Business Traveller readers have voiced concerns about the foot cubby area being angled compared to the seat, however I didn’t find this to be an issue – and I'm a 6-foot tall (1.8 metre) side-sleeper.

During the flight you’ll primarily be relaxing in one of the more upright reclining positions, and when it comes time for a snooze you just stick your legs through.

While more of your leg all the way up to your knee is in the “cubby” area, you actually have more room to move around and your feet are not trapped like the old seats.

I was able to flip side to side reasonably easily, although the space isn’t as open as we’d ideally like. If you sleep on your back, your legs don’t have to touch but they are quite constricted together.

There's room under the seat to store your carry-on baggage…

…and nooks for items such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, books and reading glasses.

More storage areas adjacent to the IFE...

...and the seat itself make it easy to manage your items. 

Working space is plentiful…

…and you’ll also find a pair of AC and high-powered USB sockets to keep your gear charged up en route.

There’s also a table which swings up and out from the side console, as well as a personal vanity mirror…

…and a cocktail tray.

For infotainment, you’ll find an 18 inch HD screen streaming the new upgraded KrisWorld inflight entertainment system.

Supplied by Panasonic Avionics, KrisWorld now lets you cue up content that you want to watch before you fly using an app, which will then get synced to your seat.

Singapore Airlines will begin flying its new business class seats daily on the Airbus A380 between Singapore and Sydney (SQ221/SQ232) from December 18 2017, with selected Singapore-London services tipped to follow from March 2018.

Australian Business Traveller travelled as a guest of Singapore Airlines.

james_fordham

James has been interested in aviation ever since his first flight. When he’s not travelling, he’s still on the road indulging his motoring hobby, or trying a new whisky.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

31 Jan 2013

Total posts 26

How firm is the seat in bed mode? I found the previous A380 bed to be way too hard. It was like sleeping on concrete.

17 Nov 2017

Total posts 2

From an aesthetic point of view it is a mess. Looks like it was designed by a committee. The colours are awful (but at least better than Emirates). From a use perspective maybe it will be ok although the footwell looks to be an issue. I also noticed that the outboard section blocks the window but hard to tell without sitting in it. Overall I’m not convinced. The Thomson aero seat used by Qantas and the seats used by Qatar, American and Cathay for me are a more pleasing design that are comfortable and well laid out. Oops sounds like OneWorld bias!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 582

They could've saved some weight by not having the seat shells covering the windows up...defeats the point of a window seat

QF

02 Oct 2012

Total posts 39

I’m looking forward to trying it. I love the extra privacy plus the option of my carry on at my feet rather than in the overhead locker

06 Nov 2015

Total posts 1

Hey Sid - any thoughts on which SIN - LHR flight will be the next route to fly the new A380? Thx

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

I would guess SQ322

09 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

I'm in 91D/F from Singapore to Sydney on 30/12 on SQ221 so really looking forward to trying the new J out

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 185

well it's still look light years ahead of Emirates business class product-not to mention the book the cook feature!-also Qantas first class seat looks the same if not worse not to mention business class where there is no comparison!

15 Dec 2017

Total posts 1

Not sure about the condescending tone of this article with all the references to making noise and trumpeting. Singapore Airlines is far from being the most ostentatious airline (read - ME3 or even United, who made a big deal of Polaris a good 2 years before the product would be properly ready)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 582

lol polaris is a joke...especially since they still continue to operate 2-4-2 in some of their 777 J cabins (more like premium eco)
sid
sid

07 Jan 2011

Total posts 40

Condescending tone?

08 Jul 2015

Total posts 2

So which of the three cabins would your recommend? Seems the middle and back offer more privacy, though maybe the back is too close to the galley?
sid
sid

07 Jan 2011

Total posts 40

One back from the bulkhead (so the 12K seat I was in) was pretty good with minimal galley noise. The seats at the front of the rear cabin are behind the bathrooms so this can be a concern since the A380 is so quiet.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 122

There's great video on you tube on this new SQ seat- by Sam Ch##. He reflects almost all of what sid has said.The one BIG problem is the angled lay flat bed with the passengers feet going into that small recess. Every post I have ever read about these angled beds have been negative and this new SQ seat is no exception. I simply cannot understand why such a great Airline as SQ has not researched passengers comments on this subject. They can't have done so because if they had then they would NOT have fitted this type of bed layout in their new seats.

What a shame , everything else is wonderful but for long haul this is a big mistake. I and my family of 10 J class travellers will be looking towards CX and QR . 11 of us recently flew on the CX new A350 J class and the seats were superb, best yet! I truly love SQ but I'm afraid this will put me right off their A380 J class. What a pity!!!

18 Jul 2012

Total posts 3

Gotta agree with Rod H, although the SQ style seat looks much more spacious on first impression, the small recess really lets it down. The reverse herringbone, on the other hand, felt narrower but the footwell is at least pointed straight which I found to be vastly superior.

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