Singapore Airlines redefined the premium travel experience almost a decade ago with the debut of a “class beyond First” – Suites Class – on the Airbus A380. Since then, the relentless pace of competition has seen new and impressive first class products launched by Middle Eastern and European airlines.
The tail end of 2017 has seen the Singaporean flag-carrier strike back with a second generation of A380 Suites which are larger and more luxurious. We tried them out during the 12-hour delivery flight of the airline's newest superjumbo from Toulouse to Singapore, so here’s a guide to what you can expect when you step on board.
First up, you'll find half the number of Suites compared to the original A380 fleet: that's the cost of making them almost twice as spacious as before.
There are now just six Suites, and they've been relocated to the front of the upper deck and arranged three-aside around a single centre aisle
The Suites doors are not full-height from floor ceiling, so while you do have privacy you don’t enjoy the complete privacy of some competing products such as Emirates' newest Boeing 777 first class suites. The little cutouts on the doors also reduce privacy slightly.
The forward two Suites on each side of the aisle can be combined into a “double bed” Suite.
The new Suites layout features a large movable leather armchair...
... and a separate bed that swings out into your conventional 'fully flat' mode or as a slightly reclined sleeping surface.
At 76 inches long and 27 inches wide, the bed is slightly shorter but a little wider than that of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments (which measures 82 inches long and 26 inches wide).
SQ dresses the bed with luxury linen including a duvet and large pillows to make it even more comfortable.
The 21 inch wide leather armchair has a tall back and is extremely comfortable to sit in. Not only does it recline, it can also be swivelled to face the TV, bed or window.
Next to the chair is a side table with integrated table, a holder for the tablet seat/entertainment controller, and a flower vase.
The table itself is enormous and gives you plenty of space for working or dining.
The 32 inch TV is a touchscreen high definition unit featuring the airline's latest content-packed KrisWorld entertainment system.
Each suite has with two windows with electronic shutters that open and close with the touch of a button. Under those windows, you’ll find amenities and a vanity mirror, as well as Bose noise cancelling headphones and storage space. A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines explained that this space was created because wealthy clientele didn’t want to put their expensive handbags on the floor!
In this console you’ll also find most of the connectivity features such as a headphone jack, AC and USB power ports and even an HDMI port so you can stream your own content to the TV, and a 'near-field communications' panel which the airline will use for tap-to-buy purchases such as inflight Internet and duty-free shopping.
Integrated in the door panel is a personal wardrobe where you can store bags, hang your clothes and also find amenities like the blanket and slippers.
The premium position of the suites at the front of the top deck of the A380 not only means they are the quietest seats on the plane, but they also get exclusive access to the large front two lavatories, one of which has been converted to a full bathroom with separate vanity counter.
While there’s no shower on-board, the space and exclusivity of the bathrooms certainly make them more special than the usual fitout.
Overall, the new Suites continue Singapore Airlines’ tradition of understated luxury and take the comfort level up a notch to provide an excellent feeling of space.
Combined with the on-ground and in-flight service which Singapore Airlines is known for, this should be a class-leading product.
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.