Sydney - Singapore
- The cabin crew are outstanding
- More ‘Book the Cook’ options than business class
- Private suites that don’t feel cramped with closed doors
- Singapore Airlines and competitors have newer, more spacious first class suites
- Couples can dine face-to-face and relax in a double suite
Singapore Airlines debuted its renowned first class 'Suites Class' in 2007 between Singapore and Sydney, turning up the dial on privacy with closing doors and bespoke service aboard its Airbus A380 aircraft.
That's flight SQ222 from Sydney to Singapore, which Executive Traveller boarded to see how the experience stacks up more than a decade after its debut.
- Frequent flyer program: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, but you can also earn points and status credits with Virgin Australia, other Star Alliance airlines and Singapore Airlines partners.
- Checked baggage allowance: 50kg
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags at up to 7kg each, plus one additional item such as a laptop satchel or duty-free goods.
- Airport fast-track: Suites passengers have a dedicated check-in counter in Row E of Sydney International Airport. Express Path passes were handed out but didn’t speed things up too much as Sydney Airport was extremely busy during the school holidays, although Suites passengers were called to board after passengers requiring assistance.
Singapore Airlines' first class guests departing Sydney have access to the first class section of the SilverKris Lounge at Sydney Airport, hidden beyond a discreet sliding panel behind the reception desk. The SilverKris business class lounge is also in the same area.
There’s a small à la carte menu offering light bites, as well as a more substantial buffet. Veuve Cliquot is the house Champagne.
Shiny invitations to The Private Room lounge in Singapore can be picked up here if you have an onward Singapore Airlines flight in Suites/first class.
SQ222 departs Sydney at 4:10pm to reach Singapore around 9:20pm – a journey of just over eight hours. It’s well timed for business travellers who can start the day normally, head to the airport during lunch and reach Singapore in the evening, with minimal disruption to the body clock.
The older A380 with 12 first-generation Suites currently operates SQ222 and its overnight return journey from Singapore, SQ231.
For the newer A380 with just six luxurious suites, look for SQ232 departing 11am from Sydney, and SQ221 returning from Singapore at 8:20pm.
There are 12 suites in the original configuration – four on each window side and two rows of paired suites in the middle.
Each suite consists of a 35’ wide armchair, upholstered with full-grain leather from Aeristo. The two armrests can be folded upwards to increase the feeling of spaciousness, although I preferred to keep them down for more support.
There’s a fold-out footrest at the base, which would come in handy if you reclined the seat to a more relaxing position.
On the aisle side of each suite, you’ll find a rubbish bin, further storage space, the inflight entertainment remote, and buttons for lighting, cabin service and ‘do not disturb’.
On the other side of the seat is a console that houses the large table, a drinks cup holder, deeper storage space and power outlets.
A privacy divider can be lowered if there are two solo passengers in the centre suites, but since I was travelling with my partner, it was stowed and locked.
There are two USB ports, one AC power outlet and the headphone jack. These ports become inaccessible in bed-mode since the whole console sinks down, but more on that later.
There are no overhead lockers in Suites class. Instead, all your carry-on items should comfortably fit under the ottoman/second seat in front of you.
A blanket and leather pillow is waiting in the suite upon boarding, which keeps you comfortable when lounging.
The tray table comes out of the console folded in half. When reassembled, it creates a large smooth surface perfectly fine for dining or typing away on a laptop.
Between each suite is a wardrobe space to hang your clothes and store other small items.
Each suite has two ‘window blinds’ and sliding doors (each door goes half way), which you can shut at your leisure while at cruising altitude.
There’s an impressive level of privacy in this configuration, although flight attendants can still discreetly check on you over the doors or through the netting in the blinds.
On each side of the screen, there's a vanity mirror with lighting and yet another storage space.
When it comes time to unwind, the back panel of the suite opens up and your seat folds down to reveal a comfortable, long and wide bed. Couples travelling together in the middle pair of suites can enjoy a spacious double bed, which was a truly special experience.
Since the centre console and its charging ports are gone in bed mode, a secondary panel can be found beside you, usually hidden by the seat back.
The back of your seat becomes a small area to keep your drinks and accessories nearby.
Since the bed doesn’t take up the whole width of the suite, any carry-on items you have beneath the ottoman are still accessible.
Also revealed in bed mode: a space to stow your headphones when you sleep, plus extra buttons to control the lighting without having to reach out to the far panel.
If work isn’t on your agenda when flying in Suites, it’s perfectly fine to stay in bed mode for the majority of the flight. However, it’s not possible to dine this way, as the tray table is inaccessible.
Champagne is available prior to departure – your choice of 2009 Dom Pérignon, 2004 Krug, or even both.
Singapore Airlines spruiks its fine dining in Suites as “creations inspired by cuisines and cultures from around the world”. As I was travelling with my partner, we took the opportunity to dine opposite each other in one suite.
With a mid-afternoon departure, a full dinner service is offered after take-off. While not strictly ‘dine on demand’, the cabin crew were flexible with when we wanted to dine – either straight away or a few hours later around what would be dinner time on the ground.
To maximise our rest, we opted to start straight after departure. The appetisers were chilled Malossol caviar with condiments or seared kingfish loin on Nicoise salad. Both were fresh and enjoyable, with the saltiness of the caviar blending particularly well with the various condiments on the side.
Next up is soup: double boiled chicken soup or white onion and thyme. The latter was creamy and tasty, which worked well with the savoury prosciutto.
We both skipped the salad course of butter lettuce hearts, mixed cress and cherry tomatoes.
The in-flight menu had the following main courses:
- Seared lamb cutlet with braised lamb neck
- Jajangmyeon (Korean noodles with pork in black bean sauce)
- Steamed chicken with cold ginger/spring onion relish
- Grilled beef burger
We were able to preview this menu a few weeks in advance through the SQ App but decided to ‘Book the Cook’ for mains instead.
The roast rack of lamb was tender and just slightly pink inside, although it seemed dwarfed by the hodgepodge of vegetables on the side. My partner's Singaporean chicken rice was as good as any version found in Sydney – a sentiment the cabin crew agreed with.
Dessert followed with popcorn cheesecake and yoghurt sorbet, or pineapple tart with vanilla mascarpone. I personally found the pineapple to be a bit too acidic to finish off the meal with, but absolutely loved the combination of caramelised popcorn with the creamy cheesecake and berries.
We were too full at this point to have anything else off the menu, but there were cheese, fruit, pralines and hot beverages on offer.
Roughly 100 minutes before landing, a refreshment course of peri-peri chicken burger or pork and century egg congee was served; the latter described by the crew as ‘food for the soul’, which it was indeed.
Entertainment & Service
The 23-inch personal entertainment screen isn't as big as the 32-inch panel on Singapore Airlines' new A380 Suites, but it was more than adequate for watching films.
Less impressive though is the now-outdated interface, which is slow and clunky to navigate compared to newer versions. Everything is controlled via the remote as the screen is not touch-enabled: and too far away to reach, anyway.
The selection of movies and TV shows were fairly recent, with full seasons available for certain titles.
As reported in 2018, Singapore Airlines now uses premium Bang & Olufson Beoplay H9i headphones in first class.
These cans produced great quality sound and noise cancellation. However, I wasn’t a fan of the fit on my ear and preferred my Bose QC25s for full over-ear comfort.
Unlimited WiFi is now provided for Suites and first class passengers, although this was previously 100MB at the time of travel. All you need is your last name and seat number to connect. Although only one device can be connected at a time, you can pause the connection to stop any background applications from sucking up data.
I couldn’t get speed tests to run, but it was sufficient for light usage (browsing websites, instant messaging and even sending some photos). 100 MB comfortably lasted me until the end of the flight.
Unisex Lalique amenity kits are given out before departure which features the usual lotions, but the standout is a scented candle with multiple warnings of "do not use in aircraft".
Singapore Airlines already provides basic products such as dental kits in the lavatories, so the amenity kits are more of souvenir to bring with you after your journey.
Lalique-branded pyjamas were also offered in your choice of small, medium or large sizes. These were very comfortable to wear during the flight, without being too restrictive or insulating.
The service in Suites class was extremely polished and professional, yet still very light-hearted and fun, and the cabin crew went out of their way to make our flight memorable.
All in all, despite the ageing seats on the original Airbus A380s, flying in Suites is still an exceptional experience that is clearly well-differentiated from business class.
It’s great to see Singapore Airlines continuing to invest in its first class cabins during a time where most other airlines are focusing on business class cabins as 'the new first class'.
Brandon Loo travelled to Singapore at his own expense using frequent flyer points.