Singapore Airlines now flies two variants of the Airbus A380: one with economy at the back of the upper deck, and a new version that's all business upstairs.
This new A380 is already on the Sydney-Singapore route as SQ221 and SQ212 -- so if this is your next flight, which are the best business class seats to choose?
Singapore is fitting newcomers to its A380 flagship fleet with 86 business class that take up the entire upper deck. As with SQ's first series A380, the lower deck contains a dozen First Class suites and 311 economy class seats.
The business-only upper deck
There are four separate business class areas on the upper deck.
The largest, in the middle, stretches from rows 17-27. The are two five-row cabins from rows 11-16 (SQ deliberately skips row 13) and rows 91-95, plus a tiny single-row cabin at the very back, in row 96.
With every one of the ultra-wide business class seats upstairs in a comfortable 1-2-1 configuration, every passenger has access to the aisle.
(For the uninitated, A seats are to the left of the cabin, then an aisle, the D and F seats in the middle, another aisle, and then K seats on the right.)
The five-row cabins are more intimate, and the first one (being further forward) will have less engine noise than the rear cabin -- although the A380 is remarkably quiet in general. It's also further away from potential noise from the Economy Class cabin behind row 27.
The seats themselves are world-class: extra-wide (35 inches wide -- compare that with Qantas' business class at 21 inches) and extra-long, with a large table suitable for spreading out work papers and a laptop. The seat converts into a fully flat bed, although your feet and head end up in a small cubby at the bottom and top of the bed, respectively.
The in-flight entertainment is also impressive, with a 15.4" screen and the excellent KrisWorld on-demand system. Each seat also has its own AC power point for laptops and other electronic devices.
To make the cabin seem more spacious, the middle seats don't have luggage storage bins above them, which gives the cabin an open feeling, but can also let more noise through.
The best seats on the plane
Fortunately, most seats in the cabin are excellent. However, some rows are better than others.
17A 17K: these bulkhead seats have slightly more leg space when in bed mode, but the downside is that they're right behind a set of galley kitchens and there's a lavatory in front of 17K, so noise and overnight disturbance is more likely. These are also bassinet crib seats, so you may be moved for or experience noise from a baby.
96A 96K: at the very back of the plane, these bulkhead seats are in their own private mini-cabin, and none of them are bassinet crib positions -- but on the other hand, they're right in front of a set of lavatories and galley kitchens.
11A 11K 91A 91K: unfortunately, these "window" seats in the small five-row cabins are in windowless rows, otherwise they'd be excellent picks. As it is, they still have extra leg space, so they're worth consideration.
11D 11F 17D 17F 91D 91F 96D 96F: these are the four sets of centre pair bulkhead seats, which will have extra leg space. Bear in mind that 11D and 11F are bassinet crib positions, so you may be moved or disturbed by an infant. (Row 17 may also be disturbed by infants in seats 17A and 17K.)
Rows 22-24 and 94-95: the sleeper's pick. All in all, these are likely to be the quietest seats on the plane: away from infants, lavatories and galley kitchens, so if you need quiet, they're the ones to go for.
The worst seats on the plane
In the new layout, the "worst seats" are really only marginally less good because of their proximity to areas of possible noise (babies, lavatories, galley kitchens). However, many of them have benefits (bulkhead, mini-cabin or both).
Row 16, Row 27: the only seats we'd really avoid are at the back of the first two cabins, and are in front of galley kitchens and lavatories, so you get the downside of noise without the upside of extra leg space in bed mode.
- Business Class on Malaysia Airlines' A330
- Business Class on Etihad's A340-600
- Business Class on Emirates' A380
- Club World (Business Class) on British Airways' 747
- Business Class on Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER