This morning Singapore Airlines launched their latest generation of First Class Suites for the Airbus A380, as a key part of their international media event which also encompassed several other updated onboard cabin products soon to feature on the airline’s latest batch of A380 jets, which start being delivered next month. See here for our Business Class analysis.
We were invited to attend the event (click here for our as-it-happened updates from the day), and we got a good first-hand look at the new suites. We weren’t disappointed.
The first two major changes for Suites class were well-anticipated.
Firstly, the number of suites was cut from 12 to six. CEO Mr Goh Choon Phong told us it was a mixture of the desire to give more space, and also of the current demand levels for the suites product, which prompted the reduction.
Secondly the Suites have been moved from the Lower Deck to the Upper Deck of the aircraft, in a space well-suited for a smaller number of seats, separated by a single aisle, which also takes advantage of two large forward spaces either side of the A380 main staircase. This is where Emirates put shower suites on their A380s; for Singapore Airlines they have been designed as spacious washrooms with a large dressing and vanity area in the righthand washroom.
As expected, there’s no format change from the high-walled, closing door privacy seen in the current generation Singapore Airlines A380 Suites class. Each of the six spacious ‘mini-apartments’ has it’s own entrance from a wide centre aisle.
What’s certainly changed is the size of each Suite – 30 to 50 square feet a piece, they are each 60% larger than the current offering, a massive space.
Every Suite has a fold-down bed – 76in x 27in (1.93m x 0.68m). Effectively that’s the length of a standard size single bed, but a little narrower. The beauty is that in two of these Suite pairs (1A/2A and 1F/2F) the partition wall between the beds can be lowered, creating a double suite if you are travelling with a partner, which also allows for the two ‘single’ beds to transform into a standard size double bed.
Solo travellers don’t lose out though – individual Suites are still large and very private spaces, particularly when the fold-down bed is retracted.
The Swivelling Chair
Apparently a first for a commercial aircraft, each new Singapore Airlines A380 Suite will feature an electrically-controlled armchair, which moves through 270-degrees, so you can dine, face the bed, face your partner (in the double suites), or face the window and watch the world go by while sipping on your Vintage Krug 2004.
It sounds quite ‘gimmicky’, but it’s a nice idea and here’s our video of the chair in action during the launch event:
In both size and finish, these are a great improvement over the current A380 Suites. The forward left side washroom is the smaller of the two, but is still a spacious enough area for changing and freshening up with a large backlit mirror and specially designed amenity holders.
On the forward right side, the washroom is enormous by comparison to most airline experiences. Those familiar with the Emirates A380 will know what I’m talking about. Singapore Airlines haven’t gone down the on-board showers route even with this latest incarnation of their planes, but they have offered a spacious dressing area and vanity station in this larger washroom.
Lalique are providing the bedding, toiletries, glassware and chinaware for the new Suites product. It’s a well-known^ and highly-regarded French company, first famous for creating jewellery and ornaments, but today they boast a wide range of products and we look forward to seeing these on board.
^ Ok admittedly not that well known, we had to Google them last night.
When can I fly on these Suites?
Singapore to Sydney is the launch route for the new product, flights SQ221 SIN-SYD from 18 December 2017 and SQ232 SYD-SIN from 19 December 2017. London Heathrow is tipped as the second destination, from March 2018, opening up the possibility of flying the ‘kangaroo route’ from Europe to Australia in the latest Suites cabin all the way, though you’ll need deep pockets, or a lot of KrisFlyer miles and a lot of luck to secure this in the early days. Do let us know if you manage it, especially with miles.
Eventually, all 19 of the A380s will be refitted with the new Suites product, but initially by around the end of 2018 it will just be installed on five of the jets. The aim is to have all aircraft refitted by 2020, quite an ambitious target in our opinion and these timescales usually slip a little, but from then on a Singapore Airlines A380 ticket in First should get you this fantastic product, guaranteed.
Here’s the seat map to look out for when booking your ticket, or your KrisFlyer redemption in Suites. Remember if you’re a (sociable!) couple, 1A/2A or 1F/2F are the pairs which allow the double bed Suite arrangement.
The leaked photos yesterday made the new suites look quite uninspiring, but having been at the launch event and seen them close up we can honestly say that, while they have gone down a slightly more understated colour palette, and certainly don’t have the ‘bling’ of the Etihad A380 first apartments, these will be a really fantastic and high-end product.
We can take or leave showers on a plane (it’s lovely once, but a novelty only – trust us!). We would however like to have seen a bar / lounge or social area, potentially shared with business class as on the Emirates A380 and Etihad A380, but the focus for Singapore Airlines has clearly been personal space and privacy, especially in the Suites cabin, and we can’t really argue with that.
We certainly don’t have deep enough pockets to jump on one of these Suites anytime soon to review the product on the actual plane, but once more A380s have it installed, and we can secure a redemption ticket, we’ll be certain to try it out and write a detailed review.