Flights KrisFlyer Reviews Singapore Airlines

Review: Singapore Airlines A380 New Suites

Singapore Airlines has tried really hard with the new A380 Suites... maybe too hard. It's impossible not to be 'wowed', but the overall experience is a bit of a let down.

1A & 2A Suite

For us the prospect of finally doing this review was very exciting. It’s probably our most anticipated new product this year (albeit released in late 2017). We attended and covered the launch event and were awed when we first saw, touched and experienced this newly designed Suite. We loved the 2006 Suites product installed on the first Singapore A380s, it was groundbreaking, but the world has moved on.

Background

Jacques Pierrejean was responsible for the design and Zodiac Aerospace for the realisation. Combine that with Singapore Airlines’ award-winning service – it seemed like a sure-fire recipe for success.

We described our booking process in our Round-the-world in First Class article. As we mentioned there, it wasn’t exactly ‘smooth sailing’. Still we were happy to be finally able to sample the full ‘double bed’ 2017 Suites experience.

Flight details

  • Flight: SQ856 Singapore Changi T3 to Hong Kong T1
  • Class: Suites
  • Seats: 1A & 2A
  • Aircraft Type: Airbus A380-800
  • Aircraft Registration: 9V-SKU
  • Aircraft Age: 1.3 years
  • Date: July 2018
  • Departure / Arrival: 09:55 / 13:55
  • Flight Time: 4h 00m
  • Cost: 70,000* KrisFlyer miles + S$34.00 per person

* Note this is the ‘Advantage’ redemption rate for this route. If you can secure a ‘Saver’ rate the cost is 37,500 KrisFlyer miles per person.

Check-in

Singapore Airlines First Class and Suites Class passengers are invited to check-in at a dedicated First Class annexe of Changi Terminal 3. As you pull up to the red-carpeted entranceway, porters assist with your luggage and you are whisked through to take a seat at a private check-in desk. The whole process is very speedy – so fast, in fact, it doesn’t really justify the large general seating area, cold towels, soft drinks and abundance of staff, but it’s a quiet private area with a welcoming and cosy ambience.

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After the brief check-in formalities are completed, you are presented with ‘The Private Room’ invitations, handwritten in gold pen and directed to the private immigration and security channel. Unsurprisingly there was no queue and we were through to the departures area in less than 10 minutes.

Lounge and boarding

The Singapore Airlines Terminal 3 lounges are located up an adjacent escalator from the exit of the private immigration channel. On arrival, the hosts quickly spot ‘The Private Room’ invitation and you are again whisked past part of the Business Class section, through the First Class section and into ‘The Private Room’ itself.

Menu Cover 2
The restaurant is the focal point of ‘The Private Room’. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We will be writing full reviews of both the SilverKris T3 First Class lounge and The Private Room, as we in fact had over 12 hours to enjoy these facilities having checked in for our flight the previous afternoon so that we could stay overnight and review the Aerotel Transit hotel. The lounge reviews are coming up soon.

Boarding was via one of the large satellite stands in Terminal 3. Personally, we dislike these gates as multiple flights can be boarding at the same time leading to long security lines and a lack of seating. In our experience, gate security here is usually a free-for-all, however this time there was a separate First and Business Class security lane which is either new or we’d never spotted it before.

Sadly the queue was just as long as the others!

Boarding gate
Waiting for boarding to start. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Boarding was via a separate Suites channel. The Suites and Business Class passengers board onto the upper deck forward door, though this is behind the Suites cabin itself. That means walking through the galley to get to the Suites cabin, which feels a little odd. A shame really when the lower forward cabin door leads to one of the A380s ‘party tricks’ – the stunning double width staircase which we think would be a far grander entrance to the Suites cabin.

Aisle
View from the top of the stairs into the Suites cabin, though sadly you do not board this way. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The seat

First impressions are no less awesome than the first time we saw the mockup. The space is extraordinary. Frankly, no amount of wide angle photos will do it justice – it’s certainly a unique experience.

2A Sign
The anticipation is incredible. What’s around the corner? (Photo: MainlyMiles)
2A Seat
And there we are, Suite 2A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The space is incredible even when compared with the older 2006 Suites. It’s rather like a mini hotel room in the sky. Even bigger still is the suite in front – 1A.

Seat 1A overview
In contrast – the larger suite 1A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

As you first take a seat in the chair, you realise it’s a lot more comfortable than it looks. The leather is plush and the padding is luxurious. It’s instantly a private and comfortable place to be.

That is until a fellow passenger joins their suite across the aisle and you make somewhat uncomfortable eye contact. The element of privacy is gone. If you’d drifted off imagining you were on a private jet, you are brought back to earth with a bump. You are definitely not on a private jet.

2A & 2F Seat
First-world problem perhaps – but the passengers in Suite 2A and 2F are directly visible to one another while the Suite doors are open. The same applies at rows 1 and 3. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you were travelling alone, you definitely wouldn’t find it ‘small’ by First Class airline seat standards but when you see the double suite in entirety it’s a truly huge amount of space, totalling 97 ft2.

At the individual suite level, row 1 offers the largest floor area (54 ft2) followed by row 2 (43 ft2) and finally row 3 (35 ft2) has the smallest pair of suites.

SQ2

Overhead Lighting

‘New’ A380 Suites Floorspace

1A  54 ft2 54 ft2  1F
2A  43 ft2 43 ft2  2F
3A  35 ft2 35 ft2  3F

For those who prefer metric measurements – you’re looking at around 5 m2 for the 1A/1F suites, 4 m2 for the 2A/2F suites and 3.3 m2 for the 3A/3F suites.

3F Seat
Suites 3A and 3F (pictured) are the smallest suites on the aircraft, though they are still very spacious. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
3A Seat
Suite 3A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites certainly stand up well in size terms to the competition. As a point of comparison the Etihad Apartments (their version of First Class enclosed suites on the A380) each measure 39 ft2 (3.6 m2), while the brand new Emirates First Class fully enclosed suites on the 777-300ER measure “up to” 40 ft2 (3.7 m2).

View into 1A
Sneaking a peek into 97 ft2 of private enclosed space. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We took a few minutes to experience the individual suites before asking the crew to retract the privacy screen revealing the full extent of the coveted ‘double suite’.

1A & 2A Suite
The double suite in all its glory, with the dividing wall lowered. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The double suite offers a floor area of roughly 97 ft2 (9 m2). As a little perspective, Etihad’s ultra-private ‘The Residence’, of which there is only one on each A380 also including a double bed, measures 125 ft2 (11.6 m2).

You are invited to leave your hand luggage in a large wardrobe at the entrance to your suite. Contained within are a blanket, slippers and socks plus a vanity mirror and hangers for jackets, coats and shirts.

Wardrobe
The large wardrobe. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The colour palette of the Suites cabin is very understated, mainly beiges and dark browns, offset slightly by a subtle wall pattern and the orange of the seat cushion. There’s certainly no ‘bling’ here like you find on the Middle East airlines, though it’s a bit on the boring side for our tastes and personally something closer to the Etihad apartments colour scheme seems more classy and elegant.

View 2A to 2F
Privacy is an issue with the suite doors open, such as for takeoff and landing. Here you can see Suite 2F from Suite 2A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Each suite is elevated slightly from the aisle floor level and fitted with thick, plush carpet.

Carpet
The carpet in Suite 2A on this aircraft had unfortunately suffered some stains, inevitable over time, and some fraying at the edges. Hopefully Singapore Airlines has a replacement schedule in mind. This photo also demonstrates the slightly elevated floor level of each Suite compared with the aisle floor. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Behind the suites cabin is the galley serving this section, the same one you walk through to reach your seat as mentioned above. Some passengers in row 3, the last row in this cabin, have reported some noise / light disturbance due to their proximity to this galley.

3A Seat 2
Proximity to the galley in suites 3A and 3F has been reported as a minor noise issue. You can see here how close the galley is to this row. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
2F Seat
Suite 2F. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A missing aspect of these suites is individual air vents. A couple of these would be ideal, near the seat and the bed perhaps, however Singapore Airlines chose not to install any in this cabin.

2A Door
The closed suite door in 2A. Notice the gap at the bottom. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
1A Seat
Seat 1A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

One thing we did notice about the seat was that it ‘wobbles’ slightly from side to side as though in a small detent. Our flight was smooth but others have reported this feels a little odd during turbulence.

Settling in

Both of Singapore Airlines’ First Class champagnes were offered on the ground – Krug 2004 and Dom Perignon. Both are excellent. We happen to prefer the Krug, especially the 2004 vintage.

Champagne Boarding
Welcome to Singapore Airlines. Whether you fly in First or Suites, a choice of Dom Perignon or Krug Champagne is standard. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A hot towel, choice of reading material and the leather-bound dining menu is then presented.

Storage options

Other than the huge wardrobe at the entrance to the suite, there is a leather padded storage area under the credenza where smaller bags, laptops, iPads etc can be stowed for easy access. There is a detachable leather securing strap and a courtesy light. Other smaller items can be stored in the three desk-level compartments on the top of the credenza.

Side Stowage
The 12″ MacBook takes up hardly any space at all in the large side stowage area. In fact I could have easily put my rucksack there rather than using the wardrobe. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Useful little side pockets either side of the seat are perfect for menus and other in-flight paraphernalia whilst a formal literature pocket is hidden behind the seat itself.

Seat Side Pocket
The menu slips nicely into one of the seat side stowages so it’s always in easy reach whatever your seating position. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The amenity kit and pyjamas 

It is worth noting that on shorter sectors of less than 6 hours, either no amenity kit or a generic one is provided. The new Lalique amenity kit is provided on longer sectors alongside their elegant new pyjamas.

Lalique Amenity Kit
Lalique Néroli toiletries, candle and coloured glass fish collectable. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Ted in Bed
Ted approves of Lalique. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Toilets

Two toilets are provided for a maximum of six Suites passengers. That’s a very good ratio of three passengers to each toilet, meaning the need to queue is almost never an issue.

Toilet Vestibule
The large atrium at the front of the Suites cabin and the top of the A380 main staircase is where you’ll find the two toilets. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The smaller toilet is located on the left side as you’re facing the front of the aircraft. ‘Smaller’ does not mean small by any means, this is still a huge space for an aircraft toilet with a separate changing bench, a significant surface area for your personal belongings and toiletries, and a large mirror and sink.

Toilet 1L Mirror
The forward left toilet, the smaller of the two in this cabin, is still a very large space. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Toilet 1L 2.jpg
Forward left toilet. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The forward right toilet is the larger one of the two. It’s so large there’s room for a separate vanity area and stool. Unfortunately neither toilet had been cleaned properly, with a greasy substance evident on all the surfaces. More on that later in the review.

Toilet 1R Vanity
Vanity area in the larger forward right toilet. Notice if you look closely the dried ‘speckled’ grease on the vanity mirrors (it was on all the mirrors in fact). Like a substance sprayed by the cleaners which was never subsequently wiped. This was also evident in the other toilet and throughout the surfaces of Suite 1A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Toilet 1R Mirror
A clothes hanger and retractable baby-changing table are also features of this toilet. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Looking at the right-side toilet though you can’t help but wonder why they didn’t install a shower here. There is clearly enough room, arguably there is too much room without one, and for a maximum of six passengers, a single shower would easily suffice (even accounting for the removal of a toilet while the shower was in use).

Toilet 1R
Space for a shower? (Photo: MainlyMiles)

But hang on, we’re talking about an airline which doesn’t even offer a spa in its most prestigious lounge ‘The Private Room’. Even the shower facilities there lack a private toilet. Maybe Singapore Airlines’ regular passengers really don’t care about these ‘gimmicks’?

It does seem a shame, as this option is available to First Class passengers on the Emirates and Etihad A380s. Perhaps Singapore Airlines’ bluff traditionalism is preventing them from being truly innovative and offering cutting-edge facilities that their premium passengers deserve and desire.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is available on all Singapore Airlines A350s, A380s, 787-10s and most 777-300ER aircraft. Soon all 777-300ERs will be equipped, with the last two aircraft going in for cabin refit in October, which includes Wi-Fi installation.

Since February this year a small allowance is now provided to Suites / First Class and Business Class passengers. PPS Club members also get a complimentary data bundle.

  • First class / suites – 100MB
  • Business class or PPS Club – 30MB*

Allowances do not ‘stack’, for example a PPS Club member flying Suites will get 100MB of free data, not 130MB.

Once your allowance is used up the Wi-Fi is chargeable at the following rates:

  • Basic (30min / 30MB data limit): US$4.99
  • Standard (3h / 150MB data limit): US$12.99
  • Pro (Full flight / 500MB data limit): US$29.99

Using the free 100MB allowance we tested the Wi-Fi speed:

Wi-Fi Speed.jpg

As always the long ‘ping’ is expected because of the nature of a satellite connection, however once connected the speed is good, and similar to the speeds Andrew recorded on the same aircraft flying to Sydney in January (8.62 Mbps down / 2.30 Mbps up).

In-flight entertainment

Each suite is equipped with a very large retractable 32″ HD flat-screen television. The latest IFE system hosts the usual wide variety of movies, TV shows, music and magazines.

TV.jpg
The 32″ TV in each suite pivots on an electric motor for the optimal viewing angle. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Bose noise cancelling headphones are provided to all passengers.

Bose Headphones.jpg
Noise cancelling headphones. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
IFE screen.jpg
The usual extensive entertainment selection. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The TV is controlled either using the remote control in the seat armrest, or through the detachable tablet device stowed on the credenza.

Tablet.jpg
The detachable tablet can be used to control the entertainment system. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Another feature of this new system (also found on the A350 and 777-300ER Version 2) is one Andrew had already tried out in his new A380 Business Class review, pairing of your device to the IFE system. This allows you to save favourites such as movie choices and music in advance, which can then be accessed more easily once your device is paired.

In common with other Singapore Airlines aircraft, these new A380s don’t feature a tail camera meaning you can’t watch the takeoff and landing from an external perspective.

Nuts after Takeoff
Nuts and another glass of Krug served shortly after takeoff. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The various seating options

Initially, the seat controls are quite complex. The seat swivels into certain present positions, in a rather space-age fashion. The cabin crew came shortly after our arrival to explain. There are three preset positions that the seat will rotate into:

  • Facing the window and credenza (represented by the window icon). Good for looking out, or using the vanity mirror. In this position the foot rest is automatically tucked away and seat back brought upright. One downside is there isn’t very much legroom in this position.
  • Takeoff and landing position (represented by the aircraft icon). Facing forwards in all suites. In row 1 suites that means facing the forward wall, which is why a small supplementary TV is installed for screening the safety demo. Rather annoyingly we were not able to make this TV show anything else, not even the moving map. Row 2 benefits from being able to view the main TV, which features the full suite of entertainment even whilst in takeoff and landing position.
  • TV watching and dining position (pointing towards the TV and the suite door). This is the position in which you will likely spend the majority of the flight and it is very comfortable. The facilities of the suite are all within easy reach. In the double suite you are still facing mostly away from your travel partner. With the doors open you are not far off looking directly into the suite on the opposite side of the aisle.
Seat Controls
Seat controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Once in one of the preset positions, the seat can be further adjusted to your liking (with the exception of the takeoff and landing position where the seat must remain upright). The TV is also remotely controlled to pivot out from the wall up to a 45-degree angle for a more comfortable viewing angle if you’re watching from the seat rather than the bed.

We found the TV watching and dining position very comfortable and particularly once fully reclined with the footrest folded out. As shown in the picture below, the footrest is rather short and leaves your feet dangling off the edge. Singapore Airlines have thoughtfully catered for this already with a footstool, which is provided by the crew on request.

1A Seat Reclined
The seat in fully reclined position. It looks a bit like a dentist’s chair but is quite comfortable. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A noticeable omission to the seating positions and suite overall is the lack of a ‘buddy dining’ option. It’s common among many other First Class products in the industry including Singapore’s 2006 Suites. Dining opposite one another is a real novelty and experience on an aircraft and a Mainly Miles favourite.

Indeed we enjoyed this concept on the Qantas A380 recently, and later on this same round-the-world trip in the First Class cabins of Cathay Pacific and British Airways. It’s a shame no workaround could be made to allow it in these spacious suites, especially the double suites which are ideal for couples travelling together.

To us though it wasn’t just the lack of the buddy dining option. The angle of the TV watching and dining seat position has you actively pointed away from your dining partner and instead pointed towards your suite door and neighbour across the aisle.

Food and beverages

A brunch service was offered on this flight. Since we knew we would enjoy an early breakfast in ‘The Private Room’ prior to boarding we opted to ‘Book the Cook’ and turn this meal into more of a ‘lunch’.

Menu Cover.jpg

The menu pages are available below (click to enlarge):

Brunch P1 Brunch P2 Wine P1 Wine P2 Wine P3
Brunch 1 Brunch 2 Wine 1 Wine 2 Wine 3

In addition the menu contained a list of cocktails, aperitifs, spirits, liqueurs, beers, mocktails, juices and soft drinks, Illy coffees and TWG teas.

Bakery
The brunch service includes a bakery selection. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

From the ‘Book the Cook’ options Andrew went for the 8oz ribeye steak while I opted for the Boston lobster thermidor (we were actually visiting Boston later on this trip, so it was essential to compare!).

Lalique Glassware
Glassware is by Lalique. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The dining position is comfortably angled towards the television so there’s no need to interrupt your movie to dine. However as that means you are also facing the door you are again presented with the issue of being eye-to-eye with the passenger opposite. The crew were sensitive to this and tried to keep the door closed as much as possible, which appears to be a recent policy, but it does somewhat hinder their service.

The door was also occasionally left partly open, sometimes fully closed and sometimes left open each time the crew left the suite to return to the galley, which wasn’t very consistent.

Breakfast Starter
The comfortable dining position. The tray table is large and sturdy. Just make sure the door is closed to avoid sharing your experience with the passenger across the aisle. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Moreover, slightly unusually in the double suite you are not facing your partner, in fact you are angled away and given the distance between the seats you do feel rather disconnected. I couldn’t see Andrew’s meal, nor could we easily discuss the food, which seemed to defeat the purpose of sharing a ‘double’ suite.

Fruit Starter
As this was a breakfast service, we began with the perennial fruit plate. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Lobster
A ‘Book The Cook’ selection – Boston Lobster Thermidor. Notice the seating angle and distance between seats. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The lobster was excellent. Succulent and tender with a delicate Thermidor sauce that complimented the sweet flavours of the lobster without overwhelming it. It should be noted that I’ve tried this dish in the past in First Class and it usually only comes with one half of a lobster, so it appears that I lucked out and received a double portion on this flight. It was a very large serving but – not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I happily finished it all.

Beef
Book The Cook: 8oz rib eye steak. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Steak is always a bit of a risk on an aircraft because it’s not actually cooked on board, merely reheated. You’re depending heavily on the skill of the chefs on the ground to get it just to the right doneness which will also ensure it doesn’t simply dry out in the aircraft ovens.

Beef Cook
A fantastic medium cook on the steak. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Good news with this one, the steak was perfectly cooked, tender and moist. The roasted vegetables and potato accompaniment was also very good. It was probably a bit much for lunch but hey, when in Suites…

Dessert
Dessert was a buttermilk cherry parfait with cherry compote. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Wines

For the wine connoisseurs, here’s how the wines on offer on this flight rate with Vivino, scored out of 5 stars:

White

  • Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand (2017) – 4.0 stars
  • Dr Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Reisling  (2014) – 3.7 stars
  • Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru “Les Vaucoupin”, Burgundy, France (2015) – 3.8 stars
  • Maison Albert Bichot Chateau Long-Depaquit Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots, Burgundy, France (2014) – 4.2 stars

I had the Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc with my lobster, which was a lovely accompaniment.

Red

  • Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux, France (2006) – 4.1 stars
  • Albert Bichot Chateau Gris Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru Monopole, Burgundy, France (2015) – 4.5 stars
  • Poliziano Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Italy (2011) – 4.3 stars
  • Marchesi Mazzei Castello di Fonterutoli Chiante Classico, Gran Selezione, Tuscany, Italy (2008) – 4.1 stars

Andrew sampled the Italian Poliziano with his steak and I tried some after dinner too, we both agreed it was excellent.

Red Wine 1
The Poliziano was an excellent accompaniment to the steak dish. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The double bed

The benefit of the double suite at 1A/2A or 1F/2F is pretty much lost as a dining concept. One clear advantage though is in the bedroom setup – here you have the option of a large double bed in the middle of your suite, while retaining the separate armchair at either side.

Each individual bed measures 27″ width and 76″ length. That’s actually not overly generous, the beds in 2017 Business Class on the same aircraft are 2 inches longer (though they do narrow at the foot end and are slightly narrower overall).

It’s also smaller than the previous generation of Singapore A380 suites (35″ width and 78″ length), and the 2013 First Class seat on the Singapore 777-300ER, which has the biggest bed in the fleet (35″ width and 82″ length).

Bed 1
Plenty of room for ‘Ted’ in the double bed at 1A/2A. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In many ways the bed remains like two singles alongside one another, as the cabin divider wall stows into the floor in the middle of the bed exposing a hard surface between the two mattresses.

We measured the width of the double bed and found it to be 59″ overall, the additional 5″ was related to the fixed divider housing.

Double Bed 1
Still more like two single beds. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Some takeaway points for us relating to the bed, firstly the new Lalique bedding is crisp, smooth and very comfortable. It also seemed like it would be sufficiently cool during the night to allow a good sleep even in a hot cabin.

Since it’s made of cotton it creases easily and so the bed doesn’t look immaculate once made up, however this takes nothing away from its comfort.

Secondly the mattress is very firm. This was also the case in Business Class as we mentioned in our review of that product. If you’re used to a soft mattress at home this one might surprise you.

It’s a shame some additional mattress topper is not provided for those who prefer it. Our recent experience of First Class bedding on Qantas, Cathay and British Airways were all far superior in comfort than this bed (especially the new Qantas bedding).

Even the Singapore Airlines 777-300ER First Class flight at the end of our trip had a softer mattress, with the same new Lalique bedding.

Thirdly the seat belt is an inertia-reel type, which grips you quite firmly to the bed when worn. While safety is clearly the priority, we can see this being an uncomfortable inconvenience especially when changing position (e.g. turning) during sleep and this will inevitably lead many passengers to simply unbuckle it altogether.

Bed Flat
The 2A side of the double bed in the fully reclined (flat) position. Photo: (MainlyMiles)

A lever at the base of the bed near the head end allows that specific bed (or side of the bed in the case of a double) to be raised for watching TV or reading. Obviously both passengers in the double bed can raise their bed head end, however this can also be done independently if one person wishes to sleep while the other is watching a movie.

Bed Incline
Each side of the bed can have the head end angled up if you wish to watch a movie or read, with or without your travelling partner following suit! (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Notice how the credenza doubles as a bedside table, with the lighting controls and cabin attendant call function within easy reach (these are described below). A tap on the bedside tablet will also reveal the flight time remaining so you easily know how much longer you can sleep for.

Controls and connectivity

Other than the seat controls detailed above hidden in the armrest, there is another bar of controls located in the credenza. These focus on adjusting the environment of the suite and attracting crew attention. It’s the same haptic touch design found on the newer 2017/2018 business class products. It takes a little getting used to but the automatic dimming that allows the panel to almost disappear when not is use, is a nice touch.

Seat Controls 2
Lighting and TV / window blind controls were easy to use and feature the same ‘haptic touch’ functionality we first saw in Business Class on this new plane. It also features on the new 787-10 Business Class seats. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is no shortage of power options here. A USB and multi-standard power socket is located below the credenza that is within easy reach of the compartments above or the storage below.

Power Sockets 2
An HDMI socket, Multi-Standard (UNI) plug socket, USB port and contactless reader (not currently used but potentially installed for Wi-Fi purchase or duty free purchases in future). (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A further power socket it located on the rear wall that is perfectly located for charging your devices whilst you use them on the table.

Additional Socket
Another Multi-Standard (UNI) socket and USB port is located on the rear wall of the suite. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Crew

The drinks and meal service was up to the usual excellent standard that we have come to expect from Singapore Airlines (with the exception of the cleanliness issue detailed below). However, the crew’s unfamiliarity and potentially dislike for this cabin product was perceivable. They honestly tried their best, as any Singapore Airlines crew we have ever met always does, but at this level – those aspects should never be perceivable to a Suites class passenger.

It’s our feeling that this isn’t down to the crew. Singapore Airlines needed to make more effort to familiarise their crew with this product and mitigate the design flaws that make their job more difficult than it needs to be.

Cleanliness

It’s disappointing to have to include this section on any review, but especially when discussing an ultra-premium, nearly brand new First Class product.

Upon arrival in seat 1A we noticed what appeared to be shiny grease marks on some surfaces. It was immediately noticeable under the television screen where the light from the windows reflected. On further inspection – all the surfaces in the suite were covered in the same greasy overspray and seat the controls/tablet were covered in finger marks.

We informed one of the cabin crew upon noticing the patch under the TV, who was apologetic and quickly did his best to clean the area. When we noticed the rest of the suite was also dirty we spoke with the cabin crew in charge. After takeoff, they did their best to clean the suite with wet wipes but it was almost impossible to properly clean without the proper equipment.

Two takeaway points here. The aircraft had been on the ground for 15 hours preceding our departure, having arrived from Sydney the previous evening. That left plenty of time for the cleaning staff to properly go over the aircraft. Short turnarounds could possibly lead to a slapdash job – but this excuse cannot be used here.

Secondly, there are crew members dedicated to Suites class. They arrive in advance to prepare the cabin and in doing so should have made sure all the suites were in an appropriate condition to receive passengers. This was the final chance to catch the issue and for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. The same greasy residue was present in both of the Suites’ toilets.

This isn’t in keeping with our many previous experiences when travelling with Singapore Airlines. We can only hope this was a one-off incident as it certainly marred our overall impression of the product.

Wear and tear

Any seat installed on an aircraft will experience a tough time through its life cycle and will inevitably require repair, refurbishment and replacement. 9V-SKU, the aircraft we flew on, was the first of the ‘new’ A380s in the SIA fleet.

Standing at 1.3 years old on the day we flew it (SKU first flew in March 2017) it only entered service with the airline in December 2017 so the cabin fittings have had to withstand wear and tear for less than 7 months. To us, it seemed unusual to already be seeing signs of deterioration after such a short time.

Scuff Mark
Wear and tear is inevitable as cabin products age, however there was a concerning level of issues in our 7 month old cabin. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We are not talking about minor scuffs and scratches – which can happen at any time and don’t affect the overall experience. The trim below the bed had started to come away from the backing. The latch on the privacy screen separating the two suites had become stuck causing it to pop up after take-off. The 3 compartment doors on the credenza had all become misaligned and were difficult to close. The IFE crashed twice within the first 30 minutes of the flight leaving the tablet only displaying the Android symbol. The TV screen in 2A would not fully retract into the flat position.

Furthermore, whilst the crew tried to make up the bed it was obvious that it isn’t a simple procedure and perhaps there is some unfamiliarity with the product. They struggled to flatten the raised pillow area for several minutes without pulling the release lever below the bed. It was all rather painful to watch.

Summary

While our review was a combination of our joint experiences we did ultimately have the benefit of occupying not only a ‘double’ suite but also an individual suite each on this flight. Here’s our personal summary with our individual opinions.

Eddie

The ‘Jack of all trades’ – but the master of none. In their eagerness to hear passenger feedback and design a suite that suits all their premium passengers’ desires they appear to have lost their way. For sure, this product is initially amazing but once that sense of awe wears off and you start to really ‘live with it’, you start to uncover issues that really mar the overall enjoyment and leave you wondering, “did they actually think this through?”

To be clear I don’t hate the product, it’s just… weird.

Whether it’s the awkward seating positions for takeoff and landing or the dining experience that gives you more eye contact with the passenger across the aisle than the person sharing your suite, these issues could have been identified and fixed by careful analysis of the pre-production mockup.

Arguably – Singapore Airlines is not a seat manufacturer but an aircraft operator. A decent share of the responsibility lies with the designers Jacques Pierrejean and seat manufacturers, Zodiac who are supposedly the “experts” and responsible for making Singapore Airlines wish-list a reality and if necessary – managing their expectations.

There is little use in lamenting the poor design now. The product is established and a major redesign would require recertification – the cost of which would run to tens of millions of dollars. Singapore Airlines now faces the tough challenge of inventing creative ways to mitigate these issues – most likely through small modifications and crew procedures.

The next aircraft to arrive in the fleet with a “brand new” Suites product will probably be the 777-9 in 2022. We can only hope that this 2017 Suites product will provide invaluable design pointers in the intervening years and we can look forward to a properly designed and realised 2022 Suites Class.

We’ve also yet to see how they will adopt this product during the promised retrofitting of the older A380s. This may well be another opportunity to fix some of the simpler design issues.

Andrew

This is a remarkably difficult cabin product to summarise. From the outset what Singapore Airlines has produced here is nothing short of a remarkable experience – a true hotel room in the sky. The possibility for a couple to enjoy a spacious adjoining suite with a double bed is close to unheard of even in the First Class suites offered by the Middle East carriers.

I’d go as far to say that no one is offering this level of space in the industry – 97 square feet (9 sq m) of space on a plane.

What’s the problem, you ask? It’s really hard to put your finger on it but it’s just slightly odd. I’m lucky to have flown the world in some of the latest Business Class and First Class seats with a number of airlines over the years. Almost all are well-defined spaces and it’s clear what’s where, what’s supposed to happen, what works and what makes you comfortable within a short period of time.

I never felt that with this seat. Never once, quite genuinely.

When it comes to the seat, or the suite I should say, “I don’t really understand” was my biggest feeling. Yes, partly that’s because of the awesome space, the individual closed cabins, but that wears off and still 4 hours later… still… “I don’t really understand”.

Maybe 12 hours from Singapore to London is what I need, but I don’t see it. My emotions continued to swing from incredulity to “why” even as we descended into Hong Kong… “why?”, what is this product supposed to achieve?

In summary I never understood this seat, and I still don’t. That’s hopelessly frustrating because I really wanted to.

A friend asked me afterwards if I had to fly from Singapore to London tonight on the A380 in Suites on my own and I had the choice of the 2017 Suites or 2006 Suites, which I would choose? I actually feel slightly sick saying it after all the efforts Singapore Airlines has gone to with this incredible new product – 2006 Suites still has it.

I love the 2017 Business Class, but I’m sorry I just didn’t get the 2017 Suites.

Mentioning 2017 Business Class is important because I feel this is an exceptional product designed by someone with a clear objective about what they wanted to achieve. My review from January this year cements this admiration for a job well done. 2017 Suites feels to me like a cabin designed by a totally different person with no clear objective about what they wanted to achieve, just a ‘wish list’ of things to tick off.

I said sorry already, and I feel like I should be sorry, but I’m not. These are my honest feelings and that’s what our readers deserve. In my opinion 2017 Suites is weird, not everyone will agree but that’s how I genuinely feel.

The crew were not completely familiar with the operation of the suite divider or the bed mechanism. When an aircraft first enters service this is inevitable. Crew are new and must learn and adjust to the new design. However this isn’t a new seat, it has been operating for over half a year. Considering this is the flagship product of an airline with an annual turnover of 12 billion dollars, this unfamiliarity is unacceptable.

Watching the crew try to do something you know how to do yourself from YouTube videos is a painful experience and not at all what we’re used to seeing from Singapore Airlines – there is training deficiency here.

Conclusion

There are a lot of pros and a lot of cons with this new product. Ultimately the new A380 Suites didn’t hit the spot for us, however that of course doesn’t mean some travellers won’t love it – many certainly will.

The sheer space on offer is remarkable, especially in the row 1 suites, which offer 54% more floor area than the smallest row 3 equivalents. These are definitely the ones to book if you can, as they are also furthest from the noise and light pollution associated with the galley.

If you can secure the adjoining suites (1A/2A or 1F/2F) as a couple the double bed is a great feature, though we found the mattress very firm.

2A Door 2.jpg
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

We felt the dining aspect hasn’t been well considered, travelling alone you may find yourself staring at the person in the Suite opposite, travelling together in the double suite you will have the same issue plus a distance and angle from your partner not conducive to any meaningful conversation.

The cleanliness issue aside, since it’s highly unlikely to affect most peoples experience, crew training and familiarity with this product did seem somewhat lacking, which is disappointing. There are also early wear and tear issues which do not bode well for the longevity of the finish in these Suites. On both counts we find this unusual for Singapore Airlines and quite unlike our many other experiences with them.

3-4star.jpg

Have you tried the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)

See also:
Review: Singapore Airlines New A380 Business Class
Review: Qantas A380 First Class

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7 comments

  1. Hmmm… Holy Grail… I’ve yet to hear of anyone who has flown SQ’s new Suites calling it anything close to being anything close to that… even their film production.. wasn’t exactly a thumbs-up ending, right?

    I haven’t yet.. and frankly, wouldn’t want to, if I was flying with my wife (or even any friend) together.. solo, maybe, just for the heck of it, NOT because it’s “the holy grail”… because the idea of having to eat 3 meters apart in “Suites” that’s a combined floor space of over 100 sq ft is (sorry, but) beyond dumb! I also don’t relish the idea to having to face the person in the Suite across the passageway while I’m eating.. I mean, even at Ichiran in Japan, I’m in MY booth and I face a straw curtain/ blind, and that gives me WAY MORE privacy.. it’s almost laughable that they’ve gone from 12 Suites to 6, and yet these 6 passengers are given less privacy (in a manner of speaking) and even though just 4 passengers can now double-up (okay, this part same) but thank god they now have better wifi, so that couples can FaceTime each other during their meals? Having galley noise and chatter ‘permeating’ into 3F? Really?

    Sevice… in past few years, sadly, my experience on SQ has been that service levels one gets.. almost REGARDLESS of class of cabin.. has been that it’s very much luck of the draw, depending on who you ‘draw’ as IFM or CS.. Get good IFM/CS and yes, It’s (literally) A Great Way To Fly.. Get a bad one? Well… those who know, will know… and the irony here is, one may actually get ‘better service’ in Y.. cos younger/newer crew tend to be more ‘wanting to serve’ instead of being salty and tired… maybe.. maybe with exception to PPS and Solitaire passengers.. here, I do see that they will do ‘work for it’.. But.. again.. to be fair.. I’ve had many.. not just a few.. absolutely stunning crew.. but it’s really quite unacceptable when even in First, you get shoddy service..

    Food.. I’m really happy for you both that you had excellent meals on your flight to HKG.. and I’m really not being sarcastic about it.. but on the half dozen or so times I’ve flown either F or R on SQ (and meals aren’t far different from J, aside from the [sometimes] caviar service, depending on the time your fly, larger portions of steak and maybe (I can’t recall) 3 items that isn’t avail to J and even then.. aside from so far, maybe 4 or 5 book-the-cook items that are actually quite enjoyable because of the quality/ standard of cooking/ execution, most are to me, between meh and bleh.. and to me, the biggest “+” in F/R are the champagne and wines.. even my last R from AKL, the caviar, or rather, the lobster that came with, was truly inedible.. as was the NZ lobster..

    Cleanliness/ Maintenance… This.. I think you’ve really nailed it on the head! Why SQ spends so much in fitting out their cabins, and yet spends so little (time and money) keeping them clean to at least minimal standards, is beyond me.. and maybe this could be a contributing factor as to why (I’ve never really thought about it until now) I often prefer red eye flights.. cabins are dark and I can’t the filth.. aside from dust, stains, grime, discoloration of panels.. I once found (sadly only after over an hour into flight) a half melted chocolate in the recess depression of seat belt thingy in J.. sigh.. Am I the only one that recalls the failure rate of the J seats (I forget the year.. the very wide ones that are still on the older A380s)? How many don’t recline properly, or have certain functions that just didn’t work anymore.. or scratched IFE screens on BOTH J and F?

    Why am I so doom and gloom about SQ, and yet keep flying them..? Some might say…? Because, like with a lot of other SQ passengers, including PPS and Solitaire ones who share the same views as I do.. it is because of the connectivity that SQ has for those based in SIN.. because, unless you’re prepared to and are happy to transit in either Dubai, Doha or Abu Dahbi, and even if those options do cost considerably less.. for arguably better products, you can’t get to most major Europe cities faster. And they know it. And if you’re headed in the other direction? Especially in the coming months, with direct flights to SFO, LAX and EWR.. if time were a factor (and more so than the cost), what other options do you have? And even if time weren’t a factor.. would you want to willingly fly United over SQ…?

    So what’s my point in all this…? I’m hoping… praying… that at some point… someone in SQ will finally sit up and take note, that they should REALLY bring back It’s A Great Way To Fly… that there once was a time, before having 50+ items on Book The Cook.. before having HUGE Suites.. Great looking this and that…

    Bring back having (and compensating accordingly) a great crew, that takes pride (yes, I know, lots still do) giving passengers the level of service that other airlines talk about (even more back then)… not close to half the current menu offering, but doing it well.. it’s not how many options you offer.. it’s how good your offerings are.. and.. dressed-up cup noodles as a ‘any time snack’ option is just so ‘eyes-rolling’, even if, at least, that tastes decent (and dependable).. and what’s the point of having side-by-side beds and yet frown on, well, you know what… and yet put two wow-looking armchairs and yet eat in silence while flying in the “classiest way” for 19 hours with your companion?! Oh wait, also looking awkardly at your across the hallway passenger chewing her/ his steak?! Who came up with that idea?? And for goodness sakes.. have a higher standard of cleanliness and maintenance of your very expensive fixtures, instead of having them look like they’re 10 years old, after just less than 2… PLEASE.. bring back It’s A Great Way To Fly…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pat, you are right. It normally wouldn’t be provided on a flight that is less than 6 hours. A reader kindly helped us source one to ensure the review was complete.

      We actually got two more later on the trip on 2013 First Class from SFO-HKG too!

      Like

  2. it’s because of shit like this that airlines cram most of their paying customers into tighter and tighter seating configurations. It’s time to tell airlines that enough is enough. Bring back a proper sense of egalitarianism and fun to flying. Make first-class passengers and the pathetic airlines that pander to them feel properly uncomfortable, so that the people may reclaim the planes.

    Like

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