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.

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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.

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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.

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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.