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Singapore Airlines A380 Suites: Was the $650 ‘lunch to nowhere’ worth it?

It sold out in 10 minutes, but did SIA's promise of lobster, caviar and Champagne on a grounded A380 live up to its $642 price tag?

Back in early September we first wrote about the ‘flight to nowhere’ trend, which had started to pick up traction at a number of Asia-Pacific airlines including EVA Air, ANA and Qantas, as a way to sidestep the travel bans and keep regular customers and aviation enthusiasts engaged while international travel remained either impossible or heavily restricted.

Rumours began to surface that Singapore Airlines was proposing at least one similar flight sometime in October 2020, however for those with great anticipation for such an event (ourselves included!), hopes were dashed in late September with the airline ruling out the concept, and instead announcing a series of on-ground experiences.

One of the most anticipated experiences offered has certainly been Restaurant A380 @Changi, the opportunity to dine on board one of the airline’s superjumbos for either lunch or dinner.

Like hundreds if not thousands of others, we stayed up until midnight on Sunday 11th October to be in with the best chance of securing our seats for the first event, and luckily we were able to secure three seats on the inaugural A380 lunch in Suites Class.

The first two lunches had sold out in just 26 minutes, while availability in the Suites cabin took just 10 minutes to vanish.

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Arrival

We arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 3 at around 10.15am to ‘check-in’ for our A380 lunch reservation. This is the first time you learn about your seat assignment, though emailing the team in advance had already ensured the three of us were seated together.

Since there are two A380s operating the restaurant service for each sitting and our bookings were made separately, we at least wanted to be on the same aircraft as one another.

Suites check-in at Row 1 in Singapore Changi Airport’s Terminal 3. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Coloured bracelets differentiated the two groups of diners to which of the A380s they would be dining on. All pre-dining tours were conducted on the same aircraft (parked at gate B4 in our case).

We were allocated seats 1F, 2F and 3F, the three seats down the right-hand side of the A380 Suites cabin. After check-in, we proceeded through ‘pseudo immigration’, which was located where the usual dedicated First Class lane is on the far south side of the departure hall, a short walk from the check-in desks.

At this point we temporarily surrendered our passports for the duration of the event.

Once through into the transit area, staff holding “Restaurant A380 @Changi” signboards shepherded attendees through to the departure gate.

The route to the gate lounge area was clearly marked. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Gate activities

After formal gate security, where laptops were screened and beyond which liquids, aerosols and gels in excess of 100ml were not permitted, the festivities began.

Security was swift, professional and friendly. Shortly after we were confronted with a lounge already packed full of lunch-ready punters.

Guests had been advised to arrive early in order to experience a host of gate activities and entertainment experiences prior to boarding their lunch session or aircraft tour.

(Photo: MainlyMiles)

The boarding lounge was one of the Changi Terminal 3’s “Super Gates” that is capable of hosting several hundred passengers. Under normal circumstances, these are our least favoured gates. In this case, they seemed almost purpose built for the job with social distancing and their own toilets!

We collected our free gifts for donning Peranakan attire which turned out to be Singapore Airlines logo embossed umbrellas (useful given the inclement outdoor conditions) and the rather quirky Singapore Airlines temporary tattoos.

(Photo: MainlyMiles)

The Heritage display included a showcase of SIA’s cabin crew uniforms from yesteryear, which was a nice throw back to the good times. Elsewhere they were handing out soft drinks and there was also a Batik paper rose stand.

Heritage showcase. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

An MC boomed away in the background to advise us of the impending boarding delays to our aircraft tours, although spirits remained high given the novelty of the occasion.

The super gate is equipped with dedicated toilet facilities. Singapore Airlines had taken the thoughtful opportunity to equip these facilities with the Business Class Penhaligon’s amenities, facial mist, eau de toilette and hand lotion, which was a welcome touch.

Penhaligon’s toiletries, which also feature in the airline’s new Business Class Amenity Kit. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Aircraft tour

We were allocated the aircraft tour at 10.45am prior to our lunch. Each tour was planned for 15 minutes, however with all the excitement and photo taking they were actually lasting around twice as long as that, leading to an understandable backlog.

Captain and cabin crew welcoming us on board for the tour. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Of course, the required COVID-19 social distancing with separated groups of five on each tour didn’t help matters, though the tour was still well-organised.

Fun fact: The aircraft we toured and dined on, 9V-SKN, first flew on 8th November 2010, making it almost exactly 10 years old.

It is the latest to be refitted with the new 2017 cabin products, receiving its face-lift in June this year. Having been returned straight into storage at Changi, it has never been occupied by regular passengers since, so the brand new seats and fittings are still top-notch, as you’d expect.

The last time passengers flew on this aircraft it had the original A380 cabin products installed, flying from London to Singapore over a year ago on 16th October 2019.

The other aircraft being used for the same lunch was 9V-SKS, which was the first A380 to be refitted with the new seats after the original five (9V-SKU to -SKZ) were delivered.

We also noticed that 9V-SKV was parked on gate B5 and appeared to be prepared to accept passengers, perhaps as a standby in case of a technical problem or it could be used on future events since there will be four dining dates in total.

The aircraft tour included all four cabin classes, plus a peek at the flight crew rest area and inside the cockpit, where pictures were not allowed.

Double Suite at 1F and 2F. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Since we were touring 9V-SKN, with the latest cabin fit, it had that ‘new car smell’ with the very latest seats fitted only four months ago.

‘Double bed’ bulkhead seats in Business Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This was the perfect aircraft to showcase the new products to guests, many of whom will not have seen the latest A380 interiors, which remained quite rare even before the type stopped flying back in March.

We were quite surprised that they didn’t want to keep the seats in their protective wrapping during the storage period, but it was certainly great to be the first to actually try them out, with guests invited to take a seat for a few minutes in each cabin class if they wished to.

Boarding

Entering the new 2017 Suites cabin for lunch itself was a slightly bittersweet moment for us. Our only Suites booking for 2020 was just four days from now, on the third ever Auckland – Singapore A380 flight operating with the new ‘Version 3’ aircraft including the latest cabin products.

That means right now we were just getting ready to arrive in Auckland for the last few nights of our two-week New Zealand tour, finishing off in the brand new Park Hyatt.

Late last year we had secured Suites 1A and 2A for the Auckland – Singapore flight departing just four days from now. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Needless to say a 10 hour 40 minute daytime flight in these latest Singapore Airlines Suites was set to be the perfect end to a fantastic trip, but alas it was not to be. Instead we had just boarded for a three-hour experience, and at least that’s better than nothing!

With all of the right-side suites available to us, we were treated to the largest two suites, which convert into a double suite, plus the smallest of all in row 3, measuring around 35 square feet.

Overhead Lighting

‘New’ A380 Suites Floorspace

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

As we settled in, drinks were offered. The flight progress system had been set up to reflect flight SQ380 from Singapore to Singapore, though of course we wouldn’t actually be taking off!

A true ‘lunch to nowhere’, from Singapore to Singapore. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There was an SIA Care Kit provided for each passenger at the credenza, as there is on all flights currently.

SIA care kit. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This contained hand sanitiser, a face mask and a disinfectant surface wipe.

Care kit contents. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Entertainment system

Singapore Airlines had the in-flight entertainment system all fired up for our 3-hour lunch visit, which gave passengers ample time to watch a movie or some TV shows during lunch using the latest on-demand KrisWorld system.

Up in the Suites cabin that meant we each had an adjustable 32″ HD TV mounted on the wall for our individual use.

IFE screen in Suite 3F. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The usual Bang and Olufsen noise-cancelling headset was placed at each seat on boarding.

Although Suites passengers on regular Singapore Airlines flights get an unlimited free Wi-Fi allowance, we noted that it was switched off during the Restaurant A380 @Changi event, probably not surprising given the cost of a satellite data connection, plus the fact we would have no problem connecting using 3G/4G.

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Champagne and wine

Two Champagnes were on offer in Suites Class, the Krug Grande Cuvée N.V. and the 2008-vintage Dom Pérignon.