The final instalment in our ‘farewell’ series covering the recent retirement of SIA Business Class and First Class seats will always be regarded as a true ‘game changer’ in the aviation industry. The airline’s first ever Suites product on the Airbus A380 undoubtedly set a new standard for superjumbo First Class cabins across the world.
The 2007 Suites product was available on the airline’s original batch of 19 older Airbus A380 jets, but was unceremoniously and quite unexpectedly retired from service in March 2020, as a result of the sudden drop in global passenger demand when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
The product was offered on a variety of routes across the airline’s network for a total of 12 years and 5 months, however Singapore Airlines has now confirmed that all 12 Airbus A380s returning to its operating fleet will be refitted with the new 2017 cabin products before re-entering service.
Singapore Airlines wanted its new Airbus A380 Suites product to be launched in April 2006, alongside the new long-haul Business Class seat. This was a significant milestone for the airline, since it was the launch customer for the superjumbo, and these were both pioneering cabin designs.
However, production delays pushed the first A380 delivery to October and then December 2006.
In the end, another 10-month holdup resulted in SIA taking its first A380 in October 2007, 18 months later than planned.
It meant a narrower version of the new Business Class seats had to be introduced on the Boeing 777-300ER instead, at a launch event in October 2006.
That product entered between Singapore and Paris in December 2006 (therefore becoming dubbed the 2006 Business Class or ‘2006 J’ seat).
SIA clearly didn’t want to let the new A380 Suites cabin out of the bag so far in advance of its entry into service, and the big reveal was held back until 15th October 2007, to coincide with the delivery of the first aircraft from Toulouse, France the following day.
500 people were invited to the launch event at the A380’s delivery ceremony in Toulouse, France, where the much-lauded 12 Suites were still a complete secret to the world (an almost impossible feat these days with the advent of smartphones).
Despite some outlandish design concepts floating around, Singapore Airlines took a relatively conservative approach for the cabin of its Airbus A380s.
“While the generous floor space of the A380 gave us many intriguing design options, we’ve developed our A380 cabin interior with the comments and feedback of our customers and frequent flyers in mind.
“Though having bars, showers and other such facilities in the aircraft sounds interesting, from our customer surveys and feedback sessions, we found that what customers really want during a flight is more personal space, comfort and privacy. We chose to give the space to customers, especially in the premium cabins, instead of locking it away in gimmicks that may only be briefly used by some customers on a flight.”Singapore Airlines
There were no bowling alleys, no gyms, not even showers or a bar, but the bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne perched on a tray in the middle of a double bed at the launch event said pretty much all Singapore Airlines needed to say about it’s ‘class beyond First’.
12 individual Suites behind closing doors to maximise privacy each sported a fully adjustable leather seat, with a separate bed and full-size mattress.
Sex was on everyone’s mind!
With the introduction of the Suites cabin on the A380, the two middle pairs allowed the opportunity for a combined suite, including a double bed, by removing the full-height partition screen between them.
A rather obvious topic, therefore, did glean a decent amount of public interest.
The most shared story on the BBC News website in the first week of November 2007 was an article about Singapore Airlines asking its Suites passengers to refrain from creating their own, err, ‘in-flight entertainment’!
Officially of course, the beds were always meant for sleeping only, but that didn’t stop an excited media speculating about passengers seeking entry into the ‘Mile High Club’!
Singapore Airlines was quick to rebuff the idea.
“We look forward to welcoming our premium-class guests for the purposes of travel and rest…
“That is all.”
Stephen Forshaw, SIA Vice President Public Affairs
The news soon died down, but not before it had generated a significant amount of free publicity for the airline and its new cabin products.
Design and manufacture
The 2007 Suites were manufactured by Japan’s JAMCO and Sicma Aero Seats of France, as a bespoke product for the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380.
JAMCO was also selected as the manufacturer for the airline’s 2013 First Class, 2013 Business Class and 2017 Business Class products, but SIA chose Zodiac Aerospace as the manufacturer for its most recent 2017 Suites cabin on the latest A380s.
Design and finish for the 2007 product was by French yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste.
The Singapore Airlines 2007 Suite
There was a big ‘wow factor’ when this cabin product was first revealed, given the significant privacy and space these Suites afforded each passenger.
Here’s SIA’s promotional video for the Suites product in 2007.
Emirates had beaten Singapore Airlines to the closed-door Suite concept in 2003, but this was a much more spacious version, including a separate bed and seat, not to mention offering the first “double bed” in the sky.
Pricing was “accordingly” set 20-35% higher than the airline’s existing First Class cabins.
“Developed with our most valued and distinguished customers in mind, the concept of the Singapore Airlines Suites is nothing less than ground-breaking in the luxury travel market.”Yap Kim Wah, SIA’s SVP Product and Services
For couples, friends or colleagues travelling together, a large double-suite social space was possible.
You could also dine together in any of the suites, with your guest sitting on the ottoman opposite, a popular option for couples that has unfortunately not been replicated in the airline’s current First Class and Suites cabins.
Once it was bedtime of course, that double bed was the largest the airline ever offered (though for single Suites, it came in a little shorter than the 2013 First Class version on the airline’s Boeing 777-300ERs).
Singapore Airlines also took the opportunity to provide Givenchy linens and Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits for its Suites passengers, both since replaced by Lalique.
The two restrooms at the rear of the Suites cabin were no match for today’s enormous versions on the upper deck, but they were well appointed and boasted ‘Hollywood-style’ mirror lighting.
Service standards took a notch higher too, with additional cabin crew training and two high-end Champagnes flowing – Dom Perignon and Krug.
The 2007 Suites cabin had three dedicated cabin crew for up to 12 passengers, a 1:4 ratio. An additional day of training was required for cabin crew selected to operate in the Suites cabin, with service aspects including the requirement to set up the Suite bed (gracefully, while wearing a kebaya!) within three minutes.
The latest IFE system at the time was installed, with a 23″ screen, while there were ample opportunities to keep your own gadgets charged using sockets in the credenza, between the two middle seats or at the window side for A / F suites.
With the seat folded away and the bed made up, a new set of charging sockets was exposed by your bedside table, so you could easily keep devices charged while you slept.
That was vital because the charging ports in the credenza became inaccessible once that section was retracted towards the floor allowing the bed to be in place.
Here are the key stats for the 2007 Suites seat, shown alongside its replacement – the 2017 Suites product, which also features a separate seat and bed and officially launched on 2nd November 2017, entering service on 18th December that year.
|2007 Suites||2017 Suites|
|Screen Size||23″ SD||32″ HD|
|Power Sockets||1 UNI + 2 USB||2 UNI + 2 USB|
(first 100MB free)
Which aircraft and routes?
The 2007 Suites product was exclusive to the older Airbus A380s in the Singapore Airlines fleet.
2007 Suites Deployment
|Airbus A380-800||25 Oct 2007
|27 Mar 2020
Following two charity flights on 25th October (SIN-SYD) and 26th October (SYD-SIN), regular daily service on the SQ221/220 Singapore – Sydney route commenced on 28th October 2007.
Singapore – London followed on 18th March 2008, following the delivery of two more A380 aircraft into the fleet, and on 20th May 2008 the Singapore – Tokyo route became the superjumbo’s third regular run.
In the final month of service, March 2020, the 2007 Suites were operating on selected flights between Singapore and:
- New York
Over the years these Suites were also deployed to cities including Melbourne, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Osaka and even Bangkok during Songkran season.
The 2007 Suites bowed out on 28th March 2020 on flight SQ317 from London to Singapore, operated by 9V-SKL. We don’t know how many passengers were travelling in the Suites cabin, but quite unbeknown to them, they were the very last to enjoy this pioneering product as they disembarked in Changi the following morning.
Airbus A380-800 Seat Map
What replaced it?
Before Singapore Airlines took delivery of its final five A380s from Airbus, from a total order for 24 of the jets, it returned its first five models to their leasing companies.
The new aircraft came equipped with brand new cabin products from late 2017, including a smaller Suites cabin with capacity for just six passengers, relocated to the upper deck of the aircraft.
The new Suites were manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace in the UK, with design and finish by Jaques Pierrejean.
The new Suites offer more space, the latest in-flight entertainment system and Wi-Fi connectivity, though in our opinion they fall short in many other areas.
See our comprehensive review for full details.
These seats were auctioned from $380 on the inaugural A380 flight
If you wanted to be a part of aviation history and fly in Suites on the inaugural Airbus A380 passenger flight from Singapore to Sydney in October 2017, or on the return service the following day, you could do so by bidding as little as US$380 as part of a charity auction held on eBay.
Bids started at:
- US$3.80 for Economy Class
- US$38.00 for Business Class
- US$380 for Suites Class