New routes for Singapore Airlines’ flagship Airbus A380 aircraft are always closely followed, now that the fleet has shrunk to only a dozen aircraft. That’s not surprising, with all in-service jets sporting the carrier’s latest 2017 closed-door Suites and Business Class products, including ‘double bed’ options.
In a new schedule update, SIA has allocated the Airbus A380 to one of two daily Auckland flights from 22nd November 2023, through to the end of the published northern winter season on 31st March 2024.
Melbourne is the unfortunate casualty of the shift, losing its A380 allocation only six months after getting it back.
This shuffle will therefore make Auckland the designated second Singapore Airlines A380 city in the South West Pacific region, and the longest route on the network outside Europe to be served by the carrier’s superjumbo.
Singapore Airlines / ANZ on the Auckland route
Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand have been operating flights between Singapore and New Zealand under a ‘joint venture’ (aka legal price-fixing) arrangement since 2015.
While Air New Zealand operates two of the three flights per day under the joint venture on this city pair from March to October, in the northern winter season SIA takes the lion’s share of traffic on the route with two daily flights, against ANZ’s one.
This year that’s initially planned with two Airbus A350 Long Haul variants from 29th October 2023, operating SQ281/282 and SQ285/286 each day, but plans soon evolve… less than four weeks later.
A380s are back in Auckland
From 22nd November 2023 the Airbus A380 takes over SQ285 overnight service from Singapore to Auckland, and of course the same then applies in the return direction on the daytime SQ286 flight from 23rd November 2023.
In our view it’s the SQ286 flight that’s the best way to enjoy the A380 Suites – with daytime service the optimal chance to make the most of the ‘soft product’ on board.
You can even pop into The Private Room for a late supper and a final glass or two of vintage Tattinger Comtes de Champagne after landing in Changi from SQ286 if you wish, just to make sure you don’t miss out on the full experience!
Naturally you’ll have TPR access before departure on SQ285, from Singapore to Auckland, when jetting off to the ‘land of the long white cloud’ in Suites.
Here’s how the Singapore Airlines schedule looks on the Singapore – Auckland route from 22nd November 2023 to 31st March 2024, with Airbus A380 service highlighted.
Singapore – Auckland
22nd November 2023 – 30th March 2024
A350 Long Haul
* Next day
Auckland – Singapore
23rd November 2023 – 31st March 2024
A350 Long Haul
If you’re flying on the Auckland route from late November 2023 on the Airbus A380 the Suite seat map will now (very happily) look like this:
Couples will clearly want to go for the two double suite options at 1A/2A or 1F/2F. Here the dividing screen between the suites retracts and allows for a double bed setup.
Suites 3A and 3F are standalone options, without the ability to combine with adjacent suites. They also have the smallest footprint and are close to the galley, potentially leading to some light and noise disturbance.
While we don’t want to spoil anyone’s fun by blocking the double suites, as solo travellers we would still choose row 1 or row 2 for not only a larger suite (row 3 suites are the smallest), but less potential disturbance.
2017 cabin products
This introduction will be New Zealand’s first taste of SIA’s latest Airbus A380 cabin products, originally penned-in from October 2020 but with other events somewhat overtaking that plan!
The biggest selling point of the newly configured A380s is the latest Suites cabin, located on the forward upper deck with a capacity of just six, three either side of a central aisle.
Two of the Suite pairs (1A/2A and 1F/2F) can combine to form a double suite if you are travelling with someone else.
You can read our review of the double suite on a flight from Singapore to Hong Kong in 2018 below.
Although Singapore Airlines stopped short of installing showers in the latest A380 fit, there are two large washrooms at the front of the cabin, one of which is so big it has its own separate vanity area.
We also enjoyed the ‘A380 Restaurant@Changi’ experience on board the new Suites cabin back in October 2020 – see our review here.
These new Suites will debut on the Auckland route for the first time as a result of this announcement.
2017 Business Class
Another great advantage of the new Singapore Airlines A380 cabins is the excellent Business Class product, our personal favourite in the fleet, with 78 of these seats occupying the rest of the upper deck in a 1-2-1 layout.
There’s the option at the middle seat pairs to retract the divider for couples travelling together, who also benefit from a ‘double bed’ at the three bulkhead positions – Rows 11, 91 and 96.
This is our personal favourite among the airline’s Business Class seats, so it’s great to see it offered to and from New Zealand for the first time.
Here are the one-way redemption rates you’ll pay by cabin class on the Auckland route, in either direction, using the KrisFlyer program for a full flight redemption.
|KrisFlyer Redemption Singapore ⇄ Auckland|
|First / Suites||93,500||155,000|
Auckland does well on our KrisFlyer miles per minute analysis, with a saver award clocking in at 111 miles per minute in Business Class (network average 139) and 152 miles per minute in Suites (First/Suites combined network average 181).
In both cases that’s a good 15% less per minute than you’re paying on average for a KrisFlyer saver award. Indeed it’s 195 miles per minute to and from Sydney in the new Suites, but with the longer Auckland route falling into the same redemption zone you’re picking up a saving of 22% per minute to fly the new Suites to or from New Zealand.
Melbourne is the casualty
Singapore Airlines has not pulled an A380 out of the hat for this service (aircraft 12 remains in refit at the time of writing), and that means one route suffers from Auckland’s superjumbo gain.
In this case it’s Melbourne, which has only just started receiving the SIA A380 again following a shuffle with New York and Frankfurt losing out to more Australian route capacity.
From 22nd November 2022, Singapore-Melbourne will revert to non-A380 operation, though a 5th daily Airbus A350 Long Haul service is planned, to prop up capacity.
Finally New Zealand gets its Airbus A380 back, and this time it’s with the latest cabin products post-COVID – particularly exciting because New Zealand is up there with the best in KrisFlyer redemption value terms.
Though Melbourne sadly loses the new Suites at the same time, Auckland will join Delhi, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, Shanghai and Sydney as the seventh route sporting these latest 2017 cabin products next winter season.
Auckland will in fact be the longest non-European route to receive the new A380 Suites and Business Class products, and at the same redemption rates as the shorter Sydney sectors it’s great value in both cabins.
(Cover Photo: Mike Fuchslocher / Shutterstock)