Sin­ga­pore Air­lines new A380 first class suites

LONDON-SIN­GA­PORE

Business Traveller - - TRIED AND TESTED FLIGHT - Tom Ot­ley

BACK­GROUND

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines is in the process of in­tro­duc­ing new seats on its A380s in all four classes: econ­omy, pre­mium econ­omy, busi­ness and first. These will be fit­ted to its en­tire Air­bus A380 fleet, in­clud­ing retrofit work on 14 air­craft that are al­ready in ser­vice, start­ing in late 2018 and tar­geted for com­ple­tion in 2020, as well as the five new air­craft en­ter­ing ser­vice. The new air­craft con­fig­u­ra­tion car­ries six first class suites. The A380s cur­rently serve Auck­land, Bei­jing, Frank­furt, Hong Kong, London, Mel­bourne, Mum­bai, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Shang­hai, Syd­ney and Zurich.

THE LOUNGE

There are two Sil­verkris lounges in Ter­mi­nal 2B at Heathrow, and you will be directed to the left for first class. The lounge has a tra­di­tional look, with a self-ser­vice wine bar and plenty of ar­eas for sit­ting, work­ing and din­ing in pri­vacy. The staff are friendly and help­ful.

BOARD­ING

There were ded­i­cated queues for both busi­ness class and the first class suites. The suites are on the up­per deck at the front of the air­craft, and since they are in front of the en­gines they are very quiet dur­ing the flight.

THESUITE

The lay­out of the suite takes a lit­tle get­ting used to. There is a leather arm­chair fac­ing for­ward, and then run­ning per­pen­dic­u­lar to this in front of you is the bed, which is folded up when you first board.

Along the side of the cabin by the win­dows are sev­eral stor­age spa­ces for mag­a­zines and bags, and there’s a pri­vate wardrobe for hang­ing your clothes and stor­ing wheel-on bags, though larger bags are stowed at the front by the two sep­a­rate wash­rooms at the end of the cor­ri­dor.

The leather seat (21-inches wide) can be swiv­elled ei­ther towards the two win­dows, or towards the ta­ble area and tele­vi­sion. I was so busy mov­ing it around that only later did I re­alise you can also re­cline the seat and raise the leg rest if you sim­ply want to sit back and read.

The ta­ble comes out of the side of the cabin and is very large and sta­ble, and can be turned so that it is di­rectly in front of the ta­ble for din­ing or work­ing, or kept slightly to one side if you just want to rest things on it. As you can imag­ine, there is a huge amount of per­sonal space, and you can get up and walk around if you feel like stretch­ing your legs with­out ever walk­ing out into the cor­ri­dor.

The suites have slid­ing doors for pri­vacy, and though they don’t reach to the ceil­ing, they are use­ful; if you keep the door open you will be eye to eye with your fel­low pas­sen­ger on the other side of the air­craft.

The suites have a num­ber of charg­ing points, in­clud­ing one power point in the wide ta­ble for when you are work­ing and an­other by the bed, so you could keep two de­vices charged that way, and a third through the USB socket.

In the wardrobe there are socks and slip­pers, and I was also given a Lalique wash­bag con­tain­ing a few use­ful items along with a can­dle and a bar of soap. I

SIA is re­tir­ing the old­est A380s and welcoming five new ones, each with a re­vamped lay­out, cab­ins and new seat prod­ucts

asked for some py­ja­mas, which are also Lalique, and af­ter take-off changed into these for the flight and hung my suit in the wardrobe.

There was only a slight de­lay in tak­ing off be­cause of bad weather and the need for the air­craft to be de-iced.

WHICH SUITE TO CHOOSE

Each seat is a sep­a­rate suite, so if you are trav­el­ling as a cou­ple you can choose ei­ther 1 and 2A or 1 and 2F. These two seats have a di­vider that slides down, al­low­ing you to spend time to­gether and make a dou­ble suite with a dou­ble bed. Al­ter­na­tively, if trav­el­ling with a col­league, you can have the di­vider down to chat, and then raise it and have sep­a­rate beds when it’s time to sleep. I was in 3F and this is one of the two suites that does not have that op­tion.

THEFLIGHT

The choice of food is huge, and on top of this you can also se­lect from an even wider se­lec­tion of dishes on­line prior to fly­ing, us­ing a ser­vice called Book the Cook. The à la carte menu in­cludes a se­lec­tion of dishes cre­ated by Mi­lanese chef Carlo Cracco, and I de­cided to try these.

An ap­pe­tiser of prawns came with a shaved pump­kin and radish salad; a starter of pea cream soup with mus­sels and squid ink; and a main course of seared Iberico pork loin with ap­ple purée and pork jus. This was fol­lowed by Ital­ian ice cream. Other op­tions in­cluded Sin­ga­porean dishes and a cheese course. Over­all I was im­pressed with the food and the pre­sen­ta­tion – each course was served by flight at­ten­dants with an ex­pla­na­tion and I was asked if I’d like to change my choice of drink.

Sin­ga­pore Air­lines did very well in our most re­cent Cel­lars in the Sky wine tast­ings, winning three gold medals, in­clud­ing Best Over­all Cel­lar. On board­ing we were of­fered a choice of vin­tage cham­pagnes – Krug 2004 or Dom Pérignon 2006. The whites and reds were well-cho­sen for al­ti­tude with many “name” pro­duc­ers, and all ex­cel­lent of their type.

Dur­ing the flight other snack and light meal op­tions in­cluded char kway teow (noo­dles) with chicken, black mush­room and ori­en­tal chicken stock; sand­wiches, choco­lates and snacks such as crisps and as­sorted nuts; as well as fresh fruit.

Al­though it’s tempt­ing to make the most of the ex­ten­sive of­fer­ing and eat and drink for the whole flight, this was land­ing in the early morn­ing in Sin­ga­pore; so I was keen to get a few hours’ sleep.

On re­quest, the flight at­ten­dants come into the suite and lower the bed from the side wall, put a mat­tress top­per on it, pre­pare the pil­lows and then the du­vet on top. Once you get into the bed there are some thought­ful touches such as a lever by the side of the bed al­low­ing one end to be raised so you can read in bed and watch the tele­vi­sion in com­fort, then low­ered to hor­i­zon­tal when it’s time to sleep. The bed is 76 inches long, so most fly­ers will have enough room.

There is a sep­a­rate head­phone jack by the side of the bed, and the lights by the side of the bed are easy to use with pre-sets in­clud­ing off, night, low, medium and high. There’s also a Do Not Dis­turb but­ton and a call but­ton, and if you like you can raise the win­dow blinds dur­ing the flight.

The safety belt for the bed goes across your chest and I found this trou­ble­some, partly be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to find the slot to se­cure it into, and also be­cause it is quite tight across your chest, so much so that I found it a strug­gle to turn over be­cause I was al­most se­cured to the mat­tress. This is a good thing for safety, per­haps, though not if pas­sen­gers de­cide to undo it dur­ing the night be­cause it’s un­com­fort­able.

I slept for a few hours and then watched films on the IFE sys­tem – the 32-inch screen is high def­i­ni­tion, and the Bose noise-can­celling head­phones make it a very pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence.

About two-and-a-half hours be­fore land­ing we were of­fered break­fast. There was a wide choice in­clud­ing seafood noo­dle soup, cit­rus French toast, masala dosa, murgh keema (spicy minced chicken), or eggs – baked, scram­bled or hard boiled.

AR­RIVAL

We landed ahead of sched­ule, and there were no de­lays in dis­em­bark­ing. I was quickly out into Changi Ter­mi­nal 3.

VER­DICT

It’s hard to see how these suites could be bet­tered. There is lots of room, plenty of stor­age space, im­pres­sive food and drink, su­perb ser­vice, and a com­fort­able seat and sep­a­rate bed. The first 100MB of wifi is free, and there are sev­eral power points for keep­ing things charged.

If you’ve flown much on an A380 you are likely to have been im­pressed by how smooth and quiet it is on board, and nowhere more so than at the front in one of these suites. Sim­ply ex­cel­lent.

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