Review: Singapore’s New A380 Suite, the World’s New Best First Class
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My 2018 has been off to a pretty luxurious start. Earlier this month, I flew Emirates’ impressive new first class from Brussels (BRU) to Dubai (DXB), and then I finally had a chance to experience Singapore’s 50-square-foot first-class suite, on a daytime A380 flight from Sydney (SYD) to Singapore (SIN).
Naturally, as The Points Guy, I try to book flights with points and miles whenever I possibly can, so when the exact flight I needed popped up with suites availability through KrisFlyer, I didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
There wasn’t any saver availability, so I ended up redeeming 150,000 points for a standard award — the miles appeared in my account about 24 hours after I transferred them from Amex Membership Rewards.
KrisFlyer is one of the few programs that partners with all of the major transferrable points programs, including Amex, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Starwood Preferred Guest, so there’s no shortage of options for booking Singapore’s new suite.
Had I paid cash, the one-way flight would have run me about $3,200, so I ended up getting an entirely respectable redemption value of 2.1 cents per point.
Airport and Lounge
First, I should note that this wasn’t an entirely ordinary flight. While we redeemed KrisFlyer miles for our tickets, per TPG policy, we needed to get permission in advance to film in the new suites cabin, so the airline knew I’d be onboard a couple weeks before departure. The crew wasn’t handpicked for the occasion or anything like that, but there was a PR rep on board to bring TPG Editor-at-Large Zach Honig back and forth from business class to capture shots of me in the suite.
Since the airline knew I’d be onboard anyway, we decided to request early boarding as well, so I didn’t end up having much time in the airport. I did get to check out Singapore’s recently renovated first-class lounge, though, which is a pretty luxurious spot to pass the time ahead of a flight. It was also right next to the gate, so you can stay put until a few minutes before they close the door, if you’d like.
I knew I’d be eating and drinking plenty onboard, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try out some of the lounge fare.
Everything was pretty tasty — the chicken thigh with honey garlic sriracha was by far my favorite, though.
I have to say, I was a bit underwhelmed by the Champagne selection — Veuve Clicquot is a respectable business-class bubbly, but I would have loved to see Dom or Krug served in this first-class lounge, even though it’s accessible to first-class passengers flying other Star Alliance carriers, such as Thai.
I had a few minutes to try out some of the other lounge features too, including the semi-private cubicles.
Cabin and Seat
We boarded early, as I mentioned, but I typically find Singapore’s boarding process to be fairly orderly, since the airline is diligent about enforcing boarding groups.
There were three jet bridges for our A380, including one that let me off at the base of the stairs to the upper deck.
I picked suite 1A, which was pretty amazing.
I’m told suites in row 1 are the largest, row 2 offers the second most spacious suites, while suites in the third row are a bit more cramped… but still pretty roomy.
The suites in rows 1 and 2 can be combined, which is hard to beat if you’re traveling with a partner.
You’ll want to pick 1A and 2A or 1F and 2F, which are unbelievably amazing if you’re traveling with someone else.
Without a doubt, having two Singapore suites is better than having a single Etihad Residence — there’s just so much more space, and the service is better, too.
I was flying solo, so I kept the wall up during the flight — it was so private that I didn’t see the person in 2A even once, even though I typically have a better vantage point given my 6-foot-7-inch frame.
Overall, Singapore’s new suites are most comparable to Etihad’s Apartment because they’re both on the upper deck of the A380 and have a single aisle, although the similarities end there — Singapore’s suite blows the Apartment out of the water as there are only six suites versus nine Apartments on Etihad’s A380. Also, the seat is more comfortable, and you get much more recline — though it’s hard to beat that plush double bed in the Residence.
As I mentioned, Singapore’s recline is way better than Etihad’s — it’s like night and day. You can also swivel the chair about 270 degrees, which is crazy. With Etihad you’re either fully flat in the bed or fully upright, and you won’t be doing any swiveling for sure.
That said, Singapore’s seat can only be reclined in certain areas, and the seat slowly returns to the upright position as you turn toward the bed, for example.
And when I was facing forward to takeoff my only option was to put my feet up on the shelf — don’t worry, I kept them off the bulkhead, though.
After takeoff I was offered a little stool for my feet, which you can also use to dine with someone else if you’d like. There’s no seatbelt, so my recommendation would be to sit on the bed if you’d like to dine with your companion. You might want to do that even if you have adjoining suites — you can see each other but since the chairs and tables are at opposite ends, it isn’t possible to sit together without someone sitting on the bed or stool.
As for the bed, I found it to be especially firm, but still very comfortable.
And I really got a kick out of the flight attendant — she had watched my YouTube videos and noticed that I’m a side sleeper, so she offered to bring extra pillows to make the bed more comfortable. Talk about service! Seriously, there was an abundance of pillows.
I was pretty exhausted, so I managed to have an amazing two-hour power nap.
Once nice thing about the bed is that it doesn’t really get in the way — you can still move around the suite, so you can just set it and forget it if you’d like.
And while there aren’t an overhead bins, there’s plenty of storage in the suite. I was able to fit my large duffel and backpack in the locker, along with some hanging items.
The locker is located just next to the sliding door, which I found very easy to operate — you just slide one single panel, rather than bringing two together like on Emirates.
I should also mention that as polished as Singapore’s new suite looks, one of the light fixtures fell off the wall as I was adjusting the brightness, and the wall behind seemed pretty loose as well.
It’ll be interesting to see how these hold up after a few years of wear and tear.
Amenities and Entertainment
While you don’t get amenity kits in business class, it’s an entirely different story in first.
There’s an assortment of Lalique products, including lotion and even a candle (no, you can’t light it on board, although I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tries to at some point!).
There were also Lalique pajamas, which were pretty comfortable and actually fit me!
You don’t get standard amenities like dental kits and eye masks, although they did have some pretty plush eye masks and great ear plugs available on request.
The huge bathroom also has some amenities, such as brushes, razors and dental kits. The layout was pretty interesting, with a separate vanity area.
The starboard side lav is considerably bigger, but the port side one is a decent size, too. With two lavatories for six passengers there shouldn’t be much of a wait. They’re not nearly as impressive as Emirates’ shower suites, of course — and I really wish Singapore had added showers here.
Back in the suite, there’s a big 32-inch TV, which was super sharp and bright. It also swivels, which is pretty cool, so you can watch it from the bed or the chair if you prefer. There were plenty of movies and TV shows to choose from, but with so many other things to explore I didn’t get through much.
I also really liked how customizable the lighting was. You don’t get different colors like on Emirates, but you can change the brightness and you can save presets. You can even link your preferences to your KrisFlyer account, so all your lighting and entertainment preferences are instantly loaded the next time you fly in one of the new suites.
I was watching the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” but I had 10 minutes left when we landed. If I had been connecting to another Singapore flight I could have picked up right where I left off. So cool!
There’s also Wi-Fi, and I found it to be pretty fast. There’s a weird bug that you need to be aware of though — as a suites passenger I was told I’d get 100MB of free Wi-Fi, but once I clicked over to check out the paid options, the free mode disappeared and never returned. I ended up buying a 500MB package for $20, but since my phone was syncing in the background I blew through that pretty quickly and had to spend another $20 for a second 500MB package. Make sure you turn off iCloud syncing and background updates!
Food and Beverage
Even though I had a big snack in the lounge, there was plenty more on the plane. I started with Dom and sparkling water before takeoff.
First-class passengers can dine on demand, so everything is served at your own pace. After changing into my pajamas I decided to begin the main meal service. Just check out that huge pop-out table! I definitely ended up needing all that space.
First up was a bread basket, including some delicious garlic bread.
Which was served with… more Dom. Dom and garlic bread. I was in heaven!
Then it was time for caviar. Everything was perfect.
Caviar tacos, anyone?
Just look at that giant heap!
After that I had a delicious clear chicken soup with oyster mushrooms.
Followed by a salad of baby romaine lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Gotta try it all!
And more Dom.
For my entree, I usually opt for Book the Cook, and this flight was no exception. I selected the lobster thermidor so that we could compare it to Zach’s seafood thermidor in biz.
I’m told it’s the most popular Book the Cook item, and while I find others to be more flavorful, this was a good option, especially if you’re looking for something that isn’t too heavy.
Look at those massive chunks of lobster!
The good news was that I still had room for dessert, and they brought me both — the warm rum baba and a passion fruit mousse cake.
The passion fruit cake with sorbet was the highlight. Explosions in my mouth!
The rum cake was almost as good though. And both were really well plated.
Finally, before landing I had the chicken and mushroom congee, which I found a bit too bland. I was offered some soy sauce, which helped, but I just don’t think I’m a congee person.
Singapore Private Room
I made a point to check out Singapore’s Private Room after my flight from Sydney landed in Singapore, but if you’re flying in the other direction, you can start your journey in this exclusive lounge located at the back of the airline’s first-class lounge at Changi Airport. It’s fairly small, but I actually prefer it to Emirates’ massive first-class lounge in Dubai.
Since I had a few hours to kill ahead of my British Airways flight to London (LHR), I spent part of my layover in the Private Room.
I wasn’t especially hungry after stuffing myself during the 7-hour flight from Sydney, but the a-la-carte menu was tough to pass up. So I ordered three dishes.
All were quite tasty, including the Yusheng salad, dim sum basket and chicken rice (pictured below). I also enjoyed a glass of Dom.
After lunch, I refreshed with a quick shower — sadly the Private Room just barely missed a passing mark on the TPG Shower Test.
As we were approaching Singapore, my flight attendant asked if the new product was TPG-approved. Of course I responded with a resounding yes! My biggest complaint is that 7 hours and 15 minutes wasn’t nearly long enough.
With just a few A380s equipped with this product at the moment, it may be a while before we see more ultra-long-haul flights offer the new suite. For now, it’s available between Singapore and Hong Kong, London (LHR) and Sydney, though award space seems to be very hard to come by on the Heathrow flight.
Stayed tuned for my comparison between Singapore and Emirates’ new first class — for now, I think it’s safe to say that this is the nicest first-class product in commercial aviation. If Singapore’s A380s had showers, I’d never fly another airline again!
Photos courtesy of Zach Honig, who deserves a shoutout for documenting every moment of pure Singapore Suites bliss!
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