A380 Extravaganza: Singapore Airlines Suites Class San Francisco to Hong Kong

Introduction
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge San Francisco
Singapore Airlines Suites Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Suites Class Hong Kong to Singapore
Conrad Singapore
Shangri-La Singapore
Skyview Lounge Singapore
Cathay Pacific Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Araliya Lounge Colombo
Cathay Pacific Business Class Colombo to Singapore
Emirates Lounge Singapore
Emirates First Class Singapore to Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
Coworth Park London (Ascot)
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to Seattle


Singapore Airlines 1
San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Tuesday, January 15
Depart: 10:50PM
Arrive: 5:50AM (+2 days)
Duration: 15hr
Aircraft: Airbus 380
Seat: 3A (Suites Class)

I don’t think I can properly sum up my excitement as I boarded Suites Class for the first time. It wasn’t that I was expecting anything out-of-this-world amazing, but for so long it was completely unattainable for me. Short of dropping $10,000 or a million KrisFlyer miles, there has simply been no way into Suites Class ever since it was introduced several years ago.

So there was a certain sensation to it all that’s somewhat indescribable, of finally having been able to get “into” the product you’ve been denied entry to for so long on account of “exclusivity.” It almost felt like starf*&#ing Singapore Airlines…

Anyway, after several Singapore Airlines first class flights I think I’ve finally figured out how to tell right away whether you have a good crew or a great crew. In this case I knew even before stepping foot on the plane. As I walked down the long first class jet bridge the in-flight service manager stepped off the plane and greeted me while I was still probably 10 feet away with “Mr. Lucky, it’s so nice to see you, welcome aboard Singapore Airlines. Allow me to show you to your seat, 3A.” Simply unbelievable. I assume because I was the only Caucasian male aboard they could figure out my name, and the fact that they did so without even looking at my boarding pass amazes me.

My first reaction once aboard was definitely that I finally realized why this product is a big deal. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not worth 10x the cost (in miles) of Singapore first class, but it is much, much better. The sense of privacy is unlike anything I’ve experienced on another plane. While other airlines have “suites” with doors, it’s worth noting that these seemed much higher than most others I’ve seen. With other airlines I find the doors to be at at most 4.5-5 feet tall, while these were around 5.5 feet tall.

Didn’t personally make a difference to me, though I can imagine that’s a useful data point for someone traveling with their significant other… or not.

I had reserved seat 3A, which was a very good choice. Row three is the only one with three sets of windows, while I found the others to be somewhat awkwardly positioned. Furthermore it’s worth noting that row one and two are up by the staircase, so I far preferred the open feel of row three.

Anyway, the “suite” was massive, and I really liked the tones/colors.


Seat 3A

The seat felt a bit like a dentist’s chair and I didn’t actually find it great for lounging. The issue is that it only reclines very little, and if you want to put it in the bed position you have to flip the back over.


Seat 3A


Seat 3A


View of cabin from seat 3A


View of cabin from seat 3A


View of cabin from seat 3A


View of cabin


Three perfectly positioned windows

Once settled in I took a moment to explore the suite. To the right of my seat were the entertainment, lighting, and seat controls.


Entertainment and lighting controls

And to the left of my seat was a small storage compartment, power and USB adapter, and headphone jack.


Storage and adapter

Anyway, back to the service. In addition to the greeting and welcome aboard from the in-flight service manager the moment I stepped aboard, both the leading stewardess and leading steward came by to introduce themselves by name within moments of settling in. The leading stewardess was probably the star of the team, and reminded me very much of my favorite person in the world, Janesis.

As I settled in she started with all the touches that separated a great crew from a good crew. She started by adding a welcome aboard “from the captain,” and that the flight time would be 14hr30min, giving us an on-time arrival in Hong Kong. We engaged in some small talk, which was cut short by her insisting that I needed to drink something.

I ordered Krug, though they only had Dom open on the ground (they have to pay taxes on alcohol served on the ground, so only a portion of the selection is available then). As is usually the case on Singapore, the news was delivered in the same way I imagine a doctor would deliver a horrible diagnosis. “Mr. Lucky, I’m so so sorry, unfortunately we only have Dom Perignon open right now. Would it be okay if I poured you a glass of that, and I promise as soon as we’re airborne I will pour you a glass of Krug first thing? I’m so sorry.”

Well I guess Dom will just have to do… ;)

Along with it I was offered a selection of warm nuts.


Dom and mixed nuts

I was then offered a set of Givenchy pajamas and an amenity kit, and requested them to be large. If you’re an airline pajamas collector, it’s worth noting that these are tiny and shrink horribly after the first wash.

Speaking of attention to detail, it’s worth noting that the leading stewardess removed the pajamas from both the plastic wrapping and pouch, and handed them to me as if she were modelling them for “The Price is Right.”


Givenchy pajamas

I was then also offered an amenity kit and slippers. Once again the slippers weren’t just handed to me in plastic packaging, but were instead unwrapped and placed by my feet so I could easily slip into them.


Slippers

I was also offered the menu, which was presented in a leather binder.

As departure time rolled around the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard, and advised us of our strong headwinds and long flight time. At this point four of the 12 suites were taken.

As we pushed back the safety video began to play and we began our long taxi to runway 28R. We crossed over 28L, held position on 28R for a moment, and then began an extremely long takeoff roll.


Runway 28L

As soon as we were airborne I started playing around with the KrisWorld entertainment system, and decided to watch “Pitch Perfect,” which was an awesome movie. Perhaps even better than Abduction, though I don’t mean to push my luck here.


Airshow after takeoff


Pitch Perfect

About 15 minutes after takeoff service commenced, and I was offered the glass of Krug I had ordered before takeoff, along with a Diet Coke with lemon and some more unprompted nuts — you can never have enough warm nuts!


Post takeoff drinks

At this point dinner orders were taken. The dinner menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

First of all I thought the menu was extremely underwhelming. This is a “supper” flight which means they don’t have caviar/satay or dessert, and the starter and entree options are more limited as well. I can understand that this flight is a fairly late departure, though you’d think on a 15 hour flight they could serve a “proper” international first class dinner. And for those of you that think I’m crazy, take a look at what Cathay Pacific serves on the route on an even later night departure.

Dinner orders were taken, and when I placed my order I was sure to tell the leading stewardess that if they didn’t have enough of any options I’d be happy to switch.

Within about 30 minutes of takeoff the meal service began, starting with my table being set and a variety of bread being offered from the bread basket.


Table setting

For the appetizer I had ordered the crabmeat salad though since I offered to switch the leading stewardess checked with me to be sure I’d be fine with the salmon instead. I was, though she was extremely apologetic.

The salmon was tasty, so I certainly didn’t mind the change.


Gravadlax of salmon with celeriac and apple salad, marinated roasted eggplant and lemon wedge

Then I had the roasted red pepper soup, which somehow just tasted off. I don’t think it was spiced properly.


Roasted red bell pepper soup with ratatouille

For the main course I had the rib eye. I realize I should have “booked the cook” so I could choose from more entrees, but I had forgotten. The rib eye was horrible. It was literally the toughest and fattiest piece of meat I’ve ever been served, so I hardly touched it. I felt bad because my lack of eating alarmed the leading stewardess and made her feel like she was failing at her job, which wasn’t my goal either!


Grilled rib eye of beef with artichoke potato hash and black olive chimichurri

Then I had some cheese with port, which was probably the highlight of the meal.


Selection of cheese

To finish I had some English breakfast tea.


Breakfast tea

After dinner I had asked the leading stewardess if I could have my bed made, and she said “sure, where would you like it made? In your seat, or perhaps in the seat behind you, or maybe you’d care for a double bed?”

Maybe I’d like a double bed? Maybe? I don’t think you get it. Everything in my life has led up to this point. There’s nothing “maybe” about it. It’s fate. But of course I wasn’t about to act as if I won the showcase showdown on “The Price is Right,” so I masked my excitement and simply said “a double bed sounds good if it’s not too much work.” She got to work and said it would take about 15 minutes, so I took the opportunity to prepare for bed. I headed to the lav, and it’s worth noting that they really are nothing special for the Airbus 380, especially compared to those offered by Emirates and Lufthansa.


Suites Class lav


Suites Class

I then went up the staircase to the upper deck, where the cabin lights weren’t dimmed yet. Singapore’s business class product on the A380 is great, the same that I flew on their 777-300ER a couple of years ago.


Business class


Staircase


Staircase

After a quick tour I descended back down the staircase to find my double bed ready for me. All the doors were closed and there was even a bottle of water and towel next to my suite, which sure comes in handy with 5.5 foot walls… I kid.


Double bed


Double bed


Double bed


Double bed


Double bed


Double bed


Water and towel


Airshow position upon going to sleep

With about 12 hours to go to Hong Hong I decided to go to sleep, and slept amazingly well for almost eight hours, waking up just over Japan. The bed was extremely comfortable. There is a bit of a ridge between the two beds, though more than anything else the amount of private space was what made the suite so nice.

At that point I was awake and decided to watch a movie. I settled on “Bernie” which was tagged as a comedy, which seemed odd since it’s a true story about a murder. The movie was interesting/entertaining, and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be sad by the end of it…


Bernie

During the movie the leading stewardess came by my suite to ask if I slept well and offer me something to eat. The snack menu read as follows:

Since there was no dessert on the menu with dinner I ordered a Krispy Kreme donut. While I ordered just one, I was served two along with a Twix bar (which I didn’t have, but you’ve gotta love Singapore for always one-upping).


Donut(s)

After the movie there was a little over an hour left to go to Hong Kong, and I headed back over to 3A for breakfast.


Position after movie


Position after movie

I decided to watch “Scam City” with breakfast, which was an awesome documentary about Buenos Aires scams.


Scam City

The breakfast menu read as follows:

I had a fruit plate with freshly squeezed orange juice to start.


Fresh fruit plate with cottage cheese

I was also offered a selection of breads from the breadbasket, though passed. I then had some strawberry yogurt.


Strawberry yogurt

For the main course I had the Cantonese prawn dumplings, which were phenomenal.


Prawn dumplings in superior soup

About 30 minutes out we began our descent into Hong Kong and I changed out of my pajamas. We initiated our descent and landed on runway 7L with a quick taxi to our arrival gate, gate 15.


Taxiing to our gate

Overall this was one of my best flights ever. The food was underwhelming, though both the “hard” product and service were among the best I’ve ever had. I do think Singapore could have added some amenities to their Airbus 380s, be it a bar and shower like Emirates, or just really flash lavs like Lufthansa. But it’s still the best product I’ve flown, hands down.

Comments

  1. says

    Great report, and convinces me to do LAX-NRT on the 380 simply for the food issues. I think SQ was the first A380 operator and their whole “thing” was the special suites class. Emirates was later and one-upped them with the showers. Maybe that’s why the SQ lavs are so vanilla.

  2. Thomas T says

    Hey Ben,
    Do you think the entertainment screen was positioned a bit too high? I get that impression from the photos.

  3. lucky says

    @ Amol — Agreed, though the arrival time of SQ1 is so much better than the arrival time of SQ11 that it really is a trade off.

    @ Thomas T — Interesting question. Can’t say I found it to be an issue, though it certainly wouldn’t have hurt if it were a bit lower.

  4. says

    Hi Ben,

    When I experienced this on a flight back from Singapore to SFO, I thought the bed was a little too firm, since it did not use the seat padding with a mattress topper but flipped down. THere was not a lot of padding on the back side for me. I also thought the limited recline range of the seat was a hindance, although I understan why there wasn’t much room for the recline angle to be greater.

  5. Christopher says

    Ben, great report. One of the sentence “The bad was extremely comfortable”, do you mean “bed” instead? Did you take a picture of the amenity kit?

  6. wwk5d says

    “It was literally the toughest and fattiest piece of meat”

    Well, it’s a ribeye, it’s supposed to be fatty, but definitely not supposed to be tough.

    What is the difference between Leading Stewardess and Chief Stewardess? Also, does the In-flight Service Manager work all the cabins, or just run First Class?

  7. mangoceviche says

    great trip report, as usual. I am planning to redeem MR points for JFK-FRA-SIN. Do you know if the flight serves caviar and satay?

  8. lucky says

    @ wwk5d — Right, I realize a rib eye is supposed to be on the fatty side, and I’ve had many rib eyes before, though nothing like this.

    As far as ranks go, on the Airbus 380 there are three leading stewards and three leading stewardesses. One leading steward and stewardess is responsible for the service in each cabin.

    Chief stewardess (it’s my understanding) is responsible for service in all premium cabins and wouldn’t ever work coach, while a leading stewardess could very well end up working the back of the cabin.

    The in-flight service manager is supposed to manage service in all cabins, though in practice spends most of their time either at their “desk” or in first class.

  9. wwk5d says

    Also, “The leading stewardess was probably the star of the team, and reminded me very much of my favorite person in the world, Janesis.”

    Somewhere, Janesis is checking out the duty roster of this flight and sharpening her claws even as we speak…

  10. Travis says

    I was playing with the Singapore search engine today and I notice after Apr 1st, 2013 the SQ1 SFO-HKG plane became the Boeing 777-300ER. Can you confirm this?

  11. Travis says

    Thanks Lucky, that make since now. I may want to jump on the LAX – Tokyo or the New York – Frankfurt route around Dec 2013. How soon should I start looking for a Saver level suite?
    Thanks!

  12. lucky says

    @ Travis — The further out the better, especially as more and more people try to redeem for Suites Class. I booked only a couple of days out, though in general I’d try to book six months out (at least) if you can. But that’s not to say you won’t find availability closer in.

  13. Jake E. says

    I noticed your carry on in one of the photos. Any chance of you doing a post on your preferred luggage?

  14. lucky says

    @ Jake E. — Great idea for a future post, defiitely. Though I will say I don’t feel especially strongly about my luggage right now. It does the trick but it’s not something I can’t live without.

  15. BBTBphile says

    Great post! Can’t wait until I can save enough miles to do this!

    Small typo — …the “bad” was extremely…

    With about 12 hours to go to Hong Hong I decided to go to sleep, and slept amazingly well for almost eight hours, waking up just over Japan. The bad was extremely comfortable.

  16. lucky says

    @ BBTBphile — Thanks!

    @ Brad — The article only makes mention of what couples can’t do, not what you can’t do alone… j/k. ;)

  17. Paul says

    Lucky – how was the temp on the A380? My SQ 15 on the 777 flight was toasty, making sleeping uncomfortable

  18. says

    I saw the seat belts laying around when the bed was made, do they tell you to buckle up if there is turbulence or while you’re sleeping?

  19. BBTBphile says

    O that’s weird… Just read the comments and you already fixed the typo. Weird that I still showed it. Must be a delay in the servers.

  20. lucky says

    @ Paul — Temperature was surprisingly pleasant, actually — one of the few times that has been the case on a foreign carrier.

  21. lucky says

    @ Benny — Yep, you’re supposed to buckle up when you’re sleeping or they’re (technically) supposed to wake you.

  22. lucky says

    @ BBTBphile — Were you reading in Google Reader? Or were you reading the report really, really, really slowly? :D

  23. Ray says

    How much does the seat actually recline? Does it go down enough to lounge comfortably (at least a 30 degree angle)?

  24. Cdiddy says

    Nice report, Lucky. I hope at some point down the road, they start having 2 suites available for redemption on the same flight. I always travel with my wife, and I don’t think she’d be all that happy with me if I booked myself in suites class and her in business!

  25. FlyingDoctorWu says

    It’s interesting how wide the seat bottom is; do the armrests adjust at all? It looks like there’s a good 3-4 additional inches of width.

    FDW

  26. Peter says

    Ben, Thanks for letting us experience this exotic travel through your eyes. Your witty observations are appreciated. They’re helping me get through the below zero wind chill temps this week!

  27. AC says

    Wonderful report! We are really looking forward to our SQ1 ride next month. I do have one question. Can I order the wonton soup from breakfast menu as “snack” or they only cater limited number that is not possible.

    I much rather have the wonton soup than the instant soup as a snack!

  28. lucky says

    @ AC — They do only cater a limited quantity of entrees, though if the flight isn’t too full and you have a good crew you shouldn’t have any problem ordering it as a snack.

  29. hsw25 says

    The A380 hard product looks heads and shoulders above the product on the 77Ws, which is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. After another recent round of CX and SQ flights, I have to give the nod to CX in terms of food quality, though SQ has CX beat in terms of quality and selction of drinks.

    Btw, any plans to try out AA’s even more improved F product? The pictures I’ve seen look pretty damn good.

  30. boser says

    Ben,

    I am curious for a man that travels as much as you do what carry-on suitcase do you use? I am in desperate need of a new one and looking for some advice.

    Great trip report…look forward to the rest.

  31. Larry says

    Sure Ben, great report as usual. Of course what I took out of this was the mention of Scam City Buenos Aires. I’ve now been neglecting my work watching that show on YouTube. Good stuff. Looks like the National Geographic crew was staying at my favorite hotel in BA. (Claridge Hotel)

  32. lucky says

    @ boser — I have a 22″ Tumi T-Tech and the Tumi Alpha laptop bag, though I’ll have a blog post on it soon with more details. :)

  33. JRL says

    Lucky,
    Aside from hard product, is there supposed to be any desirable difference between “Suites Class” and “First Class” in terms of service?

    JRL

    P.S. You set the new bar with the double suite. Well done!

  34. Beachfan says

    I can’t get over the lack if desert. That’s the ONLY thing my wife will want at 1AM. I don’t have the heart to tell her. I’ll be interested in seeing what happens when she says ” I just want dessert for my meal”.

  35. AC says

    @Ace Lucky wrote, ” I realize I should have “booked the cook” so I could choose from more entrees, but I had forgotten.”

  36. BFrankley says

    Having just done this same flight yesterday, I can say all of your descriptions are spot on – right down to the dumplings. Reading your report makes me want to live it all again! I think I had your trip beat only on two counts. I Booked the Cook, and the Roasted Chilean Seabass was truly restaurant worthy delicious. And I took my wife so the double bed was more fun.

    One noted difference: I found that I was able to get the seat reclined more than what you describe, but had to persist with the controls because it would stop and restart as I reclined. And the foot rest can’t be extended before you recline.

    I don’t have anywhere close to your flying experience but it was a flight that’ll be hard to top in quality. Ever. All thanks to reading your “glitch” post. Let’s just say if our paths cross again, I won’t be letting you pay for your own Diet Coke with lime!

  37. lucky says

    @ BFrankley — So happy to hear you had a great trip!

    @ beachfan — It’s Singapore so typically you can have what you want when you want. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been an issue.

    @ Jorge — Hah, there may be even more to it. Stay tuned.

  38. Justin says

    Looks great, but honestly a meal like that is very disappointing. Not only do they cut corners by offering a “supper” service, but they food they do serve isn’t even good…

    After reading this, I’m a lot less inclined to try SQ suites. Seems like CX or LH are superior, if less private, products to me…

  39. wwk5d says

    @ Justin

    LH may serve full meals, but as Lucky will tell you, they also serve some weird sh*t. Cauliflower mousse, anyone?

  40. Patrick says

    You can never have enough warm nuts but that begs the question: Can your nuts ever be to warm? :-O

  41. mohamed b says

    Well i am mot impressed by the seats or suites compared to Emirates!!!ridiculous they not serving krug on ground just to save few box,Emirates will mot spare paying whatever it needs,the toilets are really odd and nothing more frustrating than flying first and being told your meal choice is not available!!!i feel sometime Lucky you are too much in love with singapore and lufthansa and a bit harsh with mideastern airlines!!!they could have added a minibar by your seat!!what about wifi???

  42. says

    The menu was indeed a disappointment. Not impressed by the wines either. Not a single wine over 50 dollars and only the Cloudy Bay is over 90 points.

    You can’t live on Champagne alone. Or maybe you can ;)

  43. dj says

    hi Lucky,

    “Short of dropping $10,000 or a million KrisFlyer miles, there has simply been no way into Suites Class ever…”

    so could you share what other ways can one get into the suite?

  44. wwk5d says

    @mohamed b

    Well, is SQ had Abu Dhabi to bail it out every time it ran into financial difficulties, I’m sure they’d serve 3 or 4 types of champagne during take-off ;)

    Also, the minibar in the EK suite is, like many things related to the UAE, pretty but not very functional and pointless, all style and no substance.

  45. mohamed b says

    @wwk5d
    well i think when you pay the price for being in first class its quite dissapointment to be told this champagne wont be served on ground or your preffered meal choice is not available!!!!Emirates is a profiting airlines and for sure uf they goes into troubles its not abu dhabi (owner of competitor etihad)thats gonna bail them,and dubail being bailed out by abu dhabi dont have the means to do so.

  46. rick a says

    @ Michael G
    I found the 777W seats on SQ16 much too firm

    @Paul
    I agree about your 777W cabin temperature issues. The cabin was much too hot (it might have been OK if I could have slept in my underwear, but that would not have been appropriate for the plane nor pleasant for my fellow passengers.

    Between the hard seats and the hot cabin, my partner and I arrived in SFO tired and cranky: flying in SQ First, I expected to arrive in SFO rested and refreshed, instead I arrived tired and cranky.

  47. wj says

    ~~Lucky’s Pajama resale shoppe~~

    I don’t think that will ever happen Lucky….You blog in bed too much at home and wear them out. They will be in shreds before you get rid of them.

  48. ohana1 says

    We have flown SQ 1 in F & R class on A380 & 777 4 times in the last 12 months. We have always been offered BOTH Dom & Krug before take-off and NEVER had any dining selection limitations. We have also flown SQ (F & R) HKG-SIN, SIN-SYD, SIN-MEL, SIN-LHR & SIN-LAX(via NRT) and have enjoyed excellent dining & services. “Book The Cook” are excellent – try Shanghainese Roast Duck on MEL-SIN! SQ Suites (being on main deck) are larger than Emirates (upper deck = narrower) but Emirates & LH being on upper deck have more room for large/flashy washrooms. We’ve enjoyed F class on LX, LH & BA but nothing compared to SQ. Also flew LAX-SYD in F on UA – never again! BTW, UA’s Global First lounges are only meant for F pax flying UA intl. & pax flying UA’s P.S. service SFO-JFK & LAX-JFK.

  49. Nadir says

    The food seems to be very poor especially the rip. If one is flying the suites there is obsolutely no reason not to serve caviar, but very good review.thanks

  50. Francisca says

    Ben, what’s the best seat in Suite Class in your opinion for a solo traveller? I initially chose 3A but I really wanted a chance to get a double bed so changed it to 3C. 3D is showing as unoccupied.

    I keep considering going back to 3A in case someone gets to sit in 3D

    Thoughts? The route is SIN-ZRH if that matters and it’s in March 2015.

    Thank you!

  51. lucky says

    @ Francisca — I would choose a window seat in row three, and then see how much the cabin fills up over time. If a few days before departure the cabin is still wide open I’d select a center seat in row three. Or you can just stick to a window in row three and if the center seat stays open they’ll gladly make you a double bed in the middle.

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