Singapore’s New A380 Business Class Seats: Evolutionary, Not Revolutionary

In early November, Singapore Airlines unveiled their new A380 premium cabins — specifically, they introduced a new business class and also new Suites. The new cabins are currently available exclusively between Singapore and Sydney, and yesterday I had the chance to try the new business class on the 7hr15min flight to Sydney.

Just a couple of weeks ago I flew Qatar Airways’ Qsuites, and was blown away by how innovative the new seats are. How is Singapore’s new business class? I’d say it’s an improvement over the old one, though it’s more of a mild evolution than a quantum leap for the cabin.

For starters, let me link to a trip report of Singapore Airlines’ previous business class, which I flew on a 777-300ER between Hong Kong and San Francisco last year.

Singapore’s new A380 business class consists of a total of 76 seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. While other airlines use staggered configurations, virtually all seats are identical here. In my opinion the cabin is really sleek and futuristic looking.

The seat itself feels a bit tighter than the old seat, which is good, because the old seat actually felt too wide, in my opinion. While the seat doesn’t feature a door and isn’t enclosed, it features a significant amount of privacy, which represents a big improvement over their old business class.

The seat feels cozy, and everything about the seat feels pretty deliberately designed, in terms of things like where the buttons are located and how the tray table moves.

While you can of course store your bags in the overhead bins, the area underneath your seat is large enough to store most carry-ons, for easier access.

There’s one very big major huge issue with the seat — it’s hard as a rock. This is the same problem Singapore Airlines had with their old seat, and I can’t really wrap my head around why they didn’t change that. While the seat comes with a mattress pad, in reality it’s more of a sheet than anything. If the flight isn’t full I recommend requesting an extra duvet, and then sleeping on top of that.

The reason I say Singapore Airlines is using the same basic “bones” of the seat is because you still have to sleep at an angle. The area for your feet is in the far corner, so you sleep at a 30-45 degree angle. I don’t view this as a big deal, though it does eliminate a few potential sleeping positions. The good news is that in the past you had to get up in order to put the seat into bed more (as the seat essentially “flipped” over), though you no longer have to do that.

Now let’s talk about the coolest improvement of the cabin. All of the middle seats can turn into a double bed. You can have the center partition all the way up, half up (as pictured below), or all the way down.

The crew can create a double bed for passengers traveling with someone.

Now, in reality there’s not going to be much spooning, since you’ll have to sleep with your feet in opposite directions, as the foot cubbies are at the far ends of the seats. That means your heads will be close to one another, while your feet will be quite far apart. However, this could be nice for relaxing, or if you’re watching TV.

What’s delightful is that if you’re traveling alone and they have empty middle seats (which presumably most flights do), then you can snag a double bed. I decided to just sleep across two seats, which I found to be comfortable (and hilarious for the novelty).

I was worried there would be a big bump between seats, but there wasn’t. The flight attendants did put a duvet on the area between seats which helped, but I think it would have been pretty comfortable either way.

I’ll have a more detailed review of Singapore’s new business class soon, and especially of the excellent service. The crew on this sector was spectacular, and really it’s the service that sets Singapore Airlines apart.

Singapore’s new business class bottom line

After trying Qatar Airways’ new Qsuites, I feel like almost anything will be disappointing by comparison.

Singapore’s new business class is an improvement over the old experience. The seats are more private, you don’t have to get up to turn the seat into a bed, and there’s now the option of creating a double bed in the center seats.

At the same time, I feel like they dropped the ball when it comes to how hard the seat is. Personally I also don’t love how you have to sleep at a strange angle due to the foot cubby, but that’s something I can live with.

Overall I think this is a solid improvement over Singapore’s old business class. It’s especially nice for couples traveling together. However, for an airline that has historically been one of the biggest innovators in terms of their onboard product, it doesn’t really have a “wow” factor, in my opinion.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines’ new business class seats?

Comments

  1. I flew with Singapore Airlines 2 days ago (in first class of course). I found their seat s comfortable. It was cool because I had eaten so much in the first class lounge that I felt asleep quite fast after boarding. I had spent 5-6 hours in the lounge 🙂

  2. Lucky, with regards to sleeping at an angle, do the new bulkhead seats still have the same advantage the old seats had with regards to the foot rest?

  3. “After trying Qatar Airways’ new Qsuites, I feel like almost anything will be disappointing by comparison.”

    +1

    After flying Qsuites, the idea that, say, Lufthansa will be a 5* airline when it gets its new seat in a coupe of years time is, frankly, even more laughable.

    In my view, Qsuites offers the best business class in the skies. There is no competition.

  4. Is there something like a row 96 on this plane? (Like on the old one, a single row in the back with more privacy and the extended footrest?)

  5. I’m a window person, and it always bothers me when part of the seat blocks a window. Especially the tiny upper deck A380 windows!

  6. I think that’s hilariously awesome that you slept across the width of two seats, something I would never have considered. Sometime to think about for my next J flight.

  7. “I decided to just sleep across two seats, which I found to be comfortable (and hilarious for the novelty)”

    You really need a dictionary or thesaurus. How is it ‘hilarious’ to sleep across two seats? You could say ‘it was surprisingly comfortable and an awesome novelty’.

  8. Dictionary definition of “hilarious”: extremely amusing.

    I found it extremely amusing that he would do something that out of the ordinary yet successful. If I’d been on that flight I would have laughed out loud. I will try this at my next opportunity, and giggle if it works.

    Ryan, I think you don’t quite understand what hilarious means.

  9. For someone who writes so many articles everyday, I found Lucky’s writings usually very readable.

    I am not an English major but if he finds the act of sleeping across two seats comical, why can’t he call the act hilarious?

  10. Agree completely. Seats were great when sitting up or in a reclined position. Very hard seats though and sleeping was bad. Too hard, and sleeping on an angle was almost impossible for me. I was not impressed. Also seats are a little tight width wise. Privacy is the best factor. But this is not a big improvement for SQ. An exercise in putting in many more business Class seats.

  11. I think the seats are hard because in Asia people tend to prefer hard sleeping surfaces(at least from what I see. My parents, grandparents, aunts, and so on do; we are from Cambodia). In Japan for instance, traditionally people sleep on the ground or an elevated floor.

  12. Version 3.0 of this seat and it’s still a (reverse) herringbone masquerading as forward facing. You think Singapore Airlines would have learned their lesson on this.

    All they have to do is stagger the seats within the shell space and the problem is solved. Maybe leave 1 or 2 rows in the middle for the double bed, but sleeping at an angle is weird.

  13. @Ryan

    Lucky does not need a dictionary.

    But you may need some help in understanding the meaning of humor.

  14. Sleeping on the flat bed in the angled position was the most uncomfortable experience I had among the better business class flights. For someone over 6’2″, it’s really not an acceptable design in my opinion.

  15. I’m from Singapore and I generally prefer the hard bed, as do many fellow travelers based in Asia. Singapore Airlines caters primarily to Asian travelers and I definitely appreciate the hard bed.

  16. I have the same question as Juno – are the bulkhead seats as amazing as the older new business class? If so that double bed would be fantastic!

  17. I’m short (1m70) so I don’t mind the angled beds. I’m like my fellow Asians here (im chinese Vietnamese), and even though I grew up in Europe I prefer harder beds and most my Asian friends do too. So I guess they had to make a choice and please their main market? And I second @JZ50, I’m also a window person and have that “thing” covering my view would annoy me. First world problem I know 🙂

  18. My biggest gripe with the SQ J seat has been the need to get up to flip the bed. I think that’s a pretty big deal. Anybody know when this is coming to JFK-FRA-SIN?

  19. Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Premium Economy Cabin Although the boarding line was long, the gate agents did an excellent job processing boarding cards quickly. Before long I had passed through the aft business class cabin and entered the Premium Economy cabin. The Premium Economy cabin on the 777-300ER begins with row 30 which is located in line with the over-wing exit doors. Cathay Pacific 777 Premium EconomyThe Premium Economy cabin is comprised of 4 rows of 8 seats in a 2-4-2 layout.

  20. This is a far inferior seat to the old seats. Much narrower and elbows keep hitting sides which form an enclosed space. Also no space to put newspapers etc. unless you want to put them on the floor. Definitely a step backwards rather than forwards and inferior to competition. However they try to hype and disguise it, reality is that the seat suffers because they are trying to squeeze more seats into the same space. I believe this review is sponsored to some extent so overly and falsely positive.

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