My Experience Flying Singapore’s New A380 Suites

Hello from Singapore! I just flew roundtrip from Singapore to Sydney on Singapore Airlines’ brand new A380. On the outbound I flew Singapore’s new A380 business class, which I shared my thoughts on yesterday. Then on the return I flew Singapore’s new A380 Suites, which I wanted to share my initial thoughts on in this post (I’ll have a full trip report soon).

To be honest, I’m a bit surprised by how I felt walking away from this flight. Singapore’s new A380 Suites cabin is damn impressive. It’s on the upper deck of the A380, and features just six seats — two seats on each side for three rows. As you enter the cabin it looks remarkably similar to Etihad’s A380 first class cabin, except it features nine First Class Apartments plus The Residence. Singapore’s new A380 Suites cabin is significantly more spacious. In terms of square feet per passenger, this is by far the most spacious first class product in the world.

Each suite has a door, and as you board it sort of looks like a (really nice) dentist’s office, or something.

To the side of the seat, near the entrance, is a console where the tray table can be extended from. This setup is beautiful, especially as they had the menu there, with a light shining at it.

Later on in the flight when you want your bed made, it folds out from the wall.

Below is what the suite looks like when converted to bed mode — what a beautiful cabin.

The massive TV is located next to the door to the suite, and it can be moved at the push of a button. You can have the TV so it’s flat against the wall, which is ideal for watching TV from bed, or you can angle it maybe 30 degrees, so that you have the best view possible from your seat.

Most of the seat functions, including the location of seat controls and power outlets, and the tablet that lets you control the entertainment, are well design.

Those are the basics of the seats, so now let me share my overall conclusions having flown this.

Singapore’s new Suites is very similar to Etihad’s First Class Apartment

I knew that Etihad’s First Class Apartment and Singapore Suites were similar in that they both have a single aisle on the upper deck of the A380. What surprised me, though, was that in terms of comfort and design, the two suites are actually very similar. Both have a seat and a bed, both have TVs that swivel, and both have the same pros and cons. Etihad’s Apartment is just a more efficient version of Singapore’s new Suite.

The issues I have with Singapore’s new Suites

Singapore’s new Suites are absolutely gorgeous. Both Emirates and Singapore have really taken first class cabins to the next level, so I do think this is one of the world’s two best first class hard products.

However, there were some things I didn’t like about the Suite.

First of all, the bed is hard. Really hard. I know in Asia many prefer hard beds, though it would be nice if there were a choice to have a mattress pad. When the bed is made, they basically just put a sheet on it, and there’s not even a real mattress pad. In terms of comfort I wouldn’t rank this as one of the top five first class beds in the sky, and that’s kind of an important detail when it comes to comfort.

The cabin also got really hot, and the suite has no individual air vents. Add in the fact that you’re sleeping right next to a wall, and there’s a real lack of airflow.

I also couldn’t help but feel like parts of the design weren’t very well thought out. For example, due to the location of the tray table you can only eat while being angled towards the aisle. That’s not a huge issue, but since most people eat meals with the Suite door open, it means you’re looking at the person across from you. You could close the Suite door, but that makes service significantly more difficult, since they can’t provide you with especially attentive service. Wouldn’t it have been better if they somehow designed the seat to be forward or rear facing, or ideally even facing the window, during the meal service?

For example, you can swivel the seat towards the window, but there’s limited legroom, and there’s not a tray or anything you can use.

The seat itself was reasonably comfortable, though not extraordinarily so. Emirates’ new first class seat is so comfortable, while this just felt like a really comfortable dentist chair. For reference, below is a picture of the seat reclined as far as it goes.

You can also raise the back of the bed a bit, but at that point it feels like a hospital bed.

Singapore’s Suites soft product is exceptional

The food, service, and amenities on this flight were top notch. I had the same crew looking after me both ways, and they couldn’t have been better. In terms of champagne, Singapore Airlines offers the choice of Dom or Krug in Suites, and for a limited time they’re even serving 2004 Krug, which is phenomenal.

The food was great as well.

Singapore Airlines has amenities and pajamas from Lalique, including a candle, which is pretty cool.

So when it comes to the soft product, Singapore Airlines is as good as it gets.

Am I wrong for having expected more?

Singapore’s new Suites product is great. All around it’s now one of the world’s two best first class products, in my opinion. Yet somehow I can’t help but feel like they wasted a lot of space and missed a lot of opportunities. The Suite looks impressive. It’s stunning, actually, and I was overwhelmed when I walked into the Suite, because I thought it was even nicer than in pictures.

But if the airline is going to design a seat that takes up more square feet than any other first class product in history, I feel like they could have done a bit more with it. At the end of the day Singapore’s new Suites bed isn’t any bigger than before, and as far as I’m concerned it wasn’t especially comfortable.

The seat itself also wasn’t any more comfortable than the old one. Sure, the novelty of having a separate seat and bed is cool, but if neither are industry-leading when it comes to comfort, isn’t that a lost opportunity?

As a point of comparison, Emirates’ new first class product uses space incredibly efficiently, and is a huge improvement in terms of comfort and privacy.

So Singapore’s new Suites are great, don’t get me wrong. Flying this was incredible, and it’s one of the best first class products in the world. I just think they missed some pretty big opportunities with the design, especially given what huge innovators they are historically. They designed one of the world’s best first class products, when they could have designed the world’s best first class product by far.

What do you make of Singapore’s new A380 Suites?

Comments

  1. Wait, did I read that correctly? Lack of proper privacy when eating, hard bed, and lack of aiflow in the cabin, and it’s now one of the world’s two best hard F products?? What went so badly wrong with Etihad F apartments that this is one of the world’s best?

  2. That looks like a especially HARD bed, what thought did they give to it ? With all that space, shouldn’t be difficult to include a camping style sleeping pad which would bring it up to tolerable standards.
    I prefer Air France style cabin myself, but to each their own.

  3. Lucky, a question. The glass side dish with the caviar service, is that creme fraiche or whipped egg white?

  4. Great report Ben. You had me (and SQ lost me) with the hard bed and warm cabin. Won’t be rushing to redeem points for this.

  5. You should definitely open a consulting business to help airlines before they launch a new product. That way they would avoid you to complain just for the sake of complaining. Seriously, the cabin being too hot is not a design problem but something you can usually ask the FA if they can fix it. I asked many times on domestic flights. There is a buttom called thermostat that does that. Dentist office? Hospital bed? Really!!! How about a review of their middle seat on the middle row next to the bathroom in economy?

  6. Totally agree
    You miss in the report some defective issues as the sliding door won’t keep Close and when open it vibrate
    Tray table when retracted vibrate very loud and same the seat when I’m partial recline position
    Bed seat belt makes you feel you re tight up and you can’t move
    Yes they could have done a lot better

  7. I agree with Raul. How is this product ranked up with the best? Etihad Apartments are much better. Even Singapore’s original Suite product is better than this from a privacy aspect when eating and you get a mattress protector when sleeping with the same great soft product.

  8. The seat could have even taken cues from — of all things — AA’s first class, with the option to swivel toward the window and have a table there to work on or eat from. Really not hard to come up with that idea, and so strange that they didn’t.

  9. Looks great for a daytime long-haul flight. They should take the approach JAL does with the mattress pad. I can see myself lounging in that bed with a mate, sipping on some Krug. If you could add a Mile Club likelihood score from 1-10 what would you say? 6?

    Next time it gets hot strip down to your skivvies and I’m sure they’ll get the idea and turn the temp down. Let us know how that goes……

  10. I have flown a number of flights on Singapore Airlines and have issues with the “bed” in all cases. The new 4 seat first on the 777-300ER is uncomfortable as a bed. I do like the idea of both a place to sit and a place to sleep. Ultimately I like a seat that reclines in to a bed without coordinating with the staff.

  11. Lucky: I flew this a week ago(SIN-SYD). I agree with your comments regarding hard bed, hot cabin etc. Fortunately during meal time, the person across was asleep so I didn’t have a view of him. One thing that annoyed me was the chair. When we hit some turbulence the chair was rocking a lot. Also, no couple dining was kind of a let down. Had the SO on the other end eating…which seem quite a distance.

  12. Asiatic and European countries love hard mattresses are excellent. Thank goodness, nothing worse than a soft mattress. Thanks for the review –great work -seems like a very good produt.

  13. As someone who always travels with my husband, I’m quite surprised that upfront airline cabins seem to be evolving into spaces created for single travellers who apparently prefer absolutely no contact with any other passengers – and only the barest interaction with the cabin crew.

    For me, one of the joys of flying is chatting with my husband, clinking our glasses of Champagne together as we start off on an adventure, and enjoying our inflight meals – tasting each other’s entrees.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t opt for one of these creepy-looking Handmaid’s Tale Suites if Singapore offered it to me as a free upgrade. Wa-a-ay too much like an airborne minimum-security cell.

  14. I’m with you and find the product underwhelming. Especially with the flaws you noted. Emirates seems to have come up with something that is truly a step forward. Singapore has the bones needed for a truly amazing product but their execution seems lacking.

  15. Interesting point about the hardness of the bed. For me, this is the number one problem with the old SQ suites, and the reason I would never ever book the product on an overnight flight again. As I live in the UK, this restriction has caused some issues and, over the last couple of years, I’ve actually preferred to book BA F if I’m in a position to be able to choose between the two products. It really is like sleeping on a slab, with the mattress pad again being more akin to a sheet than anything resembling mattress. Very disappointing to hear that this is still an issue on the newly updated Suite bed. Looks like I’ll be giving this a miss as well.

  16. The main problem of SQ is actually that they focus way too little about their ground services. They though forever they could price their product above the average. If I was a premium traveller paying a full fare F Ticket it WOULD matter how I am treated already at the airport and not just in plane. Look at LH or especially AF, which are cheaper and offer in my opinion a better overall product. In regard to Miles and Point i will try it once when it’s bookable, but after that it shouldn’t be worth to make an extra detour for this product.

  17. LH had the best F configuration on its’ 747-400s. Standard LH fully flat recling seat and a bed beside it. 8 seats on the upper deck. Was great. Unfortunately gone now.

  18. Interesting initial impressions, thanks Ben (and congrats on 10 year blog anniversary BTW!).

    I was worried I had just missed out on this by a month, but on my recent Suites trip I ended up with both a Suite to relax and eat in as well as a double bed to sleep in (ie 3 Suites in total) as there were only two other people in the cabin! Not quite as good as when I had the entire cabin to myself a couple of years ago, but still fantastic 🙂 Doesn’t appear that the new setup is a massive step forward.

    Re cabin temp, I’ve found the crew very helpful in reducing this a degree or two – definitely better it being on the cooler side as at least people can use extra blankets to warm up, but not much that can be done if too hot!

  19. I’m being picky – or am I. But the condition of the bed sheets looks terrible… That should be crisp white and wrinkle free. Or has/had this been slept in already. Overall, seems like a miss. if I read some of your key comments on seat and bed comfort and seating positions… tks for taking one for the team to communicate the product review.

  20. I’ve linked to this official seating diagram of the Etihad A380 Apartment seating chart for comparison:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/staticarchive/4d35ec3a5b01ed3a91a100213446e3447a3aab8e.jpg

    See how squalid and crowded?

    But at least Etihad includes showers. I bet the stink on those SQ pax is wafting around over the not quite fully-enclosed bulkheads like tropical miasma before quinine was discovered. Imagine the stink on the middle passage with all the First Apartment slaves if they hadn’t had showers. That’s what SQ wants to smell like; that’s why no showers.

  21. I’ve linked to this official seating diagram of the Etihad A380 Apartment seating chart for comparison:

    ht tp://www.bbc.co.uk/staticarchive/4d35ec3a5b01ed3a91a100213446e3447a3aab8e.jpg

    See how squalid and crowded?

    But at least Etihad includes showers. I bet the stink on those SQ pax is wafting around over the not quite fully-enclosed bulkheads like tropical miasma before quinine was discovered. Imagine the stink on the middle passage with all the First Apartment slaves if they hadn’t had showers. That’s what SQ wants to smell like; that’s why no showers.

  22. @Raul “Wait, did I read that correctly? Lack of proper privacy when eating, hard bed, and lack of aiflow in the cabin, and it’s now one of the world’s two best hard F products?? What went so badly wrong with Etihad F apartments that this is one of the world’s best?”

    The EY F isn’t even the top seat in its own cabin, so it has zero snob appeal. You’re constantly reminded that you’re a second class citizen, like a basic economy passenger waiting to board last because you don’t deserve a proper seat assignment. And Ben loves snob appeal. (We love you, Ben.)

  23. In terms of feeling hot in the middle of the flight, Most airlines now turn their cabin temperature really high, like 25 or even above. Because they don’t carry enough blankets for every passengers now. Last time when I was on CX first class I have to ask the FA to turn the temperature down in order to be comfortable.

  24. Simply my favorite having tried all of the latest products from other airlines. I love a hard bed so never thought about it until this post. I also love the clean and uncluttered space, unlike the products in EK and EY.

  25. I would rate this first class hard product behind AF, EY, old SQ Suite … or even LH, LX, KE (new), GA, CX, QF, QR… for one huge reason (where products listed above offer) :
    1) not being able to dine with your travel companion. I can include this as the same issue Ben says about facing another passenger across the aisle while eating and leave the door open. Basically the positions of the seat and table aren’t really well thought-out. EY apartment may have seat and the bed similarly set… but not really … EY bed slides out from ottoman/bench which can be used as a companion seat allowing dining face to face. EY residence also allows siting face to face as well as sitting next to each other. To fix this issue, the designer have to scratch the whole design and start out from a blank paper …. need to position things differently!! They got so much space to play with…

    Then there are many other style issues:
    2) is the style person blind?? color tone is so bad… like doctor or dentist office like most say. I won’t mind to go with less color, but white and middle gray isn’t a good match … white with very light gray will look better. When it comes to style AF, LH, LX, QF or even BA (I’m talking style & color not size) are way better. The old SQ Suite isn’t bad too. Some people may say they care about comfort, not the look, they might not be honest to themselves cuz it’s human nature to also feel comfortable when residing in nice looking places.
    3) what’s with the holes on the door? (The shape of flower or something?) Look like a cheap plastic panel…. EY apartment doors look way better.. even EK Suite doors are better. SQ old Suite doors are better. Most other carriers with close door suites have better looking door.
    4) isn’t having seats next to window kinda nice? Like EY apartment 3A/4A or 3K/4K has 3 windows each and the seat itself is next to the window. This SQ swirling chair makes it shaky when the gust hit… as others report. Not good…

    As far as soft product (service), yes SQ is still among the best… However is the food considered as part of soft product? Cuz if it is… then it can’t beat AF out of Paris… or maybe NH.

  26. I do not like the position of the bed this way, like in Etihad apartment.
    When sleeping, you keep falling against the wall…prefer the forward facing seat

  27. I like hard beds. The fact that you can elevate the head of the bed is cool as I sleep that way at home. Don’t like the fact that you face the door for meal service as I prefer the privacy. Hate hot cabins; I always ask to turn the temp down which usually works for a little while.

  28. I fly SQ F very regularly and have been consistently told by the crew that by far the two biggest complaints they receive is the hardness of the mattresses and catering quality. Yes a lot about the power of feedback to SQ.

  29. Agree with your analysis. And as pointed out by others above, being able to dine closely with my wife is a HUGE factor for us. She would often rather fly business if it means being closer together (and a lie flat seat) than be in a huge first class suite where we have to sit 10 feet away. First world problems, I know… but something that I think both SQ and EK dropped the ball on.

    After all, they designed these F cabins with points-only travelers like me in mind, right? 😉

  30. Thank you for sharing! I’m flying the new SQ A380 suites later in April and am still looking forward to it! I am curious though what you thought of the 2 large lavatories in the upper deck.

  31. @Lucky Great review! Midway through you write “well designed,” when it shoukd be “well designed.”

    @SuperVC-10

    RE: “creepy-looking Handmaid’s Tale Suites”

    Got a great chuckle out of this comment. Thanks for making my Monday commute more amusing.

  32. Does the seat need to be in a specific orientation for takeoff/landing or can you swivel it towards the window during that time?

  33. SO UGLY. Honestly….wtf Singapore. Looks like an office cubicle with a hospital bed with no ventilation and hard bed.

    Horrible.

    Emirates for the win though!

  34. Hi Ben,

    You are not wrong to expect more from SQ. I am the same, when they announce the new cabin I have a very high expectation for 2 reasons:

    1. They are competing against the ME3 who have amazing products.
    2. They are from Singapore, a country that put design and great architecture at heart.

    So, when I see the product, I was really disappointed. The colours are horrible, and the lack of creativity hurts my feeling badly. I see SQ as a pride, and have a lot of fond memories with them. But with their current seat design and expensive J pricing from SG. I have moved my business over to China Airlines.

    Amazing cabin design, seat comfort, cabin service, food (I exclusively only eat asian food when flying, so, as long as i have my rice or noddle, I am good), and constantly cost less than SQ.

    I hope SQ will take this as a lesson, and start to be an innovative carrier again! SQ aside, safe travel Ben and keep those amazing reviews coming!

    Jeff

  35. @lucky- I flew the SYD-SIN route on January 27th in 3A and was very dissapointed having staged myself from the USA to specifically experience this new product. I agree with you and thekelly.d although I find your reviews too kind:
    The 7 hour flight had a mild chop although the seatbelt sign was only illuminated 3-4 times. This light chop caused the seat to move both forward and back and side to side about 1 inch each way. This was very noisy only to compete with the rattling door for almost the entire flight.
    The seat is smaller than the pictures reflect. At 6′ tall the leg rest only went as far as my upper calves for support.
    I too pre-ordered the Lobster and found it rubbery and lacking any flavor. (Krug was non-vintage)
    The entertainment system in my suite was broken and crashed every 10-15 minutes.
    The bed, oh the bed. Even trying to rest on top of the bedding I found the carpeted floor in my BR at home much softer and I like hard mattresses! The beds seatbelt is fixed with no adjustment other than the automatic tensioning which has so much tension that with any movement it tightens finally to a point you know what it must feel like to be given your last rights on the table at the Huntsville, Texas Prison!
    Colossal waste of money! Very dissapointed with this product and would not recommend it.
    Scott

  36. While the vintage Krug and Dom Perignon were fabulous, the food on my flight wasn’t and the new First Suites were a huge disappointment. Has anyone mentioned that in recline mode the foot rest is just a calves rest and staff have to bring a portable foot rest to put ones feet on? This then blocks the entrance to the Suite so staff have to climb over it to bring in food.

    Also while lying on the bed I found the seat belt difficult to pull out and extend to be fastened so I had to get staff to ‘belt me in’. Very annoying. And the belt just made it around my waist which, believe me, is not that big. They said they’d make a note of that problem.

    And the Lalique pajamas are 65% polyester!!! Who wants to sweat in polyester?

    Staff were lovely though.

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