Review: Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites – Long Haul (SIN-LHR)


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Last year I reviewed the Singapore A380 Suites experience on a regional flight between Hong Kong and Singapore but, while that was a very nice experience, it was the true long-haul experience in Singapore Suites that I’ve looked forward to trying out for some time.

Singapore Airlines doesn’t yet offer its new Suites Class on the Singapore – London route (that’s coming on 16 February 2018) so the A380 that we flew in was equipped with the original suites….and these are the Suites that most Singapore A380s will offer for quite some time.

Our flight was scheduled to depart from Singapore at 09:05 and, as I always like to be one of the first onboard if I’m reviewing a cabin, we arrived at the gate at 08:15.

Our flight was departing from Gate B5 and it’s worth noting that the B Gates are a good 10 minute walk from the KrisFlyer lounge (we’re fast walkers). If you add to that the fact that you need to clear security at the gate it’s a very good idea not to cut things too fine.

The security lines at the gate were quiet when we arrived and pre-boarding was called at 08:20. 20 minutes later First Class was called to board and I got my second ever look inside a Singapore Airlines A380 Suites class cabin.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The original Singapore Airlines A380 has 12 individual Suites on the lower deck of the aircraft with 8 of the suites offering windows and 8 arranged in the center (the newer version of this cabin offers just 6 Suites

The center suites can be opened up to each other to allow couples traveling together to spend more time together…..

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

SIngapore Airlines First Class Suites A380Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….but as I spend most of my flights taking notes, taking pictures or geeking out on the whole experience, Joanna and I chose to enjoy two of the window suites (2K and 3K).

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

A pillow and blanket were waiting for me on my ottoman…

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

…and a pair of Singapore Airlines Bose noise cancelling headphones was waiting on the ledge next to my seat:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

To the left of the seat is where the first of the suites two headphone sockets is to be found….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

…and below it where an old-fashioned IFE remote is housed together with the suite’s light controls, the “do not disturb” button, and the flight attendant call button.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The left arm of the chair is where the very basic seat controls are….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

…while to the right (next to the window) is where you’ll find some small storage areas together with the power outlet, USB ports and the second of the two headphone sockets the suite offers:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The storage areas will hold a number of small items but you’re out of luck if you’re hoping to store any electronics larger than an iPhone – tablets, eReaders and laptops will not fit.

The bed in the Singapore Airlines A380 Suites isn’t made by setting the seat to lie-flat mode and then adding bedding….it’s a whole separate unit that’s built into the wall of the suite behind the chair (more on this later).

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Directly ahead of the seat is a wall-mounted IFE screen with two shallow storage cubbies either side:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The left-side cubby is essentially just a vanity mirror….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

…while the right side cubby will hold a small eReader/Tablet but not much else:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

As there is no overhead storage in the A380’s Suites cabin the main places passengers can keep things are the wardrobes built into the walls diving the suites….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

…and under the ottoman in the Suite itself:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The wardrobes aren’t wide enough to take a regular-size carry-on so the area under the ottoman is the only place you can place your luggage.

The Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Experience

Boarding + 4 mins: One of the flight attendants offered me a choice newspapers while a second offered me a drink – it was a bit early to choose between Dom and Krug so ordered a glass of sparkling water 🙂

Boarding + 8 mins: A glass of Perrier was poured for me….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….and a menu handed out too:

 

Dining (click to enlarge):

Drinks (click to enlarge):

I had already chosen my main breakfast via the “book the cook” service so the menu was just for me to choose a juice, and an appetizer and to decide if I’d like fresh fruit too.

Boarding + 11 mins: The flight attendants brought around a selection of magazines and, as the National Geographic looked good, I went with that:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Boarding + 12 mins The Chief Steward introduced himself, confirmed our flight time at 13 hours and 5 mins (plenty of time to enjoy the suite!) and let me know that he’s the onboard sommelier too.

Boarding + 17 mins: Hot towels handed out

Boarding + 21 mins: The aircraft doors were closed

Boarding + 24 mins: We pushed back just 4 mins late

Boarding + 25 mins: Safety video played

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Boarding + 43 mins: After taxiing around Singapore Airport for around 20 minutes we finally turned on to the runway, the engines roared and our A380 waddled down the runway like only and A380 can before we launched in to the air.

Take off + 9 mins: Seatbelt sign was extinguished (I like airlines that don’t keep the seatbelt signs un unnecessarily long) and I went to check on Joanna….who was already having a good time discovering the Suite around her.

Take off + 11 mins: The flight attendants brought around slippers…..

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

…..and an eye mask and socks were brought around too:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Take off + 16 mins: Pajamas….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….and Salvatore Ferregamo amenity kits were handed out:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Mine was a male kit:

And Joanna got a red female version:

There’s no need for practical toiletries in these bags as razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste etc… are all provided in the washrooms.

Take off + 17 mins: Chief Steward took my drink order (OJ) and asked if I’d thought about the wine selection (I had).

There was a clear choice for me, the Penfolds RWT Shiraz, so he said he’d get it to room temperature for me (that’s the first time that’s ever been done for me on an aircraft).

The orange juice turned up super-quick and was delicious – it was definitely not from concentrate!

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Take off + 25 mins: A flight attendant handed out a small souvenir amenity bag celebrating 70 years of Singapore Airlines:

Take off + 30 mins: One of the flight attendants took my breakfast order.

I passed on the appetizer as I’d had a little bit to eat in the lounge before we departed so I just went with more OJ and some fruit to start.

I also got to choose from the fantastic coffee selection Singapore Airlines offers on board and I opted for the Illy Brazilian blend.

Take off + 48 mins: Hot towels were brought around

Take off + 54 mins: The flight attendants began setting the table for breakfast….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….and the inflight manager poured me some Evian.

Take off + 1 hour 1 min: My fruit and coffee arrived:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Take off + 1 hour 5 mins: The OJ turned up (still delicious)

Take off + 1 hour 6 mins: A basket of bread and croissants offered.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The croissants were warm and beautifully flakey, the coffee was excellent and the fruit was as fresh and tasty as you’d get anywhere.

This may sound like a strange thing to fixate one but the fruit was truly delicious.

I’ve had Maui Gold pineapple (in my opinion by far an away the best pineapple you can get) and this was on a par. The orange and grapefruit segments tasted freshly cut (I have no idea if they were or not) and the grapes were perfect.

I’d be impressed if I was served this on the ground let alone at 38,000 feet.

Take off + 1 hour 15 mins: The fruit and croissant plates were removed and immediately replaced with my main breakfast course – eggs Benedict with lobster, garlic hash, asparagus and tomato:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Most Airlines can’t serve up edible scrambled eggs so I had deliberately chosen poached eggs as my main course to see how Singapore Airlines would handle something a lot tougher to serve.

They were fantastic!

The yolk was runny while the white was firm and the lobster went with the eggs and the sauce very well. The hash was a little garlic-y for me….but now I’m just being picky.

This was easily the best breakfast I’ve had in the air….and by some distance!

Take off + 1 hour 27 mins: The plates and remnants of the breakfast service were taken away.

Take off + 1 hour 32 mins: More hot towels were brought around

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

At this point it was time to change into pajamas and get comfortable for the flight.

There are two washrooms behind First Class on the Singapore Airlines A380 – biggest is one is the accessible washroom on the left side of the aircraft although the second is also a good size.

The First Class washrooms are stacked with all the amenities you’re likely to need on a flight which is why, as I mentioned earlier, you won’t find toiletries in the amenity kits.

Now that I was in my pajamas it was time to check out the IFE.

Singapore Airlines was offering 294 movies, 688 TV shows and 850 CDs on this flight so, even if I hadn’t pre-loaded my laptop with shows I wanted to watch, there was little change of me not finding something to my taste.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The movie choices looked good but what impressed me most was the fact that Singapore Airlines was offering full seasons (20+ episodes) of 32 TV shows – that’s a lot!

Because the suites are truly enclosed (except for right at the top) you get more privacy that in just about any other airline cabin (Etihad’s First class being another that offers this much privacy).

The blinds on the suite’s windows pull down from the inside…..

Singapore Airlines First Class Suites

…and from the outside the suites resemble an old-fashioned train compartment (and I mean that in a positive way!)

Singapore Airlines First Class Suites

Because the bed comes out of the wall in the suite the chair doesn’t have to go flat…..so it doesn’t recline past 60 degrees (or thereabouts). I don’t much care for that.

The choice for watching TV (if you want to recline to any real degree) is either a 60 degree recline (from the chair) or a 180 degree recline from the bed…there’s nothing in between.

Perhaps it’s just me but I like falling asleep watching a movie or TV show and I find that the easiest way to do that comfortably is to be raised a few inches above horizontal – you can’t do that in these Suites.

Sure, this isn’t exactly a huge downside considering the rest of the surroundings…but I criticised the appalling Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class seats for the very same thing so it’s only right that I mention it here too.

Also, while I’m being critical, I should mention that the IFE controller is antiquated.

And, not only is it old-fashioned, but it wasn’t particularly responsive either…just like the controller on my last Singapore Suites flight.

From a connectivity point of view the Singapore Airlines A380 offers inflight WiFi…..

…and inflight mobile services:

At this point I have to confess that I tried out neither so I can’t really comment on how good or bad these services are….but at least they’re offered.

Take off + 2 hours 49 mins: Cabin lights were dimmed

Take off + 4 hours 45 mins: After I’d watched an embarrassing number of episodes of the Big Bang Theory the in-flight manager saw me open my suite door and asked if I was ready for lunch.

I was still full from breakfast so just asked for a glass of champagne (I went for the 2006 Dom Perignon)

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Take off + 5 hours 37 mins: with a little over 7 hours of the flight to go and realising I’d need some sleep at some point I let one of the flight attendants know that I’d like to order lunch.

Take off + 5 hours 41 mins: My champagne was topped up and my lunch order was taken.

Once again I had ordered my main course via the airline’s excellent “book the cook” service but that still left a whole host of other courses to select.

Take off + 6 hours 1 min: My first course (satay sticks) was served:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

They were flavorful and every bit as nice as the excellent satay sticks I’ve had a number of times on Malaysia Airlines.

Take off + 6 hours 9 mins: The remnants of the satay stick course removed, my Dom Perignon was topped up and a steaming hot towel was provided.

Take off + 6 hours 16 mins: My table set for the rest of lunch….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….a bread basket was offered and my caviar course arrived.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

The Chief Steward asked if I’d like some vodka with my caviar but I was more than happy with the champagne I already had so I passed.

The caviar course was very nice….but not quite as good as what I’ve had on Cathay Pacific First Class (possibly because I quite like to have blinis with caviar).

Take off + 6 hours 19 mins: One of the flight attendants checked that I was sure I wanted to miss the soup course and salad course and head straight for my main course.

I was very sure. There’s only so much food a man can eat and I was looking forward to seeing what Singapore Airlines had done with the next course.

Take off + 6 hours 23 mins: The caviar plate was taken away and replaced with my main course of Wagyu Beef, rice, mixed mushrooms and beans….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….with which I had the Penfolds RWT Shiraz.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Before I go any further I have to say that the Shiraz was spectacular. I’m a huge fan of Aussie Shiraz anyway but this was fantastic – smooth, aromatic and it had a great finish.

The steak was cooked about as well as you can get a steak in the air….

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….and the accompanying vegetables works very well.

Everything tasted fresh and there was little about the food to suggest that it was being served on an aircraft or at altitude.

Take off + 7 hours 1 min: After a break to allow my main course to settle (and after Joanna joined me in the suite for a bit) I ordered a dessert with coffee.

Take off + 7 hours 4 mins: My Panna Cotta and Illy brazilian coffee arrived.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Joanna had started dinner ahead of me so she was the one who recommended the panna cotta….and boy was she right.

The panna cotta was excellent but, again, it was the freshness of the fruit that blew me away….and the coffee was still delicious.

Take off + 7 hours 25 mins: Realising that I’d have to sleep soon or not sleep at all I asked for my bed to be made up.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

I really like the Singapore Airlines A380 bed and while the mattress is possibly not quite as great as I’ve had in JAL or Cathay Pacific First Class it’s still nice and comfortable.

The bolster is firm so you can use it to prop your head up to watch TV (insert view from lying down)….

….you now have a second set of light controls above your head in case you can’t reach the ones by the door…..

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

….and there’s a side table for water and incidentals:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Take off + 11 hours 17 mins: After a series of naps in between episodes of Friends and the Big Bang Theory it was time to get up….so I asked the crew to put my bed away.

I also took this opportunity to order some Udon Noodles too.

Take off + 11  hours 25 mins: With typical Singapore Airlines efficiency it took just 8 minutes from the moment I requested the noodles for them to be served.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

They were steaming hot and tasted great – just what I needed after my naps.

The rest of the trip didn’t really give me too much to report…but I’ll break it down for the sake of completeness.

Take off + 11 hours 42 mins: Fast Track arrivals cards were handed out for entry to the UK

Take off + 12 hours 7 mins: It was time to change back into real world clothes and I can honestly say that I was sad the flight was coming to an end…that doesn’t happen too often!

Take off + 12 hours 22 mins: The Captain announced that we were 40 minutes from London but that it was possible that we’d have to hold due to traffic and weather (no surprise there as this almost always happens in London).

Take off + 12 hours 25 mins: Hot towels were offered

Take off + 12 hours 37 mins: Foxes mints were handed out.

Take off + 12 hours 45 mins: The seatbelt sign came on

Take off + 13 hours 5 mins: After stacking over eastern England for a while we finally did a turn over London where we got some great views of the city….

…..before finally heading on to Heathrow.

Take off + 13 hours 12 mins: Touch down at London Heathrow.

Thoughts

Negatives:

  • I’m not a fan of seats that don’t recline back further than about 60 degrees but, unlike on other aircraft where I’ve experienced this, the rest of the surroundings make up for this to a large degree.
  • I’d like to have somewhere other than under my ottoman to store my carry-on…preferably out of sight.
  • I’d like somewhere to store my laptop out of sight but close to my seat (as you get in so many other A380 cabins). In these Suites you have to either have the laptop out on the ledge next to the seat, on the ottoman or in your carry-on under the ottoman. None of those options is all that great.
  • The IFE controller was antiquated and not very responsive

Positives:

  • The amount of personal space you get is fantastic as is the privacy that the Suite affords.
  • The seat is comfortable and the bed is a very comfortable place to rest.
  • The food choice you get on Singapore Airlines is second to none – the airline’s “Book The Cook” service is fantastic.
  • Not only is the choice of food good but the quality is pretty fantastic too. As I mentioned in the main part of the review the breakfast served on this flight was easily the best I’ve had in the air.
  • The IFE selection was one of the best I’ve seen
  • The choice of Dom Perignon or Krug champagne is the best champagne selection I’ve seen (or read about) in the air and the wine on offer on this flight was delicious.
  • The crew were friendly, polite and very approachable and the Chief Steward in particular was excellent.

Bottom Line

I loved the whole Singapore Airlines Suites experience and “experience” is probably the right way to describe it.

While other carriers may do certain individual things a little better in their First Class cabins (better bedding in JAL first class and better storage in Etihad First Class being two examples) I don’t know of any carrier that does First Class as well as Singapore Airlines when everything is put together.

The service, food, drinks and overall comfort are great and I’d have to be pretty pernickety to say anything other than that this is an excellent First Class product.

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