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Singapore Airlines is in the process of upgrading its Airbus A380s with new cabins and the A380s which operate between London and Singapore were amongst the first to get the airline’s latest products.
For a cost of 105,000 KrisFlyer Miles per person (transferred in from my Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou accounts) and approximately $290 in taxes, fees and surcharges per person, I booked a one-way Business Class award between London and Sydney for Joanna and I…..and the new Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class Cabin was our home for the first leg of that journey.
The New Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class Cabin
The new Singapore Airlines Business Class cabin is set out with single seats on either side of the cabin and a pair of seats in the center – this gives all passengers direct access to one of the aircraft’s two aisles.
All seats in the cabin face directly towards the front of the aircraft which means that passengers seated in the center seats can communicate with one another quite easily – there’s no permanent obstacle between the seats to block one passenger’s view of the other (unlike in the Business Class cabins featuring a reverse herringbone layout).
For times where the passengers in the center seats aren’t traveling together, there’s a moveable divider between the seats that can be raised to offer privacy.
The seats on either side of the cabin are mostly identical (from a privacy point of view you don’t have to worry about choosing ‘the right seat’ as you have to in, for example, the Iberia Business Class cabin) and, aesthetically, I think they look great.
They’re also very private.
I was in one such seat for the 13+ hour flight between Singapore and London and it does a very good job of cocooning a passenger without creating a space that feels claustrophobic.
Whether you’re sitting upright or if you’re reclined, the shell of the seat does a very good job of off protecting you from the aisle and, unless you crane your neck, you cannot see anyone to the side, directly ahead or diagonally ahead of the seat.
From the window seats you can’t see anyone else’s IFE screen regardless of what position the seat is in and that’s great for getting some sleep.
Sadly the same is not true of the center seats – these seats can definitely see the IFE screen of the neighboring window seat when they’re upright…and possibly when they’re reclined or in lie-flat mode.
The seat itself is 24” wide while the space in which the seat sits (between the outer wall and the table by the window) measures 26” so there’s plenty of lateral room and there’s a good feeling of space.
There’s plenty of legroom too.
I didn’t measure exactly how much legroom there is but I suspect there won’t be many people disappointed with the space available when the seat is upright or reclined.
It’s only when you go to lie-flat mode that the seat’s biggest quirk becomes glaringly obvious…..
…..the space for a passenger’s feet isn’t directly ahead of the passenger – it’s to one side.
In the image above, a passenger’s feet would go in the space just ahead of the cushion.
This is a little strange as it essentially means that you have to sleep at an angle.
I’ve heard a few people say they don’t like the sleeping position this seat offers and, after a quick look at the setup, I was sure I wasn’t going to like it either.
I was wrong.
I sleep on my front with my head to the left and the unusual way the seat is set up gave me plenty of room to get into a sleeping position I liked…but that may only have been because I was in a seat on the right-hand side of the aircraft (a ‘K’ seat).
I’m not sure I’d feel the same way if I was in the “A” seats on the other side of the cabin.
If you sleep on your back you should be ok in just about any seat but the rest of us have to be careful.
If you sleep on your right side I think you’ll prefer the ‘F’ and ‘K’ seats while, if you sleep on your left, the ‘A’ and ‘D’ seats will probably give you most room….but that’s just a theory 🙂
Request: If any readers have tried these seats out please let me know (in the comments) which seat you were in, what position you sleep in and how comfortable (or not) you found the seat – that may help others decide which seats to pick.
There’s definitely a good amount of room in the area where a passenger’s head goes when the seat is in lie-flat mode and that’s in no small part down to the fact that these seats don’t have armrests…at least not traditional armrests.
There are two small flaps on either side of the seat whose purpose may not be immediately obvious….
…but when lowered they act as small but effective armrests.
On the storage front, the seat is neither great nor terrible – it sits somewhere in the middle.
To one side of the seat there’s a table….
…..which is fine for a few small items but it’s not great for larger electronics (especially during turbulence).
Ahead of the seat and under the window there’s a wide magazine rack which I found to be a good place to store my MacBook when I wasn’t using it.
To the right of the IFE screen there’s a small storage cubby which is big enough for phones, chargers, and cabling…but not anything bigger.
And that’s about it.
There’s quite a bit of carry-on storage space at floor level….
…..and that’s just as well as the overhead bins are quite thin….
….and there are no overhead bins in the center section of the aircraft (presumably to enhance the feeling of space in the cabin)
All passengers use the bins over the windows.
The tray table deploys from within the fixed table to one side of the seat….
….and opens up to a very impressive size (that’s a 15″ MacBook on the table).
The seat controls are to one side of the seat and allow you to recline the seat at just about any angle you choose.
Annoyingly, my set of controls were very poor at responding (at one point in the flight I thought they’d broken completely) so I spent far too much time trying to coax my seat into the position I wanted.
Towards the back of the fixed table is where you’ll find the first USB port alongside the headphone input….
….and this makes the fixed table a very convenient place to charge devices.
The main power outlet, the second USB port, and a contactless payment point are all to be found under a flap directly under the window and next to the magazine rack.
Singapore Airlines doesn’t provide amenity kits as you’ll find in the Business Class cabins on most other airlines. Instead, on the A380, slippers, an eye mask and socks are waiting for you at your seat (in the magazine rack) when you board…
…there’s a vanity mirror just above the IFE controller…
…and lavatories (of which the A380 Business Class cabin has 4) offer just about everything else a passenger will need.
As I mentioned a little earlier, this particular A380’s wi-fi was inoperative so I can’t tell you just how good or bad the service is…but you shouldn’t have too much trouble using it (when it works!) if you follow the step-by-step instructions provided.
Disappointingly, Singapore Airlines charges for its wi-fi based on the data used rather than the time the wi-fi is being used for and, as I rarely have any idea how much data I’m going to need (or will be using), I find this a very opaque way in which to charge for wi-fi.
Note: Since I flew this flight Singapore Airlines has announced that it will offer its First Class/Suites passengers free wi-fi.
The Singapore Airlines A380 also offers passengers access to data roaming via their mobile phones…
…but as charges for this service can be extortionate I didn’t try it out.
From a personal entertainment standpoint, Singapore Airlines offers its Business Class passengers nice noise-canceling headphones…
…and, even though these headphones come with a triple-pronged jack,…
…single-jack headphones (of the type most people carry with them) still offer stereo sound.
The IFE screens in the new Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class cabin are fantastic.
They’re true widescreens…
…they offer a great picture quality and, as touchscreens, they work better than any other touchscreen I’ve used onboard with other airlines.
The sensitivity to touch was so perfect the only time I ever really had to use the controller was when I was reclined away from the screen an unable to reach it.
As far as the entertainment on offer goes, there were a lot of complete box sets…
…a good selection of “new releases” …
…and even plenty of choice for kids:
I didn’t investigate all of the IFE offers but what I saw looked good and there was more than enough choice to keep most people content for a significant amount of time.
Service & Dining
Boarding was called at 10:40 and within 10 minutes of getting to my seat I was offered my choice of orange juice or champagne by a smiling flight attendant.
A very good selection of newspapers was brought through the cabin 15 minutes later and, shortly after that, the flight attendants handed out hot towels.
No sooner had the crew handed out the hot towels (and then taken them away) a flight attendant took my post departure drinks order.
It was at this point that there was the first of two service fails.
Approximately 35 minutes after boarding an announcement was made that there would be no wi-fi on this flight…and that’s not impressive on a 13+ flight.
With a morning departure time I was hoping to get quite a bit of work done between London and Singapore so the news of the inoperative wi-fi wasn’t what I wanted to hear
The aircraft doors were closed at approximately 11:25 (35 minutes after boarding had commenced), the flight time was announced at 13 hours and 15 minutes, and we pushed back from the gate.
After 25 minutes of taxiing around Heathrow (and being caught up in standard Heathrow traffic) we were in the air and on our way.
10 minutes after take-off the flight attendants came through the cabin with post-departure beverages and 15 minutes after that the crew served Satay from a trolley:
Drinks were topped up very frequently (you won’t go thirsty in Singapore Airlines Business Class!) and a little over an hour after take-off my table was set for lunch.
I had used Singapore Airlines’ fantastic “book the cook” service to select the main meals on this flight, so the food part of the menu offered on board was partly surplus to my needs…but here it is reproduced for completeness.
And here are the alcoholic drinks that were on offer….
…and here are the non-alcoholic drinks, teas, coffees and juices:
A few minutes after my table was set for lunch a glass of still water was poured, I was given my choice of wine, my starter was served (Ginger coriander cured salmon accompanied by shaved fennel, apple salad, frisee and lemon dressing)
…. and a bread basket was offered.
The salmon was very nice (a lot of flavor) and the bread tasted fresh and was nicely warmed.
After the remnants of my starter had been taken away, my main course was served:
Grilled lamb cutlets marinated in spiced yogurt, bubble and squeak, Greek salad and raita dressing.
The lamb cutlets may have been the best cooked meat I’ve ever had in the air – succulent, tender and a little pink – and the crushed potatoes with cabbage was great too…I can’t remember a time I’ve been served better food on an aircraft.
To add to my happiness with my meal, the Shiraz I had chosen was mildly chilled and perfect – few airlines get red wine right but Singapore Airlines nailed it.
For dessert, the choice was creme brûlée cheesecake or hazelnut ice cream…and I went with the cheesecake.
Unsurprisingly, considering the quality of meat to this point, the cheesecake was very good.
On a lot of airlines that would be about the end of lunch, but not on Singapore Airlines.
Next up, a cheese and fruit trolley came through the cabin…
…with a choice of Blue cheese, Brie and Cheddar.
I chose the blue and the Brie and I passed on the cheddar and fruit.
All very enjoyable and totally in keeping with the standard that had already been set.
Around 2 hours 15 minutes after we had taken off, the last remains of lunch were cleared away and I ordered a delicious Illy single-estate Brazilian coffee from the excellent selection Singapore Airlines offers.
To round things off (as if all that hadn’t been enough!) the coffee was served with a small box of chocolates.
A hot towel service followed, the flight attendants brought around bottles of water….
…the cabin lights were dimmed, and we were left to enjoy a few hours of rest.
Approximately 8 hours later, the cabin lights started to come up and hot towels were brought around.
After being given 30 minutes or so to wake up, the crew came around to take breakfast orders from those who hadn’t used the book the cook service.
Everything was fine with my order, but the second service fail came when Joanna’s book the cook order was nowhere to be seen.
I’m not exactly sure how that happened but Joanna had to “make do” with a choice from the menu.
Shortly after my table was set for breakfast and I was given a choice of orange or apple juice
My breakfast started with a fruit platter…
…which was ok…but he melon and pineapple were on the hard side.
Next up I was given a choice of croissants, breads and Danish pastries (I only needed a single croissant)…
…and that was followed by my book the cook main breakfast course:
Pad Thai noodles with chicken and prawns.
The Pad Thai was flavorful but a little oily so, on the whole, breakfast was a bit of a comedown after the excellent lunch earlier in the flight.
Breakfast service was concluded with another hot towel service 90 minutes before we landed.
- The lack of working wi-fi was annoying but, assuming this isn’t a regular occurrence with Singapore Airlines’ A380s this isn’t a reason to dislike the overall product.
- The fact that Joanna’s book-the-chef breakfast wasn’t noted anywhere was poor. With Joanna this wasn’t an issue as she’s relatively easy to please and was happy choosing off the menu – it would probably have been a different story has this been someone expecting a dietary-specific meal.
- The seat controls weren’t particularly responsive, but I suspect this was an issue with my particular seat rather than the cabin as a whole.
- I never like it when airlines charge for wi-fi by the data used so this is a definite negative aspect of the Singapore Airlines Business Class offering.
- The breakfast was disappointingly average.
- The crew were very friendly and efficient. Most importantly, they knew how to be around when needed without actually hovering and making passengers feel like every move is being watched.
- The seat was very comfortable, and I was surprised that the strange position the bed put me in was a nice way to get some sleep (I suspect not everyone will feel the same way).
- The cabin felt spacious and my individual seat area felt nice and private without being confining or claustrophobic.
- The IFE screen was excellent (I loved the fact that I didn’t have to jab at the screen repeatedly to get it to respond to my commands) and the entertainment content was very good.
- Lunch was very good. As I said in the review, the lamb cutlets I was served may have been the best cooked meat I’ve ever had in the air and the Shiraz I was offered was very good indeed (for a wine served on an airline).
A couple of service failures aside this was a very good Singapore Airlines Business Class experience and it lived up the expectations I had of one of the world’s best airlines.
Having also flown in the airline’s older Business Class cabin on this trip (a review will be coming shortly), I’m happy to say that this new Business Class cabin is a considerable step up from that so, if you haven’t tried this new cabin out yet, it’s one you should look out for.
I agree completely with the discomfort of the business class seat angle. Heathrow/Singapore seat would not recline, same seat, same aircraft 5 weeks later controls would not return to sitting position and due to double knee surgery I had to be lifted from the seat, after which seat was forced. Ordered Book the Cook lobster with no onions SIN/Heathrow, having had it for many years previously, but they said it had onions so produced unacceptable bland fish. Wifi wouldn’t work on my iPad. Crew fiddled with iPad and completely mucked up settings leaving it unusable for 2 weeks.
This was a disaster after travelling many years with Singapore Airlines. to add to this Singapore Airlines have dropped Silk Air to my onward destination. Far preferred original A380 configuration and will not use Singapore Airlines again.
Agree that this seat is terrible and a disaster compared to the previous SQ business class seats which were far more comfortable. Looks like airline is going the budget route and has given up on differentiating itself in the premium segment. I stopped flying all planes that have this seat.
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