Australian Business Traveller reveals the best seats to pick on on the aircraft you're most likely to encounter on your travels.
This week's picks are for Business Class on Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 -- the original or 'classic' configuration with a small economy section at the rear or the upper deck, not the newer all-business upper deck version.
Airbus A380s are seen on Singapore Airlines' routes between Singapore and Sydney, Melbourne, London, Zurich, Hong Kong and Paris. Singapore had planned to fly the plane to Los Angeles via Tokyo, but the plans have been put on hold following the recent earthquake in Japan.
The newest planes in the SQ fleet have all-business class upper decks, with rows 91-95 added at the back of the plane -- but the best seats for the all-business upper deck version can be found elsewhere.
Back on the type that isn't the all-business upper deck version, Singapore has fitted this part of its A380 fleet with 471 seats, of which 60 are Business Class. Business Class takes up roughly three quarters of the upper deck, while First Class is at the front on the main deck. The rest of the plane is Economy Class.
The Business Class cabin
There are two Business Class cabins, comprising rows 11-16 and 17-27. Both are laid out in 1-2-1 configuration.
(For the uninitated, A seats are to the left of the cabin, then an aisle, the D and F seats in the middle, another aisle, and then K seats on the right.)
The front cabin is more intimate, and being further forward will have less engine noise than the rear cabin -- although the A380 is remarkably quiet in general. It's also further away from potential noise from the Economy Class cabin behind row 27.
The seats themselves are world-class: extra-wide (35 inches wide -- compare that with Qantas' business class at 21 inches) and extra-long, with a large table suitable for spreading out work papers and a laptop. The seat converts into a fully flat bed, although your feet and head end up in a small cubby at the bottom and top of the bed, respectively.
The in-flight entertainment is also impressive, with a 15.4" screen and the excellent KrisWorld on-demand system. Each seat also has its own AC power point for laptops and other electronic devices.
To make the cabin seem more spacious, the middle seats don't have luggage storage bins above them, which gives the cabin an open feeling, but can also let more noise through.
The best seats on the plane
Fortunately, most seats in the cabin are excellent. However, some rows are better than others.
Rows 14-15: take your pick of window single or centre pair seats -- all have aisle access, and are in the smaller forward cabin, further away from the engines and any noise from the economy cabin behind row 27. Avoid the very front and back (11 and 16) if you can: these are more likely to be disturbed when you're trying to get some sleep.
Rows 20-22: in the middle of the rear cabin, these rows are further away from the galley, lavatories and Economy class down the back.
The worst seats on the plane
Row 11: the "window" seats 11A and 11K don't actually have a window, while 11D and 11F are bassinet crib seats, so you're more likely to be moved for an infant. There's also a lavatory ahead of 11A.
Row 27: the very last row in the larger rear cabin, these seats are likely to have more noise from the engines and from the lavatories and Economy class cabin behind.
Row 17: seats 17A and 17K are the seats for bassinet cribs, so you're more likely to be moved to make way for an infant. Also, the galley kitchens are just in front, meaning noise disturbance is more likely.
Row 16: right in front of the galley kitchens, and 16F is also directly opposite the lavatory.
Next week: Club World (Business Class) on British Airways' 747-400.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.