Preview: Singapore Airlines' new Airbus A380 first class suites

Preview: Singapore Airlines' new Airbus A380 first class suites

Following today's launch of Singapore Airlines' all-new A380 first class suites, we took the chance to check out the luxe cribs – taking plenty of photos and notes along the way.

Just to set the scene: here's the official PR photo of the suite, which combines a reclining leather armchair and a seperate bed in a private 5m² cabin.

It's a far cry from the airline's original superjumbo suites, which combined the seat and the bed into a single cramped cosy space.

The trade-off for being more than double the size of those old suites? There are now only half as many, with just six suites flanking a wide centre aisle – a layout pioneered by Etihad's own A380 first class.

This overhead cutaway diagram gives you a better idea of how the suites are laid out.

Each suite has high walls to ensure privacy.

The door slides back to reveal a personal wardrobe with room for your cabin bag, shoes and jacket – there's also a convenient mirror for that last-minute check before disembarking.

Step 'inside' and you're immediately stunned by the sheer sense of space. This isn't just a suite, it's a room. A whole room to yourself.

Indeed, Singapore Airlines' suite designer Jacques Pierrejean (pictured below) told Australian Business Traveller that he conceived the space as a hotel room.

"Our concept was the idea of a passenger who stays at a (luxury) hotel, he should find this type of hotel room on the flight, with a swivelling seat and different functions for day and night."

Starting with that swivelling armchair, then...

... it's an insanely comfortable do-I-really-have-to-get-up-now Poltrona Frau leather armchair, 21 inches wide, which swivels in an approximately 100° arc and tilts back at a 45 degree angle (that's halfway to flat and all the way to "bring me more Champagne").

And the chair is the centrepiece of Singapore Airlines's five-star 'hotel room' above the clouds: whether you're reading or watching TV, dining or working, everything related to that is located within arm's reach of your swivelling seat.

The seat is of course locked into position for taxi, take-off and landing.

Passengers in the row 2 and 3 suites find themselves facing the 32-inch HD monitor, but the cabin configuration requires those in suites 1A and 1F to face the front of the aircraft – away from the bed and wall-mounted monitor – so there's a small secondary screen located in front of them.

Want to relax with a movie? Swivel the chair to face that big-screen telly and then use the in-seat controller to electronically pivot the monitor around to face you.

Time to get down to work? A massive table pops up from the side console, and can sit in portrait-mode to provide plenty of depth plus room to get out of your seat...

... or extend all the way out to become a substantial table for spreading out your work or tucking into the airline's extensive inflight dining.

Dining while the bed is down probably isn't recommended (certainly not when there's the chance to have breakfast in bed at 40,000 feet).

Speaking of work: a concealed panel under the bedside table (pause to reflect on that: a bedside table in an aircraft!) houses AC and high-power USB sockets, and a magnetic jack for the airline-supplied Bose noise-cancelling headphones

You'll also note the NFC card reader, which can be used for credit card payments to sign up to the inflight Internet service and will also take on other roles in the future, we're told, such as duty-free shopping.

Now back to more exciting stuff: here's that bedside table, which holds a tablet controller for the video system (although you can also use your own smartphone ot tablet) and provides another long generous surface, including a canny recess for your cuppa.

A flip-up lid reveals space for the Lalique amenity kit and your own knick-knacks such as jewellery, with a small LED-lit mirror in above the centre compartment.

And below the table: a lined compartment for your laptop bag or a ladies' handbag. "If you have a special bag, an Hermès bag, you don't want to put it on the floor," espouses designer Jacques Pierrejean.

If you're wanting us to backtrack to those amenity kit: done. Singapore Airlines has swapped out Salvatore Ferragamo for French luxury brand Lalique, who now provide men's and women's first class kits...

... along with sleepwear... 

... plus combed cotton sheets and hypoallergenic pillows for the bed.

This brings us to the bed, which slides up from next to the suite wall...

... and folds out in all its 76-inch (193cm) long, 27-inch (69cm) wide glory. It's decidedly less impressive when it's not dressed up with that lovely Lalique bedding.

By way of comparison, the fold-down bed in Etihad Airways' A380 first class suites is slightly longer (80.5 inches, or 205cm) but a smidge narrower at 26 inches (66cm).

Many Etihad first class flyers comment that the bed feels quite skinny, and with only one extra inch in its favour the new Singapore Airlines suite bed could face a similar reception.

Singapore Airlines has made much of the fact that in some of the suites, the dividing wall can be retracted so that couples travelling together – provided they choose the correct suites – can turn that single bed...

... into a romantic imagination-sparking double bed.

Only two pairs of suites are partner-friendly: those are suites 1A/2A and 1F/2F.

Alas, the proposition is not quite as rosy as the airline's PR photos make out.

Here are the beds of mock-up suites 1A and 2A: the dividing wall, while pushed down to the floor, turns the promise of a double bed into the reality of two single beds next to each other.

It seems that the doona cover on the PR photo is a prop and a Singapore Airlines spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller this won't even be carried on flights, describing the photos as a 'concept'.

That's a disappointing bit of smoke and mirrors which takes a little of the gloss off what should be a showstopper feature of this superb first class suite.

David Flynn travelled to Singapore as a guest of Singapore Airlines. 
David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

25 comments

  • langdonfm

    langdonfm

    3 Nov, 2017 01:10 am

    Very impressive.

    @David: do you know if the new amenities (blankets, pyjamas, kits) will be rolled out to all aircraft with First/Suites?
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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Nov, 2017 02:28 am

    Don't know the answer to that one.
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  • Greg@1

    Greg@1

    3 Nov, 2017 02:10 am

    Hmm, so there is a slight problem here, so I'm on the second flight out of Sydney and 1F (solo traveler) and 1A (solo traveler) has taken both seats. And I am left with 2A and 2F which is frustrating because you can't combine into a bed.... and I'm traveling with my baby. What can I do now?
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  • Tom W

    Tom W

    3 Nov, 2017 04:43 pm

    Maybe contact the Suite Support Team and kindly request they contact that passenger to see if they would prefer a combinable suite!
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  • Eli

    Eli

    3 Nov, 2017 07:47 am

    Greg@1 do the obvious, call the airline! If you mean baby, as in child....I'm sure they can re-arrange. If baby as in "partner"...honestly should have discussed this at time of booking. Actually should have just plain thought of this at the time of booking....smh!
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  • Greg@1

    Greg@1

    3 Nov, 2017 12:46 pm

    When we book, it was based on the old A380 configuration and we went for the double bed seat. Then the new suites was introduced and our suites are "reassigned". And yes, I have a toddler on board.
    Called to Singapore Airlines, and they said nothing can be done as 1F was assigned to another guest now.
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  • xtfer

    xtfer

    3 Nov, 2017 03:48 pm

    SIA can be surprisingly inflexible sometimes, but this is still pretty surprising. What do they expect to do with the child?
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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    3 Nov, 2017 09:38 am

    That armchair looks stunningly good.

    Disappointing about no double doona (even though I know I'll never be fortunate enough to experience the product.) I can't believe that over time SQ won't reconsider the situation and load 2 doonas for use where the four suites are combined into 2 double suites. It's not a big change and you know it makes sense.
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  • Adam T

    AT

    3 Nov, 2017 09:40 am

    Absolutely stunning. Wow. What a benchmark for F class! Goodness me how do you honestly compete with this! This is the Rolls Royce of first class.
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  • Kin Ho

    KinHo

    3 Nov, 2017 01:02 pm

    Next wave of upgrade ..... maybe a possibility to set up a hammock.
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  • banker

    banker

    3 Nov, 2017 11:18 am

    Amazing upgrade of first class product. Can't wait to fly it.
    I was wondering David if new cabin eliminated dining with companion which was possible in old cabin.Can you provide info about that?
    BTW I don't think that double bed was a possibility even in old product. The crew always made up 2 beds next to each other.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    3 Nov, 2017 11:45 am

    That's correct, no companion dining facility (unless they sit on the bed!).
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  • kiwiwings

    kiwiwings

    3 Nov, 2017 03:02 pm

    Well I could be coerced!
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  • andrew84

    andrew84

    3 Nov, 2017 03:09 pm

    better coverage than some of the bigger websites/ blogs - well done!
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  • Eli

    Eli

    3 Nov, 2017 03:33 pm

    Greg@1 Hmmm ok, my apologies....now it makes complete sense. I would call again and create a right fuss!! If you expected to be sleeping next to your child, they MUST accommodate that!. Tell them to call the other passengers and explain. ACTUALLY, its their fault if the pnr shows both passengers together (hopefully there is a note regarding the baby and age in the booking) IF so, then obviously you cannot be expected to be separated unless an FA is going to sit outside your childs F Class suite for the entire flight. Surely one of the two passengers in row 1 will be ok with moving.

    I've been in asked to change in F before and its not a big deal.

    Worst worst case. The FA stands outside for the flight or you move to the J class double bed...and they massively compensate you. A few options to explore with them, but you will have to be firm.

    SQ is going to run into this, so they need to sort it out. Good luck!
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  • neilc82

    neilc82

    3 Nov, 2017 03:34 pm

    Card reader to pay for in-flight internet - this I would of thought should be complimentary in 1st.
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  • langdonfm

    langdonfm

    3 Nov, 2017 09:39 pm

    I'd anticipate this would be directed more at the duty free shopping...
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  • anna100

    anna100

    3 Nov, 2017 03:38 pm

    Thanks David, excellent as usual. I'm happy as I can still watch tele in bed. :)
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  • grov

    grov

    3 Nov, 2017 04:05 pm

    Three versions of amenity kit? Have I got that right? Is this a first for an airline?
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  • ozind95

    ozind95

    3 Nov, 2017 06:11 pm

    What??! No Showers !!!
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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    3 Nov, 2017 06:17 pm

    No showers, as we first reported back in 2015.
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  • Russjking

    Russjking

    3 Nov, 2017 08:48 pm

    Perfect! From BNE I'll have the A350, a great plane, then the new A380 overnight to LHR. (First class is only really a benefit when sleeping so will 'rough it' in Business class on day flights).
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  • Robert Follis

    robfol

    3 Nov, 2017 08:56 pm

    Etihad suite bed is too hard for a comfortable sleep. Hopefully this SA one is better.
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  • Doubleplatinum

    Doubleplatinum
    Banned

    5 Nov, 2017 02:20 pm

    As expected Singapore Airlines setting the bar, impressive.
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  • Joe

    Joe

    5 Nov, 2017 02:20 pm

    What? I thought Qantas had the best first class considering they will charge the same prices for their F (read business class standard food and lavs....and now sub standard seats)....oh but that's right, I almost forgot, they are 'enhancin' the F cabin to make it look like it's now revolutionary with another interpretation of boring and bland.
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26 May, 2019 05:33 am

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