Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 business class (Singapore-London)

Review: Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 business class (Singapore-London)

Airline:
SQ (Singapore Airlines)
Cabin Class:
Business
Aircraft Type:
Airbus A380-800
Flight:
SQ308
Seat:
25D

service:

meals:

seating:

overall:

What's Hot

  • Fully-flat beds with direct aisle access
  • 30-inch wide soft leather seat
  • 'Book the Cook'

What's Not

  • Seat showing its age; somewhat-confined space for your head and feet

X-Factor

  • Lobster, vintage Champagne in business class

Introduction

Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 is the flagship of the fleet, flying non-stop to London, Frankfurt, Paris and more from Singapore, along with Sydney-Singapore and, seasonally, Melbourne-Singapore.

Although lacking an inflight bar and lounge, SQ's superjumbo is home to some of the widest business class seats to grace our skies – Australian Business Traveller hops aboard and stretches out to experience the hotly-contested and flagship Kangaroo Route, Singapore-style.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Star Alliance. You can also earn points and status credits with Virgin Australia Velocity.
  • Priority check-in: Keep your eyes peeled for the blue carpet and 'business class' signage at the check-in hall.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 40kg, raised to 55kg for Velocity Gold; 60kg for Star Alliance Gold, KrisFlyer Gold and Velocity Platinum; and 80kg for all PPS Club tiers.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags at up to 7kg each, plus one additional item such as a laptop satchel or duty-free goods.
  • Priority security screening: Screening takes place at the gate: we spotted no priority lane, but with no queue we didn't need one.
  • Priority boarding privileges: Business class was called to board with Suites Class and PPS Club members prior to opening the economy lanes.

Lounge

Singapore Airlines' business class travellers can unwind in the business class section of the SilverKris lounge at Changi's Terminal 3.

With showers, Charles Heidsieck Champagne at any hour and calming instrumental music playing in the background, it's a great place to both relax and be productive – just remember to pack your Singapore/UK power adapter as there are no multi-country plugs here.

This lounge is also entirely separate to the adjacent KrisFlyer Gold lounge used by frequent flyers travelling in economy, but can also be accessed by PPS Club members flying with SQ in any class of service.

You'll also find a SilverKris business class lounge in Terminal 2 should your flight depart from there, although SQ's flights to Australia and Europe all use T3.

AusBT review: Singapore Airlines T3 SilverKris business class lounge, Changi Airport

Seat

Singapore Airlines boasts one of the widest business class seats in the industry, measuring a whopping 30 inches when upright, but which is starting to show its age after debuting in October 2007. (To compare, Emirates' A380 business class seats are a mere 18.5 inches wide, while Etihad's Business Studios clock in at 20 inches.)

After flipping the seat into bed mode, however, the usable width becomes somewhat limited... ... and you'll need to lie diagonally in all but the bulkhead seats. At precisely six feet tall, it took me a while to settle in – and although the bed measures at around 193 cm from tip to toe, by nature of design the pointed shape at each end does reduce the usable area by a few centimetres.

I found more comfort in lying on my side than on my back as the seat's mattress is rather firm and has a less-than-subtle join in the middle, but was able to sleep for around seven hours on the overnight journey home from London.

When planning to rest you can signal that you don't wish to be disturbed... ... and when you wake, a cover flips open to reveal a handy mirror to fix your hair or for the ladies to tweak their make-up: reducing the time each passenger spends in the lavatories, which in turn shortens the waiting time for all. Also tucked away are two USB power ports and a multi-country outlet... ... conveniently located directly underneath a pouch for your smartphone or passport wallet. The latest iPhone 6S fits without issue, and thanks to a recess under the cover can be charged without remaining open or 'advertising' that you have valuables in there. You'll find a remote control for the entertainment system hidden underneath your armrest and seat controls directly adjacent... ... while the height of the tray table can be tweaked up or down as needed. We found the tray at an ideal height when the seat was in 'normal' mode, but did appreciate the height adjustment when sitting cross-legged and also when the bed was deployed.

Our other gripes? The padded headrest is adjustable upwards for taller passengers but literally slid back down every time this author leaned forward, and there aren't any personal air vents if you prefer to cruise a little cooler.

Meal

With a 9am departure in Singapore and a touchdown of around 4pm in London, SQ serves breakfast after take-off and then lunch roughly six hours before landing.

Starting out brekky is a simple seasonal fruit plate... ... followed by a choice of raisin bran, yoghurt (fruit or natural) and Bircher museli with berries, which was delightful. For the main course was a choice of dim sum, a European breakfast or a baked crêpe, but to truly indulge we'd strongly recommend taking advantage of Singapore Airlines' Book the Cook service, where you can order almost anything that takes your fancy: We opted for the somewhat spicy Nasi Lemak and weren't disappointed... ... and tried a 'Skyhigh' from SQ's extensive cocktail menu: mixing vodka, orange liqueur, lemon and lemonade for a refreshing finish to the meal. Champagne lovers will also take comfort in the 2007 Taittinger Brut Millésimé: an impressive choice when most other airlines typically reserve vintage bubbles for first class passengers.

An extensive 'delectables' menu fills the gap in between meals with 13 snack and light choices including noodles and sandwiches, such as this with Thai-style chicken and Tom Yum spread... ... or an also-fresh option with roasted pumpkin, feta cheese and sun-dried tomato: Later in the flight, lunch begins with chicken and mutton satay sticks with onion, cucumber and peanut sauce – similar to what you'd find at Singapore's many hawker centres...(We opted for just one stick to save room for mains, but multiples are offered.) ... and a goose liver foie gras which we skipped, again to save room but which our seatmate thoroughly enjoyed.

For that all-important main course, forget the usual "chicken or beef" you'd find on many other airlines: on this flight we were presented with a staggering 46 dishes to choose from – yes, forty-six – via Book the Cook, and opted for SQ's classic lobster thermidor: Sautéed in butter, flambéed in brandy, sprinkled with cheese and served with creamy mushroom sauce, garlic and spicy mustard, buttered asparagus and yellow rice, it's again something we'd expect to find only in first class, but when it's prepared to perfection, it's a real treat for business class passengers.

Less-impressive though is the meal timing itself: being a 13.5 hour flight departing Singapore at 9:05am and reaching London at 3:40pm local time, breakfast is served straight after take-off – which is logical – but the lunch service begins just five hours after breakfast concludes, or roughly 6.5 hours before landing.

That'd be quite normal on the ground, but in reality takes place at what is 9am in London: blurring the lines with an already-significant time zone crossing.

Pushing lunch back by a few hours would not only help with that transition but also allow more time for uninterrupted work or sleep – but as every dish was served without fault and far surpassed our normal expectations for long-haul business class, it's still a five star affair in our view.

Entertainment & Service

KrisWorld, SIA's inflight entertainment system, delivers a great variety of movies and TV shows on a 15.4-inch seatback LCD screen, or you can also connect your iPhone/iPod via the data ports or something more conventional such as a portable DVD player using standard TV RCA (yellow, white and red) connectors. Noise-cancelling headphones are supplied and can hang aside the seat when not in use... ... while inflight Internet and mobile phone connectivity are available at an extra charge.

Service on today's flight was exemplary, and despite business class occupying the entire upper deck of this A380, the cabin is broken up into smaller sections which feel a little more cosy and each have dedicated flight attendants.

That means you'll generally always be served by the same two or three crew members, who in this case took no more than 10 seconds to answer call bells and were so attentive that often two flight attendants would arrive simultaneously to offer assistance.

On one occasion the crew also spotted me perusing the inflight menu and approached to ask if I'd like to order something, yet when I was working on my laptop or settling back to rest, I was left uninterrupted even though I hadn't activated the 'do not disturb' light.

All that's really missing from the experience is an amenity kit and also pyjamas as you'd find in business class on the likes of Qantas or Etihad to London...

Bridging the gap, SQ delivers an eye mask, socks and slippers to your seat and provides other essentials like dental kits, combs, brand-name shaving kits, moisturisers and such in the lavatories.

While once-a-year business class flyers may certainly be disappointed to have no PJs to wear or a kit to take home, as a frequent traveller with literally a drawer full of each, the lobster alone more than makes up for their absence.

Also read: Singapore Airlines SilverKris Melbourne lounge review

Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Singapore Airlines.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

7 comments

  • BeijingBogan

    BeijingBogan

    18 Feb, 2016 05:13 pm

    Nice report Chris - whilst the A380 debuted in october 2007, in actual fact the seats themselves debuted on the 5th of December 2006, with 9V-SWA, a 777-300ER and the route was SIN-CDG on SQ334 (as it was numbered then) :)

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  • eminere

    eminere

    19 Feb, 2016 10:59 am

    An entire upper deck?? Wow!!

    No member give thanks

  • Robert Knowles

    knowlsey

    20 Feb, 2016 05:47 pm

    Not all of the A380's are a full deck of business class, some offer 2-4-2 economy seating, with a 2-2-2 in the last few rows. Which is more appealing for couples as opposed to the standard 3-4-3. 

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  • Julian Chenoweth

    JulianC

    22 Feb, 2016 03:19 pm

    I personally find these seats very uncomfortable in any position other than flat (they are hard and have limited lower back support in the upright positions offered). However the new product is much better and I hope it is rolled out across the fleet soon.

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  • Jonnie

    Jonnie

    22 Feb, 2016 07:35 pm

    Are you really concerned about phone theft in the business class cabin of an airplane? I would imagine most of your fellow biz-mates, who can afford thousands of dollars for the flight, would think it a little ghose to steal a phone worth a few hundred dollars.

     

    And if it was stolen, it's not going anywhere...it's on the plane somewhere. I would just demand the crew perform a search or activate the find phone feature by using a companion's phone or crew supplied device.

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    24 Feb, 2016 05:06 pm

    Hi Jonnie, I wouldn't say I'm overly concerned about it, but you only need to Google 'flight theft' to see that it can and does happen. I play it safe and always lock my bags when sleeping or leaving them unattended on the aircraft - you never know who is on-board and I'd rather take a moment to do that and play it safe... and when things are charging while sleeping I'd rather it be discreet than obvious.

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  • chris p

    Booster

    30 May, 2016 11:25 am

    I think this product really sets the standard. On the question of flight theft I was flying PEK-SYD on Air China and one fo the economey class passengers had around AU $2k lifted duirng the night. He instructed the crew to contact the police and upon landing we were all asked to remian seated whilst the Federal Police interviewed the man and his seat mates. Im not sure where it got to but it was clearly a case of inflight theft.

    One of the issues I have with this particular seat is tha the seat belt used when lying down in the flat bed position can be a little tight / restrictive as it auto retracts. I have had some success with stuffing the small cloth face wipes down between the guide and the inertia reel belt itself meaing I can always ahve the belt fully extended.  

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Guest

20 Jul, 2019 06:04 pm

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