Singapore Airlines to reveal new A380 first class suites mid-2017

Singapore Airlines to reveal new A380 first class suites mid-2017

  • SQ's new Airbus A380s will have fewer (but much larger) first class suites
  • No inflight shower, says Singapore Airlines exec
  • Revised layout sees first class relocated to upper deck
  • New A380 fleet to take wing in October 2017

EXCLUSIVE | Singapore Airlines will reveal its all-new Airbus A380 first class suites mid-year, ahead of their debut on a fresh superjumbo fleet arriving from late 2017.

The Star Alliance member hopes that its launch of the luxe suites – slated for a massive media event to be held in Singapore – will make the airline more appealing to first class flyers in face of competition from Emirates and Etihad Airways.

Emirates also plans to unveil new first class suites for the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300ER by the end of 2017, with CEO Tim Clark describing the suites as "fully enclosed rooms with all the touches and amenities that you’d expect in hotel or a private bedroom on a luxury yacht, room service and so on."

Read: Emirates to launch new luxury first class A380 suites

Travellers should be able to fly in Singapore Airlines' cosy upscale cocoons from October when it's expected the airline will take delivery of a new A380 flown in from Airbus HQ at Toulouse to mark the 10th anniversary of the superjumbo, for which the Singaporean flag-carrier was launch customer.

Four more factory-fresh A380s will follow as Singapore Airlines works to renew its fleet.

(The airline's initial five A380s were obtained from Airbus under a 10-year lease and Singapore Airlines will be returning the first of those to Airbus in October, although the fate of the remaining four has yet to be revealed.)

A spokesman for Singapore Airlines confirmed to Australian Business Traveller "we are working towards an unveil of the new cabin products at an event in Singapore early in the second half of this calendar year."

"The first aircraft from the next batch of five A380s is due for delivery during the second half of the year, although we are not able to provide a specific date at this point."

Bigger suites but no showers

While the design of the new suites remains top secret, Singapore Airlines executives has let a few details slip.

Airline CEO Goh Choon Phong Goh has confirmed there will be fewer suites on the new flagship A380s compared to the 12 private suites of the current fleet – a move in line with a general worldwide softening of the first class travel market.

The new superjumbos are tipped to have between six and eight suites, although these will be substantially larger than today's cribs.

(A side-effect of rebalancing suite supply against commercial demand is that it will become harder to claim a suite using frequent flyer miles.)

And unlike Emirates and Etihad, SQ says its new A380 fleet won't have an inflight shower.

"Definitely no showers!" Mr Tan Pee Teck, the airline's Senior Vice President for Product & Services, has previously told Australian Business Traveller. "It’s a frill that we probably don’t need."

"A few customers say it’s nice to have," Tan admitted, "but it’s not a compelling proposition in terms of the decision to choose an airline – I don’t think many would choose based on a shower... it's more like something that just comes along with it."

Upstairs, downstairs...

There's also speculation that Singapore Airlines will relocate the first class cabin from the A380's main deck to the upper deck  – a location which Airbus itself has been championing among superjumbo customers.

This has now been confirmed: see Singapore Airlines moves new Airbus A380 suites to upper deck

Many of the first airlines to fly the A380 chose to position their first class cabin on the lower level, partly out of concern that the pointy end of the upper deck would be too noisy (based on airlines' experiences with the Boeing 747) and also because direct boarding of passengers onto the upper deck wasn’t available at many airports during the A380’s early days.

However, Airbus maintains the narrower upper deck is better suited to more efficient use of space for first class suites while fitting more economy seats onto the wider main deck.

This would allow Singapore Airlines to create a 'premium' upper deck dedicated to first and business class, with premium economy at the nose of the lower deck and economy behind that.

It's also understood that Singapore Airlines has investigated adopting a wide single aisle with suites located at either side, as introduced by Etihad Airways for its Airbus A380 Apartments, rather than the conventional twin-aisle layout.

Also read:

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

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.
 

6 Comments

  • jubbing

    jubbing

    9 Jan, 2017 11:15 am

    This is great, Singapore Airlines have a good First Class product - and they really started the trend of 'suites' - but other airlines have surpassed this, and it was due for a refresh. 

    As you pointed out though - flying with miles is going to become incredibly difficult now, which is a shame. Though even with 9 seats its not impossible to book Etihad's First class apartment - so I would hope the same for Singapore Air going forward. 
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  • moa999

    moa999

    9 Jan, 2017 11:40 am

    The comments about moving First to the upper deck are interesting. 

    One wonders whether QF might do the same thing with the likely refurb of First and Business over coming years
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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    9 Jan, 2017 04:06 pm

    I'm not sure QF could do this without radically changing their seat design. In addition, Qantas have stated they get good loads in their First cabins. Plus, QF A380s have more than enough capacity as it is (for Qantas anyway).

    Qantas will probably want to avoid the additional costs that would come with the seat redesign and substantial rearrangement that shifting to the upper deck would require. It would be much easier for QF to keep the current layout, refresh F, replace Skybed II with the Business Suite, and refresh PE and E with the new Dreamliner seats. Simple, and no capacity reduction either.
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  • moa999

    moa999

    9 Jan, 2017 06:25 pm

    Have already been suggestions QF is looking at a new F product - and moving it upstairs would work better for DXB (due to lounge positioning) and perhaps enable a central bar.

    But I agree the cost of a more substantial reconfig counts against it.
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  • Mavers

    Mavers

    9 Jan, 2017 02:56 pm

    Moving the premium cabin to the top deck could open up the possibility of an in flight bar/lounge area.
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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    9 Jan, 2017 03:15 pm

    First going up to the upper deck and perhaps adoption of an etihad-style layout would be pretty cool. That could fit 10 suites with two bathrooms and possibly a lounge/bar area. 
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  • Ricardo

    Ricardo

    11 Jan, 2017 09:40 am

    The biggest thing I'll miss if they move First upstairs? Your own air bridge.

    It's one of the things that gets you in the right frame of mind for SQ Suites is having an air bridge exclusively for you with the purser and at least one other senior cabin staff waiting to greet you by name.

    All of those A380's with F upstairs, share the gangplank with either business or economy; and the crew at the door, no matter how good, are there to direct 'traffic'.

    I've tried QF (once) and Emirates a few times (A380 - F) but , for my personal preference, neither hard products are a patch on SQ.

    My wife and I usually travel together, on SQ we can talk, eat, watch movies and sleep together - can't do that on QF or EK
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Kentown45

    Kentown45

    30 Mar, 2017 07:49 am

    Could it be that First Class is moving Upstairs because the Majority of Economy Downstairs is going 11 abreast?

    http://cdn.aeroanalysis.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Airbus-A380-11.jpg
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Guest

20 Oct, 2017 01:46 am

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