In flight: Singapore Suites on an inaugural flight


Flying up front is always a good thing. A flat bed is even better. Getting a double bed comfortable enough for two people to lay next to each other and still sleep well is simply ridiculous. Fortunately, Singapore Air offers such a setup on their A380 planes in "Suites" class and I finally got to experience it. As an added bonus the flight happened to be an inaugural of sorts – the first A380 from San Francisco to Asia (Hong Kong in this case) so we we treated to a few extra surprises as well.

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Pre-flight

Believe it or not, the Singapore SilverKris Lounge at SFO wasn’t our lounge of choice for this particular flight. It is nice enough and there is the advantage of hot food available there but this time, thanks to our first class tickets, we chose to spend the time prior to the flight in United Airlines’ GlobalFirst lounge instead. More space, similar booze and closer to the gate were the main reasons we went with the GFL. The fact that the SKL is so crowded with the larger plane that they block even their own elites from accessing it made me quite comfortable in that decision. We were one of only two parties in the GFL and quite enjoyed the time there.

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In addition to the lounge time there was a bit of a party set up in honor of the inaugural flight. Singapore Air had a number of sales/marketing executives at the gate and a buffet spread set up with small sandwiches and desserts on offer. I also had the opportunity to speak with many of the execs there and talk about the plane, the route and their excitement in having the larger aircraft running the route. They did quite a nice job with that aspect of things, though obviously don’t expect that every time. It was quite entertaining when they all called my wife by name as we boarded, even though they hadn’t met her, only because of our prior conversations that evening.

Finally, as we boarded the flight we were given small gift boxes. As I settled in to my suite I opened it up to see what they were offering to commemorate the inaugural. The red and gold leather luggage tag is awesome. I’m a big fan!

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Seat

Speaking of settling in to the seat, I have to say that this is probably the most personal space I’ve ever had on a plane, including Emirates‘ and Thai Airway’s A380 first class products. Simply ridiculous, really. There are extra pillows so you don’t feel too lost in the middle of the seat without an armrest close enough to lean on. It is that wide. No overhead bins, which can be a bit awkward, but my bags actually fit completely in the space under the ottoman in my suite. Really ridiculous amounts of room.

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When we had finished dinner and were ready to sleep the flight attendants set our suites into bed mode. The double bed thing really is as incredible as the marketing makes it seem. The seat folds forward making the bed a bit high to climb into for sleeping but incredibly comfortable. And all those pillows, too.

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One area where Singapore didn’t really splurge on their first class product is with the lavatories. Part of that is a space consideration given that they are on the lover level, not upstairs like Thai or Emirates has. It definitely reduces some of the fun which can be had. Not that they are bad, really, but just not particularly spacious or special in any way. Still all the usual amenities one would expect to find in the lav, but not incredibly special.

Overall I think that this was the nicest A380 F seat of the three I’ve now experienced. It isn’t trimmed in gold and wood veneer like the Emirates Suite but it is more spacious than what I remember from Emirates and much more subtly luxurious. Less flash, more substance.

Meals

I really don’t get the appeal of lobster covered in a cheese sauce. I love lobster and I love cheese sauce in certain circumstances but ne’er the two shall meet in my view. Alas, I was only choosing one of the two main meals we ordered and I lost on the Lobster Thermidor vote for the second meal. After tasting it I still think I’m right. The food was very, very good on board. Neither of us loved the lobster but it was exactly as advertised.

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There were snacks available mid-flight in the galley and breakfast was quite good, too. I love when an airline can serve fresh eggs in-flight.

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Overall the food was very, very good. Not the absolute best I’ve had on board and not quite to the same level of selection as Emirates offers, but still quite tasty and filling.

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The screen is huge. It has to be given how far it is from the seat to the screen, but it is huge.

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I’m also a fan of the content selection available. A good mix of new stuff (Pitch Perfect was a lot of fun) and classics available, plenty to keep me occupied throughout the flight when I wasn’t sleeping.

The plane was supposed to have the OnAir internet connectivity available, too. The hotspot was broadcasting but it wasn’t actually able to connect out to the internet. Eventually I asked the flight attendant about the situation and she profusely apologized for the service not being available. A bit disappointing as I was hoping to give it a try; I guess I’ll just have to make another trip with them one of these days.

Service

Singapore Air is known for their service levels. My last flight with them had incredible flight attendants so I had pretty high expectations for this flight. I was not left wanting. Parts of the incredible service were a bit over-the-top. I’m not so sure that I needed four different people to escort me from the gate area to my seat, each one handing me off to another while calling me by name. At the same time, pretty much from the moment we entered the gate area until we left the plane everyone we interacted with was ridiculously good. Much like the seats it wasn’t flashy or in-your-face but subtly exquisite. I can see why they have the reputation they do.

Overall

I’ve now taken two flights on Singapore Air, one on the A345 from Newark to Singapore and this one. Both times the service was impeccable and the flight was very, very nice. As a customer on a budget who really will only ever up in those cabins on award redemptions I’m not entirely sure that they are worth going that much out of the way for – other premium cabin offerings I’ve been in are quite nice, too – but the overall experience still is rather special. Probably moreso since I know I won’t be doing it again, but still…

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and .

7 Comments

  1. Incredible! Thanks for sharing. Excuse me as I proceed to Dream about snagging a “Suite” seat:)

  2. I think this may be the best designed airplane experience out there – I was amazed at all the thought that went into the design and all the seat’s modes and pillows. Like the way the center divider lowers when it turns into a bed, and the back of the seat becomes a nightstand. How solid the table is. It really is a comfortable seat for dining, working, reading, movie watching – no compromises – and it is a great bed.

    We chose to do couples dining which was very cool.

    Just like you, we don’t know when we’ll ever get to do this again. And it was very cool to have the experience.

    @Frequent Miler – SQ generally doesn’t make more than a single seat available at the saver award level – and that only to their own SilverKris members – so that makes it impossible for a couple to share. I haven’t priced the paid fares, but I have the feeling it’s if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

  3. The SQ business / first class product is for sure pretty good. The economy product isn’t too shabby either. One thing about the SQ plane management technique that I didn’t particularly appreciate after a 10 hour flight while sitting in economy, was the flight attendants drew the curtains after landing. While the curtains were drawn, 10 minutes were spent opening the doors, emptying the business and first cabins and then they tidied up the cabins before economy passengers were permitted to deplane. Sure, it’s only 10 minutes, but on a tight connection – every minute counts. Have had this experience multiple times – my only complaint about SQ.

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