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Following my First Class flight from Frankfurt on Lufthansa’s A380 and an overnight stopover in Singapore, I continued onto Sydney in Singapore Airlines’ new A380 Suites.
With the rumours surrounding the launch of a new Singapore Airlines A380 Suite on the Singapore to Sydney route, I decided to waitlist a Saver Award 11 months in advance for 80,000 (now 85,000) KrisFlyer miles + AU$66 in taxes.
The day Singapore Airlines announced their new A380 products for SQ 221/232, my waitlist cleared, so I quickly jumped online to secure Suite 1A.
Fleet & routes
Singapore Airlines currently has 19 Airbus A380s in its fleet.
The newest aircraft features six First Class Suites and 78 lie-flat Business Class seats occupying the entire upper deck, with 44 seats in Premium Economy and 343 in Economy on the lower deck. The older aircraft will progressively be refitted with the newest products by 2020.
At the time of writing, the newest aircraft are flying between Singapore and Sydney, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Zürich and London.
The cabin & seats
The First Class cabin is configured in a 1-1 layout with six private suites.
Stepping into my suite, I was blown away by the amount of space. It is currently the largest suite in the sky.
I was also genuinely surprised how elegant the cabin and suite were, as the official PR photos make it look like a sterile hospital room.
Taking a seat in the swivel chair also seems a bit strange at first as you are sitting in the middle of the suite with acres of room around you. The chair also surprisingly rocked left-to-right about two centimetres.
Housed under a cover in the left armrest are the controls for the seat and TV position and a small remote for the IFE. On the front edge of the armrest is a headphone socket.
Alongside the window is a detachable tablet which can control all features of the suite including the IFE and lighting. Next to this are three storage small spaces which hold the amenity kit, Bose headphones and a vanity mirror in one of the lids. The lighting alone has six zones to adjust, three of which with three levels of brightness controls.
Beneath this is further storage for a small bag.
Adjacent to the tablet holder is a row of buttons for shortcut lighting themes, crew member calling, TV screen adjustment and window shades.
Under these buttons are a power outlet, headphone socket, RFID card scanner and USB sockets.
On the forward bulkhead, there is a small TV which displays instructions and important information on how to use the suite before take-off and a literature pocket. The tray table lifts up and out from the forward bulkhead, which has an additional power and USB socket facing the seat.
A wardrobe is located just inside the suite door with enough width to store a large cabin bag on the floor.
There are not any individual air vents, however, the openness of the suite means there is excellent airflow and fortunately the cabin was kept cool during my entire flight.
The motorised chair has four pre-set positions: take-off/landing, window-facing, bed and TV/meal service. Oddly, in the TV position, the chair is not positioned square-on to the TV but, rather, angled towards the suite door. This creates the rather uncomfortable scenario of staring directly at your neighbour across the aisle when the suite doors are open.
During the meal service, if you want to get out of the chair, you need to push the table forward, flip over the cover in the left armrest to access the controls, press and hold the bed or window preset buttons. However, doing so makes the armrest cover hit the table, so I had to flip the cover over whilst my finger was still under it to hold the button.
A bed folds down from the wall behind the chair and the crew will make it up with soft linen. I found the bed, linen and pillow to be very comfortable. I just wish I had a longer flight to enjoy a longer sleep.
Two lavatories are located at the front of the aircraft. The larger of the two also has a stool and vanity mirror but lacks a shower.
The suites get progressively larger the further forward you move. Suites 1A and 1F are the largest of the six and can also connect with the neighbour suites in Row 2, so they would be ideal if you were travelling with someone else.
Although it is the largest, 1A is not ideal for window lovers like me, as the swivel chair must be locked in the forward position for take-off and landing, where you cannot see out the window. However, as this was a night flight I did not mind.
Food & drink
Before take-off, I was offered a choice of Dom Perignon 2009 (~AU$250 a bottle on the ground) or Krug 2004 ($450).
After take-off, warm nuts and more champagne are served.
I followed this by enjoying chilled Malossol Caviar with more Krug and vodka, then a double-boiled pork soup with Chinese herbs and dried longan.
Here is a pic of a butter lettuce heart with mixed cress and cherry tomatoes with tomato herb vinaigrette.
Singapore Airlines provides guests with a preview of the menu online before you even step onboard but here it is in paper form:
Reviewing the menu for the flight, I decided to ‘Book the Cook’ instead and ordered the roast rack of lamb.
The lamb was cooked to perfection and was matched beautifully with the Château Cos d’Estournel Saint-Estèphe 2006 ($350 a bottle on the ground).
For dessert, I enjoyed the Belgian chocolate mousse cake with raspberry sorbet, fruit salad and vanilla sauce, which was delicious.
Overall, I was really impressed by the presentation and flavour of all the courses. The crew were also mindful to keep the suite door closed at all times during the meal service and only opened the door for drink refills and to place meals on the table.
Considering there are only two hours between the finish of the full dinner service and commencement of breakfast, an express continental breakfast is available, including cereal, muesli, fruit, yoghurt and pastries. After my five-course dinner, I really was not hungry but for the purpose of this review, I opted for the fresh fruit and muesli, which I enjoyed in bed.
The service could not be faulted. Upon boarding, I was welcomed by Yvonne, who introduced her team including Sandy, Haron and Man. You could tell they were proud of their new aircraft.
Haron demonstrated the secret crew touchscreen outside each suite, where the crew can turn off the lights and IFE screen if a passenger has left them on before falling asleep.
A massive motorised 32-inch HD display sits on the wall in the corner of the suite, which can angled to face your chair or bed.
The system has a solid selection of movies, TV shows, audio books, music tracks and podcasts.
You can control the IFE using either the in-suite tablet or the latest Singapore Airlines smartphone app, which can be linked to your seat number.
Singapore Airlines provides complimentary internet for First Class and Business Class passengers but with only 100 MB for First and 50 MB for Business Class passengers, make sure you turn off all background data usage as you may run through your allowance in no time.
A Lalique amenity kit is supplied which includes a candle (complete with a warning not to light it on the plane), body lotion, lip balm, a glass fish and soap.
Pyjamas, an eye mask and slippers are also provided.
How to redeem points for this flight
Retail fares for the eight-hour flight between Sydney and Singapore start at $4,000 one-way but as mentioned earlier, this flight can be booked using 85,000 KrisFlyer miles (or 95,000 Velocity Points) + AU$66 in taxes.
Arriving at Changi Airport, I utilised the private First Class entrance, including a dedicated immigration channel which exits directly in front of the escalators to the Singapore Airlines lounges.
All Singapore Airlines First Class and Suites passengers can access the Private Room before departure. There were just three other passengers in the lounge at the time, so it definitely lived up to its ‘private’ name.
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Summing up: why choose this flight?
Just under eight hours simply is not long enough to enjoy this amazing product, especially on a red-eye flight. I did not want to miss any of the experience, so after departing at 8:20pm and enjoying a four-hour meal service, it only left for two hours to sleep, as breakfast is served 1½ hours before landing. I felt absolutely exhausted landing into Sydney but it was totally worth staying awake for most of the flight.
Aside from the oddities regarding the swivel chair and the absence of a shower, I was really impressed with the new First Class Suites. Its understated elegance and class-leading space matched with Singapore Airlines excellent soft product made for an excellent First Class experience.