Tag Archives: a380

SQ to unveil new A380 cabin products on 2 November

After much speculation, we finally have a date: As per AusBT, SQ will unveil its new Suites, business class and economy class seats for its new A380s on 2 November. The media event will be held in Singapore (and The Milelion was not invited, but good thing he is mature and completely not petty).

What’s interesting about the choice of date is that it looks to get the jump on Emirates’ new first class launch at the Dubai Airshow that runs from 12-16 November.

Based on what we’ve seen in the past, the gap between product announcement and product launch has been anything between 60-80 days

So I think it’s safe to say we won’t see these new products until start of Jan at the earliest.

What do we know about the new products?

Say what you will about SQ, but they’ve been playing their cards very close to the chest on this one. Here’s a collection of what we know and don’t know about the new A380 cabin products

  • Suites will be moved to the upper deck and cut from 12 to 6 in a single aisle formation
  • Suites will not feature a shower
  • Sydney will almost certainly be the launch destination for the new A380 products, with SQ221 and 232 likely to be the inaugural flights (neither is selling more than 6 Suites seats from January)
  • Some rejected designs for SQ’s new cabin products can be found here
  • The business class seat introduced on 2 November will be the same as that which appears on the ULR A350s that will restart non stop service to the LAX, New York and a third unnamed destination (Boston? Seattle? Chicago?)

Suites saver award availability on 221 is near impossible to find, but I managed to secure a date in late March. For those of you who are thinking of making a speculative booking, my advice is that you don’t bother messing around with the website checking date by date- just call up KF membership services, tell them you want to fly 221 in suites saver and don’t care what date. They’ll look through the months and feed you possible dates. That’s what I did.

This is all very exciting. Let’s see what SQ has up its sleeve.

SQ’s new A380 cabin products not coming until 2018?

So much for playing A380 roulette. As per AusBT, Singapore Airline’s launch of its new A380 cabin products may be delayed until the start of next year.

With every day that passes I’ve grown more and more skeptical that we’d see a product launch this year. At first I thought they’d announce the products in the run up to NDP to capitalize on the nationalistic fervor, Then I thought they’d at least launch it by the end of 2017 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations. But the fact is, we’ve heard absolutely nothing up to now. Apart from some vague confirmation that the new A380s will launch on the SIN-SYD route, it’s been radio silence on all fronts. We only have one photo of the new A380, and that’s an exterior shot on its ferry flight from Toulouse to Hamburg back in March 2017.

BP_11_New SQ Suites Class_Image 1
Credit: Eurospot (17 March 2017)

I’m currently holding three confirmed Suites award tickets that I booked speculatively a few months ago-

  • SQ221, 1 Dec SIN-SYD
  • SQ231, 2 Dec SIN-SYD
  • SQ308, 2 Dec SIN-LHR (booked when I was trying to hedge between LHR and SYD as launch locations)

The more I think about it, the more I feel time is running out for a product launch this year. All major media outlets (The Milelion notwithstanding) will presumably be invited to the media event, and they haven’t announced anything yet in the way of dates. I’m assuming that one month’s notice is the general standard in the aviation industry for media invites. Based on what’s happened in the past, here’s the gap between product announcement and first flight

So  let’s take the average of 2.5 months minimum for that. This gives us 3.5 months of buffer, meaning that we’re looking at best at a around Christmas/after Christmas launch. At best.

If we haven’t heard anything by the end of the month, I’ll begin moving some of these bookings to Feb/March of next year. If you, like me, hold speculative bookings, you might want to consider your options too.

Confirmed: New SQ A380 suites to be upper deck, single aisle

Little by little we’ve been getting more information on SQ’s new A380 suites product. In this article by AusBT, we learned that Sydney would be the first destination to get the new A380 products. We also learned that SQ was aiming to launch the new products on the 10th anniversary of their first A380 flight.

We also know that the Suites are likely to be on the upper deck, thanks to some eagle-eyed sleuthing (see the spacing of the windows of the upper deck on the RHS photo, which is one of the new A380s undergoing testing) by airplane boffins.

photo: AusBT

It looks like this is now confirmed, as the new A380 seatmap has been uploaded on SQ’s website. Take a look.

Download (PDF, 56KB)

Here’s the Suites section

Boom. Single aisle. Upper deck. 6 seats only. Business class stays 1-2-1 with 76 seats on the upper deck, so I’m guessing all the hoi polloi go downstairs.

I do wonder what this means for aircraft swaps, however. Suppose they replace an existing fully booked A380 flight with this new aircraft. You’re talking 12 suites becoming 6- what happens to the 6 passengers who don’t have seats? Surely not this. 

I’ve been checking the seatmaps for the SIN-SYD route in December and currently don’t see any change- they’re still the old 12 seat suites. So I assume they’ve only uploaded the seatmaps, they haven’t swapped out any inventory on any routes yet.

I’m getting really excited as more and more details about the new Suites cabin come to light. Let’s hope it’s every bit as awesome as it is in my mind.

HT: Someone from the comments section. As in, his/her username is “Someone”

Sydney to be launch destination for new SQ A380 products

I wrote about playing A380 roulette a few months ago, identifying London and Sydney as the most likely routes that SQ would launch its new A380 cabin products on, and making a handful of speculative Suites bookings in the hope that there’d be an aircraft switch.

Image result for a380 suites
pffft. so 2007.

Well, it looks like Sydney will indeed be the launch destination for the new A380 products. As per AusBT (who I’m expecting will invite me as their +1 for their launch event, because I look stunning in an evening gown)-

“Whether we will get there on the same day is still a bit touch and go, because the aircraft is still going through new product fittings,” Singapore Airlines Regional Vice-President for South West Pacific, Mr TK Tan, told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of a dinner in Sydney to celebrate 50 years of the Singaporean flag-carrier flying to Australia.

“If that doesn’t happen it may be there a few weeks later or a few months later, but we are working hard all together to make it happen and for Sydney to be the first point in our network to have the new product.”

Tan hinted that London would be next on the superjumbo’s dance card, “but we are waiting to surprise everyone on where it will go and the plans for the whole A380 fleet.”

The article also mentions that SQ is looking to operate its first new A380 flight on 25 October 2017, 10 years to the day they operated the first A380 commercial flight (which, incidentally, was also to Sydney).

I highly recommend you read the rest of the AusBT coverage on this– they also identified that Suites will be moved the top deck of the A380.

Looks like all there’s left to do is make the announcement and do the product unveiling, which I think we can expect within the next 3 months.

Anyone else going to load up on Sydney seats now?

On the road again to Rio: SQ A380 Business Class review

On the road again to Rio: Introduction
Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-FRA
Lufthansa Premium Economy FRA-GIG
Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort
Star Alliance Lounge Rio
Lufthansa Business Class GIG-FRA
Sheraton Frankurt Airport Hotel
Singapore Airlines Business Class FRA-SIN


I woke up (or rather, jetlag woke me up) bright and early at 7 in the morning at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel. After dawdling around with breakfast and what not, I finally left the hotel at around 930am for an 1140am departure.

Frankurt Airport was quiet this Monday morning, with very short queues and not a lot of foot traffic. There were similarly no queues at any of the SQ check in desks. My bags were tagged to Singapore but curiously, the first boarding pass that printed out was to Rio de Janeiro. I only realised it after I left the counter and had to double back. I can’t really explain why that happened, because the two bookings were on separate PNRs. It was one of those weird moments.

It’s no secret that SQ’s premium economy product has sold very poorly, and the airline has been taking steps to try and monetize the empty seats. They recently started a bidding program that lets you place a bid for an empty PY seat, and they’re selling upgrades at the counter too. I didn’t ask what the prices were.

I think the fundamental problem is how expensive SQ prices its PY product. They’re doing the typical SQ “our product is better than everyone else’s and you should be thankful we let you fly it”, and that strategy hasn’t really been working for them. SQ has an amazing product, but it’s appalling how rigid and inflexible the mindsets of their senior management can be.

I had a choice of lounges to visit post immigration. I decided on the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge, having visited the very underwhelming Lufthansa Senator lounge numerous times before.

Many SQ passengers will go through FRA and never find this lounge, because of the abundance of LH lounge signs near the gate where they disembark during the JFK-SIN layover.

Size wise, it’s definitely smaller than the LH Senator lounge but I find it a lot more quiet and tranquil.

There is plenty of seating in the lounge

. Great views of the tarmac too. I didn’t know Air Canada operates enough flights out of FRA to justify having its own lounge (26 flights a week), but I imagine they earn back the operating costs by charging other Star partners for access.

Hello, what’s that in the background….

It was indeed SQ25, just landed from JFK and ready to do its turn. While the aircraft refueled, so did I.

The Air Canada lounge has a much better selection of food than the Lufthansa Senator lounge in my opinion. It was breakfast time so the breakfast spread was out.

I assembled myself a plate and resumed plane watching.

Boarding began on time and, as you can imagine for an A380 flight, there was a scrum at the gate. It did seem like a lot of people for a Monday morning flight.

SQ has its business class seats on the upper deck of the A380. The version they fly on SQ25 has an all business class upper deck configuration with 86 flatbed seats.

In terms of product design, it’s hard to believe that SQ’s A380s are already closing in on 10 years old. I mean, these seats are much superior to a lot of the current-gen business class products you’ll find on other airlines. And they’re 10 years old! As much as I dislike the policies of SQ management, I have to say that their product design team is light years ahead of the game. Which makes me even more excited to see what the new A380s will have…

In terms of condition, however, the seats are showing their age. Look closely and you’ll start seeing various battle scars, of repeated pressurization and depressurization cycles, of spilled wine and juice, of nicks and scratches from bags, zips and other pointy things.

The poet in me might suggest that every blemish tells a story, but the critic asked whether it was too much to ask for a mid cabin refresh (the type SQ did with their Suites seats where they went from this

Image result for singapore airlines old suites

to this)

Image result for singapore airlines old suites

It’s probably a very different financial proposition to refurbish 12 seats (Suites) per A380 versus 86, however.

The seat is thoughtfully designed with a lot of ports and storage space. You get 2 USB ports, in seat power and something that looks like an Ethernet cable.

You have two small reading lights on your left and right shoulder with various brightness settings

The excellent noise cancelling PhiTek headphones make an appearance.

And each passenger gets eyeshades, slippers and socks. Earplugs are available upon request.

The crew came over to serve welcome drinks. Unlike the fantastic crew we had out of SIN, this crew was very mechanical and stoic. Passengers weren’t addressed by name, no introductions were made and although the crew did everything perfectly fine, it’s quite easy to tell when a crew is “into it”.

No alcohol is served on ground due to customs regulations so I had some OJ.

Take off views were nothing special this frigid Monday morning.

I read through the menu after take off. The menu cover had the same CNY-inspired design as that on SQ326 over to Frankfurt.

The options, however, were non-festive. I think they only do the special CNY treats ex-SIN. Lunch would be served after takeoff with the following options

There was the usual extensive drinks list that formed the bulk of the menu

The crew came around to serve more drinks after takeoff. Was it too early for champagne? I thought, before deciding that no, it was never too early for champagne. Or for poorly taken photos where you can totally see the guy taking it in the reflection.

As is usually the case with SQ lunch services (except the one I took ex-SIN during CNY), the meal started with satay. I’ve been quite surprised at the consistency of the satay regardless of which station I’m flying out of. Of course it doesn’t compare to what you can find back home, but it’s perfectly passable.

I’ve come to realise that SQ’s appetizers tend to be some variation of prawns. I personally like prawns so I don’t have an issue with this. I would imagine those allergic to them would have some issue. Garlic bread was served as well.

Craving Asian food, I opted for the duck curry for the main. It didn’t look too appetizing but was actually pretty good. Biggest downside was the veggies were mush.

The desert cart came around and I had some raspberry ice cream. How I long for simpler flavors. You could just give me vanilla every single time and I’d never complain.

A fruit basket was also brought around.

The loos on the A380 have these glamor style mirror lights. I would have thought that when you’re a mixture of dehydrated and bedhead, bright lighting would be the last thing you want.

The taps on the A380 are automatic though, which should appeal to the germophobes out there (guilty). You know what I really want? Toilets with auto opening doors. Like you wave your hand or something and the door opens. I always cringe when I have to touch the latch after I’m done.

I then flipped the seat into bed mode and passed out. If you want to see photos of the seat in bed mode  (and photos of me with more hair) you can check out this older trip report to San Francisco

I awoke somewhere over Afghanistan with 6 hours left on the flight.

I will keep repeating this until it changes, but SQ does not have a great snack selection. Its hot items are limited to nicely plated and garnished instant noodles. Contrast that with what Etihad has (I know this is comparing F to J, but SQ’s F snack menu isn’t much better)  and tell me that doesn’t look much better than these options.

Anyway, I had what I think was chicken noodles. I couldn’t tell because it appears they forgot to put the chicken garnish on it.

And then did some work, and went back to sleep.

I awoke for breakfast. SQ was doing that “wake everyone up 2.5 hours before landing” thing that I still can’t figure out.

Fruit was the standard starter for everyone. Random: does anyone actually like grapefruit? I suppose there must be such people out there, but I have yet to meet one of them.

I had the pad thai for the main, still in my “i need Asian food so badly I’ll settle for a bad version of it” stage. The dish was awful- it tasted like someone had dumped a whole load of lime juice on it. You couldn’t take more than a few bites without making a sourpuss face.

I think this would overall be one of my more average SQ flights. That said, SQ’s average is still miles ahead of many other airlines’ best.

SQ’s A380 seats have had their time in the sun and I’m glad we’ll be seeing something new this year. I am holding out hope for mini-suites with doors in Business class, which I think is the natural evolution of the product.

Until the next long trip!

 

How to try SQ’s new A380 suites, a.k.a A380 roulette

Singapore Airlines is going to launch its new A380 cabin products in 2017. That much we know. AusBT recently managed to confirm with SQ that the new A380 products will be unveiled “early in the second half of this calendar year”, and that the first new A380 will start flying from October 2017.

Details are scarce about the new product (apart from the fact that it will not feature showers), but given SQ’s history of cabin innovation and the extent to which rivals (especially the ME3) have upped the First Class game, I retain high hopes.

Image result for etihad apartment
Etihad Apartment

I’ve flown SQ suites twice, and each time has been an amazing experience. It goes without saying that I would do unspeakable things to review the new cabin product when it launches (in case anyone from SQ corp comms is reading this). However, those unspeakable things do not include spending upwards of $10,000.

That leaves me with award options. Unfortunately, I anticipate that it will be very difficult redeeming miles for the new Suites product on the A380. This is because

  • The number of Suites is being cut from 12 to no more than 8 (possibly 6 if SQ goes with a single aisle config?). Fewer seats = fewer awards. And it’s not like Suite savers are super easy to find these days…
  • It would not be unlike SQ to restrict saver award redemptions on new cabin products like the tight-fisted Scrooges they are (I hope no one from SQ corp comms is reading this). They did it when the 2006 First and Business class cabin products launched, they did it when Suites launched in 2007. If this new product is truly groundbreaking, it stands to reason that SQ will want to maintain its exclusivity by keeping out the hoi polloi. The only thing that gives me hope? When SQ launched its new cabin products in 2013, there were no restrictions on saver redemptions. Let’s hope they’ve learned their lesson

This leads me to my thesis statement

My best chance to try the new A380 suites product is to bet on which route SQ will introduce the product on, book a suites award ticket now and hope the aircraft gets swapped to a new A380

And that’s exactly what I’ve done. In December. A few times.

Guessing the launch route

SQ currently operates the A380 to the following destinations

  • HKG
  • PEK
  • PVG
  • DEL
  • BOM
  • LHR
  • CDG
  • ZUR
  • JFK via FRA
  • MEL
  • SYD
  • AKL

I am 100% sure that SQ will not launch the new cabin products on a short/medium haul route. When new aircraft types are acquired it’s normal to run them on short haul routes first before deploying them elsewhere so airlines can train as many crew as possible on the new type within a short period. This is why we saw A350s plying routes like CGK, HKG and KUL before being deployed elsewhere. But the A380 is a known entity to SQ pilots and crew. The pilots know the controls, the crew know where the exits are. All that’s different is the cabin product. Therefore there won’t be so much safety and technical training as there will be service training, and that can take place on the ground over in SQ’s training school.  We saw this when SQ launched its 2006 and 2013 cabin products on its 77Ws- they straight away went long haul to LHR. This therefore rules out HKG, PEK, PVG, DEL and BOM.

Besides, there’s no precedent for launching new cabin products on short/medium haul routes. I’ve gone to trace every new cabin product launch since 2000 and here’s what I found (if you like nostalgia, check out my history of SQ’s cabin products article)

2002- Launch of Spacebed: LHR

Image result for space bed singapore airlines

2006- Launch of new business and first class seats: CDG

Image result for singapore airlines business class new

2007- First A380 flight (and launch of Suites product): SYD

Image result for singapore airlines launch suites media

2009- Launch of new regional business class seat: BNE (this doesn’t strictly count as the choice of destinations was limited to those reachable by an A330 aircraft)

Image result for a330 singapore airlines launch business class

2013- Launch of new business and first class: LHR

Image result for singapore airlines new seat launch

2015: Launch of new Premium Economy cabin: SYD

Image result for singapore airlines new seat launch

Based on this, it seems Sydney and London are the two routes that have the highest chance of seeing the new cabin products first. In a way it makes sense- both are large, premium traffic heavy commercial centres, with extensive business traveller media outlets that will cover the launch from their own end.

The rest of the destinations don’t seem to have much going for them. Zurich is too sleepy (sorry, Swiss readers), Paris has lost its shine with visitors staying away, North America almost never gets new cabin products first (ruling out JFK and therefore FRA), Auckland’s A380 is a seasonal route only and Melbourne is, well, Melbourne.

Guessing the right flight

Guessing the route is only half the equation. The other important question is: which flight?

SQ operates two A380 flights to Sydney, SQ221 and SQ231. I ended up booking one ticket on each to hedge my bets.

SQ also operates two A380 flights to London, SQ308 and SQ322. I have a confirmed suites seat on SQ308, but SQ322 didn’t have saver availability. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that if London is indeed the launch route, SQ will pick SQ322 as the first flight.

Why? Think about the optics and logistics of the launch event. SQ308 departs at 9.10am, SQ322 at 11.45pm. Which one lends itself more to a glitzy black tie media event? I can imagine a full dinner and cocktail program with the who’s who of society scarfing down canapes and sipping champagne while eyeing the unwashed masses outside the media area. It is much harder to imagine that amount of glitz and glamor for a 9.10am departure.

It is possible to book an award ticket on SQ322 if you’re willing to pay Standard award rates, but I’m not. Ask me again after the SQ unveiling event and I might change my mind though.

But here’s the other thing- I don’t really care about being on the first route per se. All I need to do is ensure by the time I fly in December, the aircraft operating my flight has the new A380 product. Singapore Airlines is scheduled to receive 5 new A380s. I’ve searched all over the web but haven’t been able to find the exact delivery schedule.

So here’s where I have to guess and play the odds. The more new A380s SQ has in service by December 2017, the greater my odds of at least one of my 3 suites tickets becoming the magic ticket.

Conclusion

Only SQ could create so much anticipation about a product that no one has any concrete details on, much less seen.

As it stands, I now have ~220K of miles and S$810+ of taxes tied up in tickets I may not even use. Am I crazy? Probably. But assuming everything I’ve predicted comes to pass (SQ launches new suites, they’re amazing, they close off award redemptions) then what I’ve done is bought 3 call options for US$45 (if I can’t travel for whatever reason, I’ll just cancel and pay a US$15 fee per ticket)

Of course, it would be highly amusing (on some cosmic level) if I’ve totally misread the launch route tea leaves and the new cabin product ends up launching on some other route.

Like Melbourne.

I need to book a ticket to Melbourne.

The Long Way to New York: JFK-FRA in Suites and a reader giveaway!

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-BKK
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa, BKK
Thai Airways First Class BKK-HND
Getting from HND to NRT
ANA First Class Lounge, NRT
ANA First Class NRT-ORD
United Club ORD
United Economy ORD-EWR
Visiting the US Open
Sheraton New York Times Square
Hilton New York Midtown
Wingtips Lounge JFK & Delta to DC
Exploring Washington DC
Element New York Times Square West
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, JFK
Singapore Airlines Suites JFK-FRA
Lufthansa Senator Lounge FRA
Singapore Airlines Suites FRA-SIN


Does the world really need another Suites trip report? I thought as I left the Virgin Clubhouse and headed over the boarding gate. After all, flying Suites is on the bucket list of any travel blogger worth his or her salt, and a simple Google search will turn them up by the thousands. Heck, you can find more than a few on this site alone.

But it would bug me very much if my Long Way to New York trip report ended on an incomplete note. And so write I would.

Boarding was at Gate A7 and out the window I caught a glimpse of the whalejet that was going to take us back home to Singapore. It’s a right shame the economics of the A380 don’t make sense in the current climate, because this aircraft is a marvel of human engineering. I’m a starry eyed romantic but I’m under no illusions about the ultimate fate of the A380- unless Airbus gets a neo version out with better fuel burn, and unless Emirates keep buying them up like hotcakes, the A380 may within 20-30 years be consigned to the Nevada boneyards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Until then, however, 9V-SKP was fulled up and ready for boarding.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When boarding was called,I bounded down the jetway so I could take photos of the cabin before it filled up (all but two seats were filled in Suites)

I was greeted at the door by the beaming inflight supervisor (but unlike my SIN-CDG flight, was not greeted by name. That’s understandable though, given that on SIN-CDG I was the only Chinese passenger in Suites and it was easy for them to do the math. This time there was a good mix of Singaporeans and Americans in the cabin), who checked my boarding pass, memorized the name instantly and said “This way Mr Wong”, leading me to seat 1F on the starboard side of the aircraft.

Apologies in advance for the tint of the photos, but this is a rather accurate representation of how the cabin looked. I assume the A380 has mood lighting and given that this was a nighttime departure they use the more soothing, gentler lights so as not to disrupt people’s sleep cycles. On the FRA-SIN leg report you’ll be able to see the cabin in its full, sundrenched glory.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Suite 1F awaited in all its leather-clad brilliance. Note the darker leather trim- this is the 2nd generation of Suites products that received a new upholstery. It’s a mid-cycle refresh and needed, given that Suites launched in 2007 and has seen a lot of mileage since then. A brand new Suites product is coming in 2017, but details are sparse. We do know there will be no showers though.  I guess that limits my options of getting naked at 38,000 ft.

But more importantly, SQ’s new A380 configurations will have fewer Suites than before. This means that award availability will be harder to come by. Meaning that if you want to give Suites a try, no time like the present.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

While I was in the midst of photographic bliss the cabin lead materialized at my side with the menu and a bottle of water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And presented me with a variety of magazines. I continued my onboard pretentiousness where literature is concerned and selected The Economist and The New Yorker. It seemed appropriate to sip champagne and read The New Yorker while remarking in my head how good it was that they’d done away with Estate Taxes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And yet, I felt that something was strangely missing. I had all the usual seat photos, but could I show people something new?

I glanced down the aisle to make sure no one was watching. Then stood on my ottoman to take this downwards shot. I was very proud of how discreet I was.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Naturally, the minute I stepped down I realised there was a cabin attendant next to me.

“Oh, just stretching my legs!” I said. Everyone needs to, you know.

I suppose she had seen stranger things done in the Suites cabin because she looked completely nonplussed. I am using the term in its North American usage, which is surprisingly the exact opposite of conventional usage.

She asked me if she could bring a drink before takeoff. I perused the menu

20160916_204240

20160916_204229

20160916_204224

20160916_204309

20160916_204305

20160916_204321

20160916_204248

The list was as impressive as always. Champagne isn’t served on the ground at JFK because of customs restrictions, unfortunately, so draining the SQ wine cellar would have to wait until after takeoff. I just requested a glass of sparkling water.

From my photo taking antics she deduced that I would like a photo taken, and willingly obliged.

7 out of 10 women say that early-onset male pattern baldness is a sign of rampant virility

After she left I went around documenting the rest of the seat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Each seat has a universal (well, it doesn’t fit India plugs) power socket and 2 USB outlets for charging.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can see from the IFE controller that the systems on this aircraft are the older iteration of the Krisflyer IFE.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The seat has an abundance of storage space for every little thing you need. There is no overhead storage, but that’s because it’s grossly unnecessary. The space under your seat, the personal cloak closet, the many many nooks and crannies to put and loose laptops, eyeglasses, dead bodies, you name it.

A Ferragamo amenities kit was brought (and for some reason the lighting in the cabin changed). SQ has very, very basic amenities in its kits, but you can supplement them with loot from the loo.

20160916_204609

And so I did.  SQ’s A380 loos, even in First Class, are barely distinguishable from those in coach. I really think it’s a missed opportunity and hope it’s something they’ll rectify on the new Suites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The amenities drawers were well stocked with goodies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They also had Tuscan Soul aftershave and fragrances in the loo. These are communal and not for individual consumption, so Hao Gong Ming told me to leave them behind.

20160917_073801

After enhancing my amenities kit I tried to duck out of the way to take a photo of the bathroom, failing miserably.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I did, however, manage to perfectly photograph the sink, which is automatic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And the door

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Back to my seat and more goodies had arrived. All this, and we hadn’t even taken off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I already had a few sets of SQ PJs so I kept this set sealed for a giveaway (see the bottom of this article)

They also gave me a blanket. This is a sitting blanket, not a sleeping blanket. Yes, there is a distinction. The sleeping blanket is a much smoother, silk lined duvet. The sitting blanket is perfectly alright, but I’d never swap one for the other.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

SQ has upgraded their inflight headsets in First Class. They’re now using Bose QC25s instead of 15s. It’s like having Nimbus 2001s versus those lousy 2000s! I can’t wait for them to go with the 35s which are wireless. I think that would be a very big breakthrough.

20160917_072705

20160917_072730

The Captain came on the PA and in a very reassuring baritone told us that we would be taxiing imminently and experiencing some limited turbulence along the way.

Service items were cleared from the suite for takeoff. As the aircraft taxied, I examined the menu.

20160916_204034

20160916_204052

20160916_204100

After takeoff my champagne was finally served (I opted for Dom, deciding to take Krug on the FRA-SIN route. Decisions, decisions) along with warmed nuts.

With this bounty before me I switched on Mr Robot. Oh Philip Price, when will you ever learn! The Dark Army cannot be trusted.

20160916_212607

Before long the crew came over to set up the table. The JFK-FRA flight is not particularly long, taking just under 7 hours. For the crew to squeeze in a full dinner service + continental breakfast means that they need to get things done rather sharpish in order to give the passengers about 4-5 hours of sleep.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’ll recall from my SIN-CDG flight that it was a redeye departure, so supper was served instead of a full dinner. In that case, caviar was used more as a garnish than the main dish. This flight was a dinner departure so we had the full caviar treatment along with condiments.

I have no idea how to eat caviar, but I imagine you put it in your mouth and chew. That seemed to work the first time so I continued doing it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A lovely roasted San Marzano tomato soup was served along with garlic bread. I’ve found the standard of SQ’s garlic bread to differ widely depending on which station you fly from. Unfortunately this was one of the poorer ones- the bread was completely hard throughout and impossible to eat without breaking it into a million crumbly pieces.

20160916_215541

20160916_214212

The salad was a forgettable experience. I compressed the leaves together as best I could to make it appear like I ate it. They kept on re-expanding.

20160916_220425

For the main course, I had already ordered from the book the cook menu

U.S. Grilled Prime Beef Fillet

Grilled U.S. Prime Choice beef with asparagus, baby spinach, roasted potato, and served with balsamic onion sauce. Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Alfred Portale.

20160916_221022

I have had very, very bad experiences with airline beef, but kept the faith in the belief that one day I would find the one. What a keeper this man is, ladies.

20160916_221104

Alas my heart was broken again. The beef was dry, tasteless and tough as a boot.

“This is why I don’t love”, I told myself.

I requested the Thai seafood curry and rice be served instead, and it was much better.  Even if all the seafood was clearly frozen and not fresh (you can tell by the texture of the shrimp)

20160916_221838

The desert, “Gotham Black”, sounded gothic but I enjoyed it anyway.

20160916_223224

The catering ex-JFK was good enough, all things considered. The beef was disappointing (but since when has airline beef ever not been disappointing. I challenge you to find an instance) but the Thai green curry seafood more than made up for it. The soup was great, the caviar was a proper serving and there was all the Dom I could handle. 4/5.

After I washed up I asked the crew to make the bed. I think that SQ’s Suites bed is the best in the business, bar none. I’m comparing this to the Lufthansa, ANA, Thai first beds, and none of them come close to the comfort afforded by the one in SQ Suites.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, you do have a great deal of privacy when the Suite doors are closed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When the seat is converted into bed mode, you have this convenient row of switches near your head.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Suites, although enclosed, are not completely private. The blinds have small holes at the top that people can look through, and anyone taller than 1.8m can probably see into the Suite.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I need to say again how ridiculously comfortable the bed is. It gave my bed at home a run for the money. I slept through all the way till landing in FRA, giving the forgettable continental breakfast a miss. There was also a limited snacks menu, but I decided to save that for the much longer FRA-SIN flight (stay tuned).

20160916_204116

The service throughout was top notch. I didn’t really have much opportunities to interact with the crew apart from meal and turndown service, but the service was everything you’d expect in an SQ First Class cabin. Then again, my requests aren’t really anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps if I wanted a lullaby…

We landed in Frankfurt on schedule for our 2 hour layover, bright and early at around 930 in the morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And parked next to a Qatar Airways jet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Singapore Airlines Suites remains an unmatched product in the sky. True, I’ve not tried Etihad’s Apartments (and likely never will, unless I suddenly decide to put truckloads of spend onto a Citibank Premiermiles card so I can transfer miles to Etihad Guest…) but SQ Suites is probably the most “accessible” uberlux product for Singapore based flyers. What that means is that if you really wanted to try the product and didn’t care what route you flew, you could conceivably try the experience for as little as 31,875 miles (SIN-HKG). Yes, 3h 45 mins is probably insufficient for the full experience, but if it’s just a bucket list thing to check off…

Protip: During the Songkran festival SQ uses an A380 to serve the SIN-BKK route. First Saver on this route would be 25,500 miles, which would get you a Suites experience just over 2 hours. Read more about that here, and if you can plan a trip to Bangkok next year around that time…

We alighted the aircraft and met a ground staff who walked us 100m to the Senator Lounge.


Reader Giveaway: 

I’m always open to new ideas for trip reports that people want to read about! As much fun as it is to write about Suites, there are already so many similar reports out there that surely there’s some new ground to be broken.

So what kinds of trip reports do you want to read about?  Take part on our Facebook page by end of day Friday (28th Oct)!

20161025_075143

One winner will get an SQ First Class Ferragamo Amenities kit + a Sleeper Suit.