Tag Archives: suites

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?

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: FRA-SIN in Suites

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


After a two hour stopover SQ 25 was ready to resume its journey from Frankfurt back to Singapore. The 2nd leg is in fact longer than the 1st, clocking in at about 11.5 hours (versus just under 7 for JFK-FRA), which also explains why you can get a saver Suites ticket for 57,375 miles from FRA-JFK but need to spend 91,375 miles to go from FRA-SIN.

Given that it’s 93,500 miles to go SIN-FRA-JFK, if you wanted to go to FRA it might even make sense to throw in $100 (on a one-way saver) to add a stopover in Frankfurt, after which it’s like having a bonus onwards ticket to New York. I’m sure some people can make that kind of itinerary work .

The load on FRA-SIN looked every bit as full as the load from JFK-FRA. There was the usual scrum at boarding but everything was don with German efficiency and before long I was heading down the jetway to meet a new crew for the 2nd leg.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cabin shots from the JFK-FRA leg had a yellowish tint to them thanks to the cabin lighting (it was night time). No such issues this time- we had the full force of the morning sun blazing into the cabin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made my way back to 1F which was ready for its closeup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Unlike on the JFK-FRA leg, this flight had the personalized little cards in each suite with the name of the person who prepared it. I love small touches like these.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And unlike the JFK-FRA leg, SQ is able to serve alcoholic drinks on the tarmac at FRA (can anyone familiar with customs laws tell me what determines whether or not an airline serves alcohol before takeoff? I imagine they get taxed for every bottle they open on the ground but surely there’s some rule that governs this?).

I finally figured out that I could make better menu shots simply by using the crop feature.

Krug was the drink of choice for FRA-SIN.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A second amenities kit and set of PJs were given to me, although I had already received one on the first leg.

I mentioned in passing to the crew that I was trying to collect the SQ Teddy bears and they gladly obliged by bringing over two.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I took an expansive approach to my seat, as this shot shows.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After takeoff the crew came around to take lunch orders.

As with all SQ lunch services, this one started with:

Singapore Chicken and Lamb Satay

With onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce

Satay is a mainstay of all SQ premium cabin meal services, but I’ve noticed the quality really differs depending on which station you fly from. These were fairly good, although I still think the best satay is catered out of Singapore.

20160917_071605

Warm Crusted Scallop with Olive Cream and Pancetta

Served with tomato confit and celery

Caviar was available again and I’ll be honest, I was tempted. But I had photographed the caviar on the JFK-FRA leg and for the sake of photo variety I wanted to take a photo of something else. The sacrifices I make…

20160917_075258

Tom Yum Gai Soup

Spicy Thai broth with chicken and lemon grass

Not usually a big fan of tom yum but it sounded better than the alternative (pumpkin soup with amaretto, pumpkin and balsamic vinegar). I quite enjoyed this version of it though. It was unfortunately toned down for western palates but still retained enough of heat you could sort of see what they were going for.

20160917_075902

Salad of baby spinach, arugula, frisee, tomato and kalamata olive

With choice of Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil dressing or sundried tomato dressing

I’ve never been a fan of airline salads and this didn’t do anything to change my mind.

20160917_080809

There were several choices of mains but I had ordered lobster thermidor through book the cook.

Seared iberico pork loin with quince puree and jus

Served with savoy cabbage, sous-vide cold red apple wedges and artichoke

Pan grilled fillet of beef with rosemary jus

With buttered broccolini with pinenuts, roma tomato and green olive mash

Gaeng Phed Ped Yaang

Thai style red curry roasted duck, vegetables and steamed rice

Egg Noodles in soup

With seafood, Chinese greens and mushroom

I wish SQ had a lighter lobster option. Perhaps something grilled or steamed, or at least not smothered in cheese the way lobster thermidor is. Even an Asian take on lobster (lobster dumpings, chili crab style lobster…) would be great.

The lobster was fine, once I scraped off most of the cheese. I’m not a fan of saffron rice, so come to think of it I’m not sure why I ordered this. Good photos, though.

20160917_081541

Amaretto Bonet with Almond Ice Cream

And apricot puree

Chocolate Bailey’s Cherry Gateau

With vanilla ice cream

20160917_083029

I just opted for the vanilla ice cream and skipped the cake. It wasn’t good. It was more ice than ice cream. Which suggests the caterer was using a cheap brand with a low butterfat content. You know how when you have premium brand ice cream like Haagen Daz or (to a lesser extent) Ben and Jerry’s you can taste the rich creaminess of the milk? And when you have cheaper ice cream (think Marigold) you can taste ice crystals? This was much closer to the latter.

The dishes were cleared and the bed was made. It was too early to take a nap so I decided to browse some of the IFE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The highlights this month included Jungle Book, a film I dismissed with a meh when it was released in cinemas but warmed up to when I read the reviews.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I thought it was a great film. Idris Elba made a great Shere Khan, and I believe this was the first move to show Scarlett Johansson without makeup. I’m sure in the midst of all the capering there was some vague commentary on colonialism but that might just have been the 5th glass of Krug talking.

There are still a lot of questions coming through about just how private the Suite is and whether or not the blinds are see-through. I have no idea what people are anticipating doing within the confines of the Suite, but as a public service I will post this again-

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can see through the top bit of the blinds. I have to believe this is design rather than oversight.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Similarly, the bottom of the blinds also has the see through mesh. So let me take great pains to emphasize again- keep it PG in there.

I took a nap and awoke about 4 hours from Singapore.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this before but the A380 has to be one of the quietest aircraft cabins I’ve ever been in (perhaps second only to the 787). Perhaps it was because I was seated in the nose section, but it felt entirely different from the experience on a 777 or 330 (cabin noise is not always a bad thing though- I’d rather hear the drone of an aircraft engine than the snoring of my seatmate).

It was time for a snack.

SQ doesn’t have the best snacks menu, and it’s a right shame. Here’s their snack menu

  • Egg noodles (prawns, vegetables, oriental chicken stock)
  • Kway teow (chicken black mushroom, oriental chicken stock)
  • Beehoon noodles (chinese greens, black mushroom and vegetable stock)
  • Ciabatta with cheddar cheese and grilled marinated vegetables
  • Wrap with smoked turkey, leafy salad and guacamole
  • Warm focaccia sandwich with gammon ham and roasted vegetables
  • Assorted nuts, chocolate bar, potato chips, butter cookies, cookies, fresh fruit, cheese

And for comparison, here’s what Etihad has to offer on a long haul flight in First Class

  • The Etihad Steak Sandwich (rocket leaves, turkey rashers, red onion compote, melted cheese, mayonnaise and grain mustard)
  • Beef fillet steak (chive omelette, king oyster mushroom and baked tomato)
  • Selection of Asian snacks (radish cake, prawn wonton, shrimp shumai, tofu dim sum, tahi fish cake, gulian sauce)
  • Made to order sandwiches
  • Breakfast bakery basket
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fresh organic eggs cooked to order
  • Afternoon tea (scones, sweets, finger sandwiches)
  • Fresh fruit, Ice Cream, Potato chips, Fresh baked cookies and madeleines, Swedish crisp breads, Baklava, Cheese

SQ’s offerings are basically sandwiches or noodles. And their noodles are variations on a theme- you get instant noodles or kway teow, and you get chicken stock, mushroom, prawn and vegetables in some permutation or other. Their sandwiches also aren’t freshly made like they are on Etihad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I ended up going for the kway teow with chicken and prawn. If there’s one product flaw with Suites, it’s the inability to dine in bed mode (this is possible in the 77W First and Business class products). But because the bed was just so comfortable I asked the crew if it were possible to bring the portable table they have, which they gladly obliged.

The portable table, as you can see from the shot above, doesn’t have anywhere near the space of the main fold out one but it was more than sufficient for a plate of noodles. Hopefully the next generation of Suites will have a tray table that can be deployed in bed mode because nothing says luxury quite like breakfast in bed.

Speaking of which, breakfast service started about 2 hours before landing.

The meal started with a serving of fresh fruit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I skipped the corn flakes. I don’t know how people can tell me corn flakes are healthy. It’s probably because they’re so bland that people think “something that tastes this bland has to be healthy”. But do a bit of reading and you’ll learn about the rather interesting history of corn flakes

For the mains there were choices of the following

Pork Congee

Singapore style sliced pork and meatballs in rice porridge

Nasi Lemak

Coconut flavored rice with sambal, omelette, marinated chicken and peanuts

Trilogy of seared beef fillet, lamb loin and veal sausage

With cafe de Paris butter, mesclun and potato cake

Fresh eggs

Prepared baked, scrambled or boiled with brie cheese, cherry tomatoes  and mesclun. Choice of bacon or chicken sausage

Lunches and dinners are pretty luxurious in First Class, but can you really glam up breakfast? The most atas option was probably the “trilogy” of beef, lamb and veal and that was probably because of the name.

Congee was the preferred choice for me then. It was good enough, if not a bit of an underwhelming option for First Class.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I asked them to prepare a side of eggs for me which came out really nicely. I wonder how they prepare scrambled eggs in the galley.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before long my 2nd (or 3rd, if you count this trip as two flights) suites experience was drawing to a close. I remember how excited I was when I first reviewed Suites. Although that first time excitement can never really be recaptured, it’s still an amazing product to fly and it’s probably the closest thing you can get to a private jet experience with miles (well, you can do this too but you’d be dumb).

I mentioned before that when SQ launches its updated Suites product (very likely to be in 2017) the size of the Suites cabin will also shrink. Shrink by how much exactly I do not know, but this means that award space will be much harder to get. For the moment it is still possible to book 2x Suite Savers at one go on certain routes, if you get lucky. So if the Suites experience is on your bucket list, no time like the present.

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.

SIA Suites: A brief recap of the SIN-NRT-LAX experience

Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.


For the novice travel hacker,  flying Singapore Airline Suites is sometimes viewed as a crowning achievement, particularly for those of us based in Singapore. It was no different for me – the experience had been on my (frequent flyer) bucket list for quite some time, and having finally racked up enough miles on credit card spend to redeem tickets for it, I’d finally managed to cross it off my list.

Griffles kicks back in the SIA A380 Suites

Here’s a brief recap featuring my main impressions of the experience – I’d flown this route before ever intending to write for the public, so pictures are somewhat sparse. You can probably find meatier reviews with a quick web search – on The MileLion alone, there are Aaron’s and Jeriel’s (Suites, Private Room) experiences!

Procuring the tickets

I’d planned the whole thing back in the dark days when I was slowly racking up miles on a general spend card (Citi PremierMiles) coupled with some accelerated 10x earn on a Citi Rewards card. After a couple of years of accumulation, we were finally able to afford the 2x 91,375 miles required for a one-way trip from Singapore to Los Angeles on Suites!

(We didn’t have enough miles for the return trip, unfortunately.)

I was able to make travel plans more than a year in advance, so I proceeded to make the redemption the old-fashioned way – camping at the computer and sniping the two saver tickets as soon as they were made available, 350 days ahead of departure.

On hindsight, mileage earn could probably have been better optimised with deliberate choice of credit cards, and if you can’t afford to make plans a year in advance, you can try your luck with waitlisting instead.

The Private Room

The premium experience actually starts at the airport, with the separate dedicated check-in area. No biggy – just a more comfortable area where you could take a seat while waiting in line to be checked in, which was done pretty quickly anyway.

The next step was one I’d been anticipating a little more – a trip to the Private Room.

Griffles invited to the Private Room

The Private Room is essentially a lounge within a lounge within a lounge (lounge-ception!) – a dedicated area within SIA’s first class lounge in Changi Airport (itself nestled within the business class lounge). The exclusivity is meant to reward actual SIA flyers (as opposed to those flying first class on airline partners, PPS members, etc.), I believe.

SIA Private Room breakfast menu

With such exclusivity we kind of expected the food to blow us away – unfortunately, we ended up victims of our high expectations. I ordered some Roti Prata (not on the menu) and the wife ordered Egg Benedict. Neither really managed to impress.

Unimpressive breakfast

Given that meals later in the day included items such as foie gras burgers, I’m guessing (at least, hoping) that the food is magically wonderful post-breakfast.

The Suites

After lounging around for a while longer, we boarded the plane and entered our individual private suites. It’s incredibly spacious – with the screen between the adjoining suite down (effectively joining the two), there’s really an incredible amount of space that you feel belongs to you (poorly demonstrated in the panoramic picture below).

Suites panorama

The biggest feature of Suites is probably how the seat converts into a (double) bed – a revolutionary feature when it first came into the market, I believe. Competitors offer equivalents now, but it’s still a treat to enjoy.

SIA Suites double bed

It’s also perhaps not quite as awesome as it sounds – the ‘double bed’ is formed essentially by combining the two single beds side-by-side, and you can still feel a plastic divider between the two mattresses. If you’re flying on your own with an empty suite beside you, the double bed option doesn’t really add very much to personal comfort, even if allowed to make use of it.

The Food

The ironic thing about having all this awesome hardware in Suites is that the delicious food is served course by course and this takes up a lot of time. After dinner on the NRT-LAX leg, there was only about six hours left on the flight and we’d have had to wake just four hours later if we wanted to have breakfast.

We opted to skip breakfast in the end, which wasn’t such a big deal since we had already been very well fed throughout the flight. The food was really good – the journey’s inflight menu is viewable here. I’d opted to Book the Cook beforehand and had beef rendang and lobster thermidor on each of the legs of the flight.

Some highlights (various appetisers, mains and desserts):

The obligatory satay dish

Appetiser

Beef rendang

Lobster thermidor

Dessert

Verdict

All in all, despite my criticism above, I think flying SIA Suites is a great experience – although now that I’ve experienced it, I think I’d probably stick to business class in the future. That’s more than comfortable enough for me – I’d rather spend my miles on more business class trips.

If you’d to cut back on mileage spend while still getting the chance to experience Suites on a long-haul flight, I’d suggest flying Suites one-way and making separate plans for the return journey. Since SIA charges the same amount for two one-way flights as a return journey (sometimes less, in terms of additional surcharges), there’s no real penalty for doing so.

Finally, if you’re the kiasu type and this is a must-do bucket list item, you might want to start planning soon – with the recent news of SIA not renewing their A380 lease (although they’re probably just maintaining the fleet size without growing it, since five new ones are on their way next year) and some murmuring about the unpopularity of the A380, who knows what’s in the future for SIA Suites?

(ML note: That said, there will be a new suites product announced in 2017 so there’s still hope!)

Hitting the Suite spot, or another SQ Suites review

Since discovering the Miles and Points game 3 years ago, Jeriel has now spent a disproportionate amount of time reading the T&Cs of credit cards and frequent flyer programs. His grand plans for round-the-world premium travel has taken a hit since the arrival of his daughter, but he is still determined to fly as far, frequently and luxuriously as possible on Miles and Points. Expect more family-orientated trip reports and travel tips from him!


SIN LHR on Singapore Airlines Suites Class

We made our way to our gate slowly, and arrived about 5 minutes before boarding was due to start. I took the opportunity to take some photos of the beast which was going to carry us to London.

Seeing this never gets old

I must have stood there for a good 3 minutes or so just staring at the plane; specifically at the front few windows of the main deck. You can make out 9 windows at the front arranged 2-2-3-2, for the 4 rows of Suites (row 3 has 3 windows). What secret luxuries lie hidden behind those windows? It was an amazing feeling to know that I was just a few minutes away from finding out.

This flight was obviously the best flight I’ve had in my life. I mean, people actually pay more than double the price of a Business Class ticket to fly this product, so it has to be good right. But was the service perfect? Far from it. I suppose travelling during the June holidays with the Suites cabin 11/12 full contributed to the slight dip in standards. The hard product is undoubtedly amazing though, and I’ve never slept better on a flight. Instead of waxing lyrical, I shall try to be as balanced as possible in this report.

SQ308
Singapore (SIN) – London (LHR)
Date: Friday, 10 June 2016
Dep: 0905hrs
Arr: 1540hrs
Aircraft: Airbus A380-841 (9V-SKS)
Seat: 3C/3D (Suites Class)
Cost: 91,375 Krisflyer Miles (after 15% online disc.) + S$274.20 per person one way

We turned into the dedicated Suites’ air-bridge with a grin on our faces, and walked slowly down so as to savour the feeling of win for as long as possible. The Leading Stewardess (LS), Chief Steward (CS) and the In-Flight Supervisor (IFS) were waiting by the door to the aircraft and smiled at us. By the time we reached around the halfway point the smiles were getting a little too awkward, so the LS walked forward to meet us on the air-bridge, checked our tickets, and escorted us to our seats. We were greeted of course, but not by name, which is apparently supposed to be a thing when flying First Class. On hindsight, I wonder how hard that would have been, seeing as we were the only Chinese couple in the cabin. 😛

We were shown to our seats, and we promptly set about exploring our surroundings. As you can see, the seats were the refurbished, brown leather finish ones. That being said, 9V-SKS is one of the newer A380s in the SQ fleet, so I’m not sure if it ever saw the old, light brown finish. Irrelevant aircraft enthusiast musings. Anyhow, I like the new finish better as I feel it fits much more nicely with the door and table colours.

Seat 3A across the aisle before it was occupied

Lovely rays from the morning sun in seat 3A

The corridor showing the Suites’ doors. They are about 5 feet high

Seat 3A

IFE and light controls immediately to your side on the door. Seat controls (not pictured) on the hand-rest, which only controls back incline and the calf/foot rest

Power plug, headphone jack, 2 USB ports, RCA and LAN cable inputs on the table console to your other side

Noise-cancelling Bose headphones already in one of the many cubby holes. Great improvement over the Business Class Phi-tech ones. iPhone in background sold separately.

Vanity mirror on one side of the TV

The usual in-flight reading material. Note the small strip of see-through material on the window shade.

Small wardrobe with hangers outside your seat for your clothes

Coat hanger on the inside of the door panel. Because a personal coat wardrobe outside your seat is not enough

Whew! That was a lot of photographs for just one seat!

There were a good 4-5 more little cubby holes to put your personal belongings scattered around the suite which I couldn’t be bothered to post pictures of. When your personal area can fit at least 4-6 economy seats, rest assured that space won’t really be an issue. You must have noticed the absence of the overhead bin compartments as well, which adds to the feeling of height and spaciousness. Carry-ons are stowed under the ottoman in front of your seat.

I must really emphasize the space you get in this seat. I’m more than 6 feet tall, and even in SQ International business class my feet get cramped up in the small leg cubby hole to the side (if you’ve flown it before you’d know what I mean). But here, I could barely reach the ottoman with my feet when sitting upright. The ottoman itself is huge and I found it more comfortable to sit there so that I could face my wife for conversation. With both of us in our actual seats it felt like there was a gulf separating us (apart from when the double bed was made of course). I had to stretch just to touch her arm!

Ottoman with Pyjamas and Amenity Kit

We were promptly offered our welcome drink (Krug and Dom Perignon, without hesitation this time) and brought our pyjamas, amenity kit, selection of newspapers and magazines, hot towel, and menu. The stewards and stewardess were scurrying around attending to the 11 of us, so everything was quick, efficient and business-like, no time for the ‘personal touch’. Can’t really blame them as well, seeing the insane number of things they needed to check off the list for each and every passenger.

I amused myself with checking out my fellow revellers in luxury. There was a family of 4 (with 2 young children not more than 6 years) another couple in the double seats in front of us, and another family of 3. Assuming that we were the only ones on Saver level award tickets, SQ must have made a pretty penny (or recovered a significant number of miles from standard/full awards) from this flight! It’s a pity that with the new Suites class product due to be introduced in 2017, we will see a decrease in the number of Suites per aircraft. Although the product is likely to be more competitive with the newest A380 First Class products like the Etihad Apartments (I have my money on a single aisle configuration), award availability will definitely take a hit as well. Better aim to make a redemption soon!

Who needs small talk when you have this?

There was ample time to browse slowly through the menu. One of the biggest first world problems when flying premium with SQ is their Book the Cook service. I mean if you fly premium frequently, tried everything on that menu and have a favourite, then BTC is probably ideal for you. But for the rest of us mere mortals? I think I spent several days agonizing over the many BTC options for First Class/Suites. Even after you’ve made your choice, you wonder if the in-flight options would be better. Well, if you happen to be in a similar conundrum, here’s the current SIN LHR First Class Menu for you.

Breakfast and Lunch menu on SIN LHR Suites

Suffice to say, I was satisfied with our BTC choice of Nasi Briyani and Kyo-Kaiseki for Breakfast service. But more on that later.

Meanwhile, I suddenly found myself in dire need to pee. My glass of Krug must have been refilled a good 3-4 times thus far, even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. However, it was at this exact moment that the aircraft pushed-back. I hesitated for a moment but thought foolishly; ‘nah, no one will notice me anyway’ and decided to slip off to the loo, only to walk into the whole complement of flight crew in the aft galley. Awkward stares ensued.

‘We’re just about to take off Mr. J, so do return to your seat as soon as possible!’ said the LS cheerfully while holding the lavatory door open for me.

With that, I was addressed by name for the first time since boarding the plane. I think I must have been marked as a potentially difficult passenger from then on! 😀

Anyway, I did what I had to do, and even found time to take some photos of the severely uninspiring First Class toilets.

Ferragamo amenities; WC with bench folded down. Who says you can’t take aircraft loo photos without appearing in them!

A stalk of red orchids and some faux wood trimming the only indicators of luxury in an otherwise standard aircraft lav.

It was noticeably bigger than the Business Class toilets; I could manoeuvre around without having to crouch down at any point in time. But when I am touting that as the best feature of a toilet it is evidence that there is really nothing there. Regarding the new Suites product, we already know there aren’t going to be any showers, and I hope I’m wrong but I doubt we’d see any improvement over the current offering.

Anyhow, I returned to my seat in time for take-off. Sipping premium champers while feeling the lumbering beast claw its way into the air, I couldn’t help but let a small smirk spread across my face.

Breakfast service started promptly after seatbelt signs were turned off. As mentioned, I had BTC-ed the Nasi Briyani and my wife went for the Kyo-Kaiseki. However, one simply doesn’t jump to the main course while sitting up at the very front of the plane. We were asked to choose our breakfast beverage, and offered a wide selection of fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereal first.

At my wife’s behest, I simply had to try the famed Jamaica Blue Mountain, just because I could.

Failed attempt at an artsy insta-worthy photo. I obviously don’t do this much.

We declined the fruit and appetisers, and so the mains came soon after.

It’s so comforting and appealing to my obsessive compulsive traits to see each item being laid out in its exact position. I used the butter for my croissant and when serving another course the LS actually replaced the butter to its original position.

Kyo-Kaiseki first course.

Kyo-Kaiseki second course.

According to the description on SQ’s website, Kyo-Kaiseki is a ‘traditional Japanese array of dishes presented in sequence… reflecting and changing with each season’. In other words, the meal changes from season to season and you’d never know what you’d be getting! My wife loved it so much I didn’t even manage to get a bite before it disappeared.

Nasi Briyani

I really wanted to try a local dish (especially Malay, Indian or Peranakan) to see if SQ could replicate the complex flavours of these hawker favourites in the air. Reviews of BTC dishes on internationally-based blogs generally focus on the Western menu, so I had little to go on. It ended up to be a choice between Chicken Nasi Briyani and Nasi Lemak. I had to flip a coin and ended up with the former. I did not regret the decision.

I loved everything about it, from the fragrance and texture of the Basmati rice to the succulent curry chicken thigh and delicious sauce. The only 2 things that reminded me I was not at an Indian eating house was that it wasn’t served on a banana leaf, and that the garnish on the Briyani itself was a little out of place. Otherwise, excellent. Regret not asking for a Milo Dinosaur to top it all off (can SQ even do Milo Dinosaurs??).

It was only about 10am and we had already finished our 3rd full meal of the day, so we slowly went to change into the pyjamas and get ready for some R&R. We requested for the bed to be made as soon as the meal service ended.

Note the hard divider and centre protrusion at the head of the bed.

Of course, it was still mid-morning Singapore time and after that cup of Blue Mountain, there was no way I was going to fall asleep. We settled down for some TV. Krisworld is excellent, as always, and I prepared to catch up on The Big Bang Theory.

It was nice.

It’s difficult to be superlative about lying in bed and watching sitcoms. I’m sure it’s a comforting pastime many of us engage in at home. Lying there next to my wife snuggling under the warm duvets with the doors and shades drawn, it felt exactly like that – home. Never mind the fact that we were cruising at 37,000ft. I think that goes a long way to demonstrate how private and comfortable the set up really is.

There is room for improvement of course. While touted as a double bed, we were really separated by a hard divider throughout the length of the bed which… hindered (‘nuff said).

Anyway, after a couple of hours of laughing too loud because I couldn’t really hear myself with those noise-cancelling Bose headphones on, I decided to try to take a nap. I only slept about 3 hours in the end (it was midday after all), but I must say I slept like a baby. Quite literally.

Those among you who are parents may know that there is a theory explaining why rocking and white-noise help newborns sleep. In the womb, the baby is cushioned by amniotic fluid, and every move the mother makes rocks it gently. It is also continuously surrounded by the hum of blood flowing through maternal blood vessels.

Well, as I curled up in a fetal position, serenaded by the low-pitched whine of the 4 Rolls-Royce Trent engines, and as the plane gently jiggled up and down due to minor turbulence, I slowly but surely drifted off to sleep.

When we woke, it was just about time for the lunch service. I read somewhere before that there is actually a separate stand that can be used to set up the table for a meal service with the bed deployed. I asked the CS if it was possible for us to have our lunch in bed, but all I got in return was a long, awkward pause…

‘Ok you know what, nevermind, I think we will just have the seats back!’

I think I was suffering from Singaporean Economy Class Syndrome. Too paiseh to be an inconvenience to the usually very obliging but overworked stewards/stewardesses in Y! It ended up being the biggest mistake of the flight, as the beds are way more comfortable than the seats, and there were still several hours of flight time left.

I know, I could have asked for the beds to be remade after lunch… But that would just have been a jerk move. If I had paid the full S$15k in cash I might just have done so though…

As the crew were making the bed, my wife and I decided to walk around the rest of the Suites cabin. Most of the other passengers were still asleep. Again, the privacy afforded to the Suite occupant was very apparent. Even at about 186cm tall, I could not peer over the ‘walls’ of the Suite without making significant effort to tiptoe. Reviews always mention the see-through portions of the blinds, but these are relatively small and will require one to intentionally position oneself before you can see anything on the interior of the Suite. Throughout our rest, while the crew did their regular rounds through the cabin, they always walked briskly and we never felt our privacy being intruded.

We ended up chatting with the IFS at the front of the Suites cabin, just by the cockpit door. We talked about the A380, his NSF stint as a dental assistant in the SAF in the 1970s, the various passengers he had encountered in his long career with SQ… I fully agree that it is the informal, personal nature of interactions in a service setting that really sets the best apart. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.

Before long, the seats were ready and we returned for the Lunch service. We started off with the signature Satay canapes, which never fail to impress.

Somehow my only picture of the Satay turned out weird. Wait a minute, why no table cloth!

This was followed by the Chilled Malossol Caviar.

Chilled Malossol Caviar with Melba toast and condiments

At this point, I decided to join my wife in her seat, so you will see the table set for 2.

Creamy Belgium Endive Soup with Mussel and Smoked Haddock; Baby Romaine Lettuce, Lamb Lettuce and Cherry Tomatoes

I’m definitely no caviar connoisseur, so I think ‘tasty’ and ‘interesting’ would be good adjectives to describe the appetiser. The soup was excellent though, with great balance of flavours from the endives to the sweet tang of the mussel to the salty haddock. The salad was salad.

For our lunch choices, my wife had chosen the much-vaunted Grilled Chilean Sea Bass while I went for the Roast Rack of Lamb.

Grilled Chilean Seabass on New England style clam and mussel chowder served with ciabatta crouton.

The seabass was every bit as good as advertised in the many reviews. Fresh, tender fish with just enough QQ. Also, there was an abundant supply of clams and mussels. By abundant, I really mean a lot. It was like a never ending supply. It helps that I love clams and mussels, so I was smitten with this dish.

As we were happily digging into the Seabass, the LS came by slowly with a deliberate grimace on her face. ‘Wait a minute… this can’t be good’ I remember thinking to myself.

‘I’m really sorry Mr. J, but I accidentally served your Book the Cook option to another passenger. They were both lamb dishes and I made a mistake. I’m very sorry but can I offer you another choice of a main course?’

I was actually dumbstruck for a moment. Not so much that I was devastated at not being able to consume my rack of lamb, but more because it hadn’t crossed my mind that confusing 2 main dishes when there was a LS, CS and IFS serving 11 passengers was possible!

Since I had not actually replied, the LS continued with;

‘The other passenger’s BTC option was the Indian style Lamb Shank, but since you already had Nasi Briyani for breakfast, I thought you might want to consider the other options instead. How about the Yu Pian Mi Fen? It’s very good.’

I tried to order the Sous Vide Beef Tenderloin, but they were out of that as well. I was really not at all into Yu Pian Mi Fen, which I usually only take when I’m sick, but the other options didn’t really appeal to me as well. I was left with no choice.

Yu Pian Mi Fen.

To be fair, the YPMF was actually quite good. The soup was tasty with generous servings of large and fresh pieces of fish. It’s just that between the Fish Porridge I had earlier in The Private Room, the Mussel and Haddock soup, and the Chilean Seabass with clams and mussels, it was simply just too much seafood for a 10 hour stretch.

Caramelized Apple Crumble with fresh berries, caramel sauce and vanilla Bourbon ice-cream.

We finished up with the dessert options of the Apple Crumble and Red Bean soup with sesame tang yuan. Throughout dessert, the CS followed by the IFS took turns to come by to apologize for the mix up with the main course. I didn’t make any fuss of the issue verbally, but I guess it wasn’t difficult to tell that I was quite disappointed. I reassured the various crew which came by that it was ok, and left it as that.

The LS who made the mistake seemed rather subdued as she continued to serve our seats though, so in an effort to reduce the awkwardness I decided to ask her for any recommendations she might have for London. With that she perked up immediately and started rattling off the various must-try restaurants and her personal favourites. We also chatted a little on the crew schedules and turn-around times. I thought that broke the ice again quite effectively. Either that, or she’s very good at pretending to be interested in making small talk with passengers.

With that, in a blink of an eye, we were approaching London, with the Captain coming on the PA to make the first of his series of arrival announcements.

All good things must come to an end.

We were issued with express immigration passes for LHR, which proved to be invaluable.

Fast Track Immigration passes.

As we were nearing the last 20 minutes of the flight, the Chief Steward came to me with a S$75 in-flight voucher, as a token of apology for the mistake regarding my BTC option. I was certainly not expecting any compensation, but no one rejects money, so I gladly accepted, once again reassuring the crew that it was ok. My wife was probably much happier than I was though; she promptly started browsing through the KrisShop Magazine to look for a purchase.

You’d think that after a mix up in main courses on the main meal service, that would be the extent of the drama on my maiden SQ Suites experience.

After a fairly uneventful approach and landing, we found the plane slowly rolled to a stop, with no attempt to taxi off the runway. Thereafter, the captain came on the PA again to announce that there had been an issue with the steering control, and we had to wait for a tow-truck to get us off the runway.

All in all, we were stranded on the runway for a good 25 minutes. For the passengers back in Economy, as well as the hundred other passengers who probably subject to being held in a holding pattern over one of the busiest airports in the world, I suppose it must have been a hellish wait. But for me, it was a good 25 minutes more of soaking up the last moments of my first Suites experience.

3A was the only seat empty so I hopped in for some tarmac views.

But eventually, we returned to the terminal, and I had to reluctantly leave…

We were originally scheduled to fly back to Singapore from Paris CDG, also on Suites Class, but a family emergency compelled us to reschedule our flight to several days earlier. Of course, we were unable to find Saver Suite availability at such short notice, but thankfully there were some Business Saver awards open for redemption.

We flew back on another A380, which operates the old (not refurbished) long-haul business class product. Being able to compare Suites and Business Class in a relatively short space of time, I must say Suites is more than well worth the additional 23,400 odd miles. While SQ long-haul business is on par with many other airline’s First Class product, the hard and soft product in Suites is the clear winner by a long shot, even when this flight with all its imperfections was used in comparison.

One thing is for sure, I’d definitely be trying to book myself into this cabin in the near future again!