Anurax manages a local IT consultancy and software house. His love is in technology and how it can be implemented to improve daily lives from a social ethically productivity perspective. Flying has always been a passion and being able to view the world at 35,000 feet has always been a magical experience.
Singapore Airlines A380 New Business Class SIN-SYD
Air New Zealand B777-200 Business Class SYD-AKL
HiFly A340-300 Business Class (ex-Emirates First Class) AKL-SYD
Singapore Airlines A380 New Suites SYD-SIN
Virgin Atlantic A330-300 Upper Class LHR-IAD
A big thanks to The MileLion for giving me this opportunity to share one of my recent travels where I got to experience 7 different premium products in one trip spanning over 30,000 miles.
I recently had to fly to Sydney and Auckland for a business meeting and with the recent announcement of the new SQ A380 products this was a great opportunity to try out SIA’s latest first and business class products along with my first experience on a B787 Dreamliner (which never happened – a little on that later). A few days before this trip started I was then informed I had to go to Washington and thus began my 30,000 miles trip from SIN to SYD to AUK to IAD with the following itinerary:
- SIN-SYD SQ 221 – SIA 2017 Business Class
- SYD-AKL NZ110 – NZ Business Premier
- AKL-SYD NZ101 – HiFly Business Class (or Ex-Emirates First Class seat)
- SYD-SIN SQ 232 – SIA 2017 Suites Class
- SIN-LHR SQ322 – SIA 2007 Business Class
- LHR-IAD VS22 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- IAD-LHR VS21 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- LHR-SIN SQ317 – SIA 2007 Suites Class
The trip was paid by my company in J class, for SQ 232 I paid cash for the upgrade as I really wanted to try out the new suites and for SQ 317 I used my miles to upgrade. I’ve been an SIA PPS member for a few years now and have primarily flown SIA so most of my comparison with the Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic products would be with SIA
Additionally, I’d like share a few notes with fellow readers
- Limited photos – I’m not too good at these and generally try to avoid photos with people for privacy reasons so please do forgive and I’ll use my words to describe my experience.
- I do not drink or promote alcohol so there will be no mentioning of any alcohol
- Some items which are fairly common like Changi Airport and Silver Kris Lounge has been extensively covered in the MileLion so I’ll only keep it to a minimum
SQ 221 SIN – SYD
Flight Time: 8hrs
Cabin Class: J
The new 2017 SIA Business class seat that converts into a bed without having to stand up and flip over. What a big change from the last 2 products (2006J and 2013J), so how does this product compare with SQ later products and how does fare on this medium haul journey, do read on.
On the Ground
I started out my journey just after work for this 8:40pm flight and checking in at Changi Terminal 3 was a breeze a usual for Business class passengers and I headed straight for the Silver Kris Lounge (SKL). I so badly wanted a shower after a whole day at work and interestingly enough after to so many visit to SKL this would be my first time taking a shower in any airport.
Without being able to hold comparison with other facilities, I was very pleased with the showers in SKL. Firstly, there were ample showers (I did not have to queue or wait) and I found the shower to be really good, the water was warm and the shampoo and soaps were very nice. What I really liked were to body spray jet feature. It was powerful and felt very therapeutic.
I grabbed a few bites (Laksa my favourite) before I headed to work station area to clear some work before boarding
As per all Changi flights (except Terminal 4), security is at the gates, this flight departed from the Gate A1-A8 common area which has a dedicated security check lane for business and first class passengers, so passing through security was a breeze. Before boarding the new SIA A380 one will noticed the sign on the aero bridge leading to the upper deck with both First and Business Class (the older A380s have the First in the lower deck and Business in the Upper Deck)
In the Cabin and Seat
When entering the new A380, you’ll be introduced with the new décor at the door. The cabin comes with the new LED lightings which does provide a nice calm environment and feel. The new seat is much narrower compared to the 2006 by almost 5 to 6 inches so the seat did feel a bit narrower. The new “hard shell” surrounding the seat did make the seat more private giving it a more enclosed feel, however this made the seat a bit more claustrophobic, initial I was thinking it was the narrow seat that made it tighter but after some thought I reckon it is the new shell. In terms of length, I think SIA may have cut a few inches off as well as my gauge is based on number of windows and this new seat covers 2 windows while the previous seats seem to be the length of 2.5 to 3 windows (personal opinion)
Previously, seat / row 11 was the row to have but with the new seat 11A and 11K are no longer the spacious bulkhead seats where the “cubby hole” is flattened out. Only the middle seats 11D/F are as you can see from the image below where the bedding is – Thats my chubby hole
Image above where the middle seat does not have the chubby hole and is generally flat across.
The vanity mirror
Finally touch screen on the new 18” screen. The image quality was crisp and clear and the touch screen is most definitely a welcome change as it made interactions with the system so intuitive. The previous 2013 J entertainment had to be controlled by the controller which was not intuitive or responsive and was quite cumbersome to say the least so this is improvement is a big plus. They also provided the handheld controller on the side but I did not even bother touching it and only used it to determine the journey length. As usual the KrisWorld Entertainment was pretty good with lots of selections and journey information, only question is why no outside camera views SQ?
I like the new lightings of the cabin and the overhead lighting (Seat) was useful when they dimmed the cabin lights. The white box in the middle is the mirror which I guess some passengers would find useful. The dining table is under the orange working area which is a much better than the previous pull out table which kept popping out (yes I’m complaining about you 2013 J) The seat controls are located beneath the orange work table and have a full suite of controls for your seat. The controls were intuitive and easy to understand. The only problem is that in the sitting position it was all too easy to elbow button them. A few flight attendants did also comment that other passengers kept accidentally pressing / elbowing the call button. (Where is the UX team?)
The new A380 comes with a new Wifi package. Unlike on the A350 and some of the B777-300ER where there is an unlimited package for the entire flight for USD $21 the new package is based on usage. I don’t think it is worth and seriously now SQ has 3 different Wifi packages – a bit confusing and inconsistent.
However, the new system allows you to view flight information via your mobile phone and provides the same information as the info path screen via your mobile phones web browser (sorry no screen shots), while on the A350 and the new B777-300ERs you had to view this information using the SQ mobile app.
I slept for 6 hours – I think that says a lot then again I can sleep on a rock in a rock concert. The new Business class seat comes with the bedding topper which you lay on top of the bed to provide a nice cotton padding to sleep on (the white thingy you see at the bottom left of the seat) so once you slide your seat into bed mode you get up and lay out the bed topper (hmmm wait a minute I thought the whole concept of this seat is so you didn’t have to get up for the bed)
However, I do find the new “bed” shorter when compared to the previous products, I’m 1.86m tall so length is an issue for me and cutting away those centimetres is not appreciated for me. In terms of sleeping comfort, I like hard and firm bedding so this was a good setup for me but for those looking for a soft bedding this may not be so comfortable.
For this flight, I did a Book the Cook and order my one of my favourite – the Assam Fish. This is by far one of the best Assam Fish I’ve ever had and I usually order this on most of my trips, especially when I travel to Western Countries (I really miss Asian food). I find SIA does Peranakan dishes very well, especially the Nasi Lemak
In-Flight Service and Conclusion
The service on this flight was excellent like any flight. The purse did come and greet and all the flight attendants were attentive and helpful. But then again, I’ve never had an issue with SIA in flight service and generally had very good to excellent service (unlike their administrative service which I can say is a complete opposite).
I have to be honest, this is not my favourite SIA Business class product, overall the technology is great and much appreciated, the design is very good but the seat space is smaller and that is the most valuable real estate in the air especially for someone like me who is over 6 ft. The main issue here is that this new seat feels more claustrophobic and in bed mode is shorter. I will admit I like the 2013 J product best. Getting up to flip to bed more is not an issue if it gives me more space and comfort and even with this new product one still has to get up to lay the bedding.