Singapore Airlines’ A380 fleet has been one of the notable casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all 19 planes getting grounded in March 2020 and mothballed in a range of locations including the Alice Springs desert.
Singapore Airlines would later announce the retirement of seven A380s in November 2020, bring down the total fleet size to 12. In fact, the most action the A380s saw in the past 20 months came when two aircraft were turned into a stationary dining halls for Restaurant A380.
But for devotees of the whalejet, there’s some exciting news: the A380 lives once more!
The A380 returns from 18 November 2021
From 18 November 2021, Singapore Airlines will run daily A380 operations between Singapore and London Heathrow on SQ322/317. If you’ll recall, the UK will be getting Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) status from 19 October 2021, opening up the prospect of two-way quarantine-free travel for Singapore (and UK) residents.
Singapore Airlines sent out a media release yesterday with the following statement:
With the inclusion of the UK in the VTL arrangements, SIA has seen strong passenger demand for services to and from London towards the year-end holiday season. The A380 has always been a popular choice for our customers, and we look forward to welcoming our customers on board the aircraft once again.
SIA adds that prior to the A380’s return to London, the aircraft will be deployed on an “ad hoc basis on short-haul services for operational requirements.” It means that some of you heading to regional destinations might get a surprise upgrade in the weeks to come. Back in the pre-COVID days I’d be figuring out a way to get on one of these flights, but the lack of quarantine-free options in the region means I’m staying put.
Here’s the schedule that’s been announced for the A380. SQ322 leaves Singapore at 2345 (which means Supper service for Suites, boo) and arrives in London at 0555 the following day, while SQ317 leaves London at 1055 and arrives in Singapore at 0750 the next day.
|18 November 2021- 26 March 2022|
This joins the existing SQ306/305 and SQ308/319 services to/from London, both operated by A350-900 aircraft.
What cabin products will this A380 have?
If you weren’t a fan of the old 2006 Business Class seats on the A380, you needn’t worry- you won’t be seeing them again. This product has been phased out, and the only A380s Singapore Airlines will operate from now on are the ones with the latest 2017 Suites and Business Class seats.
There are a total of 471 seats on this version of the A380, split into:
- 6 Suites
- 78 Business Class
- 44 Premium Economy Class
- 343 Economy Class
The Suites cabin has just six seats in total, four of which can be combined to form two sets of private rooms with double beds. Each suite has a sliding door, customers relax in a plush leather chair upholstered by world-renowned furniture maker Poltrona Frau, and a separate bed folds out of the wall when it’s time to sleep. 32-inch HD TVs, wireless tablets and a personal wardrobe round out the suite. It’s textbook over-the-top Singapore Airlines, even if it’s got some design quirks of its own.
Business Class marks a change in SIA’s design philosophy, insofar as seats now recline to a full-flat position, instead of requiring passengers to get up and flip them. They’re extremely private, and the bulkhead seats even convert into a sort-of double bed (your feet will be kept separate, so no footsie).
For reviews on the new A380 Suites and Business Class products, check out the links below:
- Review: Singapore Airlines new A380 Suites Singapore to Sydney
- Review: Singapore Airlines new A380 Business Class Sydney to Singapore
How much do awards cost?
Here’s how much awards will cost on the Singapore – London route. Be advised that it’s nigh on impossible to find Saver awards for the Suites class cabin; the best I’ve seen is Advantage awards, and even then they’re waitlisted on most dates!
|Redemption Cost from Singapore to London
(Flight on Singapore Air)
222,000 miles for a Suites class award is steep indeed, but if you’re a PPS or Solitaire PPS member you just might be able to find the odd day with an elusive Saver waitlist available. Pray hard.
Will other routes follow?
Singapore Airlines will need at least two A380s to offer daily London service, plus another one for backup in case of mechanical issues. Therefore it stands to reason they’ll reactivate at least three aircraft.
But there could be more, depending on demand. Prior to COVID, the A380 was a common feature on flights to:
- Frankfurt (and on to New York)
If I had to bet, I’d say that Frankfurt might be a good candidate for an A380, especially as Singapore Airlines look to tap demand between Europe and the USA once the latter opens its borders to fully vaccinated travellers, regardless of origin.
If you ever needed proof that SIA’s feeling in an expansive move, the return of the A380s make quite the statement indeed. London was always one of the highest demand destinations on the network, and coupled with the Christmas travel rush, I think there’s a good chance of a fully-loaded bird.
Which other routes do you think will see the A380?