Tried & Tested

Flight review: Singapore Airlines A380-800 business class

31 May 2019 by Tom Otley
Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

Background

Singapore Airlines has been flying the A380 since 2007, and has 19 of them in its fleet, but the oldest five have been returned and “swapped” with five new ones. These new ones have a brand-new business class. The remaining 14 A380s with the old seating products will gradually be retrofitted. This is a review of this new business class. To read a review of the old business class from a few days earlier when I flew from Frankfurt to New York, see…

Flight review: Singapore Airlines A380-800 business class

First impressions

I used the early check-in facility in the new Jewel shopping centre / mall / visitor attraction to drop my bag for my flight on SQ322 from Singapore Changi to London’s Heathrow Airport, a flight of 13 hours and 20 minutes duration. There is a connecting bridge over to Terminal 3, but it’s a walk, so instead I walked over to Terminal 1 and took the Air Train over to Terminal 3. I went through immigration without any delays and then went to the Singapore Airlines business class lounge.

The lounge

Regulars will know that these lounges can get very busy in the late evening, and on a Friday night, which this was, they were particularly busy, to the point where there was almost nowhere to sit. That said, the staff coped well, with several of them coming round and clearing tables. I had some freshly cooked noodles in a soup, and did some work. I then went down to the Gate around 2245. There is another set of security here, and by the time I got through that the flight was boarding.

I was in Group 2, but by that time there wasn’t any in that queue and so I walked straight through, had my documents checked and was on board. I then changed into my pyjamas for the flight – I brought my own, Singapore Airlines doesn’t supply them – and had my clothes hung by a member of staff. I was offered champagne and two different types of juice.

No amenity bags are given out by Singapore Airlines anymore, so you just request what you need, which in my case was ear plugs. The eye masks, socks and slippers are at the seat waiting for you.

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

The seat

This new business class seat is in a 1-2-1 configuration in two cabins, being rows 11-24, 91-95, 96 and 97. My first impressions were favourable, not least since you don’t need to flip the seat to turn it into a bed. I’m glad of this since I find it strange to get to the point of dropping off and then having to stand up and ask someone to do this for me.

That said, I’m not sure how robust the seat is. I was in a centre seat and there was a large bit of the plastic covering in the seat coming away (you can see it propping up the cover in the photo below).

The couple in front were trying without much luck to have the centre divider lowered so they could travel together – it would go down part of the way but not the whole way. Lastly the USB charging socket was faulty, though luckily there are two of these so I could use another.

Power and a bit of the seat falling off

The bedding for the seat is already there (in a bag under the footwell), so you can put the sheet on that covers the seat (it slips over the top of the headrest and so is held in position). There is also a thick duvet / blanket and another pillow to go with the one already on the seat.

The seats are narrower than before (25 inches), but then again, the older Singapore Airline seats were very wide (30 inches). They are in large plastic shells, with the IFE screen in the back of the seat in front able to be controlled either by a handset or by the touchscreen, although unlike on the old model I didn’t feel the heavy hands of the passenger behind me trying to work this.

The colour scheme is a mix of grey and dull orange. The space for your feet when you recline is to one side, so you lie at an angle when using this in a fully-reclined position.

There are lots of small compartments to use for storage. Under the seat in front is a large one where you can keep your laptop bag even for take-off. There is also a side table big enough to put your laptop when it is time to eat or sleep, or you can place it in the side pocket where the magazines and duty free shopping normally live.

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class storage

The charging points are in the back of the seat in front, which is also a better position since they don’t get caught up coming from somewhere around your shoulder as in the old design. The socket for the headphones is still at shoulder height along with an extra USB socket (this was the one that didn’t work).

There are two more compartments in the seat in front, one which is open and the other which had a closeable front to it. The arm rests are flaps that come down on either side of the seat so you can put them up when they are not in use and have more room to sleep.

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class controls

Seat controls are also fairly easy to use, although I found you had to press a button, wait for the panel to buzz and turn blue, and then it would work. The table swivels from beneath the side area once you have pressed the button with the words “push for table.”

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class Side-table

Which is the best seat?

I think they are all pretty good. I’d avoid rows 96 and 97 at the back. Centre seats are pretty private – more so than in the old configuration since the divider goes all the way up. You also don’t have overhead lockers above you in the centre seats, which gives you plenty of headroom and means you aren’t disturbed by people getting out their items above you.

I would have chosen a window seat, but the middle seat was fine and I never saw the passengers in the other middle seat which presumably was his wish and was fine with me as well. I’d avoid the front and back of the galley to avoid noise, but note that you get the most legroom there and I know one of my colleagues (who is taller than me) thinks these are the best seats – see the picture below.

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

The flight

We took off on time and the meal service started around 30 minutes after this with drinks coming round (orders for which had already been taken while we were on the ground).

Before the food came I tried to connect to the wifi but without luck. It just said my ticket didn’t get me the free 30MB that you get in business class. I wasn’t too bothered since when I used it on a previous flight that week I’d run through that amount in about five minutes.

To do this, however, I had turned off airplane mode, and what really annoyed me was that about five minutes later the phone buzzed and I got a text from Vodafone saying I’d hit the daily limit on my data of £40, which meant that the phone had connected to the onboard system and racked up data charges at £7.20 per MB in about 90 seconds. If I hadn’t put that data limit on after a previous argument with Vodafone from charges relating to a Middle East trip, I think I would currently be re-mortgaging my house.

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

I had pre-ordered my food – called Book the Cook – and it was delicious – grilled herb marinated tofu and arugula salada (you can see a photo of it below – it tasted better than my photo can convey.

The menu choice was as follows: Appetiser of marinated prawns with tomato salsa, Braised lamb shoulder confit with green peas, fava beans, carrot and broccolini; Fish ball Kway Teow soup, salad of Orzo Pasta with ceps mushroom-Edam cheese. The dessert was citrus vanilla panna cotta; selection of cheese.

Singapore Airlines Tofu - Book the Cook

The drink choice was similar to previous flights but with enough differences to keep people interested.

Champagne

  • Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve

White

  • 2017 Bouchard Pere & Fils Pouilly-Fuissse, Maconnais, Burgundy
  • 2017-18 Mount Riley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zeland.

Red

  • 2015 Chateau Rahoul, Graves, Bordeaux, or
  • 2015 Chateau Tour Haut Caussan, Medoc, Bordeaux
  • 2017 Robert Oatley Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
  • 2017 Jean Stodden JS Spatburgunder, Ahr, Germany
Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

I wanted to sleep since this was a night flight. The bed reclines easily but you have to also pull out an extra bit from beneath the footrest to complete the bed, something I only realised halfway through the night. The strange thing is that if you want to sleep on your side, and you have a favoured side, then you will have to pick whether you have a seat with the footrest on the left or right, since if it is on the right then you will have to sleep on your left side and vice versa (you have no problems if you sleep on your back, unless you have large feet, which won’t fit easily into the compartment at the foot of the bed).

I’d also say that having moaned about the flipping of the bed, one advantage of that was that the bed side of that seat was softer than these seats, which I found quite hard, especially when sleeping on my wide. But no bed is perfect.

I woke in the night and went forward to get some orange juice – a bottle of water had been left by the side table while I slept, and I was asked if I wanted any food. The choice was wide, including lots of noodle options, a panini or focaccia with smoked salmon. The one thing I wanted was some chocolate, but they didn’t have any, so I had one of those unhealthy nut bars that pretends to be good for you, and then went back to bed and to sleep.

About two and a half hours before landing I could hear things starting to get moving in the cabin and woke up, asked for my clothes, got changed, and then was ready to start with breakfast.

The choice was fruit, bircher muesli, granola, yoghurt, and mains of poached eggs with Moray sauce, pan fried chicken sausages, grilled tomato, sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes; Braised beef brisket with noodles, mushroom, carrot and Chinese greens, or French toast with fresh berries, orange mascarpone and maple syrup.

I had pre-ordered dim sum, which was lovely. I was still a bit sleepy, so forgot to take a picture, so here is one (from the airline) of what the seat looks like when set up for double dining.

Singapore Airlines A380 new business class

Arrival

We arrived slightly behind schedule into Terminal 2 at Heathrow and were off the aircraft at around 0620.

Verdict

This is a great new seat, but after complaining about the flipping mechanism for the older seats, I now realise how hard the seat you sit on is when you sleep on it. The staff were once again, as good as I have ever met on any flight. Singapore Airlines is consistently voted (by our readers) as having the best service, and after over 40 hours flying with them in five days, I can see why.

Fact file

  • Configuration 1-2-1
  • Seat width 25 inches
  • Seat pitch 50 inches (upright); 78 inches (fully flat)
  • Seat recline 180 degrees
  • singaporeairlines.com
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