Singapore Airlines’ five newest Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft sport a completely revamped layout and cabin. Suites, business, premium economy and economy all feature new seat products, while premium economy has been relocated to the lower deck with the economy cabin.
Making its inaugural flight on December 18, the first of these new superjumbos debuted on Singapore Airlines’ Sydney service, with Hong Kong and London both also set to see the new aircraft in the foreseeable future. Business Traveller flew the new A380 in economy class on flight SQ232 on the airline’s Sydney-Singapore route.
Queues were rather lengthy when I arrived at Sydney Airport at 10:10am, about two hours ahead of my scheduled 1215 departure, and it wasn’t until about 30 minutes later that I was in front of a counter. Once this has been completed, however, check-in is swift, but to avoid the long queues I highly suggest checking in online ahead of your flight. Check-in for Singapore Airlines is located at the far end of Terminal 1 in aisle K.
When heading through immigration at Sydney Airport, travellers on non-Australian passports can make use of the automated booths, which greatly speeds up the overall process. Place your passport in the reader then head into the booth and look into the camera, and you’re good to go.
Sydney Airport is something of a warren when you head past immigration and get airside – paths seem to loop around and snake back on themselves, with the route to the Silverkris Lounge being particularly guilty of this. The lounge is situated across from the Air New Zealand lounge, up the escalators in the main atrium located around gates 50 to 60, about five to ten minutes’ walk from the security screening.
If you have lounge access, then I’d highly suggest making use of it if possible. Seating is sparse at Gate 61, from which our flight was departing. Gates 60, 61 and 63 share perhaps 40 seats among them, and with an entire double-decker superjumbo’s load of passengers congregating at our gate alone, the lack of seating is a rather absurd decision on the part of Sydney Airport.
I’d arrived about ten minutes before the scheduled boarding time of 1115 (an hour before departure), and boarding for economy class didn’t get going until about half-past 11.
Singapore Airlines’ new economy seats have clearly been on a weight-loss programme, with the seats visibly much thinner than their predecessors. That said, the airline uses this more for capacity than individual space – seat pitch remains at 32 inches, the same as its predecessor, while capacity has been increased to 343 in the economy cabin.
That said, 32 inches is still a comfortable amount of space and at 6’5 (195cm) I was able to fit without my knees pushing into the seat in front. Width is also reasonable for a ten-across layout (18.5 inches) and the armrests are small enough that they don’t feel as though they’re squeezing you in place. This is particularly useful if, like me, you aren’t in the aisle – I was in 43A, the window seat on the left-hand side. This is about as close to the front of the economy cabin as you can get (rows begin at 41).
Designer Recaro has made a number of alterations to the seat, namely in its headrest, which is adjustable in six ways. This is helpful for travellers whose proportions (such as mine) don’t quite fit with the average and so can do with having a bit more customisability with the seat.
Much like the new business class seat on the A380 (see Business Traveller’s review on the aircraft’s debut flight) the seat has much more in the way of compartments and hidden features. Most visibly is the smartphone-sized pouch below the screen located next to the USB port – this is helpful for holding the phone while it’s charging, though when the cable is attached it doesn’t quite fit in as neatly as one may like. On the less visible side is the light secreted away just above this little alcove and below the screen, a mirror on the underside of the table with a sliding cover, and a near-field communication (NFC) reader, which Singapore Airlines has yet to introduce a specific use for but has noted will likely involve electronic payments for in-flight purchases.
For travellers looking to work while on board, there is perhaps only one downside to the seats and that is the shared power sockets between the seats in front (there are only two per three seats, so claim it quickly if you want to use your laptop).
Which seat to choose?
Each of the three economy class sections has a slightly different layout, and as such there are a few good spots to choose from to get greater legroom, provided you don’t mind being too close to the galley (I found noise from the galley to be minimal). Bulkhead row 41 is only 4 seats with none in front of them, while rows 42 to 44 are just six seats (42A and 42K have no one in front either). This is also the case for 71A and 71K.
Other longer legroom seats include 41B-J, 59A-K, 60D-G, 69D-G, 70B, 70C, 70H, 70J, 71A and 71K. The seat map above can help indicate how the galley positions change the seating configurations in each of the three economy sections.
Before the flight, cabin crew came and handed out hot towels as well as earphones (you can grab these on your way into the plane as well). Take-off was slightly late at 1235, about 20 minutes after the original 1215 departure time, after which crew came around and handed out toiletry bags, nuts and drinks (I went for a red wine, which was pleasant). The bags are simple, made of blue nylon and containing just a toothbrush, toothpaste and socks, so not likely one for the collectors out there.
About an hour later, crew came around with the lunchtime meals, with both options being tempting – braised free range chicken in oyster sauce with vegetables and egg noodles, or beef stroganoff with mushrooms, green beans, carrot and boiled potatoes. I chose the stroganoff and was not disappointed with my choice, it being particularly flavourful without there being much salt.
This was quite different from the dinner options, which had fewer side dishes. Choices were between a chicken penne pasta or pork with noodles, and having tried the pork and also seen the chicken, I’d opt for the chicken next time.
Singapore Airlines’ in-flight entertainment options are still comprehensive, with a large library of films, TV shows and movies – plenty to keep me entertained for the entire duration despite this being my third flight with the airline in a fortnight. The new A380s also have the airline’s latest offering, MyKrisworld. This allows Krisflyer members to log in, and create and save their own playlists for future flights (films watched on previous Singapore Airlines flights can also be resumed from where you left off). Passengers also have the option of connecting their device to the screen.
We landed at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3 at 1653, about 20 minutes later than the scheduled 1735 arrival time. Fortunately, my next flight was located just a few gates down at A13 (we came in at A10), with boarding ready as soon as I reached it, and with my luggage checked through I was able to head straight to the boarding area.
Singapore Airlines has introduced a highly comfortable economy class seat product with its new A380s. While the pitch may not be any different on paper compared to its predecessors, the seats feel spacious and the smart addition of new – sometimes hidden – features makes it easy to maximise the space you have without it becoming crowded.
- Configuration 3-4-3
- Seat width 18.5 inches
- Seat pitch 32 inches
- Seat recline 6 inches
- Departure 1215
- Flight duration 7 hours 20 minutes