While all eyes are currently on Singapore Airlines’ A350 ULR service between Newark and Singapore, currently the world’s longest flight at over 18 hours, we take an exclusive behind the scenes look at one of the airlines’ latest A380s while it’s on the ground in Heathrow. You can see our other article on the aircraft here.
Unlike the Airbus A350, the A380 features a first class cabin, and the new A380s have moved the first class cabin to the top deck, featuring a single aisle cabin, similar to that on Etihad’s A380.
Unlike the Etihad apartments though, there is a more contemporary feel to the product, with metallic and reflective finishes throughout.
Each suite closes to offer full privacy, although during the food service we noticed that the seats face the doors meaning you may have a bit of eye contact with the person in the opposite suite.
The suites themselves are spacious, with a large automated chair dominating the suite, with a fold down bed lining one wall.
The bed itself is quite firm without the bedding that turns this rather utilitarian looking product into a hotel-quality bed, and for the four suites that are adjoining, the possibility to turn it into a full double bed.
The suite itself features a huge TV, and a secondary, smaller TV on the forward bulkhead, as the seats have to be facing forward for take off, which makes for a rather odd experience at the start of the flight.
However the larger 32″ TVs can turn towards the seat, so during dining, it’s perfect to watch movies, or when in bed, perfectly poised for some in bed bingeing.
There are lots of detailing in the suites, with reflective mirrored finishes, leather lined vanity storage units and vases for flowers that all lend itself akin to the interior of a yacht or a Maybach.
The suites are fully automated, and almost everything is controlled via the in-seat controller from lighting to seat recline.
The seat itself is comfortable, and has a deep recline, but a little bit like the Etihad first class suite, there’s something Marmite about having a separate seat and chair. Personally I prefer to slowly recline myself into a slumber on a long flight, and there are nuances to be found in the seat recline for watching movies, having a cup of tea prior to sleep which can’t be achieved in this concept.
But these are first world problems really. We did find that the seat control however wasn’t the easiest to use, and small finishing elements like the IFE controller being quite basic, seat latches being clunky, and the seat position during take off and dining removed some of the magic of this first class suite. And surprisingly, we actually found ourselves at the end of the tour preferring the business class suites by JPA design to these spacious first class cabins.
In contrast to the First Class cabin, the business class cabin felt more solid, uniformed in product offering and more contemporary. Bathed in the new mood lighting, the cabin felt like the interior of a sci-fi movie. JPA’s large monocoque seats are impressive and private.
The seats, which are an evolution of the 777 business class sets are more tech-savvy, with ample storage available.
In a 1 x 2 x 1 configuration, the window seats offer the most privacy, cocooned by the seat’s side wall. But the centre seats offer swathes of privacy too thanks to a dual-drop partition, which allows full privacy, partial privacy for colleagues travelling together, or a fully-dropped partition for those wanting to sleep together.
There are four pairs of seats that turn into a double bed, utilising the bulkhead to give a full length bed, although every other pair offer a similar offering, apart from that the bed angles out toward the aisle, meaning that the sleeping position feels less ‘side by side’
There are plenty of design elements that just work in harmony, from the patterned pillows, to the soft purple and copper finishes that all marry together.
Even the lighting mirrors the patten that can also be found decorating the seat shell. Small vanity mirrors even have a light, showing off how every detail has been painstakingly thought through.
Even details such as the pull out ottoman extender utilise the maximum amount of space within the seat, offering enhanced comfort.
While testing the seats, we found the build, construction and finish was far superior to the rest of the cabin, with everything feeling sturdy and long lasting, in comparison to elements such as the plastic-feel doors in first class.
Taking the front section of the main deck, the new Premium Economy Class cabin feels very exclusive. In a 2 x 4 x 2 configuration, the cabin offers plenty of space, seats with a deep recline, and lost of perks including the Book The Cook service.
Although the cabin was being prepped for the upcoming flight, the cabin was smart, clean, the bright touches of orange makes for a smart, youthful appearance.
The seats tilt the seat pan giving a deeper recline, and the calf rest helps cradle the passenger in to a slumber. We love the benefit of the armrest on these seats, while created for accessibility, also offer more comfort for larger passengers wanting to stretch out a little more.
As you can see, there is plenty of leg room, as well as storage for personal devices, but the large touchscreen makes for a great distraction during the long flight.
The first couple of window pairs at the front of the cabin offer the most privacy, as they are near the front staircase.
Even the economy class of the A380 is impressive, and while the seats themselves are fairly narrow, they offer plenty of shoulder space, and are much more comfortable than the 787 cabins that most airlines fly.
With a seat of different colours, the cabin doesn’t feel like a see of vacuous blue seats, instead, the cabin, broken up by bulkheads, still feels somewhat exclusive.
The armrests fold up fully, meaning on emptier flights, it might be possible to win yourself a throne of three (or four) seats to lie down and sleep.
But failing that, they still offer a significant recline, which makes sleeping easier, although should the passenger in-front recline, it will significantly reduce your personal space.
But that means that you’ll just be closer to the large 11.1″ TV touchscreen. Which is supported by USB ports, bi fold tables, storage for personal devices and drink holder too.
All in all, the new Singapore Airlines A380 offers a fantastic product, and no matter what cabin, a world-class seat married with world class service that makes Singapore Airlines a very difficult carrier to beat.