It’s no secret that Singapore Airlines is a Hey Gents favourite, and this was reinforced last week when we flew from Toulouse to Singapore in the all-new Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. Like excited kids going on a school excursion, a small group of media and Singapore Airlines and Airbus staff boarded the flagship. 471 new seats across all four classes were fitted to the vessel but only 78 seats were going to be occupied on this special delivery flight. It was hard to contain our excitement knowing that we would be the first to experience this magnificent aircraft.
We were free to roam the entire plane to get acquainted with each of the new seats. Economy Class on the lower deck was the logical place to start, it received a few nips and tucks including a more premium colour palette. The seats were really quite comfortable in a reclined position, with the smart headrest and backrest features adding to the customisation level. The seat has a cleaner and more refined look with the addition of an 11.1-inch touch screen monitor and consequently removal of the remote control unit. Passengers are also provided with an in-seat power supply and USB charging port.
The Premium Economy seat remained largely the same as it was only launched a couple of years ago. A 19.5-inch seat width with 8-inches of recline (2 more inches than Economy) and a 13.3-inch touch screen for entertainment felt like a pretty comfortable ride. But the biggest surprise here was that the 36 passenger cabin had been relocated to the pointy end of the plane. Turning left when boarding the plane is now a lot more accessible to travellers.
78 Business Class seats and six new private Suites now fully occupy the upper deck of the new Singapore Airlines A380.
Modern, innovative and luxurious were the first words that came to mind upon entering the Business Class cabin. With only 4 seats across each row, you knew that they would be comfortable before even sitting down, it is definitely not the norm for this cabin on other airlines. Being greeted by a plush European pillow with a cover designed to reflect the embossing on the exterior shell of the cove and the ambient lighting feature, really brought it all together.
Settling into the seat, it quickly became clear that privacy was at the core of this re-design. Each seat was nested in a pod-like enclosure ensuring that you are cocooned away from the rest of the other passengers. In addition, the seats are also staggered in such a way that keeps the window and aisle passengers from being able to see each other. The two middle seats have a centre privacy divider which has 3 height adjustments that can be set to any height at any time, even during take-off and landing. This is a great improvement compared to the previous seats where the only privacy afforded was a small sliding shield.
The other most exciting thing about the new very private Business Class seat is, ironically, the ability to completely remove the privacy between the middle seats. If you’re travelling with a special someone and are sitting next to each other in the middle, then you’re in for a real treat. After takeoff, you can drop the centre divider to take away any separation between yourself and your travel companion. The two seats when turned into a bed almost feel as if there is a double bed, however, it’s unfortunate that there’s no cushion in the middle to actually join the two beds.
The monitor is 18-inches of viewing pleasure and the touch screen feature worked very smoothly. If you didn’t want to reach out to the screen a controller handset was also available to use, but the experience was better via the screen. One major improvement that might be taken for granted, is the new tray-table. An effortless push of a button saw the bi-fold table elegantly presented and ready to use with a swivel and outward flip. This was way better than most other business class seats which tend to have very clumsy tray-table deployment mechanisms.
The new First Class Suites are out of this world, quite frankly because you get to travel in a world of your own. Each Suite has sliding doors and electronic blinds for privacy, not that anyone will be looking in from the window. There are only six exclusive Suites onboard the new A380 and they resided right at the front of the top deck. Each Suite comes with an armchair and separate bed, and to make it feel completely like a studio apartment in the sky, there is a 32-inch TV screen that can swivel to suit your viewing angle. Accompanied by two plush pillows, the mattress felt incredibly comfortable when we laid down on it. Following the concept of the shared travel space in Business Class, the first two Suites on each side of the plane can also have their centre dividers dropped to form one over-sized extravagant living area.
There are two First Class cabin toilets, both situated at the front of the cabin. These are amongst the most spacious lavatories in the air and with 3 people to a toilet, having to wait for one would have to be rare. One of the lavatories has a generously sized bench for sitting on to get changed, whilst the other had a dedicated vanity table and seat for doing… the things you do in front of a vanity mirror.
Apart from the seats, Singapore Airlines also took the opportunity to debut their brand new version of KrisWorld, the in-flight entertainment system. With more than 1,500 on-demand entertainment options, KrisWorld has always been one of the best in-air entertainment systems. The most common version of KrisWorld has great content but the interface and controllers were not always the smoothest to use. The new touch-screen version is a vast improvement on this and despite not having trialled every in-air entertainment system across all the airlines, we wouldn’t hesitate to say that it would probably be right up there towards the top. Notable features include the ability to sign in with your Krisflyer (frequent flyer) number to save preferences, create and retrieve playlists and get content recommendations based on viewing history. In fact, you can download the SingaporeAir mobile app (on both iPhone and Android) and pre-plan your entire viewing playlist before you even board the flight. This is really handy because you won’t have to waste any time on board wading through the entertainment options to work out what you want to watch and then have to remember them all.
Another leap in this system is the integration and speed improvement of the in-flight high-speed WiFi. Using SITAONAIR’s Global Xpress (GX) connectivity technology, we were able to experience speeds similar to being on the ground. We put it to the ultimate test and performed a FaceTime chat using the in-flight WiFi on the delivery flight and it was a success. Although 60 other Singapore Airlines aircrafts have been fitted with in-flight connectivity, none are as fast.
The delivery flight was extraordinary and we can’t wait to experience the full in-flight service between Singapore and Sydney, starting on the 18th December, 2017. This delivery of the new Singapore Airlines A380 is the first of five brand new A380’s that will join the existing Singapore Airlines Airbus 380 fleet.