New Business Cabin – Singapore Airlines A380
Last Thursday, Singapore Airlines launched their new A380 cabins in a public relations event in Singapore. If you want some first-hand reporting, then you should head over to The Points Guy or Sam Chui. I was not the recipient of the bountiful munificence of Singapore Airlines PR department. So, this is an unpaid, un-bribed opinion piece from me at arm’s length from the actual product and just assessing it by pictures and press release. Actually, none of the ‘first hand’ accounts, are actually that either. They are assessments of a mock-up product in an exhibition hall at a launch event
Here I am going to cover the Business Class Cabin, and in a later post, I’ll cover the First Class Suites Cabin, and I hope also the Premium Economy seat.
Singapore Airlines claims to have spent four years developing the product, and that the theme of their cabin refresh is:
“Space made personal, experience the difference”
Starting next month, these new cabins will be fitted to newly arrived A380’s and slowly retrofitted to the old A380’s with the process completing about 2020. That’s installation on 19 Aircraft at a self-reported cost of USD850 million.
So the new configuration is a total of 471 seats made up of:
- First Suites x 6 – Upper Deck
- Business Class x 78 – Upper Deck
- Premium Economy x 44 – Main Deck
- Economy x 343 – Main Deck
New Business Class Features
Singapore Airlines is claiming the following features for the new cabin designed by the UK outfit JPA Design, and manufactured by the Japanese JAMCO Corp.
- Seat width = 25 inches
- 2 x side wings for better back support
- Reclines directly into flat bed (78 inches) – where as previously they used to flip over
- 18 inch HD touch screen monitor
- upholstery by Poltrona Frau
- Lightweight carbon composite materials – gives more space under seat for stowage
- larger back shell for more privacy
- Divider fully lowers to form ‘double beds’
- 1-2-1 configuration = direct aisle access for all
- USB ports and in-seat power
- Adjustable intensity reading lights
- Larger dining table with more flexibility
- increased stowage space
- improved ergonomic design ‘puts everything within easy reach’
That image above pretends that these seats can be converted into a ‘double’ bed. Not true. It is the equivalent of two single beds pushed up together. If you look at the non-staged shots, you will see that there is a dirty great partition holder, and an arm rest in the middle of those seats. All they have done is stretch a double doona (duvet/comforter) over the top. OK it makes the picture look nice, but really is deceptive.
Also, no one has actually experienced the product yet. They have only seen it in an exhibition centre at the launch. However, you can experience it from 18 December 2017 on routes between Singapore and Sydney (SQ221 and 232). There are rumours that the next announced route will be Singapore to London Heathrow, allowing an all A380 trip between Sydney and London.
The real test will be in the sitting and sleeping. Others have complained about the foot-hole in the current business class seats, and say that there is no improvement here, resulting in slight gymnastics to make yourself comfortable. My experience in Singapore, admittedly in First Suites – was that service was variable depending on the fullness of the cabin. I found their service very efficient, anticipatory, but a little cold, compared to Qantas and Thai First. On the positive side, this looks like a cosy seat providing a good degree of privacy and ergonomic design.
Singapore’s food and beverage service is very good, and it looks like the standards will be maintained.
The bioggest advantage I can see with this seat is that you will no longer have to ‘flip it over’ to sleep, but can recline from the sitting position. I just hope that the comfort level and bedding makes for a comfortable sleep.
I look forward to finding out how good these seats are for myself.