Today (January 16, 2019): Review of Singapore Airlines’ A380 (old) Business Class from Singapore to London.
I recently flew in a Singapore Airlines (SQ) A380 featuring the carrier’s old Business Class product from Singapore (SIN) to London Heathrow (LHR). When first introduced more than 13 years ago, SQ’s Business Class seat made headlines across the globe because of its extravagant dimensions (it’s the widest seat in the airline industry, too wide for comfort according to some). And while it still guarantees a superb flying experience, this seat concept starts to show its age a little, hence why SQ is currently equipping its A380 aircraft with a new Business Class seat similar to the one that is installed on the carrier’s A350 aircraft (which I reviewed here). The new Business Class product is initially fitted to five new A380s being acquired from Airbus, following which retrofit work will commence on 14 aircraft that the carrier has already in service. All A380s are expected to feature the new Business Class seats by the end of 2020.
SQ features in my top 10 lists of my preferred airlines for longhaul Business Class, the best airlines for longhaul First Class, the most luxurious A380 First Class products, the world’s best airlines for in-flight meals, and the best First Class amenity kits.
Have you ever flown SQ’s Business Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Singapore (SIN) to London (LHR)
- Airline: Singapore Airlines (SQ)
- Aircraft type: Airbus A380
- Aircraft registration number: 9V-SKN
- Flight Number: SQ308
- Date: July 28, 2018
- On time departure: yes (9.30 am)
- On time arrival: yes (3.30 pm)
- Miles: 6760
- Flight time: 13 hours
- Seat: 25K
- Class: Business Class
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- SilverKris Lounge at Changi Airport
- Facts & figures about SQ’s longhaul fleet
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
The cost of my one-way Business Class ticket on SQ from Singapore to London was 45 Singaporean Dollar + 67,500 Miles& More miles. Miles and More is the frequent flyer program of Lufthansa, a Star Alliance Partner of SQ. Read my review of Miles&More here.
2. SILVERKRIS LOUNGE AT CHANGI AIRPORT
SQ offers 4 different tiers of lounges for its premium passengers at its hub, Changi International Airport. This review only covers SQ’s flagship SilverKris Lounge at Terminal 3, which is located on floor above the duty-free shops in the main concourse. The SilverKris Lounge is only accessible to passengers flying out of Changi in First or Business Class on SQ or one of SQ’s partner airlines.
The SilverKris Lounge at Terminal 3 is not only the largest lounge at Changi, but also one of the largest lounges in the world. Entrance to the lounge is via a modern welcome foyer that features a customised batik design screen. The lounge itself is basically one large room, divided into different spaces for relaxing, dining, reading, and socializing, a concept which SQ says is ‘modelled after the living, dining room and kitchen of a home’. There are multiple seating areas, with a large variety of seats, including leather arm chairs, couches and bar stools, with power ports at some (but not all) seats. The lounge’s overall design is modern with tastefully selected art pieces. Unfortunately though, the space feels too dark in my opinion, since it doesn’t offer much of a view and lacks daylight: there’s only one wall featuring floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the concourse and its shops below. The oppressive ambience is further accentuated by soft lighting and marble walls.
In the back of the lounge, there’s a separate room where a massive buffet is on display. It offers a great selection of cold and hot items, including pastas, curries, dim sums, soups, Indian style dishes and Singaporean favourites. In addition, there’s also a salad, sushi, and noodle station. The buffet area also features massive chillers where you can help yourself to beer and soft drinks, as well as coffee machines and a wide selection of teas. A small part of the dining area is reserved for communal tables and a few dining tables with 2 to 4 seats each. There are also some separate bar areas with high, communal tables inside the lounge, offering wine, liquor, beer, soft drinks, coffee, and tea.
The SQ SilverKris Lounge also features work stations, showers, and a ticketing help desk. While the lounge is definitely great, it’s not one of my favorite airport lounges, mainly because of the lack of daylight. In addition, spa treatments, a la carte dining and nap rooms are not available, which is remarkable since most of SQ’s competitors now offer these perks in their flagship lounges.
3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT SQ’S LONGHAUL FLEET
SQ operates an all wide body aircraft fleet. Currently, this comprises the following aircraft types:
- 18 Airbus A330 planes (read here my review onboard a SQ A330 in Business Class)
- 30 Airbus A350 planes (read here my review onboard a SQ A350 in Business Class)
- 19 Airbus A380 planes
- 7 Boeing 747 planes (cargo only)
- 45 Boeing 777 planes
- 7 Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes
Over the coming years, SilkAir will merge into SQ. This will see the addition of narrow body planes (mainly Boeing 737 planes) to SQ’s fleet.
4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SQ’s A380s are equipped with different seat numbers. The A380 that flew me from Singapore to London featured the ‘old layout’ with a total of 12 First Class suites, 86 Business Class seats, 36 Premium Economy Class seats, and 245 standard Economy Class seats. First and Economy Class (including Premium Economy) were located on the lower deck, while the entire upper deck was reserved for Business Class, with the 86 lie-flat seats spread over 3 separate cabins (a smaller front and aft cabin, with the main cabin in between). SQ also operates another, higher density A380 layout with only 60 Business Cass seats and an extra 88 seats in Economy Class.
Regardless of the aircraft layout, the Business Class seats on SQ’s A380s are always arranged in a forward-facing, four-abreast (1-2-1) configuration, with direct aisle access for all passengers. Tons of seats are all you see upon entering the aircraft’s upper deck since SQ’s A380s don’t feature an onboard bar or lounge like the ones you find on the A380s of SQ’s Middle Eastern competitors Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Although the cabin has a luxurious and elegant feel, there’s no denying that it looks less fancy and a bit dated when compared to SQ’s new A380 Business Class cabin. IMHO, that’s mainly because the only colors you observe in the old cabin are different shades of brown, with leather seat covers alternating between light beige and dark brown. Although this type of color palette is neutral and soothing, it feels a bit blend these days. On a positive note, some plush checked throw pillows on the seats add a playful, chic twist to the cabin’s look.
For a seat map of SQ’s A380s, click here.
5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I had chosen seat 25K for the 13 hour flight from Singapore to London.
The first thing you’ll notice about the (old) Business Class seat is its gigantic dimensions. The huge seat has 140 cm (55 inches) of pitch and is 76 cm (30 inches) wide, making it the widest Business Class seat to be found on any aircraft or airline. The seat is actually wider than some First Class seats and two passengers could easily fit within the seat relatively comfortably. Some may judge the seat to be a little too wide for optimal comfort, but you can always use the two seat cushions to stuff the seat on both sides (for extra lumbar support) or stack them to create an extra arm rest.
One side of the seat features a reading light on eye level and an electronic control panel on the arm rest for adjusting the seat’s position. This arm rest also holds a wired controller to navigate the inflight entertainment (more on that below). The other arm rest holds the tray table, which is released after you push a button and whose height can be tweaked up or down as needed. Window seats also feature two extra storage bins on the side of this arm rest, which can be used to store larger items like laptops and hand luggage.
In front of the seat is a 15,4 inch LCD monitor, which is actually on the small side for Business Class these days. The LCD screens are equipped with a privacy glass feature, so your neighbor cannot stare at your screen. There are two covers on each side of the TV: on the left side, the upper cover flips open to reveal a mirror, while the lower cover can be used as a small tray table for a drink; on the right side, the upper cover hides a pouch which can be used to store smaller items (e.g. smart phone, wallet, glasses) while the lower cover gives access to a panel with two USB ports and a universal power outlet.
Each seat comes with a footrest, but the size of this footrest differs from seat to seat. All bulkhead seats (in rows 11, 17 and 91) as well as the seats in the last row (96) feature seat-wide, fold-down footrests. All other seats have a much smaller foot cubby (with limited room for your feet), so I recommend to choose a bulkhead seat if available. The seat is quite comfortable in its upright position and you can choose between two seating positions; a ‘Lazy Z’ cradling seating option where your weight is centred and balanced; and the ‘Sundeck’ position that allows the base of the seat to extend so you can rest your legs on the ottoman. The seat can be converted in a full flat-bed. However, contrary to most Business Class seats on other carriers, the seat doesn’t recline into a horizontal position; instead, you need to get out of your seat after which the cabin crew folds down the seat and makes the bed on top of the seat’s backside. You also have to lie diagonally on the bed to position your feet in the small foot cubby at the end, since you cannot spread them free (only exception are the bulkhead seats, which come with much larger footrests, allowing a more comfortable sleep position).
What are the best Business Class seats on SQ’s A380 (with the old layout)? Click here for a seat map.
- Window seats are the best option for solo travelers since they provide a little more privacy, while travel companions should go for the center seats.
- Bulkhead seats (in rows 11, 17 and 91) as well as the seats in the last row (96) are superior to all non-bulkhead seats since they feature a full-width footrest instead of a narrow footrest, allowing a more comfortable sleeping position.
What are the worst Business Class seats on SQ’s A380 (with the old layout)? Click here for a seat map.
- Although they come with larger footrests, the bulkhead seats in rows 11, 17 and 91 may be bothersome to some passengers due to their proximity to the galley. The noise of the galley may also disturb those in the seats in the last row of each cabin (rows 16, 27 and 96).
- The window seats in row 11 (first row on the upper deck) are lacking a window, so I would avoid these seats if you like to look outside during the flight.
SQ’s Business Class passengers traveling on one of the carrier’s longhaul routes receive the following onboard amenities:
- Slippers, socks, and eye shades
- Noise canceling headphones to block the noise from the engines and cabin (you cannot take them home with you as they can only be powered inside an aircraft)
Unfortunately, SQ doesn’t offer amenity kits in Business Class on any of its flights, which is a remarkable (and regretable) choice for one of the world’s best airlines. Toiletries – such as shaving kits, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand lotion and perfume – are available though in the lavatories.
SQ enjoys a stellar culinary reputation, which is reflected in its collaboration with world-acclaimed chefs who own Michelin-starred restaurants, like Singaporean culinary maestro Sam Leong, Suzanne Goin of Los Angeles’ Lucques, and Matthew Moran of one of Sydney’s finest restaurants. The airline is famous for its ‘Book the Cook’ service where you can select your gourmet main course from a premium selection of dishes at least 24 hours before departure.
The menu on my flight from Singapore to London was created by Carlo Cracco of the Michelin two-star restaurant of the same name in Milan. Overall, food was plentiful and it tasted great.
Shortly after takeoff, breakfast was served, and I choose the following selection from the menu:
- Starter: freshly squeezed orange juice with selection of sliced fresh fruit
- Appetizer: bircher muesli rolled oat soaked in milk and natural yoghurt with berry compote
- Main course: griddled buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, orange mascarpone cream and honey
Lunch was served midflight, above Afghanistan. I had the following dishes:
- Canape: Singapore chicken and beef satay, with onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce
- Appetizer: marinated scallops with pear, vegetable slaw, and yuzu pinenut dressing
- Main course: braised beef brisket with artichoke, chestnut, and roasted pumpkin
- Dessert: light lavender pudding with berries and fruits coulis
After lunch, the crew passed by with a fruit bowl, a trolley with cheeses, and a chocolate box, from which you could choose a selection.
You could also order delectables throughout the flight, such as chicken noodles with Chinese greens and a sandwich with roasted pumpkin, feta cheese, and sundried tomatos.
As mentioned above, the seat comes with a rather small 15,4 inch LCD monitor. You can navigate through the entertainment selection (called KrisWorld) with a wired controller, which is located in the arm rest. KrisWorld features an impressive selection of 1,000 entertainment options, with tons and tons of movies, television programmes, music, games and apps.
SQ also offers a Companion App that allows you to discover what is playing on KrisWorld even before you step onboard. Via the app, you can browse content pre-flight and place movies and TV shows in a folder that you can access on board by linking your smart phone to your tv screen. You simply need to download the free SQ mobile app from Google Play or App Store to enjoy this features.
Contrary to most other airlines, and to my own great disappointment, SQ hasn’t installed tail, nose and/or belly cameras on its A380 aircraft.
9. ONBOARD INTERNET
WiFi is available on SQ’s A380 and of reasonable speed. To access the onboard internet, you need to enable WiFi on your smart phone, tablet or laptop, and connect to the ‘KrisWorld’ or ‘OnAir’ network. SQ offers 100 MB and 30 MB of complimentary data to First and Business Class passengers respectively. Once your data have been used, you have to pay, and unfortunately, the rates are on the high side and data limited:
- Basic (30 minutes; maximum of 30 MB data): $4.99 USD
- Standard (3 hours; maximum of 150 MB data): $12,99 USD
- Pro (entire flight; maximum of 500 MB data): $19.99 USD
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: Dressed in her signature sarong kebaya, the female SQ flight attendant is the symbol of Asian hospitality recognised the world over. But besides being an iconic eyecatcher, SQ cabin crew – both male and female – are often regarded as the best in the industry, and with good reason. They address every customer by name and do all they can to make your flight as enjoyable as possible.
# BAR: Contrary to some other airlines that operate the A380, SQ does not feature a fancy bar on its flagship plane, but you can order snacks from the menu at any time during the flight, and there’s also a walk-up bar in one of the galleys.
# TOILET: There are 6 lavatories on SQ’s A380 upper deck: one in the cabin’s front section, three in the middle section, and two in the aircraft’s rear section.
11. MY VERDICT
- KrisSilver lounge (Changi): 8/10
- Cabin design: 7/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 9/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
- Food (quality): 8/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 8/10
- Service: 10/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8,2/10