Singapore Airlines 638
Singapore Changi (SIN) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Depart: 11:55PM, Arrive: 8:00AM (next day)
Duration: 8 hours 5 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A380
I’ve made it a hobby of mine to try and sample some of the airline industry’s most premium products. The two products that were highest on my list were Emirates A380 First Class and Singapore Airlines Suites First Class. Emirates? I nailed it a little over a year ago… twice! My wife and I booked a “babymoon” trip as one last hurrah before we expect the birth of our first child, figuring that the days of premium cabin international flying might be a bit limited in the near future after the baby arrives, and as part of that trip, I was able to find two Singapore Airlines award seats available from Singapore to Tokyo. SCORE! Booked!
The day that we finally got the chance to fly, we spent the day in the Private Room, Singapore’s Suites Only lounge, and watching a movie. Our flight to Tokyo, SQ 638, was an overnight flight. Much like the previous A380 first class flight on our babymoon, this would primarily be a sleeping flight. On the one hand, that makes first class a bit less fun, as the service is typically more limited. On the other hand, it being overnight is also somewhat perfect for this experience, as the two middle suites convert into a double bed. What better way to use a bed than when our biological clocks actually are ready to snooze?
We went to the gate as boarding time neared. As much as I love Changi Airport, I really dislike that security is at each gate, with no premium lanes. I much prefer being able to walk (or better yet, board!) from the lounge directly to the plane. Luckily, the lines moved very quickly for us. I was so excited. It was only upon writing this post that I realized my excitement led me to take so many pictures before I ever even got on the darn plane! I got a pic at the Suites boarding line.
I had to get a pic of the plane in the background, even if it was dark out…
And you know we’re using that Suites Class lane…
The only time I’ve ever been more excited to board a plane was when we did Emirates First Class, but this was pretty darn close. I am sure I was visibly giddy, and the flight attendant walked up the jetbridge to meet us halfway en route to the cabin. He welcomed us to the flight, and he asked us if this was our first time on Suites Class. We said it was, and he said then it was even more exciting to have us on board. He described Suites Class to us as “Like First Class, but even more special.”
As we walked onto the plane, I was immediately impressed by the level of understated class exuded by the cabin. There’s no mini-bar at your seat. There’s no individual desk lamp. There’s no writing kit. There’s no flower mounted in your suite. On the contrary, the design of this cabin reminded me more of a Mercedes interior. Understated beauty and class. The cabin is decked out in brown leather and wood paneling, which meshes nicely with the natural beige of the plane.
While I don’t have any measurements to back this up, the walls to each suite seemed higher than those on Emirates. In fact, I’m sure this is the case. The suite doors on the Singapore Airlines plane have rails along the top that the doors slide on. On Emirates, the doors slide on the bottom. On Emirates, the suites are low enough that you can stand up and peer into other suites, if you’d like. On the Singapore Airlines Suites cabin, it’s pretty difficult to do that. If you’re tall and you stand right next to a suite, you can look inside of it, but the suites are tall enough that in general, it’s tough to see inside of them. If it’s privacy you’re looking for, you’ll get it in spades with this cabin.
As I mentioned, Katy and I took the middle two seats, as they convert into a double bed for sleeping. But if you take a look at that picture above, you’ll see what I mean in regard to the doors and partition using rails on the top of the suite. You can see the partition between our two seats at the top of the picture. Unlike on any of the other Suite-style First Class cabins I’ve flown in, rather than pushing a button to raise the partition, you pull it down from the “ceiling” as created by the rail on top. I created a video overview of our Suites Class experience, and it’s embedded below, as that actually gives the best perspective on the cabin and the seat.
I started to play around with my seat, but before I could get too far, our flight attendant came by to offer us a drink. The nature of this trip was to celebrate the upcoming birth of our child, which meant Katy couldn’t drink alcohol. I decided to avoid alcohol as well, in order to be sober in solidarity with her. Um… NOT! Actually, I felt that it was my duty to drink her share as well. She got water, and I ordered champagne. The flight attendant told me that I could choose between Dom Perignon or Krug. I had a difficult time deciding (#firstworldproblems, anyone?), but he gave the most excellent suggestion of going with Dom on the ground and Krug in the sky. Genius.
In addition to the champagne, I got a ramemkin of spiced, heated cashews. Our flight attendant was extremely personable, and he was interested to hear about our trip, chat with us, etc. He offered to take our picture for us as well, which was nice. He delivered us leather bound menus and indicated that we could eat either immediately after take off or afterwards for breakfast. Or both. Originally I figured that we would eat in the evening, but I wasn’t that hungry and neither was Katy. The attendant also acknowledged that I had pre-ordered the Thermidor Lobster. Katy didn’t want to preorder so she was free to browse the menu.
Our plan was to utilize the double bed mode of the suites and sleep for a while on the way to Tokyo. I would have lobster for breakfast, which I think was a first for me.
It’s always fun to take off in an A380. That feeling never gets old to me. It’s such a smooth experience, but I just love how long it takes to fully accelerate before liftoff. We actually changed into our pajamas while we were still on the ground so we would be ready to get to bed as soon as we reached cruising altitude. A couple attendants came immediately and transformed our two suites into a single double bed. Pretty amazing!
I’m going to pick nits here for a moment. Yes it DOES turn into a double bed, technically, but in actuality there is a slight divider right at the head area. Additionally, they set up the bedding as if it were two separate beds as opposed to one single bed. If you’re going to market this as a double bed, why not actually use double bed sized bedding? Again, I’m picking nits. This was a really awesome experience to behold! I had always wanted to fly this product, and now here it was, right in front of me. Katy was just as stoked.
Fast forward five hours or so. The flight attendants gently woke us up and let us know that it was time for breakfast. We got up and changed out of our pajamas. First we took showers. Oh. Wait. Wrong airline. No shower here :-). By the time we came back to our suite, it was already set up for breakfast. These suites have the cool feature where you can sit across from each other and dine together. We took advantage of this.
Katy ordered some kind of lobster dumpling soup, and I had my thermidor lobster. Both were absolutely delicious.
We landed smoothly in Tokyo, and we were ready for our last bit of adventure before our babymoon would be complete.
So… Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class. Is it all it’s hyped up to be? Well, of the handful of International First Class products I’ve flown, it had the class and elegance of Emirates. Those two products are the top end of what I’ve experienced. Korean Air First Class, for example, is a great option to fly to Asia, but it’s just not even in the same league – it feels like business class compared to Singapore / Emirates First. Which product is better between Singapore and Emirates? I think I need to give the nod to Emirates. Their lounge experiences are similar, but Emirates has the onboard shower and more over the top service. Their cabins also feel newer. Singapore Airlines has the double bed, which is awesome, but most other features are just shy of what Emirates offers.