Incredible experience. By far the best suites product I’ve flown. Etihad comes very close, and Emirates A380 suites doesnt even come close except for their bar and shower (and now I have to find a way to try the new fully enclosed suites on their 777s). The suites were so beautiful, completely understated and refined luxury. So much space. While not fully enclosed, still very private and walls higher than Etihad, I did not once see my neighbor next door and barely saw my neighbor across the aisle. Singapore Airlines service was above and beyond as usual and expected. The entire crew serving suites were friendly, professional, courteous and special shout out to Chief Steward Lawrence Ho who went above and beyond to make my flight memorable. Food, despite not booking the chef due to last minute waitlist clearing, was delicious even with the less extensive overnight flight menu. Wine, excellent albeit a small selection, but all the 2004 Vintage Krug in the world. Bed and Lalique bedding was comfortable, seat was great, entertainment fun. Also, I realized that besides going to the bathroom, I didnt find the need to leave my suite because it was already so spacious and had so many features that I forgot there wasnt a bar or shower aboard this A380. Stingy free 100MB wifi for suites pax, but at least it was something. Large bathrooms, though could use that shower feature. Lounge was just ok. Ground experience was also just ok, but efficient and stress-free. 100% worth the effort to redeem and the stress of waitlisting.
Part of my recent trip to Asia included a miracle of a flight aboard Singapore Airlines A380 Suites from Singapore to Zurich on SQ346. This was a Thanksgiving blessing and miracle because I cleared the saver level award redemption waitlist about 7 hours prior to departure thinking I would not end up clearing (more on this in a bit).
Singapore Airlines has always been at the forefront of commercial aviation with its industry leading service and often revolutionary hard products. In 2007 it became the world’s first airline to operate the Airbus A380 Superjumbo and introduced a completely game changing first class product, the Suites. Massive space, separate seat and full mattress/bed that folded out, including center seats turning into double beds. I had always wanted to experience these suites but never got a chance. Then Etihad Airways came out with their revolutionary apartments and changed the game again. Singapore Airlines debuted a brand new Suites product in 2017, this time on the upper deck of their A380s with only 6 suites in a 1×1 configuration. Once again bringing the airline back to the top.
Again, plenty has been written about this product including lots of youtube videos out there by the famous and popular aviation bloggers and points people. This is really just my unfiltered thoughts and personal experience.
Flight: Singapore Airlines SQ346
Route: Singapore to Zurich, 6,406 miles
Flight Time: 12 Hours 55 minutes; Dept 1:59AM, Arr: 7:54AM
Plane: Airbus A380-800 9V-SKY
Seat: Suite 1F
Booking and SIA Award Waitlist
With my Chase Ultimate Reward Points, I transferred 115,000 miles to Singapore Krisflyer at a 1:1 transfer ratio. The excellent thing about Singapore Airlines award redemption is that they allow waitlisting. I waitlisted for a whole bunch fo Suite flights including SINLHR and SINZRH, note SINLHR is near impossible to waitlist or clear, SINZRH is slightly easier. I also waitlisted for business class on TPESINEWR once the world’s longest flight relaunched. I managed to clear TPESINEWR for 100K points for a trip in March 2019, I cleared in September 2018. However, plans changed and I was in Asia for Thanksgiving week. I couldnt change my TPESINEWR as there were no award availability, not even to waistlist, but I noticed there was saver award space to waitlist for SINZRH on November 23, 2018 so asked the agent to list me for that under the same PNR as my TPESINEWR (didnt want to cancel that just yet in case I didnt clear suites). This was the first week of November.
I called Krisflyer member service line about once a week from there to check on my status and to kindly ask the agents to check with inventory to see if they had a gauge on when they’d release the seats, as on experflyer it showed one seat open. The answer was consistently not yet, and that I would find out at the very latest 3 hours prior to departure. I called again the day before to see if I could clear and give myself a few hours to Book the Cook, but no luck, and they said there was space available in Business class though, but I insisted to keep waiting especially as I saw on expertflyer that there was one seat blocked. By the day of, I was losing hope but nonetheless decided to call during dinner after a day of work. Sure enough, the agent noticed it was for a flight in a few hours and pushed my listing to “Priority Waitlist.” 10 minutes after this call, I received a most momentous text message saying I had been cleared. I immediately called back and SIA was kind enough to not charge me the $25 cancel fee for my TPESINEWR flight, instead they simply cancelled and reissued to I could have 115K miles to redeem for the suites. Just like that at 7:30PM on Thanksgiving eve I was confirmed on Suites to Zurich for 1:30AM. Sadly there was no way for me to Book the Cook but at least the seat I got was 1F, which along with 1A, is the largest suite.
As many have written online already, its both a blessing and a curse that Singapore Airlines has the waitlist feature. You read a variety of experiences in terms of when people clear the list. From my experience for both business and suites, business you have a higher chance to clear early on, new Suites definitely lower and first and old Suites is probably in between. Availability to book and confirm right away on the old suites and regular first class is also a lot higher. SQ definitely protects the new suites. I have read SQ usually begins releasing waitlists about 14 days out, and of course if you have PPS status you’ll clear a lot sooner, the latest they will clear is 3 hours prior to departure. The internet was buzzing with the suggestion to call Krisflyer and check and be courteous and drop “revenue management” knowledge. I will say that does not work. But what does work is persistence and just to make sure you call and check even till the very last minute, especially if your travel plans are flexible. Further always check expertflyer seat maps and availability to confirm. SQ’s waitlist works in ways I do not fully understand. But it does work out in the end if you try!
Departure and SilverKris Private Room Lounge
Singapore Airlines has a dedicated First Class Check-In area at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Its less so a terminal and more just a separate area with seating areas. If you are taking a car to Changi, either let the driver know you are flying Singapore Airlines first class or have them stay to the left once you approach Terminal 3 Departures, the First Class drive way is off to the left before the main drop-off zone.
The driveway was a bit packed but nonetheless a staff member approached my taxi to greet me, unfortunately no valet or staff assisted with my bags having seen I only had one carry-on. Its important to remember that Singapore Airlines uses third party for their ground procedures. Check-in was easy, quick and painless. Handed my passport and was immediately checked-in, given my boarding pass, waited for a minute to receive my Private Room invitation. From the First Class check-in area you walk into the main Terminal area and directly to SIA First Class Immigration, a dedicated immigration area for First Class and PPS Elite members. Before this I walked to the center of the departure hall to take a peak at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter installation for a bit of Christmas magic to an already surreal evening. I walked back to the end of the hall and passed through First Class Immigration. Browsed a bit of duty-free, after all SIN has one of the best airport experiences. Then I proceeded up the escalators to the SilverKris Lounge.
Upon handing my invitation and boarding pass to one of the many staff at the entrance, I was escorted through the SilverKris Business Lounge towards the First Class Lounge then at the back of this lounge we turned left towards the Private Room. As I snapped a photo of the sign, the agent immediately asked me to delete my photo with her in it but offered to take my photo with the entryway. I was then asked if I wanted to sit in a seating area or at the dining room, I said by the windows would be great. The friendly agent walked me to the end where there were a pair of empty seats facing each other, she had initially brought me to a seat across from someone else and wanted instead to give me privacy, great service! Immediately upon sitting down a waitress came with the Private Room menu and asked if I wanted anything to drink right away. I ordered some sparkling water and Pu-Erh tea before browsing in more detail my food and alcohol options. I had stuffed myself silly at a Hawker center earlier and wanted to ensure I had room for dinner aboard so I ordered something small, Assorted Singapore Satay plate. Soon, the wait staff carried over a small coffee table and laid out a napkin and silverware and within a few minutes my satay arrived. Per usual, only the Chicken Satay was great, dont usually enjoy pork or beef satay. Afterwards I proceeded to the bathrooms where there are three shower rooms to use. One thing I was not a fan of is that the shower rooms only feature the shower, there are no toilets which was a bit inconvenient to be honest. Nonetheless the shower rooms were large and well stocked with amenities. After freshening up and changing, I returned to my seat and ordered some 2009 Vintage Dom Perignon. The staff here walk through to confirm with each passenger their name and flight and to ensure they have everything they need and remind them of what time to board and begin walking to their respective gates, again quite attentive!
The Private Room is not exactly that impressive in terms of lounge design or features. It has dark wood and leather tones. It is polished and refined and certainly luxurious but nothing exciting or groundbreaking. The lounge is extremely quiet, like a tiny clink of your fork on your plate will be heard the world over. It has regular seating, computer work stations, a family/ baby room, private rest/conference call rooms, a-la-carte dining room with small buffet, bathrooms and shower facilities. Service is certainly attentive and top notch and the menu options are extensive (Posted at the end), if I wasnt already full and waiting to eat onboard, I’d have certainly ordered either the lobster or steak or both. Qatar Airways’ Al-Safwa lounge in Doha is still by far the best, Etihad’s and Emirates’ first lounges are also better.
Boarding time was 1:00AM on my boarding pass, but given that my gate was on the other side of T3 from the lounge and that at SIN you pass security before the gate area, I headed towards gate B4 at around 12:30AM.
Boarding and Pre-Departure
At around 12:50AM they began boarding. Suites passengers were invited to board first. I was the first passenger to board as I was obviously just way too excited. Walked up the upperdeck gate and showed my boarding pass to the whole crew who were waiting at the door. Chief Steward Lawrence Ho welcomed me aboard and walked me past the galley and towards the Suites cabin before handing me off to Lead Stewardess Jenny who walked me to my suite 1F. Amazing, beautiful cabin. Only 6 suites, each with huge amounts of space. The design and aesthetics are very on point, some find it cold and unwelcoming but I think its the opposite. It is warm, understated, refined and luxurious. The finished and touches of everything in the cabin is excellent. Once again, I was overcome with excitement I didnt know what to do first.
Jenny first offered to help store my things in the massive closet. My larger Away carry-on fit perfectly into the closet with my backpack, with enough room to still hang my jacket. My slippers, eye mask, and Lalique pajamas were in the closet. She checked that Large was ok size for me, and I said that’ll do! Menu and Lalique amenity kit awaited at the seat-side area, along with Bang & Olufsen noise cancelling headphones. There is a lot of storage: three cubbies that open and close atop the windowside area, with a large storage underneath for backpacks or handbags, and a deeper but thin storage behind the bed area (I didnt use this, and I am not sure if it is also used to store some of the bedding?). There are two seat pockets, one literally on the armrest of the seat, the other against the wall. Then of course there is the small side table that houses the massive fold-out tray table, orchid flower, and insert for menu or touch-pad seat/entertainment control. Seat 1A and 1F are the largest suites and feature an extra little nook as well as a third screen (in addition to the touch pad and 32 inch swivel TV). The third screen is on the bulkhead and is your primary TV during takeoff and landing as the seat swivels to face the bulkhead, away from the main 32inch TV. The control of switching between the main TV and bulkhead TV is outside the suite and is done by the Flight Attendants. They can also control the suite lighting from this panel as well.
Lead Steward Elroy then came by to take my preflight beverage order. From juices to water to champagne. He did not right off the bat list Krug and Dom Perignon as my two options, but since I knew those were my choices I asked what choices I had and was offered both. I had Dom in the lounge already and Krug is definitely my favorite among the two so that was what I went with. Seeing as I was excited and snapping way too many photos for my own good, Lawrence offered to take my photo and said to let him know anytime for photos. He then said, “Mr. Huang, follow me, you must see our lavatory.” And walked me to the larger of the two suites bathrooms. Indeed beautiful and massive, but if only there was a shower. The passenger to crew ratio was about 2:1 in suites, and at multiple points during the flight Elroy, Lawrence and Jenny were all in and out of my suite at the same time attending to different things, simply amazing and attentive service.
I returned to my seat and Elroy returned with the 2004 Vintage Krug. I sipped and enjoyed as I browsed the menu. As I mentioned already, I was very sad that I was unable to order Singapore Airlines’ legendary Lobster Thermidor through Book the Chef nor was I able to order the Japanese Kaiseki which sounded amazing. Nonetheless the choices available through the normal menu sounded great. I believe because this is an overnight flight the choices were not as extensive, as I have seen folks enjoy caviar on a daytime flight from Osaka to Singapore! I think the one thing that my Etihad experience won over SQ was the F&B program, not necessarily taste and quality but just the design of the program. Jenny came to take my order but despite being unsure what to order, I was not exactly walked through the menu, nor offered any suggestions or wine pairing options, whereas Etihad had the onboard chef offering to do a tasting menu with wine pairing. It is not explicitly stated nor is it offered, but over all SQ Suites is a la carte dine anytime, but generally it follows the usual meal service pattern, right after takeoff, midflight snack and breakfast served 2 hours prior to arrival. Jenny did ask if perhaps I wanted to start with the Caviar, which got me excited as I did not see it on the menu, but alas it was just the Cauliflower Panna Cotta topped with some caviar, not exactly a caviar service, but appreciated her pointing out caviar! What is interesting in regards to the wine list is that some labels are not available on all flights as there is a big “OR” written between some options and it’ll depend what your flight is carrying. But where SQ wins is the non-alcoholic beverage options, especially with Single-Origin coffee selection! The mains on this flight were prepared and designed by French Michelin Starred chef Georges Blanc, part of SQ’s culinary panel of chefs. I will post the menu at the end. And food descriptions will come later.
I then headed to the bathroom again, this time to use it, and returned to see my Krug had been topped off. I was then shown and asked to swivel my chair to takeoff position, facing the front and bulkhead. Jenny laid out my Lalique slippers and socks next to me (my rule of thumb is to never change into slippers or take off my shoes until after takeoff, for safety and escaping reasons) as Lawrence explained that I could begin watching movies and use the entertainment system with the touch pad control and watch on the smaller bulkhead TV as we taxi and takeoff. I was also handed a thick plush blanket for use while in the chair. After the safety video, they played a high level Suites walkthrough intro video. Again, SQ is famous for their attentive service wherein they anticipate your needs and know what you want before you do, most of the time.
We then took off.
Shortly after takeoff, I swiveled my chair to meal and TV viewing position, the second of 4 main positions (takeoff/landing, meal/TV, bedtime, and window viewing). I then reclined into the full recline, which I found comfortable and great recline. At this point the Inflight Manager Halim, came by the introduce himself and welcome me. Then came my Singapore Sling. Once again Lawrence offered to take my picture. Lawrence also further walked me through some features of the suite, including lighting adjustments, and swiveling of the TV as he swapped the TV viewing from the bulkhead screen to the main 32inch TV, he had noticed I was struggling to figure this out. There are multiple lighting settings: high, medium, low, night (just under lighting) and completely off. You can also adjust the two side wall lights, they have multiple angles and can be dimmed on their own as well. I learned that the passenger cannot control this, only the FA….or maybe I could have if I knew it was controlled from the outside panel? Then came some warm nuts, including delicious candied walnuts.
My massive tray table was then pulled out and table set for dinner. As many have noted in their reviews, its a bit awkward that you sort of half face your swiveled TV and half face your neighbor across the aisle during meal service. Thankfully you are in a suite and the doors can close, which if both you and your neighbor are dining, the crew will close. Thankfully my neighbor went straight to bed and didnt eat dinner so with my suite door open it was ok. But also, if you are like me and watch movies during the meal, you eyes wont be peeled on your neighbor, it will be on the massive 32inch TV. The meal service was attentive, well paced and efficient (after all, overnight flight). After I finished my Singapore Sling I was immediately asked what I’d like to drink next, I began going through the wines, and each time my wine glass was empty, I was asked if I wanted more of the same wine or switch to another, and I was never once left waiting for too long with my empty glass. The only minor glitch during the meal service was that I was served the wrong soup. I was not upset as the plating was nice and it smelled delicious just not what I ordered. I promptly let them know and the immediately corrected it and apologized. The chestnut truffle soup was incredible and contained some real black truffle shavings. The bacon wrapped steak was by far the best steak I have eaten in the skies, it was served medium rare and Jenny said they could cook it more if that was not my liking, thankfully it was. Indeed so tender, juicy, perfectly medium rare and full of flavor. The flow was great, Jenny served the plates, Elroy the extras like bread, and Lawrence had the wine. Meal service in pictures below:
After my meal, I changed into my very soft Lalique pajamas. It could be that the crew were busy post-meal service but unlike Etihad, I had to awkwardly wait around a bit for someone to come and offer to have my bed made. It was not a long wait at all, but I also just wanted to see and compare how proactive or observant SQ would be. Nonetheless Jenny showed up in no time to offer to make my bed and soon I had my bed in the skies ready. She then offered to take my photo of me sitting in bed. On my flight with Etihad, the crew pretty much knew every time I left my apartment, and I would always return to my bed re-made with a new water bottle, even if I hadnt finished my other one. This did not quite happen with SQ. I totally understand wanting to give guests complete privacy and to not bother them at all during sleep but nonetheless would have been nice to constantly have water topped off to stay hydrated they could have propped the door open and left water by the orchid, I could care less if my bed was made every time, that is just a nice extra touch. But during meal service the SQ crew were very observant and would peer through the openings of the doors to check on drinks and food and come and refill when needed. Truly their signature anticipating your needs service.
Some complain about how SQ keeps their cabins really warm and that the bed on the new suites are very hard. I have to say, I found the cabin temperature perfect, unlike western airlines that like to make the plane a tundra. The bed was not hard, but it was firm. People forget that SQ is an Asia-based carrier and the vast majority of fliers in Asia are well….Asian who tend to prefer warmer temperatures and firmer bedding than Westerners. The two pillows were fluffy and together offered the right balance of soft and firm. I was basically drunk and slept like a baby for a solid 4-5 hours. I would say, Emirates’ mattress pad on their suites is still the most comfortable I have experienced, though many say Cathay Pacific first has the best mattress.
About 5.5 hours from arrival I woke up, pulled up my bed, the bed can be pulled up to go into a reclined position to TV viewing, and then later decided it was time for a midflight snack so pressed the call button. Lawrence arrived promptly as I got up to sit in the chair, he then manually swiveled out the TV for my viewing before taking my order. I ordered some Prawn Bee Tai Mak noodle soup with water and of course Krug. The Krug and water promptly came thereafter, and I was offered to take pictures with the bottle of Krug, or maybe I asked to do that after offered to take picture of just the bottle. Then my tray table was once again set, and my noodles came piping hot. It was light, delicious, and warm. Both my water and Krug were consistently topped off and I noticed at least one crew member constantly come back to peer through the suite doors to check. After my first snack was cleared Lawrence came by to gift me with Singapore Airlines teddy bears, this time they were 787-10 teddy bears, one male and one female teddy. “Mr. Huang, I should have brought these earlier for you, but here are Singapore Airlines teddys for you.” It was during this midflight service that I chatted more with the crew and it made more sense to them when I explained I work in the industry and also am a plane nerd as they had observed how excited I was to be aboard the suites. Lawrence also made sure I was aware of and had taken advantage of the complimentary 100MB wifi for Suites and Business class passengers.
I was still feeling hungry so I ordered the Focaccia BBQ Pork sandwich with roasted vegetables, while not Etihad Steak Sandwich, it was still really good and flavorful and just the right portion size. I am fairly sure by the end of my midflight service, combined with what I had at predeparture, that I consumed about 1.5 bottles of Krug.
It is not immediately clear where the button or lever is to bring the bed back into bed mode, but Elroy and Lawrence were quick to come to my rescue as they saw me struggling. I slept for another solid hour or so. By this time most of the other 5 passengers, yes the cabin was full, had woken up. I opened the two-layered auto window shades and saw the sun was rising, we would end up chasing the sunrise for the rest of the flight which was beautiful. Jenny came by with another water bottle and said she would come back shortly to take breakfast orders as breakfast would be served soon. I was about to try to get some more rest and said she could totally wake me up if I fell asleep. I think she felt a bit bad doing so later on, but I had already said it was fine and was completely ok with it. She grabbed the menu and I ordered from bed. This time she did start by asking what drinks I’d like to begin with, and if I wanted to start with fruits and methodically went down the menu. I ordered fruits, then Muesli, then Nasi Lemak for the main paired with OJ and Jamaican single origin coffee. I also had croissant and pineapple croissant from the bread basket. I also tried the Ethiopian single origin coffee, which I preferred over the Jamaican one for the acidity. Once again my water and OJ was consistently topped off. At the start of my meal, another crew offered to take pictures of me with my food, and I said I’d wait for my Nasi Lemak, she never came back, but I did ask Jenny to do so, including a fake candid, I know, Im so shameless.
After my meal was cleared it was soon time to prepare for arrival. I freshened up in the bathroom and changed back into my clothes before relaxing in bed one last time till the very last minute when Jenny came by to ask if it was ok to stow the bed and bedding to prepare for landing. We began our descent, I swiveled to landing position. Lawrence came by twice with mints. He then asked, “Mr. Huang is there anything else you’d like to see or take pictures of?” I was a little caught off guard as I had no idea what else I would want to take pictures of, he then offered “How about the wines? I noticed you enjoyed the wines and took pictures of the bottles.” I said sure. Next thing I know Lawrence and Elroy came with every bottle of Suites wines and lined them up for me to snap a few photos. Lawrence then cleared it away before coming back with his business card as he thanked me for flying with them and of course asked for feedback and even listed the crew’s names for me in case I forgot. The sun was rising over the alps and “You Raise Me Up” started to play on the boarding music playlist, it was a magical moment sitting in my suite, watching the sun rise with this music playing. Bliss.
Upon arrival, I asked Lawrence if I could tour the rest of Singapore Airlines’ stunning new A380s with upgraded business class, premium economy and economy class cabins. He said sure after everyone disembarks, he was concerned about time but I said I had plenty of connection time so not to worry. This was also my way of maximizing time aboard….as I did not want to leave at all. The other three cabins are also beautiful, great color schemes and high quality finishes. SQ is as always top of the line stuff.
Another unforgettable first class Suites experience in the books. Singapore Airlines has always been among my favorite airlines. From their service, to food, to entertainment, to their amazing hub of SIN and their dedication to aviation and their own heritage/ history. The new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites is truly an excellent product. There is so much space, so many suite functions and features, the food is delicious and wine selection top notch. The service was consistent, professional, friendly and warm and only kept getting warmer and friendlier as they got to know me more. Even the things I complained about were honestly minor and really just comparison points to Etihad which I rank a close second to this Suites experience, mainly because the Apartments itself now comes second. The ground experience as a Suites passenger was just ok, your standard premium cabin experience with a quiet exclusive lounge. Would be great if there was a little more in the massive bathroom, as I am not sure just how much use that vanity set gets. Personally I feel for Suites passengers SQ should offer full free wifi or no free wifi at all, 100MB was used up quite quickly.
And finally, a shout out to Lawrence, Jenny and Elroy for their incredible service and for making a difference in this memorable and miracle of a flight.