Singapore Airlines revolutionized luxury travel when it first brought its Suites Class product to the world back in 2008, setting a new standard for exclusivity and innovation at the front of the plane.
With 12 gigantic suites occupying the nose of the Airbus A380’s lower deck, award-winning onboard food and drink, and the groundbreaking Double Bed in the Sky, the Singapore Suites became an instant classic, capturing the hearts and minds of travellers from all over the world.
As one such traveller myself, I was naturally overjoyed when, late last year, Singapore Airlines briefly deviated from their policy of only releasing Suites flights to their own loyalty members, and instead offered up some award space on the Auckland route to their partner airlines as well.
I therefore redeemed 95,000 Aeroplan miles for a ticket from Auckland to Beijing via Singapore, with the first 10.5-hour segment of the journey ticketed in the coveted Suites Class.
In the many years since its introduction in 2008, the original Singapore Suites has been overtaken somewhat in the luxury travel marketplace by many of its rivals, and even by Singapore’s very own newer Suites Class product on select Airbus A380s in 2018. But there was no doubt in my mind that I’d have to try out the original Double Bed in the Sky at least once, and 95,000 Aeroplan miles felt like a worthy sacrifice for checking this huge one off my bucket list.
Before we delve into the detailed review, I’ve also made a video review on the Singapore Suites experience, which you can watch below:
My departure to Singapore wouldn’t be taking place until 3:15pm on this particular Sunday in February, but I arrived at Auckland Airport at around noon, for little reason other than to build up the anticipation more and more.
The Singapore Airlines check-in counters had only just opened by now, and I followed the signage into the queue for Suites passengers. The check-in associate was able to print off my boarding passes for both the flight to Singapore and the onward flight to Beijing, and issued me a lounge invitation as well.
She also took note of the camera gear I had in my hand. “Vlogging?” she asked. “Vlogging,” I answered. Clearly, I wasn’t going to be the first passenger, nor the last, who was keen to document the Singapore Suites experience.
I breezed effortlessly through security and immigration, and then passed the time in the Air New Zealand Lounge. 15 minutes before boarding was called, I headed to the gate to stand in line, hoping to be among the first passengers onboard so I could snap photos and videos to my heart’s content.
Boarding began right on schedule, and before I knew it I was heading down the jet bridge and being greeted by the beaming First Class flight attendant at the door.
Singapore Airlines | SQ286
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Cabin: First Class
Route: Auckland (AKL) to Singapore (SIN)
Date: Sunday, February 3, 2019
Time: Departing 3:15pm and arriving 8:40pm
Duration: 10 hours 25 minutes
The flight attendant welcomed me to the flight by name, before passing my boarding card onto the chief purser. He, too, greeted me by name and motioned to show me to Seat 3C, my humble living quarters for the next 10 hours or so.
As soon as you step into the Singapore Suites, you can easily see why it’s such a classic product within the realm of luxury travel. The dark walnut furnishings look gorgeous against a soft tan backdrop, while the literal red carpet foreshadows the elegance and VIP treatment you can expect onboard.
The overall cabin aesthetic is almost reminiscent of a reading room or an old cigar club, bringing forth all the fanciful notions of high society that come with those kinds of settings.
For this flight, I had assigned myself Seat 3C, which is one of the left-side seats in the middle of the cabin. The 12 suites in this cabin are arranged in a somewhat unusual configuration: there are four seats positioned along the windows of the cabin, and four additional seats clustered in the centre with two in each row.
The different seating options are therefore very clearly geared towards both individuals and couples, with the four seats in the middle of the cabin designed to transform into two potential Double Beds in the Sky for couples travelling together.
While the natural choice for solo travellers is one of the individual seats along the windows, you can also take a chance with one of the middle seats if you want to bag a Double Bed in the Sky all to yourself. That’s exactly the move I made in choosing Seat 3C: if someone ended up choosing Seat 3D next to me, I would’ve moved somewhere else, but if 3D remained empty (as it eventually did), then I’d get to make full use of two suites rather than one!
Each suite has a truly generous square footage that’s definitely on par with most other First Class products out there. The seat itself isn’t quite as wide as, say, Cathay Pacific First Class, but you definitely won’t be feeling cramped in any way.
Let’s have a look around, shall we? As you take your seat, you’ll find yourself facing the KrisWorld entertainment monitor directly ahead. This is where you can tell that this product was introduced more than 10 years ago: the screen size is tiny compared to the suite itself!
Above the entertainment screen is a thin strip of mood lighting, as well as a small spotlight in the corner by the doors of the suite, both of which can be controlled by the buttons near your fingertips.
Beneath the screen is an ottoman, which can serve as a buddy seat if you wanted to dine or chat face-to-face with a companion. Meanwhile, as is a common practice among First Class carriers, overhead luggage bins have been sacrificed in favour of a more spacious cabin, so your carry-on luggage would go underneath the ottoman.
The seat console was designed in a very ergonomic shape: a countertop runs alongside half the length of the suite, before transforming into a larger rounded surface space that’s well within arm’s reach.
A small drink holder was set within this part of the seat console, together with the tray table, which you’d pull outwards from its compartment first before folding over into the full-sized table.
I appreciated the seat design here on Singapore Suites, because I had lots of surface space to scatter my belongings around throughout the flight, compared to some other First Class products where your personal space comes at the expense of usable surfaces.
A pair of Bang & Olufsen headphones had been placed on the countertop by my seat prior to my arrival. I never got around to using them, but based on brand name alone, I’d venture to guess that the audio quality would be top-notch.
Positioned just underneath the countertop was a comprehensive suite of ports and plugs: the universal power outlet, two USB plugs, a three-pronged jack for the B&O headphones, and a one-pronged jack for your own headphones. I wonder how long it’ll be until we see airlines adding bluetooth connectivity for our AirPods? 😉
We’ll skip over to the armrest on the opposite side. That’s where all the buttons and switches live, allowing to customize your suite and flight experience to your exact liking.
One set of buttons allows you to control your lighting preferences, call the flight attendants, and put on the Do Not Disturb sign. Beneath that, you have the standard entertainment controller, which connects to the KrisWorld entertainment system.
Then on the armrest itself, you have two buttons that slide the seat backwards and forwards between the upright and the reclining positions. Note that, unlike every other premium class seat I’ve flown on so far, the Singapore Suites seat itself does not slide into a lie-flat bed on its own; instead, as you’ll see later, you’ll need to get the crew’s help to reconfigure the entire suite into a bed.
There are a few more nooks and crannies in this little corner, including one that’s designed to be used as a small wastebasket.
That brings us to the doors and windows and their respective privacy measures: both of the suite’s windows have pull-down shades, while the door itself can of course be shut (by hand, not electronically) to provide utmost privacy. These features are latched in their original positions for taxi, takeoff, and landing, but you’re free to make use of them during the flight and shut the world out.
One last feature that’s worth mentioning: every Suites passenger has their own dedicated closet, which is positioned behind the suite itself and is accessible from the aisle. You’ll store your street clothes here once you change into your silky-smooth pajamas for the flight.
Every member of the four-person Suites Class cabin crew came by to introduce themselves, including the purser Patrick, who chatted to me about flying home for Chinese New Year, and the flight attendant Vivian, who would be the one taking care of me for most of the flight. There ended up only being five passengers booked in the cabin for today’s flight to Singapore, so with four crew members taking care of us, I was expecting the service to be exemplary.
Vivian asked me if I’d like a welcome drink. The menu hadn’t even been distributed yet, but I knew coming into the flight that Singapore Airlines serves both Dom Perignon and Krug champagne onboard Suites Class, so I started with a glass of the 2004 Krug. A warm welcome, indeed.
I was then treated to all of the in-flight goodies one after the other, with Vivian dropping by my seat every few seconds to deliver something new.
First, it was the Suites Class menu, which was ensconced within a leather-bound booklet. It’s quite a meaty publication, that’s for sure, with about 22 pages of glorious detail on all the food and drink you can enjoy onboard Singapore Airlines’s highest class of service.
You can browse through the full menu below:
Then, the amenity kit and pajamas by Lalique, a French jeweller and perfumerie.
Instead of bundling every imaginable fabric and balm into a tiny pouch, Singapore and Lalique has gone for something different: a stylish monochrome pouch containing some high-quality skincare and wellness products, with the remaining items like eye masks and slippers being hand-delivered by the flight attendant separately.
Inside the pouch, you’ll find Lalique-branded lip balm, body lotion, hand soap, and – this one’s a bit of a wildcard – a scented candle. While the concept struck me as slightly confusing at first, I guess it makes sense that Singapore and Lalique want to provide you with something to remember the flight by, once you’ve returned home from your trip.
I did get a good chuckle, though, out of the warning note on the scented candle warning that the product was not to be used during the flight!
After the amenity pouch, Vivian came by to hand me the eye mask, tube socks, pajamas, and slippers (which she unpackaged for me and placed by my feet). Talk about getting the onboard service off to a fantastic start!
I had already received a generous topping-up to my Krug, and just as I was about to ask for another, boarding had been completed and the cabin doors were closed. The captain came on the PA to announce our flying time of nine hours and 50 minutes, and the safety video began to play.
Patrick came by to check on me just before takeoff, so I asked if I could move over to Seat 3K, the window seat on the opposite side, to capture some takeoff views. He was more than happy to oblige, so I popped over and got to briefly try out the window seats on Singapore Suites as well.
As soon as we reached cruising altitude, Vivian came by once again, this time to take my meal order for the flight. But first, it was time to resume normal champagne service, and Vivian asked if I wanted to switch from the Krug to the 2009 Dom Perignon.
Vivian confirmed with me the meal choices I had made through Singapore Airlines’s Book the Cook service, which allows premium guests to pre-select their meal from an expanded menu before the flight. Lobster Thermidor immediately after takeoff? Check. Grilled New Zealand lamb loin for the supper course? Check.
She then returned shortly after that with the first course of the afternoon: the chicken and lamb satay, a Singapore Airlines specialty. Satay’s signature nutty flavour was a perfect way to jumpstart my palate and get it ready for the gastronomic maelstrom that was to come.
Next, the table was set, the flatware was laid down, and the ultimate staple of First Class travel was presented before my eyes: a generous helping of Malossol caviar, surrounded by various accompaniments.
While most airlines give you soft blinis to scoop the caviar, Singapore uses crispy toast instead, which is a nice contrast to the smoothness and saltiness of the caviar pearls.
Alas, they don’t go as far to give you a mother-of-pearl spoon, though (I recently learned that metal cutlery actually alters the taste of caviar, which is why a mother-of-pearl spoon is the preferred utensil.)
After polishing off every last pearl, it was time for the next dish. Now, I had asked whether I could try the second appetizer option as well – a cold-poached lobster dish – but Vivian told me they unfortunately didn’t stock enough plates of it. Instead, she asked if I wanted to try a similar chilled seafood dish from business class instead, and I was happy to do so.
I also ordered a glass of Shiraz red wine to go with my surprise appetizer.
That was followed by the soup course, where I chose the Chinese-style double boiled chicken soup over the Western option. As it turns out, it was a kind of soup that I don’t actually like all that much, so I probably could’ve done without this course.
The final installment in this seemingly never-ending series of appetizers was a salad consisting of rocket, spinach, beetroot, quinoa, and cherry tomato. It tasted fine, but compared to the rest of the meal, it was pretty nondescript stuff.
That was no problem, though, because the next plate on my table – the Book the Cook-inspired main course of Lobster Thermidor – dazzled me with every bite. It was a dish well worthy of being served in a high-end seafood restaurant, the subtle taste of the lobster brine seeping beautifully into the rich layer of Gruyère on top.
Despite feeling rather full from the initial onslaught of appetizers, I still finished every bite, and even devoured the vegetables on the side.
Wow. This dessert was quite unlike anything I’ve ever had before, and once again I couldn’t help but consume every last spoonful.
The remaining parts of the meal – the cheese and fruit plates – were relatively more pedestrian compared to the indulgent gourmet dishes I had just eaten, so I told Vivian I’d try a few bites from each, but probably wouldn’t be able to finish the whole thing.
I was definitely impressed by the vast fruit selection that Vivian brought over, but ultimately I only had a tiny helping of grapes, strawberries, and cantaloupe.
Since I wasn’t planning to sleep anytime soon, I ordered a cappuccino to finish off the meal. I was also presented with a variety of chocolates and pralines, but again, I only took a small handful to nibble on for the rest of the flight.
My tablecloth was finally withdrawn just as we finished traversing the Tasman Sea and arrived at the coast of Australia. This had been a truly spectacular meal, with the Lobster Thermidor absolutely stealing the show.
A meal like that is necessarily followed by a bathroom break of similarly epic proportions, so I headed to the Suites Class restroom at the front of the Airbus A380’s lower deck. The facilities are quite spacious here on Singapore Suites, with more than enough room to move around and get changed into your pajamas, although they aren’t quite as spacious as some other Airbus A380 carriers I’ve flown (like Asiana First Class).
On the plus side, the restroom is fully stocked with various amenities and toiletries, such as dental kits, shaving kits, and mouthwash. These weren’t included in the Lalique amenity kit, so it was nice to have them here in the restroom.
There were about seven hours of the flight left, so I decided to get some work done for now. It seemed like the crew wanted to encourage passengers to get some rest, though, because they dimmed the cabin lights and drew the window shades pretty soon after the meal service came to an end.
Singapore Airlines has wifi on their Airbus A380s, and passengers flying in Suites can enjoy complimentary wifi… of up to 100MB. I suppose I should be happy with getting any free wifi at all, but a 100MB allowance felt a little stingy on Singapore’s part, especially since I was busy uploading Instagram stories throughout the flight.
I therefore spent most of my time working offline, since I needed to conserve the data allowance for upcoming Instagram stories. And when I eventually did use up all of the 100MB, I was given the option of purchasing 50MB for US$19.99. Nah.
I worked for about two hours, at one point asking Vivian to resume the champagne service, deciding to switch back to Krug at this point. I’ll need many more tasting sessions in the sky before I know for sure, but I think I’ve developed a very slight preference for Krug over Dom thus far.
With about five hours of the flight left to go, I decided it was finally time for the showpiece occasion: the Double Bed in the Sky.
If you look at how the suites in the middle of the cabin are designed, you’ll see that the two seat consoles form a large solid countertop in the very middle of the space. How, then, are the two suites transformed into a double bed?
The answer is that the beds themselves are housed in an entirely separate chamber in the back walls of the suites, and the crew members fold them downwards into place to form the bed. It’s a completely unique concept among First Class products, and when this is done for both suites in the middle section, you end up with none other than the stunning and spacious Double Bed in the Sky.
I mean, would you just look at that…
Vivian and Patrick worked together to fix up the double bed, which was very kind of them, since it was only myself occupying the whole space after all. They set up me with pillows and blankets on my seat, Seat 3C, leaving some empty space in Seat 3D for relaxing and lounging around.
Vivian even brought out some teddy bears as decoration, which wore tiny T-shirts commemorating Singapore’s new Dreamliners and their ultra-long-haul flight service to New York. How cute!
With the beds folded downwards, some of the original seat features were no longer accessible, so it was a mark of the clever seat design that some additional features had now been revealed. These included a second set of USB plugs, power outlets, and headphone jacks on the side of the bed…
…as well as a coat hook and some additional suite controls up against the back wall.
With the doors shut and the blinds pulled down, I now had my very own private sanctuary in the middle of the Airbus A380. I had never experienced anything like this before, and it was an incredible feeling.
Fuelled by the free-flowing Krug, I entered a state of gleeful relaxation as I laid spread-eagle in my Double Bed in the Sky, tossing the teddy bears in the air and thinking about how crazy it was that I had booked this five-figure luxury experience for only 95,000 Aeroplan miles.
After a solid hour or so of lounging around in awe of my surroundings, I tried to decide what I wanted to do next. I didn’t really plan on sleeping during this flight, since it was taking place entirely during the daytime, and I also didn’t really feel like watching anything on the tiny entertainment screen either.
So I decided to try something from the snack menu, or the “Delectables” as Singapore calls it. I chose the Bee Hoon noodles with shrimp and vegetables, and asked Vivian if I could take my meal in one of the empty window seats adjacent to me, since I didn’t want to give up my double bed just yet.
Eating noodles from the snack menu is basically a rite of passage for me when flying with Asian carriers, and this portion of Bee Hoon noodles didn’t disappoint in the slightest, especially with some chilli sauce mixed in.
Since there was still yet another meal left on this flight, I also spent a few minutes walking around the cabin in order to help with the digestion. I saw that the other four passengers had indeed dozed off, since it was getting pretty late in New Zealand Time by this point.
Meanwhile, the staircase leading up to the Airbus A380’s upper deck was looking sharp, dressed in a soft layer of mood lighting.
Soon, I was curled up in my blankets once again, and I too started to drift off to sleep, even though I had every intention of staying awake. The Double Bed in the Sky was every bit as comfortable as it was opulent, although I will note that the central divider between the two suites is noticeably harder than the mattress pads on either side, if you happen to roll over onto it.
After about an hour of light sleep, I was awoken by Alan, the other flight attendant who had taken over from Vivian while she got her crew rest, for the pre-landing supper service.
Supper began with burrata as an appetizer, which is a dish that I quite enjoy. I also ordered a cup of 1837 Black Tea, the signature infusion by one of Singapore’s most well-known tea houses, to go with the meal.
Next up was a roasted tomato soup with a smoked cheese cracker on top. It was absolutely delicious, and set the stage well for the main course coming up after.
That would be, of course, the grilled New Zealand lamb loin that I had selected from the Book the Cook menu before the flight.
The lamb loin was almost perfectly executed. I thought the taste was exquisite, but the texture was slightly on the tough side. Nevertheless, it was still a highly impressive dish to be eating at 37,000 feet.
Comparing the two Book the Cook dishes I tried on this flight, I’d say the Lobster Thermidor just about edged ahead, and I’m glad I chose that one for the main meal after takeoff instead of the other way around.
The food and drink on this flight had been a veritable showpiece, whose final act came in the form of a soothingly sweet chia seed panna cotta.
As a final courtesy, all four crew members came to thank me for flying with Singapore Airlines and to wish me a pleasant onward journey.
Vivian, who was so warm and passionate in her service, and who even helped me with many parts of my photography and videography, presented me with a card asking for my feedback to the crew. And while I don’t usually follow up with feedback after a flight, I made sure to send a quick message to Singapore Airlines this time around, commending the crew on a job well done.
With half an hour until landing in Singapore, my tablecloth was withdrawn for the last time, and I was left to settle into my seat as we made our descent and reflect upon everything I had seen, eaten, and experienced over the past 10 hours.
It took some time to judge how this flight compared to my previous First Class exploits, but eventually I decided that Singapore Suites had treated me to the best flight of my life so far.
Singapore Airlines is known for its world-class soft product, and this flight was a shining example. I was particularly impressed by how well they executed two full meal services, with both Book the Cook dishes leaving a huge impression on me – most other First Class products heavily emphasize the first meal over the second, whereas I thought Singapore pulled off both meals in surpassing fashion. Moreover, the onboard service achieved equally high marks, with Vivian in particular practically redefining hospitality in how attentive she was with me.
Throw in the bottomless 2004 Krug and 2009 Dom Perignon and the sheer extravagance of having the Double Bed in the Sky all to myself, and this was a flight that I’m certain I’ll never forget. Needless to say, having now flown the original Singapore Suites, my sights are now firmly set on Singapore’s New Suites Class, which I hope to try out sometime very soon!