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Last month in Singapore, the country’s namesake airline unveiled its biggest product refresh to date — all four A380 cabins would be getting some tweaks, with the biggest updates coming to first class and biz.
While journalists from around the world flew out to Singapore for the official product launch, including TPG and assistant editor Nick Ellis, the airline had yet to take delivery of its first new A380 — attendees experienced mockups of the new product, instead.
Tuesday was our first opportunity to see the real thing, and while I wasn’t able to attend the unveiling in Singapore last month, colleagues who attended both events insist that the finished product is far more impressive than what they saw a few weeks ago. Which really says a lot considering the excitement following that November launch.
I’ll be joining the delivery flight from Airbus HQ in Toulouse, France (TLS) to Singapore (SIN) on Wednesday, but on Tuesday I had a chance to be one of the very first people to get inside the new A380.
During an informal tour at the Airbus Delivery Center, I boarded the plane through the lower deck, straight into the sizable premium-economy cabin. A walk up the stairs brought me to the intimate first-class area, with just six suites arranged in a 1-1 configuration — just as you’ll find on Etihad’s version of the plane.
Be sure to check out the video tour before digging into the photos below.
Naturally, my first stop after climbing up the grand staircase was suite 1A.
Unique to this version of the plane, suites in rows 1 and 2 can be combined to form a 2-bedroom apartment of sorts.
With the center partition lowered, you end up with a super-slick double bed.
One of my favorite things about this product is that each suite has a separate bed and chair — you can easily get up to enjoy a snack or meal without adjusting the bed.
I found the suites to be especially roomy — easily the most spacious product I’ve seen, outside of the Etihad Residence, of course.
The bedding looks fantastic, as well — I’m hoping to try it out on tomorrow’s delivery flight.
Each suite is even more spacious when you fold up the bed — I feel like there’s enough room for a small party in here!
With the bed folded up, the suites reminded me a bit of The Residence living room — it feels roughly the same size, if not a hair bigger.
Much of the A380 was still covered in plastic — such as the tablet entertainment controller — given that Singapore hasn’t officially taken delivery yet.
Everything was fully functional, though, including the manual sliding door.
Unfortunately, Singapore opted not to include a shower, which you’ll find on the Etihad and Emirates A380s.
Personally I’d prefer having a shower over the spacious bathroom and vanity area you’ll find on the starboard side of this plane, but Singapore executives insisted that according to their research, having a roomier bathroom was a bigger priority for first-class passengers.
Naturally, the question I’ve gotten most is how Singapore’s new suite compares to the product Emirates launched just a few days ago. While I haven’t had a chance to fly Singapore’s yet, it’s clear that this first-class cabin lacks some of the more flashy elements that appeal most to Emirates fans.
That said, you get far more space here, and there’s no question that this is a superior option for couples, since suites can be combined, offering a double bed. There’s no option to sleep or even dine together in Emirates’ new first class.
While I’ll get to spend some time in the suite during tomorrow’s delivery flight, we’ll need to wait for a “real” (revenue) flight before passing final judgement. My initial impressions are tremendously positive, though.
Stay tuned for a more detailed look at the new suite, and follow along live on TPG’s Facebook page, along with my own Instagram and Twitter accounts, as I’ll be sharing updates from Wednesday’s delivery flight to Singapore throughout the week.
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