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On Monday, Singapore Airlines launched passenger service with its new Airbus A380, flying from Changi Airport (SIN) to Sydney (SIN) and back. TPG reader Kelly D. was onboard both flights, flying business class on the outbound and the airline’s outstanding new first-class suite on the return.

I only managed to get a few minutes in the suite during last week’s delivery, so I’ve been eager to see impressions from the first passenger trip. Kelly also happened to be with me on the inaugural Emirates first-class flight to Brussels (BRU) on December 1, and the Qatar Qsuite inaugural back in June. I highly recommend following Kelly’s adventures via his Instagram account — the man gets around!

Kelly was kind enough to share some impressions — in what I believe to be TPG’s first-ever reader flight review — which you’ll find below. All of the images below (and up top) are courtesy of Kelly as well. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Kelly!

Scroll on for his full report.

Booking

As soon as the new Singapore A380 inaugural opened for sale, I tried to book a suite, but unfortunately they were already sold out, along with the return inaugural flight from Sydney on December 19, so I waitlisted both flights, instead. After a couple of weeks with no movement, I pretty much gave up and canceled the waitlists and decided to keep my feet on the ground for a few weeks, which isn’t normal for me.

Then, one day as I was randomly checking both flights, I noticed that the return inaugural had two open suites, so I immediately grabbed one and then set upon creating an entire journey around that one flight. My objective with this trip was to try the new suite, in addition to Qantas’ new 787-9 business class, along with Thai’s 787 and A350. In the end, the final itinerary included 14 flights on seven airlines spanning almost 40,000 miles — quite the round-the-world adventure. At some point during this trip I’ll hit 3,000,000 lifetime miles flown, and almost 400,000 for the year.

So in the end, my routing was as follows:

1. Palm Springs (PSP) to Boston (BOS) via Los Angeles (LAX) and Newark (EWR) in United first and business class for $337. I was originally planning to fly through Chicago (ORD), but on the morning of my flight, I was able to change to route through Newark, instead, which landed me a flat-bed on the transcon for for no additional cost, thanks to my United Premier Gold status, which allows for free same-day changes.

2. Boston (BOS) to Frankfurt (FRA) to Shanghai (PVG) to Taipei (TPE) to Bangkok (BKK) to Melbourne (MEL) for 110,000 Aeroplan miles and around $900 CAD in taxes and fees. The first two flights were in Lufthansa first class, Shanghai to Taipei was in Juneyao business class and then Taipei to Bangkok to Melbourne was booked in business class on Thai.

Unfortunately on the BKK-MEL sector, Thai decided to swap in an A330 for the A350, which was a huge disappointment, so I ended up buying a one-way ticket on Singapore Airlines to Sydney (see below).

3. Bangkok (BKK) to Singapore (SIN) to Sydney (SYD) in Singapore Airlines business class for $2,247. As I mentioned, I booked this ticket after Thai swapped out the Airbus A350. In the end, I’m happy things turned out they did as I was able to get on both inaugural flights and got to spend time with a good friend along the way.

4. Sydney (SYD) to Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG) in Singapore’s new first-class suite for $2,986. This was a pretty decent fare, and landed me two first-class flights.

5. Hong Kong (HKG) to Seoul (ICN) to Auckland (AKL) in Korean Air first class for 80,000 SkyPass miles and $81 in taxes.

6. Auckland (AKL) to Melbourne (MEL) to Los Angeles (LAX) in Qantas business class for $2,575.

Airport and Lounge

I was actually able to get my Sydney-Singapore boarding pass at the first-class check-in area at Changi Airport, so my first stop in Sydney was the SilverKris Lounge, with a separate section for first-class passengers, which Zach Honig had also visited ahead of his Thai first-class flight to Bangkok earlier this year. I was able to grab a shower and breakfast and get some work done before the flight.

About an hour before boarding, we headed to the gate area, where we found a reception with lots of food, Champagne and entertainment.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

We were among the first to board, and were escorted all the way to the airplane door by the ground staff.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Cabin and Seat

My first impressions were very positive — the cabin has a classy, understated elegance.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

The luxe finishes were very subtle and easy on the eyes.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

I found the seat to very comfortable in both the upright and reclined positions…

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

…especially reclined.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

The bed was definitely a bit on the hard side, even with the added mattress pad.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

The Lalique linens were outstanding, and I managed to get about two hours of sleep.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

There were a couple things I didn’t love, though. First, when the seat is in the dining position, you have a clear view of your neighbor across the aisle, unless your door is closed. Personally, I don’t like having my door closed during a meal service, and apparently neither did my neighbor, so it was a bit awkward.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

The other issue is that when the seat is not in the default take-off/landing position, it wobbles (badly at times) during turbulence. The airline did have two engineers on the flight, so they were made aware of the wobble issue as well as any other feedback passengers had.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

The 32-inch TV was very nice and the IFE was very responsive.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

I especially appreciated the ability to choose films and music prior to the flight using Singapore’s app and then link up to the IFE in the air.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Amenities

When I entered the suite I found a Singapore Airlines-branded Lalique amenity kit.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

This was definitely one of the better-stocked kits I’ve come across, containing a scented candle, body lotion, lip balm, bar soap and a crystal fish sculpture.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

There was also a set of Bose noise-canceling headphones.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

A pair of Lalique slippers and a day blanket were waiting in the closet.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

A set of Lalique pajamas were handed out after takeoff.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

There were Lalique amenities in the bathrooms as well.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Food and Beverage

All of the food  was outstanding! I did Book the Cook, selecting my main course in advance.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

After boarding, I was served a pre-departure beverage and opted for a glass of Dom Perignon, which I also enjoyed throughout the rest of the flight.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

For my appetizer, I went with the seared kingfish loin on Niçoise salad. This was the first dish of the service, and it did not disappoint! All of the items on the plate combined together to make a very good appetizer.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Next was a roasted pumpkin soup with gnocchetti pasta — a very flavorful dish with a nice consistency.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

The mesclun salad with dried cranberries, shaved fennel and parmesan with a honey mustard dressing was good, but not memorable.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

One thing I did notice is that the portion size of the lobster thermidor is definitely smaller than previous flights. Too bad since it’s so good!

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Finally, for dessert I had the warm chocolate cake a-la-mode. The presentation was so beautiful I didn’t want to touch it! It was very good…

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Later, a flight attendant came by with fresh fruit served from a basket, and I grabbed some strawberries and a tangerine. I love that they served from a basket instead of the usual plate of cut-up fruit.

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

I really enjoyed the meal. There was so much food!

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Overall Impression

While the new suites are a huge improvement over the existing product, there are a few areas where they fall short. Dining facing your neighbor across the aisle shouldn’t be a thing in today’s newer first-class cabins. Obviously, that’s not something they can change at this point, but there’s just not as much privacy as I expected. I’m 5’10” and could almost see over the wall into my neighbor’s suite.

The service was outstanding — I’ve flown Singapore a lot and this was one of the best crews I’ve ever had. I was impressed by their level of professionalism. The one thing that really stood out was the captain coming down and chatting with everyone in the cabin. I’m sure it was just because of the occasion, but it was still nice. And it was amazing to have him sign my log book right in front of me — in my suite!

Photo courtesy of Kelly D.
Photo courtesy of Kelly D.

Still, if I had to choose between Emirates’ new first class and Singapore’s new suites, I would go with Emirates for more privacy and a slightly more comfortable chair.

For more on Singapore’s new A380 and first-class suite, see:

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