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2017 turned out to be a very exciting year in terms of airline announcements. Among the most thrilling were the unveiling of new first-class suites from both Singapore Airlines and Emirates…within about a week of each other!
Singapore Airlines’ old Suites aboard the A380, which debuted in 2007, were already spectacular. However, the new Suites took in-flight luxury to a whole other level. In fact, TPG rated them as the world’s best new first class after flying them in February.
The bad news is that they’re only available on a limited number of aircraft and routes so far. They’re also among the hardest airline awards to book. Not impossible, though, as you’re about to learn.
Here’s where you can fly the new Singapore Suites, all the glorious amenities you can expect on board, and how you can use miles to book them as awards.
Aircraft and Routes
Singapore Airlines eventually plans to retrofit its older A380s with the new Suites (along with new business class and premium economy seats) by the end of 2020. For now, though, flyers will only find the new Suites aboard the five new A380s the airline will take delivery of by the end of this year. Here are the routes they are flying.
Singapore (SIN) to Sydney (SYD): This was the debut route for the new Suites, and the one that TPG flew. Like the other routes on which you’ll find the new Suites, this one is flown several times a day by a variety of aircraft, so pay special attention to the flight numbers.
- SQ221 Singapore (SIN) 8:20 pm departure → Sydney (SYD) 5:55 am (+1) arrival
- SQ232 Sydney (SYD) 11:00 am departure → Singapore (SIN) 5:30 pm arrival
Singapore (SIN) to London Heathrow (LHR): Singapore Airlines decided to put the Suites on one of its other premier international routes, to London’s Heathrow Airport.
- SQ322 Singapore (SIN) 11:30 pm departure → London (LHR) 5:55 am (+1) arrival*
- SQ317 London (LHR) 11:25 am departure → Singapore (SIN) 7:30 am (+1) arrival*
*These times will change slightly in October.
Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG): The next route to debut the new Suites was between Singapore and Hong Kong. There are a lot of daily flights between the two hubs, though, so double and triple check your aircraft.
- SQ856 Singapore (SIN) 9:55 am departure → Hong Kong (HKG) 1:55 pm arrival
- SQ861 Hong Kong (HKG) 3:40 pm departure → Singapore (SIN) 7:35 pm arrival
Singapore (SIN) to Shanghai (PVG): Another medium-haul for the new Suites began service in August.
- SQ830 Singapore (SIN) 9:45 am departure → Shanghai (PVG) 3:05 pm arrival
- SQ833 Shanghai (PVG) 4:50 pm departure → Singapore (SIN) 10:20 pm arrival
Singapore (SIN) to Zurich (ZRH): The fifth and final route for the time being is between Singapore and Switzerland.
- SQ346 Singapore (SIN) 1:25 am departure → Zurich (ZRH) 8:15 am arrival
- SQ345 Zurich (ZRH) 11:45 am departure → Singapore (SIN) 5:55 am (+1) arrival
That’s it for now, but stay tuned for further routes as more aircraft with the new Suites come online.
The Suites and Service
So what exactly makes these Suites (and the overall first-class experience) so spectacular? Let’s start with size.
Whereas Singapore Airlines’ older A380s have 12 Suites in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration at the front of the lower deck, the A380s with the new Suites have just six of them at the front of the top deck.
There are three Suites running down the sides of the cabin in a 1 – 1 pattern, and each has its own closing door for privacy.
Adjoining Suites 1A and 2A can be combined into doubles, as can 1F and 2F. But alone, each Suite is 50 square feet – enormous by airline standards.
Suites contain not only Poltrona Frau leather armchairs that are adjustable into multiple positions and swivel up to 270 degrees, but also completely separate, stowable beds. The beds are 76 inches long and 27 inches wide.
Flight attendants dress them with mattress pads and Lalique linens when it comes time for a snooze…in your new, complimentary Lalique pajamas, of course.
A console next to the chair holds the oversize table for working and dining on demand from a list of specialties created by the airline’s International Culinary Panel of chefs.
The other console holds a lit vanity mirror, Bose noise-canceling headphones, a Lalique amenity kit and AC, USB and HDMI ports.
Each Suite has its own 32-inch HD in-flight entertainment monitor, which flyers can control with touchscreen tablets that can also adjust the Suite’s lighting, manipulate the electronic blinds and call for service from the flight attendants.
The first class cabin has two commodious, dedicated lavatories. The larger one contains a sit-down vanity counter with products for freshening up and a separate WC.
There are no showers, but you can’t have everything.
Using Miles and Points
To book Singapore Suites, you’ll need to have miles in Singapore Airlines’ own KrisFlyer frequent flyer program. If you aren’t already a member of KrisFlyer, create your free account here.
Part of what makes KrisFlyer so special is that it partners with the three major credit card points programs. If you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards into your KrisFlyer account. With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll need a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to transfer your points to KrisFlyer. Meanwhile, if you have a card like the Citi Prestige Card or Citi Premier Card, you can transfer your Citi ThankYou Rewards into a KrisFlyer account.
Just be aware that these transfers may not be instantaneous. For full details on the tests we’ve run, check out the following posts:
Per the Singapore award chart, here’s how many miles you’ll need for a one-way award ticket at both the Saver level (which you want) and the higher Advantage level.
Because you’ll need Singapore KrisFlyer miles to book an award in the new Suites, the only place you’re going to want to search for awards is on Singapore Airlines’ own website. Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines is not releasing much, if any, Saver availability on flights with the new Suites.
However, remember that KrisFlyer allows you to waitlist awards; in this case, you’d hold out hope that space opens up before your departure date. This is probably the single most useful attribute of the program. Although you must have enough miles in your account to cover the cost of the award if you want to waitlist, you don’t have to book anything automatically if space opens up. If and when it does, you usually have three days to decide whether to book or not, and you can waitlist as many awards as you like without any fees.
Now let’s take a look at award availability on each of the routes over the coming months.
The bad news is, there is very little to no outright Saver level award space on most of these routes. There is a silver lining, though: both Saver and Advantage awards are waitlist-able on many of them, covering quite a few days. If you can stockpile the miles to waitlist a lot of awards and have some flexibility, your chances of actually snagging an award should improve dramatically.
NOTE: All screen shots below are accurate at the time of writing, though exact award availability fluctuates from day-to-day.
Singapore to Shanghai: This is the route on which I actually found bookable Saver-level awards on several days, and might be worth it since it clocks in at over five hours in each direction. Singapore to Shanghai will cost you 50,000 miles plus $47 SGD ($34 USD).
There were also awards in the opposite direction for 50,000 miles plus 90 RMB ($13 USD).
Just for comparison, a round-trip itinerary would cost about $4,500 originating in Singapore ($3,500 originating in Shanghai), giving you a pretty decent return on the value of your points.
Singapore to Hong Kong: What was surprising about this route was that I did not see any awards over about four months that you could book directly. You could, however, waitlist awards on most days.
The cost would be 37,500 miles plus $47 SGD ($34 USD) from Singapore to Hong Kong, or the same amount of miles plus $325 HKD ($41 USD) in the opposite direction. Paid fares run about $3,400 round-trip originating in either city. While this would only give you roughly four hours of comfort, it could still be worth it to experience the utter luxury of the new product.
Singapore to Sydney: Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single Saver award on this route originating in Singapore from now through the end of the year. However, you could waitlist awards at the hefty Advantage level. It would cost you 150,000 miles plus $79 SGD ($57 USD) from Singapore to Sydney.
I did find a few days with waitlist-able Saver-level awards in the other direction for 80,000 miles plus $92 AUD ($67).
Paid round-trip fares were $4,700 originating in Sydney, or $6,300 in the other direction.
Singapore to London: Even on a route you’d expect to find little award space, it was demoralizing to find that flights with the new Suites on board were not even loading as possibilities! I did not find a single waitlist-able award from Singapore to London. However, I was able to find a few days with bookable Advantage awards in the opposite direction, like this one for 210,000 miles plus 201 GBP ($256) and a waitlist-able Saver award for 115,000 miles plus 201 GBP ($256).
Round-trip flights cost about $11,600 originating in Singapore, or $11,700 originating in London.
Singapore to Zurich: I wanted to end on a high note with this route, where I was actually able to find Saver awards I could waitlist for 115,000 miles plus $47 SGD ($37 USD) flying from Singapore to Zurich. I also came across Advantage awards that were bookable on the spot for 210,000 miles plus the same taxes and fees.
In the opposite direction, the best I could do was both waitlist-able Saver and Advantage awards for 115,000 and 210,000 miles respectively plus 35 CHF ($35 USD).
These seats may not be plentiful, but at least they’re out there!
Though Saver awards in Singapore Airlines’ beautiful new Suites are rare, they do exist. The ability to waitlist awards on the airline is also a good opportunity to keep your options open across several days and hopefully book an award as soon as it becomes available.
This flexibility is a good thing, since these Suites are like nothing else in the air today. With 50 square feet of space, separate seats and beds, top-notch food and amenities, not to mention Singapore’s acclaimed service, this has to be one of the best ways to fly commercially. Ever. With some strategizing and flexibility, it should be possible to book the Suites using your points and miles, and hopefully this goal will become even more realistic once more of the airline’s planes are outfitted with them.
Know before you go.
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