8 reasons I’m excited about Singapore Airlines’ A380 Suites flying to the US
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After months of anticipation, Singapore Airlines has begun flying the Airbus A380 with its newest first-class Suites to the U.S. for the first time, and I was on the first flight from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on Monday.
It’s been a few years since I last flew this incredible product, but I still think back fondly to my last flight, being pampered at 30,000 feet in my own private space as the crew served me a gourmet, multicourse meal accompanied by fine wines, and I freshened up in the lavatory with bespoke Lalique products while flight attendants made up my bed.
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There are a few more hoops to jump through before boarding these days, including COVID-19 testing, providing proof of vaccination and having to wear a face mask. Those inconveniences aside, though, the experience was just as enjoyable as I remembered it, and I can’t wait to fly it again.
Plus, given the decent award availability Singapore Airlines has released on this route, chances are I might just get to do so again. For now, though, I’ll have to savor this recent flight even as I plan my next one. Here are eight reasons to get excited about Singapore Airlines flying its newest first-class Suites to the U.S. and how you can hop aboard yourself.
Plenty of award availability
One of the things I appreciate most about Singapore Airlines launching service to the U.S. with its Suites is that the airline has released a decent amount of award availability.
What’s more, if you don’t have your heart set on flying the entire route from New York to Frankfurt and on to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), or from one destination to another in particular, there are four potential legs to choose from as you plot out your award strategy.
For my specific flight, I was able to snag a seat from Frankfurt to New York by redeeming just 86,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles and paying 117 euros ($128) in taxes and fees. The opposite direction would require the same number of miles and similar taxes.
The leg between Singapore and Frankfurt, meanwhile, requires a heftier 125,000 miles each way, but if you have the miles, the awards are there.
Remember, even if you’re not swimming in KrisFlyer miles, you can transfer points from:
- American Express Membership Rewards.
- Capital One.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards.
- Marriott Bonvoy.
So you have plenty of options for topping up your account, which is a good thing considering these flights typically cost between $6,500 and $10,000, depending on which segment you take.
The flight timing
Flying from New York to Frankfurt might feel like a more natural fit, but it happens to be an overnight flight. I’d probably opt to eat as quickly as possible then get some sleep, missing most of the time in the air.
However, my schedule worked out well since it turned out I would be in Europe and needing to get back to the U.S. when the flight launched, so I booked my award in that direction instead. By contrast, this is a daytime flight, departing at 8:25 a.m. in Frankfurt and arriving in New York at 11:10 a.m. — more time to be awake and enjoy all that luxury!
If you’re thinking of the hop between Singapore and Frankfurt, I’d suggest the leg beginning in Frankfurt since that, too, is a daytime flight, while the one originating in Singapore takes off late at night.
The fabulous Suites themselves
Singapore Airlines made a huge splash when it unveiled these suites back in 2017 since they were a dramatic departure from the airline’s previous (and much-loved) suites.
The airline’s A380 jumbo jets have just six of these Suites aboard. They are configured in three rows of two seats each, one on each side of the aisle, and are located at the front of the jet’s upper deck.
Suites have closing doors for privacy, but what truly sets them apart from other first-class products is their size. Each suite measures up at an impressive 50 square feet and contains not just a Poltrona Frau leather armchair, but also an entirely separate bed.
The chair reclines to 45 degrees and swivels up to 270 degrees so you can face the window or the wall with the entertainment monitor. While some folks seem to feel that this range of motion makes the seat feel a bit more cramped in certain positions, I don’t have any issues with it.
An entirely separate bed pops out of a side compartment and flight attendants will make it up with a mattress pad and plush Lalique linens when you want to sleep. The bed is 26 inches wide and 76 inches long, and if you and a companion are traveling in Suites 1A and 2A or 1F and 2F, you can lower the privacy divider between them and make the beds up into a double.
In the console next to the chair is an oversize pop-out table that can be used as a workspace or for enjoying a dine-on-demand meal.
The other console along the windows contains several compartments where you can stow your Lalique amenity kit (with Encre Noire products for men), a set of provided Bang & Olufsen noise-canceling headphones and, if you look carefully, a storage shelf for a personal item.
The console houses the seat and shade controls as well as various power ports for your devices and a lit vanity for in-flight primping (there’s another power port on the opposite side of the suite, too).
A few years ago, a member of the airline’s customer experience team told me that the personal stowage space was specially designed to accommodate a Birkin bag … per frequent first-class customers’ requests! My simple work backpack fit just fine, though.
The tablet stowed on the vanity console can be used to call for services as well as to control the suite’s lighting and the 32-inch entertainment system on the wall opposite the bed. You can also use your KrisFlyer account to store your entertainment preferences and pick up watching a movie or television program where you left off from your last flight.
Finally, no need to jostle for overhead space (in fact, there are no overhead bins in the cabin) since the suite has its own closet for hanging clothes and it’s wide enough to fit the average rollaboard carry-on.
Try not to spend the first hour of your flight fiddling with all the buttons, devices and hidden compartments, I dare you.
No paper menus but you can ‘Book the Cook’
Due to COVID-19, Singapore Airlines is still not providing paper menus to passengers. However, you can scan a provided QR code and open it using the plane’s Wi-Fi to see what’s on order.
If, like me, you like to plan out your meals in advance in order to relish the anticipation just a little bit longer, the airline still features its signature “Book the Cook” service. The airline works with a panel of chefs from around the world to create its menus, including Yoshihiro Murata from Kyoto, Japan; Suzanne Goin from Los Angeles; Sanjeev Kapoor from Mumbai, India; and Matthew Moran from Sydney, among others.
Passengers in first class, business class and premium economy can reserve certain meals ahead of time for their specific flights. I logged in to my reservation about a week ahead of departure to check out the options for both the main meal and the lighter, pre-landing meal for my trip.
Available dishes included Bavarian-style pork belly with savoy cabbage and potato roesti in beer sauce, honey-glazed duckling with vegetables and Chinese egg noodles, ballotine of chicken over a farro salad and, the option that I went with, chicken in massaman curry with vegetables and steamed rice. Although this particular trip wasn’t taking me to Singapore, I still wanted a little taste of the city on my flight. Plus, there’s just something about having a hearty curry served just for you on the airline’s signature Wedgwood bone china — neighborhood takeout this is not!
I also decided to use Book the Cook because I could see the inflight menus in advance on the airline’s site and the preorder options sounded better than the ones there, including a roasted black cod in potato-leek chowder with bacon and leek, and wheat beer-braised beef cheek with allspice potato dumplings.
And though I selected my main course in advance, there were still a few a la carte options to choose from as I began my meal, which started with chicken satay and spicy peanut sauce. Then, about 15 minutes later, I was served a jar of Malossol Ossetra caviar along with a plate of blinis and all the fixings – egg white and yolk, creme fraiche, finely chopped chives and lemon. This was followed by thick-cut smoked salmon with cauliflower panna cotta, salmon roe and lemon oil. And only then was my massaman curry delivered.
I also preselected my smaller meal for before the end of the flight, which was a savory broth with minced pork, garlic and rice that was served with bird’s eye chilis in vinegar.
The best wine cellar in the skies
What I always look forward to even more than the fancy meal service in Singapore Suites, however, is the airline’s stellar selection of wines. Singapore Airlines works with several wine experts, including Hong Kong-based Jeannie Cho Lee, not just to select its wines but to help it build its cellar over years through contracts with winemakers around the world.
The airline has moved away from buying in large batches to working with small, artisanal producers instead as a way of providing more quality and variety to passengers. While that means you might not always find the same wines on every flight you take, trips can be a good opportunity to try new things instead.
Case in point: Singapore Airlines is the only airline to serve both Dom Perignon and Krug in first class. But on this flight, I was in for another treat since they were serving not only Dom Perignon 2008 vintage, but also Taittinger’s Comtes de Champagne 2007, which is one of my favorite Champagnes, instead of Krug. Naturally, I had to try glasses of both, though, to make sure I had a full basis for comparison.
Although it might not have been the most harmonious pairing, to sip along with the curry, I ordered the 2014 Domaine Faiveley Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru from Burgundy, which was redolent with notes of blackberry and dried herbs. I ended my meal with a taste of the Dow’s 20-year port, which was a sweet but nuanced finish after the dessert of “black chocolate texture,” which included both a chocolate cremeux and sorbet topped with cherry compote.
Comfy Lalique pajamas
As this is considered a long haul, first-class passengers are treated to Lalique pajamas created especially for the airline.
I’m a sucker for airline pajamas in general and love even simple cotton ones. But these had touches like a henley-style collar and chest pocket that made them look rather dashing. They were also flowy enough to keep me warm when the air conditioning was blasting and cool when the cabin temperature went up, so they’re going to have a place of pride in my closet.
2 (enormous) dedicated lavatories
Unfortunately, you won’t find showers aboard Singapore Airlines’ A380s like you will on Emirates’.
Novelties aside, though, the airline did install two enormous lavs at the front of the first-class cabin, meaning the bathroom-to-passenger ratio is just 1:3, and business-class passengers won’t have access. So you won’t have to queue up to change into or out of your Lalique pajamas.
What’s more, these are pretty swank heads. The larger one has a sit-down vanity where you can preen with the provided Lalique Neroli products, including facial mist and body lotion. There are also hairbrushes and dental and shaving kits available.
Flight attendants zip in between passengers, too, so the bathrooms are kept spotless at all times.
Unlimited inflight Wi-Fi
If you have to work during your flight (and I swear, I was!) it’s a huge bonus that passengers in Singapore Suites receive free, unlimited inflight Wi-Fi. That alone could save you north of $60 on certain flights. Of course, you’re either paying or redeeming miles for Suites, so … it probably comes out in the wash.
I clocked speeds of 4.2 Mbps for downloads and 0.91 Mbps for uploads. That worked fine for various apps and emailing, as well as basic surfing, but I couldn’t access Google Drive.
Although I had nearly eight hours to enjoy my Suite, it felt like not quite enough.
I could have enjoyed more of everything — more gourmet meals, more fine wines, more time to snooze in my Suite’s bed, and more time chatting with the delightful crew, which is always one of my favorite parts about flying Singapore Airlines.
Luckily, award availability on the route from Singapore to Frankfurt and New York seems to be holding out, so if you have some KrisFlyer miles to spare, or credit card points that transfer into the program, there are plenty of reasons to treat yourself to a flight in Singapore Suites. As for me, I’ll be curled up in my Lalique pajamas plotting my next award redemption.
Featured photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy.
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