It had been too long.
The American Express Membership Rewards points were just sitting in my account.
I was at a pretty big crossroads in my life and needed some time to think.
There was only one thing to do…go fly.
And, as you might have guessed, it was time for a proper flight. I could think of no better flight than testing out the new Suites Class on Singapore Airlines, which recently began flying to the USA for the first time via Frankfurt.
And, oh man, was it incredible.
A Brief History of Singapore Suites Class
Singapore Airlines made history when they debuted Suites Class alongside the Airbus A380 back in 2007. It was designed to be better than First Class, a true halo product.
And it was.
I was lucky enough to fly the previous edition of Suites Class on two separate occasions, trip reports here and here. A jerk on the internet even stole my images and paragraphs for his super-viral post about his experience back in 2014 (hi Derek, still waiting for that apology!).
Suites Class on the bottom deck of the A380 was nice, the service was incredible, but, well…it got old. Other airlines were fighting Singapore for marketshare in the Most Blogged About Seat category (the most important part of a company’s financials, obviously). So, in 2017, Singapore announced the new Suites Class. Everything had changed. It was on the top deck of the A380 and the number of Suites was reduced to just six, allowing for unprecedented size and luxury.
Testing out the New Singapore Suites
There was nothing fancy or travel hack-y about how I booked this trip. I found availability on Singapore’s website for 140,000 Krisflyer points, one-way, plus about 60 euros in fees. I transferred points over from American Express Membership Rewards and booked it. Relatively ho-hum, as far as award bookings go.
The journey would be from Frankfurt to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. I wish the flight were longer, but oh well, I figured 7.5 hours would be enough time to
drink all the champagne review the new product.
(A quick note about the photos in this post)
Photography-wise, I love covering things like this, but the trip was booked at the last minute and I was already in New York City before making my way to Europe. I had to shoot with what I had available, so, if I’m honest, I wasn’t incredibly happy with how the photos of the flight turned out. I’m sorry in advance!
I was the first person to board and was immediately greeted and whisked to my suite by an assortment of cabin crew, each of them greeting me warmly. I chose Suite 1A for the flight, on the port side of the upper deck.
I walked through the door and my jaw dropped.
It was enormous. Each suite has roughly 50 square feet of space.
The centerpiece of the suite is the reclining full-grain leather chair by Poltrona Frau, which swivels and reclines based on seat controls tucked away in the armrest.
The swivel settings come pre-programmed with certain positions, depending on what you’re trying to enjoy, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
On the aisle-facing wall of the suite sat a 32″ HD television for in-flight entertainment.
(the two suites at the front have the smaller mini-screen on the forward-facing wall for things like the safety video)
The entire environment oozed luxury, with plush carpeting and thoughtful design touches all around. My headset was placed in one of the many compartments available on the side bar, with room to hold all sorts of smaller items, as well as another lower storage area certified for takeoff/landing, the perfect size for a handbag.
As I ogled the environs and shot some video footage (video coming soon!), I was warmly greeted by an assortment of cabin crew to welcome me aboard and walk me through all of the functions of the seat and the removable tablet.
After the brief tour, they asked the lovely question I had waited to hear, “would you like something to drink, maybe some champagne?”
Obviously yes. They even had two selections for me: Dom Perignon 2008 and Taittinger Comtes 2007. Had to try both, and both were fantastic!
The A380 has a blessing and a curse at the front of the upper deck, as there’s some ’empty’ space around the top of the staircase. Emirates and Etihad put their shower suites here, Qantas had an awkward ‘lounge’ area, but Singapore put in some incredibly luxurious lavatories, the starboard one featuring a well-appointed vanity area. It was absolutely gorgeous!
The differences between the Suites
The Suites design works best when the plane is in the air, because of the swiveling nature of the seat. There’s a slight difference between the first row of Suites and the other four, simply because there’s more space. There was no one in Suite 2A so I had a relatively pristine canvas to photograph for you.
The flight itself
a glass of champagne a few glasses of champagne as boarding completed, and before I knew it we calmly took off (there’s nothing like an A380 departure, it’s so quiet!). It was time to get the suite into its intended configuration, where all the space began to make sense.
As the seat swiveled, the TV also folded out into a great viewing position and I took advantage of the tablet to access the KrisWorld platform, which is brilliantly designed (you can connect your KrisFlyer account to it, queue up entertainment, and it can follow you from flight to flight).
I finally decided to take a break from taking photos and videos to have my first meal. It began, of course, with a champagne refill, but then with some absolutely wonderful chicken satay, which brought me right back to wonderful memories of Singapore.
Up next, had to go with the classic: caviar. With all the trimmings.
The entree options did not initially sound amazing, even through Singapore’s Book the Cook option on the website before my trip began. The options are far more vast for flights departing from Changi than they are from their outstations like Frankfurt. I eventually settled on the chicken stir fry and really enjoyed it, the rice in particular was really well-executed for being served on a jet.
Dessert was just a joy: chocolate sorbet with quenelles of chocolate mousse. The mousse was light and airy and the sorbet refreshing after a pretty heavy meal.
After the meal, I grabbed some more pictures of some of the details around the Suite.
And then was very basic and posed for a new social media/dating app profile picture.
After that, I tried to get some more good shots of the Suite to capture the ambiance.
And then, of course, I grabbed my tripod out of my personal closet in the Suite and closed the window shades to capture some longer-exposure detailed shots of my Suite and the one next to mine.
The seat swivel is great tech and offers some variability but I feel like there are a few positions that didn’t really make sense. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of space and a lot of how you use it will depend on whether the bed has been deployed or not.
The original Singapore Suites bed was a bit difficult, since part of the seat created the bed, so you could have the seat or the bed but not both. Singapore fixed that with the new Suite. The bed folds out of the divider between the Suites and you can easily enjoy the seat alongside the bed.
If you’re traveling with a companion (or there’s no one in the middle Suite next to you) the divider can be lowered to make a very lovely double bed. My flight attendants were nice enough to deploy the double bed for me, for research and photo purposes!
I grabbed a quick nap and just tried to
take a break from all the champagne rest a bit to make sure I was actually enjoying the flight instead of being frenetic about photography.
Once I was ready to rejoin the real world again I started stirring, which of course meant the flight attendant reappeared and asked if I’d like a snack. Of course I would, except I went with the famous Singapore Sling to take a break from the champagne.
As we approached the North American coast, I was asked if I’d like another meal before we landed. I was well into my cups at that moment and do not remember the options I was offered, but I chose some sort of beef situation and, I hate to say it, was not impressed. It’s not that it tasted bad or anything like that, I just don’t think this was the best option to choose. My camera agreed by taking a blurry picture.
And then it was over 🙁
Just like that, we began making our final approach toward JFK. Everything was put away, the service manager came by to wish me a pleasant onward journey and ask how his crew did, and presented me with the famous Singapore Airlines souvenir teddy bear. (I asked for another one to give away to my blog readers and they just might have given me one!)
I sat in my seat for a while longer, just trying to enjoy everything for a bit longer.
Eventually we descended, landed, and I made it through customs, retrieved my bag, and was checked in with JetBlue in exactly 21 minutes (a new record!). The JetBlue flight to DFW (in coach near the back of the aircraft) was replete with kids kicking the back of my seat, crying, and one of them going on adventures up and down the aisle. I thought it was a fitting flight to help balance the experience I had: I experienced the joys of flying and the pains of it all in the same day!
Ok, let’s talk about some of the deficiencies of the product
There are two things to consider when reviewing a flight: the hard product (the seat, the suite, the lavatory, etc.) and the soft product (quality of service, cabin crew, etc.). I’ll get to the soft product later, but let’s talk about the hard product.
The seat was great. The leather was supple and plush and it was endlessly comfortable. I wish there would’ve been some more controls though. Emirates has like 20 different settings on their new First Class seat, it was a shame that Singapore just let you recline the seatback or bring up the footrest.
The swivel mechanism allowed Singapore to have a bigger seat area, sure, it was confusing. The ideal seated position during the flight is in the TV mode. But the middle of the seat doesn’t point at the middle of the TV, it points at the edge of the TV, so you’re still turning your head to enjoy the huge screen. The person across from you will have their seat in the same position, most likely, and whenever the suite doors are open at the same time, you end up making awkward eye contact with them.
The other preprogrammed swivel “stops” were pointing towards the bed and then pointing towards the wall next to the windows. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and still have no idea what you’re meant to do in either of these seating configurations. I guess if you’re traveling with someone in the Suite next to you and you want to have a conversation with them, you’d point the seat at the bed if the divider was down, but your companion would still be kind of far away. The Pointing At The Wall configuration makes no sense to me.
I think Singapore ran into a situation where they had their list of requirements due to the precedent of the previous iteration of Suites Class, things like a double bed option. When they put it all together, though, they ended up with slightly too much space in each Suite, particularly in the Suites on row 1. So please don’t get me wrong, it was super nice and luxurious, but parts of the hard product just didn’t seem to make sense. Endless seat customization doesn’t always make sense if the service model is designed around a single optimal position.
None of this was awful or terrible, to be clear, it just seemed superfluous. I spent 90% of my seated time in the optimal TV position and loved every second. As much as I loved the seat, though, nothing could compare to…
The stars of the show: the incredible cabin crew
The title of this post asked a question: was this my new favorite flight ever? Betteridge’s Law aside, I can confidently say it was. It wasn’t because of the seat, or the bed, or the huge lavatory, or the 2.5 bottles of bubbly. Yes, those things were all wonderful, but what made this flight almost perfect was the amazing flight crew.
I have my personal theories on customer service and I’m a pretty laid-back passenger, so when I’m treated with first-class service it feels academic and almost wasted on me, like I don’t really participate in it, if that makes sense.
The cabin crew were perfect. They were well-trained, meticulous, and everything happened exactly to plan, but what I enjoyed the most was just how warm and personable they were! I truly felt like each cabin crew member knew their task and they communicated well with each other, even from behind masks and with some service restrictions due to the pandemic (no paper menus, for example). Their goal was to provide a luxurious and special experience for each passenger and, without me even realizing it, I ended up on the best flight I’ve ever taken.
I know some of them will be reading this, so again I say thank you to each of you!
Summing it all up
This was my favorite flight, and it came at the perfect time as I try to work some things out mentally. It has been years since I’ve done a proper flight review and, although I had to shake off some cobwebs, it was as fun as it ever was!
If you have the points, or the $7700ish it costs to pay for it, I highly recommend Singapore Suites Class! I think the best version of it is leaving from Changi, where you have better catering options and the beautiful lounges at Changi Airport. You’ll enjoy some good food and beverage and, if your cabin crew are anything like mine, will end up feeling like the most special airline passenger in the world.
Have you flown Singapore Suites Class? What did you think?