MARTIN JONES INDULGES IN SOME LONGHAUL LUXURY, IN A SPACIOUS SINGAPORE AIRLINES AIRBUS A380 FIRST CLASS SUITE
The battle for commercial first class supremacy in the skies has never been greater. Every premium carrier either regularly unveils revamped business and first cabins, or introduces new way to provide on-board luxury, in a constant battle to attract premium passengers who prefer to splurge on first class tickets and be pampered to spa-like standards, rather than pool their resources and go private.
Currently, Etihad Airways almost certainly offers the most opulent commercial experience in the skies. Only found aboard the airline’s A380s and located at the front of the first class cabin, The Residence offers private, boutique three-room apartment-like accommodation, including a private shower room, a personal butler and Bentley transfers at each end of the flight. But, as you’d expect, The Residence is bloody expensive. A one-way ticket from Abu Dhabi to New York will set you back around USD30k, and The Residence is only available on a limited number of Etihad routes.
Regarded by many as one of the world’s best carriers, Singapore Airlines took its refined reputation to new heights, when it unveiled its new First Class Suites in November 2017, as part of a redesign of all cabins aboard its Airbus A380s. Each double decker has just six of these private sanctuaries, located in the front cabin of the upper deck.
Singapore Airlines’ First Class Suites are 50sq ft – which is a lot of space by in-flight standards – and boast a leather armchair and separate bed. Akin to a bijou lounge, they also have a closing door. For those travelling with a companion, the first two suites can be combined into a double suite, offering a larger bed and double the amount of space.
My first class experience began the moment I entered the aircraft and presented my boarding pass. A genuine welcome and smile came from every attendant I came in contact with, and a personal escort to my suite immediately gave me the distinct feeling that ‘I’m going to enjoy this’. Decked-out in a calming and neutral colour palette of beige and light grey, the first class cabin felt warm, stylish and elegant, not to mention exclusive.
The first glimpse of my private onboard sanctuary was truly a WOW moment. Singapore Airlines has undoubtedly re-defined luxury air travel. Separated from the aisle by sliding doors and surrounded by high walls to ensure privacy, all suites are identical in their decor and design, having been conceived as hotel rooms.
A prompt familiarisation tour of my suite revealed many more amenities and features than I had expected. Each suite is furnished with a half-metre-wide seat and a separate folding bed, thus enabling you to lounge in the chair or rest in the bed without the need to convert the bed from a sitting position. Onboard a plane, this takes some getting used to! The amply-sized fold-out meal table is concealed in a side ledge.
The armchair is upholstered in premium Poltrona Frau leather – a renowned, Italian furniture maker, which also boasts Ferrari and Maserati among its clients. The reclining, super-comfy chair was the epitome of comfort, and was fully adjustable to provide a variety of sitting and lounging positions. It also swivelled towards the windows or into the suite. The option to sit and look where I wanted was a luxury in itself.
All of the suite’s features are controlled by a handset in the armrest, an electronic side panel and a tablet by the windows. A large 32” HD touchscreen monitor can be swivelled depending on where the passenger wants to watch the TV from.
KrisWorld – Singapore Airlines’ inflight movie and programme system – is of course the same in all classes, and is without a doubt one of the best entertainment offerings in the sky, with more than 1,000 options including plenty of music. Not that I had the time, but SQ also offers a companion app that allows travellers to discover what is playing on KrisWorld before stepping onboard. My chosen movie was enjoyed with another glass of champagne and a delicious snack.
Singapore Airlines has a first class reputation for its in-flight food, which is reflected in its collaboration with a cluster of world-class award-winning chefs, including Michelin-starred Sam Leong. Served on Wedgwood crockery, my five-course in-flight meal was world class and perfectly executed, with balanced flavours and exquisite presentation as if it had been served in a premium restaurant. I could fault nothing about it (which is saying something for me) including the service and the timeliness of each course. We all eat with our eyes, and airline food is rarely a meal our eyes tell us to eat, but I always find on Singapore Airlines that the food is both visually and taste appealing, no matter what class, so you can imagine how it was in my first class suite.
Served in Lalique-designed crystal glassware, as you would expect, the wine list was extensive and a well-considered global representation of truly wonderful award-winning wines. The list had clearly been put together by a team of professional sommeliers.
After dinner, it was time to get into my SQ-provided Lalique-branded pyjamas, which came with a Lalique-branded amenity kit containing a scented candle, lip balm, body lotion and soap. The first class cabin was equipped with two large washrooms to the front, one of which had a sit-down vanity counter. Both were amply stocked with Lalique toiletries, including a bespoke citrus-scented facial mist, body lotion and fragrance.
After changing and hanging my clothes in my personal wardrobe, the flight attendant instinctively asked, ‘can I make your bed Mr Jones?’ Within minutes, the leather chair was rotated and a wonderful, 2-metre single bed folded down from the wall and was made into a dreamy, white, super-comfy soft bed. The suite was so well designed, that the TV was perfectly visible from the bed and the controls were incredibly easy to use. I selected a movie and dozed off into a wonderful sleep, although not before another glass or two of Krug.
Breakfast consisted of fresh OJ, sliced fruits, bircher muesli, rolled oats soaked in milk and natural yoghurt with fresh berries. Complete with pancakes served with Kaya mascarpone cheese, mixed berries and apple compote, my breakfast was tasty, plentiful and truly felt like it had been prepared just for me.
The entire Singapore Airlines First Class Suite experience was the ultimate exercise in air travel self-indulgence, and I honestly could not fault it from take-off to landing.
Martin Jones travelled in a Singapore Airlines First Class Suite from Zurich to Singapore on 28th September 2018, under his own steam.