A review on my trip onboard Singapore Airlines' (old) Airbus A380 in Suites from PEK-SIN.
This trip is booked with a mere 35,000 Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles transferred from American Express + 5.6$ in taxes! (See previous post for Krisflyer guide!)
After a brief stay in Beijing, I arrived at the check in area 3 hours prior the flight to find the Check-In line for Suites Class empty. Beijing has regularly scheduled one daily flight on A380 to Singapore, and the rest are on variations of 777 throughout the year. This afternoon flight is the only flight with Suites though - so be sure to check it out when you are looking to book! Side note: award availability is always very good on this flight - especially in Business Class and Suites!
When I arrived at the counter, a nice SQ ground agent helped me out with check in quickly, and I received boarding passes and a golden Private Room Invitation for my layover in Singapore while waiting for my onward flight. I was told that I was eligible to use the Air China First Class Lounge in Beijing and was informed that there would be a slight delay in departure due to late inbound aircraft. In Beijing, Singapore Airlines sometimes uses contracted Air China staff at some check in counters, but Suites/Business class counters are usually staffed by the SQ agents.
After passing through security and spending some time in the Air China First Class lounge, I arrived at the boarding gate E08 right on time for priority boarding. That's where I found that 9V-SKI is the whale that would bring me to Singapore! On an interesting note, 9V-SKI was originally painted in the "SG50" livery but returned to the regular livery in Jun 2017.
Boarding went in an extremely orderly fashion. Looked like a rather full flight to Singapore!
There were 3 jet-bridges connected to the A380, with one exclusively for Suites passenger. There was a ground agent strictly enforcing the "separation" at the entrance of the Suites jet-bridge, which I found quite interesting.
After a name greeting followed by a nice welcome, I was escorted to my suite 3A. Just recently, Singapore Airlines has redone the upholstery in the suites cabin so the cabin did not feel old despite being around for 10 years. Best I could tell the product itself was more or less identical to the “old” one. The only difference was the finishes — the seat featured much darker leather. (still wowed by the fact that this suite design was introduced in 2007...) There are four rows of seats along the windows. Row two kind of looks at the stairs and closet, so it does feel quite private.I strongly recommend 3A/K though on the A380 as they are the only ones with THREE windows instead of two.
The load was light in Suites on the flight - only a 4/12, with each passenger occupying a window, leaving the middle suites empty. The seat was very comfortable and had a good amount of padding. I loved the color tone and the quilted leather, which are part of the Singapore Airlines branding now.
Meanwhile, during the boarding process, a welcome drink was offered. I asked for the classic Apple Cooler mocktail.
Since it was only a daytime 6 hour medium haul, pajamas and amenity kit were not offered (sadly). Therefore, the pajamas on the previous LAX-ICN leg came into handy!
I figured someone might be interested in the seat control itself. There were various control panels around the suite, including a remote (slightly outdated given the condition nowadays).
Charging ports were available for use after takeoff. (very impressed by all the connection options!)
After several minutes, the Chief Stewardess personally came to distribute the inflight menu. However, I would always recommend prebooking meals through the amazing Book the Cook program on SQ flights - which I did.
On flights to/from Chinese destinations (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing), there's also a ”食全食美“ menu to choose from - which alludes to "exquisite Chinese cuisine". I was quite tempted to choose the menu, but figured that I would stick to the book the cook selection.
International choices were available as well for sure.
We pushed back soon with a slight delay. However, we took off only with a short wait (which I consider pretty surprising given that this was Beijing International Airport where the takeoff queue can be really loooooooong often times!)
Who would know that above the smoggy weather of Beijing there lies this blue heaven....
After takeoff, I went into the lavatory to change into my PJ, also to check out the bathroom. The bathroom was a beautiful space stocked with Lalique amenities. You can also find toothbrushes, shaving kit etc. here.
Smells a trace of Cathay Pacific here, no?
Pre-dinner coffee for me. Singapore Airlines served Jamaica Blue Mountain onboard in Suites. The fragrance was original and great, slightly acidic - great coffee!
Following the drink was the signature satay service! Yum... I would say the satay service was rather a tradition of Singapore Airlines than a course of meal.
Followed by another hot towel service. Up until now, 3 hot towel services...
Table was then set for dinner and bread basket was brought as well. I would have to say, the table in Suites was huge - enough space for two to dine together. For bread, there were a variety of selections available on Singapore Airlines (for picture of the bread basket, refer to the LAX-ICN review!). I opted for a piece of garlic bread and a crisp (which turned out to be very delicious!)
As for the appetizer, the lobster ceviche on the menu was unfortunately not loaded in Beijing. The crew apologized profusely about it, and offered me a scallop appetizer from Business Class. Turned out to be very delicious. Citrusy and refreshing. I might actually have preferred it more to the lobster!
A Chinese soup was brought after I devoured the scallops. Very well done for a soup on a plane. Personally, just as a point of comparison, I think the soup on SQ is even better than the one served onboard Cathay Pacific First...
For the salad - ehhhh, SQ always has weird salads... But I did finish it for the sake of not being wasteful.
After the salad was cleared, the Book the Cook lamb was brought to the table. While the green pea puree might not look very appetizing, it tasted great - flavorful and rich. Very surprised and impressed with such catering out of Beijing... I have heard that Singapore Airlines excel in the dining experience even for stations known for its terrible food - maybe SQ is indeed an exception to the horrible reputation of the PEK catering...
At this point, I saved the dessert as a pre-landing snack (I was tooooo full at that time), which the crew happily obliged. Then the classic "whole fruit" (literally) basket was brought out. With a wide selection of apple, pear, peach, kiwi, I chose a banana, a mango, and a tangerine to finish off the sumptuous meal.
Throughout dinner, the pacing and service were both great. Extra-attentive with refilling and clearing the plates. Kudos to the GREAT crew (I will talk about it later as well).
Outside the window, a very scenic sunset with the rosy sky...
I asked for another cup of Blue Mountain as I did not want to sleep on the flight (hey - we'd want to maximize the once-in-a-lifetime experience right?). A piece of chocolate was also offered in addition to the coffee.
After the meal service, I decided to walk around the cabins. As I have expressed, this was the first time for me to be on an Singapore Airlines A380 jumbo, so I was very excited.
On my way to the upper deck, I was met by the Chief Stewardess and she offered to take me on a guided tour on the 380. Woo-hoo!
On this specific 380, the upper deck held a mix of Business Class and Economy Class. The SQ 2006 version business class seat has long been known for its excellent width. I tried it and it was very indeed comfortable, both in lounge position and bed mode (however a little more padding in bed mode would be appreciated greatly). I do wish to try it on a longhaul flight before it disappear with the replacement of the new seat, which did not seem to be as generous...
Next, economy class! Due to a full flight in economy, I did not have a chance to try out the seats, but just commenting off the seats themselves, they looked sufficiently padded, with a rather generous amount of legroom. I like the color tone of the seats - they give off a warm, friendly vibe that SQ is known for!
Premium economy was located right behind Suites. SQ introduced the concept back in 2013, and I personally think the seat design is industry-leading-quality. Again, I enjoyed the cabin color palette very much... the hint of orange really got me.
I was offered to opportunity to try it out as the last row of the cabin was not occupied. It offered a good amount of recline and legroom. The seat themselves looked very sleek and high tech.
Walking back into the Suites galley, a conversation struck up and I ended up chatting with the most amazing FAs ever... (and also met a fellow frequent flier/avgeek based in NYC!) for the entire duration of the rest of the flight. We talked about everything - from SQ to aviation industry to family. They shrieked when they discovered my age (maybe I look old - they originally thought I was 22). Ha. Meeting new people and broadening the encounters. That's why I love traveling...
We got wayyyy too into the conversation and I missed the chance for the double bed.
The conversation did not end until 30 minutes before landing when the captain made a pre-landing announcement (so, essentially 4 hours and 30 minutes... very surprised and thankful that no turbulence struck during that time). The stunning crew still offered to bring out the delayed dessert and it was plated beautifully.
We started our descent into SIN very soon and landed only 30 minutes behind schedule.
What an amazing flight...wow. The key point here was the EXTRAORDINARY service... I have to give SQ so much credit here. I'm super grateful for the opportunity, and will never see myself getting bored flying SQ - there will always be an interesting team of people that genuinely cares about a connection on each and every single leg on the journey.
Nice seat but a little on the hard side.
Very nice content, but screen slightly bulky and remote is slightly outdated.
Nice food out of BEIJING - the usual Beijing catering only deserves a 2.
WON'T NEED TO EXPLAIN HERE. SIMPLY STUNNING.
30 minute delay, not too big of a deal, especially considering out of Beijing.