Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that came into focus with two objectives, figure out a way to ride in the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites and take advantage of a soon to be devalued sweet spot in the United Airlines Mileageplus award chart. Let's talk about the Suites first. Singapore Airlines introduced "Suites" class ten years ago when the A380 entered service and it was quite revolutionary and remains a top First Class product. The airline is in the process of returning their initial A380 frames to the lessor and receiving new built frames from Airbus. They took this opportunity to remodel their Suites class and introduce a new product. In July 2017 the word on the internet was SQ would deploy these Suites initially on a SIN-SYD-SIN turn, namely SQ 231/SQ232. With this information I started searching for a saver award on either segment. I located a seat on SQ 232 for May 4th, 2018 and set out to build a trip around this segment. This was the SYD-SIN segment so I started building from SYD back home, ideally staying with Krisflyer as the currency and a single ticket to limit the cost. There was no space on SQ12 (SIN-NRT-LAX) or SQ8 (SIN-ICN-LAX) so I looked to Star Alliance partners for help. In the end I found SQ SIN-HND and NH NRT-LAX. I called Krisflyer and had the ticket booked quickly for 127,500 krisflyer miles and $183.90 SGD in fees. This was before the most recent SQ award chart devaluation. At his point the new A380 had not gone into service so the seating chart was showing the old product. I selected seat 1A as a place holder until more information was divulged about the new Suites configuration.
The second objective involved the excellent redemption value using United Airlines Mileageplus in Thai Airways First Class between HKG and SYD via BKK. Tickled that I finally had a reason to book one of these awesome deals to Sydney I checked the date I needed and the space was there. For 40,000 miles it was too good to be true and they "fixed" the award chart not long after I booked.
If you're keeping score I now have an itinerary that looks like this: HKG-BKK-SYD-SIN-HND; NRT-LAX all in Suites/First for a very reasonable sum of points. The final hole is LAX-HKG. If I have to be in Hong Kong I naturally think of Cathay Pacific as the preferred way of getting there and this case was no different. With low expectations I pulled up the BA Avios search page (a good way to search for Oneworld award availability) and searched LAX-HKG for the exact day I required to meet up this the rest of this trip and by some divine action the space was there. I had some of the Avios needed and transferred the remaining points from AMEX and even took advantage of one of those 40% bonuses that is offered from time to time. I would normally use Alaska Airlines to book CX but my orphan Avios balance, the transfer bonus, and lack of AS miles (or Starpoints to convert) I decided to use BA and pay the outlandish 150k redemption. Feeling quite smug, and with the entire trip booked, all I had to do was wait the excruciating 8+ months until it was time to travel.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Silverkris Lounge - SYD and Air New Zealand Lounge - SYD
Transit couldn't have been easier. I was off the airplane and through transit security in about 3 minutes. I stopped at the transit desk but was too early, apparently, to get the BP for SQ232 but the helpful agent there suggested going to the gate where SQ was dispatching a flight to SIN and they could help. I followed this suggestion and the SQ staff at the gate asked me to wait a moment for them to close their flight and then they quickly checked me in. They could only do the SQ boarding passes and in a move I thought was funny she printed my boarding pass to SIN on "Suites" stock and then changed the printer to pint the BP to HND on "First" stock. I was given directions to the lounge and it was but a short escalator ride from the gate.
The lounges are one level up from teh main terminal floor.
Upon presenting my freshly minted boarding passes to the lounge host I was escorted to the right of the podium through an automatic sliding door and into the First Class side of the lounge. I was given a brief tour and told that the lounge attendant/server would be right with me. There were only two other passengers in the F section at the time and they were about to board the Thai 747-400 that I had recently alighted and head back to BKK.
The First Class Lounge is basically 3 rooms. The first room you encounter is a a TV and a variety of seating options.
The second room is the buffet/dinning room with food, drinks, and some dinning tables. The restrooms and showers were also accessed from this room.
The third room contains a variety of seating including a window with great ramp views.
The food on offer was mostly breakfast items and it all looked quite nicely presented. There is also an a la carte menu that I was presented from the lounge attendant. I has just enjoyed a breakfast on my inbound flight so my only request during my stay in the lounge was Perrier with lemon. The server was excellent in that he checked back a time or two to make sure I hadn't changed my mind and wanted to order from the menu after all.
After getting getting acquainted with the lounge and enjoying some water I requested a shower. It turns out they are self serve and can be accessed any time you wish. It is a small but well appointed space but could really do with a bit more room and a place to open your luggage and dress more comfortably.
Reading other trip reports of Star Aliance SYD departures made me aware of the Air New Zealand lounge next door tot eh Silverkris Lounge. I had some time before boarding so I decided to have a look at what the Kiwis were up to.
The entrance is quite striking with the Koru and huge video wall.
The lounge is absolutely massive and is somewhat reminiscent of the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX TBIT.
There is a large buffet area including a chef making breakfast burritos to order. What an awesome feature!
During my stay I enjoyed a barista made cappuccino that you order using an iPad on the bar.
The lounge also features 180 degree views of the ramp and departure runway so I enjoyed my coffee drink watching the busy morning airport movements. The distances are too great for me to capture without a proper camera with a decent lens. Suffice it to say that this appears to be an excellent Business Class lounge and if you're flying Star Alliance internationally from SYD this is the place to be, at lease compared to what I saw of the Silverkris J section.
While visiting the ANZ lounge I observed the A380 for my flight towed to the gate and was able to confirm the correct aircraft was here with the new Suites product. My flight today would be performed by the newest member of the SQ A380 fleet 9V-SKW delivered on April 12, 2018. The windows on the forward portion of the upper deck are the identifying clue : there are 2 windows in each Suite.
As boarding time approached I couldn't take the anticipation any longer so i walked down to the gate prior to any announcement in the SQ lounge and assumed a spot in the "Priority" queue.
After pre-boarding several wheelchairs the call was made for Suites/Business/PPS Club. I eventually made my way up a couple of ramps to the upper deck boarding door.
When you enter the aircraft a left turn is made and you pass through a massive galley complex and then you are there (this photo is looking back at the direction in which you board).
I was escorted to Suite 1A and given a tour. I'm sure it was easy for the cre to deduce that I had not experienced the new Suites yet as I was virtually speechless. It's such a beautiful space. The materials, colors, textures, all of it is luxurious. It is very difficult to capture in pictures how spacious and plush the space is.
I'll do my best to show you around the Suite.
This is the forward wall of 1A that has a small IFE screen, for the safety video I presume, but it has the full functionality of the other IFE screen in that you can watch IFE or use the moving map. The small table also housed the tray table. The orchid is faux.
The IFE screen is huge and pivots at the touch of a button to move between bed viewing and seat viewing.
There are small storage compartments and a vanity in the side table.
There are an abundance of suite controls and buttons in addition to the detachable tablet.
In suite closet that fits full 22" roll aboard.
There is a small shelf that supports the bed when it is deployed but can be sued for other purposes when the bed is stowed.
The carpet design. The padding us unreal, it's like a foam floor.
As with any SQ journey in First/Suites there is a substantial amount of amenity presentation:
Slippers, socks, and eye mask.
Lounge wear and amenity box.
I am welcomed aboard by no fewer than 4 crew members all seemingly as excited about our surroundings as I am. In fact this was only this crew's second time working the new aircraft/suites but you would never have guessed in that they all were very familiar with the features and controls. Of course Singapore Airlines training is thorough.
Also a hallmark of a premium trip with SQ is the wine. The 2004 Krug was on offer as the pre-departure beverage.
A flaw that has been pointed out among many views is the clear path into your neighbor's suite, especially during meal time. This is real although my neighbor in 1F slept and took meals a different times than myself so we didn't encounter this.
Taking a look over the walls to our cabin that is occupied 4/6 today.
The seat is crafted from a supple leather that is very pleasing to the touch. The chair swivels 360 degrees at a touch of a button. The swivel feature also has some presets for example if you touch the icon of the entertainment screen it will swivel the chair to that spot. There is a preset to face the bed, window, and takeoff/landing too.
Announcements were made that we are departing and I was reminded that I was on an airplane. We has a short taxi and always smooth and quite takeoff in A380 fashion.
The fasten seat belt sign was turned off after 10,000' and I ventured off to the lav to change into the lounge wear. There are 2 lavs in the front of the cabin on either side of the stairs. The starboard side is the larger of the two and almost as impressive as the suite.
A closer look at the lounge wear. I found it perfectly comfortable being light and breathing well. I wore them for the remainder of my flights on this trip.
I returned to to my seat and was greeted by one of the flight attendants. I asked her if suite 2A was vacant for the flight and she said yes, seemingly knowing where I was going with this line of questioning. I asked if the wall could be lowered and the suites combined. She replied absolutely and asked if I would like both beds made up too. Oh yes, I would! She and her colleague started straight away so i stepped out into the aisle and also visited the "small" lav.
I snapped a pic when they went to fetch the bedding.
So, at this moment this flight went from "wow" to "once in a lifetime" as I returned to a suite that had doubled in size. So spacious that it's, again, difficult to capture.
Of course i had to play with the lighting to get it where I wanted it.
I was reminded again that we are on an airplane when I was asked if and when I would like lunch. I decided now was a great time and time and went about reviewing themassive food and drink menu. There was also a refreshment service offered prior to arrival that I seem to have not taken a picture of.
I positioned the screen and the chair for dinning.
I opted to start with the caviar and was treated to two beautiful portions.
Can't resist the buttery garlic bread.
I passed on the soup course but enjoyed a nice crisp salad with honey mustard dressing.
For the main dish I selected the barramundi fillet. It was nicely cooked and flaky. The portion was enormous.
To finish I requested the cheese paired with a 2006 Saint-Estephe.
The meal was perfectly paced and very enjoyable. Of course the surreal airborne apartment I was in made everything seem spectacular.
The bed has a manual tilt feature that I deployed to enjoy a glass of The Macallan Lumina and finish the film i was viewing.
I closed the suite doors at this time too.
This is a remarkable space that's hard for me to fathom. The sheer square footage, the lighting, the materials, the quiet operation of A380 all made for a surreal experience. I set the other TV on the map as we made our way across Australia.
I truly didn't want to sleep but it was in my best interest. I wanted to be able to enjoy the evening in Singapore so some rest was required. The beds don't quite ack as one large bed due to teh hard divider between but it's still possible to spread way out and let a leg drift into the other bed to achieve supreme comfort.
I rested well and woke about an hour out of SIN.
Once awake I was offered the pre-arrival refreshment meal but I declined. Too much good food in Singapore to take on anything at this point. I requested some water and a cup of the Blue Mountain coffee.
Unfortunately this fantasy flight was coming to an end much too quickly. I took one last gaze at the huge bed before it was stowed for landing.
Parallel approach today with an Air Asia A320.
With that it was over. I thanked the crew profusely for tolerating my request for the extra space and the extra work it required. They made it seem like it was no bother but I'm sure it was to some degree.
I was among the first off the aircraft and I headed to Immigration to enter Singapore and enjoy her Culinary delights.
Bonus - Feed me Singapore!
Bonus : Click here to displayhide
Newton Food Center is a 3 minute walk from the Sheraton so it's an easy plan for dinner.
Duck noodle from Kwee Heng
Hup Kee for oyster omelette
Breakfast at Marine Parade Laksa.
Lunch over at Old Airport Road.
Singapore Airlines Silver Kris Lounge (First Class Section)
Sydney - SYD
Singapore - SIN
The Ground Service: There wasn't much of this. I was a transit passenger so I can't say what the check in process was like curbside.
The Lounge: The First Class section was really very nice. It was quiet, the furniture was downright beautiful and the service was excellent. The shower suite should be larger. I can't speak to the food but the fact that they offer made to order dishes is appreciated.
The Cabin: First of all my experience of having the double suite isn't really representative of a normal trip in this new product. I can say I was very impressed with the suite before it was expanded for all of the reasons I stated in the main text: colors, textures, quality finishes, etc. Of course once the suite was doubled it became the most memorable flight of my lifetime. Looking at the single bed deployment I could see where there would be critique of the bed firmness and width. Also the potential for looking straight at your neighbor during meal time is awkward. The lavatories are spectacular despite the omission of showers.
The Crew: It's not been my experience to encounter even and "average" crew member on SQ. Everyone walks that perfect balance between professional and friendly and provides very genuine service. Once they gauged my excitement for their new airplane I received many offers to take my picture and pose in pictures with the crew. They were a fun bunch and clearly proud of the airplane. The generosity of setting up the extra space for me was just another example.
The Food and Beverage: 2004 Krug and generous portions of caviar is hard to argue with. I was very pleased with each dish I was presented.
Overall: I've had some memorable flights in my history. One of two passengers on the LH 747 upper deck F class, the entire cabin of the Etihad A380 apartments to myself, the whole of the LH A340 F cabin at my disposal, to name a few. This one though will go down as the most memorable.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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