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What I saw when I toured an empty Singapore Airlines A380 this week

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I spent most of this week undertaking a fairly crazy schedule of airline-related events under the general heading of ‘Star MegaDO’.  This was three days of activities organised by a US frequent flyer group and involved a trip to the SAS HQ in Stockholm, a visit to the Airbus factory in Toulouse and a tour of Terminal 2 at Heathrow.  All within three days.

I will be running various articles on aspects of this trip over the next week – except, sadly, for the Airbus factory tour where photography was banned.

The final event was a tour of the Singapore Airlines A380 (official page here).  They have an aircraft sitting on the ground in London for six hours every afternoon so it was a great opportunity to get inside the aircraft without any of those irritating passengers in the way!

Whilst the cleaners were still inside, the chief engineer came up to the gate and gave us a talk about the aircraft.  I never knew, for instance, that British Airways provides all of the technical support to Singapore Airlines in London and were maintaining their A380 fleet before BA even had their own!

I DID get to sit in the pilots seat and I did get to visit the crew rest area where up to 12 crew members can sleep at any one time.  Unfortunately, photography was banned here – sorry.  I did take a shot out of the cockpit window though.

Here is the plane sitting on its gate in Terminal 2 waiting for us:

Singapore Airlines A380 review

Let’s start with the First Class Suite.  I wrote a full review of the Singapore Airlines First Class Suite last year so I won’t dwell on it in detail.   I was able to get a good picture of how the ‘double beds’ look when made into a bed which is, to put it mildly, impressive:

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Unusually, the First Class Suites are downstairs, along with economy.  It was therefore easy to pop into the cockpit and test out the pilots seat.  Whilst I cannot show you that, here is a view from the cockpit window!

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I then headed upstairs into business class.  Singapore Airlines has, on the A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, the widest business class seat in the world.   I am flying this next Friday, as it happens.  The seats are so wide that my 4-year old could sleep sideways …..

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To be honest, I have a problem with the Singapore Airlines colour scheme.   First Class / Suites Class and Business Class are effectively different shades on brown and not hugely appealing, but that is purely down to personal choice.

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Whilst the seats are wide at the top, they are not so wide when made into a bed.  Your feet need to slot into a small area as you can see below.

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What differentiates the Singapore seat from most others is that it FLIPS OVER into a bed.  The seat itself is leather but the back is fabric.  This means that you get a comfortable leather seat but you are sleeping on breathable fabric.  I then headed downstairs ….

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…. into economy.  I have a confession to make.  As far as I can remember, this is the first time in 15 years that I have actually sat in an economy class long-haul seat!  It is the standard 10 across configuration.

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Whilst economy is economy is economy, Singapore is very proud of the quality of its food and the level of service it provides.  They still provide paper menus, for example.  The economy cabin on the A380 is also broken up into three sections which means that you don’t feel overwhelmed by a sea of heads.

What was interesting to note is that there are quite a few seats with no seat in front.  If you are lucky enough to get one of those, you have unlimited legroom and it would make the journey substantially more pleasant.  (Look at the 2nd row of seats in the photo – a seat is missing.  This is the emergency exit from the crew rest area.)

Singapore Airlines is about to launch a new premium economy product for the first time. The first A380 is currently being refitted and it will start to roll out later in 2015.

I will be writing a full report of my Singapore Airlines business class experience in a couple of weeks so keep an eye out for it.  In the meantime, you can see my report of my A380 First Class / Suites Class flight here.

(Thanks to Zoe, Diego and Henrik for organising this)

Comments (45)

  • Andy says:

    I’m curious why Airbus would invite you to an event but would ban photography which has meant that you won’t be writing an article, so it doesn’t really have any PR value for them? I can only think that it wouldn’t impact on print journalists that wouldn’t have been taking photos anyway.

    • Matt says:

      I think it was just photography in the cockpit, presumably for security reasons? I may be mistaken though, it seems to happen often enough…

    • Rob says:

      It was not a press event. It was a frequent flyers event to which some press were invited. Everyone was subject to the ‘no photos’ rule.

      • Tariq says:

        Presumably you were on the Airbus factory tour that’s also open to the public? The Boeing factory tour is the same – we had to leave anything electronic in a locker before getting on the bus from the museum into the factory grounds.

        Boeing’s facility is immensely big – looking down from a gantry and seeing a line of 748s inside a factory is just amazing, would love to go and see Airbus too for comparison.

        • Rob says:

          No, this was a private tour. We went inside the A380 which is stripped down to the bare wiring and used for flight testing.

        • James67 says:

          It would be even more amazing if we could see them outside a departure gate! It is heartbreaking to see the demise of the beautiful 747, concorde long gone, and now the a380 supposedly at risk too. In a world of fast progress I cannot help but feel that when it comes to aircraft we are going backwards despite composites and more efficient engines. I’m tired of spending 10 hours on a plane to travel 5000 miles, I’ve been doing that for over 30 years. It’s time both manufacturers and carriers addressed the real issues in air travel.

  • Leo says:

    Well to be fair he does say long-haul seat! Obviously there is no difference in the CE and economy seat itself – apart from the extra legroom you get in the short-haul economy exit rows.

  • Kinkell says:

    Just looking at the pictures made me feel pampered . Just watched the emirates A380 take off and I wished I was on it. however, reality check… Currently in the BA lounge a Gatwick crowded and could do with a makeover.
    Oh well, it was a RFS ticket!

  • Sav says:

    Btw my Etihad Gold status match randomly came through via email last week. About 2 months after I submitted the request. Better late than never.

  • Alan says:

    Love the SQ A380. Best experience yet was having the entire Suites cabin to myself on a SIN-AKL flight – had one seat to sit in then a separate double bed to sleep in, not to mention three cabin crew and two bottles of champagne opened for me (couldn’t decide on Dom vs Krug!) – amazing value with Amex MR points too!

  • […] itself is nearly a year old now.  Whilst I was waiting for my tour of the Singapore Airlines A380 (see this article from Saturday) we hung out in the new First Class […]