Let’s remember, it was Singapore Airlines—not Etihad or Emirates—that quietly legitimized membership in the Mile High Club when it debuted a double bed in first class way back in 2007. And this week, the airline invited us to Singapore to witness the splashy unveiling—complete with singing flight attendants—of its hotly anticipated First Suite product: high-styled and luxe-laden private spaces that will soon grace its 19-strong fleet of Airbus A380 double-decker aircraft.
There’s little question that Singapore’s highly regarded original suite was due for an update—Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways are presently pampering top-tier passengers with state-of-the-art private sky pads—but the Asian carrier’s new space leapfrogs its rivals with some clever features. The suite is the product of an $850-million investment and the culmination of an extensive study into well-heeled fliers’ wish lists. Speedy Wi-Fi and under-seat stowage for a roll-aboard bag were big priorities, but the number one desire, no surprise, was elbow room. And the new suite has it.
Notably—and fittingly—Singapore’s new suite owes its form to Paris-based Pierrejean Design, a studio famed as a stylist of sailing yachts. And like a stateroom on a luxury sloop, the airline’s new first-class compartments are sumptuous and space-efficient in equal measure.
The six suites feature twin-size beds and swiveling armchairs for lounging and dining. And passengers who book adjacent compartments can double their space—and turn that twin bed into a sexy double—by opening a large privacy divider. Good times.
But the event in Singapore wasn’t all about bling. The airline took the opportunity to reveal new seating environments for the mere mortals in other parts of the aircraft. A handsome new business-class seat is finely wrapped in Italian leather and built on a stiff carbon fiber composite structure that is more compact than a traditional metal frame, affording significantly more under-seat stowage. Naturally, there’s a full array of tech here, including an 18-inch display for the entertainment system, a USB port and a power outlet, and a dimmable reading lamp.
Premium economy and economy classes are revamped as well. PE seats are bigger and more adjustable and feature built-in legrests, 13.3-inch HD displays, and noise-canceling headphones. Economy seats—designed by vaunted automotive seat-maker Recaro, offer augmented legroom, an adjustable headrest, and an 11.1-inch screen.
These new cabin fitments—including the first-class suites—are set to enter service in December on the first of five new A380 aircraft. Later, the airline will retrofit its current fleet of 14 A380s. And it will be no minor undertaking: Singapore’s new A380 arrangement includes accommodations for 471 passengers—six in the new suites, 78 in business class, 44 in premium economy, and 343 in economy.
“The new cabin products are the culmination of four years of work, involving extensive customer research and close partnerships with our designers and suppliers,” said Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong. “We are confident that the results will genuinely ‘wow’ our customers and ensure that we continue to provide them an unparalleled travel experience.”