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On November 1-3, 2012 I was invited by Singapore Airlines to fly from Los Angles to Singapore via Tokyo. The flight marked my first trip in an A380 and my first flight on Singapore Airlines since 1999. Below are my thoughts on the A380, the Singapore Business Class seats and the service/food I experienced on the flight.
The A380 has been in service for several years now, yet despite all the flying I do I have never flown in one. The A380 is the largest commercial currently in operation and Singapore Airlines was the first airline to fly it in 2008.
The boarding process for the A380 is unlike any I have experience. The plane is so big there are literally two boarding areas and the ramp to get to the second level of the plane reminded me of the waiting area for a Disney World attraction.
The main benefit to flying the A380 is noise. It is by far the quietest plane I have ever flown on. It basically eliminates the need for noise reducing headphones.
Service and Food
I had only flown on Singapore Airline one previous time in 1999 on a flight from Taipei to Singapore. Even though I had only flown them once before, the flight has stayed in my mind for years. The thing that I remember most was the high quality of the service. My A380 flight was no different. From the moment I stepped on the plane the crew seemed genuinely happy to see me. Throughout the entire flight the crew was extremely attentive to my needs the entire flight.
Despite more than a decade between flights, I still feel that Singapore Airlines has the best customer service in the airline industry.
The food was good and on a par with what I had experienced on other airlines in business class. I would even go so far as to say it is above average. The only particular thing I would mention about my meals was that I have a gluten allergy. Gluten free meals were provide for me on the flight and were of a high quality.
What differentiates business class sections of various airlines are the seats. The trend has been towards seats which lie down completely flat. In this respect, the seats on the A380 seem a bit dated. Even though the planes have only been in operation a few years, the seem to have been surpassed by other airlines.
The A380 business class seats are very wide. You could easily seat two people in the space you get for one seat. The seat experience while you are awake was great. I could sit with my legs fully crossed and was very comfortable. There are bins available for books, travel laptop computers and even one on the front panel for eyeglasses.
The downside to the business class seats is the fact that they cannot lie flat. They almost lie flat but not quite all the way. I found it odd because there seemed to be plenty of room available for a lie flat seat if they had designed it as such. Had the seats been in a cross hatch design or just designed differently, they could have adopted complete lie down seats. I can only assume that when they do their next upgrade on their aircraft they will install full lie down seating.
Entertainment System and Electronics
The entertainment system was rather disappointing. When functioning it was OK, but it completely died on my on two separate occasions during the flight. The first time it failed the flight crew managed to restart it. The second time it didn’t restart and I wasn’t able to use it for the majority of the flight between Tokyo and Singapore. Here too I got the impression that the entertainment system hadn’t been updated in several years. That might not seem like a long time, give how quickly this technology is evolving (think the iPad) it is quite noticeable.
I should, however, note the USB and electrical plugs in each seat. All of my devices were fully charged when I arrived in Singapore, which is something I can seldom say on most flights. There was even an ethernet port on on the power panel, which I had no idea what it was used for.
Singapore Airlines has retained its position in my mind as one of the better airlines in the world. While the seating and entertainment system in business class on the A380 is a bit behind the behind some other airlines, they still provided me with an exceptional experience.
- Service: A+ Probably the best I’ve ever experienced on an airline.
- Food: A-. Very good and accommodated all my special needs.
- Seat: B+. Only downside was the lack of fully reclining seats.
- Entertainment System: B-. I had issues with it several times on the flight. When it worked, it was fine.
Disclosure: This flight was provided by Singapore Airlines. I neither paid for, nor was paid to take this flight.