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3. November 2017
BusinessClass was present in Singapore today as Singapore Airlines showed off their new cabin products that will be found on board the company’s 19 Airbus A380s. Larger and more exclusive suites and Business Class seats that can be converted into double beds are some of the many highlights.
Singapore Airlines has invested a staggering $850 million (approx £644 million) in its new cabin products that they today unveiled to more than 100 representatives of the world’s press.
There were, naturally, very high expectations of what would be revealed today. Singapore Airlines already has cabin products that induce competitors’ envy. Their current Business Class seat on board their Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A350s is a product that was put into service in 2013, with some predicting at the time it would also be installed on their Airbus A380s. Not so, however, as the airline has invested heavily in brand new seats, much to the delight of customers.
The battle for premium customers is indeed underway. Although Singapore Airlines claims that bettering their competitors is not their primary goal, but rather have listened to their passengers and given them what they want, they are certainly confident that their products are superior.
Economy seats have become a little narrower than previous, but the distance between the seats is the same. This slimming process does mean there is more space for your legs. Inflight entertainment screens are now touch-screen and USB sockets have been added. The headrest is now six-way adjustable and provides significantly better support.
Singapore Airlines introduced a new Premium Economy seat last year. While this older version is already present on some of the airline’s A380s, this class is now moved from the upper deck, which is now purely for suites and Business Class, to the nose of the lower deck. A previous 38 seats have now become 44. Behind Premium Economy sits only Economy class.
The Business Class product is brand new, but not totally different from today’s product. As before, all passengers have direct access to the aisle, but the previous seats were a slightly older product without so much privacy. And this is one of Singapore Airlines’ most important improvement points. The new seat gives the Business Class passenger a more sheltered flight experience as the seat back sits further back into the carbon fibre seat “shell”. In addition, the “wall” extends further, covering more of the aisle.
Until now, bedding has to be found here. Not anymore. The new seat can be transformed into bed while one is sitting in it – requiring only the press of a button on the control panel. The bed itself is 2.5 cm longer than before.
And when travelling as a couple, it’s always nice to sleep together – a luxury previously reserved for travellers in First Class. Until now, as the middle seats in Singapore Airlines’ new Business Class cabin allows you to slide the partition all the way down to create a double bed.
In the process of developing the new seats, there has also been a focus on getting all functions as close and ergonomic as possible. It’s hardly optimal on today’s product where, for example, plugging in the headphones has you pulling poses that should only be attempted in a yoga studio. With this in mind, the makeup mirror is conveniently accessible by tilting it out of the wall right next to where you sit. The new construction also has better storage space. For example, a useful compartment is now found under the seat. There is a small hook for hanging up the headphones and the cocktail table now slides out from a small shelf on the outside wall towards the aisle. This is, by the way, one of a number of measures that the cabin crew wanted to implement. I have tested seat, both sitting and lying, and think the comfort is superior to before. There are improved opportunities for finding a comfortable position, and there is better side support when the seat is laid flat. In the lying position you are still lying at an angle, with your legs into the small “cave”, but now your legs point towards the aisle – not inward as before. It works well but is not optimal if you turn a lot in your sleep. If you’re one who does, try to get a bulkhead seat (against one of the walls that separate the three different section). In appearance, the seats are slightly different, with a pattern on the outside of the “shell” that repeats inside and which, according to the seat manufacturer, has been extracted from the Singapore Airlines logo.
The new product portfolio is topped off by First Suites, which really is a revelation – both to look at and sit in. The suites have been reduced in number from 12 to 6 but in return are quite a lot bigger. They have jumped in size from 2.78m2 to 4.64m2. For couples travelling together, the beds in the first two Suites of each aisle can be converted to form a double bed. The new product seems to have been inspired by Etihad’s Apartment, but they are by no means directly comparable. Each suite has both a comfortable recliner seat and a bed. The seat can be reclined up to 45 degrees and can swivel between 135 and 270 degrees. The comfort is, of course, first class.
The material choices are exquisite and the colour palette sober. Suite passengers can now also enjoy a wardrobe being moved into the suite, and it is big enough for both clothes and a carry-on suitcase. The entertainment system has been upgraded with a new and more advanced KrisWorld entertainment system with a high-resolution 32-inch display that also supports 4K resolution.
The suite has ambient lighting that the passenger can choose from – whether it’s for watching TV, resting or eating – and everything is controlled wirelessly by a tablet. From this tablet, you can also summon the cabin crew. A shower and bar are two innovations that Singapore Airlines has chosen not to offer. And we at BusinessClass approve that decision and are looking forward to new products that provide more privacy and space. We will return with more details regarding entertainment, dining, etc.