Singapore Airlines to Reveal new First Class Suites
As Singapore Airlines aim to take delivery of 5 new Airbus A380’s later in the year, there has been plenty of rumor and speculation regarding what the design will entail. SIA are well known for keeping their launches quiet, but this hasn’t prevented at least some information from coming forward. Since being a launch customer in 2007, Singapore have acquired 19 A380’s. Therefore, with another five on the way, they have confirmed their place as the second largest operator of the A380.
Evolution of First Class
It wasn’t long ago that first class consisted simply of a comfortable seat, a bit of extra leg room and an additional bag or two. As competition for high-revenue customers has increased, there have been a lot of changes at the pointy end. A lie flat bed and working space at your seat has now become par for Business Class. First Class, on the other hand, now has more of a focus on general customer experience on top of the hard product.
More recently, the premier carriers now feature private cabins, stand-alone beds and joined suites. Etihad are probably the leaders at the moment with their super-premium “The Residence” eclipsing even the most luxurious First Class product on other airlines. The Residence is essentially a small apartment in the sky. There are three spaces including a lounge area, a bathroom and a bedroom complete with a full-size double bed. Add to this a personalized dining and boarding experience and you can see how airlines are really digging deep to attract high-end clientele.
With the evolution of the flying experience, we are seeing a continued shake-up of cabins. From the increasing gap between Premium Economy and Economy, to the advent of private suites on top of First Class, every product launch is met with eager anticipation.
The Rumors and Knowns of the New Suites
Singapore Airlines current First Class suites are among the best in the aviation world. In fact, they have set the bar so high with all their cabins that anything above them would be considered the best in the business. The 12 First Class suites currently on SIA’s A380 already offer a private cabin. They feature a sofa-type seat with leather and wood accents, a 23-inch personal LCD and a stand-alone bed. This is accompanied by a restaurant style meal service and connected suites for couples.
On seeing the current cabin, one would have to wonder how they can improve on this already fine product. However, you have to consider the competition from the likes of Etihad and Emirates, the latter of which are also due to launch a new First Class product this year.
Fewer Suites and Relocating to the Upper Deck
Singapore is a clever airline that is always at the top of the airline game. They always manage to elegantly surpass the best offerings that may threaten to drop them down the line. So what can we expect for their next generation Suites?
It has been confirmed that there will be fewer suites than the 12 they currently have. This should suggest that the new Suites will be larger and even more spacious.
Another point that has been suggested is that they will relocate the Suites to the forward upper deck. In the early days of the A380, airlines avoided positioning premium cabins on the upper deck due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure at airports. Now that the A380 is becoming fairly common, most major airports have built additional air-bridges and enhanced boarding areas to ensure elite clientele enjoy best experience from the ground to the air.
While Etihad and Emirates have installed showers for their First Class passengers, it appears Singapore Airlines will not be going the same way, according to their CEO.
This is no surprise really, given the expense of carrying around a huge amount of extra water as well as potentially limited demand.
It might be worth noting, though, that many of the destinations served by their A380 are in excess of ten hours. They may very well pay attention to the feedback from passengers that are flying to say, North America or Europe. If customers demand them, they may indeed install them in the future.
What to Expect
Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President for Product & Services, has described plans for the new A380 first class suites as “quite different to the product that we have.” There is also speculation that the airline may opt for a single aisle, with suites on either side, maximizing the space. This would be seen as a direct response to the Middle East trio that have launched some exceptionally luxurious cabins in recent years.
What we can be sure about is that Singapore Airlines will continue to focus on delivering premium customer service. There has been some comments in relation to this slipping of late, especially in reference to ground services at the airport. This will surely be considered alongside the physical aspects of the revamp.
We won’t have to wait for too much longer to confirm all the rumors. Singapore will reveal the new product sometime around mid-year with the first of the new A380’s due to depart around October. Stay tuned for more updates!