Review: Sydney to Singapore in Suites Class

Singapore Airlines’ (SQ) Suites Class sets the standard for commercial aviation. The cabin is very well presented, comfortable and practical. The catering is of a high standard and the service is solid. We highly recommend that you try it – if you haven’t already that is.

At the boarding gate, Suites and business class, as well as PPS Club members, board through the same priority lane (as is usually the case with SQ). Strangly, the economy boarding lane also lists ‘Star Alliance Gold’ (no priority boarding for you).

While there is a business class jetbridge, and this aligns with the priority boarding lane, Suites boards through the economy class jetbridge (as Suites is located on the lower deck of the Airbus A380 aircraft, along with the economy cabin). After having our boarding pass scanned, we were directed to zag diagonally behind the podium to the economy jetbridge. We fought our way down this crowded jetbridge (with no help from airline staff or its contractors we might add), up until the point that a separate entrance branches off for Suites.  From here, things improved dramatically as we were promptly headed down the empty Suites class jetbridge into the Suites cabin.

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We were greeted and welcomed onboard by no fewer than four crew. With the metaphorical snap of the fingers, we ordered Krug before we had even made it the few metres from the plane door to our Suite – 1A. The Krug was promptly served and we suggested to the crew that they just leave the bottle at our seat as we would be needing it. The crew apparently found this hilarious, but we got what we wanted.

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We stowed our suitcase under the ottoman, as like most first class products these days there are no overhead bins in Suites (and we refuse to check luggage in practically all circumstances). Unfortunately this flight would be full in Suites and as such we wouldn’t be able to store our bag in another Suite, as is our usual preference.

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Our aircraft was configured with the classic Suites interior, not the new ‘refreshed’ interior. In conversation the head flight attendant disavowed all knowledge of such a new interior even existing, which we found amusing. The leather was in excellent condition and looks even better in person than it does in photographs, so you can see why SQ is in no rush to refit these cabins (although it says something about their commitment to continuous improvement that they would have a program to do so).

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We find Suite 1A (and 1K for that matter) to be very private on SQ, as no one uses the staircases and there are no Suites horizontally adjacent, even with the dividers open (such as for take-off or landing) you don’t see other passengers. Here is the view from 1A:

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As boarding wrapped up, senior ground staff boarded and handed the senior flight attendant the manifest – accompanied with a number of verbal comments about who the ‘upgrades’ in business class were. We mused that this conversation was perhaps not meant to be audible to the passengers.

Our thoughts were punctured when the leading stewardess appeared at our seat with loungewear for the flight. Sizes on SQ run small as far as airline pajamas go (which are usually oversized), so we recommend going for a size above what you would normally wear. The stewardess also produced slippers, socks, an eyeshade and a female amenity kit (Salvatore Ferragamo). This was quickly swapped for a male one, by an embarrassed stewardess. The Ferragamo kit only contained cologne, a towelette and two lotions. We had to ask for earplugs.

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Before long we pushed back and taxiing across SYD, before lifting off. After we climbed out for about five minutes, the captain switched off the seatbelt sign and the crew sprung into action, furnishing warm nuts and drinks, despite the steep angle the plane was climbing at.

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Next to the front of the staircase, the crew also set up SQ’s answer to a service cart.

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The menu for today’s flight was endorsed by Matt Moran of ARIA fame. We selected the caviar, chinese-style soup, Caesar salad, lobster thermidor, chocolate-caramel tart (and cheese and fruit to follow). Click on each menu image to view it in its full glory.

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The food was exquisite. In particular, the lobster was moist, tender and flavourful. However, the service was not quite as polished as we have experienced on previous flights. A number of times during the meal service we found ourselves ringing the call bell to have our glasses refilled. Perhaps the full cabin made it a little more difficult to keep on top of everything.

We find the crew get frustrated with you if you keep shutting the doors of the Suite during service, or really ever, but we were not doing that.

After dinner, we pawed through the wine list and settled on a glass of the 2010 Penfolds RWT, which was excellent. As was the second glass.

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After the meal and drinks were wrapped up, we had our bed made up. We find the bed in Suites to be a missed opportunity in terms of design – it is narrower than it needs to be given the width of the Suite. We also think it could have more padding. However, these comments need to be viewed in comparison to beds found on the ground. In the air, this is in commercial aviation’s top ten.

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We got a few hours sleep, but were disappointed to be awoken by an extremely noisy couple in the suite behind talking at the top of their voices about something trivial. This highlights what we call the paradox of the suite.

The paradox of the suite

The suite is just an illusion, the walls obviously don’t go all the way to the ceiling and don’t do a great job of blocking noise (and indeed on SQ the ‘doors’ are largely made of incredibly thin material which rolls up into the door frame). But because the walls block line of sight from one passenger in the seated position to another, we find an aircraft with suites of any kind results in other passengers behaving like they are in an isolated villa on a private island.

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Before landing, a chicken dish was served. This was nothing to write home about. The snacks on SQ usually fall into that category as well. The main meal is truly the main event.

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Before long we were being prepared for landing and lining up on approach to Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Suites Class has never been more attainable for frequent flyers. These days SQ has excellent saver award availability in Suites Class for members (even basic members) of its Krisflyer frequent flyer programme. And now Virgin Australia’s Velocity members can convert their Velocity points with a 1.35 to 1 ratio into SQ’s Krisflyer program. It is worth noting that fuel surcharges are payable on KrisFlyer redemption (despite oil prices being at historic lows).

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