Through the latter end of the last century, Singapore Airlines was a byword in innovation with more than a touch of class.
If it happened in the airline cabin it typically happened first on Singapore Airlines. The list of first was almost endless as it strove to propel the airline industry out of its complacency of the 1950s and 60s.
However, for a while earlier this decade the airline lost its way – resting on its hard-won reputation.
But over the past year or so all that has changed and the Singapore Airlines touch of class is back.
New product in all classes, new aircraft such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787, and a new attitude are now the face of Singapore Airlines.
The flagship of the makeover is the new A380s delivered from Airbus with stunning new first suites, business class, and premium economy.
Singapore Airlines expects to roll out new cabin products to its entire 20-strong – Airbus A380 fleet by 2020 as part of a $1.2 billion upgrade across its planes, aimed at reinforcing its industry leadership.
The new cabins come 10 years after SIA operated the first A380 scheduled service and are in a four-class configuration with six suites and 78 business class seats on the upper deck as well as 343 economy seats and 44 premium economy seats on the lower deck.
The upgrade is the culmination of four years’ work involving extensive customer research, customer focus groups and a partnership with designers and manufacturers.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) chief executive Goh Phoon Phong told Airlineratings.com editor Steve Creedy last year that the airline was committed to new products and a long-term approach to retaining its industry leadership position. He said this the big investment demonstrated the airline’s confidence in the future of premium full-service air travel.
“We are confident that the result will genuinely wow our customers,’’ he said.
And he is right – the impact is wow!
Designed from the ground up, the new business seat is a step change from the new-generation seats in the airline’s Airbus A350s and Boeing 777-300ERs.
At 63.5cm wide and with a seat pitch of 127cm, it is spacious and a center divider can be completely lowered to form a sort of “double bed.”
However, while it is 12.7cm narrower than the airline’s previous business seat, that seat came in for criticism for being too wide with passengers “lost” in all the space.
I believe the new business seat is just right and is 5cm wider than competing airlines.
The business seat converts into a 198cm bed.
In a bonus, the carbon fiber shell structure creates a thinner base giving passengers room to store a standard-size cabin bag underneath, rather than in the overhead bins.
The cabin layout is a 1-2-1, which of course means everyone gets direct aisle access.
The color palate is elegant with soft purple and copper hues.
Space abounds giving you, for instance, flexibility to keep working on your laptop when the meal is served.
The new A380 has “MyKrisWorld,” which provides recommendations based on customer experience and allows KrisFlyer members to create playlists as well as bookmark content and resume it on a subsequent flight.
While very spacious, the business class seat wraps around you and gives you complete privacy to the point where you simply cannot see anyone else.
There are also plenty of charger positions for “you can’t live without it electronic gear.”
The airline will have all its A380s refitted to the new standard by later next year but have the first planes dedicated to the Sydney-Singapore-London route.
Part of the new makeover is the airline’s new Boeing 787-10s which feature a new lie-flat regional business class.
The first services are to Osaka and Perth, Australia.
In the longer term, the Singapore Airlines long-haul routes will be operated by A380s, 777-300ERs and the new A350s with the recently delivered 787-10s looking shorter range flights.
After 2020, the airline will take delivery of the 777X which will replace its 777-300ERs.
Geoffrey Thomas was a guest of Singapore Airlines