Airline review: Singapore Airlines A380-800 business class, Singapore to Sydney

THE PLANE

Airbus A380-800, the newest aircraft in the fleet at the time of the flight and the first of five new A380 aircraft entered service last January with 14 existing aircraft being retrofitted.

THE ROUTE

SQ221, Singapore to Sydney

CLASS

Business, window seat 21K, in a 1-2-1 configuration on the A380's upper deck

DURATION

Seven hours and 50 minutes

LOYALTY SCHEME

KrisFlyer

FREQUENCY

Five flights daily from Singapore to Sydney and four services daily from Singapore to Melbourne. Two Singapore to Sydney daily flights are A380 services.

BAGGAGE

Up to 40 kilograms for business class.

THE SEAT

Much fanfare has surrounded the recent launch of Singapore Airlines' new business class seat (not to mention its opulent first-class suite) as this vaunted Asian carrier strives to better compete with Middle East rivals.

Singapore Airlines' new seat doesn't disappoint and is so full of features it's hard to imagine how it might be reasonably improved. Measuring 25 inches (63 centimetres) in width, the business class seat, has two side wings for better back support and reclines directly into a full-flat bed position that measures 78 inches (198 centimetres).

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A larger back shell – made from a lightweight yet sturdy carbon-fibre composite material – designed to create a private cocoon-like feel with the most novel feature being the cabin's two middle seats in the access-friendly 1-2-1 configuration. These can be turned into a double bed, of sorts, after the lowering of a central divider (no hanky-panky please, we're Singapore Airlines).

The stylish new violet-coloured leather seats with copper-coloured trims and welcome bench space, have more compartments than the Orient Express and I worry that, in utilising one for storage I may leave an item of value behind.

Yet many passengers (or customers, as airlines insist on referring to them these days) will appreciate a concealed makeup mirror thoughtfully positioned at the height of a passenger's face when seated.

The material used in the seat's manufacture means there's now more under-seat stowage space to accommodate a full-sized cabin bag, laptop bag or handbag. Lighting, seat-position controls and plugs are all thoughtfully-located and within easy reach.

One noticeably absent element (at least seat-geeks) from this new Singapore Airlines seat is a first class-style sliding screen for privacy, something which some Middle Eastern and US carriers have adopted for their business class seating.

COMFORT

The new seat allows the option of a "sun-deck" position to watch films and shows in maximum comfort on the 18-inch (46 centimetres) high definition touch-screen monitor. On this overnight flight I enjoyed one of the best-ever sleeps on a plane in this seat in its flat-bed mode, enhanced by padded bed sheets, blankets and a large pillow. However, some passengers may be less enthusiastic about the angled nature of window-side seats when in when in flat-bed mode.

ENTERTAINMENT

Singapore Airlines new A380s include myKrisWorld, a new personalised and interactive in-flight entertainment feature for business class passengers including content recommendations based on passenger preferences and viewing history.

FOOD

As it's a mid-evening departure, I elect to dine in Singapore Airlines large and comfortable business class lounge at Changi Airport prior to the flight in order to maximise my sleep on this overnight flight. It's just as well since as SQ221 departs a fierce electrical thunderstorm descends over the airport meaning that the aircraft is forced to wait out the weather on the tarmac for an hour or so. Night-owls, however, could choose dishes such as seared black cod a la nicoise, beef fillet in mustard herb crust with red wine sauce and North Indian chicken biryani.

SERVICE

Caring, courteous, cheerful and efficient from beginning to end (this is Singapore Airlines, after all) with the cabin crew in high spirits due the brand new aircraft with its newly-outfitted seating.

THE LAST WORD

The evolution of the business class seat, thanks to the intense competition that exists between airlines, has reached as apogee, or near enough to it, as evidenced by this impressively-designed latest generation seat with a near dizzying array of high-flying bells and whistles.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

Five out of five.

Anthony Dennis travelled as a guest of Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) and The Fullerton Hotel Singapore (fullertonhotels.com)

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