Airline review: Singapore Airlines A380 economy class, Sydney to Singapore

THE PLANE

This Airbus A380-800 is the newest in the fleet, at the time of the flight. Singapore Airlines has a further five A380s on order with retrofitting of 14 existing A380s with new seating to start this year.

THE ROUTE

SQ232, Sydney to Singapore

LOYALTY SCHEME

KrisFlyer

CLASS

Economy, seat 61C in a 3-4-3 configuration 

DURATION

Eight hours and 10 minutes

FREQUENCY

Singapore Airlines operates five flights daily to Singapore from Sydney and four services daily to Singapore from Melbourne. Two of the Sydney-Singapore-Sydney flights per day are A380 services.

BAGGAGE

Economy-class passengers on Singapore Airlines flights are allowed up to a total of 30 kilograms of luggage.

SEAT 

There are 343 economy class seats aboard this A380-800 flight (and, yes, the near mint aircraft does have an almost new car aroma to it) with the appealing upper-deck economy-class 2-4-2 configured cabin, enjoyed by this passenger on previous flights, on A380 no longer available in this new version.

Singapore Airlines has generated considerable hullabaloo around its new first class suites and business class seats, launched with a fanfare late last year while the introduction of a new economy class seat by the carrier has been somewhat overlooked. The first impression of entering the economy cabin is that the new, more contemporary sleeker-looking seat, which resembles a designer office chair with fabric to match, is narrower with a seat pitch of 32 inches (81 centimetres), a width of 18.5 inches (47 centimetres) and a recline of six inches (15 centimetres). On sitting in this new economy seat there's a sense of my posture being more upright than in previous versions.

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COMFORT

Singapore Airlines claims that it's managed to increase the capacity of its latest A380 and new seating configuration without affecting the comfort and on-board experience of passengers. Although the seat is noticeably narrower, meaning you can see the full seatback screen of the passenger in between the gap of the seats in front of you, which can be slightly distracting, legroom has been slightly increased as well as back support. This passenger was allocated an aisle seat on the left-hand side of the aircraft meaning I was regularly required to stand up to allow my neighbours to my left to pass due to the three-set (but, hey, this is economy although that aforementioned 2-4-2 configuration will be missed). Fortunately this was a day flight so slumber, aside from dozing, was undisturbed. However, one particularly welcome and clearly improved feature of this seat is a four-way adjustable headrest with foldable wings.

ENTERTAINMENT

Economy class entertainment systems on the new A380 will benefit from the launch of a new myKrisWorld interactive system. A new 11.1-inch touch-screen on this aircraft eliminates tangle handsets and awkwardness of fully reinserting them into their  pods. The seatback screen also includes a new "non-intrusive" reading light, storage space for small personal items (don't leave anything behind), in-seat power supply, an ergonomically-designed footrest and, something I've rarely if ever seen used on other aircraft, a coat hook.

SERVICE

Faultless, or near enough to it, as famously tends to be the case on Singapore Airlines flights. The cabin crew, along with the passengers, are all feeling the buzz around this particular flight since it's the inaugural Sydney to Singapore service aboard this new A380 aircraft with its newly-developed range of seating (this passenger gets to try the redesigned business class seat on his return leg).

FOOD

A simple appetiser of smoked salmon with potato and mustard salad is followed by decent enough main courses featuring a choice of braised free-range chicken in oyster sauce with oriental vegetable and egg noodles or beef stroganoff served with green beans, carrot and boiled potato.

THE LAST WORD

Economy class on Singapore Airlines has always been a tolerable, if not pleasant, enough experience compared to other carriers with efficient and courteous crew providing an additional bonus. The airline has wagered that in noticeably narrowing its economy class seat that it will offset any criticism by adding a smidgen more legroom and some other improved features. On balance, it feels like one step forward and one back though Singapore's economy class remains among the best in class.

OUR RATING

 ★★★★

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

See also: Singapore Airlines unveils stunning new A380 seats

See also: Airline review: Singapore Airlines A330 economy class

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