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Singapore Airlines introduced “Suites” class to the industry on the A380 back in 2007, which kicked off a veritable resurgence in on-board opulence and luxury amongst the Middle Eastern and Asian carriers. Whilst Singapore (in my humble opinion) has held the title of best first class since the Suite’s inception, the product is certainly showing its age and there is an argument to be made that Etihad is the current market leader in unbridled lavishness. With an Upper Deck 1-1 layout, and Suites the size of a small room, Etihad very much threw down the gauntlet for its competitors.
Look at the windows: Singapore’s new A380’s side profile provides some very telling details, and we may have our first peek at the new First Class Suites.
Singapore is currently one of only a handful of carriers to base the First Class cabin on the lower level, with most airlines opting for the Upper Deck. Indeed, it is the Upper Deck Airbus touts as the intended location for this cabin. Whilst the A380 does allow for some truly spacious First Class accommodations, such as those seen on Etihad’s newest jets, the width and natural curve of the top level walls does not lend itself to particularly roomy seats in the typical 1-2-1 layout. Emirates’ glossy but certainly narrow Suites jump to mind.
Singapore Airlines has been understandably tight lipped about its forthcoming Suites upgrade, to be rolled out on new A380s arriving later this year (and retrofitted to existing A380s). Details are scarce, however we do so far know (confirmed by Singapore):
- There will be fewer Suites in the new configuration compared to the existing layout;
- The new Suites will be bigger; and
- There will be no showers on board.
Well, we may just have our first real hint of Singapore Airline’s new A380 layout.
It looks as thought Singapore Airlines is moving its First Class Suites accommodations to the Upper Deck with, if rumours are correct, a single aisle. All of this adds up to a very exciting, albeit still top secret, new product, and enough to take on SQ’s Middle Eastern competitors.
Via Eurospot, we’ve stumbled across this photo of Singapore’s newest factory fresh A380 (currently flying under the test designation F-WWAQ, however it will presumably be shortly registered under 9V-SKU).
Captured on its ferry flight from Toulouse to Hamburg’s Finkenwerder Airport (the Airbus facility for final painting and interior fit-outs), we have an unobstructed view of its profile, and there is a small detail that is incredibly telling.
What is interesting about this photo is the difference between the cabin window positions on Singapore’s current A380s and the new airframes yet to be delivered.
Singapore’s current A380s can be seen with window-sets that correspond to where the Suites are positioned along the interior of the cabin, and in this case can be seen on the front, Lower Deck in 4 sets of 2’s and 3’s.
When we look at the new airframe, these Suite-aligned windows have been relocated from the Lower Deck to the Upper Deck in 3 distinct sets of 2 windows, whilst the Lower Deck sees a reversion to a standard continuous portholes (typical of Economy, Premium Economy and Business layouts). Absent any other information, its difficult to think of any other reason Singapore has selectively blocked specific windows on the Upper Deck.
What does this mean?
Whilst we do not have much to go on from these photos alone, combining what we have had confirmed from Singapore Airlines itself, and what we have seen above:
- The Suites-class cabin will be relocated to the front-Upper Deck;
- There will likely be either 9 (with 3 rows across sets of 1-1-1 seats) or 6 (with 3 rows of 1-1 seats) Suites in the new layout;
- The Suites will be bigger owing to less suites being spread over the same rough area;
- The Lower Deck will likely be given over entirely to Economy and Premium Economy passengers.
I am keeping an eye out for any more news relating to Singapore’s newest Suites, and my own interest is feverish. Get in touch if you see anything yourselves!