Ramon is the creator of Travelling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
I was blown away by the Singapore Airlines Suites experience and this was the best flight I have ever taken. This was the ultimate experience for any traveling companions and the culinary adventure along with the kindness of Singapore Airlines flight attendants got our honeymoon off to an amazing start.
Pros- Speedy Boarding, Spectacular Service, High-End Amenities, High-Quality Noise-Cancelling Headphones, Wide Selection of Five Star Cuisine, First Class Meal Service, Krug and Caviar, Honeymoon Cake, Connected Suites
Cons- Dated Hard Product, Damaged Bathroom Interiors, Weak In-Flight Entertainment System
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Location and Check-In
As I wrote in my last post our Delta CRJ900 flight from Washington Regan National (DCA) arrived at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 4. While our flight on Singapore Airlines to Frankfurt (FRA) also departed from JFK Terminal 4. JFK Terminal 4 is known as JFK's international terminal and also houses Delta Airlines JFK long haul flights. Shortly after arriving we collected our bags and headed to the Singapore Airlines check-in desk. We arrived about four and a half hours before our fight to make sure we could soak up the entire Suites experience and enjoy the airport lounge. Singapore Airlines begins online check-in 48 hours in advance unlike the standard 24 hours in advance for U.S. airlines, however, because we were flying from the United States we could not access our boarding passes until 24 hours in advance. Because we were early the Suites specific check-in was closed and there was no one else in line for the general check-in. The woman who served us seemed to be German and was training another check-in agent. The trainer was very matter of fact and not very friendly. The check-in experience was fast but didn't really feel very welcoming. The best part of the check-in was when we received our white and gold colored boarding passes which had Suites written on them. It felt like we just received a golden ticket.
Since we were flying in the Singapore Airlines Suites we were invited to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK which serves as the lounge for Singapore Airlines Suites passengers departing JFK. The lounge is located on the upper level of Terminal 4 between gates A4 and A5 next to the Air India Maharaja and Emirates lounges. The food and drink I had at the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK were the best I ever had at an airport lounge. You can read about the full experience in my previous post by clicking here. On our way to the lounge we spotted the A380 which was going to be our ride to Frankfurt, Germany then on to Singapore. We were in awe by the size and design of the aircraft which had a hump like a whale and we were ready to ride the largest passenger aircraft ever built.
We left the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK and headed to gate A7 for our departure. When we arrived at the gate area it was packed and there was not a single seat in sight. We assumed that the A380 was mostly full and in fact there ended up only being two empty seats in Suites Class. We lined up in the boarding area to ensure we would be the first to board the plane. When we got into line the gate agent gave us a strange look as if something was wrong with us since the first to board were Suites Class passengers. She asked us why we standing in line and if someone had called us up to the desk. We told her no and showed her our Suites class boarding passes and she looked back at us shocked that a young American minority couple were traveling in Suites Class. This prejudice really annoyed me and sadly is a normal experience being a minority in the United States. Christina and I reflected upon this later and recognized our privilege to be flying in First Class but how it was even more of a privilege as young minorities.
Once boarding started we were the first passengers on board. There were two separate boarding bridges one for the lower deck and one for the upper deck. We took the lower deck boarding bridge since the legacy version of the Suites are located at the front of the lower deck of the A380. Something that was very impressive about Singapore Airlines is the speed of the A380 boarding process. Singapore Airlines was able to complete the boarding of this A380, which can hold up to 293 passengers, in 20 minutes and our flight departed five minutes early. This boarding time is faster than the vast majority of domestic U.S. flights with a fraction of the passengers.
Plane and Seats
The Suites are exclusively available on Singapore Airline's A380. Our A380 sported the legacy version which has 12 suites located in the front of the lower deck unlike the new version which has 6 suites located in the front of the upper deck. The center Suites can be connected and turned into a double suite which is ideal for traveling companions. We chose seats 3C and 3D so we could turn our suites into a double suite. All of the other Suites, except for the second set of double suites (2C and 2D), were occupied and all of the other passengers seemed to be business travelers.
The Suites had an impressive amount of space allowing us to fully stand up straight, moreover, there were no overhead bins giving the cabin an airy and open feeling. Storage was available in bins in-between the two seats and below the ottomans in front of our seats. The ottamon was affixed to the Suite with a seat belt. It served multiple functions including as a comfortable foot rest and a place where a traveling companion could sit to talk or have a shared meal. The seats were very plush and comfortable and could be turned into double beds though we ended up not using that feature on this flight since we wanted to adjust to the time in Singapore. Another great feature of the Suites was that they featured individual air vents allowing us to control the temperature if we got too hot or cold. I was impressed by how good of a condition the Suites were in since the legacy product was launched in 2007. However, the hard product clearly needed a refresh.
Shortly after we were seated we were greeted by a very friendly flight attendant who would be the primary person serving us on this flight. He offered to take our picture after he noticed we were snapping photos. This was just one of the many impressive service qualities we experienced on our flight. Another flight attendant came by prior to departure with a hot towel which was much appreciated. As we sat in our seats I was in awe and it felt surreal to be traveling in the Singapore Airlines Suites.
Amenities and In-Flight Entertainment
This flight was chock full of amenities. Christina and I received identical amenity kits full of high-end Lalique amenities. The Singapore Airlines and Lalique branded kit came in a black zip bag and included lip balm, hand lotion, soap, and a candle (with a clear warning not to light it on the plane) from Lalique's Neroli line of products. The Neroli candle included in the amenity kit had scents inspired from Morocco and retails for $69.
However, the amenities did not end with the kit. We were also handed Lalique branded pajamas, which we ended up not using on this flight, and slippers.
Also, on the A380 there were two restrooms at the back of the Suites Class cabin. Each of the restrooms were large and had full sized bottles of Lalique Neroli body mist, body lotion, eau de toilet, and non-Lalique branded mouthwash. The bathrooms also had individually sealed Singapore Airlines branded toothbrushes and combs. I was impressed by the job Singapore Airlines did branding items in the cabin and providing a wide array of amenities. However, the one down fall with the bathrooms was that they were in need of refresh. The panelling showed some wear and tear and in one of the bathrooms the garbage bin was broken and instead the flight attendants were using a plastic bag. These conditions make sense given that this A380 was about two decades old and the cabin design hadn't undergone a full refresh since then. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic Singapore Airlines took delivery of five new A380 aircraft with the new Suites, retrofitted two older A380's with the new Suites, and planned to retrofit the rest of the fleet by the end of 2020. However, it is unclear if the remaining retrofits will happen given the significant decline in demand for long-haul international travel.
Another area where the age of the plane really showed up was the in-flight entertainment system which Singapore Airlines calls Kris World. First on the hardware front the television was very low resolution and the remote was really old.
The one bright spot was the Bang and Olusfen noise-cancelling headphones, which had a three prong jack made specifically for the airplane, and I found to be high quality. On the software front the movie and television selection was very weak. There were very few new release movies and the ones that were included I had mostly already seen. We did end up watching a funny movie called What do Men Want? which was funny but the selection dropped off dramatically after that. I was very surprised by the weak selection given the length of this flight.
Food and Drinks
Once we leveled off our flight attendant came by to get our drink orders. We decided to continue our champagne theme of our honeymoon and started off with a 2009 Dom Perignon (~$160 per bottle) which was served with mix nuts. The Dom was better than the Lanson I had earlier in the day in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse JFK but left a poor after taste.
Next, we tried the 2004 Krug which I can only describe as amazing. This vintage retails for about $300 per bottle and I can say if you have the money to spend, it would be worth every penny. This was by far the best champagne I have ever had.
Our First Class culinary adventure got off to a start about five months before the flight when we chose our dinner from the Book the Cook menu. Singapore Airlines allows many Suites, First, and Business Class passengers to choose from an expanded menu of options in advance called Book the Cook. The menu was extensive and was like choosing from a menu at a Michelin star restaurant. I went with the Roast Rack of Lamb while Christina chose Singapore Airlines popular Lobster Thermidor. Once we were onboard the flight attendant confirmed our Book the Cook orders and us asked to choose between two appetizers, two soups, two salads, and a selection of breads. I chose the caviar, tomato soup, and garlic bread while Christina chose the caviar and chicken soup. Before our food was served there was a second towel service and our tables were set with a table cloth just like at a restaurant.
The branding continued with the Singapore Airlines branded plate.
First up was the caviar course which was so savory and when paired with the Krug tasted like a slice of pure luxury. I had caviar and champagne before but it couldn't approach the level of the Krug and caviar on this flight. Christina and I realized how much we really like good champagne and caviar. On the side of the caviar was a slice of garlic bread which was the best garlic bread I have ever had.
The next course was the soup course. I am not a big fan of soup but I liked my tomato soup. It tasted fresh and had just a hint of spice which was a nice touch.
Christina did not like her Double Boiled Chicken Soup and found the style it was served in different than any chicken soup she had ever had.
Next was the main course which we paired with a 2016 O'rida Shiraz wine from Australia which was amazing an had a unique flavor. I was served the Roast Rack of Lamb which came with natural jus, roasted vegetables, and garlic mash. I am a huge fan of lamb and I can confidently say this is the best lamb I had ever had.
Christina also really liked her Lobster Thermidor. It is so impressive what Singapore Airlines was able to do in the sky better than most restaurants can do on the ground. I still can't understand how Singapore Airlines keeps the food tasting so fresh and flavorful but it is extremely impressive.
Only a continental breakfast was offered as a part of this flight which is understandable if you had a full dinner the night before but disappointing if you slept and wanted a First Class breakfast. However, it ended not being an issue for Christina and I since we were too full and declined the offer of breakfast. Before we departed the flight we were offered mints and mini-boxes of chocolate and happily accepted the mini-boxes of chocolate.
The service on this flight was just as spectacular as the food. We were simply blown away by the kindness of the flight attendants. We were always addressed by name by all of the flight attendants. They were so extremely friendly and continued to joke with us throughout the flight. For example, when our primary flight attendant realized that I really loved the garlic bread he jokingly brought around some more and dropped it onto my plate without asking. Prior to the flight I let Singapore Airlines know it was our honeymoon since I heard they can recognize this with a cake. After our meal was complete the flight attendants came around with a honeymoon cake on a tray with dry ice, two glasses of Krug Champagne, and two Singapore Airlines bears. Christina was shocked since I didn't let her know about this surprise and she thought this was a really sweet moment. The kindness of this Singapore Airlines crew really cannot be overstated. One of the flight attendants spent 30 minutes talking to us about what to do in Singapore when he heard we were heading there for the first stop of our honeymoon. He wrote down a list of suggestions for activities in Singapore and even gave us his phone number! He said that we could Whats App him if we wanted more suggestions for things to do in Singapore. I was so blown away by this act of kindness. I know that the flight attendants are paid to deliver service but this felt genuine and he didn't need to go out of his way to make us feel welcomed or provide his phone number. On this flight Singapore Airlines delivered some of the best service I have ever seen on the ground or in the air.
Simply put I was blown away by our first experience on Singapore Airlines and can't wait to fly Singapore Airlines Suites again. While this legacy version of the Suites had a dated hard product and a weak in-flight entertainment it was still the best flight I have ever taken. The Singapore Airline's Suites provided an impressive amount of space and Singapore Airlines brought us on a Michelin star restaurant quality culinary adventure. I ended up having several of the best dishes I have had in the air or on the ground. Singapore Airlines topped it off with world class service and blew me away with this experience. I strongly recommend Singapore Airlines for anyone looking for a truly First Class honeymoon.