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Flight test: Singapore Airlines A380 economy class

13/01/2014 Craig Platt
Singapore Airlines' reputation for good service is well-deserved. © Flight test: Singapore Airlines A380 economy class Singapore Airlines' reputation for good service is well-deserved.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

THE ROUTE

Melbourne to London via Singapore.

THE PLANE

Airbus A380-800.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Krisflyer (Star Alliance).

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END

Economy class, seat 44K. I pay an additional $50 a sector to reserve an exit-row seat.

TIME IN THE AIR

Seven hours, 15 minutes overnight to Singapore, followed by 12 hours, 45 minutes to Heathrow.

THE SEAT STUFF

A three-four-three layout in economy class. Economy passengers on this version of Singapore’s superjumbo are split across the aircraft’s two decks. I’m on the lower deck. Standard (non-exit row) economy seats have a 32-inch seat pitch, 19 inches wide.

BAGGAGE

Checked baggage is based on weight, rather than the number of pieces, with total weight for baggage in economy limited to 30 kilograms. One piece of cabin baggage up to seven kilograms, plus one small personal item.

COMFORT FACTOR

I do believe I’ve found the best economy seat on an A380. Out of the more than 300 economy seats on the plane, my window seat at the overwing exit row offers a huge amount of space and is not encroached by a bulge from the emergency exit door like other rows, presumably because there is no slide inside, as I am over the wing. Well worth the extra $100. Otherwise, the seat is comfortable enough, with a decent pillow and blanket provided, but the armrests are fixed in the exit row, so there’s no snuggling with your neighbour.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

The selection of movies and TV shows is excellent. The navigation of the system is not the best in the sky these days but it is usable enough. The introduction of a new, improved system has been announced.

SERVICE

The cabin crew maintain their reputation. Their appearance is immaculate and they are polite and efficient, though not overly friendly.

FEEDING TIME

Since it’s an overnight flight, it’s a light option for the first meal, which I opt to skip to get some sleep. My experience on Asian airlines is that it’s always best to choose the Asian option rather than the western, so in the morning for breakfast it’s braised egg noodles with chicken and mushroom, rather than the egg frittata with beans, tomato, mushroom and bacon. On the London leg, I opt for the egg noodles again, this time with roast pork and prawn dumplings. Then it’s a tasty chicken biryani for dinner. All the meals are pretty good, by economy standards.

ONE MORE THING

Australians now have a broad range of choices when it comes to transit points on flights to Europe, especially with Qantas now flying to Dubai rather than Singapore. But for my money, Singapore’s Changi Airport easily remains the most comfortable and enjoyable option, with free Wi-Fi throughout, shopping galore, plenty of great places to eat and, most importantly, an abundance of comfortable, quiet seating areas to relax in.

THE VERDICT

Starting a long haul to London with a overnight flight is always a bad idea, but with the comfort of the exit row and flawless service, I couldn’t really have asked for more.

FREQUENCY

Singapore Airlines flies from Melbourne to Singapore four times daily and Sydney to Singapore four times daily, with four daily flights from Singapore to London.

Tested by Craig Platt who flew at his own expense.

Singapore Airlines flight attendant on A380 economy class. © AP Singapore Airlines flight attendant on A380 economy class. Singapore Airlines' reputation for good service is well-deserved. © AP Singapore Airlines' reputation for good service is well-deserved.
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