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The best seats aboard the world's biggest passenger jet just got better — and fewer.
Singapore Airlines on Thursday unveiled new seats for its Airbus A380, its first major cabin overhaul in a decade. The highlight, however, was the new first class: six suites, down from 12, which were redesigned to feature beds that sit perpendicular to the windows and a wall that can come down to join, should you want to, say, relax with a travel companion.
The new A380s will seat 471 people. In addition to the six suites, there will be 78 business class seats on the upper deck, and 44 premium economy and 343 regular economy class seats on the main deck.
The revamp is the latest step in an arms race to appeal to wealthy travelers who will shell out for some of the rarest real estate on board. While many carriers like Delta and United are designing their premium cabins for frequent business travelers, a few international airlines provide spacious first class suites, such as Etihad, which offers a three-room suite it calls "The Residence."
Singapore Airlines' answer to that starts flying next month from Singapore to Sydney. Here's what the new A380 interior, four years in the making, looks like:
Think of it as a hotel at 35,000 feet. Singapore Airlines unveiled suites "for a distinguished few" with two pillows, a cotton duvet for a bed that measures 76 inches by 27 inches. The beds in the first two suites of each aisle can be joined so two members of the 1 percent can sleep side by side, forming a full bed.
They will also receive slippers, eyeshades and socks. The suites sit on the upper deck of the jumbo jet.
Storage space abounds, so if you're not using any of your amenity kit items such as face moisturizer or body lotion, they can be stored here along with whatever jewelry or watch could interrupt your sleep.
Each suite has a leather chair (don't expect to be in bed during takeoff or landing), that swivels between 135 degrees and 270 degrees through an electronic control. The bed can be completely stowed. And if staring out of the window gets dull, there's a 32-inch HD monitor for in-flight entertainment.
It's the airplane ratio that dreams are made of: Two lavatories for six passengers. Don't expect much of a line.
Singapore Airlines tests menus with celebrity chefs around the world. If what they come up with isn't to passengers' liking they often have an alternative.
Business class cabins have becoming more elaborate in recent years, with lie-flat beds and either a suite or a pod-style seat as more or less the standard for long-haul international travel.
Singapore Airlines' new A380 business class will have 78 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration on the upper deck of the plane. Legroom is 50 inches and the seat, which reclines fully, is 25 inches wide. Plenty of room to work. The "cocoon-like" shell is intended to give business-class travelers more privacy.
Some travelers might not want that privacy, so the seat divider can come down to join the seats' beds together. That's a feature that Qatar Airways also recently unveiled. Each pod has in-seat power and an 18-inch touchscreen monitor.
Premium economy is a relatively new invention and a product that is sort of a business-class lite. You get some of the perks but not the lie-flat seat.
The seats are 19.5 inches wide and with 38 inches of pitch. They recline eight inches and come with a calf- and footrest. Each passenger gets a set of noise-cancelling headphones.
...there's economy class. And wine.