Singapore Airlines A380 Upper Deck Economy Class Flight Review: SQ863 Hong Kong to Singapore
Singapore Airlines is the first operator of the A380 superjumbo, with the maiden flight to Sydney in October 2007. Ten years later, in November 2017, Singapore Airlines has unveiled new A380 cabin products that would span across all classes of travel, to be fitted across its entire new and existing A380 fleet.
In anticipation of the new A380 cabin products that would debut on 18 December 2017 on SQ221 (Singapore to Sydney), here is a look at the original A380 Economy Class cabin product, on a regional flight SQ863 from Hong Kong to Singapore.
Operator: Singapore Airlines
Route: Hong Kong to Singapore
Departure from Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1: 14:10 / 14:33^
Arrival in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3: 18:10 / 17:59^
Flight Time: 4 hours / 3 hours and 26 minutes^
Operating Aircraft: Airbus 380-841
(^ denotes actual timings)
I checked-in online for my flight shortly after the 48 hour online check-in window opened and was able to select a window seat on the Upper Deck Economy Class. It turned out to be a really good choice, which you will see later.
I arrived in Hong Kong International Airport in good time for check-in and was half-expecting long queues (it is an A380 service after all) at the check-in counters. On the contrary, there was barely a queue, and I was quickly issued my boarding pass and informed kindly of my departure gate and boarding time.
What I love about Hong Kong International Airport, well, aside from the really awesome photographer-friendly views of aircraft and airlines from all over the world, is how systematic their boarding process is. Group and status boarding is strictly enforced, in a nice polite way, with excellent signage to guide passengers.
Boarding commenced on time, and I boarded after the Business Class passengers and made my way to the back to the A380, grabbing a copy of the Singapore national daily, "The Straits Times" along the way.
A Singapore Girl (as the lady flight attendants of Singapore Airlines are better known) proactively approached me and helpfully asked for my seat number to direct me to my seat. I think when entering the aircraft and making your way to your seat, what really strikes you is iconic traditional sarong kebaya uniform of the Singapore Girls and how immaculately groomed they are.
At my seat was furnished a blanket, pillow, and entertainment earphones.
A well-appreciated footrest
What I really like about the Upper Deck Economy Class window seat is a personal stowage compartment next to my seat! The compartment is really deep and can hold up to 10kg load (well, you are allowed to bring in 7kg for Economy Class), so no need for sharing of legroom with your belongings!
At this point, I should also highlight this mighty aircraft is showing its age, well, at least my seat is. The USB port and tray table seemed to be permanently stained - I don't think I would be using that USB port! The closing mechanism of my beloved stowage compartment was also feeble, with the compartment being very disagreeable when closing and popping open at the slightest touch. My window (as with the others in my vicinity) were also badly scratched. Although decently-sized at 10.6 inches, the entertainment screen is (to my surprise actually) non-touchscreen, and lags when navigating with the cumbersome handset. In this sense, I am happy that the Singapore Airlines flagship A380 fleet is going for an overhaul.
With the introduction of the new Economy Class product on the A380, the entertainment will be 11.1 inches and touchscreen - that is something I would look forward to!
Once boarding was completed (that honestly took a while, it's an A380 after all!), the cabin crew immediately commenced Singapore Airlines signature hot towel service. Steaming hot towels are served to welcome passengers onboard. The towels are so nicely heated they are just moist enough and I could still see steam coming off from mine.
Menus are then distributed - which was a nice classy touch. The menu features a special design to commemorate Singapore Airlines 70th Anniversary celebrations.
The menu was in English and Cantonese. Lunch would be served on this flight. Incredibly, Singapore Airlines offer two choices of 3-course meals, with their own unique appetisers and main courses, in Economy Class, nonetheless! I thought the main course of the oriental selection sounded interesting and I was anticipating to savour it.
After the safety video screening, we took off on a clear sunny day from Hong Kong. Perhaps, the Upper Deck Economy Class was located at the rear of the aircraft, it was pretty bumpy during the take off (and landing as well). Nevertheless, it is a small price to pay to be seated in an exclusive Upper Deck cabin.
After take off, the cabin crew passed through the cabin to offer a choice of juices, wines, beer, or water from trays. Packets of mixed nuts with crackers were also distributed. I observed a total of 4 cabin crew were working in this Economy Class cabin - 2 Singapore Girls who took charge of the service, and 2 Singapore Boys (?) who assisted them with replenishing their carts or preparing side orders. Service was courteous and attentive.
I enjoyed a Korean film "The King's Case Note" whilst sipping on my white wine and munching on the tasty nuts.
Lunch was served later, and I was happy to receive my desired oriental selection choice. The Singapore Girl was careful in arranging the tray components to ensure that they were facing me when serving me the tray - how attentive to the little details!
I requested for the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, which was promptly delivered to my seat. I noted it was a very popular drink on this flight!
And here's the anticipated review of the food:
With marinated vegetable salad
This huge slab of fish was massive, and wondering what sort of fish it was, I thought it kinda of resembled a shark's fin (okay, politically-incorrect much!). It was well-seasoned but (perhaps, in the good sense) had a mild taste. The Chinese coleslaw the fish was basking on was pretty ordinary tasting.
Deep Fried Pork with Mandarin Peel Sauce
Chinese vegetable and steamed rice
With this dish, I never thought airline food could be this amazing! If I could describe it with one term: restaurant-quality! The deep-fried pork chunks were bite-sized, well-marinated yet not at all soggy. Each bite revealed the lean and tender quality pork cuts that made up this dish. The soft zucchini, with healthy goji berries, had a delicate taste that paired perfectly with the more intense flavours of the marinated meat, complimenting one another like Yin and Yang. The main course was served very hot, making it even more wonderful to savour. I am truly impressed with Singapore Airlines inflight catering.
From the Bakery
Bread Roll and Spread
Natural Mineral Water
Ice cream was delivered later, and it turned out to be a mini-tub of Häagen-Dazs. I was pleased to find it was my favourite flavour: Strawberry! It was hard as a rock so I let it thaw a little before enjoying this sweet finale to my great dining experience.
The cabin crew promptly cleared the meal trays, and I requested for a glass of red wine, to enjoy for the rest of the flight.
The rest of the flight was mostly uneventful and quiet, with most passengers dozing after the meal or enjoying the inflight entertainment. Though non-touchscreen, the entertainment options available were massive and diverse!
Checking out the lavatory (located just in front of the galley), it was nicely stocked with eau de toilette, hand moisturizing lotion, mouthwash, as well as dental kits.
Enjoying the inflight entertainment (I watched an episode of a Hong Kong drama series) after my Korean movie, time went by quickly, and soon the cabin was prepared for landing.
We then landed smoothly on a rather overcast day in Singapore, marking an end to my enjoyable Singapore Airlines A380 experience.
Although there were some tell-tale signs (scratched windows, stains around the seat) that gave away the aircraft's age, this original Singapore Airlines A380 product is still a comfortable way to fly, with a comfortable legroom and an extensive selection of entertainment options.
I thought what truly stands out, each time and every time, when flying with Singapore Airlines is the cabin services. This flight was no different. On this flight, the cabin crew were always ready to render assistance to passengers, and requests were graciously met. The Singapore Airlines hospitality, delivered by the immaculately groomed cabin crew, truly defines the Singapore Airlines flying experience and regardless of the aircraft type, I have always looked forward to my Singapore Airlines flights, where I am assured of the excellent cabin services.
While the new A380 product offers a similar 32 inch seat pitch and 18.5 inch seat width, it promises more legroom and space, using a more ergonomic seat design, with more flexible headrests and footrests. Unfortunately, Economy Class will only be offered on the Main Deck. Having enjoyed the original A380 entertainment offering, I will be looking forward to enjoying the upgraded 11.1 inch touchscreen entertainment though, with the famous Singapore Airlines hospitality, of course.
Thank you for reading this Singapore Airlines A380 experience on FlightTravels.
For the full video experience of my SQ863 flight, please see below:
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