By Jonny Clark, TheDesignAir
11 July 2013 | Singapore Airlines has been the epitome of luxury for many years now. Many airlines look to the airline, not only for the product they have onboard, but the way that Singapore Airlines effortlessly conveys luxury and sophistication. Singapore Airlines has not failed to deliver on their latest incarnation of products which will replace the current fleets slightly older, but by no means tired cabins. The first aircraft to adopt these new cabins will be the 777-300ER and when it comes into service, the A350. Passengers between Singapore and London will be the first to experience the new seats when they come on line in September.
“The significant investment in our next generation of cabin products reaffirms our commitment to product innovation and leadership, and demonstrates our confidence in the future for premium full-service air travel,” said SIA’s Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr Mak Swee Wah. The products seem to be more like luxury train or car, and this is no surprise, as the release is the result of more than two years of working with world-renowned design firms. BMW Group DesignworksUSA assisted with the development of the new First Class, James Park Associates assisted with Business Class and Massive Interactive with the in-flight entertainment system interface.
We take a look at the products a little closer.
Singapore Airlines’ new First Class seat, features a new fixed-back shell design with curved side panels to provide a clear demarcation of personal space, for added privacy. At 35 inches in width and with an increased bed length from 80 to 82 inches, it is one of the most spacious First Class products in the sky. (But not the most!) Extensive research was conducted to determine how best to increase the comfort of the new First Class seat. An ergonomically sculpted cushion and improved adjustable headrest have been introduced for greater seating comfort, while new features such as a padded headboard for extra support and an additional mattress layer ensure customers enjoy a good rest. The attention to detail here is superb, and shows great research into the seating habits of travellers in such products. We personally love the two types of backing to the seat, depending whether you are configured in bed or seat mode.
Nifty little features have been introduced, helping provide discreet service. For example, the seat now boasts a stylish passenger control unit that includes a new switch to provide customers easier access to turn off their in-flight entertainment monitor, and for cabin crew to do so without disturbing customers when they are resting. Another key feature is the in-seat lighting. In-depth research was carried out with lighting experts to develop not only a stylish reading light, but one that also provides a conducive environment for reading or working. Extensive tests were carried out to determine the optimal light colour and intensity, with brightness adjustability. In addition to reading lights, the seat features ambient lighting, which not only accentuates the seat design but also serves as a night light in a dimmed cabin.
Complementing the experience is a new state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system. First Class customers can enjoy the new KrisWorld on a sleek 24-inch LCD screen, with video touch-screen handsets. The slimline nature of these new screens make for a sleeky, less boxy and cumbersome product, making it in many ways, more stylish and luxurious that the average person’s home. To ensure that personal devices are within easy reach, even while charging, both eXport and USB ports are discreetly located within a leather-lined bespoke stowage compartment by the side of the seat. HDMI ports have also been added to provide the flexibility for customers to use KrisWorld as their own personal media player.
The one thing that we have noticed though, is that space is still at a premium, no matter how much space is being provided. The fact the mattress narrows at the feet, due to the overlap with the seat infront still shows that your space is being compromised to allow for more seats in the cabin. We don’t think this is a major negative at all, but more an observation about the future of airline products.
We do like the new business class seat, it has less of a “padded bling” element that the previous seats (that we also love) have. These seats look like they mean business, and look less like seats, and more like cabins.
Set in a warm and inviting cabin, the seat offers greater recline at 132 degrees and features an improved ergonomic seat cushion. When converted, it becomes the industry’s widest full-flat bed, at 78 inches in length. Again, like it’s bigger brother first class seat, the business class seat also features a padded headboard cushion for enhanced comfort. In addition to the predecessor version of Singapore’s Business class cabin, the new Business Class seat boasts two new seating positions – ‘Lazy Z’ and ‘Sundeck’ – following in-depth research and feedback from customers. These additional lounging positions provide even greater flexibility for customers to choose their preferred ways to work or relax.
Taking into account customer feedback for increased stowage space, there is now an amenity stowage area on the side console and a laptop stowage area. Other enhanced features mirror that of it’s first class cousin, but at a slightly lesser level, including a slightly smaller 18-inch LCD screen and video touch-screen handset for customers to enjoy the next generation KrisWorld, as well as an all-in-one business panel including in-seat power supply, USB port, eXport and HDMI ports. Like the new First Class seat, the new Business Class seat boasts a floodlight reading light and the LCD monitor on/off switch for added convenience.
There is little improvement in economy class apart from their new KrisWorld entertainment system which is fully revamped too. But that’s not a bad thing, the same amount of space and luxury is offered to travellers as has been expected, meaning that those still paying a premium for a Singapore Airlines economy seat are still getting excellent value for money. Through the use of innovative design and materials, the new Singapore Airlines Economy Class seat provides additional comfort, with increased personal space and legroom. Each seat, which features a refreshed contemporary fabric design, comes with new backrest seat cushions with side bolsters for better back support. An ergonomically sculpted headrest cushion, which supports an increased range of height adjustments, offers better neck support.
Customers can also enjoy the new KrisWorld in-flight entertainment experience on a wider 11.1-inch monitor, featuring an intelligent and unique touch-screen graphical user interface (GUI) accompanied by a video touch-screen handset.
Whilst other airlines, such as Garuda, are investing into providing a superior product to what they had (and the new First Class they offer is still amazing!), they still don’t fully match that on offer at Singapore Airlines. Our worry is that Singapore has gained a reputation of being an expensive option to fly, and will passengers still be willing to pay this premium in the current global climate.