Here’s a slideshow of the TravelSkills’s private tour of a Singapore Airlines A380 parked at SFO. Enjoy!
While the double-decker Airbus A380 has been plying the skies around the world for five years now, it’s still a sight to see it take off or land at SFO. While you may have seen one of these big birds from the outside…only a few have been able to see what they look like on the inside.
Last week, lucky BAT contest winner David Zippin got one of those prized close-up looks when he took a private tour of a Singapore Airlines’ A380 parked at SFO. TravelSkills chose Zippin randomly from the hundreds of readers who helped us attract nearly 300 new subscribers in a word-of-mouth contest late last year.
Thanks to all of you who helped turn your friends and colleagues on to TravelSkills! As a result, we are growing like gangbusters! And thanks to Singapore Air and other BAT sponsors– their support keeps TravelSkills free (and in this case, very interesting) for readers.
Now, back to that tour… BAT editor Chris McGinnis accompanied Singapore Airlines VP Paul Ng along with Zippin and three of his friends to see the plane. Here are nine interesting things we learned about Singapore’s A380 service at SFO along the way:
1-SEXY: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has a super-sexy flight number on its SFO>HKG>SIN run: SQ1, which departs SFO at 10:50 pm for Hong Kong and Singapore. SQ2 arrives back in SFO at around 8:30 pm. Ng told us that the SFO flights bear those numbers because San Francisco was Singapore Air’s first US destination 33 years ago.
2-BEST BUSINESS CLASS: There are 60 business class seats on the A380—and they are so wide (34 inches) that SIA has added a pillow and a cushion to cozy the expanse up a bit. Upstairs window seats have special storage bins. (See slideshow above.) The business class cabin in split into two sections– the section closest to the front is smaller, more intimate and likely more quiet. Business class fares on Singapore for mid-March flights run from $4,000 to $6,000.
3-BEST COACH SEATS: There are 88 coach seats at the rear of the upper deck (which are considered the best coach seats—windows in this section have the same special seat-side bins as in business class.) Upstairs, coach is configured 2-4-2 vs 3-4-3 on main deck. Due to the curvature of the fuselage, coach seats downstairs on the main deck don’t have the bins. Round trip coach fares on Singapore Air currently run around $1,200.
4-FIRST CLASS SUITES: Downstairs, there are 12 “Suites” in the first class section at the front, and then 311 coach seats in the back. Each plush, rich leather, first class seat is enclosed in a private shell, with a sliding door to the aisle. Sleeping mattresses are 4″ thick. A seat in a first class suite to Hong Kong or Singapore runs about $12,000-$14,000 round trip. Ng said that the two pairs of adjoining suites (non-window) with collapsible walls between them are usually the first seats to sell out. (Think about that, all you Valentines Day romantics!)
5-MURPHY BEDS. Unlike other airlines, Singapore seats in both business and first class fold over, and then down, so you sleep on a separate mattress thick mattress, a different surface that what you sit on. See the slide show above for a demonstration. (On most other airlines, first and business seats recline to a flat bed-like surface for sleeping.)
6-THREE LEVELS. There’s a basement on this bird! Behind a combination-locked door in the middle of the main deck, there’s a steep staircase down to a crew rest area. The space consists of 12 bunks—with entertainment systems, mirrors and noise deadening privacy curtains. It’s a bit claustrophobic down there, but those nice flat beds look cozier than the first class suites upstairs. (Several shots of this in the slideshow above)
7-BIG BIRD. The top of the tail of the A380 stands eight stories off the ground. According to Ng, one wing could keep a group of 2,000 people dry in the rain. We were skeptical about that claim until we peered out the window at the massive wing.
8-TWO VERSIONS: Singapore Airlines flies two different configurations of the A380. Version 1 is configured with both business and coach seats on the upper deck. Version 2 is all-business-all-the-time (86 seats) upstairs; first and coach are on the main deck. Both versions have a grand wide staircase in the front, and a smaller curves staircase in the back.
9-SINGAPORE GIRLS. A small army of 22 flight attendants (Singapore girls and boys) staffs the flight, which takes about 13 hours to reach Hong Kong… then 3-4 hours more to Singapore. The flight departs SFO at 10:50 pm, crosses the International Date Line and then arrives in Singapore at noon—two days later. (So if you leave on a Sunday night, you get there in time for lunch on Tuesday.)
10-SAD TO SEE IT GO. Singapore Airlines’ A380 is currently scheduled for what the carrier is calling “popup” service at SFO—it started on Dec 28 and will revert back to a Boeing 777 service on March 24. But there’s hope: Ng says that the airline is always evaluating where to deploy its fleet of A380s, and it could come back.