A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 sits at Tokyo's Narita Airport.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 sits at Tokyo's Narita Airport.

When talking airlines, I have heard over and over again that Singapore Airlines had the best international business class product and I recently had the opportunity to try it out. It was on flight SQ11 and SQ12 which is an Airbus A380 that flies to and from Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) with a stop at Narita (NRT) in Tokyo (disclaimer: I was able to fly at no cost by the airline to and from Singapore).

I am pretty big guy, around 6’1″ and 250lbs or so, which means I can truly appreciate a larger seat with a little extra room. Most business class seats do a great job of making me feel comfortable, but Singapore Airlines business class seats border on insanely big. They have a seat pitch of 55″, which is nothing to write home about, but they also have a seat width of 34″ — which is almost three feet. To compare, the international business class seat width on Lufthansa’s Airbus A380 is 20″ and All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-300ER has a respectable width of 21″.

Singapore’s business class seats are arranged in a 1:2:1 layout, meaning every seat has access to an aisle. That eliminates having to trip over a seatmate in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Unfortunately I was not able to catch a window seat to or from Singapore, but with all the available in flight entertainment, who really needs a window anyhow (okay, I was disappointed, but it worked out).

Singapore Airlines sets up their Business Class seats in a 1:2:1 layout -- meaning everyone has aisle access.

Singapore Airlines sets up their Business Class seats in a 1:2:1 layout -- meaning everyone has aisle access.

When taking a 20 hour flight twice in one week, there needs to be a decent collection of entertainment. Singapore Airlines came through, giving each passenger easy access to a better-than-average selection of movies, tv shows and music all on demand. You are able to recline back and still easily view the 15.4″ screens.  I did end up having a few issues during my flights, where the entertainment system would tweek-out and restart on its own or cause my movie to stop for a bit. This happens to be a common occurrence since I have a knack of causing entertainment systems to crash. For some additional fun, there were quite a few “real” game options that you can play with other passengers, like Tetris and Battleship, but never got around to trying them out.

When it becomes time to sleep, the seats fold flat, but it requires you to stand up and fold the seat-back forward. The manual process was decided on to save the weight of additional mechanics, but it can be a bit annoying when you are about to fall asleep and you have to get back up to make the bed (yeah I know, life is rough). It is all worth the effort — I was able to sleep comfortably for about 7 hours on the flight home.

There were so many meals served on my flight to Singapore and back, with multiple courses, I am not even sure what this was. But I know it was good.

There were so many meals served on my flight to Singapore and back, with multiple courses, I am not even sure what this was. But I know it was good.

If you decide to sleep, you risk missing a meal or two — which would be a shame.  Because of timing, I enjoyed three different dinners on the way over and two lunches and a dinner on the way back. My first meal started with parma ham and ginger-infused pear, char-grilled vegetables and balsamic dressing. Then the the main entree was seared beef fillet with port wine sauce, mushrooms in spice cream and dessert was New York cheese cake ice cream with cherry compote. Yes, a lot of fancy names, but it actually tasted quite divine.

Just when I thought the formal meal was done, here came a cart with cheese on a cutting board. You tell them what you want and they will cut it up, served with fruit and even  a glass of port. Each meal has multiple courses and by the time the cheese cart rolls around you are pretty full.  If for some reason you are hungry during the down times, there is still a “light bites” menu available, where you can get anything from noodles, to sandwiches to even a Krispy Kreme doughnut (only from LAX to NRT).

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous there is also an Asian option including seasoned kelp, grilled fresh water eel braised in egg and pike eel roll with kelp.  I normally love trying different food, but was not in the right mood. It is always nice to have a drink while dining and if you become thirsty, no worries, you have eight pages of drink options to choose from including the classic Singapore Sling.

Singapore Airlines has different lighting modes for different parts of the flight on the A380. This purple was my favorite.

Singapore Airlines has different lighting modes for different parts of the flight on the A380. This purple was my favorite.

Singapore Airlines is very proud of their Singapore Girl brand of service and on board my A380 flight there were 23 flight crew. Something I didn’t notice on the way over, but learned while in the Singapore Airlines Training Center, is that the flight attendants have different ranks. Although their uniforms have similar designs, there is a variation of color based on seniority. The majority of men and women serving you will sport the color blue which is entry level. Green are the lead flight attendants in charge of a section and reds are chiefs in charge of each deck. On the A380 there will be one person in charge who sports purple. It became a game to try and find one of each color (hey, it is a long flight).

This is a new flight for the airline and was started on July 1. Singapore Airlines also operates a non-stop from Los Angeles to Singapore using an Airbus A340-500. Why would anyone take the longer trip with a stop in Narita? First, the non-stop flight (SQ37 and SQ38) is the second longest flight in the world and takes about 18 hours. That is a long time to be locked in a aluminum cylinder and some people might be willing to make the trip longer to have the ability to split up the trip with a short stop in Narita. Also, the non-stop flight only has business class seats, so if you are looking to fly first class or economy, the A380 flight is a must. If you are flying business class, the A380 product is similar, but the seats are wider compared to the A340. Probably the most important reason for airline geeks is the ability to fly on an Airbus A380 vs a more common A340.

These seats are so wide. The seatbelt comes up in the middle of the seat and they give you a pillow to fill space.

These seats are so wide that the seat belt comes up in the middle of the seat and they give you a pillow to fill space.

The first leg of the flight from LAX to NRT was about ten hours before a 1.5 hour lay over in Narita. Flying business class gave me access to the business class lounge, but it was a bit annoying having to get off the aircraft, go through security at Narita, before starting the boarding process.

Los Angeles becomes the eighth destination in Singapore Airline’s network to operate the Airbus A380. They were the first airline to operate the world’s larges airliner in October 2007 and they have clocked around 128,000 flying hours on more than 13,000 flights. The airline currently has 12 A380s in service and seven more on firm order. It is definitely worth the extra time to try out the A380 product and if you are flying economy, you still have a shot to fly on the upper deck.

Now, the bar has been set high. Have you flown in business class seats that you have found to be what you consider “the best”? If so, please tell me about your experience in the comment. Also be sure to check out my other photos of the flight including first class, the lay-flat business class seats, and my seat neighbor who was wearing cowboy boots.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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Wow! I hope at some point in my life I have the opportunity to fly Singapore Airlines. It sounds like you were treated like a king. I would be interested to know what flying economy is like with them? I’m not sure if I will ever be able to afford business class, but maybe!

Nice piece.


Wow… I would jump at the chance of a free flight in Business. My experience in SIN economy was less than stellar. Would not fly them in any class unless I absolutely had to.

Uh oh, what happened? I know economy is never as good as premium seating, but I have also heard good things about SQ’s economy service and product.


BK Tan

There was an error for the SIN/LAX & LAX/SIN flight numbers. These should have been SQ38 (not SQ34) for the ex-SIN sector & SQ37 (not SQ33) for the ex-LAX sector.

Thanks. That is what I get for using memory vs verifying. Fixed.


SQ’s J Class may have a “pitch” of 55″, but on seats like SQ’s or on herringbone J Class seats, seat pitch is irrelevant, because the seat goes flat and turns into a flat bed.

Very nice review. Comprehensive. Thorough. Felt like we were actually on the flight with you :-) A flight on SQ is on our bucket list!

Great pictures. I usually fly to Singapore from JFK on 747s in economy, so I would love to try getting onto an A380 one of these days. Sorry to read EagerTraveler had a less than stellar experience; all my flights on SQ, even in economy, has been fine; same entertainment system, and free alcohol to boot.

One thing though, SIA steadfastly uses the term stewards and stewardesses, and never flight attendants.

Yes it is impressive, but who needs a weird seat that folds into a bed…

And the robotic sq service wears off after a while

If you want to experience the best a380 j class do QF…

The combo of neil perry food and the newson flat bed…is the best in the air.. a380 or 400



Flew SIN Frankfurt to Sydney and back in 2010. Experienced no significant difference with standard 747 SIN. I see the hype coming more from airlines as they can provide more variying services to various price classes and so can leverage higher pricing.

I’m taking the same fligth schedule (LAX to SIN) but on the economy class. Do you know if I’ll be allowed to get off the plane in Narita Tokyo to strech my legs like the business class passengers?

Want to or not, all passengers have to de-plane in Tokyo :)


Asian carriers do a great job. Other carriers like Asiana ANA Cathay Malaysia are comparable to SQ.
It puts European and American carriers to shame. QF isnt that great flew w them to LHR, SYD. Not much svc given, food was in edible. SQ may be efficient but they certainly arent robotic flew them more than 20 odd times and still enjoy them be in on J or Y

I agree 100% SIA offers great value, the service and quality are second to none and the Changi hub is uperior to anything, and I have seen dozens and dozens… Never mind business class you can get some great fares on economy with SIA doing multi destination tickets from North America with stops that don’t back track much, so the frequently used words “extra cost” don’t really have to apply… If planning a vacation in SE Asia with several stops this works well.

CX is pretty darn good, as is Emirates with its Malaysian national crews, but I don’t think Asiana is that great myself.

SIA works for me, as I am more than happy to linger in Singapore a few days to break a trip rather than Dubai or HK, but am a Star Alliance AC member so it pays to stick with family.

The landing music is kind of odd, but better than crying babies, I think too I like the pilot announcements – for some reason they seem staid and old fashioned and I like that – it adds class and personality to the airline.

Good article I’ve flown SQ in eaah class, although today is the first time in their 380 LAX-NRT-SIN. SQ’s Business Class is outstanding and their First Class is breathtaking.


Since I am based in Singapore I always fly Singapore Air (SQ) on all my travels. As I travel very frequently and being a very tall lady at 1.89m I find SQ single seats on their A380 and 777-300ER exceptionally comfortable and allows for more privacy especially if I take day flights on SQ 12/16/801/238 etc.

What’s is frustrating to me is that is that not all 380s and 777s is that not all flights has wifi despite the claims on their website. Furthermore there are irregularities for eg on one SQ 12 flight to NRT there was wifi to allow me to work and then on another there was not.

Do any of you have similar experiences?

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I have travel in singapore airline’s “A380 Los Angeles to Singapore” flight. it is a very comfortable flight right from takeoff to landing. The food served is “AMAZING” and the service/hospitality is admirable. Thank you for share this article, it is a really informative one.

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