Singapore Airlines unveils stunning new seats for superjumbos

Singapore Airlines has unveiled a new cabin for its A380 superjumbo planes, with new seats in first, business, premium economy and economy class.

The seats, developed over four years at a cost of $US850 million, were revealed at a media event in Singapore on Thursday.

The new layout has 471 seats across four classes: six first-class suites, 78 business class seats on the upper deck, with 44 premium economy seats and 343 economy seats on the lower deck.

Singapore Airlines was the first carrier to take delivery of the world's largest passenger plane 10 years ago, and at the time took advantage of the aircraft's size to create groundbreaking new first-class suites, which had closing doors and could convert into double beds for couples travelling together.

The new first-class suites keep many of these features, including a sliding door and double-bed option for the first two suites in the aisle. The suites feature a fully flat bed and a separate leather recliner, allowing passengers to relax upright without having to convert a seat into a bed.

Those in this most exclusive of classes will also enjoy a 32-inch HD TV screen that swivels for the different viewing angles (depending on whether you want to watch from your seat or in bed), a full-size wardrobe, a leather-lined amenity kit and a feature wall with mood lighting.

First class will also feature two spacious toilets, including one with a sit-down vanity counter.

Business class is almost as salubrious, with a seat that converts to a 78-inch (198cm) flat bed. However, the new seat is 25 inches (63.5cm) wide - a reduction in width from the old seat of five inches. That said, the seat is still one of the widest business class seats in the sky and significantly wider that those on most other airlines, including Qantas (21.5 inches), Emirates (18.5 inches) and Etihad (20 inches).

For the first time, the new business class seats will allow those sitting in the aisle to convert their seats to a double bed, just like in first class. The larger back shell on the seats is made of carbon fibre, which the airline says has allowed a design that creates more under-seat stowage, which can now accommodate a full-size cabin bag.

Premium economy remains the same as the current offering, with a 19.5 inch-wide seat, with a seat pitch of 38 inches. Passengers will enjoy leather finishing, a calf-rest and foot-bar, in-seat power supply, two USB ports, a cocktail table and more storage space for personal items.

In economy class it seems the changes are largely cosmetic, with the airline spruiking a "more contemporary fabric seat cover design". The airline says the seats will feature "a patented non-intrusive reading light installed underneath the seat-back screen, personal storage space for small personal items, a coat hook, in-seat power supply and ergonomically designed footrest with adjustable positions".

The new seats will be available next month on the first of five new A380s entering service for the airline and will eventually be retrofitted across the airline's existing fleet of 14 superjumbos. Australians will be among the first to experience the new seats as they will debut on they Singapore-Sydney route.

The pointy end of the plane has become a battleground for the top full-service airlines in recent years, with Singapore Airlines and Middle Eastern carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar all attempting to outdo each other on who can deliver the best experience for well-heeled travellers.

Emirates will reveal its new first-class seats at the Dubai Air Show this month, while Qatar unveiled its new Qsuite business class seats in March, which featured the world's first double bed in business class, along with a four-person, face-to-face configuration for groups travelling together.

Arguably the most luxurious airline experience, short of having your own private jet, remains Etihad's Residence - a one- or two-person option that goes beyond first class and features three separate rooms for the passenger, a lounge, bedroom and bathroom.

See also: Ready for a 17-hour long haul? How Qantas Dreamliner's seats stack up

See also: Airline review: Business class doesn't get better than on Singapore's A350