I recently needed to travel between Singapore and Hong Kong while on vacation. There are a lot of options for airlines and equipment for that four-hour flight. I had done the opposite route on the way there in Cathay Pacific business class on an A330. Since I’d never had the opportunity to fly Singapore Airlines (SQ), despite the rave reviews, I decided to transfer points from my Chase account to my SQ KrisFlyer account to redeem for first class. I figured the flight, while not long-haul, was long enough to get to experience the airline.
This article will focus on the ground experience at the excellent Singapore Changi Airport, which many consider to be the best airport in the world. I can see why.
We arrived at the terminal via the MRT train. Given the chance again, I would have just caught a cab or an Uber, since it was nowhere as convenient and timely as, say, the Hong Kong airport express train. Also, when you arrive via car, you can be dropped off in the driveway of the private First Class check-in area. Instead, we had to wander through the terminal to find it – luckily my wife has become more patient with these types of adventures.
We’ve written about Changi Airport in the past; it’s a pretty remarkable place. It has a movie theatre, playgrounds, and a butterfly pavilion, among many other things.
These amenities are all available free-of-charge, and are a great way to help pass a long layover. A warning, though; the airport is huge. It can be a long walk to get to all the different features. Again, not a problem if you have a long layover, but it will take some time.
THE LOUNGE, WITHIN A LOUNGE, WITHIN A LOUNGE
The Private Room is a smaller, more exclusive lounge within the First Class lounge, which itself is a smaller, more exclusive lounge within the main SilverKris Lounge (for business class, elite members, etc). Think of it like a Russian nesting doll. When we went to the main entrance, our “golden tickets” for the Private Room were identified and we were whisked through the multiple lounges to the nearly-empty Private Room.
It’s experiences like this that always make me appreciate airline miles and rewards points. There is no way I’d end up experiencing things like this without them.
While we enjoyed the Private Room, it was completely deserted while we were there (about 4:00pm on a Monday afternoon). And it was quiet. Like, really really quiet. I almost felt like I had to whisper to my wife. I usually prefer a lounge with a little more activity, especially since they had private rooms (within the Private Room…) where you could work or relax in peace.
We had a nice dinner (we didn’t want to eat too much because we had “Booked the Cook” on our flight), and they offered a wide variety of options. That said, once we left the dining room table and went back to our seats, we had really weak service. We asked for a refill of the wine we were drinking, and it never came. It’s not like staffing was an issue – there were probably eight guests in the lounge, and at least four staff that I had seen milling about.
At that point, we decided to “downgrade” ourselves to the First Class lounge. It was much more active, with a walk-up bar that was slinging creative drinks and a good amount of chatter, while still being an incredibly nice lounge.
We’ve had the lucky opportunity to utilize the Lufthansa First Class Lounges in Munich, and the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. I don’t believe Singapore’s top lounge was as good as either of those, but we’re really just splitting hairs at this level.
Stay tuned for the on-board experience as we headed to Hong Kong.