After arriving in Singapore on my flight from Moscow, I noticed that I needed a few items from my checked luggage. I was hoping this could be easily solved at the Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge (The Private Room) so I headed straight there.
To my surprise, it wasn’t an easy request; there was a lot of back and forth until the lounge attendants understood what I wanted. However, about an hour later my bag was at Lost and Found and I was ready to go on my Singapore adventure that day. The airport train only costs $2 to downtown – I thought it was a mistake, but it wasn’t – all you need to do is bring local currency. AMAZING!
Upon returning to the airport I found that immigration was pleasantly empty and made my way to The Private Room again.
I tried a number of items from the à la carte menu, where I could not escape the feeling that the food was stale and just ‘not right’. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed the name was more important than the taste (which was mostly bland).
The service was great, however, and the lounge was quiet at most times.
After a quick shower, I wanted to do some work; I realized then just how the slow the Internet is here. Singapore is one of the most connected countries on earth, but the First Class Lounge consistently gives you less than 1 Mbit. OMG! The free Airport WiFi is faster than that (but the lounge has no real reception, as it is too removed from the main floors).
Boarding time came around and I made my way to the last gate in Terminal 3 – a solid 20-minute walk away. Boarding was well underway when I arrived and there was no wait time with security at the gate.
I have had a number of flights on Singapore Airlines in first class and besides the new entertainment system, not much has changed to the seat. It’s a good seat, though if you’re in one of the 6 suites, it feels a bit cramped.
While I had the same seat for the two segments to San Francisco, all the other suites were occupied by other passengers, with different passengers for each segment.
Service was friendly but robotic; my flight attendant on the first flight to Hong Kong didn’t understand a word I said. It was almost comical since we both spoke English (I could actually understand her well). We eventually used just key words and kept repeating them – so silly.
This flight to Hong Kong took just 3 hours and the flight attendants really worked on getting the food out quickly. I had the Thai tiger prawns (which had I booked through the ‘Book the Cook’ selection beforehand) and thought it was excellent. I also liked the dessert, but the appetizer much less so.
Since I was tired, I had the flight attendants make my bed and I fell asleep right away.
There is a 2-hour stopover in Hong Kong and all passengers have to leave the plane and go through security. This only took a short time, but the Singapore Airlines business class and first class lounge sections at the airport were super-crowded and the food options looked absolutely unappetizing. I chose to hang out around the gate and lie down instead (Hong Kong Airport is really good in the first place and the lounges don’t add much to it).
I then had the exact same seat from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
With less sleep deprivation I was excited for the Japanese food selection that I had booked via the website. I had enjoyed a very good meal with the same description aboard an ANA 787 flight from Tokyo to San Jose.
However, it wasn’t meant to be; the many courses looked awesome but almost all the items tasted stale and rubbery. Not one of the items was a delight and some were barely edible. Damn!
The flight attendants were apologetic and said that it happens a lot with this selection; they suggested I try the tandoori from the main menu and I liked the chicken tandoori but the beef portion was so rubbery that it was certainly not edible either. While I had just eaten a few hours before, I was still hungry, but the dessert was a chocolate-only option (and I don’t eat chocolate) and I really did not want cheese. Oh well, that was me waiting for breakfast than!
The Singapore Airlines First Class seat is basically a full mattress folded in half when not sleeping. Fully stretched out, it is a great bed in the sky and you can easily sleep in almost any position. The blanket and pillow were of great quality and I was looking forward to sleep.
As is often the case with these eastbound transpacific flights, the air gets really rough over Japan and so it was for this flight. Dinner service was over and we all strapped in for a bumpy 3 hours with tailwinds of 130 mph. About 1,000 miles east of Japan, the turbulence subsided and I started dreaming of food again…
Two hours outside of San Francisco, the flight attendants woke me up for breakfast. I had not switched on the ‘do not disturb’ sign but I also hadn’t been asked during dinner if I wanted to be woken up (as it was customary before). Now that I was up, though, I might as well try it. It was good and I did not regret one bite.
Landing in SF was easy and fast and so was immigration and the luggage belt.
All in all, this was a good flight. The two-hour stopover in Hong Kong is annoying but it could be worse. I’m not a fan of the Singapore Airlines First Class lounges in Singapore or Hong Kong. I was hoping for great food, but that was largely an illusion. However, the seat is really solid and on par with Cathay Pacific First Class.
Singapore Airlines is still a solid option but I prefer the more modern and more exciting product that Qatar offers (in Business Class!) as well as the uber-solid Cathay Pacific in both business class and first class.