At the end of April, we kicked off a Snapchat account (‘versatile_gent’ for those interested). We had been playing around with the idea for some time and decided we’d wait for a story that was worth telling. That story ended up being my (self-funded, you can read about how I booked it here) return trip on Singapore Airlines First Class Suites. New to Snapchat and new to the wonders of First Class, I attempted to capture the experience with a newfound vigour. What entailed was me getting particularly inebriated (my state evident in the composition of my Snapchat story) and penning the following three paragraphs, which looking back on them now, I find rather amusing. I decided instead of rewriting them I’d provide a jovial look at Singapore Airlines First Class Suites, both as it happened and reflecting on it. Enjoy.
It seems only fair that I should be combining not two, but three, of the greatest things ever produced. The words of Jeff Buckley, a glass of Dom Perignon and Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites. I’m sitting in a private room that would put Harry Potter’s under staircase bedroom to shame, listening to one of the most (misguided, troubled, infamous) songwriters of all time sing ‘Just Like A Woman’. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m not enjoying my first experience in Singapore’s First Class Suites with a woman, that I’m feeling especially poignant – but more likely the seven or so glasses of Champagne I’ve consumed between the First Class lounge and 36,000 feet.
First World problems are a dime a dozen, but there’s one which really stands out for me, and in particular, Singapore First Class customers: 2006 Dom Perignon or Krug Grand Cuvee? I for one appreciate Dom Perignon’s desire to only create exceptional vintages when the grapes are fit to do so, but Krug is a brand name that dazzles and the product is nothing short of spectacular – it’s a wine that will bring a grown man to tears. To decide between the two is like deciding between a day with an Aston Martin Vanquish and a McLaren 650S (you simply wouldn’t argue with either).
As I come to terms with my Champagne choice, the hostess presents a staggering amount of papers and magazines, as well as a pair of fantastic pyjamas, slippers, eye mask and toiletries to ensure my journey is as comfortable as possible. The slippers are donned almost instantly and I admire them as I stretch my legs to touch the footrest in front of me. The elderly couple beside me are ecstatic, and I feel slightly guilty as I recall my mother prior to my trip, making sure that I know that she has never flown, and probably never will fly First Class. The Krug eases my guilt as I dip my crisp bread into a delightfully salty Caviar and watch the crew prepare a double bed in the conjoined suites over my right-hand shoulder. Buckley addresses the live audience through my Sennheiser headphones and I wonder if the world would be different had he not walked himself into a flowing river.
I suspect I was trying to capture the outrageous level of pomp and ceremony associated with flying First Class in my description above. It truly is an otherworldly experience, and best appreciated in jest.
In Sydney the First Class check in process is underwhelming, especially compared to the one offered at Changi. The First Class experience really starts in Singapore’s separate First Class lounge, hidden behind the welcome desk at the airline’s Business Class Lounge. There’s an obvious opulence to the lounge with an abundance of seating designed for relaxing or working.
Made to order Small plates are offered alongside a fantastic selection of Champagne and wine. I was travelling with my friend Nick who joined me as my guest in the lounge, we sampled one of each of the small plates and drank several glasses of 2004 Veuve Clicquot Vintage. The food was well presented and delicious, the perfect size for a pre-flight bite. The service was attentive but not overly friendly however we were treated to a small tasting of the red wines by one of the attendants.
It’s not until you step onto the plane does the world of First Class really hit you. You see First Class lounges are not always full off First Class ticket holders. In many cases top Tier Frequent Flyers from the airline or the airline’s alliance, flying any Class, are welcome to use the lounge. The only way into a First Class seat is with a First Class ticket.
The Singapore Airlines First Class Suite experience is phenomenal. Every aspect is as inconceivable as you could (or could not) imagine. The moment your bottom is in its seat you are treated like a Monarch, fussed over in every way. Nothing is too hard, no request is too crazy. The Suite itself is outrageous and you can’t help feeling for the folks sitting down the back of the plane.
I addressed the Champagne situation above, it really is quite a conundrum. Fortunately, I’d chosen my food prior to taking off so wasn’t left with the incredibly hard task and subsequent fear of picking the wrong meal. I started with the chilled Caviar, before moving to the famous Singapore Airlines First Class Boston Lobster Thermidor paired with a stunning German Reisling.
There’s a reason the Lobster Thermidor is so popular, it’s absolutely delicious. One of the nicest shellfish dishes I’ve ever eaten – perfectly cooked, creamy and delicate. To for one moment, consider that the dish may be a standard plane meal for an elite few is simply ridiculous. To finish I opted for the Coconut-Hibiscus Panna Cotta followed by the selection of Cheeses with the 20YO Graham’s Port. Sensational stuff.
Following my meal, I requested a tour of the plane, which I did in my wonderfully soft pyjamas, Champagne flute in hand. As we walked through Business Class I asked the Stewardess escorting me if we could scoop my friend up from Economy for a quick drink in my Suite. She happily obliged and minutes later she was plucking his plastic cup from his hand and disposing it in the bin before leading the two of towards the front of the plane, much to the disbelief of those surrounding him.
I perched on my sizeable footrest and let Nick take the throne while more Champagne filled fresh flutes. We then proceeded to laugh for 15 mins as we moved onto a dram of The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition, perfectly aware of how utterly smug the situation was. After Nick was escorted back to his seat I asked for my bed to be prepared, figuring I could do with a few hours of rest before landing in Singapore at midnight. I returned from the bathroom and crawled into my freshly prepared bed, popped on a movie and was asleep within minutes, woken just before landing to change and to sneak in one last Champagne.
My return trip was far less eventful and following a solid weekend of boozing I was keen to see how rested I could arrive in Sydney after the overnight flight. I’d eaten prior to the flight, so asked to dine as soon as we’d taken off so I could have a taste of the Short Rib I’d pre-ordered. I had my bed prepared shortly after, took a sleeping aid and woke up as we were descending into Sydney. Brilliant.
I wanted to make special mention of the arrivals process at Changi because it’s the most impressive feature I’ve encountered in all of my travels. Singapore Airlines has a dedicated First Class Check-in Reception separate to the rest of the terminal. Your bags are collected by a Porter and you are escorted into an elegant hotel style foyer where you can sit back and relax while a team checks you in for your flight. A private entrance from the lounge leads you directly to Immigration which is empty and before you know it you’re settling into a drink in the Silver Kris Lounge.
Because I was flying outbound with a Singapore Airlines First Class ticket I was given access to Singapore Private Room. The Private Room is located within the First Class Lounge which is located within the Business Class lounge. As my guest, Nick was allowed to join me in the First Class Lounge but not given access to the Private Room. After he’d left to board his plane I entered the Private Room to have some dinner before the flight. The most impressive feature of the Private Room is the dining area. The food, service and wine list are exceptional. The Champagne (Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millesime Brut) is also a noticeable step up from the First Class Lounge, which it definitely should be.
The Private Room is no doubt a lovely space to dine and relax but it’s not as impressive as I had expected. The bathrooms and shower suites are not at a level that matches the exclusivity of the lounge or the First Class product. Despite being à la carte, there’s also a random buffet in the corner of the dining room which is poorly stocked and essentially redundant. It made the space feel cheaper than it appeared to be.
Singapore Airlines First Class Suites are so close to a perfect product, certainly in the air anyway – the drinks, food, service and hard product are industry leading. The problem with Business, and especially First Class travel, is meeting the client’s expectations. I’ve been lucky enough to fly a lot of Business Class products now and thus manage my expectations accordingly – I’d prefer to be pleasantly surprised than slightly disappointed. After being escorted to my gate by the Etihad Lounge Manager in Manchester early this year, I probably went into my debut First Class experience expecting a little much. Had I paid sticker price for my $6100AUD flight I would have been a bit disappointed with the pre-flight process in Sydney – it could certainly do with a bit more pizzazz. Granted it’s not the hub for Singapore Airlines, and as I described above their hub is amazing, but again not as amazing as I had expected from such an elite product. There’s no denying however that my Singapore Airlines First Class Suites trip was the best flying experience I’ve had to date and a serious bucket list item for all travellers.
You can book Singapore Airlines First Class tickets here.