The best first class experience is one that provides a seamless luxurious product from booking, to checkin, onboard the actual flight, and finally at arrival (even post-arrival if you want to be picky). For the leisure clientele, this is a big plus as it elevates the experience for the journey. As much as I hate to admit it, I know that most people do not enjoy the flying experience – it is simply a step in the travel process to get you to your destination, almost like a necessary evil to get you to the fun part of a vacation. With a seamless product, an airline is able to bring down the stress involved with flying and even make it memorable for those who don’t go out of their way to take note of it. On the other hand, an efficient and seamless product helps to cut down the time it takes to go through formalities and get passengers on their way as quickly as possible. This is typically most important for the business traveler. Excess time spent on completing the checkin, security, and boarding process is time that could have been spent catching up on work or catching up with family (as their busy schedules can easily get in the way of personal life).
If you are originating in Singapore, and your driver knows you’re flying in Suites or First Class, check in is at the private check-in facility adjacent to the main check-in hall. While not anything spectacular, it is a nice touch with a private driveway, attendants with hotel-style baggage carts if you have a lot of luggage, and a greeter to collect your name and escort you to a check-in desk.
There are also couches and coffee tables to the side if you should be traveling with family. I took a seat and had my boarding reprinted, and bag retagged and rechecked. I was also given the coveted ticket for admission into the super exclusive Private Room (Singapore Airlines’ lounge reserved only for First and Suites Class passengers traveling on Singapore Airlines).
From the check-in facility, you enter into the main check-in hall where there is private immigration portal for First Class passengers flying on Singapore Airlines (didn’t feel comfortable taking a photo of it, sorry). A border control officer checks your passport and documents, and within seconds you are official beyond the boundaries of Singapore. He looked pretty surprised to see I had only entered Singapore some forty minutes prior.
It was still pretty early so the concourse was still quiet (either that or the design does a great job keeping down the noise level). Changi Airport is so spectacular in that it feels more like a super-luxurious shopping mall rather than an airport with high end shops lining the length of the hall. There is so much bling all around besides the shops, with walls covered in marble and floors with plush carpeting. The Silverkris Lounge, which contains all of Singapore Airlines’ lounges within its walls, is only a few steps from the private immigration portal.
I approached the entrance where agents were checking boarding passes by hand and greeting passengers. Most had blue business class boarding passes and were motioned into the lounge. Seeing that I held a “golden ticket”, the agent politely asked me to step aside and wait for the batch of business class passengers behind me to enter the lounge first so she could escort me in. Another First Class passenger had arrived by then, so we both followed the agent in.
We entered into the business class lounge and made an immediate right down a loooong corridor towards the First Class Lounge.
We made a left into the First Class lounge where a decent number of passengers were relaxing in various seating areas and helping themselves to breakfast at the buffet area.
Continuing down the length of the First Class Lounge we made another left to an agent standing in front a a wall that read The Private Room. She collected our golden tickets and invited us in, making a right into the deepest part of the lounge. We made a final left into the long Private Room where it was filled to the brim with passengers.
I was a little surprised, but should not have been, as this was just before the morning bank of departures. Instead of waiting around for seats to open up, I opted for a shower.
There were only three shower rooms in the bathroom (all first-come-first-serve), and mine was being sanitized after the last use. The bathroom attendant took his sweet time with it, so i waited around for about 5 minutes before it was ready.
The bathroom was also covered in beautiful marble, and the same applied for the shower room themselves. There was a marble bench area built into the wall, so I placed my bag there. Across from that was a large makeup counter and small chair, next to the sink. There was a nice basket stocked with toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, and more Salvatore Ferragamo fragrance products.
I was a little surprised however, that there was no toilet within the shower suite – even the Air Canada Maple Leaf Business Class Lounge in Frankfurt had a toilet in the suite, heck even United Club shower suites have toilets located within. What surprised me even more was that there were no individual bottles of shower amenities. I understand if airlines provide shampoo and body wash through a wall dispenser in a business class lounge – but for paid First Class for customers flying exclusively on Singapore Airlines, this was unacceptable.
The shower had a rainforest shower head with mediocre water pressure and unstable water temperature. These are some potential improvements the team at Singapore Airlines can look into for their next improvements. At that point, I was just happy to be washing off after a long (but enjoyable) flight from Europe.
Feeling refreshed, I walked back into the lounge to find that most passengers had left for their departing flights. There were plenty of seats, and I settle with a table at the formal dining area. It was a beautiful space which resembled a classic high-end french restaurant.
I ordered the dim sum selection, followed by a large bowl of fish congee, and a latte. It was all delicious and piping hot upon delivery.
By the time I finished my meal, I was the only left in the Private Room. There was literally no one left but me. So it was the perfect opportunity to go crazy with my camera.
Feeling pretty exhausted, even with bed on both my previous flights, I took a short nap in one of the “telephone rooms” with a chair and ottoman. I’m guessing they do not want to encourage sleeping in the lounge as all the seating options were pretty angular and upright.
The lounge remained empty for the remainder of my stay. I used the fast wifi to catch up on some work, and not before long it was almost boarding time.
The lounge was beautiful and definitely felt exclusive, considering you had to pass through no less than three “checkpoints” to get in. While it was beautiful, aside from the dining area, it was not very practical. The bathrooms were nice but again, as mentioned before, the shower suites felt incomplete and lacked the final touches to make them truly First Class. Theoretically, any food or drink request could be fulfilled by notifying one of the servers looking after the Private Room. This was a little difficult after everyone left for the morning departure bank. Not only did the passengers disappear, so did the servers. I didn’t see any self service bar or food areas within the Private Room. While my itinerary was a bit unorthodox, and any passenger looking for a logical connection would have only been in the lounge when it was occupied by fellow passengers, a server should be in the lounge area if a passenger is there.