Nov 2, 2013

Trip Report: Singapore Airlines A380 Private Suite SIN-HKG

I've been wanting to sample the legendary Singapore Airlines A380 private suite for a while: this was the first and most famous "private suite" first class product in the skies, launched in 2007 with the very first Airbus A380 flight. For a while, Singapore Suites was basically unattainable on miles, being restricted only to Singapore Krisflyer members and only for an outrageous number of miles. But not long ago, Singapore started releasing Suites availability at the saver rate, which is pretty reasonable, with the caveat that they still only release availability to their own Krisflyer members and not to their Star Alliance partners. Luckily, both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest points can be transferred directly into Singapore Krisflyer.

To book this award, I transferred 32,000 American Express Membership Rewards to my Singapore Airlines Krisflyer account, then spent 31,875 miles to book this award, also paying $54 in taxes.

I decided to take public transit to Singapore Changi Airport, but knew there was a dedicated First Class check-in building somewhere. After some walking around, I found it at the end of the terminal, not directly attached to the main check-in area (had to walk outside). There were bellhops standing outside ready to help with bags from first class passengers arriving by car. I'm guessing Singapore Airlines doesn't have many First Class passengers who arrive by public transit after checking out of their hostel…

Check-in Entrance Check-in Room

Inside was a sit-down check-in area, where I handed over my passport and was shortly given my boarding pass and an invitation to "The Private Room". The check-in agent who escorted me to the dedicated immigration counter for first class (no line) was proud to say that this lounge was "higher than first class".

Boarding Pass
Private Room Pass Private Room Pass

Sure enough, I arrived at the lounge and was escorted by a lounge attendant through the business class lounge, then through the first class lounge, finally arriving at "The Private Room" - Singapore's lounge exclusively for First Class and Suites Class passengers departing on Singapore Airlines. By contrast, the first class lounge is accessible by their top elite members and first class passengers departing on other Star Alliance flights. I decided to have a light breakfast at their separate dining area, which looked like a five star restaurant, and choose the "Singapore French Toast", which was good and just the right amount to eat.

Private Room Dining Private Room Table
Private Room Menu Private Room Meal

I used the computer in the lounge for a bit, then left to head for gate B4, from where my A380 would depart. Unlike most airports, security is at each gate at Singapore Changi, so you've got to leave for the gate earlier than would otherwise be the case. Though I'm not a big fan of this setup, it does have its plusses, and security was quick. I could see through the window my Singapore A380, standing magestically amidst a sea of other A380s.

Singapore A380

Singapore keeps their Suites passengers down on the lower deck (for more head room), and there was a dedicated jet bridge solely for suites passengers: business class is on the upper deck, and economy on the lower deck had a separate jet bridge. Standing at the end of the jet bridge was a flight attendant who walked out to greet me and escort me to my suite. The suite was beautiful, and just what I'd imagined from pictures elsewhere: refined, not flashy like Emirates.

Singapore A380 Suite
Singapore A380 Suite

I was quickly served a glass of champagne, but unlike other airlines, no hot nuts. Two flight attendants and the purser introduced themselves, wishing me a pleasant flight and informing me time to Hong Kong would be three hours and thirty-five minutes. I was also presented with a drink and brunch menu. Singapore is somewhat unique in offering both Dom Perignon and Krug champagne choices on their flights. I talked a bit with the flight attendant about my love for airplanes, and she graciously offered to take me on a tour of the A380 after the meal service!

Two Champagnes

For the meal I chose the "Dim Sum Selection", which started with a fruit plate and some yogurt. Everything was great, though I wasn't particularly hungry that early in the morning. During brunch I watched a documentary on the Hubble Space Telescope on the excellent Singapore in-flight entertainment system. The flight attendant incorrectly said it was the largest screen in the skies (Asiana has a bigger screen on their rare 777-200ER private suites, both flying to JFK - read my trip report flying that here).

Main Course

After meal service was finished, the lead flight attendant fulfilled her promise of a private tour of the airplane, walking me first up the front stairs to business class, down the length of the upper deck - in the process showing me the business class seat and how it converts into a bed, then down the spiral staircase in the back to economy class, and all the way back to Suites. As an aviation geek, it was really awesome having an experienced Singapore Airlines flight attendant personally show me the airplane she (and I) was so proud of.

As we returned to the first class cabin, she began talking about how on longer flights the seat can be converted into a bed. My question-asking must have fueled her, and before I know it, two flight attendants were preparing the two middle suites into a full double bed, proudly showing me how amazing a double bed in the skies is. She invited me to lay down and enjoy it, and served me another glass of champagne in what would be come my "bedroom" for the remainder of the flight.

I have to say, after being served Dom Perignon in a double-suite bedroom before returning to my dining room at 36,000 feet, I'm not sure flying experiences get any better than this. I might as well quit flying now, as nothing else will compare. I couldn't remove the grin from my face this whole time, and profusely thanked the flight attendants for catering to my inner airplane nerd.

Making Bedroom 1
Making Bedroom 2
Lying in Bedroom
Bedroom Champagne
Bedroom 1
Bedroom 2

After relaxing for a bit in my bedroom, I decided to return to my dining room to have another glass of champagne and a "Silver Kris Sling" (variant of Singapore Sling cocktail). Before descent, the lead flight attendant thanked me for flying Singapore Airlines. I'm sure I went a little overboard in thanking her for the incredible first class experience, but it was totally justified: service the entire flight was truly fantastic.

Landing in Hong Kong is always a treat, with a vast array of interesting wide-bodied jets parked there. Here's a Malaysian A380 and Cathay Pacific 747:

Hong Kong Airport

After this incredible experience, I'm increasing my valuation of Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood points simply to reflect my much stronger desire to use them in the future on Singapore Airlines First/Suites class. I would love to experience this again on a long haul segment!

Trip Report Index for Six-Week Journey to Australia & Asia:

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