Introduction: It’s the most wonderful time of the year
A Tale of Two Lounges: SATS Premier T2 and the Qantas SIN Lounge
Malaysia Airlines B737 Business Class SIN-KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines A330 Business Class KUL-NRT
Japan Airlines Business Class Sakura Lounge NRT
Japan Airlines B77W Business Class NRT-LAX
The Westin LAX
The Westin Westminster
Aloft Boston Seaport
The Consolidated AA Domestic First Class Experience
American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK
American Airlines B772 Business Class JFK-LHR
American Airlines Arrivals Lounge LHR
The Great Northern Hotel, London
Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
The Casablanca Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra
Ethiopian Airlines B772 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines B737 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Tanzanite Lounge DAR
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Cathay Dragon Lounge Bangalore
Cathay Dragon A330 Business Class BLR-HKG
W Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN
The Milelion is generally competent at what he does. But he also has brain farts and blind (+bald) spots like you can’t imagine. Case in point: my lounge experience in Singapore that kicked off my RTW trip.
I knew that MAS had recently shuttered their Golden Lounge in T2 and started using the decidedly mediocre SATS Premier lounge. So I didn’t budget much time in the Singapore airport, intending to arrive later and do a cursory review.
It totally didn’t occur to me I could cross over to T1 and try the much nicer Qantas or BA lounges. It was only after my travelling partner (the same one who proved me wrong by getting SQ to waive the last 50 miles or so she needed to qualify for KF Elite Gold. She’s learning so fast, bless her) messaged me and asked me if I was going that it struck me.
Let me back up an hour.
I arrived at T2 sometime after 5pm for a 715pm departure. The old fashioned departures board flipped and hummed with possibility.
Malaysia Airlines check in is at Pillar 2/3 of Terminal 2.
The lines were really long for MAS but they were all for economy.
Business class, on the other hand, had no queue.
The check in staff were able to check my bag through to LAX, but couldn’t issue the boarding pass for NRT-LAX on JAL. I’m assuming that’s because the counter staff in NRT need to verify my ESTA separately. But that’s fine, my main concern was not having to recheck my bag.
I was issued with both my SIN-KUL and my KUL-NRT boarding passes, along with a lounge invitation to the SATS Premier lounge, which could potentially be the only lounge worse than the Krisflyer Gold one.
After clearing immigration, I then fannied around at the UOB Exchange counter to get my Starhub HappyRoam SIM up and running. For $15, I’d get 2.4GB of data I could use in the UK, the USA, Hong Kong, Japan and several other places I’d be visiting/stopping over in. The lady worked super quickly but it still took 15 mins to get everything activated.
No loss, I told myself. I mean, the SATS Premier lounge, like all contract lounges, is kind of like the village bicycle, only cleaned less often and slightly more crowded.
So I went in. I took photos. I squinted in the harsh fluorescent light. I surveyed the F&B options.
The food options aren’t what you’d call gourmet, but it’s enough to be filling. There’s a make your own Laksa station
To a limited selection of hot food. Mostly oily rice, oily noodles, some oily curries, an oily fried fish dish, an oily roast chicken and something approximating oily vegetables.
There were cold sandwiches of an indeterminable filling.
There were cup noodles with a warning sign against stealing them.
If you fancy greens, there is a salad bar with the usual assortment of cold cuts, cheese and fruits.
So the food is nothing to write home about. And the drinks aren’t much better.
There’s a limited selection of booze
And a minifridge with some beer and juice.
And a good old fashioned soda machine.
Unsurprisingly, because this lounge is expected to service a lot of carriers, the place was packed
It’s a decent enough place to get work done, and I suppose to some people that’s a perk. There are several work cubicles lined up near the entrance, each with a Samsung Galaxy View and universal charging stations.
These cubicles feel very enclosed and private, not unlike a business class suite.
If you want to rest, there’s a quiet corner with two Osim massage chairs and a pair of tablets.
I sat down with the spoils of war in a crowded corner.
Just then my phone vibrated with a text from my colleague.
“Eh are you going Qantas lounge”
I blinked. Qantas lounge…
I threw my stuff into my bag as I cursed my tiny non-functioning Star Alliance hardwired brain. Of course I could go there! Oneworld lounge access rules stated that partner lounges could be accessed regardless of carrier so long as you were departing on an international first/business class flight that same day. What was I doing wasting my time here?
I sprinted as quickly as I could to the Skytrain to get to T1. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought as I ran. I could see the headlines now
“Influencer does not understand alliance lounge access rules”
Oh, they’d have a field day with this, I thought as I ran up the escalator to the Qantas lounge, reaching around 6pm, with 1h 15 mins to go to boarding.
My boarding pass was scanned and I was admitted without drama. Not that there should be, because lounge access rules are clearly stated, but sometimes airlines get finicky about this whole going to another terminal business.
The Qantas lounge was completed in 2013, but you could have told me last week and I couldn’t have told the difference. Visually, the place is stunning.
Marble countertops, mood lighting, a full service bar, nice leather chairs, roving waiters with beer trolleys and cocktail mixers. There was ample seating, and this lounge was easily 3-4X the size of the SATS lounge. This place was so far superior to the SATS Premier lounge it wasn’t even funny.
All the finishings and fixtures were really classy, and the place exuded a feeling of elegance.
Several food stations lay scattered about the lounge.
I assembled a small plate of this and that before seating myself at one of the communal tables.
No sooner had I seated myself than a waitress materialized and enquired if I’d like to dine this evening. There was a prepared-to-order menu of chicken laksa or prawn baos.
I decided to order one of each.
One of the roving waiters then came around with the cocktail mixer cart. With impeccable politeness he asked whether I’d fancy a cocktail. They had two on offer, and I went for the Sentosa Sunset, because it sounded more girly.
It was amazing. I like my cocktails sweet, and this was indeed sweet and easy to drink. Just sitting there in the lovely ambiance with my sparkling wine and cocktail and assortment of food made me feel, well, happy. A happiness that you didn’t really get at the SATS lounge. If airline lounges are limbo between airside and airborne, the SATS lounge more closely approximates purgatory.
To be honest, the baos were a major disappointment, but the laksa was pretty good. As I slurped the laksa I wondered whether it was indeed the same one being served in the SATS Premier lounge, just with better plating. And if that were the case, was I just being a snob for feeling that this one tasted better?
Yes, yes I was. I concluded. But it did taste better.
All too soon it was time to head back to T2. I was vaguely aware that I was departing from Gate F33, on the other side of the terminal as the Skytrain. So I left at 635pm, sprinted over to Gate F33, only to see this.
A few minutes later my phone buzzed. One of The Milelion’s readers had seen my Instagram post of the Qantas lounge and wanted to let me know he was there too.
I explained I had rushed off to T2 to catch a flight, which now appeared to be delayed.
Well that’s really too bad, he said. Because they just started serving truffle fries.
I tore my clothes and put on ashes and sackcloth, because my lounge strategy was a complete fail (just how fail will become more apparent when I review the very underwhelming Golden lounge in KL). If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s the fact that I’ll still have a spare SIN-HND leg left over when I’m done with my RTW trip, courtesy of my starting the trip from Japan. And now I know what to do.
To summarize, the Qantas lounge in T1 is incredible, and if you’re flying oneworld from any other terminal you owe it to yourself to head over and experience it. It should be mentioned that there’s also a BA lounge in T1 that I should be quite interested to explore next time round. But for now, it was time to head over to KL.