Tag Archives: first class

The Milelion’s RTW Trip 2017: Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha Review

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 Park Lane, London
Westin Paris Vendome
Courtyard by Marriott Madrid Princesa
Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal
The Consolidated Intra-Europe Business Class Experience
Sheraton Casablanca
Royal Air Maroc Business Class Lounge CMN
Royal Air Maroc B737 Business Class CMN-ACC
Ethiopian Airlines B787 Business Class ACC-ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Cloud 9 Business Class Lounge ADD
Ethiopian Airlines Q400 Business Class ADD-DAR
Protea Hotel by Marriott Dar Es Salaam Courtyard
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class DAR-DOH
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways A350 “First” Class DOH-MCT
Oman Air B737 Business Class MCT-DXB
The Grosvenor House Dubai
W Doha
Qatar Airways Business Class Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways B772 Business Class DOH-BLR
The Ritz Carlton Bangalore
Vistara A320 Business Class BLR-DEL
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class DEL-HKG
W Hong Kong
Touring Cathay Pacific’s HKG Lounges
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class HKG-SIN


In my time doing this hobby, I’ve seen some pretty spectacular lounges- the Lufthansa FCT in Frankfurt, the Virgin Clubhouse in JFK, the Thai Airways Spa, and perhaps the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul. Heck, I’d even include TPR in a pinch, even though it’s probably more high quality than spectacular.

But in spite of all this, I was quite certain the Al Safwa lounge in Doha would be a whole new kind of spectacular. Perhaps it’s the reputation the region has for over-the-top luxury. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never experienced Qatar’s hard or soft product before. Whatever the case, it was finally time to scratch this visit off the travel hacker pilgrimage.

We arrived from DAR at a remote gate and were bused to the terminal. Given that Business Class passengers had a special bus, we reached the terminal ahead of anyone else and were able to re-clear security in no time at all.

Doha airport was deathly quiet, probably a combination of the lateness of the hour plus the reduced travel volumes to and from Qatar due to the blockade.

There are numerous signs around the airport directing people to either Qatar’s First or Business Class lounge. I eventually found myself standing at the bottom of a long escalator leading up to the lounge. I was disappointed said escalator was not gold plated. This is why Qatar will never be the pre-eminent airline in the Middle East, I thought.

The escalator leads you to the reception area of the lounge, high above the main concourse.

At this point, you still have no idea of what awaits you within. You’re still on the outside of the lounge, in the airport with all its hustle and bustle. Here’s your first and only encounter with the lounge dragons.

The staff who checked my boarding pass were warm and cheerful, despite the fact it was past midnight. There’s a whole row of clocks on the wall reminding you what time it is elsewhere.

By the way, you’ll see a lot of “45” signs in the photos. These signs are everywhere- the dining area, the sleeping rooms, the sitting areas, the bar, the reception. They’re reminding you to be at the boarding gate 45 minutes before departure. That’s clearly excessive, and QR is known to really overbudget the time you need for boarding, but I suppose some people are so lost in paradise they don’t want to leave.

I entered the lounge and marveled at how elegantly minimalist the architecture was. I was worried that Qatar might have taken a cue from Emirates and designed its lounges with an amount of bling that would put a prepubescent Arab to shame. Fortunately, they chose to go with something much more subtle, more classy and less in your face.

I loved how understated everything was, from the confidence to have bare walls to the high, unadorned ceilings. No ugly carpets or faux gold here.

I approached the central junction in the lounge and started looking for the sleeping rooms.

My gameplan was all laid out. It was past midnight and I could have the sleeping room for 6 hours max. I would take it from 12-6am, then get up, have breakfast and explore the lounge until my flight departed at 7.40am.

The sleeping rooms are located in the “quiet area”, which coincidentally is right where the spa is. Spa treatments are not free in this lounge, which is a major miss if you ask me. Read Ben’s trip report on the lounge to see the price list, but to give you a flavor of the cost-

  • 50 minute body massage- S$228
  • 60 minute facial- S$254
  • 30 minute foot massage -S$127
  • 80 minute oil massage- S$291
  • 55 minute pedicure- S$138

I mean, holy moley, ain’t nobody got time/money for that. I guess the idea is that if you’re the sort who flies revenue first class, you won’t blink at those prices, but the treatment duration is too long to make sense for a lounge. Most lounges do 10-15 minute treatments (a noticeable exception is the Thai Airways spa where 1 hour massages are de rigueur), and that makes sense for busy business travelers. And they’re also free.

The atmosphere here is soothing- the lighting seems dimmer, the walls seem more padded and you can hear the running water from the lounges many water features quietly in the background.

The access rules to use a sleeping room are quite strict. No reservations are allowed, you have a maximum 6 hour block (a second 6 hour block is payable at QAR 450, ($167, not a small fee by any means) and you can only use it if there is more than 4 hours remaining till your flight departs. Fortunately I met all the conditions. The front desk welcomed me and checked me in effortlessly. I was assigned Room 6 which was some way in from the reception.

The receptionist walked me in, past many other unused sleeping rooms. She told me there was only one other guest in the 15-20 rooms they had.

At the door I got my card and the receptionist asked me if I needed a tour of the room. I declined and she bade me goodnight and disappeared.

The first thing I noticed about the room was how stuffy it was. I was certain the air conditioning was busted, but after switching to a new room realised that they were all the same. Even after turning up the A/C to the max, there was very little movement in the air. I thought it’d get better after a few minutes, but it turned out to be a very stuffy night.

The room had a single bed, but if you’re traveling with a companion you can request a room with two single beds.

No prizes for spotting the 45 sign above.

There’s a TV and a work desk in the room. It really is as close to a hotel room as you’ll find in a lounge. (Well, except for maybe the Swiss lounge in Zurich, which would put the Al Safwa to shame…)

There’s a bottle of water and a full kleenex box at the table. Perhaps 45 is the new 42?

These are the A/C controls I was referring to earlier. They’re digital and easy to use, but for the life of me I could not get more air into that room.

In the corner is a storage closet for clothes and your bag. They provide hangers too.

Having your own private bathroom is definitely a perk of this lounge, and I must say it was when brushing my teeth and showering that it dawned on me that I was going to get a chance to sleep overnight, in a lounge, in a proper bed. I’m not sure how to express that properly to you but it was quite a novel experience, given that previous overnighting experiences in lounges had been nothing short of miserable.

The bathroom comes fully stocked with a toothbrush kit, a shaver, cotton buds, makeup remover, basically everything you need to be comfortable. I liked that they weren’t like other lounges where all this is kept under lock and key, on an “on demand” basis. Seriously, how much does a disposable toothbrush cost?

The shower had great water pressure. A bathtub would be nice but this isn’t the FCT…

The toiletries available were Rituals branded, the same sort as what you’d find in Qatar’s cabins.

I mentioned before that I changed rooms because I was convinced the A/C wasn’t working in the first room. But not before I showered and brushed my teeth in the old room. I then packed up my stuff and did the room change. It was only about an hour later when in bed that the doorbell rang and a staff member returned the toothbrush I left in the old room to me. I certainly appreciated the gesture, but I thought it displayed a bit of a lack of thought. Wouldn’t it make more sense to leave the item at the check-in counter so the guest would get it when he departs instead of waking him up?

In the end my sleep experience wasn’t great. The lounge was quiet, but the non-functioning A/C meant the room was so stuffy I ended up sleeping shirtless (control yourselves, ladies). It was disappointing that there was absolutely no way of getting more ventilation inside, and I wonder if anyone else has experienced this or if I’m just lucky.

After a fitful night’s sleep I checked out and headed for breakfast. The dining area is a huge enclave within the lounge on the far side from where I entered.

I’m ever so slightly disappointed I got a “lite” version of the lounge in that it was Ramadan when I visited and hence there was no Krug (or any alcoholic beverage for that matter) on offer, but they were doing regular food service in any case.

The dining area was virtually empty (emptiness would be a recurring theme throughout my exploration) at this early hour, and you can see they really staffed and outfitted this place for a lot more people.

The breakfast menu was presented to me, along with a tall bottle of Voss water (classy!). I was surprised that the menu selection was rather slim-  the first few items are basically a bread basket, then you have cereal, then a choice of an Arabic or Western breakfast, with pancakes/waffles optional and fruits. It’s not unfair to think that in a top tier lounge they’d give more options like eggs benedict or something.

I had the English breakfast, which as we all know just isn’t the same without pork. At least the hashbrowns were freshly made and crispy. Nothing worse than soggy hashbrowns. Minus marks that they served the eggs with one yolk burst.  I didn’t really care, but the expectation when you run a facility like the Al Safwa is nothing short of perfection.

I also had the most exciting white toast. Note: I did not ask them to remove the crusts but they did so anyway. I am amazed how they pegged me as a non-crust eater, which I am.

The waffles sounded promising so I ordered a batch. Unfortunately they were not crisp at all.

And then, to assuage my guilt, a fruit platter. The fruit wasn’t in season and very sour.

I’m going to peg the food experience as “meh”. Perhaps it’s just the breakfast menu and the lunch/dinner offerings are better, or maybe they do a limited selection during Ramadan. I don’t know, but this dining was definitely not the same quality as what you’d get in The Private Room.

After breakfast I went to explore further. Here’s the famous water feature that seems to characterise so many photos of the lounge. The water flows down from a pillar attached to the ceiling.

Because my photos is slanted and because you guys deserve better, here’s a much nicer shot from BravoTV, whatever that is

There is certainly no shortage of seating in the lounge. Every few meters you go there’s a new enclave of couches and single seats.

For example, you had these individual reclining slash work areas (as best as you could work without a table…)

Each pod is quite private, with the ears of the chair providing additional solace. If you stare at it hard enough it sort of reminds you of SQ’s old First Class Skysuites on the 747…

Each pod also had a tablet which had internet and digital newspapers. You could also check the gate at which your flight was leaving via the Qatar app.

At the centre of the lounge is the Qatar concierge, who are there to serve your every whim. Although they seem to spend most of the time pointing people to the nearest toilet.

There’s a large business centre in the lounge for getting proper work done, with many computer terminals and printing facilities.

They have Mac computers, but for the unpretentious don’t worry, they have Windows computers too.

I think we should have a running challenge to see how many of these 45 signs people can count.

If you wander to a far corner of the lounge there’s actually a separate dining area, albeit for lighter fare like fruits and sandwiches.

The sandwiches aren’t your usual clingwrapped lounge fare. They’re made to order and you can go for whatever fillings you please.

Juices, fruit and cookies were also available.

There were small plates with yogurt, muesli and other hamster food.

There are just endless seating areas to be found around the lounge, and I wonder why they felt the need to build so many. It’s all the more surprising given that QR doesn’t really believe in First Class, what with its CEO constantly spouting off how their Business Class is better than other airline’s First Class (I’ll wait to review the QSuite before passing judgement on that though…). Qatar only has First Class on inter Gulf routes plus routes served by its A380, so I can’t imagine this lounge sees a whole lot of traffic.

At the far end of the lounge they had these really cool chairs with high backs and tablets.

Nested far in a  small corner of the lounge is a movie screening room.

At least I think it was supposed to screen movies. They were showing the news when I stepped in.

People in the Middle East region tend to travel with large families, and the lounge caters to their needs too. In one corner you’ll find a game room plus a parent’s area.

This space has a dedicated play area for young kids.

Complete with educational toys, books and television.

For older kids (and younger adults), the lounge has gaming consoles which didn’t seem to be switched on when I visited. Both Xbox Ones and PS4s were available.

But the highlight had to be the F1 simulator. Qatar is quick to remind anyone who’ll listen that they sponsor an F1 team. The simulator looks really cool but again it didn’t seem to be in operation.

What I like is the family and games areas have their own catering too. Nothing fancy here, mostly light bites and drinks, but it’s thoughtful nonetheless.

    

The lounge has its own duty free area as well, where you can stare at items you can’t afford through impeccably polished glass (I noted the staff wiping the display discretely after I left to remove the marks my unwashed hands left).

The sun was by now in full force and all that was left to do was wait for the boarding call. If I wanted to be nit picky, I’d say that it wouldn’t be too much to expect the lounge to arrange buggies to gates, given how long the walking times can be.

But never mind, I took the scenic route towards my bus gate and saw the famous airport teddy bear. I must say that the airport during the morning did seem a whole lot busier- perhaps the blockade hadn’t hit as hard as I thought.

If you asked me to rank the Al Safwa lounge in my pantheon of lounge experiences, I’m going to be really honest with you and say it won’t be in the top 3. Although the staff were great at every interaction, the issues with the ventilation in the sleeping rooms, lack of free spa services and average food quality kept it from being an amazing die die must try experience (it didn’t help that the F1 simulator wasn’t working either) I guess it also didn’t help that there was no booze, but I’m not going to count that against them because it’s simply a fact of life.

Think about the wow factors the other lounges have-the Luftansa FCT drives you to your car on the tarmac in a Porsche. The Thai Airways lounge gives you an hour long massage in a proper spa. The Virgin Clubhouse gives you haircuts while watching the runway. The Turkish Airlines lounge has a race car track and a golf simulator.

The biggest wow factor I can think of for the Al Safwa is the hotel rooms, but like I mentioned I didn’t have the most comfortable of stays. Look, if you really want to try the lounge then you could book yourself a cheap one-way fare ex-BKK going through Doha to a place like Muscat or Kuwait for as little as S$1.5K. You’d fly Business Class from Bangkok to Doha, then First Class from Doha to Kuwait. Arrange a long layover and you can enjoy the lounge to your heart’s content. Good luck figuring out what to do in Kuwait though (or simply don’t fly that last leg…but this creates problems if you’ve checked luggage and Singaporeans do need a visa for Kuwait, so they may not let you board at Bangkok without one. Oman might be a better choice, but it’s slightly more expensive at S$1.8K)

I definitely think you should visit the Al Safwa at least once, because it truly is a gorgeous place to see, but if you’re ticking items off your travel hacking bucket list, I’d go for some other experiences first.

First Class for the Family- SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review

Since discovering the Miles and Points game 3 years ago, Jeriel has now spent a disproportionate amount of time reading the T&Cs of credit cards and frequent flyer programs. His grand plans for round-the-world premium travel has taken a hit since the arrival of his daughter, but he is still determined to fly as far, frequently and luxuriously as possible on Miles and Points. Expect more family-orientated trip reports and travel tips from him!


Hacking the SQ Waitlist
First Class for the Family – Ground Experience and The Private Room
SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review
Krisflyer First Class Lounge Melbourne Review
MEL SIN A380 Suites Class Review


First Class for the Family – SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review

SQ237
Singapore (SIN) – Melbourne (MEL)
Date: Friday, 17 March 2017
Aircraft: B777-300ER
Seat: 1F/2A (First Class)

I may have given all manner of excuses for flying my family on F in my previous posts, but it’s time for some honesty; Prior to this flight, I’ve not had the chance to experience SQ’s First Class. That was pretty much the real reason why I shelled out all those additional miles.

Hindsight is 20/20, and seeing that we had already secured bulkhead J seats prior to the upgrade together with the fiasco we endured at ticketing, it was a terrible mistake. But for what it is worth, Milelion gets its very first trip report for this product!

SQ currently has 27 Boeing 777-300ER in their fleet, in 3 different configurations. The first 2 are similar, and consist of 8 First Class seats, 42 in business and 228 at the back. If you see this configuration on your seat-map, there is a 6/9 chance that you’d be flying the old 2006 product. The other 3 planes already sport the refreshed 2013 seats. I don’t think there is any practical way to determine which product you’d be flying, so it’s best to assume it would be the former. The good news is that the rest of the 77W fleet have the new products in the new configuration of 4F/48J/28S/184Y. Once you see this configuration at seat selection, you can be confident of scoring the new products (barring any last minute equipment change of course).

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Our 77W at the Gate

Our flight had 8 in First Class, and so it was a pleasant surprise when we stepped into the cabin to find that we’d be flying the new products. Having wanted to give our daughter as much undisturbed rest as possible prior to the flight, we were one of the last passengers to board, and the rest of the F cabin was already full.

I took a quick peek at the Business cabin behind, and was momentarily taken aback. In the 3-class 77W configuration, the Business cabin is divided into a small 8 seat cabin immediately behind F, followed by the main J section with the rest of the 34 seats. This makes for an extremely intimate front J section. In my late night stupor I actually thought to myself: ‘Why is it 16F on this plane?’ before I realized it was actually Business! The 2013 business class seats are really thoughtfully designed and i feel they afford a step up in privacy compared to the 2006 version, almost looking like First Class.

In terms of the hard product, the main advantage F provides over J is the dedicated legroom and additional storage space each passenger gets. Being over 6’ tall, the major gripe I have about SQ J is the small and angled foot cubby. In contrast, the F seat has a large (almost too large) cut out for your feet, and space enough for at least 2 cabin sized luggage.

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Leg compartment
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More than sufficient space for your carry-ons

In terms of numbers, the F seat is also wider at 35” compared to 28” in J, and the screen is also bigger at 24” compared to 18”. But I don’t feel it adds much to your personal comfort. The wider main seat does mean that 2 people can sit together comfortably, but you’re not allowed to do that for a prolonged period of time anyway.

In terms of seat functions, the tray is built in under the LCD screen, and just to the right of the tray lever is the usual power socket and a HDMI input. The left side has a generous storage cubby in which the Bose headphones could be found.

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Handle for tray table, power socket and HDMI input

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Cubby with Bose headphonesSeat and lighting controls where on the partition along the aisle, together with the headphone jack and little rack to hang it when not in use. The new generation entertainment controller was behind a small sliding door in the armrest. In the other armrest, there was another small compartment with a USB and charging port, presumably for your personal device.

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Small things which show the thought that went into the product – really appreciated the rack for the headphones which meant no more tangled cables in the blankets!
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Touch-screen Entertainment controller

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More small but functional storage spaces that just make sense – just remember to take your phone / personal electronic device when you deplane!The seat itself was more than adequately wide, and done up with a lovely dark brown leather. I had no issues with the extent of the recline in seat mode, but then again it was only a short while before I asked for the turn down to get some sleep.

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Picture of 1F taken after landing when there was better light

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Vanity mirror which I only found after landingOf course, First Class is never just about the hard product. The soft product is really what sets the best F experiences from the mediocre. If it is your first time flying at the very front of the plane, you should try to maximize your experience by picking a daytime flight where there will be a full service, instead of a red-eye where the service is abbreviated and you’d be wanting to sleep for most of the flight anyway. Some of the things you’d be missing out on a red-eye include the canapes (usually satay) and caviar for the appetiser. Also, each passenger only gets one meal by default; you either choose dinner (after takeoff) or breakfast (before landing).

You have to love how SQ cabin crew are trained to answer questions like politicians. On their routine welcome rounds, the following exchange ensued.

‘I see that you have placed a book the cook order for the Rack of Lamb, would you prefer to have that immediately after take off, or before we land sir?’

‘Can I have that for dinner now, and then have another meal for breakfast?’

‘Certainly! We can prepare a fruit platter for you to enjoy before we land.’

Saying yes without actually saying yes is a useful skill to master. Anyway, here are the customary shots of the menu for your reference.

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I shan’t put up the full menu here but I’ll just add quick note on the vino for those interested. I realized we haven’t covered the wine selection in our previous trip reports but I feel it’s worth a mention. We all know that SQ famously serves both Dom Perignon (2006 is the current offering now) and Krug Grande Cuvee (NV) for their in-flight champagne, but they have a well curated list of reds and whites as well.

There is usually a seasonal selection; on this flight the Penfolds RWT (Red Wine Trial) Barossa valley Shiraz (2012) was on offer. This is obviously a step below the premium Penfold’s Grange, but still runs up to about S$200/bottle at retail. I’m usually not big on Shiraz, but this was impressive with a superbly balanced palate of dark fruit and savoury flavours.

The Old World selection is typically from Bordeaux, and in this season was either Cos d’Estournel (2004) or Pichon Lalande (2004). Both are Deuxiemes Cru (2nd Growth) in the 1855 classification, and are excellent (and expensive) wines. The Pichon was the wine available on my flight, and it was a delectable pairing with the BTC Lamb Rack I had.

Rounding up the reds was the 2010 Chateau Corton-Grancey (Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune). For the whites there was a 2013 Riesling from Goldtropfchen, Mosel and a Chardonnay from Mornington Peninsula (Port Philip Estate, “Red Hill”, 2013). You can’t go wrong with a Riesling from Mosel, and I had a refreshing glass prior to landing. I didn’t get to try any of the rest though.

Crew service on this ‘Sleeper Service’ was polished and efficient, but was way too rushed if your intention is to savour the experience. The table was set and the main course was served immediately.

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Rack of Lamb

After my BTC order on my last trip from SIN LHR in R was mixed up and I ended up with a rather depressing Yu Pian Mi Fen, I just had to find out what the lamb rack was like. The meat was done to a perfect medium, and tasty with just a slight hint of the usual mutton smell. The sauce was a little too viscous and too salty for my liking though, I wonder if that was due to insufficient time for reheating.

My wife had the Boston Lobster Thermidor, which is essentially the same as what you get in Business, just with double the serving of Lobster. Every time I have the chance to BTC out of SIN, I struggle to choose between the Lobster which I know will be good or explore something I’ve not tried before. Well, this was another hit for the lobster; it was excellent as always.

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Boston Lobster Thermidor – My wife had this prior to landing (or rather, I pilfered most of it)

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Fruit platter to follow

After a rather muted fruit platter, it was time for bed. Similar to Suites class, you are also given a turndown service in First. This is in contrast to J where you’re expected to make your own bed. I took the time to change to the PJs and take photos of the toilet. Does anyone really want to see more photos of the boring SQ First class toilet though? Looks exactly like what you get in business with some leather trimmings, the same Tuscan Soul amenities from Ferragamo… Let’s leave those out.

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First Class Bed with 2 year old for scale

I couldn’t get any pictures of the bed before it was messed up as I had to get my daughter to bed, but here’s the end result. There’s more than enough space for an adult and child. That being said, it does pale in comparison with what you get on Suites class though.

I went to sleep and the next thing I knew, my daughter was stirring and it was 2 hours to landing. I was well rested, but that’s the frustrating thing about redeeming miles for a red-eye. You go to sleep and before you know it, it’s almost over!

I was given my second fruit platter as promised, and issued an express immigration pass. The priority queue was terribly hard to find at MEL though, and we ended up taking a normal lane which was empty anyway.

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Express Arrival pass

Conclusion? With the bad ground experience, limited sleeper service, and the alternative of bulkhead J seats on the same flight, it definitely felt as if the additional miles we spent on F were wasted. That being said, my daughter has now crossed her 2nd birthday and is no longer eligible for infant fares. We either have to redeem a normal award ticket for her, or pay child ticket fees which are only slightly cheaper than the usual adult fare. It is extremely difficult to find 3 F/R award seats in advance. First Class for the Family is sadly no longer practical, so I guess it was fun while it lasted.

Stay tuned for my review of the SilverKris First Class lounge in MEL, and of the MEL SIN leg in SQ Suites. Hopefully those will be completed in better time than this one!

What seats will I get on my upcoming SQ flight?

For many people, flying First or Business Class could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the type of seat you get can make or break it.

Why does this matter? Well, there’s nothing more sian than splurging your hard-earned miles on a business class seat only to find out you didn’t get what you bargained for.

Consider Singapore to Seoul, a 6.5 hour flight. It costs the same number of miles to redeem a business class seat on SQ8 and SQ608. The difference? SQ8 is a 777-300ER with SQ’s newest business class seat that goes full flat and is 1-2-1 configured for direct aisle access.

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SQ 608 is an A330-300. Its business class seats only go angled flat, and the cabin is 2-2-2 configured with no direct aisle access for some seats.

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So I imagine if you were a newbie and assumed all the seats from SIN-ICN would be the same, you’d be pretty steamed for paying the same number of miles for an inferior product.

Although more seasoned travelers will know SQ’s fleet at the back of their hands, first-timers to the miles game may be unfamiliar with the seven types of planes SQ operates.

Therefore, I wanted to create a guide to SQ’s fleet, showcasing the different First and Business Class seats available and how you can figure out which ones your flight has.

First Class- Suites

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Let’s start with the easiest of all. It’s a no brainer to figure out if your first class seat is a suite. I mean, the SQ website calls your ticket class Suites, not First Class. And there’s the pretty obvious fact that they’re only on SQ’s A380. This topic will get much more interesting once SQ introduces its new suites cabin and we have a mix of new and old suites…

You can read reviews of the SQ Suites product here, here, here and here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on an A380, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

First Class- 2006 Version

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photo credit: SFO777

This seat was introduced in 2006 along with SQ’s first-ever lie flat business class seat (I’ve written a piece about the history of SQ’s premium cabin seat design here, it’s well worth a read in my humble opinion).

It’s now passing the 11 year mark and the seat has obviously seen quite a bit of wear and tear. First Class seats tend to go out empty more often than Business Class seats, so the wear won’t be as bad as on the 2006 business class seats, but something to note nonetheless.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-300, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 22% (6/27) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Look at your seatmap- if you’re flying on a 777-300ER and see 8 seats in the F cabin, you have a 67% (9/12) chance of getting the 2006 First Class seat. If you see 4 seats in the F cabin, you know for sure you have the 2013 First Class seat (see next section)

First Class- 2013 Version

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Way more chio than the 2006 version, the 2013 First Class seat incorporates sophisticated dark leather tones and a little set of orange lines near the headrest that for whatever reason I find super classy. It’s also 7 years newer than the 2006 version and is less likely to be worn. Other great features include a lot more privacy from the aisle and a bigger, crisper TV screen.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 78% (21/27) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Check the seatmap. If you see a 4 seat First Class cabin, you definitely have the 2013 First Class seat (if you see 8 seats, you may have the 2006 seat, see above)

 Business Class- 2006 Version

This old girl was revolutionary when she came out, but time has taken its toll and she’s ready to be put to pasture. Although these seats are still wider and more private than what a lot of airlines have in first class, 11 years of service mean you’ll find discolored upholstery, chipped panels, the odd sticky controller and other deficiencies. It’s not a seat you should actively avoid, but it still pays to be informed.

You can read a review of the 2006 business class seat here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re flying on an A380, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 22% (6/27) chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on a 777-200ER, you have a 90% (9/10) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

If you’re on a 77W, a quick check you can do is to look at the seatmap. If you see a forward J cabin of 8 seats, you have a 67% chance (6/9) of having the 2006 J seat. (If you see 12, you have a 100% chance of the 2013 J seat, see below)

If you do see a 8 seat forward mini-J cabin, you can’t tell for sure whether you have the 2006 or 2013 seat because there are 9 such 77Ws in service, 6 with the 2006 version and 3 with the 2013 version. Read to the end for another way of verifying.

Business Class- 2013 Version

This is the refreshed version of the 2006 seat that SQ launched in 2013. I love the design philosophy behind this seat- it’s sleek, gorgeous and on some newly-refitted aircraft still has that new seat smell. Look forward to a touch screen controller, bigger screen and more lounging positions over the 2006 seat.

You can read a review of the 2013 business class seat here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on an A350, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 78% (21/27) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Check your seatmap. If you see 12 seats in the forward J cabin, you know for sure you have the 2013 business class seat.

If you see 8 seats, you may have either the 2006 version or the 2013 version. At the end of this post I’ll teach you another way of figuring out what seat you have.

Business Class- Regional

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This is easily my least favourite SQ business class seat- it doesn’t go full flat, and it’s simply uncompetitive for some of the longer flights SQ deploys it on (destinations as far as ICN/BNE) or routes where there’s a clearly superior competing product, like Eva Air).

These seats most often make an appearance on regional flights to Bangkok, HCMC, Perth etc. They’re ok for daytime flights (in fact, some weirdos even prefer them because they’re better for work), but good luck if you get one of these babies on a red-eye. And if you burn your miles on this, well, do your homework next time.

You can read a review of the regional business class seat here and here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re flying on an A330, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on 777-200, you have a 82% (9/11) chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on a 777-300, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Business Class- Ultimo

A rare pokemon is the Ultimo business class seat. The DNA of this seat harkens back to 1998, so count yourself lucky it’s only on two of SQ’s oldest aircraft. You can sometimes see it on runs to Bangkok. I remember it has in-seat power, but it requires a special adapter/converter that only the crew has. Ah, the 90s.

You can read a review of the Ultimo business class seat here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-200, you have a 18% (2/11) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

If your seatmap looks like this 2-3-2 configuration-

Then congrats, you have the Ultimo seat. Send me a postcard.

Business Class- Spacebed

Image result for spacebed singapore airlines
this seat is so old I don’t even have a photo of it. Credit to A Shutterbug’s Life

A rarer rarer pokemon still is the Spacebed. We are really digging the bottom of the barrel here. I thought all Spacebed aircraft had long since flown into the sunset, but apparently there is still one aircraft with the Spacebed seat.

9V-SVF is its registration, and it’s sometimes seen plying routes to Manila and occaionally Hanoi. It’s also sometimes activated to operate Scoot routes.  I don’t know why people would get excited about this though, because the IFE won’t work, there’ll be no hot towels, extra amenities, extra refreshments or anything of the sort. If you’re in economy anyway, I’d much prefer to fly on a brand new 787 than one of these.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-200ER, there’s a 10% chance (1/10) you’ll get this seat

An alternative way

Knowing the SQ fleet is half the battle, and I believe with the guide above most people should be well-equipped to know what they’re getting themselves into.

Just looking at the seatmap and following the heuristics above should be enough to figure out what seat you have. You can even check the seat map before you book- just do a dummy revenue booking and look at the seat selection map before you make payment.

this could either be the 2006 J or the 2013 J configuration

There are of course situations where the seatmap can’t tell you everything, especially in the case of the 77Ws where some of them have 2006 premium cabin products and others 2013, all arranged in the same layout.

In this case you can try the following

Step 1: Look for SQ’s fleet list 

Here’s SQ’s latest fleetlist, courtesy of the folks over at SQTalk. These guys update the list ever so often to reflect new aircraft fitouts and new deliveries.

Step 2: Find the operating history of your flight on FlightRadar24

Google your flight number and look for the FlightRadar24 link. You’ll see something like this

Step 3: Cross refer the operating history and fleet list

Look at the operating history of SQ635. You’ll see on some days it has the 2006 business class seats (SWS, SWI, SWT ) and on others the 2013 (SWV, SWZ, SWD). This isn’t foolproof, but you may be able to work out certain days when the new product operates and certain days when it does not.

Final Caveats

Airlines reserve the right to swap equipment for “operational reasons”, i.e. as and when they please. I remember being at the airport a year or so back and seeing that SIN-IST had an equipment swap where a 777-200ER with the 2006 J seat was swapped for 9V-SVF with the Spacebed. Man, I thought, are they going to get some angry letters.

Airlines don’t owe you anything if they do this, insofar as they promised you a business class seat and they’re giving you one, but if you make noise SQ will often give you some miles or a Krisshop voucher as compensation.

Hope this helps!

Edit: Here’s a useful chart created by Rajv that summarizes your options. Thanks!