For the novice travel hacker, flying Singapore Airline Suites is sometimes viewed as a crowning achievement, particularly for those of us based in Singapore. It was no different for me – the experience had been on my (frequent flyer) bucket list for quite some time, and having finally racked up enough miles on credit card spend to redeem tickets for it, I’d finally managed to cross it off my list.
Here’s a brief recap featuring my main impressions of the experience – I’d flown this route before ever intending to write for the public, so pictures are somewhat sparse. You can probably find meatier reviews with a quick web search – on The MileLion alone, there are Aaron’s and Jeriel’s (Suites, Private Room) experiences!
Procuring the tickets
I’d planned the whole thing back in the dark days when I was slowly racking up miles on a general spend card (Citi PremierMiles) coupled with some accelerated 10x earn on a Citi Rewards card. After a couple of years of accumulation, we were finally able to afford the 2x 91,375 miles required for a one-way trip from Singapore to Los Angeles on Suites!
(We didn’t have enough miles for the return trip, unfortunately.)
I was able to make travel plans more than a year in advance, so I proceeded to make the redemption the old-fashioned way – camping at the computer and sniping the two saver tickets as soon as they were made available, 350 days ahead of departure.
On hindsight, mileage earn could probably have been better optimised with deliberate choice of credit cards, and if you can’t afford to make plans a year in advance, you can try your luck with waitlisting instead.
The Private Room
The premium experience actually starts at the airport, with the separate dedicated check-in area. No biggy – just a more comfortable area where you could take a seat while waiting in line to be checked in, which was done pretty quickly anyway.
The next step was one I’d been anticipating a little more – a trip to the Private Room.
The Private Room is essentially a lounge within a lounge within a lounge (lounge-ception!) – a dedicated area within SIA’s first class lounge in Changi Airport (itself nestled within the business class lounge). The exclusivity is meant to reward actual SIA flyers (as opposed to those flying first class on airline partners, PPS members, etc.), I believe.
With such exclusivity we kind of expected the food to blow us away – unfortunately, we ended up victims of our high expectations. I ordered some Roti Prata (not on the menu) and the wife ordered Egg Benedict. Neither really managed to impress.
Given that meals later in the day included items such as foie gras burgers, I’m guessing (at least, hoping) that the food is magically wonderful post-breakfast.
After lounging around for a while longer, we boarded the plane and entered our individual private suites. It’s incredibly spacious – with the screen between the adjoining suite down (effectively joining the two), there’s really an incredible amount of space that you feel belongs to you (poorly demonstrated in the panoramic picture below).
The biggest feature of Suites is probably how the seat converts into a (double) bed – a revolutionary feature when it first came into the market, I believe. Competitors offer equivalents now, but it’s still a treat to enjoy.
It’s also perhaps not quite as awesome as it sounds – the ‘double bed’ is formed essentially by combining the two single beds side-by-side, and you can still feel a plastic divider between the two mattresses. If you’re flying on your own with an empty suite beside you, the double bed option doesn’t really add very much to personal comfort, even if allowed to make use of it.
The ironic thing about having all this awesome hardware in Suites is that the delicious food is served course by course and this takes up a lot of time. After dinner on the NRT-LAX leg, there was only about six hours left on the flight and we’d have had to wake just four hours later if we wanted to have breakfast.
We opted to skip breakfast in the end, which wasn’t such a big deal since we had already been very well fed throughout the flight. The food was really good – the journey’s inflight menu is viewable here. I’d opted to Book the Cook beforehand and had beef rendang and lobster thermidor on each of the legs of the flight.
Some highlights (various appetisers, mains and desserts):
All in all, despite my criticism above, I think flying SIA Suites is a great experience – although now that I’ve experienced it, I think I’d probably stick to business class in the future. That’s more than comfortable enough for me – I’d rather spend my miles on more business class trips.
If you’d to cut back on mileage spend while still getting the chance to experience Suites on a long-haul flight, I’d suggest flying Suites one-way and making separate plans for the return journey. Since SIA charges the same amount for two one-way flights as a return journey (sometimes less, in terms of additional surcharges), there’s no real penalty for doing so.
Finally, if you’re the kiasu type and this is a must-do bucket list item, you might want to start planning soon – with the recent news of SIA not renewing their A380 lease (although they’re probably just maintaining the fleet size without growing it, since five new ones are on their way next year) and some murmuring about the unpopularity of the A380, who knows what’s in the future for SIA Suites?
(ML note: That said, there will be a new suites product announced in 2017 so there’s still hope!)