The Philly Pho Fare: Trip Planning
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Terminal 4 SIN
Vietnam Airlines A321 Economy SIN-HAN
Qatar Airways B77W Business Class HAN-DOH
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class DOH-PHL
Aloft Philadelphia Downtown
British Airways Business Class Lounge PHL
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class PHL-DOH
Qatar Airways Arrivals Lounge DOH
Qatar Airways Complimentary Doha Stopover Package (Westin Doha)
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge DOH
Vietnam Airlines Business Class Lounge HAN
Silk Air B737 Business Class HAN-SIN
[As I was flying out of T4, I reached out to the CX team to request a tour of their new lounge and they agreed. The following opinions are my own]
It surprised me when Cathay announced its intention to move from T1 to T4 back in 2014, because the terminal was then (and still is) pitched as a model for budget rather than full service carriers. Moreover, T4 has only 4 gates for widebody aircraft, the type that Cathay flies to Singapore. The other 17 are for narrowbody aircraft, which budget carriers typically prefer. This, coupled with the fact that no other OneWorld carrier has plans to relocate to T4, meant the decision was strange to say the least.
Moving to T4 meant Cathay lost access to the awesome Qantas and the looks-nice-but-really-mediocre British Airways lounges in T1. Cathay was faced with two options- the first was to use a contract lounge facility. The second was to go the whole nine yards and build their own. They opted for the latter and at the end of October, the Cathay Pacific lounge in T4 officially opened.
The lounge isn’t difficult to find- there are only two in Terminal 4, one by Plaza Premium and one by Cathay (Plaza Premium, incidentally, also operates the Cathay lounge).
Both are on the 2nd floor above the concourse, and there’s plenty of signage to direct you. You’ll know you’re in the right place where you see the long black wraparound wall with the Cathay Pacific logo.
Cathay’s Singapore lounge was designed by Studioilse and at 849 square metres with a capacity for ~210 people, it copes well with the 9 daily flights and roughly 500 lounge-eligible passengers per day.
The lounge is exclusively for Cathay passengers, as it’s not possible for other OneWorld elites to transfer airside between the other terminals and T4 unless they have a boarding pass for a flight departing from T4. The lounge certainly looks like it can handle a good amount of passengers, with abundant seating.
The lounge is divided into different zones for eating, working and relaxing. Upon entering you’ll see the dining room, featuring Cathay’s Noodle Bar. This popular fixture from the Hong Kong lounge serves up noodles and dim sum.
Where the noodles are concerned, the lounge manager told me they wanted to offer a traditional Hong Kong noodle option plus something that reflected Singapore’s cuisine. So they opted for wanton noodles and laksa, both of which are prepared fresh to order with a buzzer given to you to let you know when it’s ready
The laksa was passable but it was the wanton noodles that stole the show. I enjoyed the plump and juicy prawn wantons, the springy noodles and the soup which had a surprising amount of depth to it. It was so good I had two bowls. The freshly steamed dim sum was also great(and a welcome change from most other lounges that put pre-made dim sum in a heated closet where it gets dried out), and with both siu mai and BBQ pork buns available you’ve got all the classics lined up.
The dining room has communal tables as well as family and couple booths. It also has counter seating at the noodle bar if you feel anti-social, which is the default mode for me.
Just outside the dining room you’ll find what Cathay calls the “Food Hall”, a self-serve food and beverage area that has three rotating hot items.
The lounge opens from 0400 to 0100, so it goes through all three meal cycles of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was present during the lunch rotation, and there was a fried noodle dish, teriyaki chicken and a soup on offer. A small salad bar rounded up the lineup. The food was decent enough, but I think the real star is the freshly-prepared stuff at the Noodle Bar.
There is, sadly, no Long Bar in this lounge, which regular visitors to Cathay’s lounges in Hong Kong may miss. Fortunately, there is Moet champagne available as a regular item in the fridge (AusBT speculated it might have just been there for the media briefing), and a selection of hard liquors, beer, and red and white wine. You’ll find all your usual soft drinks available as well, but I noted they didn’t have individual bottles of water to take on the plane (now that security is centralized in T4 as opposed to at the gate, you can bring bottles of water onboard the plane).
In the fridge there is also dessert (*looks around for Louis*)
The lounge has its own bathroom that stocks Cathay’s standard Aesop hand washes, but there are no showers available. I buy the point that flights to Hong Kong are fairly short and hence showers are less essential, but I would imagine a large percentage of Cathay’s business travellers may be in a situation where they take meetings the whole day before heading straight to the airport, and for that group a shower would be a welcome amenity.
Getting work done in the lounge is facilitated by the presence of a small business centre with three desktops and printers.
The Wi-Fi in the lounge boasted decent speeds. I was able to stream Netflix without any problems.
There was also an abundance of power outlets (not universal) and USB plugs at most seats.
The lounge staff were very attentive, frequently patrolling the lounge to swoop away dirty trays and empty glasses. Although the lounge is quiet, this isn’t a “quiet lounge” in the sense that boarding calls are made.
Last point: I mentioned there are two lounges currently operating in T4. The other lounge is called “Blossom” and it’s operated by the Plaza Premium group. It was almost deserted when I visited, and the lounge attendant I spoke to said they do not yet accept Priority Pass but are working very hard to get that done asap.
Overall thoughts- Cathay has built a great facility in Singapore that caters to business and leisure travelers alike. I loved the freshly-made food, the abundance of work-friendly features like power outlets and USB charging, and the fact that this is a space reserved exclusively for Cathay passengers, which minimizes overcrowding (the Qantas lounge in T1 is a phenomenal place but can get jam packed during peak periods from all the Oneworld premium and elite passengers).
On the other hand, the lack of showers will be a problem for some business travelers, and those looking for a nice place to unwind will lament the lack of a Long Bar. All in all though, definitely a great place to pass some time.
It was now time to board my Vietnam Airlines flight to Hanoi where a different kind of adventure awaited…