Full house: Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris Lounge headache

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Far from an oasis of tranquillity, the SilverKris Lounge has degraded dramatically in recent times. Something needs to be done, and fast.

⚠️ Update
Singapore Airlines has announced that the new KrisFlyer Gold Lounge will open on 20 May 2022, with the new First Class and The Private Room “in the coming weeks”. 

In my initial review of Singapore Airlines’ new Changi SilverKris Lounge back in November 2021, I remarked that:

Lounge capacity is a massive step up from the temporary SilverKris facility- it would take something special to fill this place

In my defence, I was referring to the business-as-usual scenario, where all the renovated lounges were up and running. But still, I get the feeling this will probably go down as one of my “aged like milk” comments.

You won’t see the SilverKris Lounge like this anymore…

Those who have visited the SilverKris Lounge over the past couple of months (and especially in recent weeks) will know what I mean, because the overcrowding situation has reached critical levels. During the early morning and evening peak periods, the lounge becomes a warzone with champagne (arguably the best sort of warzone, but still), as passengers scramble to find seats, staff hustle to replenish buffet items, and lines build up at every imaginable chokepoint

With the June holidays bearing down on us fast and still no announcement regarding the opening of the new SilverKris First Class and KrisFlyer Gold lounges, one has to wonder how bad the situation will get before it improves. 

My experience with overcrowding at the SilverKris Lounge

I flew to Auckland on SQ285 to cover the New Zealand reopening, departing at 10.45 p.m on Sunday 1 May. I was unhappily aware that I’d be getting the double whammy of an evening departure slot and a long weekend, but hoped that most of the crowd would have thinned out over Friday and Saturday. 

Fat chance. The lounge was already 80%+ full when I arrived at 7 p.m, and by 8.30 p.m was completely packed. 

SilverKris Lounge overcrowding
SilverKris Lounge overcrowding
SilverKris Lounge overcrowding
SilverKris Lounge overcrowding
SilverKris Lounge overcrowding

Passengers were sprawled out across furniture, the buffet line (self-serve buffets have returned in the lounge) was cleared out as soon as it was replenished, and waiting times for the shower were over an hour. In many places it was standing room only, and I saw a couple of passengers even resorting to sitting on window ledges. Finding one seat alone was already tough. Finding two together was nigh on impossible. 

And keep in mind, that’s for the people who managed to get in. The reception area was in chaos, with the lounge dragons struggling to keep up with the surge of arrivals. Long queues had formed, and some passengers were getting irritable with the staff, unfortunate because the current predicament is hardly their fault. 

SilverKris Lounge overcrowding

While lounges are meant to be an escape from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal,  the concourse below felt more tranquil than the tumult above. Recent reports from folks on FlyerTalk are no better.

Oh, and completely random, but here’s an idea of how fast the lounge burns through champagne…

That’s a lot of bubbles

What’s causing the overcrowding?

The current overcrowding situation is created by a perfect storm of factors, some of which are within the control of Singapore Airlines, some of which aren’t. 

First, the current SilverKris Lounge is serving demand it was never designed to carry. Prior to COVID, Singapore Airlines essentially had seven different facilities to funnel eligible passengers:

  • SilverKris First Class Lounge Terminal 2
  • SilverKris Business Class Lounge Terminal 2
  • KrisFlyer Gold Lounge Terminal 2
  • SilverKris First Class Lounge Terminal 3
  • SilverKris Business Class Lounge Terminal 3
  • The Private Room Terminal 3
  • KrisFlyer Gold Lounge Terminal 3

Now it has just one, which needs to accommodate every manner of eligible guest: Star Golds, KrisFlyer Elite Golds, Business Class & First Class on Singapore Airlines, Business Class & First Class on Star Alliance partners, you name it. 

Granted, air traffic hasn’t recovered to pre-COVID levels yet, but it’s clear that the loss in capacity has far outstripped the downturn in demand. It’s no wonder the lounge is heaving at the seams. 

Second, COVID-related construction delays have dragged out the renovation project well beyond its original timeline. 

You probably know of someone whose home renovations were delayed due to the difficulty in securing labour and supplies. It’s no different for the airlines. A signboard posted outside the new First Class lounge talks of an expected completion date on 28 January 2022; we’re well past that now.

Expected completion date: 28 January 2022

Singapore Airlines has been reluctant to commit to any sort of date even for a soft opening, and the last official comment I can find on the matter was given to Executive Traveller in February 2022, where a spokesperson mentions the opening had been “pushed back slightly”.

“The official opening of the new Singapore Airlines lounges at Changi Airport Terminal 3 has been pushed back slightly,” Singapore Airlines’ spokesman Karl Schubert has confirmed to Executive Traveller.

“This is due to the delays in the renovation work as a result of the ongoing disruption to the supply of goods and construction materials, as well as manpower constraints, owing to border restrictions and closures.”

So when will the ribbon-cutting take place amid a noisy swirl of colourful Lion Dancers accompanied by drums, gongs and cymbals?

Executive Traveller understands the delay could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and is entirely dependent on factors such as regional borders reopening and supply chains swinging back into gear.

Site of Future First Class Lounge & Private Room

Singapore’s border reopening will help alleviate the construction situation somewhat, but by this point all that can be done is to play catch up. 

Third, Singapore Airlines has a lot of newly-minted KrisFlyer Elite Golds on its hands, thanks to the recent campaign that allowed members to earn Elite miles by transferring credit card points.

While I don’t know exactly how many members joined the ranks, it’s safe to say a good number of people were sitting on at least 250,000 miles worth of credit card points, the minimum required to upgrade themselves to KrisFlyer Elite Gold status. I know I’m one of them.

KrisFlyer Elite Golds would normally be shunted to the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, but with that facility yet to open, they’re shacking up with everyone else at the SilverKris Lounge. 

What are some possible solutions?

Singapore Airlines has a simple physics problem on its hands, that will only worsen the longer the new lounges are delayed: you can’t keep cramming more people into the same space. 

But assuming the new lounges are still months away (and at this point it’s anyone’s guess), what options could they be exploring? 

Diverting KrisFlyer Elite & Star Golds to alternate facilities

SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3 seating areas
SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 3

One possible way to alleviate the overcrowding situation would be to redirect KrisFlyer Elite Golds and Star Golds in Economy to alternative facilities like the SATS Premier Lounge or Marhaba Lounge.

While this would obviously be a big step down in terms of customer experience (well, crowding aspect aside), it was already the practice prior to COVID that KrisFlyer Golds and Star Golds in Economy didn’t get SilverKris Lounge access. 

Besides, the SATS Premier Lounge is already being used as a sort of unofficial overflow area, with numerous reports of passengers  getting redirected there during peak periods (there’s no hierarchy to the redirection, in case you were wondering- both fare-paying Business Class passengers and KrisFlyer Golds redeeming Economy Class tickets have reported it). 

The main issue I see with this idea is cost. Singapore Airlines won’t be thrilled about having to pay SATS or marhaba more than they have to, especially in their home airport. 

I imagine they’d rather send whoever they can to the SilverKris Lounge, and only use the contract lounges as an absolute last resort (as opposed to having it as a business-as-usual arrangement for all KrisFlyer Elite Golds and Star Golds)

Keep in mind, as a KrisFlyer Elite Gold myself I’m not particularly enthused about the prospect, but I’m sure it’s being considered…

Setting time limits on stays

Centurion Lounges have introduced time limits to manage their overcrowding problems

Another possible solution is to set time limits on access. I’m not talking about staff patrolling the lounge looking for overstayers and kicking them out; rather, I’m referring to passengers only being admitted within X hours of departure. 

That’s exactly what the AMEX Centurion Lounges have done to mitigate their own overcrowding issues, with eligible passengers gaining access no more than three hours prior to departure. 

Presumably, this rule wouldn’t apply to transit passengers (who may not have a say in how long their layover is), but would still help dissuade others from showing up too early for flights. 

Reopening Terminal 2

SilverKris Lounge Terminal 2

This may sound like a dramatic measure, but it’s not completely out of left field. 

Transport Minister S Iswaran recently confirmed that Changi Airport had plans to progressively reopen Terminal 2 over the course of 2022. 

Even though Terminal 1 and 3 have been the “mainstay of our operations” throughout the pandemic and will continue being the “central channel” to manage passenger flow, Changi Airport is also preparing for the next phase, Mr Iswaran said.

As such, Terminal 2 will be “progressively opened” in the course of this year. 

“I think that will help add to the capacity. And Terminal 4 is, I think if we need to activate it, Changi is able to do so at relatively short notice,” he added. 

-CNA

Prior to COVID-19, Singapore Airlines operated out of Terminals 2 and 3, with South East Asia and selected South Asia destinations served from Terminal 2, and all other destinations from Terminal 3. 

✈️ SIA Departures by Terminal (Pre-COVID)
Terminal 2Terminal 3
  • Bangladesh
  • Brunei
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • All other destinations

Reopening Terminal 2 would obviously relieve a lot of stress on the Terminal 3 facilities, assuming Singapore Airlines indeed shifted part of its operations back (and the Terminal 2 lounges are just in cold storage and haven’t been demolished as part of the renovations; I have no idea what their current status is).

I asked a Singapore Airlines spokesperson whether the airline was planning to resume operations out of Terminal 2, but they were tight-lipped about the issue:

The SIA Group strongly supports all efforts to reopen Singapore to quarantine-free international travel, and restoring Changi Airport’s position as a major air hub.

We remain guided by the local authorities on the re-opening of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, and will continue to review our operations so as to provide our customers with a seamless travel experience.

At present, Singapore Airlines flights may arrive at either Terminal 1 or Terminal 3 of Singapore Changi Airport. This supports the increase in SIA’s services, in tandem with the higher demand for air travel as travel restrictions ease.

-SIA Spokesperson

That doesn’t tell us a whole lot, but for what it’s worth, Singapore Airlines is already conducting two-terminal operations at least where arrivals are concerned. Ever since 28 February 2022, Singapore Airlines flights have landed at both Terminal 1 and 3 (though departures still take place from Terminal 3 exclusively).

It’s clear that Terminal 3 alone is insufficient for Singapore Airlines, and with Terminal 5 still a decade or so away, a two-terminal solution looks more likely than not. 

However, my guess is that we’ll only see Terminal 2 coming back towards the end of Q3, and Singapore Airlines needs a solution now. 

Open the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge ahead of schedule

KrisFlyer Gold Lounge

I don’t know how close the new First Class lounge is to completion, but I do know the KrisFlyer Gold lounge is more or less there. 

KrisFlyer Gold Lounge

Why? Because I visited it last year. You probably did too, if you were travelling right up till November 2021 when it served as the temporary SilverKris Lounge. When the current SilverKris Lounge opened, the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge closed for further refurbishment, and last I heard is meant to open at the same time as the new First Class Lounge. 

Site of future KrisFlyer Gold Lounge

I don’t know what additional work they have planned — and when I visited last year it looked pretty much like what I’d expect from the new KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, with more open spaces and private shower suites — but whatever it is, Singapore Airlines may be doing some cost benefit analysis of scaling back its ambitions to get the facility open ASAP.

Conclusion

In one sense, Singapore Airlines has a happy problem on their hands. People are flying again, load factors are up, and Changi is no longer the sleepy ghost town I encountered back in September last year.

In another, they’ve got a major headache to deal with. The longer the SilverKris Lounge remains the sole facility, the more dissatisfaction generated and the bigger the hit to brand reputation.

There’s just such a big cognitive dissonance between the pasar malam style atmosphere in the lounge, and Singapore Airlines’ intimate, impeccable inflight service in the air. This is simply unsustainable, and something needs to be done sooner rather than later.

Have you been to the SilverKris Lounge lately? What was your experience like, and how do you propose it could be fixed in the short term?

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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JJJ

I had a flight depart to Male from Terminal 1 on the 15th April long weekend. So they are indeed using both terminals for departure and arrival already.

Mark

For those of us lucky to at least travel a bit during the pandemic, it was actually a fabulous time to travel. No crowds anywhere. In October 2020 when flying SIN-CHC, the service in the business class lounge was like the Private Room – totally personalized. I have been on the SIN-BKK-SIN sectors in 2021 and SIN-BKK early 2022, not only without crowds but with our section of the business cabin having just us. It was as close as we will likely ever come to flying private! The couple of times flying SYD-SIN were also fabulous trips, except for the… Read more »

Anon

Whats wrong with Sydney?

Fees

I was in Sydney airport at easter on 16th April evening. It was very quiet. Gold service desk empty. Qantas lounge empty. It was fine. I must have missed the carnage. But yes, on the whole air travel at the moment is over crowded and no fun at all.

Anon

is PPL a good enough replacement that those with CCs who qualify can enter?

Jeremy

Wow I am departing for Switzerland this Sunday at 1.25am. I hope it won’t be as crowded otherwise it would really be a terrible experience

cheesecake

Bad management and planning has resulted in the current situation.

Joe

The absolute carnage that was my last two visits to the Krisflyer lounge combined with SQ still not getting a handle on their customer service options (over a month for a reply to email, hours waiting on the phone) have really had a detrimental effect on their standing. Pre-COVID I would praise them constantly, now all I seem to do about them is complain. I understood back in September/October time why things might be difficult for them but it is now May, well over half a year has passed and they are still a shambles.

JHH

Was at the lounge on 1 May at noon. Only about 40-50% capacity. So it’s just luck of the draw right now

Abc

Noon not peak time, was there for a whole morning a couple weeks ago – noon was quite pleasant. From my observations peak time is evening and late night when you have 1st round of Aus plus last regional departures, and then Europe, US and 2nd round of Aus departures. The other busy period is early in the morning until the lounge clears out by about 9 or 10am.

Jeremy

So what timings are considered peak?

Matrix.RX1

pre-midnight. Mornings can be, but for instance today until 09:00 it was at most 50% full.

Michael

Yes! This is exactly my experience too, and why I asked you if you had any update on when the KF gold lounge would reopen. That would spread the overload of customers. When I flew it was so bad that I used priority pass to go to the SATS premier lounge, not for the F&B but for some quiet time before the flight.
Great that travel is possible again to many places, now they need to speed up their lounge footprint at their home base.

RTG

I hope SQ figures something out quickly. As a Solitaire, the temp F space is already a very underwhelming experience…coupled with the enormous crowds in the main lounge section, it’s just downright miserable and frankly unacceptable. I have an upcoming flight and considering to just relax at the gate instead.

Albert

my friend could Not enter the lounge 2 days ago, overcrowded…
worse…no service on board the flight to Japan but SQ omitted to let her know at booking.
flying and paying business class , service … economy ….(or less..)
I flew SQ last month, could enter the lounge but difficulty to find a seat.
Sad but now I will fly Etihad and Qatar airways…. at least they are answering the phone…and the price much cheaper !

Anon

How come no service?

Matrix.RX1

it could be the OP meant “no dinner”, as some short overnight flights only have breakfast.

Benjamin

I was in the lounge a week ago, before my flight to Maldives, and its absolutely bad! long queues in all the stalls and there’s alot of frustrated people around. Even though that I was sitting in the first class lounge, it took them 30 mins before breakfast was served.

Gerald

I personally do not think SQ will open the lounges soon as it’s probably the only Asian carrier that has bulk of the transit passenger flow between Asia and Europe/States now.

Without competition from CX, TG, and BR, SQ is in an enviable position and they probably see no need to differentiate from competition as there is virtually none now.

Only if CX starts and the US/Europe/Aus passengers starts giving SQ run for its money, will SQ sort this overcrowding issue.

Ortloc

Just be sure to rate the lounge very poorly in the survey sent to you after your flight. I know I did.

SQ 323

My recent morning layover in the T3 SilverKris lounge was the lowlight of an otherwise pleasant holiday. It was my first time flying SQ business class (thanks for your J class seat guide, by the way) and I was quite shocked at how chaotic it was inside — long queues, lackluster food options, people standing on the lookout for vacated seats (and the ensuing tussle whenever someone gets up with their luggage). The cleaners couldn’t keep up with the glasses, cutlery and dinnerware that had to be cleared from the tables. What drove me to the edge was the high… Read more »

Matrix.RX1

thank you for drawing attention to this issue. I had multiple pre-midnight stays there recently and I unfortunately report it looks way worse than on the pictures. I now resort to eating at the first “empty” bar space whilst standing.

chk

In the early ours of Sunday 1 May 2022, I was at the lounge from slightly after 1am to about 5:35am. It was never lore than 2/3 full until 5:15am onwards. I guess those are the quieter hours…..

asprino

lol who would go airport that early/have a long overnight layover? 2/3 at these hours should be considered very crowded liao

noob

I was there in early April for a CDG flight and it was a pasar malam. That was before Singapore removed the need for testing coming back. I’m sure it’s disgustingly crowded now.

Any idea if the plaza premium or other credit card lounges are just as packed?

Sean

Visited the silverkris lounge last late morning Friday. It was extremely crowded. I had to wait for table just like how I do it at eateries.

The previous visit to the same lounge back in Dec21 was better, though it could be because my Dec21 flight was in the early morning.

I’m visiting again mid May for an early morning flight. I shall see if things are the same.

CPC

Completely agree. Imagine my frustration as Solitaire…

Peter

It’s really, really bad and I am now avoiding SIA until this is resolved. Their overall customer experience has been destroyed post covid. Where has all Mdm Ho’s bailout money gone?

Website fails, can’t get through on the phone, can’t get help with simple requests when you strike it lucky and do get through. So much drama before even getting to the airport.

Then you get to Changi and the checkin is an absolute zoo and can’t even get a seat in the lounge. Or maybe you can’t even enter! Seems no one at SIA cares anymore.

Darren

The website is a mess for changing bookings, the phone lines take hours to get through and the lounge at Changi is ruined due to bad planning?

Sort it out SQ.

Tim

@ Aaron Is it possible for SQ to deny entry to all Krisflyer Gold Members or even Star Alliance Biz passengers? Or are they contractually obligated to do so?

Abc

Another option is to hand out dining vouchers to *G pax. Even better, hand it out on landside so you can eat landside or at Jewel, spend a bit of extra time with family etc. Anyone who isn’t drinking is probably going to be better off getting a restaurant meal than the food that’s being served in SKL

Gladys

I visited the SilverKris lounge couple of weeks ago and it was completely packed! All the seats were taken and there were queues everywhere. Passengers had to stand beside the tables and wait for others to get up. Felt more like a food court than an airport lounge is my honest opinion.

FrequentFlyer83

SQ has become a disgrace. The lounge situation is unacceptable. I spent recently late afternoon in lounge (around 6pm) before my flight to SFO. The lounge was super crowded – even as Solitaire sitting in First Class section of the lounge I was not able to get any food within 20 minutes so I had to leave the lounge without eating. Besides lounge, the call center issue has not been solved yet. It’s unbelievable – the issues with call center has been there since launch of VTL in summer last year and even after 9 months SQ is not able… Read more »

Spoon

Fully agree especially with call centre situation. Solitaire member but can never get a PPS callback within 30 minutes. And there seems to be no PPS customer service officers working in the late hours. Back when I was just PPS (non Solitaire) in 2018/2019, I would get callback within 5-10 min, sometimes almost instantly, even when I request for callback after 12am SG time when travelling. I’m shocked they haven’t rectified the situation – would have expected many angry PPS complaint emails by now…

Pi Wei

What makes you think there aren’t many complaints? I’ve complained and they don’t reply. They don’t care, even if it’s Solitaires jumping up and down.

Spoon

Hmm. Didn’t I expressly state that I in fact “expected many angry PPS complaint emails by now”? Are you okay?

SSS

Can anyone share their experience with the First Class section of the lounge? Is this also over crowded?

Pi Wei

Very over crowded, with limited seating. Food is the same as the J lounge, except delivered to you ( in theory). But forget it…kitchen so overwhelmed you’ll be waiting an eternity and probably be underwhelmed by what you get anyway. Want a shower? Good luck, you’re queuing with all the J and Star Gold folk, so you’ll probably have no luck if you’re in a hurry early am/late evening. Thank you for your patience, we’re the world’s best airline aren’t we? Yes we keep telling ourselves that.

K K

I too have experienced what you went through. I caught it on video:
https://www.instagram.com/p/Cc47BdYujU5/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

After providing constructive feedback, the hosts at the SilverKris Lounge provided flow over options to Marhaba lounge:
https://www.instagram.com/p/Cc8YbEEO5bU/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

However, from a customer experience perspective, it’s not great for a premium passenger to go through this experience

MK Singapore

I went to the F class lounge in March and last month on red-eye flight to Europe. In any MNC, heads would have been rolled. Not even certain SQ walk-the-ground to comprehend the situation or values loyal paying customers in B-class, 1st class or Solitaire. I find better comfort in 1st class lounges in Europe main-hub. SQ must find its urgency, passion and pride which it was previously renowned for

Pete Pait

I had a two-hour layover on 21 Mar 2021. There was no lounge access, they just cordoned off the business class and provided drinks and snacks. I had a twelve-hour layover overnight between 12 and 13 Feb 2022 and the lounge had lots of empty seats and no waiting. I had a four-hour layover on 21 Mar 2022. I was lucky to get a seat when I first entered but as soon as I got up to shower, there was no seating at all and I gave up and left. I won’t be traveling again until January and I am… Read more »

Andy

The new Krisflyer Gold Lounge T3 will open on 20 May 2022

XINYI

We just came from the SilverKris lounge (10:45pm). It is absolutely jam-packed, passengers are flaring up and staff appear nonchalant about assisting; their mannerism is dismissive and not the most helpful/warm. We asked if another lounge was available, and only then were we directed to the Maharba Lounge. Once there, we found out that the aircon in the entire lounge wasn’t working, no hot food was available and canned drinks were not chilled. Bear in mind that most of the shops are shut so browsing before your flight isn’t an option, and the few eateries that are open (Heavenly Wang,… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by XINYI
Dan

Same experience here. Was there at about 10pm on 20 April and it was PACKED. Staff were totally unbothered with the situation. Pasar malam describes it perfectly.

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