Singapore Airlines has taken the wraps off its new First Class and The Private Room lounges, capping a S$50 million multi-year renovation.
While there’s still some minor touch ups to come in the next few weeks (I’ve been told that the decorative lights in the First Class dining hall were delayed), the project is for all intents and purposes finished. These will be Singapore Airlines’ flagship lounges for the next decade, until Terminal 5 comes.
There’s been a lot of buzz in the comments section and Telegram group as people weigh in- some positive, others less so. I have a lot of thoughts to share as well, but before I do, I figured I should actually visit the lounges under real-world conditions.
|🍸 A Day in The Private Room|
In planning this trip, there were two things to consider
- Where should I fly to?
- What time should I arrive at Changi?
With regards to (1), I need to be on a Suites or First Class flight on Singapore Airlines to access The Private Room. A Star Alliance partner wouldn’t cut it (not that SWISS or Lufthansa release First Class award space out of SIN anyway), nor would Solitaire PPS Club status.
That already limits you to a handful of destinations, as shown below.
|❓ Which SIA routes have Suites or First Class?|
I also intended for this to be a quick trip, and didn’t want to bother with testing or quarantine requirements.
That made Jakarta the best option (Indonesia has not required pre-departure testing ever since 18 May, and waives the visa requirement for ASEAN nationals). With a block time of just under 2 hours, it seems like an odd place to operate a First Class cabin- until you realise how premium-heavy the route is, and how some wealthy folks wouldn’t be caught dead slumming it in Business Class!
Singapore Airlines operates up to five daily flights to Jakarta, but only three of them offer a First Class cabin.
|Flight||Departs SIN||Arrives CGK||Frequency|
|2155||2240||Tue, Thu, Sun|
Before I decided which flight to take, I had to figure out what time I wanted to come to the airport.
Now, Singapore Airlines allows passengers to check in up to 48 hours before departure, and while I might have done that in my younger, crazier days, I’m a married man now and try to minimise the time spent away from The MileLioness as much as possible.
I thought about arriving the afternoon before, but decided against it. Even though The Private Room has day rooms with beds, guests are only entitled to two hours of continuous usage. I didn’t want to roll the dice on sleep, plus it wouldn’t be right to deprive another passenger of an overnight spot just so I could do my little review. I did consider booking an airside hotel, but both the Aerotel and Ambassador Transit Hotel were fully booked for the night in question.
So I settled on SQ968, which worked out nicely. I’ll arrive early in the morning, try all three meal services in The Private Room and see how the First Class buffet changes throughout the day, work from the lounge and sneak in an afternoon nap during the lull period. It won’t be “a day” in the 24 hour sense, but it’s close enough!
|✈ A Day in The Private Room: Flights|
|Cost: 27,500 miles + S$52 (SQ), S$255 (TR)|
For my Singapore to Jakarta leg, I paid 27,500 KrisFlyer miles + S$52 in airport taxes for a First Class Saver award.
Getting back to Singapore was trickier, since there was no award space on any SQ flight the following day (even in Economy). I had assumed that Jakarta would have plenty of cheap flights to Singapore, but the best I could manage was a Scoot ticket for S$255 (yes, I looked at all kinds of permutations including skiplagging).
It’s going to be a trip of extremes then: out in The Private Room and First Class, back in a cramped seat with Nasi Lemak available for purchase at S$17.
However, I’d be very curious to see what First Class service routines look like on an ultra short haul flight like this, as well as what amenities passengers can expect. The inflight menu shows a full dinner service with caviar, which should be fun.
No, I don’t think we’ll get a sleeper suit.
|🏨 A Day in The Private Room: Hotels|
|Night||Hotel||Per Night Cost (Nett)|
|1||Jakarta Airport hotel||S$70|
I’m in Jakarta for less than 12 hours, so all I need is a bed to crash on. I settled on the Jakarta Airport Hotel, which requires a terminal change that hopefully won’t be too difficult.
With any luck my APEC card will expedite the immigration process, allowing me to quickly reach the hotel after landing.
Let’s not forget the raison d’etre for this trip: visiting Singapore Airlines’ brand new First Class and The Private Room lounges.
Even though The Private Room is Singapore Airlines’ “true” First Class lounge, you shouldn’t feel obliged to hang out there the whole time. The First Class Lounge has unique features of its own, like the flagship bar and live cooking stations, and if nothing else, offers additional space to stretch your legs.
I’ve already done detailed writeups of both lounges based on the media preview, but this will be a chance to see them under real-world conditions and observe the various SOPs they have in place for things like the day rooms and showers.
In Jakarta, my Priority Pass will let me visit either the Saphire APS Blue Sky Lounge or Saphire Blue Sky Lounge (never mind the naming confusion; how do you misspell Sapphire like that?).
But there’s one lounge I’m more keen to visit: the Saphire Plaza Premium Lounge, which isn’t available through Priority Pass, even before their acrimonious breakup in July 2021.
Fortunately, I have a Dragon Pass courtesy of my CIMB Visa Infinite Card, which will get me in (I could also get in with my AMEX Platinum Charge).
They say you shouldn’t criticise a man before walking a day in his shoes, and by that token, you can’t critique a lounge until you’ve spent a day in it!
While the experience will no doubt evolve over the coming months as the staff find their feet and procedures are refined, this will hopefully give you a better idea of what to expect if you’re travelling in the next few weeks.
If there’s anything you want to know about the lounge experience, drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to investigate!