Airline: Singapore Airlines | Aircraft: A380-800 | Class: Suites | Flight: SQ802 (SIN-PEK)
It has been slightly under a year since my last flight on Singapore Airlines' famous Suites and having seen the new A380 Suites (which will be debuting on 18 December 2017), I wanted to make sure that I had at least one more experience in the current Suites (which I personally prefer, in terms of the way it looks) before the existing A380s get retrofitted with the new cabin products by the end of 2020. I arranged for the limousine to drop me off at the First Class Check-in Reception of Terminal 3 where I was quickly greeted by a porter (who proceeded to take my luggage) before being ushered to the check-in desk where my boarding passes were printed and handed over to me alongside the famous golden ticket (an invitation to The Private Room). There is no reason to stay any longer at the First Class Check-in Reception and so I went through a private immigration area to quickly find myself near the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 3.
Since I have booked myself on flight SQ802 which departs at 8:45AM in the morning, I have decided to spend the night over at the Aerotel Singapore in Terminal 1. One of the major advantages of doing this (instead of having to flag a cab in the morning) is that you actually get to wake up at a more earthly hour. Do note that The Private Room is closed between 02:30AM and 05:30AM (even though you are more than welcome to use the First Class or Business Class lounge in the SilverKris Lounge). I was also pleasantly surprised to find out that Krug (as opposed to the Charles Heidsieck 2005 Brut Millésimé) was now being served in The Private Room - according to Sebastian from LoyaltyLobby, this is supposed to run until the end of December 2017.
I also took the opportunity to order up a serving of Lamb Shank Ossobuco from the leather-bound a la carte menu since the buffet spread as we all know is laughable. The braised lamb shank was served with white beams steamed with terragon. diced fresh tomatoes and gremolata. There are also other Western and Asian selections so if lamb is not your favourite protein, feel free to order something else - or try both! I decided to head down to the Aerotel Singapore after dinner to get some much-needed rest.
After spending the night in the transit hotel (most people shudder when I tell them about transit hotels but the Aerotel Singapore is a seriously nice one), I headed back to Terminal 3 to board my flight from Singapore to Beijing. Having just flown the same route back in July on Business Class, I was extremely excited to be once again visiting Beijing but more importantly, to savour the Suites experience on my way there. There are people out there who tell me things like "a flight is just a flight" and that "First Class still gets [me] there for the same duration of time" - I simply cannot argue with this. It is true that a flight is a flight (and that's as good as calling a spade a spade) but the journey truly matters to me and that is why I invest in experiences even if it means spending a little more or simply charging all my spends to the right credit card.
As usual, a boarding announcement was made for passengers traveling on Suites before Business Class passengers were invited shortly after). When I got to the end of the aerobridge, I was excited to find a set of crew welcoming me onboard with their brightest smiles. I have opted for Seat 3A this time after spending over 18 hours in Seat 3K to and from Auckland previously. If you enjoy looking out of the window, Seats 3A and 3K have three windows each - all the other window seats in Suites have two windows.
I was personally escorted to Seat 3A where my jacket was promptly taken and stowed away in the personal wardrobe behind my seat. The inflight supervisor and leading stewardess then came over to introduce themselves and to give me an update about the flight ahead. Due to a thunderstorm, the plane will have to deviate slightly from the intended route and therefore, the journey will take slightly longer than expected - no rush for me! In case you are wondering about the colours on my screen, it is caused by a polarising filter that I use on my camera - the IFE screen was working as intended.
Since this was a daytime flight, only slippers, eye shades and socks were given for the flight - no amenity kits or sleeper suits are offered on this flight. In fact, I was hoping to snag up another one of those Singapore Airlines' 70th Anniversary Amenity Kits but they have all been given out. Due to air traffic delays, the flight which was scheduled to depart at 8:45AM, only departed at 9:32AM (almost an hour late!).
Having seen the inflight menu prior to the flight (click HERE to find out how!), I have gone ahead to Book the Cook for Kyo Kaiseki (a BTC dish that is only available to First Class and Suites passengers traveling out of Singapore). One of the stewardesses came by to confirm my Book the Cook order and also to take my drink orders - I opted for the Krug naturally and was delighted to find out that they have replaced the Krug Grande Cuvée with the latest vintage edition, the Krug 2004. While price is in no way any indication to the level of enjoyment that one gets from a glass (or bottle!) of quality Champagne, the Krug 2004 goes for approximately S$400 a bottle in Singapore while the Krug Grande Cuvée stands at approximately S$220 a bottle.
My glass of Krug 2004 was served with a plate of warm nuts by the side (one that would make Heather Cho proud!) and while I am no connoisseur, I was delighted to find how vibrant the Krug 2004 is. If you are indeed a fan of Krug, you would already know that this vintage has been named "Luminous Freshness" to describe the fresh and bright vintage.
While the new Suites on Singapore Airlines' new A380 planes will be relocated to the upper deck, the current one has Suites down on the bottom deck. There is a flight of stairs leading up to the upper deck but I have never seen this being used by any passengers - why should anyone?! If you wish to take a tour around the plane, feel free to approach one of the friendly staff and they would be more than happy to show you around.
Passengers traveling in Suites will find a pair of Bose QC25 Earphones in their suite for use on the plane. These are by far the most comfortable earphones I have ever put on on a plane and they are perfect even for longer flights (I managed to watch at least two movies on my flight from Auckland to Singapore in these!).
I took the time to check out some of the shows on my 23-inch IFE screen and settled for one of Anthony Bourdain's shows instead. As you may already know, the seats in Suites have a seat width of 35 inches (this is 5 more inches than the massive Business Class seat on the current A380s) so there is more than enough space for me to place my massive DSLR by my side and still have room to move around. The seat pitch is 81 inches (as opposed to 55 inches and 32 inches in Business and Economy class respectively) so you definitely have space regardless of how long your legs are.
Since it was a light load (in Suites) flight, I was given the option to dine anytime I want - all I have to do is to notify the Leading Stewardess whenever I am ready and it will take approximately 20-30 minutes to get ready. I told her that I will have my meal 90 minutes after take-off and sure enough, my table was set and my first course was served promptly. As I have mentioned a number of times in previous trip reports, breakfast and brunch services are probably the least impressive in terms of product offerings - there is typically less food (but still enough to make you very full) and if you did not Book the Cook, you will probably be stuck with one of the simpler options. My first course was a Selection of Sliced Fresh Fruits which consisted of fresh raspberries, kiwi, pineapple, grapes and a slice of grapefruit. I also opted for a warm croissant from the basket to go along with that tempting dish of butter. I was also offered some fresh juice but I decided to keep my flute of Krug 2004 for breakfast instead.
Since this was a brunch service, appetiser choices include cornflakes, whole wheat cereal with fruits, fruit yoghurt and natural yoghurt. I opted for the fruit yoghurt which turned out to be strawberry-flavoured. If you are curious to check out how different meal services are in Suites during Lunch and Dinner, check out my previous report on Suites!
As I have mentioned earlier on, I chose to Book the Cook after seeing what was to be offered on my flight from Singapore to Beijing in Suites. The inflight menu for SQ802 consisted of the following choices for main course:
- Selection of Dim Sum
- Apple Pancakes
- Fish Congee
- Fresh Eggs
While I would have selected Fish Congee if I had not BTC'd, I have decided to treat myself to the Kyo Kaiseki meal once again. The first course was a little underwhelming and even though individual dishes were pretty decent on their own, they did not stand out particularly for me. I also wish that Singapore Airlines would provide a small explanation to every component of this dish (much like what Japan Airlines does on Business Class).
The second course of my Kyo Kaiseki meal however was a huge improvement from the first - the soup was delicious and having something so comforting in the air is truly a luxury. I also enjoyed the salmon and tamago with Japanese rice tremendously. I was tempted to order myself an umeshu just to wash everything down in rightful glory but decided to simply sip on my glass of Champagne since it was not even 11:00AM in the morning.
Remember if you are traveling with a friend in Suites (yes, both you and your friend will have to travel in the same cabin class), you will be able to enjoy your meals together. There have been instances where passengers from a different cabin class were allowed to enter the Suites cabin but these are extremely rare and as far as I know, they are not encouraged by the company. For dessert, I had the Chilled Sago Mango Soup with Pomelo which is essentially 杨枝甘露 if you read Chinese.
Despite having a flight time of only 6 hours, I sheepishly asked the leading stewardess to make my bed in Suite 3A - I realised that I have not taken any photos of the bed when I flew from Singapore to Auckland in Suites previously since I was really tired and actually caught the flight into Singapore from Hong Kong before that. When I got back to my Suite, the bed has already been made and a bottle of Evian has been thoughtfully left by the side of the bed for me - of course I was still bent on drinking that Krug 2004 even in bed.
Once the blinds were lowered and the doors to my Suite were closed, I was once again reminded of the luxury of traveling in Suites - the privacy that you get is truly something to behold (especially on a full load plane). I managed to sleep for an hour before waking up to find myself almost an hour away from Beijing. I got out of bed unwillingly and requested for a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee before heading to the bathroom to wash up.
When I got back to my seat, I realised that the bottle of Evian water has been replaced (I drank the previous one right after I woke up) and shortly after, my fresh cup of coffee was served with a piece of biscotti. The attention to detail in Suites is unrivalled and obviously having a relatively empty cabin helps as well. While Business Class is already an extremely solid product (and good enough for an average traveller), Suites truly differentiates itself by being a cut above the rest - the service is personal and it really is the center of everything here.
During my flight from Singapore to Beijing, I had the honour of speaking to Polly (the leading stewardess) for a prolonged period of time as she shared with me her stories as a crew member but more importantly, her personal interests. Gone are the days where crews from Singapore Airlines deliver a somewhat robotic service - the personal touch is here and they have somehow managed to find the perfect balance between being personable and professional (as well as courteous) at the same time.