Airline: Singapore Airlines | Aircraft: 777-300ER | Class: Business | Flight: SQ632 (SIN-HND)
One of the best use of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles is on the Japan route - you can easily redeem one-way on Business for just 34,000 miles (taxes are applicable). On my latest trip to Tokyo, I took flight SQ632 out of Singapore to Haneda and checked-in to the Aerotel Singapore the night before as I did not want to wake up too early to catch my flight.
Since the Aerotel Singapore is located in the transit area of the Changi Airport, I had to check-in my luggage and therefore had my boarding pass ready when I left the transit hotel. I made my way down to the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 3 of the airport promptly for breakfast (and some celebratory Champagne since it was my birthday weekend) upon checking out. It definitely worth noting that the SilverKris Lounge is more prestigious than the regular KrisFlyer Gold lounge - it is easy to see why the latter if often confused as being the better one as Gold is generally better than Silver but not in this case. If you have been to both the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge and the SilverKris Lounge, you would know that the SilverKris Lounge is much bigger and has much more food and drink options - you do have to put up with more crowd in general though.
I walked around looking for a seat - at 630AM, the SilverKris Lounge here was already packed with travellers (who seem to be generally traveling for business) and it was not as easy getting a decent seat as I had initially thought. If you are traveling on the same flight in Economy cabin, it is worth checking out the Plaza Premium Lounge (located in Terminal 1) for a nicer and quieter space but you do have to use one of your Priority Passes for entry - the food and drinks are both nowhere near as good as what is being offered in the SilverKris Lounge but if you are looking for more peace and quiet, I can't think of a better lounge to recommend. If you are traveling in Business, First or Suites then the SilverKris is definitely the way to go!
Travellers in the SilverKris Lounge can expect to find an array of local dishes - the fried carrot cake was decent but honestly, the one I had on my flight from Singapore to Yangon a couple of months back was even better.
Since I was there during breakfast, other items on the buffet spread included the Nasi Lemak and congee. For all you thirsty travellers, the SilverKris Lounge serves up Taittinger Champagne - Charles Heidsieck on Business, Krug and Dom Pérignon on First Class/Suites. I did not stay for too long since the lounge was really too crowded for my liking - I guess the mornings are just a busy period for Singapore Airlines and other Star Alliance partner carriers.
I had initially thought that SQ632 will be operating the newer 773WN product that I have experienced on my flight back from Sydney but for some reason, it was the older business cabin. You will definitely notice the signs of aging in this cabin product but it's still a really solid one - I chose to sit in Row 12 since Row 11 was already taken up but I do enjoy the feel of this mini cabin as opposed to the bigger one behind.
The 1-2-1 Business cabin layout ensures that every traveller will have direct access to the aisle. While the flight from Singapore to Haneda was not particularly long (6h30m), it flew past quickly and the plane got me there even before I knew it. With a seat width of 34 and a pitch of 55, this seat was larger and wider than the newer 777-300ER seats.
Before going into the food and the in-flight experience, I just have to say - I love these seats! They are super wide and the two provided pillows will definitely help you to find a comfortable position that you can enjoy for the rest of your flight! The legroom itself is also pretty amazing and being 1.78m in height, I could not even touch the end of my seat if I was seated properly. If you wish to convert your seat into a flatbed, you would have to enlist the help of one of the friendly Singapore Airlines staff - or with enough experience in Business, you could do it yourself (try not to do it yourself in Suites though!).
Upon boarding the flight, I was offered a selection of juices and water - do note that Champagne is not served on the ground in Singapore on-board a Singapore Airlines flight but it will be served the moment the seat-belt sign is turned off. On this flight, I was not asked about my choice of drink before taking off though - perhaps because it was an 8AM flight and people are generally not alcoholics but hey, there was no judgement there when I politely asked for a glass of Champagne during breakfast service.
Breakfast service started soon after take-off and my meal choice (I have selected the Dim Sum option via the Book the Cook service online) was confirmed by a stewardess. At this stage, I have to say that Singapore Airlines has one of the best Business cabin products in the market - I was at every point of the flight addressed by my name and the staff are always so polite!
I was also offered a selection from the bakery - an assortment of bread rolls and breakfast pastries served with butter and bonne maman jam on the side. Unfortunately, no garlic bread during breakfast so I stuck with the croissant which was pretty average - the croissant that I tried from Gontran Cherrier in Tokyo puts this to ultimate shame!
If you did not select the Book the Cook (BTC) option before your flight, you would be able to select from the ever-popular hanakoireki option (available only on some Japan routes), the brand new Singapore Beef Noodle Soup (part of the Teochew Food Promotion) or a Cheese Omelette which I am personally a little skeptical about. I deliberately selected the Dim Sum option was I wanted something lighter as I knew I would have already eaten in the SilverKris lounge.
Upon the completion of breakfast service, I decided that it would be a good time to check out what movies are showing - similar to the Premium Economy class, these noise-cancelling headphones by Phitek are provided. They are not great but they are relatively light on your ears so you can easily sit through a movie or two without really feeling the strain.
If you are looking for the handset, it is safely stowed away in your arm rest - just flip it up and you will see it. As I have mentioned earlier before, signs of age can be seen throughout the older Business cabins - things just do not work as well as they should and the edges of the leather trimmings are starting to break apart. While I did manage to enjoy a movie (over copious amounts of Champagne) during my flight, I did not manage to try out the flatbed product this time round - perhaps next time on a longer flight!
About an hour to two before landing in Haneda, refreshments were served and I was given the choice of the warm focaccia with roasted beef sirloin (which I personally picked) or the dim sum (again!). I did enjoy the warm focaccia and to top it off, I ordered a cup of freshly-extracted illy espresso which seriously validated my obsession for collecting miles - honestly, an espresso after a long flight makes all the difference!
Requiring just 34,000 KrisFlyer Miles (which you can easily earn with approximately S$8,500 spend) one-way on Business, this flight was definitely one of the best redemptions that I have made so far. The applicable taxes are also relatively low on these redemptions so if you really do not wish to spend too much money on the flights, the SIN-HND is a route that you should check out!
I do not think that there are any express lanes that premium cabin passengers can use in the international terminal of Haneda Airport but since you do disembark the plane first, the immigration line is usually quite short. You also do get priority baggage when traveling on Business or higher so you do not have to worry about waiting in line too much. While I do like the newer business class product better, the older ones were not too terrible as well but as I have mentioned, signs of age is apparent in the cabin so hopefully the conversion of mid-haul and long-haul Business cabins happen throughout the fleet soon.