Sling on a Roundabout: A Singapore Airlines Shorthaul Premium Experience

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  1. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Sling on a Roundabout
    A Singapore Airlines Shorthaul Premium Experience

    [​IMG]

    -- an intentionally badly mangled quote from Sleepless in Seattle ;)

    The problem starts with getting to Manila for a family trip. Going via Singapore seemed like the best option, since I had a good ticket going there. But what of Singapore to Manila?

    Jetstar Asia? Possibly, but not preferred. The other LCCs going to Manila looked brutal with their early morning timetables (read: even Mother Nature is complaining, "Go back to sleep!"), and the other full cost options were staggeringly expensive.

    So how about points? SQ KrisFlyer redemption seemed like a good idea - not bad prices and I can even shoot for Business class, there was a decent lounge available at SIN, and I could make a good arrival time in MNL. So I have a look at what's available, and all of the sudden a First class option flashes before me. For only a handful thousands of points more, and a few more dollars in fuel surcharge.

    Consulting with a couple of friends whether I should jump at the opportunity, they were telling me the choice should be obvious. Silly question, silly answer...

    The only catch was that my scheduling required an overnighter. A normal person would look at making a booking at the Transit Hotel, or the Crowne Plaza Changi, or even stake out where might be good to set up camp in the terminal. You can tell right now that I'm far from normal, and I didn't do any of those. I checked the opening times of the SilverKris lounges, and noticed they were open 24 hours. Interesting......

    This trip report chronicles a rather odd trip from BNE to MNL with the SQ First Class short-haul experience.

    My Previous Trip Reports on MilePoint
     
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  2. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Wednesday 8 May 2013

    When presented an option to connect rather than go direct non-stop, the typical frequent flyer often jumps at the first option. Even at the consequence of having to take the first flight of the day to make that connection. Ouch.

    QF501 is not an unfamiliar flight to me, having taken it on several occasions to either make connecting international flights, or just the cheapest flight of the morning. At least this time it was not scheduled for 5am departure as it would be when the southern states have DST. And this time there was no packing rush as I was forced to studiously ensure that my checked and cabin bags were packed and ready to go well and truly the day before. Early in the morning I was dropped off at the domestic terminal as I trundled to a Service Desk with my large-ish luggage, a box to check-in as well, and a rollerboard for my carry-on.

    The Service Desk was not busy at the moment, so I was attended to quickly and easily checked in for my domestic and connecting international flight. No problems with checking in my luggage and box, then it was through security and up to the lounge. Whilst I had become accustomed to turning right at the counter to go to the J Lounge, this morning I had to remember that my status had dropped to SG, so off to the left to the trusty Qantas Pub... err, I mean Club. Whatever.

    [​IMG]
    A fairly empty BNE D QP, but don't be fooled - this space filled up quite rapidly.

    As I still remember it well, the QP sported no hot food on the breakfast spread, except for toast and hot pikelets from the much mysteriously acclaimed pancake machine. The rest of the continental selection sported about half a dozen soft selections comprising yoghurts, muesli and fruits, plus the usual toasting selection with spreads. Some cold cuts and sliced cheese on offer would've been nice, but oh well.

    [​IMG]

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    BNE D QP breakfast spread

    I decided to give into the fuss and get a couple of pancakes from the pancake machine. As the machine banked up orders of pancakes from the queuing patrons, I struck up a conversation with someone also waiting for a stack. As he finished up, he dressed his pancakes with lemon juice and sugar. Well, that would explain the lemon wedges, and what they were there for. I had never come across such a combination in my life. Apparently, it's a combination that comes from Old Blighty...and it's actually not too bad.

    [​IMG]
    Pancakes with lemon and sugar; Bircher muesli; poached fruits; rice pudding.

    Unless you have lots of work to do or you're playing it really safe, you never really intend or plan to spend so much time in the lounge before an early morning flight. Just as well, as the lounge patronage swelled quickly with many flights both to regional and metropolitan centres in the morning flashing on the departures board (and, not too surprisingly, many of the passengers worked in or with the mining industry). I had contemplated having a shower before my flight down, but I decided to eschew the thought in favour of the superior facilities at SYD T1 (yes, even the T1 QF J Lounge has better showers). Flight was called so I was off to the gate.
     
  3. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG] Flight: Qantas Airways QF501 Brisbane (BNE D) - Sydney (SYD T3)
    Sched Depart: 0600h
    Aircraft: VH-VXN "Fremantle" Boeing 737-800
    Class: Economy
    Seat: 6F



    [​IMG]
    Boarding line for QF501.

    By the time I arrived at the gate, though I had left the lounge pretty much on the boarding call, the line was so long! At least for the WPs out there, Priority Boarding was working well. I had to line up with everyone else, so there was a good chance I was going to be amongst the last to board, and there would be no space for my rollerboard in the overhead compartments near my seat.

    Though only a SG flyer now, I had flown enough to know that my prediction was right on par. Nearest row with even a bit of spare room was at least six rows towards the back. Do I put my bag there and get it awkwardly upon landing at SYD? I don't have that kind of time to waste when I had a connection to T1 which was just in regulation. So I made the uncomfortable - pun intended - sacrifice. Thank goodness for my shorter height in cases like these.

    [​IMG]
    Legroom shot in 6F...with my rollerboard occupying most of the foot space.

    Normally this kind of practice would be found on the likes of Ryanair, but this time I had little choice. Thank goodness the flight was only 90 minutes, and of that, 65 minutes was the wheels up to touch down time.

    Our flight was boarded quickly and we were pushed back. Nothing out of the ordinary this morning as we ascended into the sky towards Sydney.

    As soon as the safety briefing was over, I tried my best to settle into my seat and get some winks. I managed to successfully sleep through most of the flight until there was about 30 minutes before landing. As the FA passed, she noticed I was awake and offered me breakfast, but I declined. That was a nice touch, I have to admit, though.

    Once we were down in Sydney, we pulled up to gate 5 and was soon in the terminal. There was no time to waste. I paced quickly to QF's new international transfer facility at gate 15, got my boarding pass scanned and headed down to catch the transfer bus which was just about to close up and pull out.

    Ferried over to Terminal 1, up the stairs... this procedure goes like a well oiled machine. One difference this time - no Express Path. Times like these I should've really remembered to pull out some old Express Path slips which I had saved away over the years, but so be it... I proceeded to the main departures entry and lined up just like every other regular passenger. The line was long but the officers did a decent job to keep it moving. It would help if people were actually ready before they lined up to passport control, and kept the line moving!

    Alright, minor rant over... security screening done, got the big scanner treatment, then through the familiar glitter maze that is the duty free shop. Then, I headed up the escalators and turned hard left... and left again so I headed back to the Qantas International Business Lounge. I hadn't been to this lounge in so many years, having been spoilt by the grandeur of its superior (both in service and position) counterpart, the First Lounge.

    [​IMG]
    Entry to the Qantas Business Lounge in SYD T1. I hadn't seen this sign and entry in years.
     
  4. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    As I entered the lounge, I was greeted by the standing welcoming staff, or 'bouncers' if you will. One of them approached me to check my BP.

    "It's been a while since I've been to this lounge."
    "Oh, why is that?"
    "Well, I'm usually upstairs."
    "Aaaahh... you've dropped." Wow - as if I had that written all over my face, or it's an all too common occurrence? Ah well... :)
    "...don't worry, we aren't too bad down here. Welcome."

    The greeter was good to his word. The SYD J Lounge seems much wider and compacted compared to the F Lounge above it, though that's probably due to the F Lounge's much brighter appearance, higher ceiling and unobstructed view of the tarmac (cf. the "window-boxed" view from the J Lounge). However, given that there were so many flights leaving in the morning and so many people are able to use this lounge (QP, oneworld Sapphire, EK Gold, Business and some other airlines by contract), I'm surprised that it wasn't standing room only. Sure, it was not as easy to find a seat, especially at the long tables, but space was still to be found, and the entire place didn't feel like another airport departure lounge or zoo.

    But first thing's first... I had a short transit here and I needed a shower. The showers are located to the left side of the lounge (left as you enter the lounge) and, compared to some other Business Class level lounges in the world, these ones in the SYD T1 QF J Lounge are quite good. The rudimentary hair dryer was out of order in the free shower room I found, but other than that, it was a complete bathroom (i.e. shower, toilet and vanity sink), enough room to move around without difficulty, good rain shower with decent pressure and Molton Brown accessories.

    [​IMG]
    Shower room in the SYD T1 QF J Lounge.

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    Molton Brown shower amenities.

    Had my quick shower, shaved with the adequate razor kit I got from the shower reception desk and was good to go. Even had a few minutes to carefully repack my rollerboard. Looking at my watch, I had about 15 minutes or so until scheduled boarding, so I headed back out into the lounge to find something to graze on for breakfast.

    Catering, or at least for breakfast, in the lounge had improved leaps and bounds since I was last here, though suffice to say if it were a case of keeping up with the domestic J lounges then so be it. Last time I was here years ago it was only some fairly pedestrian continental selection (if even that - no cold cuts or cheese). Now there was a decent amount of hot food and some nicer yoghurts and muesli on offer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Lounge buffet selection for breakfast.
     
  5. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    I grabbed myself a nice plate and then set about finding a place to sit and enjoy it. I'm not that good at sitting in a lounge chair and eating from the coffee table, so I tried to find a spot on the already crowded long benches.

    [​IMG]
    The long benches in the SYD T1 QF J Lounge, which are ideal for eating and even working at "desk level". Seems QF have no problems leaving the booze out this early in the morning.

    I managed to find a spare seat after moving away the empty plate of the last patron that sat there. I left my stuff for a second to seek out a drink. I was seriously considering getting a latte from the barista (human, not a robot), but I felt that I wouldn't have enough time for it to cool down and drink it before I had to go for boarding. I had a look at the bar selection and strangely eschewed a common glass of orange juice in favour of a flute of Seppelt sparkling. Well, it wasn't Taittinger, but quite drinkable.

    As I returned to my spot to dig into my plate, a staff member was mingling around with a large tray of egg, bacon and aioli foccacias. Definitely looked quite a bit more elegant and somewhat tastier than my self-serve English fry-up; wish I'd seen him before I'd loaded up on the buffet!

    [​IMG]
    Egg, bacon and aioli foccacia from the mingling staff; traditional English fry-up from the self-serve buffet... all accompanied (well, at least one was eaten, maybe not both) with a glass of Seppelt sparkling.

    I managed to bump into a colleague who was travelling to HKG that morning, and we had a brief conversation before I heard my flight being called. We ended the conversation not long after that as I polished off the rest of the Seppelt. At that moment I just remembered that I had to call my credit card company to tell them that I was going overseas. Damn! Quickly pull out my credit card to grab the call centre number, dial up and wait. I could not help communicate my impatience to the agent who helped me, and despite the random boarding calls in the background he was very patient and happy to help me out as quickly as possible. That's customer service. But, I digress...

    Phone call complete, now it's off to the gate. We were in the gates between 30-40, but rather far from the central area, so I had no time to waste. Why is it when you're in a rush to your gate, it seems to take ages and the gate numbers counting up (or down) to the gate you need to get to seem to count so slowly. A bit of pace in my step and I pulled up to the gate with only a few people still queued for boarding.


    [​IMG] Flight: Qantas Airways QF81 Sydney (SYD T1) - Singapore Changi (SIN T1)
    Sched Depart: 0940h
    Aircraft: VH-QPH "Noosa" Airbus A330-300
    Class: Economy
    Seat: 25J



    As I stepped on board the QF A330, I was warmly greeted by the CSM - most professional, just the way I like it. A little banter revealed that J was full today, though Y would be interesting given that I seemed like I was the last to board, but we were hardly into Final Call when I reached the gate. Then it all became clear.

    Y was looking pretty sparse. I mean, there were definitely many spare seats, albeit many middle seats (obvious reasons). Lots of people had no problem using the overheads for their stuff. The second Y cabin was looking rather more packed than the first. For myself, I had no troubles with overhead space, plus I had 25K free for extra space.

    [​IMG]
    QF A330 Y cabin.

    [​IMG]
    Legroom in my seat, 25J. Don't let the picture fool you - it looks crowded, but for me, there was plenty - or at least adequate - legroom for comfort.
     
  6. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    The A330s are the mainstay of Qantas' mid-haul international operations, particularly SIN since the Lion City had stopped being QF's mid-point hub for European flights (and further to that, the other Asian centres like BKK and HKG). I don't know why but I have a soft spot for the A330s (not just QF's, but in general). Maybe it's because it's a nice twin aisle that seems a bit bigger than a 767 but not as big as a 747, so with the former it doesn't seem as old (or as crowded), and with the latter you get a convenient 2-4-2 config in Y on the A330 compared to 3-4-3 standard on 747s.

    Guess the only thing you have to concede is that the interior needs a bit of a facelift. The blue desert sand kind of motif on the Y seat covers looks a bit old now, as does the divider curtain crawling in blue goannas (or lizards). I don't watch a lot of TV, but the IFE screens are rather low res and are so small that even today's newborn baby's first words would be, "Too small!" Despite the faults, the cabin was pretty comfortable, and even more so since we were not heavily loaded in Y today.

    [​IMG]
    Small IFE screen. My youngest cousin of a few years of age, who knows how to use an iPad, can't believe that screens could exist in such a small size.

    Our boarding was completed fairly quickly, so once the final door was closed we were all but ready to be pushed back for departure. Safety briefing is shown, but soon enough we are heading towards the runway and up into the skies towards the Lion City.

    Once we are at cruise, the seat belt sign is off and the crew springs into action. A couple of FAs quickly wheel out a small cart in each aisle and offer every Y passenger a small bottle of water. The CSM has made his appearance and greets the uber elites in the Y cabin.

    We weren't given any printed menus for our meal services on this flight, so instead the FAs just gave us our options on the spot as they were serving lunch. I had heard a couple of rows ahead that the options were Japanese style fish or lamb and Israeli cous cous. At first I was intrigued to try the fish, but then I noticed the person in front of me opposite the aisle had ordered fish and promptly removed the cover so I could peek at the dish. I saw little fish, a lot of rice and some vegetable matter. Hmmmm.... not quite the fish dish I was hoping for. So I opted for the lamb instead.

    [​IMG]
    Braised lamb with Israeli cous cous for lunch in QF Y.

    I took up the FA's offer of a wine to go with my meal, so I selected a Shiraz. It was interesting that they had more than two options (i.e. one red or one white) on offer this time, but I was looking for a nice red to go with the lamb.

    [​IMG]
    Red wine to go with my meal.

    The lamb was pretty tasty, which is saying something considering this is Y food. Some Y food - particularly by the airlines based in the USA - can be quite bland, or remind you so much of TV dinners that you'd almost think that's what they were using. As with many Y meals, the taste was a lot better than the presentation, which is equally applied to the side salad. Cheese and crackers is a regular on the tray (of course with packets of two crackers only), as is the bread roll, which this time was soft enough to eat and not use as a weapon of mass destruction (i.e. one's own teeth / jaw or someone's head). The dessert was a salted caramel pudding which tasted great. QF have switched to "pre fab" packet puddings now as have many carriers, rather than the old way which was having the pudding in a separate dish with a cover.

    Lunch trays were quickly removed after everyone had finished, then the cabin was generally darkened as people mostly decided to try and get some sleep. Before most of the shutters were closed and the cabin lights dimmed down further, the crew came through with the relaxation drink offer of either hot chocolate or peppermint tea. I think this is always a nice touch by Qantas.

    [​IMG]
    Relaxing drink service: hot chocolate.

    Duty free was also offered, and being a playing card collector myself I decided to get myself a couple of packets. I hadn't had a packet of Qantas branded playing cards in years; I'd almost thought they never existed again.

    [​IMG]
    Qantas branded playing cards.
     
  7. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    After this, shutters were generally pulled down and the cabin was dimmed. Some watched a movie whilst sipping on more alcohol (well, generally that's what I observed). I decided to get some rest after such an early start this morning. I know this might not help me later when I should probably try to be tired to get as much overnight rest as I could, but I didn't care much, as watching TV wasn't really on my mind, and I had nothing much else to fill time.

    The rest of the flight was nothing to greatly note. The crew on this flight were great and call bells were attended to promptly. I filled out my immigration card for Singapore and went over my plans for the next couple of days before the crew started coming through the cabin for the second meal service, or refreshment before landing.

    I could smell pizza wafting in the air as the carts rolled by. It wasn't quite that, but just as tasty - a warm sandwich of mozzarella cheese and vegetables on Turkish bread. The sandwich was slightly toasted so when you bit into it, it was almost as good as eating a Margherita pizza.

    [​IMG]
    Refreshment of warm cheese and vegetable sandwich...crispy toasted.

    The sandwich was accompanied with a Crunchy mini bar, which was the small sweet to round it all off, though the real round-off of the entire meal was the ice cream service which followed the refreshment service.

    [​IMG]
    Weis bar for ice cream service.

    Landing in SIN was nothing too drama filled. We were right on schedule as we pulled into the gate and I entered Changi Airport, albeit in terminal 1, which is - perhaps competing with terminal 2 on this - the oldest of the three terminals and featuring some of the most retro fittings - carpet, signage. It was comfortable, but of course when the judges come to take the best shots of SIN Changi, of no surprise they are ferried to terminal 3.

    Well, no time to waste. Enter Singapore, and now it's time for the Singapore Airlines short-haul premium experience......

    [​IMG]
    Welcome to Changi Terminal 1, the retro Asian airport shopping mall closest to the equator.

    Entering Singapore was an easy process, even if it meant we still had to fill in the requisite white incoming immigration cards. Luggage was offloaded rather quickly so I didn't have to wait long, and customs... well, what customs?

    I had a look at my watch and noticed that it was barely 5 pm local time. Next flight departure - 9.35 am next morning. I found a nearby bench and did a bit of repacking (getting out a change of clothes and so on) and some thinking.

    Whilst it would be nice to hit the town in Singapore, I didn't have anyone to meet up with (my fault - should've planned it), plus there was the "allure" of SQ's lounges calling, including one particular one. But I also could use a bit of a walk, just that carting my checked bag of 23 kg and a box along with me would not be my idea of a good walk.

    I used the free wifi to check out where I could check-in with SQ for the next leg, and when. My next flight was in SQ First, and it was the next day. I know from previous experience that SQ have a F check-in at Terminal 3 (a nice annex at the end of the public area of the terminal), but my flight was departing from Terminal 2. SQ's website, for all its faults, at least was able to tell me that there was a F check-in also at Terminal 2 that I could use. So the plan now was to get to Terminal 2, check-in the bags, have a walk around the public area, then seek out the lounges for some dinner and so on.

    Can't fault the Changi skytrains, and within moments I was at Terminal 2. I really like the clever way they had designed the train so that one car loads landside pax, whereas the other car loads airside pax, so there's no need to stuff around with two separate trains for each side. Terminal 2 is the older Singapore Airlines terminal. SQ mainly operate their short haul regional flights (along with subsidiary MI) out of this terminal. It definitely doesn't have the sparkle of Terminal 3, and is on par with retro with Terminal 1. That said, even though it looks retro, it still has a certain charm to it, and it's clean, compared to some other terminals in Asia which are both retro and in need of repair or clean.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Enter Terminal 2.
     
  8. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    And then there was the part of Terminal 2 that I was looking for...

    [​IMG]
    SQ Terminal 2 First Class check-in desks.

    ...uh, not that one, this one, which was located direct to the left at the end of the bank of check-in counters...

    [​IMG]
    SQ First and Suites Class Check-in Reception at Terminal 2.

    The T2 First Class Reception is not as big as the T3 one, and definitely a lot more subtly lit. It is big enough for purpose, since not many long haul flights at all leave from Terminal 3.

    At this point, you may be asking how did I get First Class on such a short sector. SQ still operate a few aircraft - Boeing 777-200 - with First on it. It is not the new First or Suites classes, but they are on a few regional routes, or medium haul (e.g. Middle East). These routes don't have such aircraft on them at all times, instead opting for the new Airbus A330-300 with newest regional J as the top class of travel. The F on the older B772s are by no means fancy - as you'll see later - but the advantage was more all the other F perks, including SQ's special lounge, The Private Room.

    Or so I thought. I was a bit concerned as I don't know if I'd have access to The Private Room, given my flight was not a long haul flight, and/or not departing from T3. SQ does have a First Class lounge at T2, but it can't have anything on The Private Room. Anecdotally, it seems I should get in without problem, even if it means changing terminals and not getting boarding calls at all. Anyway, I'm getting a bit ahead of myself...

    As I entered the First Class reception, I noticed I was the only one about to be checked in. Probably a good thing, as SQ was actually in the process of going live on a new reservation system, and some of the staff couldn't help but politely make some light banter on how they were struggling to come to terms with the new system. I was welcomed warmly by the reception greeter, then offered to sit at one of the check-in desks. The check-in area - unlike many other "premium check-in areas" around the world - was made up so well that you'd be hard pressed to tell it was a check-in area from afar. Most premium check-in areas are at best just a walled off or roped off section of a normal set of check-in desks. As I sat down, you could see the small, unlit indentations in the wall which allowed bags to be placed on the baggage belt, but apart from that, the entire room looked like it wouldn't be out of place in an old world good bank, or an elegant hotel.

    [​IMG]
    Inside the SQ T2 F/R Check-in Reception: water feature...

    [​IMG]
    ...with a generous general seating area, complete with plants and orchids.

    Check-in took a little longer than expected, but I guess they were coming to grips to the new system. As I was asked about evidence about my onward-journey or return ticket from Manila (Philippines policy), I presented my already checked-in AirAsia Philippines boarding pass, which was fine except their system (or whatever system) hadn't heard yet about AirAsia Philippines or at least their IATA code, so a supervisor or two had to be called over to both negotiate parts of the new system and put in a note about this airline which not many people have heard before.

    That all done, BP was produced. I read the fine print on the BP and it said, "YOU ARE INVITED TO THE PRIVATE ROOM SKL". Looks like I was in! Yay! :)
     
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  9. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    My checked luggage and box was confirmed and affixed with special warning tags which basically told the luggage handlers to ensure they load my luggage on the correct flight on the correct date (since it was going to sit overnight before being loaded on the correct flight the next morning). Normally from here I'd go straight through the next door which basically is T2 outgoing immigration (no special lane here, unless it gets really busy, I guess). But first I told the staff that I'd like to get some exercise before I head airside ('cos once I'm airside, I can't get out).

    From here, I managed to walk throughout pretty much the landside concourses (departures and arrivals) of both T2 and T3. Nice walk.

    [​IMG]
    Old style FIDS at T2, clickety-clacking all the way.

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    Drop off area for departures level outside T2. It was quite cloudy outside and some lightning about.

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    If you pull up near the SQ F and J check-in areas, there will sometimes be porters out here who will help you with your luggage. In the distance, the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport (adjoining T3).

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    Check-in area of T3.

    [​IMG]
    Outside of SQ First and Suites Check-in at T3.
     
  10. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Having gone through T2 and T3 landside, it was time to make my way through to The Private Room. Back at T2 I went through the F check-in reception and found there was no line at all for immigration, so I was processed immediately. Now it was just a case of negotiating my way to T3. One way was to walk the entire concourse all the way through T1, but maybe not quite yet.

    [​IMG]
    Terminal 2 airside, which is quite retro...

    [​IMG]
    ...compared to Terminal 3 airside.

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    Looking down from Terminal 3 airside level 3. From here, you can also see the open backs of the SATS Premium Lounge T3 and the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge T3.

    The Private Room is located within the SQ SilverKris lounge complex in T3, which is located near the centre of the airside concourse, nearest to Transit Desk A. If you check-in at T3 at SQ's First / Suites reception, priority immigration near the facility will deposit you airside directly opposite the escalators going up to the lounges.

    [​IMG]
    Escalators to the SilverKris Lounges T3, when you exit priority immigration from SQ F/R Check-in at T3.

    [​IMG]
    Entrance to the SQ SilverKris Lounges T3.
     
  11. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    The small reception desk had quite a few staff waiting to greet passengers. As I strode forward, I was given a warm welcome and my boarding pass checked. The Private Room is actually tucked away in the lounge complex, requiring you to walk through the Business and First Class lounges to get there. When this happens, you're escorted by one of the greeters and further greeted by other staff waiting at the entrance to the First Class lounge and finally, The Private Room.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Business Class section of the SilverKris Lounges at T3.
     
  12. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

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    First Class section of the SilverKris Lounges at T3.
     
  13. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    At last! I am here!

    The Private Room is an exclusive SQ lounge which is only for passengers flying on SQ First or Suites. No other First are allowed here, not even other Star Alliance First. No entry allowed via frequent flyer elite level, including SQ PPS. And no guests.

    The lounge was empty when I arrived. I was immediately greeted by one of the wait staff and offered a drink, however I said that I would like to freshen up first, so my first thing to seek out was the showers.

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    Orchids in The Private Room

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    Welcome to The Private Room.

    The bathrooms and showers are located to the left in the middle of the hallway as you enter The Private Room. The bathrooms are well-equipped and well kept. The shower rooms are small but functional. There's no toilet in the shower rooms, so you may want to keep this in mind. Whilst the shower is one of those multi-spray ones, the accessories are all generic, except for a few of the vanity accessories which are from Salvatore Ferragamo (plus Gillette razor and Colgate dental kit). The shower rooms also have a handy timber box built into the vanity bench where you can store your accessories without getting them wet.

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    The Private Room bathroom as you enter (male). It looks good and is open to view from the ante-hall, so if you're a female don't make the mistake of walking in without checking the signs!
     
  14. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Multi-spray shower in one of the shower rooms.

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    Vanity accessories, featuring some products from Salvatore Ferragamo.

    Shower is great once you get past working out how to operate it (just kidding - it's not that hard, but be aware that the more shower elements that are on, the water pressure evens out amongst the elements). Maybe branded shower accessories and possibly better air cycling (to avoid steaming up the whole room if you have a hot shower - probably not the case in a tropical country) would be nice, but ah well. All freshened up, now it's time for dinner. :)

    The Private Room has two main parts - the lounge itself, and a dining area, which is set like a nice restaurant. Singapore's idea of style is definitely more grandeur and elegance in the traditional sense rather than any modern takes on it, like some of the carriers in the western world have tried to implement. Well, except for maybe the low-back chairs.

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    The Private Room dining area.

    The dining area does have a small buffet where you can help yourself to a small array of items - appetisers, light bites, comforting warm food, some sweet treats and cheese. But the main standout of the dining area is the cook to order a la carte menu, which unarguably is a better choice unless you want to use the buffet to supplement your selections, or really only in for a very light snack.
     
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  15. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    As I approached the dining area, I was promptly greeted by one of the wait staff who offered me a seat at a table.

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    Table setting.

    A moist towel on a small plate was presented along with an offer of aperitif. I asked for Champagne, and the drinking collective here will be disappointed that I didn't note the label. One of the disadvantages of The Private Room dining selection is that whilst you have a list of dishes to order, you don't get a wine or drinks list, so you don't know what is available unless you ask your waiter, which can be a bit painstaking. Whichever Champagne it was, I did check the label to see it was a real French Champagne of vintage, but it wasn't a Champagne house which I was familiar with. Tasted alright though - it's not rocket fuel!

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    Glass of cold Champagne aperitif, and now considering the menu.

    The a la carte menu is not very large, but there should be enough there for most people to be satisfied. Dishes range from the basic comforts of Singapore like satay and noodle soup, to the oft-signature-range burger and even lobster. I placed my order and started using the wifi to check some messages and reply to others. Before long, my starter of satay arrived.

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    Satay with peanut sauce and accompaniments - cucumber, rice squares, fresh onion.

    Probably nothing beats satay from the streets of Singapore or in the hawker centre, but if you're about to leave Singapore and need a small fix, this is not a bad way to do it. It was a nice dish, if perhaps maybe the need to keep it "refined" held back on the flavour a bit. And of course, it would be nice to have more sauce...and some slices of fresh bread to soak up the remainder, just like Singaporeans or Malays like to do it. :)

    Next up was the main which I was torn about. I decided to specially request that a side of potatoes on my lobster be withheld, and the pasta serving made smaller. The result?

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    Poached lobster with Provencal vegetables, sans pommes. On the other plate, wild mushroom Capellini.

    My glass of Champagne was topped up as a matter of course, too.

    Lobster in this case was a bit underwhelming. The lobster tasted alright on its own, but the vegetable accompaniment was rather boring. Maybe the lobster dish needed a nice sauce to enliven it a bit, or perhaps a vegetable medley.

    The mushroom Capellini, on the other hand, was absolutely superb. Then again, I do like my mushrooms so when they are sauteed nicely and presented with well cooked pasta, there's not a lot to complain about.
     
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  16. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    When it comes to dessert at The Private Room, the only items you can order from the a la carte are fresh fruit, sorbets and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Not the biggest selection, so if you're looking for something else to finish the meal, have a wander to the buffet, where you can find cheese, small cakes and chocolates.

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    The Private Room buffet section.

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    Selection of cheese.

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    Crudites and a bowl of strawberries.

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    Chocolates and a selection of cakes.
     
  17. anat0l
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    I returned to my seat with a plate of cheese to sample whilst I waited for my ice cream.

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    Improvised cheese plate.

    I switched from Champagne (which I had stopped at the second glass - hey, can't risk being sloshed) to dessert wine, which was this delectable Chateau Filhot Sauternes.

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    Chateau Filhot Sauternes 2009.

    Most people like Ben & Jerry's ice cream - or the Haagen-Daaz which you can find in the First Class lounge section - the difference here is that they plate it up rather than giving you a tub and spoon on a plate.

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    Strawberry cheesecake ice cream, served with a latte.

    At this point, I was done with dinner, so I thanked the wait staff and started to make my way to the main lounge. My waiter asked whether I'd like a drink - more Sauternes, water, etc. - as I made my way to the lounge, but I insisted that I'd be fine, and just wanted to find a quiet spot to relax. I also was going to do a bit of exploring of the lounge (not that that means much - the lounge is not that big at all).

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    Two small rooms near the back of the lounge, which I believe are conversation rooms, i.e. used when you want to make phone calls.
     
  18. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Looking out towards the tarmac. The windows aren't clear (it's a dotty-frosted type).

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    At the rear of The Private Room looking towards the service desk at the front. As you can see, the lounge is not large at all.

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    There are quite a few lounge chairs in the lounge like this, with a side table and lamp, all semi-enclosed in a leather wall. These are nice for a bit of privacy and relaxing. Plus, each of them have a set of power points available if you need to charge anything.

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    Two computers near the back of the lounge, just for good measure. One PC and one Mac.

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    Parents room for those with little tots in tow. Bring your own toys, though.
     
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  19. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Some of you at this point are probably wondering, what am I doing? My flight is tomorrow morning, I've gone airside, and there's only one hotel airside (the airport's Transit Hotel).

    A few years ago, I was chatting with a SQ FA and he reckoned that if you go to the free cinema in T3, it's a nice place to watch a movie...or catch a few winks for free. My plan, however, was to stay in the SilverKris lounges, and sleep in one of the chairs. The SilverKris lounges lack slumber rooms or recliner chairs, which might have been nice but otherwise a comfy lounge chair will have to do. Crazy, some people will think, and especially those who can barely sleep on board in a reclined Y seat let alone a bed which is not fully flat. Part of my choice of booking SQ for the flight to MNL was the lounges and my ability to pull this off. The choice to go F for The Private Room was a secondary but well-considered decision. ;)

    The lounge was not too busy, so one of the staff, Arun, who was one of the managers of The Private Room experience (and working as a wait staff himself), came over to have a chat, as well as offer me some water. Arun had only recently taken on the role at SQ after other experiences in hospitality, and he definitely has a vision for improving the already very good service in The Private Room. He encouraged me to fill out a feedback form to be handed to management, as he claims this is one of the only true ways the company can find out whether their front line staff and service offerings are actually going well. Sometimes I'm amazed that companies that don't get written feedback of sorts presume automatically that something is very wrong, but seeing as I had the time, I obliged to fill one out, within it giving Arun his due commendation.

    I talked to Arun about my plan to stay in the lounge overnight. It was interesting that Arun - in fact, any of the lounge staff - didn't really blink twice or question my action, as if this has happened before or it's a normal thing to do. In any case, Arun said he would talk to his other staff and let them know about me. I was also informed that The Private Room would close at 2am (boarding of the last SQ flight of the night to DME and IAH), so I would need to leave the lounge then. No matter, I said that I'll just stay in the First Class lounge section.

    By the time I had done a bit more relaxing, web surfing and what not, it was pretty late, but oddly I wasn't quite tired yet. The effects of a couple of glasses (not flutes, mind you!) of bubbly and an equal amount of Sauternes needed to be walked off, so I told Arun that I wasn't leaving completely but going outside for a walk to clear my head. At this point, The Private Room had slowly started to fill up but not to capacity - whether this is by design or whether the F loads on SQ weren't up to max, I don't know. True to his word, Arun had informed the other staff about me, so as I passed The Private Room reception desk, Evon reminded me that The Private Room would be closing at 2am, and I said that I'd be back after a brisk walk around the terminal. She then offered me a pillow and blanket for the night when I went to sleep. That's a new one for me in a lounge with no day rooms! Well, I couldn't refuse if they were so kindly offering.

    My walk took me all the way down to the end of the A pier in T3. The pier itself is very long, which is why there is a skytrain that connects the beginning of the pier to the far end.

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    Plenty of flowers like this can be found throughout the terminal.

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    Transit Lounge A, which is the closest transit facility to the SilverKris lounges.

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    Walking back from the end of the A pier to the main part of T3. As you can see from the time, this is more like a middle-of-the-night walk now.

    I walked all the way down the B pier and partly into Terminal 1. I was thinking to cover Terminal 2 all the way as well, but then the consideration of time as well as my legs were telling me that I should probably think of heading back. Besides, might be good to consider settling into my chair for the night.

    When I got back to the lounge, Evon had my blanket and pillow all ready, so I found a spot near the back of the First Class section. All the staff in the First Class section of the lounge had been informed about me, so they said whilst the cleaners might be by to clean up around my area, there shouldn't be too many other disturbances during the night. One last check to see if there was anything I needed and I started getting settled in.

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    First Class sleep support kit by Singapore Airlines.

    Probably the only disadvantage of sleeping in the First Class section chairs was that the back of the chair wasn't as high as those in The Private Room, which doesn't do wonders for your back. Some people might have managed by putting two chairs facing each other (so you either get a very small bed, or using one chair as an ottoman). I managed to get by through slouching, using my rollaboard as an ottoman and the pillow to cushion my back and lumbar. Let's be honest - this is no where near as comfy as a bed... even some of those Asian beds where a rock with a thin sheet on top would make a good substitute. But it was OK for the time being. All I needed was a bit of a nap really to make sure when I wake up tomorrow for my flight I wasn't exactly a zombie. The effect of being in transit rarely means I get good sleep anyway, so it was just a matter of making it as comfortable as possible. There was still a bit of ambient noise as I closed my eyes to try and snuggle into slumber - plates clattering, the odd TV with the news on... it was never completely quiet, but I'd slept with background noise before (and I was tired), so I could probably do it again.
     
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  20. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Thursday 9 May 2013

    Somehow, I woke up at around 5.30 am, which was just when The Private Room was about to re-open. One of the staff noticed that I had woke up, and asked if they could bring me anything. I was alright, as I needed a few minutes to shake myself awake, let my eyes fully re-open, before returning to The Private Room to get ready for the morning. I folded up the blanket and asked where to leave it, but the staff just said to leave it on the chair.

    Immediately, like last night, as I entered The Private Room, one of the wait staff greeted me and asked if there was anything I wanted. I actually wanted to get a bit more sleep myself, and with the higher-backed chairs in The Private Room, this would be a better chance for me to get a power nap of sorts. So I told the waiter to just give me another hour before I'll start up again. He even offered to wake me up in about an hour.

    Thankfully, I didn't need his wake up call, as I woke up about 50 minutes later, feeling a bit better again. I was feeling even better after being brought a moist towel and a water with lemon.

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    Waking up to a moist towel and water. No sooner had I finished about 3/4 of one bottle, I was brought another one!

    I spent a few moments in my second awakening stupor, sipping some water, checking messages, then got up to assume my next waking up measure - which is a nice refreshing shower. And a change of clothes, of course.

    Showered, shaved and changed, it was time for breakfast. The Private Room has a decent a la carte breakfast selection, and whilst I wouldn't have minded trying quite a few things, I decided on a couple of simple ones. Once again, there are a few assorted items on the buffet which is ideal as an entree to the mains on the a la carte, or as a small breakfast on their own.

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    Various items on the buffet for breakfast, including cereal...

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    ...cold cuts...

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    ...dried nuts and fruits...

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    ...a decent array of yoghurt...
     
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  21. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    ...and Bircher muesli (of an interesting mix).

    My ideal breakfast start is a nice coffee, a latte in this case. Normally I'd like a soy latte, but soy milk in Asia is different to that in Australia, where the Asian one doesn't have the same luxurious nutty-like flavour. (It's still nice soy milk, but I'd rather drink it alone as in a coffee it tastes sweeter and thinner).

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    Latte to start.

    I got myself a yoghurt from the buffet to start things off. Yoghurt was a bit thin and sweet for my liking, but it was otherwise fine.

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    Yoghurt.

    I was considering bubbly this morning, but given that I had to meet the family today, it probably wouldn't be the best idea to turn up smelling of alcohol. My main of eggs Benedict arrived. Many people have known the QF F Lounges to serve this for breakfast. This one by SQ was alright. The Hollandaise was interesting - very buttery, quite a bit more tang than other Hollandaise I've had before. Overall, not bad at all - the egg yolk was runny - though maybe QF edges this one out for nice plump, gooey eggs, very fluffy muffins and better overall balance.

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    SQ TPR Eggs Benedict.

    Not feeling quite full after the eggs Benny, I ordered the dim sum. Normally, I'd expect this dish not to be too substantial and usually not say blow-away exciting - just simple, nicely cooked dim sum like I'd expect at a decent yum cha. If they hand made their dim sum that would be a bonus. What was presented was just as I expected. It was a nice, comforting filler. And the dim sum didn't taste like it'd been resteamed three times, like can happen at some el cheapo dim sum outlets.

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    Dim sum selection, including char siu bao, siu mai and har gao.
     
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  22. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Finally, to round it all off, a plate of fresh fruit. Hey, got to have a health fix somewhere.

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    Fruit plate.

    As I finished breakfast, I had a look at the time and, with about 90 minutes before departure, I thought it prudent to make my way back to T2 for my flight to MNL. I said thank you and goodbye to the lounge staff as I headed out of the lounge and on the skytrain to T2.

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    Last look at The Private Room, this time as it is in the morning.

    I arrived at T2 a little quicker than I expected, so I decided to wait out the rest of the time before boarding call in the SQ SilverKris lounges in T2. SQ have a First and Business class lounge in T2, as well as a KrisFlyer Gold lounge.

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    Approaching the SQ SilverKris Lounges at T2.
     
  23. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]

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    SQ SilverKris Lounge reception at T2 - Business Class to the left of entrance; First Class to the right.

    The SQ First Class lounge in T2 is similar to that of the T3 one, except since this has a window to the outside, there's a bit of natural light coming through. The ceiling isn't as high as the T3 one and there's no Private Room, but for most regional flights this is very comfortable.

    As you pass through the hallway into the main lounge area, there are meeting rooms and bathrooms (with showers - same as The Private Room but much smaller) along the hall. The first area you see in the main lounge is the dining area with self-serve buffet, then there is a moderately sized sitting area with many lounge chairs.

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    "Sports bar" like area as you enter the main lounge area of the SQ F Lounge in T2.

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    Sitting and lounging area.

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    Smaller lounge area for viewing the TV.
     
  24. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    [​IMG]
    Computer area - there are more computers here than in The Private Room, plus unlike the T3 F Lounge, where the latter must use the same computers as pax in the T3 J Lounge.

    Those of you with an appetite can expect to be comforted by the food here, with a large hot selection. It's nothing to move mountains about, most of it comfort food that can be left for a while and not degrade too much in taste, but it would be tasty enough to keep anyone going. There's also a small cook to order station which makes a couple of select dishes.

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    Hot buffet selection.

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    Bar selection...

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    ...which featured this little gem.

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    Dining area seating. During the morning, two attendants wheeled around a cart, offering tea, coffee, orange juice and small bites tableside.
     
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  25. anat0l
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    anat0l Silver Member

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    Soon enough, it was time to board my flight to MNL. My SQ premium experience at SIN was coming to an end, so I headed down to the gate to pass security screening and try and get a seat near the front of the holding lounge when they called boarding.

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    My B777 to MNL at the gate.


    [​IMG] Flight: Singapore Airlines SQ910 Singapore Changi (SIN T2) - Manila (MNL T1)
    Sched Depart: 0935h
    Aircraft: 9V-SQF Boeing 777-200
    Class: First
    Seat: 2A



    The call for boarding was made, and although SQ implores that families with young children and people who need assistance should come forward first, as soon as people notice that the gate staff have opened the doors to the jetbridge, everyone surges forward. Nothing about priority boarding here - if you want priority boarding, stand or sit near the front of the waiting lounge. That's the style at SIN.

    I board the aircraft and am warmly welcomed by the flight purser. There are only eight seats of the old First on the SQ 772, and I was the first of the First pax to board our flight. The layout is 1-2-1 in two rows, quite generously pitched. It's not First as people would know it these days, but for short or medium haul, it's not a bad way for people to go First and still get the same service on the ground (and miles if you purchased a revenue ticket). Obviously, it's not the most popular way to travel these days as more of the flights are moved to A330s with two classes (with a regional J seat which, apart from width, kind of rivals the hardware here).

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    SQ B777-200 F cabin.

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    My seat, 2A.
     

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