My first flight in Singapore Suites: the bad and the amazing

Hello from Singapore, where I just arrived on SQ1 from San Francisco (via Hong Kong). I just flew the Singapore Airbus 380 for the first time in Suites Class now that Singapore allows KrisFlyer redemptions at the saver level.

Let me start with the negative, since there’s only one negative I could possibly come up with – Singapore’s “supper” meal service is horrible. Not like “oh, this is an average first class meal horrible,” but more like “I’d expect this in a mediocre business class” horrible.

This was a 14hr30min flight departing at 10:30PM, so you’d think they would have a full meal service, but they don’t.

Here’s the menu:

So you just get an appetizer, soup, and a main course. There’s no caviar, no salad, and no dessert (just fruit and cheese).

Worst of all (and this isn’t the crew’s fault), they don’t cater enough of the options. I always want to be as easy for the crew to deal with as possible, so I tell them up front that if they run out of any options I’m happy to switch. Well, there were only four passengers in Suites Class, but they still ran out of my preferred appetizer. That’s because they only load two of each appetizer, which is ridiculous.

The soup was tasteless, and the rib eye was the fattiest piece of meat I’ve ever been served. Not at all the crew’s fault, but I don’t know what Singapore is thinking.

As far as the rest of the flight goes. Wow… wow… wow… wow. What a product!

Suites Class is so incredibly elegant, spacious, and comfortable that it’s hands down my favorite first class hard product out there. Now, Singapore’s A380s lack special amenities like Emirates’ showers and bar, or Lufthansa’s massive lavatories, but the suite itself is amazing.

But it was the leading stewardess on this sector that stole the show.

Admittedly “Singapore Girls” are iconic. Their job is still as glamorous as it gets in the airline industry nowadays, and for them every flight is a “performance.” But the thing is that if a crewmember is simply putting on an act you can usually see right through it, because there’s little substance to their gestures.

On Singapore I’ve been consistently impressed by the service (though some flights are better than others), and today I flew with a leading stewardess that reminded me very much of Janesis.

From the moment I boarded I literally felt like she was taking care of me in her home. Before I even stepped foot on the plane or she saw my boarding pass she addressed me by name (probably because I was the only male, non-Asian passenger). The same goes for each of the other crew members, who addressed my by name before I even got to my seat.

The more you fly, the more you realize it’s the little touches that differentiate a good crew from a great crew. When she offered me slippers she placed them on the floor immediately in front of my feet and lifted the foot strap so I’d easily be able to slip into them. When she presented me the pajamas and amenity kit she didn’t just offer them in the plastic packaging, but unwrapped them and presented them to me artfully.

Throughout the meal service she was so personalized and friendly that I didn’t feel like she was doing her job, but rather that she was doing what she enjoys. My glasses were never less than half full, at every opportunity she asked me how everything was, and she apologized profusely about the quality of the food, which I felt horrible about since it certainly isn’t her fault.

Then it came time to sleep, and she offered to make me the famed “double bed” so that I could stretch out a bit. That was an offer I certainly couldn’t refuse, and even though it’s a much more time consuming process to make two beds and lower the center console, she did it with a smile.

When she was finished she smiled and said “for your convenience I’ve left you a cold towel and bottle of water to enjoy whenever you’re ready. Suite dreams, Mr. Lucky.”

Let me try to balance this a bit, for those of you that think I’m drinking the Singapore Kool-Aid. Singapore doesn’t consistently hit it out of the park. On half of my flights with them I’ve found the crews to be doing little more than going through the motions. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since “the motions” consist of polished service with a smile. But that other half (or so) of the time I just want to hug the flight attendants and thank them for being amazing.

Singapore Airlines, you f*&#^@$ rock!

Of course a much more detailed trip report will be coming early next week, though hopefully this is a good quick summary.

I’ll share another quick summary of my Hong Kong layover and flight to Singapore shortly, because that was interesting as well…

Comments

  1. Pat+ says

    Isn’t Book The Cook available on this flight? It sounds like a way to “work around” the underwhelming options, or am I missing anything?

    (PS: That’s a selfish question, I’ll be on this flight in a couple weeks and I hope to get more than the standard fare…)

  2. lucky says

    @ Pat+ — That’s a way to get a better entree, but doesn’t change the lack of desserts and otherwise underwhelming menu.

  3. beachfan says

    No sweet desert at all???

    I’m beginning to think I made a big mistake routing through SF and HKG for a chance at the suites (which I won’t have as I go in May) instead of going for the LAX-SIN nonstop in business class.

    Oh well, I did it through the United loophole, so I should be happy with what I got.

  4. beachfan says

    I know you aren’t the complaining type, but this meal warrants a letter to SQ, no? For the sake of your fans who are following in your footsteps?

  5. AdamH says

    Hmm. I flew SQ 1 at the start of the holidays, unfortunately before the a380 switch though, and did BTC. Wasn’t bad, but I do remember there being dessert. Had four SQ segments and only one had caviar, fwiw.

  6. wwk5d says

    I think if SQ had either a bar or fancier/larger bathroom for their premium customers on the A380, there wouldn’t even be a discussion on which is better, SQ or EK. I mean, take out the bling, and the useless “bar” on EK (useless because you’re most likely going to order a cup with or without ice anyway from the FA, so you may as well order the whole damn thing from them to begin with), and SQ’s suite is just a better overall hard product than what EK offers.

  7. BFrankley says

    Thanks for lowering my expectations – my only reason for living the last few days is knowing that I’ll be flying on SQ1 next week. I hope they have lots of extra champagne on board to help choke down that ribeye!

  8. NYCWahoo says

    I was on SQ 2 last week between HKG-SFO and I just couldn’t eat that much food at midnight. I “re-designed” my menu and only had the cold appetizer and soup for the first meal. I requested my entree to be served with my “breakfast” right before landing in SF and the crew saved me one of every entree options! Dim Sum I had was one of the best I had and it was almost up to par with the ones I had at Four Seasons HK.

  9. Joey says

    Sorry to hear about the meal… but from your photos the double bed looks amazing! If you’re in suites class sitting in one of the two middle seats (no one is sitting next to you), would the FA still make the double bed for you (or just change your seat into a bed for you and leave the adjacent seat alone?)

  10. PL says

    “Suite dreams, Mr. Lucky.”

    See what he did there…Suite. Because it sounds like Sweet. And he flew in Suites Class. Wait, am I the only one laughing?

  11. MEOW says

    Totally agree that the double bed is the best in the sky. I walked away from my SQ 2 flight completely blown away and wondering how I can ever fly anything else again! I’ve flown about 10 segments now in F on SQ and have only had two crew members that I’ve found to be sincere and not just going through the motions.

    When did Janesis start working the A380s?

  12. Maic says

    How did they create the bed? Was it a fold down board? What happened to the seat? Sorry, never done SQ-F and the pictures don’t tell the whole story.

  13. wwk5d says

    @ Maic

    Search on Youtube, there are lots of videos there with the FA’s showing how it’s done…

    @ Jorge

    One benefit of SQ suites that EK doesn’t have is you can dine with someone across from you. One video tr I saw had a party of 4 dining together, utilizing the two center seat…you can’t do that on EK ;)

  14. Russ says

    You known you’re a spoiled little *$*7-2 when you say “I didn’t get cavier” its a 10pm flight. dinner is long gone you’re lucky you even got a meal. I’m sorry “Lucky” are you out of touch with reality? have you seen Doublewides post about lack of meal in biz on his flight from lax to icn at night? that was truely lacking. you’re meal was still pretty great for 30K feet. sometimes i think you’re in a world of your own. and just in case, here’s the a380 review where KE barely had meal service in biz: http://upgrd.com/doublewidesfly/korean-air-trip-review-lax-icn.html

  15. Zach says

    @Russ

    You could argue that this guy who didn’t get his meal is spoilt when there are starving children in Africa. Inherently, everything is relative. It is un acceptable that tough meat and no desert was on offer for such a long flight in a premium cabin. Group up and learn how to keep things in perspective.

  16. lucky says

    @ beachfan — Only cheese or fruit. Crazy, eh?

    @ BFrankley — LOL, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

    @ Joey — It all comes down to the crew. Good crews will make the center seats regardless of where you’re seated (assuming they’re empty), while some may not be willing to do so. But I’d certainly ask!

    @ PlatinumTraveller — It’s a harder padding. With a comforter it’s perfectly cushioned.

  17. lucky says

    @ puck — Typical Singapore breakfast. There was fruit, cereal, yogurt, pastries, and a choice of a few mains. The issue is that they serve breakfast on both San Francisco to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to Singapore.

    @ MEOW — She has been working the A380 for a while, but just hasn’t been Suites certified till recently.

    @ Maic — The seat is folded over and center console lowered, which is how the bed is made.

  18. JRL says

    @Russ

    We’re all airline aficionados here. Realize the specialty nature of this post. The segment flown usually costs ~ $9,000. The meal would have been fantastic if he were flying Iceland Air, but he was onboard the world’s finest Asian carrier in their flagship class and the food offerings and quality were unacceptable. Lucky’s expectations for catering were more than appropriate- what was served was not.

    JRL

  19. MK says

    RE: Being by name

    Actually, I’ll add my experience in the mix – I’ve been addressed by name when flying SQ Suites without showing a passport or a boarding pass by handlers and FAs alike from check-in to boarding. It’s amazing while simultaneously unsettling. I’ve always wondered how they know. Mind you, I’m rather Asian-looking appearance-wise so I don’t think it’s that.

  20. lucky says

    @ Russ — Not sure why I’m taking the bait, but I will.

    I review premium products (partly) for a living. I don’t think my reviews would be interesting if I wasn’t comparing the products to other airlines. You want my reviews to be limited to saying “OMG, there was a bed and food and a TV on the plane, this is the greatest thing ever?” Cause I don’t think that would be very interesting.

    The fact is that Cathay Pacific and Singapore compete head-to-head on this route. You don’t think it worth noting that Cathay Pacific serves caviar/Balik salmon and dessert on the flight, while Singapore doesn’t?

  21. wwk5d says

    Lucky, just so that in the future people like Russ don’t jump the gun, it might help to mention what other airlines on similar routes and times of departure would offer on their menus…I remember one time you flew SIN-NRT on SQ FC and you pointed out them only serving breakfast, while also mentioning TG serves a snack and breakfast. So, it wouldn’t hurt to sometimes offer direct comparisons (I’m sure many people who read this site use your reviews in choosing which premium cabins to fly on).

  22. Ryan says

    Rib eye is supposed to be a fatty cut of beef. That’s why is has much more flavor than a filet mignon.

  23. Carlton says

    @Russ

    Lucky is a critic. His job is not to review flights in a vacuum on their objective merit, but also as relative to what is advertised and to what is offered elsewhere in the industry. If Michelin refused to grant a third star to restaurant, would you similarly protest that because there are worse restaurants out there it should not be penalized? And should Roger Ebert refrain from pointing out any flaws with Zero Dark Thirty just because there are Adam Sandler movies out there?

  24. AdamH says

    How does the seat compare to SQs 777 seat for lounging? It looks significantly more comfortable.

  25. lucky says

    @ AdamH — I thought the one disappointing part of the seat was the lounging position. The seat only reclined very little, so wasn’t much more comfortable than the 777 for lounging.

  26. Brady says

    @Lucky — would you have changed to SQ11 LAX-NRT-SIN route that departs at 3:30pm instead had you known about the dinner options given to you?

  27. lucky says

    @ Brady — If all else were equal I would have taken SQ11, but in this case SQ1 worked a lot better for my schedule so I have no regrets taking it.

  28. John K says

    So all being same, with the FA you had on SQ1, and with Janesis on CX….WHICH would you recommend for SFO-HKG? =D

  29. MEOW says

    Lucky, what are your feeling on the super early morning arrival time in SIN on SQ 11?

    I’m debating SQ1 vs. SQ11 and would love to know your thoughts?

  30. lucky says

    @ MEOW — That’s the thing about SQ11, the arrival time sucks. It’s too late to make a hotel room worthwhile, and too early to check-in for a room the following day (I find most hotels won’t let you check in before 6AM or so). I far prefer the arrival time of SQ1, which is perfect for checking into a hotel.

  31. Southside says

    Very nice TR and photos. Thanks very much for posting this, as my wife and I will be flying in the double suite next month. It’s her first time in SQ F, not to mention the suites, so I can’t wait to surprise her with it. I’m sure we’ll survive the “limited” menu.

    I understand that you’re posting an expanded report soon. Looking forward to it!

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