IT’S an experience that most of us can only dream of — an airline suite that’s even better than first class. But Singapore-based entrepreneur and frequent flyer Derek Low was lucky enough to score the ultimate plane seat. This is his story.
In 2008, Singapore Airlines introduced Suites Class, the most luxurious class of flying that is commercially available. The Suites are exclusive to their flagship Airbus A380 planes, and they go beyond flat beds by offering enclosed private cabins with sliding doors that cocoon you in your own little lap of luxury.
It also became the first and only commercial airline with a double bed in the sky.
However, the experience comes with a hefty price tag. With round-trip tickets from Singapore to the US costing up to $20,600, it’s completely unattainable for most people.
But then I remembered that most of my personal net worth exists in frequent flyer miles rather than cash. So last month, after splurging an colossal amount of miles, I booked a Suites Class flight to New York City!
This is what I experienced:
I arrived at Singapore Changi Airport and proceeded to the Singapore Airlines counters for check-in. As I joined the line, I was promptly greeted by staff: “Good evening sir, how may I help you?”
A sudden realisation hit me and I went “OH NOPE SORRY” and briskly walked away, leaving the lady puzzled. I had almost forgotten that Changi had a luxurious check-in lounge specially for First Class and Suites passengers.
Flying in the Suites also includes an invitation to The Private Room, which is “higher than first class”.
I followed a flight attendant past what seemed to be 50—60 people in the Business Class lounge. She walked noticeably fast, seemingly afraid that I would be disgusted by the presence of the working class. Here I was transferred to another attendant who walked me through the First Class lounge, and then through a set of automatic sliding double doors before being transferred to yet another attendant.
Finally, after what seemed like 16 kilometres of secret passageways and being escorted by 3000 people, I arrived at The Private Room, where staff greeted me by name.
I wasn’t hungry but I’ve heard rave reviews about the dining room. So I ordered a glass of champagne and had the Chicken and Mutton Satay plate … and the Baked Boston Lobster with Gruyere, Emmenthal and Cheddar.
And also the Prime Beef Burger with Foie Gras, Rocket Leaf and Fried Quail Egg. Oh, and a Mango Smoothie too.
Completely stuffed at this point, I realised it was time for boarding. There was a dedicated jet bridge solely for Suites passengers. Standing at the end of the bridge was a flight attendant ready to greet me: “Good evening Mr Low!”
I realised that they would address me by whatever title I chose in my Singapore Airlines profile and regretted not going with President Low or Princess Derek.
I was escorted to my Suite:
I picked the middle one which can be merged with the adjacent suite to form a double bed.
“Would you like a glass of Dom Pérignon, sir?” And I replied the only acceptable response to such a question: “Yes”.
“Sir, would you like a copy of every newspaper we have on-board today?” Sure, why not.
At this point, the crew members came out to personally introduce themselves. Among them was Zaf, the chief steward. As it turns out, he’s the guy in the airline’s safety video.
Zaf told me that there were only three passengers in the 12 Suites, and joked that I could have a bedroom, dining room and living room if I wanted. And so I picked my dining room.
Dom Pérignon and Iced Milo in hand, it was time to take off.
I took this time to check out what was provided on-board the flight. Headphones from Bose, for example.
A Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, which included a full-sized bottle of cologne.
Everything else was Givenchy: blankets, pillows, slippers and pyjamas.
As soon as the plane reached cruising altitude, I was offered another drink. Seeing that it was almost 1 AM and I was just beginning to indulge in the whole suite experience, I decided to order coffee to stay up.
I don’t know much about coffee, but I do know the Jamaican Blue Mountain costs a lot, so I ordered it. Apparently it’s “by far the most outstanding” option.
I unglamorously gulped down the entire cup at once, while pretending to appreciate the finely-balanced traits of the Blue Mountain. I asked Zaf to recommend me a tea, and he quickly brought out a cup of TWG’s Paris-Singapore tea.
He knelt down next to me as I sampled it, telling me about the high quality tea leaves and the hand-sewn cotton tea bags. He told me about the fragrant cherry blossoms and red fruits infused into the tea.
He says that he has been with the airline for 19 years. Within the past three years, he has served Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freeman, in Suites Class. He recommended a movie for me — The Grand BUDAPEST HOTEL, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Off the top of his head, he named the actors and talked about how brilliant their performances were.
As I settled in, supper service began. Having stuffed myself with three entrees back in the lounge, I wasn’t particularly hungry so I settled for a five-course supper. For the appetiser I had the Malossol Caviar with Lobster-Fennel Salad. And after clearing the plate in three bites, I asked for a second plate.
On to my third appetiser, I had the Duck Foie Gras with Shaved Fennel-Orange Salad, Beetroot and Mizuna.
I picked the Fish Noodle Soup for main course.
And Vanilla Bavarois with Raspberry Coulis for dessert.
After supper, I decided to burn off the kilojoules by walking around the plane. I asked the crew if they could give me a guided tour of the A380 and they willingly obliged.
When I got back to the suites, the lights were already turned down indicating it was time to sleep.
In the suites, you don’t just lie on a seat that has gone flat. Instead, you step aside while the Singapore Airlines flight attendants transform your suite into a bedroom, with a mattress on top of a full-sized bed. When the adjacent suite is empty, the dividing partition can be brought down to create a double bed.
Zaf and a stewardess went about making the bed. I don’t even know how to express this process in words.
I jumped into bed squealing like a little girl and spent the next hour lounging in all possible positions.
Some people might say this seems to be the loneliest flight ever. And to that, I say this:
And while you’re doing stupid things like that in the suite, you can use the “Do Not Disturb” button for privacy. Through the entire flight, the attendants check on you almost every three minutes without being intrusive or annoying. They just briskly walk past you with quick glance.
I paid a visit to the rest room to change into the pyjamas provided. It’s a rest room, what were you expecting? Ah-hem:
There’s a seat that folds down that’s actually more comfortable than most economy class seats.
And then I slept. Well, not on the toilet of course. When I woke up, I saw the clock and my heart sank. A little over three hours to Frankfurt Airport. I’d slept for six hours, thousands of dollars worth of the flight. So to cheer myself up, I asked for a chocolate and was handsomely rewarded with two.
We landed at Frankfurt for a two hour layover, and the three of us in Suites Class were escorted to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge which has a spa and hot shower. Getting back on the plane, a new crew was on-board for the final leg of the flight to New York.
It was 8am and I decided to begin the day with a Singapore Sling.
For breakfast, I used Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook service. You can pre-order a specific meal before the flight, which is then specially put on-board the flight for you. I had the Lobster Thermidor with Buttered Asparagus, Slow-roasted Vine-ripened Tomato, and Saffron rice. And dessert.
When it was time to nap, I didn’t want to trouble the crew for a full double bed, so I opted for a single bed instead. The partition between the two middle suites slides up to form a wall.
Besides, the single bed is plenty spacious on its own.
Waking up, I was immediately presented with the second meal I had pre-ordered.
It was the Grilled Prime Beef Fillet designed by celebrity chef Alfred Portale.
As we finally landed at New York, a huge problem presented itself — I didn’t want to leave the plane. After being served Dom Pérignon in a double-suite bedroom at 36,000 feet, I’m not sure flying experiences get any better than this.
But eventually I got off the plane, because New York’s not too bad.