There’s talk of Singapore Airlines wanting to bring back its longest non-stop (19 hour) commercial flight direct to New York. Until we know for sure, here’s a look at their (award-winning) Suites Class, one of the most luxurious class of flying that is commercially available (have a look at Etihad’s The Residence too).
The Suites were exclusive to Singapore Airline’s flagship Airbus A380 when they launched it in 2008, and they go beyond flat beds by offering enclosed private cabins with sliding doors that cocoon you in your own little lap of luxury. The interior was designed by French luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste and comes along with a plush soft leather armchair hand-stitched by the Italian master craftsmen Poltrona Frau. Perhaps most well-known of all, Singapore Airlines 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 costing up to S$23,000 (or US$18,400), it is completely unattainable for most people.
Formerly, the only way for an average person to fly in the Suites was to take out a bank loan. And then I remembered that most of my personal net worth exists in frequent flier miles rather than cash.
So in September 2014, after splurging an colossal amount of miles… I was booked on Suites Class to New York!
I arrived at Singapore Changi Airport and proceeded to the Singapore Airlines counters for check-in.
As I joined the line for check-in, I was promptly greeted by a staff.
“Good evening sir, how may I help you?”
A sudden realization hit me and I went “OH NOPE SORRY” and briskly walked away, leaving the lady astonished.
I had almost forgotten that Changi had a luxurious check-in lounge specially for First Class and Suites passengers.
I arrived at the lounge and was approached by an attendant. “May I escort you to The Private Room?” she asked.
I followed her 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 10 miles of secret passageways and being escorted by 3000 people, I arrived at The Private Room.
I wasn’t hungry but I’ve heard rave reviews about the dining room. So I sat down and ordered a glass of champagne and had the Chicken and Mutton Satay plate.
Completely stuffed at this point, I realized 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 realized that they would address me by whatever title I chose in my Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer profile. I instantly regretted not going with President Low or Princess Derek.
At this point, the crew members came out to personally introduce themselves to me. Among them was Zaf, who was the Chief Steward of the flight.
Zaf told me that there were only 3 passengers in the 12 Suites, and joked that I could have a bedroom, dining room and living room if I wanted.
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 ton. A pound of the Blue Mountain beans sells for $120 at Philz Coffee.
So I ordered the Blue Mountain, and was complimented by Zaf. “You have very good taste in coffee, sir.
Zaf returns with the coffee and tells me about their selection of gourmet coffee, and how the Blue Mountain was “by far the most outstanding”.
I unglamorously gulped down the entire cup at once, while pretending to appreciate the finely-balanced traits of the Blue Mountain.
I asked him to recommend me a tea, and he quickly brought out a cup of TWG’s Paris-Singapore tea.
And then he knelt down next to me as I sampled the tea. He told me about the high quality tea leaves. He told me about the hand-sewn cotton teabags. He told me about the fragant cherry blossoms and red fruits infused into the tea. Somewhere in between, he might have mentioned about the history of coffee trade and the East India Company, but I can’t be sure.
He says that he has been with the airline for 19 years. Within the past 2 or 3 years, he has served Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freeman flying in Suites Class.
I figured since Zaf was so available to recommend me coffee and tea, I asked him, “Can you recommend me a movie?”
He picked The Grand Budapest Hotel, a fantastic movie which I thoroughly enjoyed. Off his head, he could name me the actors and talk about how brilliant their performances were in the movie.
“That’s incredible!” I exclaimed. “Are you like a savant of the cinema?”
“I just happened to be someone who likes movies,” he said, modestly.
“I will call you here every time I need a movie recommendation in the future!”
“Uh… okay!” he said, as brightly as he could.
Having stuffed myself with three entrées back in the lounge, I wasn’t particularly hungry so I settled for a 5-course supper (as you do).
For my appetiser I had the Malossol Caviar with Lobster-Fennel Salad. And after clearing the plate in three bites, I asked for a second plate.
After supper, I decided to burn off the calories by walking around the plane. I asked the crew if they could give me a guided tour of the A380 and they willingly obliged.
We walked up the front stairs to Business Class, down the length of the upper deck, and back down a spiral staircase to Economy Class. Zaf said he’d love to take me to see the pilots’ cockpit, but the airline has stopped allowing that in recent years due to security concerns.
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 plush 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.
Some people might say this seems to be the loneliest flight ever. And to that, I say this:
Through the entire flight, the attendants check on you almost every 3 minutes without being intrusive or annoying. They just briskly walk past you with quick glance.
I paid a visit to the restroom to change into the pajamas provided.
And henceforth, I slept. Well, not on the toilet of course.
When I woke up, I looked at the time and my heart sank. A little over 3 hours to Frankfurt. I’d slept for 6 hours, or $6,000 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 had a spa and hot shower.
Getting back on the plane, a new crew was onboard for the flight to New York.
It was 8 in the morning and I decided to begin the day with a Singapore Sling.
For breakfast, I used Singapore Airlines’ Book the Cook service.
It allows you to pre-order a specific meal before the flight, which is then specially put onboard the flight for you.
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.
As we finally landed at New York, a huge problem presented itself — I didn’t want to leave the plane.
I have to say, 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.
So, where to?
Derek is an engineer and entrepreneur. He created the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm (BRAD), a viral YouTube hit which actually has less views than 10 Cutest Cat Moments. He has been featured in TIME, Forbes, CNN, BBC, The Guardian and TechCrunch. He knows how stupid writing a third-person bio of himself can be.