This was a somewhat last minute trip. I had some free days and some SQ miles burning a hole in my computer so I went ahead and wait listed for SQ11 LAX-NRT-SIN. Somewhat as expected (in my experience) the SQ segments cleared and I received that happy email suggesting that I book the flight if I intend to travel. In the interest of maximizing the miles used and riding the new SQ A350 I requested the SIN-KUL tag on the ticket as it requires no additional miles. Well, this flight was showing available at the saver level SIN-KUL but the phone agents were telling me it was not available LAX-NRT-SIN-KUL. This part of the Krisflyer experience is frustrating. Most airlines either have availability in the fare bucket or they do not. The market you are originating from doesn't seem to matter. Not with SQ. They were able to add the SIN-KUL segment as "wait listed" but even this was a chore as the agent was indicating that it would require extra miles. I stood firm on this issue and with some coaxing I got him to seek a second opinion and find out that I am correct, no extra miles. Anyhow, the SIN-KUL segment cleared a couple of days before departure. I booked a separate award for KUL-SIN to return on the same airplane.
Planning the beyond SIN segments was quite easy. BA Avios took me from SIN-DOH on QR, again keen to fly A350. A separate Avios ticket for DOH-AUH would be "First Class" and allow for Al Safwa access. The JAL availability on HND-SFO (62,500 AA miles) drove the decision to head east again and the A340-600 (new type for me) drove the desire to fly AUH-NRT with Etihad (40,000 AA miles).
For me when a trip is planned last minute it almost seems surreal when the day arrives and it's actually happening. So it was with this "dream like" feeling that I presented myself at the Singapore Airlines check in counter at LAX.
There was a passenger at the Suites counter taking an inordinate amount of time but thankfully a keen eyed agent at the Business Class counter noticed and called me over to his position. I was presented with boarding passes promptly and off to security.
View of check in lobby from security, one floor above.
I decided to go straight to the Star Alliance First Class lounge to have lunch as I had not eaten since an early breakfast.
Star lounge complex and First Class entrance to the right.
It's a small but pleasant space. I was warmly greeted by Janet who would make the stay in the lounge especially pleasant. The lounge consists of an open seating area, small buffet, and compact dining area.
Of course the odd single chair at the entrance.
The food and beverage in the self serve area.
There is a simple a la carte menu (I neglected a picture) from which I ordered a couple of dishes. I also poured some champagne and sparkling water. Neither food offering was very good. The mushrooms on the flat bread were far too large and spongy. The salad with prawns was rather dull.
Yes, this is really happening.
It was a bright sunny Southern California day so a trip to the outside deck was in order. Also an excuse to take a walk through the Business Class lounge. It's a large space and really very sharp and well done. As far as lounging spaces go I would say if you're flying F have a bite in the F lounge, top up your drink and head over to the J section.
Something about being outside at the airport appeals to this avgeek.
Limited ramp views but better than naught. You can watch aircraft approach and land on the north complex runways. I spotted a Qatar 777-200LR, Emirates A380, and AF A380 during my visit.
An abundance of comfortable seating in both sun and shade and no crowds.
On the way back in I snapped some pics of the Business Class lounge.
I took a walk about the terminal at this point. At one point there was a lineup of 5 A380s wing to wing. Gate 148 was my SQ A380 to SIN, gate 150 was the LH A380 to FRA, gate 152 was EK to DXB, gate 154 was AF to CDG and the early BA flight to LHR was A380 at gate 156.
I returned to the lounge about 30 min prior to stated boarding time.
When I returned I was greeted by an SQ staff who said, " Mr Socalnow, I've been looking all over for you." Apparently the electrical socket in seat 4A is inoperative so she was apologizing and letting me know I could charge my devices in seat 1A. I asked about moving to 1A but unfortunately the bed in 1A was inop. There were no other spare window suites on this sector that she was aware of but that I may inquire at the gate. It's not really a big deal and I appreciated that they took the time to seek me out and let me know.
I went to the gate a bit early to inquire if anything had changed with the seating. I start explaining my situatio to the agent and I get another " Mr Socalnow, I've been looking for you. Here is your inviation to The Private Room. We neglected to give it to you at check in." OK, thanks. Nothing has changed with the seating so I will be split between 1A and 4A. Not a bad thing at all but seemingly every Singapore Airlines employee in LA felt compelled to apologize. The SQ manager assured me she had contacted staff at NRT to see if I could be moved on the NRT-SIN segment. I gave up trying explain that it's no big deal, but I very much appreciated the excellent customer service.
There was a slight delay in boarding but I and some other Suites passengers were invited into the boarding lobby to sit beyond the boarding pass scanners. After a few minutes we were escorted on board.
Boarding SQ Suites is such an delightful assault on your senses. There is the array of smiling faces at the door welcoming you, all of which somehow know your name already, clad in a rainbow of colors. The cabin itself is so visually stunning with high walls, refreshed seat coverings, and contrasting carpets.
The crew had already been briefed on the 1A/4A arrangement and apologized abundantly. I was really starting to feel self conscious. I was ecstatic with the arrangement of living room in 1A and bedroom in 4A. I mean the only reason this is an issue is my need to recharge my phone frequently so I can take a copious amount of pictures for the flight report!
I settled into 4A and was offered a beverage and reading materials.
The barrage of welcome gifts.
I took an opportunity to walk around during boarding.
The airplane registration.
The front office and break room.
The stairway from heaven…
The in-op bed in 1A.
The voluminous menu was distributed and reviewed.
We pushed from the gate and I take a peek at the neighbors.
Our taxi takes us to the north side of the field for a 24L departure.
After the seat belt sign is extinguished I use the lav to change into the pajamas. Many amenities are stocked in the lav rather than the amenity kit.
A nice view of the Channel Islands as the Krug is delivered.
A short commute to 1A to dine.
The table is immaculately set. I am not capable of refusing the SQ garlic bread.
Caviar to start. Such a special luxury and beautiful presentation, with vodka and Krug.
I selected the French onion soup as the next course. The broth was rich and flavorful. The cheesy crouton was, well, a cheesy crouton.
I asked if I might have one of the salmon starters, if they haven't been taken up. Of course this was accommodated. A rally tasty and sublime texture to this fish.
A simple but tasty plate of greens was served next.
Not being drawn to any of the mains, as is so often the case for me, I asked for a recommendation from the flight attendant. She indicated the cod would be her choice. So it was mine as well, and a good one. Paired with a gently oaked California Chardonnay.
The light bavarois dessert was OK. The Krug made another appearance.
Of course I'm not leaving until I receive my cheese. Served with a glass of port.
A wee dram to finish off the delightful dining experience.
While turn down was happening in 4A I went for a brief tour of the airplane.
Bed made, shades drawn, and doors closed I give in to the fatigue and booze and have a nice sleep.
I willed myself awake about 1:45 out of Narita. We were being pushed across the Pacific by the jet stream and the flight was going by much too fast. we're 1 hour ahead of schedule.
Arrangements were made for the second meal not because of hunger but for the joy of dining with this great airline.
The wine for lunch.
Asparagus and prosciutto salad.
The ribeye with black olive chimichurri. Very flavorful condiment and nicely cooked piece of beef.
Sinful bread pudding with chocolate ice cream and a cup of blue mountain.
Almost feet dry over the coast of Japan, one of my favorite sights in the world.
Setting up for 16R.
Past the Star Alliance lineup over an hour early.
Hold for the Thai A380 to push and free up our gate.
We park next to our sister ship. Normally my heart would be heavy leaving such a beautiful airplane and crew but not today. We will be reunited in a few hours.
Star Alliance Lounge First Class Section
Los Angeles - LAX
Tokyo - NRT
Thank you for joining me on the first leg of this journey. A ride in SQ Suites for the first leg of your trip sets the bar very high, and this Suites experience was nothing short of excellent.
The Ground Service: There is not a lot to the ground service from SQ at LAX. I will commend all of the staff that I encountered and how they were very proactive in dealing with the minor issue of the plug in 4A being inoperative.
The Lounge: The Star Alliance First Class Lounge at LAX is a completely adequate facility. Janet was a very nice host and made my stay memorable. The Business Class section including the outdoor terrace make for a great place to spend some time before a flight.
The Cabin: What can I say. She has aged gracefully as this now 10+ year old product is as fantastic as it was new. The suites are private, the bed is comfortable, the IFE is well stocked and displayed on a sharp screen. It's a decadent way to fly.
The Crew: Exceptional. Everyone knows your name before you arrive and it's used throughout the flight. The warmth of service is sincere. Conversations are natural and welcome. I'm always so very impressed with the quality of staff on SQ. I feel so spoiled in their care.
The Food and Beverage: I found all of the courses I indulged in were of good quality and flavor. Nothing stood out as exceptional but just very good. The beverage selection is remarkable and is beyond criticism.
Overall: So many airlines struggle with consistency. Even some of the premier carriers. Singapore Airlines is consistently excellent, not just good. It's impressive to behold and speaks to an organization that has a quality focus from top to bottom. Such a pleasure to fly with them.
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