Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I plan to share a series of flights that provided a chance to try several First Class products and lounges that were new to me and also enjoy some familiar but fantastic experiences along the way. A while back I had enough Krisflyer miles in my account to wait list for SQ25. This is a tough nut to crack for us mere mortals. (Rewardflying uses Jedi mind tricks to secure space on a whim.) I went about searching the SQ award engine for the rest of the year and wait listed on the only 4 dates (that could possibly work with my schedule) where even wait listing was available. I wait listed for both JFK-FRA and JFK-SIN. Fast forward several months and the magic email arrives telling me I have 48 hours to confirm my booking but only on the JFK-FRA segment. I'll take it!
If I'm going to be in FRA and flying Star Alliance I will all too sad not to drop in on my German friends and their spectacular lounges. The problem is I cannot book LH F through Krisflyer until space opens two weeks prior to departure. This date would come after my 48 hour window to book SQ. In comes the trusty Star Alliance member Asiana and their ever present F availability. I booked JFK-FRA-ICN on SQ and OZ as a place holder until LH comes calling. The SQ change fees are so very minimal it was worth it to me to have something. Worst case scenario is 10 hours in an OZ A380 suite. Concurrently I place flight alerts on Expert Flyer for just about every LH flight heading east form either FRA or MUC. The two week window arrives and the emails start flying in. Well, not really. FRA-PEK, FRA-PVG and, most interesting to me, MUC-PVG all offer O class space. Munich piques my interest as I have never done LH F from there and I know they have a new F lounge as well as a remodeled F lounge. Oh and expert Flyer was showing F8 for MUC-PVG.
I can't leave the table while I'm up so I start looking for where to go after PVG on this ticket. I would like to get to Tokyo but the connections don't work without an 8 hour wait. International to International MCT at PVG is 2 ours, just FYI so the other options didn't allow enough time. What about Osaka? I do like Osaka a great deal for night time food and adult beverage consumption. Plus, it's closer to Tokyo… Great, let's add PVG-KIX and book this thing! The Krisflyer rep on the phone had me hold to verify this was a legal routing but I'm confident. Shortly I have an email confirming JFK-FRA-MUC-PVG-KIX. What fun!
Now to get to JFK. I had a little snafu, you may have read about, with a ticket issued by American Airlines. Due to a date error i wasn't able to use it when I expected. I think I will try to use these miles/ticket to get to JFK. Then, in a somewhat miracle fashion, the points blogosphere blows up with news of AA releasing a lot of F and J space on the LAX-JFK transcon routes. Normally this is none. OK, this was meant to be. I look up my date and low and behold it's there. F space from LAX-JFK that fits perfectly. A call to AA and a super agent even waived all the fees. She siad technically I'm upgrading to a higher class of service so she can waive the change fee on the award ticket. Never mind that the city pairs had changed… I had to kick in 20k extra miles but i was excited to try the new AA F experience with new lounges and dining.
There is now one hole. TYO-LAX. I suppose you know how that ends. ANA of course. My favorite redemption, for 110k Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, I booked NRT-LAX-NRT with the outbound to complete this mission and the return to begin another adventure in November. Enough talk, let's fly.
Behold the visual representation courtesy of gcmap.com:
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
Yes, Singapore Airlines offers mobile boarding passes via their smart phone app as many airlines do, but thee is no substitute for the golden ticket. So I stopped at the counter to collect one.
Before going upstairs to the lounge I stop by the gate to get a look at the aircraft and gate setup.
The Clubhouse is one level up from departures.
I find a fairly crowded lounge on my arrival. Many of the prime window seats are occupied. I have a walk around and then settle on a seat in the dining room as I have yet to have lunch.
I am quickly welcomed and offered a drinks list and menu. Brekkie.
Coffee and Tea.
Clubhouse signature serves.
Clubhouse signature serves continued.
Employees only cocktails.
Employees only cocktails continued.
immersive digital adventure (ida).
immersive digital adventure (ida) continued.
It's a beautifully curated list of food and beverages. The cocktails are especially interesting to me. :) I have to put off the server a couple of times as I am overwhelmed trying to figure out what to order. She is very patient and has a fun attitude so i don't think I'm putting her out too much.
I opt to start with the Fennel From Farm To Glass. I feel like a hipster douche for even saying it out loud. It's from The Walker Inn in LA so I think of it as a home town cocktail. Despite the pretentious name it's a lovely drink.
Never to drink without food Mom would always say. The Reuben croquettes and the fried squid. I LOVE the small portions. More tastes! These were both fantastic in flavor and texture.
Next up the Go-To. Floral with a nice ginger bite. It wasn't my favorite.
Vegetable gyoza. Soft dumpling skin and flavorful filling. Another winner.
The Nikkei Chilcano. Winner, winner. Chili infused vodka sour citrus and again the spice fo ginger. My kind of drink.
One final bite, the salmon toast. Beautiful, light, and scrumptious.
The food and beverage here is so very good. I can't help but wonder why there are any London bound passengers over in T7 in that absolute dump of a BA lounge. Yes, yes, I understand the network breadth and corporate contracts. It's just such a shocking disparity in product.
I have a walk around the lounge in search of a better seat.
The first wave of VS flights have been called for boarding so I upgrade to a comfy window seat with an A330 view.
I have a look in one of the shower suites.
I while away the last few minutes in this fantastic lounge with a nice cappuccino.
Boarding for SQ25 is called so I finish my coffee and eventually depart this beautiful facility. I'm a little tardy arriving at A7 and they are well into boarding economy. I pass through the Suites boarding line and I am greeted by name (guess I'm last to board, sorry, but have you been to the Clubhouse?). i am assigned an escort and she proceeds to take my roll aboard and asks me to follow her. She works us past and through the large queue clogging the Jetway and on to the aircraft. Wow, awkward but fantastic service.
It has been a while since I have flown with SQ in Suites or otherwise so It was a very warm feeling to be back on board with them. After some greeting formalities I am shown to suite 1F.
I like the private location of row one. With the laves behind the suites cabin there is very little traffic up here. The seat (and suite) is well know, especially in the dental profession, but still attractive and welcoming.
In an odd example of cost cutting SQ will no longer open alcohol on the ground so water is my PDB. Amenities are abundant as well.
I pop into the lav before the door closes to change into the lounge wear. It's a different color but the design is the same. It's very comfortable and will actually come in handy as a base layer in frigid Osaka later in the trip. I hear teh doors closed announcement fromt eh lav so i hurry back to my seat as we start to push.
Soon we reach 10,000 feet and the seatbelt sign comes off and the crew bounds into action. My meal and initial beverage choice were determined on the ground.
Some very special Champagne to start.
I will be my first time enjoying a vintage Krug.
Apparently 2004 was a good harvest.
Oh this is nice. The wine is balanced and well-structured. I think knowing that it's rare adds to my appreciation. Yes, I'm that shallow.
Suffering from extreme contentness. See a doctor if it lasts more than a 7 hour trans-Atlantic crossing.
No neighbors in 1A or 1F.
I didn't take any pictures of the massive menu or wine list, apologies. I pre-ordered a braised short rib through book the cook.
Krug time was brief. After a single refill I was given the lamentable news that there was no more. Whatever will we do?
With the beverage crisis sorted the table is laid for dinner. No satay on this flight.
I opt to start with the caviar. Duh.
A luscious tomato soup is offered next. Yes, please.
The salad features pears, endive, blue cheese, and pine nuts. It's fantastic.
The braised short rib main. It's very sexy beef. Unfortunately the beauty didn't run deep with this dish as it was ratehr tough and dry. I only managed a couple of bites. It's too much anyway. Of course I had to assure the flight attendant that it was OK. She offered to bring any of the other dishes on the menu but there is no need. It seems they take it personally when you are not a fan of any of the service.
A 2007 Margaux shall ride with this cow tonight.
Can we pull back on the thrust here? I still have cheese and dessert!
Speaking of the cheese. It was very beautiful with the 2007 Chateau Rauzan-Segla.
Well, we've come this far, let's see the "Gotham Black" or something to that effect. I could only manage a taste. It's not beautiful but it was tasty.
Despite the full cabin I found the service met the usual high SQ bar. I'm offered some coffee or tea and I opt for some chamomile. It's offered with more food, of course.
The bed is assembled and I button up the suite for nap time.
It's still a good size bed.
Water bottle distributed.
Slow down already. Germany isn't going anywhere.
I sleep until I am gently stirred, per my request, for breakfast. Really just for the report.
The bed is reversed.
The table is set and i enjoy some fruits and a cup of Blue Mountain over southern England.
As if it were a dream, the flight is over.
Virgin Atlantic Virgin Clubhouse
New York - JFK
Frankfurt - FRA
The Ground Service: I have to hand it to the young lady who navigated us through the boarding line down to the 1L Jetway. Oh, and SQ is part of TSA Pre-check now, so that's good.
The Lounge: The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse is one of my favorite lounges in the world, full stop. The fact that it's a Business Class lounge is astonishing. The food and beverage is thoughtful and the service is spot on everywhere in the facility.
The Cabin: Suites were revolutionary 10 years ago. They are still very good. The bed is long and there is space to achieve just about any sleeping position.
The Crew: It was a full cabin and a short night flight so the opportunities for banter were fewer. Still, everyone I encountered was warm, friendly, and provided exceptional service. Everything the SQ brand is synonymous with.
The Food and Beverage: Hard to find fault in vintage Krug Champagne and caviar. Yes the main dish was not to my liking. so deduct there.
Overall: Short of chartering your own aircraft i don't think there is a batter way to cross the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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