In 2008, Singapore Airlines introduced their Suites Class, the most luxurious class of flying that is commercially available. The Suites were exclusive to their flagship Airbus A380, 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 came with a hefty price tag. With round-trip tickets costing up to S$23,000 (or US$18,400), it was 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.
It looks like a hotel lobby, and there’s even a bellhop who carries your luggage.
Interestingly enough, my suitcases were not even weighed. I suppose when you fly Suites, you can pack a luggage filled with rocks and get away with it.
Soon, I was in possession of The Golden Ticket.
Flying in the Suites also includes an invitation to The Private Room, which the staff was proud to say that it was “higher than first class”.
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.
Entering the confines of The Private Room, the staff greeted me by name. It’s like they all already knew me before even meeting me.
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.
…and the Baked Boston Lobster with Gruyere, Emmenthal and Cheddar.
…and also the U.S. Prime Beef Burger with Foie Gras, Rocket Leaf and Fried Quail Egg. Oh, and a Mango Smoothie too.
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.
I was escorted to my Suite.
I picked the middle suite, 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 onboard today?”
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.
As it turns out, he’s also the guy in the airline’s safety video.
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. 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 onboard the flight. Headphones from Bose, for example.
Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, which included a full-sized bottle of cologne.
Everything else was Givenchy: blankets, pillows, slippers and pajamas.
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 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. I figured since Zaf was so available to recommend me coffee and tea, I asked him, “can you recommend me a movie?”
Within the past 2 or 3 years, he has served Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freeman flying in Suites Class.
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.
As I settled in, supper service began. Having stuffed myself with three entrées back in the lounge, I wasn’t particularly hungry so I settled for a 5-course supper. For appetizer 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 appetizer, 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 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.
Zaf and a stewardess went about making the bed.
I don’t even know how to express this in words.
I needed a poet to describe how amazing this was.
I jumped into bed squealing like a little girl.
I 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 3 minutes without being intrusive or annoying. They would just briskly walk past you with quick glance.
I paid a visit to the restroom to change into the pajamas provided. It’s a restroom, what were you expecting?
There’s a seat that folds down that’s actually more comfortable than most Economy Class seats.
And henceforth, I slept. Well, not on the toilet of course.
When I woke up, I saw the clock 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 AM 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.
I had the Lobster Thermidor with Buttered Asparagus, Slow-roasted Vine-ripened Tomato, and Saffron rice.
And dessert, which I can’t remember what it was.
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.
The single bed is plenty spacious on its own.
Waking up, I was immediately presented with the second meal I pre-ordered through Book the Cook.
U.S. 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. 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.
About The Author: Derek Low is an engineer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Tripboard and Learnyard, two companies you never heard of. 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, The Guardian and TechCrunch. He tries to forget about the poor headline placement he had in The New Paper. Derek was named in Business Insider’s 9 Most Poachable College Students in Tech and was TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006.
Derek grew up in Singapore. He served in the military as a chemical weapons and bomb disposal specialist. Thankfully, he is having a better time now in California, where he studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley. In his free time, Derek enjoys adventure travel and has been to more than 50 countries. He knows how stupid writing a third-person bio of himself can be. Visit his website here.
(All words and photographs provided by Derek Low, used with permission.)