Wahhabalinese Adventures 1: Singapore, part 2

The plane touched down at 5:00 AM and rolled up to the gate at Terminal 3 at 5:05 AM. Changi was quiet, and I was through immigration and customs and inside a taxi by 5:15. By 5:30, I’d reached home and by 6 AM I was showered and in bed.

At 11 AM, my alarm clock rang, and I ran off for an hour of errands and came back just in time to see Z climbing out of a taxi with her rollaboard. Tomorrow was her birthday, and I’d booked award flights to Bali for us in economy… or so she thought.

– Let’s go to the airport a little early — they’ve got champagne in the lounge.
– Really? They didn’t have any last time.
– Ah, but this is a different lounge, in T3…
– Great, let’s go!

We hailed a cab to the airport and stepped inside the departures hall of T3, where I fiddled a bit with one of the self-service machines before realizing that its poor little brain couldn’t handle checking both of us in at the same time. Off to the desk then, where the clerk first told me we’d have to go to T2 but changed his mind after I glared at him, and then I passed Z her boarding card with a flourish.

– Ta-dah! Happy birthday.
– Huh? Err, gee, thanks.
– Um, look at it more carefully…
– Huh? What’s wrong?
– This. <points at “Business Class” text>

And into T3’s arrival hall, where I was impressed by the high ceiling and Z was impressed by the outlets of Brewerkz and the Fullerton Hotel’s Post Bar. Signage to the SilverKris lounge was a little lacking, but we eventually found it, turned left towards the Business side, and, well, damn. It was my first time here as well, and it’s posh, it’s huge, and it’s great: finally a SQ flagship lounge that can compete with the likes of BKK, NRT and ICN. Unlike the single row of food over at the KrisFlyer Gold lounge, the SilverKris lounge has an entire room (hall?) devoted to soups, salads, Western and Asian entrees and, of course, a bottle of Charles Heidsieck’s finest on ice. Z was so taken with the miniature bottles of balsamico and olive oil dressing that she borrowed one to take home, but as we had a full-fledged Business Class meal on the plane coming up, we limited our calorie intake to a healthy selection of rabbit food. The one little touch I missed from the T2 SilverKris lounge was the dedicated bar complete with bartender, but hey, pouring our own glasses of champagne wasn’t too big a deal.

All too soon it was time to head out and across to Terminal 2 by Skytrain, and once paradisiacal T2 now looked small, cramped and scruffy in comparison. Poor Z was feeling distinctly nervous by now: it was her first time in Business Class, and while in the lounge everybody else was businesslike and serious, dressed in power suits or conservative dresses, I was in a T-shirt and she in a tank-top and sarong wraparound. To the gate, through security and the boarding scrum, and then the lovely feeling of turning left into Door A…


Wahhabalinese Adventures 1: Singapore

Unusually enough, I was looking forward to the airport more than the flight itself: this marked my first visit to the spanking new Singapore Changi Terminal 3, officially opened just a week earlier. Aviation geek that I am, I’d already had a sneak peek in the pre-opening “open house”, but this was my first time venturing into airside.

Flights to Dubai actually leave from T2, not T3, but the automated check-in kiosk had no complaints and soon enough I was through the space-age Departures portal. And wow: it’s really airy and spacious inside. The greenery isn’t quite as evident as landside though, with glass, steel and duty-free shopping dominating the show. I beelined for the “Krisflyer Gold Lounge” on the second level, where the poor guardian lady puzzled for a few minutes over my SAS gold card and admittedly rather lengthitudinous full name, painstakingly scribbling them out with pencil on paper and triple-checking the result.

On first sight, the lounge looks small, but actually it’s not: the seating area behind the entry desk is only about a fifth or less of the entire lounge. Soup, salad, rice, a main course, and a selection of desserts were available, along with a small self-serve bar and Tiger beer on tap. Most of the lounge is (how to describe this?) “almost-outside”, with no roof other than the top canopy and partial views of the tarmac due to the shades in the way. Comfy chairs, free wifi, a somewhat less than generous distribution of power points, a couple of PCs and a respectable selection of newspapers completed the offerings, and it’s fair to say that this will be my lounge of choice at SIN as long as I have some time to spare.

And how much time to spare, you say? Well, I experimentally determined that you need at least 10-15 minutes extra to get to T2. There are actually two separate Skytrain routes connecting the two, one at the north end (B-E) and one at the south (A-F), with the lounges are closer to the south end (A gates). However, my gate today was E28, literally at the last extremity of T2 right before T1 starts, and in retrospect it would have been faster to go to T1 and cross it on foot! But no, I ended up taking the longest possible way: walk to the A gate, Skytrain across to T2 F gates, walk across from F to the E area, and then the interminable walk from E20 all the way to E28.

A few more T3 pictures for those interested, mostly taken at the open house: http://jpatokal.iki.fi/photo/travel/Singapore/Changi-T3/