The world’s largest airplane, the Airbus A380. The world’s best airline, Singapore Airlines. The world’s best first class service, a suite that converts into a double bed. A first class lounge that serves lobster and crisp glasses of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. A complimentary service that provides retired pro wrestlers to physically carry first class passengers on to the plane. Jake the Snake for me. Ted DiBiase for Ariane.
What did we do to deserve this?!?
Ok, the part about the pro wrestlers didn’t happen, but the rest of it did. Let’s just say that our transition from Asia to Europe was…memorable. It all started in the taxi ride to the airport.
The driver slammed the brakes and asked in a high-pitched voice,
“You’re first class?!”
Throughout the ride, our Singaporean driver, in fantastic english, discussed the growing economy, the multi-cultural influences in the country, and the possibility of hosting the Olympics one day. He was a proud man. As we neared the airport he pointed to a service road running parallel to the highway: a VIP quick lane for dignitaries. He said he’s only driven a VIP once, a “foreign minister of some sort.”
At the entrance of the international terminal Singapore Airlines has a curb-side first class check-in. The taxi driver pointed to it and said, “That’s for first class passengers,” as he drove passed it. “Oh, that’s us!” The driver slammed the brakes and asked in a high-pitched voice, “You’re first class?!” As he was backing the taxi into oncoming traffic, we answered with a sort of embarrassed tone, “Yeah, but we’re not VIP, I promise, we’re not VIP, we don’t get a police escort in the special lane like the foreign minister, we’re not VIP.”
The rest of this story thoroughly contradicts the statement: We’re not VIP.
Drinking free cocktails in a quiet room that smells of rich mahogany.
The first class check-in looks like a hotel lobby. Service agents sit behind a desk and invite passengers to have a seat while they clack at the keyboard and scan passports. It’s efficient, professional, and comfortable, if a bit impersonal. Next, we were escorted to the priority immigration desk where a specialist greeted us with a big smile. Now, when I say priority immigration, I mean the only people that can access this lane are first class passengers. There was no queue and the process took 35 seconds. We were officially no longer in Singapore.
Across from priority immigration in Terminal 3, the newest and most sparkling terminal at Changi Airport, is the Singapore Airlines lounge. If you’ve never had the luck of waiting for your plane in an airport lounge, it’s the difference between waiting in a shitty, plasticky-blue chair next to a guy that thinks nose-picking is a spectator sport and drinking free cocktails in a quiet room that smells of rich mahogany.
In the lounge, we walked past the business class area…past the first class area…into a special area called The Private Room for Suites Class passengers only — it’s kind of like when there’s a VIP room in the VIP room at a dance club. The lounge was big, airy, and well-lit. The leather chairs were oversized and overstuffed. We selected two seats, freaked out, ordered a glass of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, freaked out, and then freaked out again.
Our flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until almost midnight, so we decided to sample the menu. There was a separate area configured like a five-star restaurant that could seat up to fifty people. We ordered another glass of champagne and a bordeaux, dumplings, lobster, and chilean sea bass. Did I mention that all of this is free?
I answered like the Gentleman of Leisure I am,
“I’ll take a glass of the Dom Pérignon, please.”
The lounge slowly filled up with passengers. One woman was wearing a red sequin flapper dress and bright red lipstick. A guy snored so loudly that he cleared out the middle third of the lounge. I know what you want to ask and the answer is no, there were no celebrities in The Private Room on this night.
As boarding time came and our excitement grew, we checked with the lounge attendant to see if we should leave for the gate. Her answer was simply stated, “Not yet. You should let the rest of the passengers board while you enjoy the lounge. The plane will wait for you.” The plane will wait for us? Um, ok.
Finally, after nearly an hour of boarding, the attendant told us it was time. We practically ran to the plane. I mean, the flight board showed that boarding was closing. They’re going to leave without us!
We got an escort from the gate to the front of the plane where the head purser (the lead flight attendant) greeted us and showed us to our seats: 3A and 3B, the middle seats. After taking my jacket, the attendant asked us if we’d like a beverage prior to take off. “Champagne?” I asked. “Two excellent choices: the Dom Pérignon 2004 Vintage and Krug Grande Cuvée.” I answered like the Gentleman of Leisure I am, “I’ll take a glass of the Dom Perignon, please.” But in my head I was shouting, “Gimme some Dom Peeeeeeeeee!” and hoping he would bring out the bottle topped with a sparkler spewing pyrotechnics throughout the cabin.
Did you know that when you fly first class you’re given an “amenity kit” that includes a toothbrush, eye mask, ear plugs, and pajamas?! Singapore Airlines must have partnered with Salvatore Ferragamo because my kit came with some cologne and face cream by the Italian brand. What’s the saying…The rich get richer. Yeah.
About 30 minutes after take-off dinner service began. I ordered the foie gras as an appetizer; Ariane got the caviar. If I was a foodie I would maybe detail the intricacy of the interaction between the foie gras and the chives. But I’m not a foodie, I had consumed two glasses of champagne in 15 minutes, and it was 1:30am. Let’s just say the food was good. For dinner I went with the steak and Ariane ordered the lobster. Again, the food was good. Though I guess I should apologize for minimizing the fact that we ate such lavish food on an airplane. Sorry.
The whole evening leads up to this point. You see, I’ve read for two years about an incredible feature that Singapore Airlines provides on their First Class Suites product: the double-bed. The two middle seats convert into a double-bed. A freaking double-bed 35,000 feet in the air.
I stole all of the covers!
After changing into our pajamas (made by Givenchy), we returned from the bathroom to the crew applying the finishing touches to our seat-converted-to-bed. And what’s the first thing I did when I jumped into bed? I stole all of the covers! Just like at home.
Then there’s this: it’s called First Class Suites because the seat is a freaking suite, as in, the seat has a door, or, more accurately, a sliding french door. Closing that door has to be the simplest luxury I’ve ever experienced on an airplane.
It was at this point that Ariane and I looked at each other, the biggest smiles our faces could withstand, and started to giggle. Is this real? Can reading a few blogs about the Points Game and using credit cards strategically turn into this: Champagne, caviar, lobster, a freaking bed in the sky?? Unbelievable.
Six hours of sleep later, breakfast was served. While tearing into some scrambled eggs I turned on the television and watched 22 Jump Street. C’mon, who can resist Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill?
Ok, in this part of the story I think it’s best to describe the breakfast as the former chef turned rapper, Action Bronson:
The coffee was that tasty Blue Mountain, served like warrant papers. The tomatoes were more heirloom than Aunt Betty’s bullshit necklace she got from the co-op. And the sausage, man, the saw-seeeeg. It’s that perfect rationing of pig guts encased in more pig guts and warmed to 35 degrees centigrade. F*ck, that’s delicious!
Is there an Aston Martin waiting to transport us
to our little apartment in Montmartre?
As we touched down at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris the attendant handed us a little blue piece of paper: a pass for the immigration fast lane. When does it stop? When does the VIP experience stop? Is there an Aston Martin waiting to transport us to our little apartment in Montmartre? Will I be handed a personal invite from Tony Parker to play pickup basketball with him and Boris Diaw? Will Jean Dujardin perform a little, one-off silent play at baggage claim?
Alas, there would be no Aston Martin, Tony Parker, or Jean Dujardin. We gathered our bags, rode the train into the city, and disappeared into the most beautiful winter day Paris could’ve possibly given us.
To say that this was the flight of a lifetime is an understatement. I won’t ever own a Ferrari or “summer in the Hamptons,” but we did fly first class from Singapore to Paris.
We may not be VIP, but we sure felt like it for a day.
In my Sunday Interview this week I’ll spend some time talking about how I booked such an amazing flight. And how you could, too.
Follow the rest of Mike and Ariane’s journey at SomewherePrettyCool.com.