We did it by redeeming our miles (here’s how to do it – though some of the info is outdated), because we couldn’t afford to pay full price for it. It was awesome, although I felt like a kid who had sneaked into a cocktail party for millionaires – like I wasn’t supposed to be there.
Now, here’s the thing: I hate reading “influencer” posts with beautiful, filtered pictures of their VIP experiences with captions like “The perfect place to catch up on my reading” #blessed #wanderlust #sponsored. Social media has become a total bragfest to make us feel bad about our normal lives.
Still, we don’t get to experience luxury often. When we do get a chance, we should be able to fully appreciate it with gratitude. I wanted to share how I felt experiencing luxury from the eyes of a wide-eyed newbie, with all the excitement and awkwardness that comes along with it.
It’s tough to make it concrete without sharing some examples and pictures. But if it really annoys you, feel free to skip to the last section titled “With Joy And Gratitude”.
I’m not gonna give a blow-by-blow account of our Suites experience because there are already enough of those out there (See here, here and here). But here are some highlights that I’m especially grateful for. Forgive my terrible pictures – this is why I’ll never be cool enough to join Faves Asia.
On The Ground
Changi Airport has an entire lounge with a dedicated driveway just to check you in. It seems like an awful waste of space and manpower, since the check-in process literally takes 1 minute. The check-in lounge is humongous – about the size of a large restaurant – and completely empty. Does anyone actually sit in those chairs? We feel tempted to sit there for 15 minutes so that Singapore Airlines doesn’t feel bad about spending all that rent for nothing.
We get to The Private Room, which is a lounge for Suite passengers within the First Class lounge. As the Shutterwhale puts it, it’s “a lounge within a lounge”. Very meta.
The Private Room feels like a classy Disneyland, and at this point we are hopping around and giggling like little kids because we’re so excited. We’re not the only unclassy ones – we spot a rich-looking passenger playing with his phone, his leg hanging off his armrest, showing off his crotch to everyone walking in. Nice.
The lounge staff are totally understanding and friendly. We chat with them and tell them we’re on our honeymoon, and they give us a smile that says, “Awww you guys are such n00bs that it’s cute.” They even hand us back our Private Room passes so we can take the mandatory photo of it with our boarding passes. Because that’s what millennials do when we travel, right?
We’re seated in the dining room, and the waitress asks us whether we’d like still or sparkling water. This time, I don’t have to do that thing where I go, “Just tap water please” because I don’t want to accidentally end up with an $9 bottle of still water. We get a can of Perrier and I take a sip. I still have no idea why anyone would pay money for this.
We also order some Charles Heidsieck champagne. Not because we know our champagnes but because that’s what The Shutterwhale likes so it must be good.
The food arrives. I have a tomato soup, satay, lobster wanton mee, and chocolate ice cream, all of which are amazing. I keep making little moaning sounds while eating it. My wife gets really excited by the somen, because she loves carbs.
As we’re leaving the lounge, we get a nice little surprise: The lounge manager has arranged a buggy to take us to our gate. This is awesome – I’ve never sat on a buggy before. We clamber on like 2 little kids on a merry-go-round, much to the buggy driver’s amusement. I took a video of how fast it moves, which is too embarrassing to post up here. Also, it’s very cold when you’re travelling at that speed. I think I sneezed a couple of times.
The Onboard Experience
Boarding is my favourite part of any flight. There’s a nice anticipatory buzz in the air. The crew are welcoming and cheerful.
We get to our Suite and I close my eyes, smile, and sink slowly into my chair, like a cheesy OSIM ad. We booked the 2 middle seats, since they can be combined into a couple suite at takeoff. It feels kind of surreal, like looking in a mirror. My wife and I do that thing where we pretend that we are mirror images of each other.
We spend the next 20 minutes or so fiddling around with the seat and exclaiming, “This is so cool!” at every tiny detail. I’m especially appreciative because I know how much trouble it takes to install even a single feature on an airline seat. Say you want to install a hidden vanity mirror. You have to design it, make sure that it’s optimised for a small space, get approval for the design, make sure it’s safe, get it certified by the aviation authorities, manufacture it, install it, and a billion other tasks that I’m sure I’m missing out.
We each get a Ferragamo bag of toiletries (there are different ones for each gender), noise-cancelling Bose headphones, and a set of pyjamas. The stewardess asks me what size I’d like, but suggests, “You look like a ‘Large’”. I know that I’m probably a Medium, but I take the Large anyway because she was probably saving the limited Medium sets for the other passengers who will throw a fit if they don’t get PJs their size.
I give the crew a box of biscuits we bought at the airport. Airline crew have one of the hardest jobs in the world, so we wanted to do something nice for them. They spend so much time doing stuff for other people, but hardly anyone does anything for them. I hand the biscuits to Andy, the Chief Steward, and for the rest of the flight, we had different crew members coming up to thank us. You’d think that we gave them gold bars instead of a measly box of biscuits.
Pre-flight, Andy asks us whether we’d like the Krug or the Dom. We have no idea what we like, so we ask for a glass each. Andy spends the next 5 minutes explaining the subtle differences of each champagne. It sounds really sophisticated, but I have no idea what he’s talking about so I just nod politely and ask safe, generic questions like “Soooo which do you prefer?”
Next, we had food. I had salmon, duck wanton soup, prawn noodles, and a strawberry shortcake. Fun fact about airline food: There’s no kitchen onboard, so everything is cooked at the SATS Inflight Catering Centre, frozen, and then reheated on the aircraft. Also, our tastebuds are desensitised at that altitude. That’s why being able to eat something that’s actually delicious is mind-blowing, given all the constraints they have.
After supper, we asked the crew to help us convert our seats into a bed. It’s a tough process – a lot of heaving and pulling and laying of linens. The bed turned out to be really comfy and private. When you shut the Suite doors, the whole area looks like a hotel room. I pretend that I’m in a rocket capsule flying through outer space.
My wife is really happy to sleep on a flat bed.
I don’t sleep much on flights, but this time I slept for about 4 hours which was a record for me. I spend the rest of the time watching Pitch Perfect 2 for the 11th time, because it’s the best movie in the world.
After breakfast, our crew gives us a surprise. They’ve prepared a couple of gifts because it’s our honeymoon: A teddy bear, a rose folded from kebaya cloth, eyeshades with hearts on it (“To do your part for nation-building!”), a hand-written card, and fairy lights. Really amazing, given that we didn’t tell them it was our honeymoon until the flight took off, which meant they had somehow gathered all those resources from the aircraft.
When the time came for us to land, we were really, really sad to have to leave. But it was a heckuva experience.
With Joy And Gratitude
I’ve always advocated that luxury experiences aren’t only for millionaires. With a few smart strategies, we CAN hack our way towards them.
But more importantly, it’s HOW we experience these special events that makes all the difference. We have a choice:
- Play it cool like you’ve done it a thousand times before, and expect everyone around you to be your slaves
- With childlike excitement and gratitude that you got to experience this little piece of joy
None of us “deserve” to have these experiences. Just because we paid for it or used our miles, doesn’t mean that we’re “better” than anyone else in any way. Instead, we simply stumbled upon a particular set of circumstances that got us here.
My wife and I are insanely grateful that we got to fly on Suites. That’s why we weren’t ashamed to experience it like kids in a candy store. That’s why we shared our joy with the service staff who made this journey possible.
Many people grow up, get rich, and get accustomed to things they once considered as luxuries. They’re on a never-ending hedonic treadmill where they’re always searching for the next big pleasure.
We don’t want that to happen to us. We don’t want to expect luxuries as if they were norms. But when we are fortunate enough to have wonderful experiences like these, we want to experience them with as much joy and gratitude as possible.