Fascinating India: SQ Regional First Class to Singapore

Singapore Airlines plies the SIN-CGK route up to 9 times daily with the routes being served mainly by Boeing 777s in a regional configuration (aka old configuration). This is probably one of the routes I have flown in numerous times, and I have taken it in Economy Class, Business Class but never in their First Class. This flight would complete the ‘trilogy’.

SQ953 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK – Singapore Changi SIN
STD-STA: 0825-1100
Actual: 0836-1050
Boeing 777-200 9V-SQF
Gate D7 Seat 1F

SQ Check-in at Jakarta Airport
SIA check-in counters at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta airport

As I departed from the hotel early, I arrived early and proceeded to a relatively empty check-in area. I was met with a surprise as I discovered SIA will allow passengers to use the Premier check in lanes with a dedicated immigration counter and direct access to the lounge. There was no problem in tagging my bags all the way to Delhi and I was provided with both boarding passes with the ‘First Class’ logo emblazoned at the top. There was ‘First’ baggage tags as well that ensures my bags would be first to come off the belt.

Premier Check-in at Soekarno-Hatta
Premier check-in at Soekarno-Hatta

One problem with the Premier check-in facilities is that SIA uses the Esplanade lounge which is opposite the lounge that is linked to the check-in lanes, thus there was an agent waiting to direct us. In addition, there was a queue for the immigration. I should have just used the electronic kiosk which might have been faster, but this would entail the need to walk around the terminal. Choices, and indeed a first world problem to have. The good part is perhaps the privacy that the Premier check-in offers and the shorter walk without having to pass through the numerous duty free shops.

SQ First Boarding Passes and Lounge Invite
SQ First boarding passes and lounge invite
Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge
Singapore Airlines First class lounge entrance

Feeling excited, I headed right to the First class section of the lounge which seems to offer similar choices of food like the business class lounge but it does have upgraded seats in the form of ‘Stressless’ loungers. I got myself some breakfast and coffee to start the day since I did not have any breakfast at the hotel earlier on.

Lounge Food at Jakarta
Breakfast in the lounge

I proceed to the gate a little while after the boarding announcement was made and there was some queue for security but fortunately it went by fast. Boarding has not yet started and they are just preparing for the elderly and families first. However I was one of the first passengers to board next as I wanted to get some photos of the cabin but the other passengers were just too fast. The usual greetings by the stewards and I placed my luggage in the overhead bins and relaxed in the seat which is in a 2-2-2 configuration.

First Class Recliner Seat

Once seated, the usual procedure onboard every premium flight onboard SIA takes place, starting from the welcome drinks, hot towels, newspapers and magazines. The crew does all these with a smile and that makes for a pleasant start to the flight. There was a short queue for take-off and definitely faster than usual in Jakarta (or maybe because I am much more comfortable up front now that it feels the time goes faster).

As we attained cruising altitude, the crew went into action immediately by handing out menus for the flight. The menu for this morning flight read as follows:

Breakfast | From Jakarta to Singapore

Juices
A choice of apple, tomato or freshly squeezed orange juice

Fruit
Fresh fruit plate

Wholesome Beginnings
Beef rendang
A popular Singaporean dish of spicy braised beef with vegetables in coconut gravy and turmeric rice

Pan roasted garoupa with tomato-caper sauce, sauteed garlic buttered baby carrots, asparagus, yellow zucchini and parsley potatoes

Poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, chicken sausage, tomato and polenta

From the bakery
Assorted breakfast rolls
Butter, jam, marmalade or honey

Hot Beverages
A selection of gourmet coffees & fine teas

I picked the beef rendang for the meal and the meal was definitely better than that in Business class since I did finish more of it. Though I still prefer the book-the-cook offerings out of Singapore which is to be expected as catering out of an airline’s home hub would usually be better. I did enjoy the really fresh orange juice onboard First Class though and that for me sets the difference between First and Business.

Fruit Plate Appetizer
Fruit plate and freshly squeezed orange juice
Beef Rendang Meal
Beef rendang

During the meal I also opted for a cup of coffee since I really like even the standard brewed coffee in Singapore Airlines’ premium classes. In fact I think Singapore Airlines serve a better cup of coffee than Starbucks if that means anything.

Cup of Coffee
Gourmet coffee onboard Singapore Airlines

After the meal, I just took the time to recline the chair and try it out for comfort. Generally there was not much of a difference except for the width and upholstery colour compared to the Business class seats in this regional configuration. I spent the rest of the flight resting and reading the inflight magazine and look forward to the inflight entertainment on offer for this month.

Regional First Class Cabin
SIA regional First class cabin

Given the short timing of this flight, many might wonder why Singapore Airlines even bothers with a 3 class service, but the secret lies in the fact that many Indonesians prefer SIA which provides multiple connections to destinations in Australia, North Asia, Europe and North America as compared to flying on Garuda Indonesia which has less global coverage and was beset with operational problems until its recent rejuvenation. With the level of service that SIA has maintained in Indonesia with a more or less dedicated lounge and added frequencies, I would still prefer to fly them for long distance flights. Next up would be a review covering The Private Room, the exclusive lounge for passengers flying First Class on Singapore Airlines.

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