Air France departs out of Changi Airport Terminal 1 in Singapore and flying with them in Economy class, I was able to gain access to the Dnata-operated lounge courtesy of Air France Flying Blue Gold. Gold members of Flying Blue is equivalent to the SkyTeam Elite Plus which grants flyers access to lounges when flying with a SkyTeam airline on international flights. They could bring one guest along too. This review will cover my experience in the lounge during one of my visit.
The Dnata lounge in Terminal 1 is located on the mezzanine or a floor above the common departure and arrival hall. It does not face the tarmac and instead have windows overlooking the check-in counters so it was a bit of walking to find it when arriving and visiting during a transit. The lounge is actually located behind the Popeye’s fried chicken restaurant if you do spot it from the main floor of the terminal.
Checking my entry requirements was fast with no other guests queueing early morning. In fact the lounge was quite empty in the morning around 6-7am. Upon entering the lounge, there was a small foyer with a few armchairs and some small tables, though it is probably not the best seats in the house with the foot traffic.
Turning left in the corner, there is a well-stocked magazine rack with the day’s newspapers and a good variety of magazines to keep guests occupied. In addition to the reading materials, there is a lounge wifi even though Changi Airport has a free wifi system. Using the lounge wifi allows guests to bypass the need to obtain a code from the Information counter or via an SMS message.
As I had just arrived from a red-eye flight, a refreshing wake-up would be nice. That meant checking out the shower rooms. Air France’s previous contract at the Skyview lounge did not have a very nice shower room though the Dnata lounge, being new, has several private bathrooms with walk-in showers that are very good. The only thing they seem to lack is a full set of bathroom amenities and toiletries, even though fresh towels and hair dryers are provided.
Being refreshed, it was time to have breakfast in the lounge before proceeding to my next flight. Breakfast was being served in the buffet counter and there is a relatively large dining section in the lounge just right outside the bathroom area.
There is a tall communal table with power ports for guests to work and eat at the same time and more dining tables with proper chairs. The atmosphere feels like a nice bistro cafe while the buffet counter lines the wall.
The buffet counter forms a link between the main lounge and the dining section with the coffee machines and tea counter located towards the lounge section.
Dnata seems to have invested a little bit into providing guests with good coffee, as it sources beans from Hudsons Coffee from Melbourne though the coffee I had was not as good as what I could get from the best cafes in my mind. They were still better than the coffee from average airline lounges though, so I was glad to see lounges investing a bit more in this aspect. After all, coffee and tea are probably the beverage enjoyed most by lounge guests, and they are cheaper to invest in that expensive top-end liquors.
Food-wise, the lounge gas the usual sandwiches, fruits, granola and pre-packed cereal on the buffet counter as it was breakfast time.
Cooked food includes waffles, ham, scrambled egg and fried noodles, making it a very good spread that should fill passengers up nicely before their flight.
There are also baked beans and some buns and dumplings in the dim sum steamer.
For vegetarian choices, there was yellow rice and vegetable curry as well. This is a food option geared for Indian guests since they form one segment of Singapore’s population, and a sizable community in Asia.
When I visited, the lounge was pretty empty aside from a couple of other guests. It could be the time of the day and that meant I had a lot of choices on seats after having a meal. The lounge armchairs are comfortable but with the lounge in a secluded section, the place is quite dark with not much natural light entering in. Couple that with the cool air conditioning, one can easily fall asleep. These new lounge chairs have nice solid slide-in tables and armrests cover for guests to place their coffee or tea cups or their tablets, giving it a modern feel to fit today’s travellers.
The quality of the finishing in the lounge is nice with plenty of seats for individual guests and groups. There are plenty of setups and a separate dining section, and this makes it less noisy for guests who just want to take a rest and read or work on their laptops. More variety of food and better amenities like the numerous shower rooms makes the Dnata lounge an upgrade from the old Skyview lounge that Air France used to send their passengers. The only thing I do miss would be the tarmac views and natural lighting from the old lounge.