The joint Qantas-British Airways lounge in Singapore serves the Kangaroo Route flights between Europe and Australia, as well as Singapore flights from oneworld partner airlines.
Singapore is Qantas' main southeast Asian hub, so I was expecting a showcase lounge.
I was travelling on BA from Singapore to London on a Wednesday evening and, with no late check-out available at my hotel, arrived at the lounge several hours earlier than necessary to wait for my flight, hoping to get some work done.
Location & Impressions
The lounge sits above the departures level inside Terminal 1, which is the terminal that most airlines (and all oneworld airlines) use in Singapore. It's well-signed from the customs checkpoint, up an escalator and along a small corridor.
On first glance, it was hard to tell that there was any British Airways influence in the lounge at all: the staff wore Qantas uniforms, the seating and interior design was straight out of the Qantas handbook, and the wine was Australian.
Really, the only nod to Britishness was the availability of a respectable selection of British newspapers and magazines.
Inside the lounge, there are four main seating areas: a leather lounge area on the far left that also contains a half dozen or so Dell computers, a central seating area with more computers and a sort of "laptop buffet" area with stools where you can perch with your computer in the middle, and a third sofa area to the right on the way to the showers, which also contains the food and drink section.
Anyone flying Qantas Business Class or British Airways Club World can get into the lounge, as can oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers (that's Qantas Gold tier members) if flying on a oneworld airline.
Passengers with business class oneworld airline flights from Singapore can also use the lounge.
The food options were impressive, with a frequently refreshed and changing selection of sandwiches, pizza, pasta, noodles, cakes, and jars of bar snacks. Passengers with long connection waits will appreciate that there's not just one set of offerings for the day.
But if you're a picky eater, or you have a swift connection, stake out the buffet: once the peak Qantas connection hour hits at around 6pm, everything disappears shortly after being placed out, and the staff don't seem to have figured out how to keep up with the rush.
There were several different wine options -- a couple of whites and reds -- which were disappointingly non-descript. The French bubbles I'd never heard of, and tasted more like carbonated white rather than méthode champenoise.
Given the decent options at the home hub airports of both Qantas and BA, the wine offerings were sorely lacking.
My frustration about finding a comfortable place to work for more than a few minutes in Qantas lounges remains unabated.
The little stools by the "bar" for laptops are impractical and un-ergonomic, and most of the other chairs are too low down and shallow of leg to be able to comfortably use them with a laptop.
Try the two-seater sofas for the most comfortable position.
But don't expect to be able to get much done online in the Singapore lounge: Internet speeds for the lounge wi-fi are an atrociously slow 0.35 Mbps even when the lounge is empty. That's several minutes to download a 5 MB email attachment, and over three hours for a 500 MB TV episode.
But you're unlikely even to be able to read web pages with any speed on the wi-fi when the lounge is approaching full. Once the 6pm rush hits, speeds drop to dialup levels. It took 4 minutes 35 seconds just to load the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald's website (1.6MB) at 6.40pm. (In frustration, I timed it.)
Don't bother trying to use the Dell computers in the business centre either: they're so old they run Internet Explorer 6, and their speed is no faster.
In a country like Singapore with fast Internet speeds, it's unacceptable that this is the Qantas and BA offering.
Until the 6-8pm rush when the big Qantas eastbound rush starts, the lounge is quiet and peaceful, but it's almost like a completely different place once the big connections start coming through.
Before 6, you'll have your choice of seats. But pick one you like by around 5.30pm, because it's hard to find an unoccupied seat after that until around 8.
The quiet music piped through the lounge before 6pm turned into frequent departure and "paging passenger..." announcements over the PA system, and not in a quiet or understated way you might expect for passengers in the middle of a 24-hour journey.
Showers are available at the far left of the lounge if you need to wash off the grime of your trip, but they start to get a little scarce after 6pm.
The worst part about trying to relax in the lounge is the omission of a family zone like Qantas has in its Sydney international business lounge.
Babies and families with grumpy, tired children are thus plonked down anywhere, with exhausted parents not on their parenting game often failing to prevent their more mobile offspring spilling drinks, climbing on the chairs -- and falling off, hitting their heads and shrieking.
Hardly conducive to a relaxing time between flights.
The joint Qantas-BA lounge is a surprisingly poor offering, especially at Singapore's Changi airport, which offers economy passengers so many things to see and do to relax during a connection.
Lack of lounge space in this mega-airport is a real shortcoming. Even though the lounge was last updated before Qantas' A380s arrived, surely the planners should have realised what a madhouse it would be at rush hour.
It falls well short of BA's home lounges in Terminal 5, and even fails to live up to Qantas' international business lounge at Sydney. But the unacceptably slow Internet is the worst thing about the lounge -- and something that should be relatively easy to sort out.