TALKING POINT | Qantas' decision to return to Singapore as the stopover for Airbus A380 flights from Sydney to London from March 2018 has left first class flyers feeling decidedly second class.
It's nothing against Singapore – a city which most Australian Business Traveller readers consistently rated well above Dubai as their preferred transit point for flights to London.
(Our 2016 reader poll saw Singapore clock up a staggering 46% of the vote, with Hong Kong at 26% and Dubai at barely 9%.)
The issue is Qantas' Singapore lounge, which the airline positions as a 'premium' lounge shared by all eligible travellers – from Qantas Club members to Gold and Platinum-grade frequent flyers, business class passengers and, as of March 25 2018, first class passengers on the flagship QF1/QF2 Sydney-London superjumbo service and the Melbourne-bound flight QF36, which is also being upgraded to an Airbus A380 from the same date.
Perks for the pointy end
Qantas is expected to extend to first class flyers the same perks as Platinum One frequent flyers (and Chairman's Lounge members) – a 'soft product' package which amounts to real Champagne (usually Veuve Clicquot), priority access to showers, and a shirt pressing and shoe shine service.
But is that enough? There's certainly a substantial disconnect compared to the Emirates first class lounge at Dubai, which currently hosts the superjumbo stopovers of QF1/QF2 and QF9/QF10.
That lounge is admittedly a very different proposition: after all, it is Emirates' flagship first class lounge at the bustling Dubai hub, which is now the world's busiest international airport.
By comparison, Singapore is a just a red dot on Qantas' network map, and will see only three flights with first class cabins departing each day – QF1 en route to London, the return leg of QF2 heading back to Sydney, plus QF36 to Melbourne.
The Sydney-London flights will be on the ground for around 90 minutes, which equates to less than 60 minutes of lounge time – although London-bound passengers connecting from Qantas' Melbourne and Brisbane flights onto QF1 will have more than five hours up their sleeves.
So what's the fix for first class flyers?
Qantas has, for the time being, ruled out building a dedicated first class lounge for Singapore, but should the airline look to carve out some space from the Singapore lounge's existing footprint to create a 'First Wing'?
Should there be a first class dining room boasting familiar Rockpool-inspired dishes from the menu of the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges, plus French Champagne and cocktails made to order?
If you're a regular first class travellers on Qantas' flights to London, what do you feel the airline should do to look after first class flyers at Singapore?