With the opening of the Qantas first class at Singapore Changi Airport's Terminal 1, many Executive Traveller readers have asked us if they're able to use this lounge when flying with Cathay Pacific, given that Cathay's Singapore-Hong Kong flights depart from Terminal 4.
The answer is yes, with two caveats.
The first, of course, is that you'll need to hold the right level of frequent flyer status: Qantas Platinum, Marco Polo Club Diamond or other Oneworld Emerald equivalent status.
The second catch is that you'll need to be at Changi close to three hours before your Cathay Pacific flight. Many business travellers may find this excessive, especially when they're used to zipping through the famously-efficient Changi Airport and given that Cathay has its own perfectly good lounge at T4. But if you're a regular on Cathay's Singapore-Hong Kong flights and eager to sample the long-awaited Qantas Singapore First Lounge, it can be done.
To be clear, we're not suggesting that eligible Cathay Pacific passengers should trek over to T1 just to access the Qantas First lounge when Cathay Pacific has its own perfectly good lounge in T4, but we understand that some Emerald travellers with a bit more time on their hands might want to sample the Red Roo's latest lounge.
Executive Traveller has clarified these terminal access procedures with Singapore Changi Airport, so here's what you need to know.
Doing the terminal shuffle
Getting from Changi Terminal 2 or Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 is easy, thanks to the automated Skytrain shuttle. The Qantas First Lounge is actually very close to the Skytrain to T2, making it handy for eligible travellers on Malaysia Airlines.
However, Cathay Pacific flies to and from the newer Terminal 4, which is physically separate from the T1/T2/T3 precinct and is not linked by the SkyTrain.
The best course of action is to check in for your CX flight at the early check-in counters at the eye-catching Jewel, which is connected to T1, then pass through immigration at T1, enjoy a meal at the Qantas First Lounge, and make your way to T4 – again, allowing sufficient time for the T1 to T4 transfer.
A mobile boarding pass on your smartphone, or a boarding pass you've printed at home or the office, won't suffice for entering T1 when your flight departs from T4 unless it's been sighted and stamped by an airport check-in agent. This step is important, as you will be turned away from T1 if your Cathay Pacific boarding pass hasn't been endorsed by a relevant airport official.
Also note that because Qantas First Lounge opens only from 2.30pm, you'll need to be flying one of Cathay Pacific's last three departures of the day: CX734 (4:40pm), CX716 (6:00pm) or CX636 (8:15pm).
Checking in via Jewel and Terminal 1
Level 1 of Jewel has a series of early check-in counters located at one end of the coach parking zone, opposite Starbucks. Here's where you can have your Cathay Pacific boarding pass issued and endorsed (i.e. stamped), so you can proceed directly through immigration at T1 and then to the Qantas First lounge, a few minutes walk to the right.
We suggest you allow a conservative 30 minutes from check-in at Jewel to relaxing in the Qantas First lounge.
You can also go straight to Terminal 4, check-in at the Cathay Pacific counters there (or just use your mobile or self-printed boarding pass) and head through immigration and security into the transit area, then catch the airside shuttle bus to T2 and then the the Skytrain to T1. But as you can appreciate, this is much more time-consuming process: you'd want to allow 60 minutes from T4 check-in to reaching the Qantas First Lounge.
Making your way back from the Qantas First Lounge to T4
Once you've wined and dined with Qantas (we recommend the crayfish laksa dish and a calamansi mojito cocktail) it'll eventually be time to go back to Terminal 4. (Regardless of how you accessed Terminal 1, through Jewel early check-in or from T4, the process to return back to T4 will be the same.)
Starting from the bottom of the escalator near the Qantas First lounge, head left and keep an eye out for 'Transfer D'. From there, take a skytrain to Terminal 2 which unloads passengers at 'Transfer E'.
Walk to the other end of the terminal to the other side, following signs for 'Transfer F' and make your way to Gate F51 to catch the airside shuttle bus to T4, where you'll arrive having already cleared security ready to board your Hong Kong-bound flight.
The airside shuttle bus between T2 and T4 runs only 2-3 times per hour, so you need to have plenty of time up your sleeve to avoid missing your Cathay Pacific flight.
Given that boarding for Cathay Pacific flights from T4 begin 30-40 minutes before push-back, we suggest leaving the Qantas First lounge two hours before your flight's departure time.
How the lounges compare: Cathay Pacific T4 vs Qantas First Lounge T1
Don't worry if your travel plans don't allow you enough time to make that trek, as the Cathay Pacific Singapore Lounge in T4 is still one of Singapore's best.
You'll feel relaxed with its elegant and warm design, and the Noodle Bar offers up delicious made-to-order dishes. In a way, the openness of Cathay Pacific's Singapore lounge mirrors the ambience of 'The Deck' – the airline's newest business class lounge on its home soil of Hong Kong.
The main drawback of CX's Singapore lounge is that like all of its siblings in other outstation cities, it lacks shower facilities so you can freshen up after a day in the Singapore heat and humidity
The Qantas First Lounge at T1 is an impressive space, with ten shower suites (reserve yours at the lounge's reception desk) plus plenty of places to unwind and eat.
What sets this lounge apart is its extensive dining menu, with a focus on high-quality ingredients and fusion between Singapore's street eats and more familiar Western bites.
While you can use the techniques in this article to hop between T4 and T1/2/3 for virtually any reason, including accessing other Oneworld or pay-per-entry lounges or simply browsing the shops, we wouldn't recommend it to anyone except those with plenty of time and the desire to visit Qantas' new and flashy Singapore first class lounge.