Melbourne to Singapore is a busy international corridor for business travellers, with no less than five airlines currently doing the eight-hour dash between the two cities.
Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Emirates, Jetstar and Scoot all have business class cabins on this route ranging from luxurious fully-flat seats to old-school recliners, while Melbourne Airport plays host to numerous airport lounges which can be unlocked with the right ticket or shiny frequent flyer card.
Here’s our take on the best business class experience from Melbourne to The Lion City.
Melbourne-Singapore business class: the best schedule
Unburdened by any late-night curfews unlike Sydney, airlines have more freedom here in Melbourne to schedule flights that will suit any business traveller’s schedule.
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Singapore Airlines takes full advantage of this with four daily flights – the overnight red-eye service at 12:05am, then day flights at 9:35am, 3:40pm and 6:25pm. There’s also a 4:45pm departure on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays which forms part of the Wellington-Melbourne-Singapore loop.
Qantas remains the strong second contender with a daily 11:55am departure best suited for morning connecting flights, and a 5-weekly 4:15pm evening flight, which doesn't run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Emirates runs a daily trip which is wheels-up from Melbourne at 6:00pm, before reaching Singapore around midnight and continuing onwards to Dubai shortly after.
Singapore Airlines' low-cost offshoot Scoot has a flight ten times a week, but at different timings – it’s at 12:15pm on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays, 1:15pm on Wednesdays and Saturday, 9:45pm on Tuesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 10:45pm on Mondays.
Finally, Jetstar runs two flights a week which leaves Melbourne at 11:10am on Sundays and Wednesdays, but these will be phased out by the end of 2019 as the airline switches to a Gold Coast-Seoul Incheon route instead.
These flight schedules are current for the 2019 winter period, and will naturally have some variations throughout the year.
Melbourne-Singapore business class: the best lounges
Qantas and Emirates frequent flyers with Platinum and above status and Oneworld Emeralds will undoubtedly flash their cards at the Qantas International First Lounge Melbourne, which is unlocked when flying with Qantas, Emirates and even Jetstar.
But it’s first-in, best-dressed to snag a timeslot for the spa treatments as they’re pre-booked for Qantas first class passengers on QF35 only.
Lucky recipients of a Platinum One member's lounge pass will also be able to redeem it for access to the First Lounge.
The rest of Qantas’ business class guests will instead find themselves sent to the International Business Lounge, which suffers largely from its boxed-in location.
Jetstar business class passengers are welcome here only if they’ve purchased a ‘Business Max’ bundle, hold a Qantas Club membership or have a minimum of Qantas Gold status.
The fancier Emirates Melbourne lounge is naturally open to Emirates business class passengers and to those with Skywards Gold membership and higher.
However, Qantas business class guests and those with Qantas Gold status and higher also have access to this lounge when travelling on a Qantas or Emirates ticket (Jetstar passengers and Oneworld status holders are excluded).
Since this lounge is open three hours before each of Emirates’ own flight (with one at 6pm), only Qantas passengers on the 4:15pm QF37 flight will be able to get in as the lounge is closed before the 11:55am QF35 flight.
Singapore Airlines’ Melbourne SilverKris business class lounge is located in the same basement area as the Qantas International Business Lounge, but with some more pleasant lighting.
Solitaire PPS Club members booked in business class are able to turn left at reception to access the first class section of the lounge.
For a more modern feel and barista-made coffee, Singapore Airlines business class guests and other Star Alliance Gold members can make their way to the Air New Zealand Lounge instead.
Business travellers on Scoot will have no lounge access at Melbourne Airport, along with Jetstar passengers without a ‘Business Max’ bundle, Qantas Club or Qantas Gold cards.
Your backup plan is one of four independent lounges, which you may already have access through an eligible card.
The American Express Melbourne lounge is open from 6am to 11pm to passengers with various Amex cards, with the full guest list detailed within our review of this space.
Next door, the Plaza Premium Melbourne Lounge is open to Priority Pass and other selected cardholders (see the review for the full list), or you can buy access starting from $60 for 2 hours.
The Marhaba lounge in Melbourne boasts airfield views and all the amenities you’d expect from a lounge. Open from 4am to midnight, up to four hours of access is yours for $70.
Finally, The House in Melbourne (formerly the Etihad Premium Lounge) now offers paid entry starting from $80 when booked online.
Melbourne-Singapore business class: the best seats
The business class seats you'll get flying between Melbourne and Singapore can vary quite a bit with Qantas and Singapore Airlines both using different generations of business class seats depending on the aircraft. This makes it especially useful to know which seat is offered on which flight. Here's how we rate them for comfort
Singapore Airlines’ modern Airbus A350 seat is currently found on SQ 208, the 6:25pm departure. It’s wide at 71 cm (28’) across and has decent storage nooks for all your bits and pieces.
It does require you to fold the seat down to make a 198cm (78’) bed, and some travellers find the diagonal sleeping position uncomfortable.
The refurbished Boeing 777-300ERs sports a near-identical seat design as well. You’ll usually find it on the daytime 9:35am (SQ238) and 3:40pm (SQ228) departures.
Qantas’ late evening flight (QF37) features the airline's highly-regarded Airbus A330 Business Suite, which ticks all the boxes for the business traveller.
There's plenty of room and spaces to stow your stuff, and a mattress topper is supplied for overnight flights back from Singapore.
Singapore Airlines’ older Airbus A380 is on the roster as the overnight SQ218 departing at 12:05am. Its business class berths are a noticeably last-decade design, but at least you’ll get a wide seat on this red-eye flight, with 76cm (30’) of space across.
Choose a bulkhead seat to get plenty of room for your feet as well, or you’ll end up trying to tuck them into a small cubby.
Qantas’ Airbus A380 makes its way as the airline's QF35 at 11:55am. The superjumbos still sport the second-generation Skybed II business class seats which have definitely seen better years.
There's almost no storage at your seat, the 2-2-2 arrangement is inconvenient for passengers in the window pairs, and the ends of the fully flat-bed often develop an unstable and uncomfortable droop.
Singapore Airlines still sends one of its most ancient Boeing 777-200s to Melbourne and Wellington, before returning to Singapore as SQ248 departing at 4:55pm on certain days.
They share a similar 2-2-2 arrangement to Qantas’ A380 business class, however, SQ’s old regional business class seats only go angled-flat which is less than ideal for an 8-hour flight.
Next is Emirates Boeing 777-300ER business class. These birds aren't being refitted, so expect a 2-3-2 layout in business class...
... which creates the dreaded ‘middle seat’. These older version seats recline to form an angled-flat bed.
EK405 used to be operated by the Airbus A380 featuring 1-2-1 business class and an inflight bar, so the move to the Boeing 777-300ERs is certainly a downgrade for most business travellers.
Rounding up the list is the battle of the Boeing 787s between Scoot and Jetstar. Both feature 2-3-2 recliners which are more akin to premium economy on Qantas or Singapore Airlines, for example.
Scoot's ScootBiz seats are 56cm (22’) across and have 97cm (38’) of pitch between seats. This is paired with 20cm (8’) of recline and extendable leg rest to support you as you snooze.
Jetstar business class seats also have 97cm (38’) of pitch between rows but come in slightly narrower at 49cm (19’) of seat cushion width.
There’s almost 23cm (9’) of recline in most rows, but it extends to 11 inches in seats 3G and 3J which are usually designated as crew rest seats but are available on Melbourne-Singapore flights.
Melbourne to Singapore business class: the best inflight service
The inflight experience varies widely between airlines, and from the perspective of individual passengers also between flights. Here’s a brief outline of what each airline offers while you’re onboard.
|Pre-book dining||Yes - ‘Book the Cook’ from Melbourne has nine dishes to choose from||Yes - Menu Select allows you to pre-book your choice off the inflight menu or an online exclusive||No - but the inflight menu is usually available one month before the flight||Yes - one dish from their online range included with your fare||No - choose off the inflight menu|
|Amenity kits||No - but essentials are stocked in the lavatories||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Pyjamas||No||Yes - only on the overnight return flights||No||No||No|
|Inflight WiFi||Yes (except on Boeing 777-200 flights) - 30MB free for business class||No - not yet||Yes - 20MB free initially or unlimited if you add your Skywards number to the ticket||Yes - $32.99 USD ($46) for 200 MB||No|
|Points and Status Credits||
From 4690 KrisFlyer miles and Elite miles, or from 4690 Velocity Points and 120 status credits
|From 7,800 Qantas Points and 120 status credits||From 5,200 Skywards Miles and 5,200 Tier Miles||With a PlusPerks bundle, you can earn 1 KrisFlyer mile per SG$1 spent on flights and add-ons||With a Business Max bundle, 8,450 Qantas Points and 125 status credits|
The 'best' airline in this category is very subjective. Foodies may prefer Singapore Airlines which has 'Book the Cook', while Qantas tends to offer more in the way of amenity kits and pyjamas.
WiFi is available on all airlines bar Qantas and Jetstar, for now anyway.
One final tip – Australian passport holders can register for Singapore's e-Gates for quicker immigration processing on arrival. To be eligible, you just have to enter and exit Singapore twice in 24 months, before heading to eIACS enrolment centre in Changi Terminal 3, or downtown Singapore.
What’s your favourite business class for travelling between Melbourne and Singapore?