The best Qantas, oneworld airport lounges at Singapore

By John Walton, August 21 2012
The best Qantas, oneworld airport lounges at Singapore

Singapore's Changi Airport remains a popular hub for Australian travellers, especially for that necessary stop-over on the Kangaroo Route to and from London.

And like many international airports, Changi's offers more than one lounge that's open to passengers on Qantas or oneworld partner airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair.

Here's a rundown to help you find the best place to hang before your flight.

You really have two sets of choices: the Qantas/British Airways First and Business lounges or Cathay Pacific's Skyview lounge.

(In theory, you may also have access to the SATS Premier Lounge that Japan Airlines uses -- but it's a third-party lounge and they don't necessarily have to let you in unless you're flying JAL. I've found them reluctant to do so when flying Qantas, BA and Finnair over the last couple of years, and it's not particularly worth the hassle.)

Qantas/BA joint lounges

Earlier this year we saw the Singapore lounge revamp shakeup where Qantas and BA shifted their first and business class lounges around, as part of a lounge renovation that should be finished later by this year.

Having previously noted that the Singapore lounge access rules have changed during this make-over, due to the relative size of the two lounges, we were really keen to get in there and see what passengers are experiencing.

Compared with when I reviewed it last year (when it was the Business lounge), the interim First lounge is still overcrowded, still has appallingly slow Internet and still has mediocre food -- but the wines are much improved, for what that's worth.

Space away from other passengers to plug in and relax in the Qantas interim First lounge is hard to come by.
Space away from other passengers to plug in and relax in the Qantas interim First lounge is hard to come by.

Meanwhile, the interim Business (old First) lounge is still brighter, but feels much more cramped, the food's as mediocre as the interim First lounge, but the wine isn't as good.

In the Qantas interim Business lounge, things are more chic, but the food and wine isn't as good.
In the Qantas interim Business lounge, things are more chic, but the food and wine isn't as good.

The wifi is problematic  -- I was barely able to load any webpage, and only after three attempts could I get a speed test to work, which then returned the appalling figures of 0.78Mbps down and 0.05Mbps up, with a problematic ping of 242ms.

Thankfully, Qantas tells us it's working on fixing the wireless Internet at both lounges.

Skyview (Cathay Pacific/dnata) lounge

Cathay and Dubai airport authority dnata jointly operate the Skyview lounge, located down at the end of Changi's T1 terminal.

It's accessible to business/first class passengers, Qantas Gold/Platinum cardholders and oneworld Emerald/Sapphire members (as well as members of Priority Pass and other lounge entry schemes).

As a general rule, the Skyview is less busy than the Qantas lounges.
As a general rule, the Skyview is less busy than the Qantas lounges.

Since I last reviewed it, the first class/Qantas Platinum/oneworld Emerald section has been opened up to all passengers, which is great news if you want to spread out at one of the large work desks in the old first class section.

The food is better than Qantas, especially if you like Asian food (there's dim sum, instant noodles, sandwiches, an Asian stew-type dish and a Western stew-type dish, plus your choice of carbs).

Drinks, though, aren't anything to write home about: off-brand wine, cans of relatively decent local beer and a small spirits selection.

Skyview has both an "inside" quiet lounge and an "outside" lounge exposed to the hubbub of the terminal.

Wifi isn't much better than Qantas here: 0.84Mbps down and 0.2Mbps up, with a 154ms ping.

Which lounge is better?

At the end of the day, it depends whether you can get into the Qantas interim First Lounge, which is overall the best of the bunch. If not, skip the Qantas interim Business Lounge and head for Cathay's Skyview lounge.

If you're in business/first class, a Qantas Platinum or oneworld Emerald

For a tasty drop of wine, head for the Qantas First lounge. When I was there this week they were pouring three whites and three reds, plus the firmly low-end business class Joseph Perrier champagne. (Finnair uses that on its business class to Singapore.)

I tried a taste of all three whites, and the best of them for me (a confirmed Anything But Semillon drinker) was the buttery Phil Ryan Chardonnay from Mount Pleasant in the Hunter. 

The Skyview lounge should be your destination if you're peckish, although head to the Qantas First lounge if you're not a fan of the mostly Asian cuisine in the Skyview lounge.

Hot food in the Qantas lounge: soup and this (vaguely Asian chicken stew and rice, messy chicken wings and veg samosas).
Hot food in the Qantas lounge: soup and this (vaguely Asian chicken stew and rice, messy chicken wings and veg samosas).

At busy times (peak time is in the evening), the two lounges are about the same in terms of noise level. Qantas is enclosed but can't-find-a-seat busy, while Skyview has the choice of quiet "inside" and natural daylight "outside" areas.

If you're in economy/premium economy and a Qantas Gold or oneworld Sapphire

Since you can't get into the Qantas interim business lounge, head for the Skyview lounge.

The Qantas interim business lounge doesn't have the same decent wine as the first lounge, and it's significantly busier. You'll have a much more relaxing time of it in the Skyview.

Other top Australian Business Traveller articles on the Qantas First Lounge

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 75

I don't know why ausbt is always so down on the QF lounge offering at SIN. Yes it's not as good as the SYD F lounge, but decor and seating comfort-wise, it's much better than the CX lounge.  There's also many more seats at the QF lounge rather than the CX lounge. When I fly CX, I will often go to the QF lounge instead of the CX lounge. Food at the CX lounge while seeming more substantial is worse than your take-away rubbish.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

I heartily disagree on the seating: CX's armchairs are way more comfortable than the ridiculous pod things that Qantas has, and those daft shin-height tables are worse than useless...not to mention the ridiculous bumcrack-baring square stools by the computers. The only decent seating in the lounge is in the dark, wooden-panelled area to the left as you head in, and if you're not on the first flight through you'll never find a spot.

I'm not saying that the CX lounge is a gastronomic experience on the same scale as Hong Kong, but its dim sum is consistent and its stews-over-carbs section is much improved over the hot offerings in the Qantas interim first lounge on Sunday peak: just vaguely Asian chicken stew, plain rice, crumbling veg samosas and greasy mini chicken wings.

The QF interim First lounge is currently slightly better than the Skyview, which is why we steer people there, but it's so far below the offerings at London, Hong Kong or any of Qantas' Australian hub airports that it's risible.

(Not that we're opinionated about crap lounges or anything...)

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2580

I don't think we expect the Singapore lounge to be anywhere near the standard of its Sydney counterpart (or Melbourne, for that matter) - those home-base flagship lounges generally set the bar incredibly high – but it's simply never felt up to the standard of a 'first class' lounge to me, and there's no denying it's showing the wear and tear of being perhaps the most popular QF international lounge outside of Sydney (and maybe LAX). Hence why Qantas is giving it a refurb, and I know we're all keen to see the results of that later this year – we'll be heading up there for a pre-opening preview and you can bet we'll share the details and pics to an eager audience!

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 531

The most disappointing thing of the Singapore lounges is that there is so little light in there because they are located in the interior of the terminal rather than facing the tarmac.

Aside from that... I don't find them to be so bad. The food offering is not great and they could probably offer a little more (something like pot noodles are easy to have there and probably quite popular).

I will be interested to see how the revamped F lounge comes up... It needs to be a decent size given that the lounges are always busy. It used to be great when QF2 left SIN at 9:30am as the lounges were peaceful, but now the QF and BA flights all leave around the same time so there's never enough space in the lounge.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

The daylight thing, in fairness, isn't really an issue for the late-night Qantas/BA flights transiting through SIN. It's dark in the terminal anyway if you're stopping over, although if you're doing the "kicked out of hotel, working from lounge" thing then it's pretty grim to be in the Hobbit-hole low-ceilinged lounges.

It would be so easy for Qantas to just make a little bit more effort on the food side of things. Singapore has Chinese cuisine culture, which has any number of "easy to keep reheated" food offerings. Or just offer a really good set of salads and spreads like in the International Business lounges.

I, too, will be really interested to see the revamped lounges...

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 59

It kind of sucks now that all the flights leave around the same time and there's never enough space in the lounge for them all.QF32 and QF72 were the daytime flights.Now everything to Australia except for Singapore Airlines is overnight.

17 Feb 2012

Total posts 121

The CX lounge in Singapore is a garbage dump.  I made the mistake of checking it out last time in transit, and its like sitting in an airport canteen, with the same humid air permeating throughout the open-air lounge.  The food was either stale or over-cooked, and the lack of wines/spirits was like a visiting a domestic lounge in China.  I thought I must've gone to the wrong lounge because CX usually never does it this bad.  But unfortunately they do and we need to warn other travellers not to be left thinking this is an lounge option worth considering.  It's not. 

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

I guess you missed the quiet inside zone, then? It's a good tradeoff between the natural daylight (but terminal hubbub) of the main lounge.

I have to correct you on the wines and spirits part: there are fridges with (fairly humdrum) wines and decent enough local beers, as well as a spirits rack (with a fairly limited selection). It's not write-home stuff, but it is there.

I fully agree with you that it's not up to Cathay's Hong Kong standards, mind, and it could do with a bit of work. Out of interest, which lounge would you consider instead?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jul 2012

Total posts 11

Given further construction changes at Changi, and the temporary lounge arrangements with BA and EK depending on status, it would be great to do another of these articles. I am very confused at the moment about which lounge I should use as a Qantas platinum (Oneworld Emerald) at Changi while this construction is going on.


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