During my status run to Hong Kong, I returned to the US on ANA in business class and tried my first Star Alliance lounge in Hong Kong, the Singapore SilverKris Lounge. Despite Singapore’s great reputation, it disappointed.
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Singapore’s SilverKris Lounge In Hong Kong
Near gate 16 (to the right on the main terminal level when entering), the lounge is conveniently located for some Star Alliance flights though not all. I checked in with a friendly staff without further instructions and proceeded down the hall to the dining room and past the restrooms. The First Class lounge was closed for the night, though I wouldn’t have qualified for entry anyway. Of note, I checked in at about 11 PM ahead of a 12:30 AM flight. The lounge closes at half past midnight.
The food in this lounge was lacking and disappearing. There were a couple of hot items which lacked much effort, and the cold items disappeared shortly after I sat down. A tray of sushi was out but consisted of little more than seaweed and rice. Finger sandwiches were wrapped in plastic but disappeared about ten minutes after I sat down so I didn’t have a chance to try them – I am not sure I would have enjoyed them if I did. A freezer of single-serve ice cream was half-full when I started in on my plate of rice and Americanized Sichuan chicken, by the time I was done they had been removed from service though the stock had not been exhausted. I requested one. My request was denied.
I chose to spare our readers from the ear-piercing evacuation of contents from the coffee machine which spat and howled for a solid five minutes. One visitor sitting next to me turned on the noise-canceling headphones he had been using, the red glow of the light matched my furious annoyance that this couldn’t be done shortly after we had all left a few minutes later.
The food was average at best, limited in choice and made me wish I had spent money dining outside the lounge but once past security there were no open food options.
For the entire duration of my visit, the bathrooms, both as far as I could tell, were closed. This included the showers. For the first hour, I waited patiently for them to open back up, there’s nothing wrong with cleaning them at any hour of the day. I was told back at the front desk that I had missed the window to take a shower and it would be unavailable. I would have preferred to take one before a night flight to Tokyo but the staff decided no one needed one. I exited the lounge to find a toilet prior to departure – that shouldn’t happen at any lounge.
The staff seemed fully indifferent to the guests and their experience. I understand it is close to closing time, that there is likely a lot to do before going home for the evening. But this staff seemed to disregard the customer experience at most every turn. Consider for a moment that I had to check out of my hotel many hours before arriving at the lounge. It was August and Hong Kong was hot. I spent an hour at the CityGate Outlets before heading to the airport and killed time at a Starbucks until checkin opened. A decent meal and a shower would have put me right before my flight to Tokyo. They couldn’t be bothered.
Hong Kong is home to Cathay Pacific and the amazing first class lounge, The Wing. Granted, as an American Airlines Executive Platinum I have been routinely spoiled by that lounge and especially the shower suites which are some of the best in the world. I could have visited the Plaza Premium lounge, but last time that was terribly disappointing and hot (it’s elevated above the floor level and the heat can be stifling).
I also could have tried the new American Express lounge which Matthew reviewed. But I wanted to try something new and I also wanted to give readers the experience that any other business class passenger would have gotten if they had flown on the same ANA flight to Tokyo Haneda that night.
I briefly flirted with the idea of booking a trip that I had no intention of taking to abuse my generous privileges from American Airlines Executive Platinum status while I still have it. But morals and Matthew’s suggestion this would not be an honorable notion kept me from doing so. I am not sure he was (nor my morals) were right in retrospect.
Doesn’t Stack Up
Singapore Airlines is held in such high esteem, and while I have not yet flown their product (I know it’s a mortal sin) I too expected a high-level experience. I didn’t expect a massage like one gets in Thai Airways First Class lounges in Bangkok, or even a manicure/pedicure level of service as one can receive in some American Express Centurion lounges (not that I’d get one). But I did expect more than I found.
Looking around at the lounge, it reminded me of the British Airways lounge in T5 at Chicago without the extravagant food options. It was just very plain, nothing special at all. I am sure that during some times of the day the lounge is simply overrun – at the end of a long day everyone just wants to go home. I understand that. But I still expect to be able to use the toilet inside of a 90-minute visit, I don’t expect a strobe light overhead nor the disgusting howl of the coffee machine excreting the bowels of a long shift to the point where noise-canceling headphones are required.
It just wasn’t good enough.
While I stopped in the lounge 90 minutes before closing time, does that justify the guest experience? Am I just jealous that I didn’t get to use Cathay Pacific’s The Wing?