SINGAPORE - Economy-class travellers can now enjoy the luxuries of airport lounges that are normally limited to business- and first-class flyers.
Unlike most lounges, which are exclusive to business- and first-class travellers using certain airlines, a new lounge that was opened officially in Changi Airport Terminal 1 on Tuesday (June 30) can be used by all travellers.
The 7,018 sq foot lounge in the Departure Transit Hall features charging, Wi-Fi and shower facilities, including one wheelchair-accessible shower room.
Travellers can also enjoy spa, massage and nail care services. They can even watch their food being prepared for them at live cooking stations where chefs prepare local dishes upon request.
The lounge also offers private VIP rooms as well as two semi-private areas where meetings can be held. Tired travellers in need of a power nap can make use of three private resting suites, or scaled-down hotel rooms.
Prices start at $58 for five hours.
The lounge is owned by Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited. It was the first to offer independent airport lounges when it set up its first lounge in 1998 in Hong Kong, where its Malaysian chief executive Song Hoi-see, 58, is based.
Mr Song said he had been inspired by his own travel frustrations. He had usually flown first or business class as an investment banker. But after he started his own business in 1992 and began to fly economy class, he found himself without the facilities he had become accustomed to.
Mr Song said: "Twenty years ago your computer's battery only lasted two hours, you had to recharge. Where could I recharge my computer? I had to resort to stealing the electricity in public alleys." Even today he saw people having to sleep in public areas of the airport, which was "ugly-looking", said Mr Song.
Now Mr Song has made it his goal to save his fellow travellers from such frustrations. He said the lounge would be an "oasis" for passengers - now "the so-called cattle class doesn't have to suffer anymore".
Today Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited operates in 35 international airports, including in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Toronto and London. Its latest lounge here, which cost S$3 million, is one of eight new projects it has planned for this year in a US$40 million expansion plan.
And his "oasis" has been popular. Although the lounge was officially opened yesterday, it has been accepting guests since its "soft opening" in April. Since then it has had about 200 to 300 customers a day, said Mr Song.