Category Archives: Singapore

Singapore KrisFlyer Sweet Spot

Singapore Airlines’ award chart has an amazing sweet spot: Hawaii and Central America are in the same region!

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Flights “within” the Hawaii/Central America region are only 35,000 Singapore miles roundtrip in economy and 60,000 miles roundtrip in business class.

That 35,000-Singapore-miles award would cost 80,000 United miles. That 60,000-Singapore-miles award would cost 140,000 United miles.

One Region!?

One Region!?

Singapore is a Star Alliance member, so you can fly United flights on these awards, and Singapore never collects fuel surcharges on United flights.

Singapore miles are easy to get, since Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards.

You Don’t Live in Singapore, Hawaii, or Central America. So What?

The primary beneficiaries of the Hawaii/Central America mega-region on the Singapore award chart are people who live in the continental United States. Mainlanders can use this sweet spot to get all the flights for one trip and half the flights for two other trips for a bargain price.

I priced out what amounts to a roundtrip from Denver to Honolulu plus two one ways between Central America and Denver for 35,000 total Singapore miles and about $177. That’s one complete roundtrip and halves of two others for less than what United charges for just the roundtrip to Hawaii.

The award is 80,000-United-miles-worth of flights for 35,000 Singapore miles.

singapore trip

  • How does this award fit together?
  • Who can take advantage of this trick routing?
  • What are the routing rules for Singapore awards?
  • How can you get Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles?
  • How can you book a Singapore award?

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How to Book Singapore Business Class to Europe This Summer

Lufthansa Miles & More Miles can be used to book longhaul Singapore Business Class awards to Europe!

Singapore Business Class

This is especially excellent because United miles cannot book longhaul business class awards on Singapore, and Singapore Business Class is widely considered one of the best products in the world.

The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. (This deal ends June 30, 2014.) Meeting the card’s spending requirement would earn you enough miles to book Singapore Business Class one way between the United States and Europe.

  • How do you search Singapore Business Class?
  • How do you book Singapore Business Class with Lufthansa miles?
  • Does Lufthansa collect fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines flights?

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Ultimate Rewards Now Transfer to Singapore Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards just added Singapore KrisFlyer miles as a transfer partner. The MileValue Award Booking Service is standing by to book your awards with Singapore miles!

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Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Singapore miles are extremely valuable to fly within the United States on United flights, to fly to Hawaii on United flights, and to fly to Asia in Singapore Suites Class.

Membership Rewards and Starpoints already transferred 1:1 to Singapore miles, but this news just makes getting the miles easier than ever, since the Ink Plus and Ink Bold are offering humungous 60,000 point sign up bonuses until June 1, 2014.

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  • What are the sweet spots on the Singapore award chart?
  • When should you transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore miles instead of United miles?
  • When are fuel surcharges collected on Singapore awards?

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Around the World in Cathay, Singapore, and Lufthansa First: Introduction

I haven’t been home since February 16 when I boarded a plane from Honolulu for Newark. I have loved the I’m on trip because I finally got to play poker in Asia, see Angkor Wat, catch up with friends in Europe, see more of the Balkans, and experience the curiosities that are Macau and Singapore.

The trip took me to:

  • New York
  • Macau, China
  • Singapore
  • Cambodia
  • London
  • Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Frankfurt
  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • Atlanta, Georgia

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Along the way, I’ve flown and stayed at:

  • Cathay Pacific First Class
  • Singapore Airlines First Class
  • Lufthansa First Class (and First Class Terminal)
  • Wizz Air and Jetstar Asia (low cost carriers)
  • Radisson Martinique on Broadway
  • Grand Hyatt Macau
  • Le Meridien Angkor Wat
  • The May Fair in London
  • A Holiday Inn Express in Frankfurt
  • hostels in Cambodia, Singapore, and Ljubljana
  • a motel in Greensboro
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Lufthansa First Class, Hair Style by Nap

Booking Process

What was the booking process, how much time did I spend in each place, and what would I have done differently?

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Combining Alaska and Hawaii onto One Trip This Summer for Only 40k Points

Alaska Airlines flies a direct flight between Anchorage and Honolulu.

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I love interesting routes from Hawaii–like the Island Hopper across the Pacific–since moving to Oahu, but I think this route has some cool possibilities for everyone, like one vacation that combines Alaska and Hawaii this summer.

Anchorage and Honolulu are 2,777 miles apart. This is a sweet spot on British Airways’ distance-based award chart. The approximately six hour flight costs only 12,500 British Airways Avios + $2.50 in taxes.

Combine a one way British Airways award between Alaska and Hawaii with a few other one way awards, and you can create a really cool triangle trip to see the 49th and 50th states for as little as 40k points.

Possible Summer Trip for a Chicagoan

Possible Summer Trip for a Chicagoan

What are the best awards to combine with the Alaska Airlines flight between Hawaii and Alaska? What is the award space on these routes? In what program, do you need to amass only 40k miles to take the whole trip?

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United No Longer Displays Singapore Award Space. Here’s How to Find It

Per this thread on Flyertalk, United.com no longer displays Singapore Airlines award space. This abrupt announcement might seem like terrible news to award bookers, but it’s more of an inconvenience than anything else.

UA Insider Flyertalk

United.com is the easiest way to search for Star Alliance award space. It’s far from a perfect booking tool, however. The site displays phantom award space, doesn’t show partner availability on Brussels Airlines or LOT Polish Airlines, and will often spit out horrible itineraries with long layovers when better ones are available.

With Singapore award space being removed from United.com, the site becomes a slightly less useful tool in constructing Star Alliance awards.

What does the announcement mean? Can you still book Singapore award space with United miles? What’s the best way to search for Singapore award space now?

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Anatomy of an Award: Booking Incredible Singapore Business Class to Europe with Lufthansa Miles

The 50k mile bonus offer is back on the Lufthansa card mentioned in this post until 6/30/14. Get it now!

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchases or balance transfer
  • Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
  • No Foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance member airlines and on other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details

Application Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard

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I just (almost) booked myself an award from Moscow, Russia to Greensboro, NC with 13 hours in Singapore Business Class for 52k Lufthansa miles + $240.

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The 50,000 mile sign up bonus on The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard ends December 15, 2013. I want to give another example of a great way to use the sign up bonus for the many people who’ve emailed me to tell me they’ve gotten the card.

I’ve already discussed:

This Anatomy of an Award will illustrate:

  • How to book a ticket with Lufthansa Miles & More miles
  • How to search for Singapore Business Class bed award space
  • How to add on segments within the US (and the solution to the problem you face with adding domestic space)

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Anatomy of an Award: Booking Singapore Suites

I have wanted to fly Singapore Suites since seeing Tahsir’s trip report of a flying double bed. Singapore Suites is what Singapore Airlines calls First Class on its A380 aircraft, which serves routes from Singapore to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Zurich, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Sydney, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

A few months ago, I came up with a plan to fly Singapore Suites, Cathay Pacific First Class, and Lufthansa First Class on the same round-the-world trip.

First I booked two Cathay Pacific First Class flights for the price of one. The next step was to book Singapore Suites Class from Singapore to Europe. (The last step will be to book Lufthansa First Class to the US, but I can’t do that until 15 days before the flight in March.)

How did I book Singapore Suites? Where did I get the miles? How is the award space picture?

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Trip Report: Singapore Airlines Business Class Houston-Singapore

Tahsir recently flew Singapore Business Class for twenty hours and was blown away by the service.

I recently had the opportunity to fly on Singapore Airlines Business Class from Houston-Singapore via Moscow. I was excited for this trip because of my last trip with them in which I flew in their Suites cabin.

Singapore Business Class

When I booked this trip, I made the reservation using the Avianca website as I described in this post.

So how was the trip?

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Lufthansa Miles Can Book Singapore Business Class & How to Book Lufthansa First Class with No Fuel Surcharges

Update 12/17/13: The 50k mile offer is dead. All Lufthansa card links in this post go to the following offer:

  • Earn up to 35,000 award miles with qualifying transactions
  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Companion Ticket after first purchase, then annually thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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Lufthansa Miles & More Miles can be used to book longhaul Singapore Business Class awards! This is huge news because United and US Airways miles cannot book longhaul business class awards on Singapore, and Singapore Business Class is widely considered one of the best products in the world.

Singapore Business Class

There’s also one route where you can book Lufthansa First Class with no fuel surcharges.

A few weeks ago I got the The Premier Miles & More World MasterCard with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5k in the first three months.

Since getting the card, I’ve learned a lot about the Miles & More program and written up what I’ve found:

I found out two new things Friday while pricing out awards:

  1. Lufthansa miles can book Singapore Business Class. This is huge news because Singapore has great award space from the US to Asia and from the US to Europe. And because United and US Airways can’t book Business Class on these flights.
  2. There is a Lufthansa First Class route with no fuel surcharges.

How can you fly Lufthansa Business or First Class without fuel surcharges? How can you book Singapore Business Class?

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Singapore Suites Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and the Lufthansa First Class Terminal on One Trip

Edit 10/20/13: Two thirds of this trip is booked. See Getting Extra First Class on Cathay Pacific and Booking Singapore Suites. Lufthansa First Class will hopefully be booked in late February.

My five biggest points-and-miles goals for the next year are to fly:

  1. Singapore Suites Class
  2. Cathay Pacific First Class
  3. Lufthansa First Class out of Frankfurt to access the First Class Terminal
  4. the Island Hopper
  5. Etihad First Class

The first three are surprisingly easy and cheap to piece together into one short trip around the world. I’ve been working on a few permutations for fun that I’ll share in this post.

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The Way to Get Singapore Business Class Space Without Fuel Surcharges

The Avianca/TACA LifeMiles program sells miles for around 1.36 cents per mile, which means you can get into luxury seats like Singapore business class beds on an A380 for less than the cost of a paid economy ticket.

LifeMiles selling for 1.3 cents is not new. Scott wrote about that deal in September. Every month or two LifeMiles has a “2 for 1″ promo that makes their miles a steal. What is new is that Singapore business class space is currently bookable on lifemiles.com.

Normally longhaul Singapore business class space on their 777-300ERs and A380s can only be booked with Singapore’s own miles (or Membership Rewards transferred to Singapore.) Singapore charges big fuel surcharges on redemptions; LifeMiles doesn’t. So now is your chance to get into longhaul Singapore business class beds for under $900 per direction, which in some cases could be cheaper than buying the same flight in economy.

Singapore 777-300ER Business Class

Here’s why LifeMiles rock:

  • During 2 for 1 promos, you can buy miles for 1.5 cents. There is a 2 for 1 promo until April 30, 2013. (To participate, your account needs to have been opened before April 8, 2013, the date the promo started. This is a common requirement, so open a LifeMiles account now to take advantage of the next promo.)
  • You only need 40% of the miles listed on the award chart to book an award. The other 60% of the award’s price can be purchased at 1.275 cents per mile.
  • Combined that means you can start with zero miles now and get the miles you need for an award for 1.36 cents per mile.
  • The LifeMiles chart is broadly in line with United’s chart. It’s not too much worse. For instance, roundtrip business to Europe is 105k LifeMiles versus 100k United miles.

For more detail, see Roundtrip Flat Beds (Business) to Europe for Under $1,500 All In.

Here are some example itineraries and prices in dollars.

Example 1: LAX-Singapore with LifeMiles account opened before April 8th

Cost: 62,500 Miles oneway

Miles to purchase with 2 x 1 promo: 13,000 @ $30/1000 = $390

Total Miles so far : 26,000 (13,000 * 2 x 1 Promo)

26,000 is about 40% of 62,500

Purchase the remaining miles required at $474 (37,000 miles * 1.275)

Redemption Fee: $25

Taxes: $2.50

Total: $891.50

That is some amazing value for a Business Class ticket to Asia! Keep in mind that this is one way, so roundtrip would be double that amount.

Example 2: LAX-SIN with account open AFTER April 8th

Cost: 62,500

Miles to Purchase: 26,000 @ 30/1000 = $780

Purchase remaining miles needed (37,000) at 1.275 CPM = $474

Redemption Fee & Taxes: $27.50

Total: $1,281.50

That is a pretty good deal for Business Class to Asia one way–especially if you were going to purchase a premium ticket anyways. But you would do better by waiting until the next 2 x 1 promo, when you are eligible.

Singapore Space BEFORE purchasing at 1.275 CPM

Singapore Space AFTER purchasing at 1.275 CPM

Why Is This Important?

LifeMiles are extra hot for one reason right now, and it is because you can gain access to Singapore Airlines business class award space. Flying from Newark-Singapore on the longest flight in the world is now possible for $900. That route will shut down later this year so it’s best to try to get on those flights.

In addition, you  don’t have to fly to Singapore. You can go anywhere in Asia on Singapore for 62,500 LifeMiles each way in business class. India is 62,500 miles in Business Class, and $891 is extremely cheap for one ways to India in Business Class!

Problems With LifeMiles

There are drawback to LifeMiles that you should know.

  • They don’t always show the same partner availability as other Star Alliance programs.
  • The agents are worse than US Airways reps.
  • You cannot combine two cabins like Business & Economy or First & Business. LifeMiles is the only program in the world that I know of that has this rule.
  • Their Multi-City search is horrible.
  • They show a ton of phantom space.
  • Sometimes, the system won’t ticket your reservation.

If you can get over these issues, then LifeMiles may be a good proposition. However, it comes with great caution. I bought 26,000 miles today and went to ticket my reservation only to find out how buggy the system is. For 30 minutes, the system crashed. Then, the flight I wanted to book became unavailable. 10 minutes later, it became available again. I ticketed an itinerary and an E-Ticket number wasn’t assigned for 24 hours, which made me nervous.

My Confirmation

But in the end everything has ticketed and for less than $900 I am flying:

  • Newark to Houston in United First
  • Houston to Moscow to Singapore in Singapore business

[Scott: I am very tempted to buy myself a seat Singapore to Frankfurt for this fall on the A380. I happen to need to get from Southeast Asia to Europe, and under $900 for a flat bed on Singapore's A380 is tempting.

Singapore Business space for 65k miles (AKA $891)

And yes SQ26 that day is on an A380…

I still haven’t decided whether to book or not…]

If you have plans to travel in premium cabins to Asia, Africa, The Middle East or Europe, this is a great way to save some money!

For anyone who has booked with LifeMiles, what have your experiences been?

-Bengali Miles Guru

Tip to Canadian Kilometers & Ben for discussing this more!

Fantasy Becomes Reality: Singapore Suites From Singapore to Los Angeles

Pack your bags folks. Today, we’re going on one of the most coveted First Class products out there. It’s so luxurious that it’s not even called First Class.

Singapore Airlines Suites were introduced in 2008 exclusively on their flagship A380-800. Ever since then, people have been hoarding their points for a chance to fly this room in the sky. For years, Singapore Suites could only be booked by using KrisFlyer points at an astounding 1 million miles roundtrip!

At the end of 2012, Singapore released their Suites product to saver availability on KrisFlyer. By doing so, the price of a roundtrip went to 180,000 points. Although that is still a lot of points, I’m here to show and tell you why it’s worth every point.

Singapore Changi Airport

I landed from Malaysia in Singapore’s Changi International Airport Terminal 1 on AirAsia. After landing, I cleared immigration and got my bags from the carousel. Tip: If you fly AirAsia, they have strict carry on rules and will often make you check in a bag. If you check in a bag, you have to clear immigration in Singapore so for people who don’t have valid entry into Singapore watch out.

I was fine with exiting the terminal because I wanted to experience the First Class check-in. Singapore A380′s and most flights on intercontinental routes fly out of Terminal 3. I got to Terminal 3 and immediately realized that I made a huge mistake. It was midnight and my flight was at 9AM. The First Class counters were closed and now I was stuck with no boarding pass and no way to enter the departures hall or lounge. I quickly ran through the entire check-in area and found a staff counter open. They were more than happy to check me in!

I proceeded to the security checkpoint/immigration queue. After clearing immigration, the time read 1AM. I made my way to the KrisFlyer Lounge and was greeted by a very friendly lounge employee. She looked at my boarding pass and told me that I was welcome to use the First Class section of the lounge but that the Private Room wouldn’t be open till 5:30AM. I opted to sit around the First Class lounge for a little while and then started walking around the airport.

A deserted T3

Singapore Changi is by far the BEST airport in the world. The amount of things to do is truly amazing:

  • Butterfly Garden (T3)
  • Cactus Garden (T1)
  • Swimming Pool (T1)
  • Fish Spa (T1)
  • Koi Pond (T2)
  • Snooze Lounges (All Terminals)
  • Variety of Shops (All Terminals)
  • Free Movie Theaters (All Terminals)
  • Singapore’s largest slide (After Immigration T3)
  • Cascading Waterfalls (T3)
  • Free Internet Kiosks & Free Internet (All Terminals)
  • Brick Toast (Best Toast Ever! T3,T2)

The lounge situation is even better in Singapore as Priority Pass cardholders get access to the Cathay Pacific DNATA lounge in T1. They also get access to:

  • Ambassador Transit Lounge (T2, T3)
  • Rainforest Lounge (T1)
  • The Green Market (Gross, Don’t Go. T2)
  • The Skyview Lounge (Cathay Pacific T1)

I spent most of my time sampling the lounges and I think the best priority pass lounge is Skyview. They have the best food options and the most space.

It was now 6AM and I started to walk to the KrisFlyer Lounge in T3. I came up the escalator and was immediately greeted by another friendly lounge agent. After taking a look at my boarding pass, she said “May I escort you to the Private Room?” I followed her past what seemed to be 50-60 people in the First Class lounge. She took me through the automatic sliding double doors and into the confines of the Private Room.

The food selection in the Private Room is actually really diverse. They have everything from Eggs Benedict to Roti Prata’s. (Singaporean-Indian dish)

I was quite surprised to see how many people were in the Private Room. There were families with kids and a bunch of business men. The place looked like it had about 20 people. The waiter quickly came to my seating area to take my order. I looked at the menu but wasn’t too hungry so I decided to forego the meals. There were a lot of people, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures.

The Private Room

About 30 minutes before departure, I was approached by the ground staff who told me it was time to board. The security check in Singapore is done individually at each gate and so I advise you to go through security about 30 minutes before. Once through security, I made my way towards the placard labeled Suites.

Singapore Airlines SQ 12

Singapore-Los Angeles (Stop in Tokyo)

Airbus A380

Suites Cabin 1A,2c,2D

As I walked through the jetway, I couldn’t help but smile. Here I was, finally flying  in Suites. As I entered, I was greeted by the Leading Steward and Stewardess and then I saw this:

I was still drooling when I took my seat and the purser immediately came to me asking for a pre-departure drink. She already had champagne in her hand and I think she expected me to order that but I don’t drink, so I ordered an Iced Milo. If many of you don’t know, Iced Milo is the best thing to happen since…mankind. It’s Asia’s version of Yoohoo or Chocolate Milk but tastes 10 times better.

While boarding was underway for the rear of the cabin, I snapped up a few more pictures.

The purser came around and handed us our amenity kits, pajamas and slippers.

Givenchy Pajamas (pronounced jee-von-she)

Kiehls Amenity Kit

As boarding wrapped up and the doors closed, the captain came on air to tell us that the flight time to Tokyo would be 6 hours and 15 minutes. SQ 12 stops in Tokyo for fuel before continuing onto Los Angeles. My original plan was to stay awake on the flight from SIN-NRT and sleep NRT-LAX.

That didn’t work out as I fell asleep 3 hours into the SIN-NRT flight. I was originally seated in seat 1A but I changed mid-air into 2C so the flight attendant could make me a double bed. For those not familiar with Singapore Suites layout, the two middle seats can be turned into a double bed. This is usually reserved for couples but the flight was only 5/12 full in First, and the purser came to me and asked if I wanted a double bed made.

Before I slept, I had to take advantage of the meal service. I had pre-ordered my meal from the Singapore Airlines website and it had consisted of

Lunch: King Prawns with Rice

I apologize in advance as I didn’t take pictures of the menu.

The first course was a delicious chicken satay.

Chicken Satay

Then, bread and soup followed.

Bread.

Soup.

That was followed by Salad & Cold Noodles

Salad.

Cold Noodles

Then, there was the main course.

Main Course: King Prawns with Rice

After the main course, I was too full for dessert so I opted out till an hour before landing.

It was now time to sleep and my bed was soon made. To make things better, an Iced Milo and bottled water were placed on my bedside!

Although the suites become a double bed in the middle, there is a partition that doesn’t get covered up. It is extremely uncomfortable but I was able to use the Givenchy blankets to pad the partition.

It’s important to note that the seat doesn’t become a bed, but it flips over and a mattress pad is placed on it to make the bed. It is very comfortable and the supplied down comforters are the best I’ve ever used on a plane. 

The Suites offer private closing doors and window shades. The shades have an opening on the bottom and top, so you aren’t completely out of view. I was told from a source that they were made like this to make sure passengers don’t get too comfortable with their partner.

Window Open

Window Closed

I slept for a good 2 hours and was woken up by the purser for my dessert.

The Suite

We landed in Tokyo for a fuel stop and had to leave the plane while it was cleaned and checked by security. An hour later, we boarded the plane. I was so surprised to see that at my seat, there was an Iced Milo waiting in my cup holder. It seems as though the previous flight crew made a note to the new crew about my beverage choice. It’s small things like this that made the flight so memorable for me. The doors closed and we were at the gate for about an hour due to the fact that our plane had to be de-iced. I didn’t mind. I was hoping to get as much time on board.

After a long wait and taxi towards the runway, we took off towards Los Angeles. Dinner service started almost immediately and so I decided to watch a movie. The entertainment/media set on Singapore Airlines is the best in the world I’ve seen. There were a total of 246 movies and over 500 different shows to watch. The interface is very easy to use but doesn’t include the tailcam that is usually included in A380′s. I chose to watch Madea’s Witness Protection which was hilarious.

For dinner, I had pre-ordered Lobster Thermidor.

The first course was the same Chicken Satay as before. The second course was salad and after the salad, I decided to skip to my main course.

Lobster Thermidor

At this point, I was way too tired to do anything else so I requested that my bed be made. I went to the bathroom and took a few pictures there.

I came out of the bathroom to hang up my clothes on the side of my suite. Many people don’t notice it because it blends in, but every suite has it’s own closet.

My double bed was made again but now, the lighting made it look a whole lot better!

Window looking in

Double Bed

The Suite even has recessed lights!

Two TVs and Two Beds!

Despite trying to finish my essay that was due an hour after I landed, I fell asleep. I woke up about 3 hours out of L.A and started doing some work. As soon as I turned my light on to find my laptop, a steward came by and offered me a hot towel and something to drink. This is in contrast to the previous flights I took on Lufthansa where we had to call the steward over after we woke up. It’s not a big deal but again, it’s the small things that made this memorable.

Breakfast was served about an hour and a half out of Los Angeles. I previously ordered the Japanese light meal but changed my mind when I saw waffles on the menu.

Mixed Fruits

Waffle with Chocolate Covered Bananas

With 45 minutes left, I walked around the plane a little and snapped up some more pictures.

We landed and so came an end to the most amazing flight of my life. Singapore Suites is as good as it gets. For now, nothing is better. The service, attention to detail, food and hard product is what makes this airline one of the best. Be it Economy, Business, or Suites, Singapore Airlines will not disappoint. This was definitely worth all 91,375 points.

Previously: how to transfer Membership Rewards to KrisFlyer miles and how to book Singapore Airlines online.

My Experience With Booking Singapore Airlines Awards

Singapore Airlines is probably one of the best airlines in the world.

I’ve had the privilege to fly Singapore Airlines almost 2-4 times a year since I was born. I was even one of the first “children” to fly the nonstop LAX-SIN flight which was then dubbed as the A345 Leadership. Although I always flew in Economy, in the next few days, I’ll be flying Singapore’s Suites product from Singapore-Los Angeles. I’ve dreamed of this day since I first knew what the First Class product looked like. I plan on writing about every detail on an upcoming trip report after I fly but for now, I want to talk about how I booked it.

A few days ago, I wrote about Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program. I was able to show you guys some cool ways to redeem points with them and how easy it is to transfer American Express points to KrisFlyer.

Recently, Singapore Airlines started to release First Class A380 space. The Singapore A380 is easily on of the most luxurious First Class products in the sky. The A380s feature a fully enclosed sliding door suite. Singapore has worked hard to protect the product, and before it began releasing saver space, a flight on the A380 could cost up to 1 million points!

I wanted to take full advantage of this suite so naturally, I booked from Singapore-Los Angeles. I did this for a few reasons:

  • First Class Check In Experience
  • Access to Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge
  • Access to “The Private Room”
  • Some people say the food from SIN-LAX is better than LAX-SIN
  • Availability is really wide open

Now, although availability is open, only one First Class Suite is released per flight. This makes it extremely difficult to get two passengers onboard but if you’re traveling between London-Singapore and Australia-Singapore, Lucky reports that Singapore is opening multiple Suites on the same flight. 

In my decision, I also took into account that I had a free Singapore roundtrip ticket that needed to be used before March 31st. I pondered on this for a while and decided I would split my free roundtrip ticket into two flights and combine it with two awards:

LAX-SIN (Free Singapore Ticket in Economy)

SIN-LAX (KrisFlyer Points)

LAX-Europe-SIN (One Way Business United for 60K)

SIN-LAX (Free Singapore Ticket in Economy)

From Singapore-Los Angeles, it costs 107,500 miles one way in First Class. Singapore Airlines has a 15% discount on awards booked online so Singapore-Los Angeles in first class can be booked online for 91,375 miles!

While booking, I found dates with availability and started my American Express points transfer. It can take 24-48 hours to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Singapore. However, if you transfer the points before 10AM pacific time, it usually posts by 12 midnight pacific.

At 12:01, I logged in and saw my points had posted. I also saw that space on my flight was still available. The one issue with SIA is that they charge fuel surcharges on their flight (except for origination out of Brazil) and this can sometimes devalue an award. The taxes and surcharges on my flight were coming out to $475 SGD or $~383 USD. I consider this price worth the Suites product, so I booked it.

The confirmation email was sent to me instantly and was followed by the E-ticket.  My ticket was now booked and I’m awaiting my trip on Singapore Suites!

Has anyone else had a different experience booking SQ tickets?

Membership Rewards Transfer Options: Singapore KrisFlyer

American Express Platinum, Gold, Green, Centurion, and Corporate cards earn Membership Rewards points, which are transferable to dozens of hotel and airline points at varying ratios. Each article in this series focuses on one of the best options.

Singapore Airlines

There are two reasons I like to transfer Membership Rewards to Singapore KrisFlyer miles: cheaper domestic Star Alliance awards and it’s the only way to get into Singapore’s premium cabins.

Singapore Airlines is recognized as one of the most luxurious airlines in the world. Their commitment to service and fairly new cabin layouts change long haul travel from a chore to a pleasure. To get a seat on Singapore Airlines (even in economy) is an experience in itself. And Singapore releases way more award space–especially in its over-the-top Suites Class–to its own award program, meaning this is a program worthy of study.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles. That makes Singapore one of three Star Alliance transfer partners of Membership Rewards–the other two being ANA and Air Canada’s Aeroplan. Since the Star Alliance often has the best award availability, certainly it does in business class to Europe, we have another reason to closely study Singapore’s program.

To start, let’s look at Singapore’s Star Alliance redemption chart:

And it’s definition of those regions:

This chart is the relevant chart when you want to use your KrisFlyer miles on a Star Alliance airline other than Singapore itself.

What Stands Out?

Domestic US in first

The first thing that stands out is Singapore’s award pricing of awards within the continental US, Alaska, and Canada.

The roundtrip prices are 25k/40k/60k in economy/business/first, and you get oneways for half price.

If you travel a lot in premium cabins domesticall, there is actually an awesome redemption available through KrisFlyer. You see, like most airlines, Singapore codes domestic first class on two-cabin planes as business class.

That means that most first class seats with United Airlines and US Airways are coded at the business class rate on Singapore’s chart, which is only 20k miles each way. This includes Dreamliner beds when the 787 is operating domestic routes, since United’s Dreamliner is a two-cabin plane. (See Tahsir’s United 787 Trip Report from their first day in operation.)

First class on a three-cabin plane prices at the higher level of 30k each way, like JFK-LAX in United p.s. Other than those flights, you can book into first class for a roundtrip of only 40,000 points–a 25% discount over the 50,000 miles charged by United and US Airways for the same seats.

Singapore Airlines requires you to call into their service center anytime you need to book a Star Alliance award. Before calling into their center, do some research with United’s online award search program. (Here’s how.) After finding the flights you want, call Singapore at 213-404-0301, and give the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of your desired flights

Note: Some people may get a busy tone. I’ve singled this out to be a Verizon Wireless issue only. Hang up and dial from a non-Verizon phone.

Hawaii

Singapore’s miles price from the continental US to Hawaii is cheaper than United’s in all three cabins.

35,000 miles roundtrip is a 5,000 mile discount over United in economy class though it’s far from The Cheapest Ways to Get to Hawaii. 60,000 miles roundtrip for domestic first class is a 20,000 mile discount over United. And 80,000 miles for three-cabin first class is also a 20,000 mile discount over United, which does fly some three-cabin planes to my favorite state.

Other Routes

I find using Singapore miles on other routes to be a bad deal because the surcharges Singapore charges on international awards are usually prohibitive.

What about booking Singapore Airlines flights?

Singapore Airlines categorizes awards on its own planes into three miles-prices: Saver, Standard, and Full. Like always, we’re only interested in the cheapest awards–in this case, Saver awards. Singapore Airlines has a separate chart for travel using just Singapore-operated flights. Here is the saver award chart:

Unlike the Star Alliance chart, the prices quoted are for oneway awards. 

If you are trying to go to Singapore, the first column is what you need to look at. For example, JFK-SIN is 37,500 miles in economy, 85,000 in business, and 110,000 in first. But if you book an award online, Singapore will discount your miles needed by 15%. So New York to Singapore is really 31,875/72,250/93,500 each way in economy/business/first if you book online.

In the US, Singapore flies out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Newark, and New York-JFK.

From these points, Singapore Airlines offers a ton of availability to any of its destinations, and Singapore has a very strong route network. But Singapore only releases its premium seats to its own program. Singapore doesn’t release any business or first class long haul seats to its Star Alliance partners.

This makes Membership Rewards the only way most of us can get into Singapore premium cabins, since few of us credit miles to KrisFlyer accounts otherwise.

Singapore Airlines recently started releasing saver availability on their new A380 Suites Class (better than normal first class), and those redemptions can be quite a good deal, especially after the 15% discount!

A First Class trip on the new A380 oneway from the West Coast to Singapore will cost you 91,375 miles plus taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges of $342. Considering that you can get on an A380 Suite for almost 20 hours, 91,375 and $342 may be a good value for some luxury lovers.

But if you’re like me, you want to avoid fuel surcharges, so you have one option. Perhaps the best redemption you can make with Singapore Airlines miles is a First Class seat from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Barcelona, Spain because flights originating in Brazil can’t charge fuel surcharges.

For 58,225 miles and $36 you can get 10 hours in Singapore First Class on a 777-300ER. Not only are there no fuel surcharges, but the miles outlay is low too. American charges 90,000 miles oneway from Brazil to Europe in first class.

Economy on the same flight is even better because it is only 17,000 miles one way! To put that into perspective, United charges 47,500 one way for the same flight. In addition, because there are no fuel surcharges levied from Brazil, this flight would only cost you $36 in taxes!

(Hat Tip: Amol for this gem.)

What’s the catch?

The big downside to KrisFlyer is that they have fuel surcharges on most flights. This can drastically reduce the value of your ticket because these surcharges can often get over $500 for a roundtrip flight. The way to get around this is to fly airlines or routes with your Singapore miles that don’t incur surcharges. I’ve mentioned these already: United and US Airways domestic flights and Sao Paulo to Barcelona on Singapore itself.

On roundtrips, Singapore allows one stopover. On oneways, you don’t get a stopover.

How to Book

I’ll show how to book New York to Mumbai roundtrip on Singapore metal.

First, you have to sign up for a KrisFlyer account and click Book a Flight.

Note:

  • Make sure the KrisFlyer redemption box is check marked.
  • If you want to do a one way trip, click the “one way trip?” button.
  • This won’t search for other Star Alliance availability, just Singapore’s own space.
  • If you need a stopover, just call in because it will be a lot easier. In my experience, Singapore agents are super knowledgeable and friendly.

Note:

  • Flights are displayed in segments (JFK-SIN)(SIN-BOM) so make sure you select both for the outbound and both for the inbound.
  • You need to find Saver space listed as Available. If it says Waitlist, look for another day.
  • Click the display total cost button to see how many miles it comes out to with the online discount.

Note:

  • These images are just showing how to book a flight on the Krisflyer system. The actual itinerary itself is really horrible because 89,250 miles plus $936 in cash is a horrible price in economy class to India. The going rate for a roundtrip flight on these exact flights was about $1836 when I checked, and that trip earns miles.
  • If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, use United miles if you have any because I was able to find the same exact flight on the same exact day for 80,000 United miles plus $57 in taxes. A savings of $890 and almost 10,000 miles! Or you could get the flights for 80k US Airways miles and $107.
  • If you see any redemption with Silkair (a subsidiary of Singapore), you cannot book those on other Star Alliance partners because Silkair is not a Star Alliance partner.

Transfers

Do the points transfer instantly?

AMEX Membership Rewards do not transfer instantly. FlyerTalkers report it takes 12-48 hours for them to post. For me, the transfer posts in about 24 hours. This is an issue because some people report that Singapore doesn’t allow you to hold award tickets. I kind of debunked this myth because I was able to put my flights on hold for two days while my points came in from AMEX. In addition, I’ve noticed that if you transfer points before 10AM Pacific Time, the points should post exactly at midnight that day.

What if I don’t have enough miles?

Singapore requires that you have at least 50% of the miles you need for a redemption in your account before you can buy anymore for a redemption. They will let you buy points at an extremely high $40 per 1,000 miles or 4 cents each. Don’t buy miles for 4 cents.

The best way to get around this is to call American Express and have them loan you however many points you need. American Express loans up to 15,000 points for Gold cardholders and up to 60,000 for Platinum members. You have a year to earn these points back or else they charge 2.5 cents per point. This is still far better than the 4 cents per point that Singapore will charge you.

Getting Membership Rewards

This week is a good time to get Membership Rewards. The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN has a 75k Membership Rewards sign up bonus. Bill explained why you may not want to get this card, though. Hint: $10k spending requirement in the first four months to unlock the bonus.

You can pair that with the personal Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $1,000 in three months, $100 credit for Global Entry signup, $200 calendar-year airline-fee credit, and free airport lounge access. Note: You don’t need to be affiliated with Mercedes-Benz, and this version of the card has a better sign up bonus than the “regular” version.

This card has a $475 annual fee not waived the first year, but I count $500+ in benefits in the first year not even including the Membership Rewards.

Recap

There are two good reasons to transfer Membership Rewards to Singapore Airlines: to get discounts on awards within the US and to fly Singapore Suites, First, and Business classes.

To book partners, refer to the Star Alliance chart, and call Singapore. To book Singapore flights, book online and enjoy a 15% miles discount for doing so.

Getting Membership Rewards is easy, especially before the 75k Business Gold card offer expires.



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