Tag Archives: airlines

How Singapore-based flyers can get cheap(er) premium cabin tickets

Singapore is number one in a lot of things. Unfortunately, that also includes cost of living. The good folks at the EIU have been telling us as much for a long while now.

Even more unfortunately, it seems that airfares are not immune from the high cost environment we have here either- the relative wealth in Singapore means that airlines consider it to be a “premium” market. Therefore, you don’t see very good fare deals in premium cabins originating from Singapore.

As much as we talk about redeeming  miles and never having to pay for premium cabin travel, there are some times where you simply can’t get your awards to clear and may want to consider looking at revenue fares. What then?

Starting your journey from outside Singapore

If flying from Singapore in premium cabins is too expensive, why not position ourselves elsewhere to start our trip? There are certain cities that are well-known for cheap premium cabin fares.

Qatar Airways, for example, is known to offer great fare deals for flights originating from Cairo and Colombo.

Image result for qatar business class
Qatar business class. YMMV may vary though- as their 777 aircraft have 2-2-2 full flat configurations. This is the configuration you’ll find on the A350s and 787s.

Some examples of recent great fare deals from Cairo include (all fares round trip)

  • US$1,150 Cairo to New York in Qatar Business Class
  • US$1,070 Cairo to Los Angeles in Qatar Business Class
  • US$1,150 Cairo to Bangkok in Qatar Business Class
  • US$2,660 Cairo to Sydney in Qatar Business Class

And from Colombo (all fares round trip)

  • US$4,700  Colombo to Los Angeles in Etihad and BA First Class (+ 1 leg in Sri Lankan Business)
  • US$1,105 Colombo to Boston in Qatar Business Class
  • US$600 Colombo to Casablanca in Qatar Business Class

Source: One Mile at a Time

I realise that for most Singaporeans it’s difficult to position yourself to Cairo (especially since SQ has terminated its Cairo route for quite a while now). Colombo is somewhat more do-able (~4 hours flight) especially if you’re going onwards to Europe or the East Coast of the US, but are there any closer starting points if you’re in Singapore (and headed in the opposite direction, say Australia?)

Flying from Bangkok and KL

If you’re not able to position yourself to Colombo or Cairo to take advantage of premium cabin deals deals (I don’t know about you but I’d sure as heck buy a cheap ticket to Colombo to get to Boston in business class for $1.1K…), then consider 2 of our neighbour cities, Bangkok and KL.

Bangkok and KL are easily accessible by budget airlines. I am not saying that you will definitely find better deals ex-BK/ex-KUL than ex-SIN. What I am saying is that if you’re paying out of pocket for premium cabins and have the time,  you could potentially save a lot of money by buying a cheap budget flight to Bangkok or KL and starting from there.

Let’s look at some examples for round trip business class travel to key destinations in the USA, Europe and Australia.

Non Stop 1 Stop 2 Stops
SIN-FRA S$6,641 S$2,779 S$4,380
BKK-FRA S$5,188 S$2,898 S$3,304
KUL-FRA N/A S$3,406 S$3,488
SIN-LHR S$5,839 S$3,103 S$3,736
BKK-LHR S$4,690 S$3,240 S$3,815
KUL-LHR S$3,871 S$3,030 S$4,086
SIN-JFK N/A S$4,500 S$5,142
BKK-JFK N/A S$3,541 S$3,545
KUL-JFK N/A S$5,663 S$5,079
SIN-SFO S$8,668 S$4,035 S$4,220
BKK-SFO N/A S$2,930 S$2,616
KUL-SFO N/A S$4,910 S$4,296
SIN-SYD S$4,097 S$2,351 S$2,724
BKK-SYD S$3,580 S$2,193 S$2,044
KUL-SYD S$2,779 S$2,157 S$1,950
SIN-MEL S$4,084 S$2,581 S$2,710
BKK-MEL S$3,079 S$2,903 S$2,881
KUL-MEL S$3,287 S$2,146 S$2,815

A few caveats about the above analysis-

(1) I simply plugged in two random dates and looked at the prices for flights originating from Singapore, Bangkok and KL respectively. There may be other dates on which the fare differential is higher/lower.

(2) It is obviously not possible to do an apples to apples comparison as we are not comparing the same flights and the premium cabin product among airlines can differ dramatically. That said, I did remove budget carriers like Jetstar and Scoot from this analysis because although they do have a business class product, it’s certainly not in the same league as a full service carrier.

(3) The fares mentioned above are regular fares. I imagine the price differences will become bigger when there are sales ongoing.  (For example, we saw some great deals in the recent Malaysia Airlines sale)

(4) Do remember that when you’re flying out of KUL/BKK the 1 stop in flight effectively becomes 2 stops, since you need to fly SIN-KUL/BKK-Stopover-Destination.

Observation 1: Cheap premium cabin fares from Singapore are possible if you don’t mind long layovers

My first observation is that it is still possible to get some good fares out of Singapore (i.e. no positioning needed) provided you are willing to do a long-ish layover. This means you will fly on one ticket the whole way and no separate budget ticket needs to be bought.

For example, It is possible to fly SIN-HAN-FRA on Vietnam Airlines business class for S$2.8K, if you’re willing to do a 5 hour layover in Hanoi. Vietnam Airlines may not be a world class airline, but you’ll get to fly on their newest cabin product on the 787 from HAN-FRA, which is a reverse herringbone product that could give SQ business a run for its money. At S$2.8K this is much cheaper than the S$6.6K SQ wants for a direct flight. Heck, it’s cheaper than flying SQ premium economy (S$3.5K- and they wonder why they can’t fill the cabin…)

Image result for vietnam airlines business class 787

Similarly, if you’re willing to fly China Eastern and take a 10 hour (!) layover in Shanghai (get out and enjoy the city) then you can fly from SIN-PVG-SFO for S$4K, less than half the price of flying direct. For PVG-SFO you’ll be flying on China Eastern’s 777-300 aircraft. I don’t know about you, but this cabin seating arrangement looks pretty decent to me…

Image result for china eastern 777-300 business class
photo credit: OMAAT

And if you want to go from Singapore to Melbourne and are ok with a 3.5 hour layover in KUL, you can buy a S$2.6K ticket with Malaysia Airlines that will first send you to KL on an unmemorable MAS flight, then onwards to Melbourne on Malaysia Airlines’ new business class on their A330. This is another excellent looking full flat product where the majority of seats (but not all) boast full aisle access. Have a read of a trip report here.

Observation 2: Positioning yourself to BKK/KL can also yield some attractive deals

If you’re not keen on a long layover, it is possible to position yourself to BKK/KL via a budget flight and do a non-stop flight onwards to your final destination. But be warned- budget airlines are unlikely to offer through check-in and this means you may, in a worst case scenario, need to budget time to clear immigration and collect your bags before checking in for your onward flight. All that takes time.

For example, Singapore to Frankfurt direct on SQ will set you back S$6.6K, but flying from Bangkok will cost S$5.2K. TG operates the A380 from BKK-FRA, where you can enjoy the 1-2-1 full flat Thai Business Class.  I think Thai’s business class product is inferior to SQ’s, but it’s still a  full flat and all aisle arrangement (plus, you’ll get to use the Royal Orchid Spa in Bangkok). I think that’s worth saving S$1.4K, provided you can arrange a quick transit in Bangkok.

Image result for thai a380 business class

Similarly, KL to LHR costs S$3,871 direct on Malaysia Airlines (versus S$5,839 on SQ). This is the only route where MAS operates its A380s, and although the business class product here has very little privacy, it’s still a full flat bed.

Image result for malaysia airlines a380 business class

Observation 3: Positioning + 1 stop can yield  some very good deals

You can get to Melbourne in business class for S$2,146 or S$2,245 with Royal Brunei and Thai Airways respectively if you fly out of KL.

Royal Brunei operates its 787 on the route to Melbourne and, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the business class cabin looks pretty good too. You will have a 5.5 hour layover in Bandar Seri Begawan. I’ve never been there but I think it’s safe to say it isn’t exactly the entertainment capital of the world. Also, Royal Brunei is a dry airline, so be warned. You won’t be popping bottles in the aisles. Here’s a trip report if you’re curious.

Image result for royal brunei 787 business class

Image result for royal brunei 787 business class

The Thai option seems better in the sense that the layover is only 2 hours. So you’ll find your own way to KL, then go KUL-BKK-MEL for a total flight time of 11 hours (+ 2 hour layover). Sure you’ll need to budget in some time for transit but it’s not that much worse than flying from SIN direct. And S$2.2K for round trip business class is a good deal in my book. Thai operates a 777-300 on this route with a similar product to that on the A380.

Sydney can also be reached from KL and BKK for roughly the same price with 1 stop as well.

Conclusion

I think there’s something to be said here about the comfort vs time trade off. Your leave is precious, and I can understand why people would rather take a 10 hour direct flight in economy than spend 20 hours with connections and layovers. If you’re the sort of person for whom the destination is the point, by all means book economy and enjoy more time on the ground.

I guess I’m weird that way in that the getting there is the highlight of my trip. And if you take it from the point of view that you’re getting an additional stopover in another city while travelling in a better cabin class and paying less, then the equation certainly changes. For example, even if I were ultimately heading to San Francisco, I could certainly make a case for a 10 hour stopover in Shanghai just to take in some sights and food en route (I think the difficulty comes in when the layover is neither here nor there. 5 hours in Hanoi, for example, is a bit too short to do anything meaningful in the city but too long to just wait in the airport)

Are there any other closeby cities to Singapore with good options for premium cabin revenue fares?

Revisiting the value of a mile

Since discovering the Miles and Points game 3 years ago, Jeriel has now spent a disproportionate amount of time reading the T&Cs of credit cards and frequent flyer programs. His grand plans for round-the-world premium travel has taken a hit since the arrival of his daughter, but he is still determined to fly as far, frequently and luxuriously as possible on Miles and Points. Expect more family-orientated trip reports and travel tips from him!


I noticed some reader comments on the recent article on the latest Krisflyer promotion asking if it was worth redeeming Premium Economy and Economy awards at around 2.8 to 3.5 cents per mile (after factoring in the additional 15% discount). The response given to those questions (and rightly so) was ‘it depends’, but I suppose that isn’t the most helpful answer if you’re deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on a redemption. This article is a whole lot longer answer to those questions. Be warned though; it may just be equally unhelpful. 😀

My basis thesis is this: all decisions that we make when playing this game boils down to one simple, existential question we each must answer for ourselves: how much do we value a mile? This is not only limited to making award redemptions (using miles), but also when choosing the credit card with which to make day to day purchases (earning miles). If you have accurately and confidently valued the miles for yourself, then making decisions like the ones encountered by our readers should be a little easier.

In one of the very first Milelion articles, Aaron explained how the value of a mile is variable, depending on the class of travel you redeem for. Using the formula; value per mile = (revenue ticket cost – taxes) / no. of miles used, redemptions for Economy tickets generally get you about 2-3c/mile, Business ticket redemptions will fetch you 4-6c/mile, and First Class tickets will give you a return of about 6-9c/mile. That’s all well and good, but if that is the case, why does one of the world’s most well-known (and well-flown) travel hacker only value SQ Krisflyer miles at 1.5 US Cents (around 2.1 cents) each?

I shall try to explain this by exploring two different perspectives; using miles and earning miles.

  1. Using Miles

Put simply, although it feels and looks good, it is overly simplistic to tag the value of the mile to what a revenue ticket would otherwise cost.

It is certainly click-bait when you say something like ‘I’m flying on a S$20,000 plane ticket and I got it for free!’, and that’s what some travel bloggers do to boost readership. It also makes you feel that you’ve gamed the system and ‘earned’ that S$20,000 ticket through your genius credit card strategies. After all, assuming an earn rate of 4 miles per dollar on specific categories of spending (excluding limited time promotions and sign-up bonuses), theoretically an award redemption on a First Class ticket will give you 9 cents x 4 miles = 36 cents per dollar! That is essentially a 36% rebate on every dollar you’ve spent.

However, if you take a step back and think about it rationally, something about this just doesn’t feel quite right. Are you really getting 36 cents of cold hard cash back for every dollar you’ve spent as you’re stretched out on your double bed sipping away at Krug and shoving caviar in your face at 40,000ft? My argument is probably not.

Another way to think about it is this: imagine that ABC Bank has decided to launch a cashback card with a 36% cashback rate. You hear about it first on Milelion and are one of the first people to get the card. After a year of spending, you found that you have accumulated S$17,850 in cashback credit, which you decide you want to use to go on a holiday to New York. Would you spend all that cash on a return ticket in SQ Suites to JFK, or fly in plain ol’ economy and use the remaining S$16,000 on the other holiday expenses (and probably still have some change left over?) My bet would be on the latter.

In short, thinking you’re actually getting 6-9c of real, monetary value back even when making a First Class award redemption is just being naïve. Ditto for the 4-6c/mile you think you’re getting when making Business Class redemptions.

sin-jfk

Even if you could afford this… Would you really?

Well, what then is a mile really worth? The closest you can get to its real, tangible value is the 1-2 cents/mile on Economy redemptions. This is because the revenue cost of the economy ticket is exactly what you would have paid to fly from destination A to B had you not made an award redemption.

At the same time, we know that a mile is definitely worth more than 1-2 cents when we make premium redemptions. The additional space, better food, increased baggage allowance, lounge access and better service are all real and tangible and are surely worth something.

Value and worth are subjective. There are some people who have no qualms about shelling out hundreds of dollars to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, and others who just cannot understand what the fuss is about, even if they could easily afford it. Similarly, a Business/First class ticket is worth different things to different people. This could be subject to a myriad of factors. To the businessman who flies Business Class for work every week, the premium experience may be worth so little that he’d rather take a road trip than fly for a holiday. To the honeymoon couple who have never flown premium in their lives, they may just be willing to pay a little more for the special occasion.

A simple mental exercise to value a mile could go something like this: imagine an open bidding system for a Business or First class ticket. How much would you pay in actual cash to fly premium? Ask yourself honestly and you may be close to a comfortable cent per mile valuation for your purposes.

If I haven’t done enough to burst your mile valuation bubble (if you had one), there is also the issue of the illiquidity of miles as a currency. So far, all the numbers I’ve given are based on SQ Saver level awards, factoring in the 15% online discount. But as anyone who has even attempted award redemption will tell you, life is not always a bed of roses. More often than not, the exact award you want will not be available. On our end we do our best to remain flexible in our travel times and dates, but sometimes it will be inevitable that one may have to redeem for Standard awards or even Partner awards, which represent less value. The inflexibility in the ability of miles to purchase the exact ticket you want subtracts significantly from its inherent value as a currency.

For my own purposes, I have valued my KF miles at 2.5 cents / mile. At 91,375 miles for a one way ticket to Europe / U.S. West Coast on First/Suites Class, that means I’m prepared to pay about S$2284 to fly First on that route. That sum may be higher or lower for you, so that’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.

  1. Earning Miles

At this juncture I’m sure some of you must have your hands up in the air. How can I possibly be valuing award redemptions in terms of spending real cash when these are rewards points gotten free?

Well, the purchasing power of a mile may be variable, but we acquire or earn our miles at a very real, tangible cost which is more or less fixed; its opportunity cost.

Have you ever called for a bill at a restaurant and proudly took out your UOB Preferred Platinum Amex or your HSBC Advance Visa Platinum, all ready to earn the 4 miles/dollar, only for the wait staff to intone ‘eh Sir, got 15% off if you use DBS card leh.’ You have a DBS Altitude Card in your wallet, but you know that only gives you 1.2 miles/dollar. That a massive difference of 2.8 miles and your upcoming plans to fly Suites to London flashes before your eyes. You hesitate and ask yourself in a hushed whisper ‘What would Milelion Do (WWMD)?’

It is easy to see the opportunity cost here. You are essentially choosing between 2.6 miles/dollar OR 15% off your bill. Assuming a bill of S$100, it comes down to 260 miles vs. a S$15 discount. If you choose the miles, you have ‘paid’ S$15/260 miles = 5.8 cents/mile. You remember that Suites redemptions give you value of 6-9 cents/mile and you are satisfied with your decision.

But wait a minute, the S$15 you’ve given up is as good as cash, there’s no variable value there. Taken to the extreme, if all the miles you have were obtained at such an opportunity cost, suddenly the one-way Suites ticket to London I was talking about would balloon to 91375 miles x 0.058 = S$3944. Doesn’t look too value for money now does it?

Of course, this is just one possible scenario to illustrate opportunity cost. There are other, more complicated examples with similar consequences. One scenario which I’ve spent countless hours arguing with some friends about involve the ‘enhanced interest rate savings accounts’ offered by quite a few banks here. This includes the famous OCBC 360 Account, Standard Chartered Bonus$aver Account and similar offerings by the other banks. Do you choose to meet the minimum spend on the prescribed credit/debit card (which usually has little to no rewards points) to hit the 3+% of interest on your account balance, or use a points-earning credit card? That interest earned is too a real, tangible opportunity cost to alternate, mile-earning credit card strategies.

This is where a reasonable valuation of your miles come in handy. Using my example of 2.5 cents a mile, at an earn rate of 4 miles/dollar, I’m essentially saying that I will only accept an opportunity cost only up to 10 cents/dollar (or a 10% discount). I can then use that value to quickly calculate at the point of sale if it is worth it to go for the miles, or take the other option. In the above example, the incremental 2.6 miles is only worth 6.5 cents (or 6.5%). So while I wouldn’t know WWMD exactly, I for one would go for the 15% discount in a heartbeat.

If you keep strictly to your valuation, you ensure that none of your miles have been obtained for a higher opportunity cost than your pre-defined value (in my case, 2.5 cents/mile). This then comes full circle when I make a redemption. Obviously, I still try to redeem for premium tickets to maximize the value I’m getting, but if push comes to shove and I have to redeem for a less than ideal product (for e.g. Economy or even Silkair Business Class), I am comfortable with making the decision as I know exactly how much I am ‘paying’ for it.

To illustrate this, take my recent trip to Siem Reap under the 50% Silkair redemption promotion. I used 40,000 miles in total for return Business Class tickets for my wife and myself. Some may not be comfortable using hard-earned miles on an inferior product. It was a pretty last minute trip, so economy tickets on the same carrier (Silkair) and even on budget airlines were going for S$800/pax return. Revenue tickets on SIN REP Business Class on Silkair goes for about S$1750/pax return. Based on that revenue ticket cost, I was getting about 7-8 cents/mile on that redemption. While it was thus a good redemption to make on paper, I can confidently say very little of us will value 2 hours in Silkair Biz at S$1.7k, so that 7-8 cents/mile is not a very reliable metric on which to base my decision on.

img_3321

No champagne, meals are essentially economy grub in glassware… Who even pays revenue prices?

However, the decision becomes easier when using my valuation of 2.5 cents/mile. Thinking from that perspective, I ‘paid’ S$500 per ticket. That is even less that what I would have paid for a (albeit overpriced) economy ticket for the dates I wanted to travel on. With that logic, it was an acceptable redemption to make.

TL;DR?

Set an (essentially) arbitrary cent per mile value with which you can make decisions on earning and redeeming miles. I recommend this to be between 2 to 3 cents per mile.

Do you agree with my logic? How do you value your miles and craft your spending strategies to truly maximize the value you get out of your spending? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

The Long Way to New York: FRA-SIN in Suites

Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class SIN-BKK
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa, BKK
Thai Airways First Class BKK-HND
Getting from HND to NRT
ANA First Class Lounge, NRT
ANA First Class NRT-ORD
United Club ORD
United Economy ORD-EWR
Visiting the US Open
Sheraton New York Times Square
Hilton New York Midtown
Wingtips Lounge JFK & Delta to DC
Exploring Washington DC
Element New York Times Square West
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, JFK
Singapore Airlines Suites JFK-FRA
Lufthansa Senator Lounge FRA
Singapore Airlines Suites FRA-SIN


After a two hour stopover SQ 25 was ready to resume its journey from Frankfurt back to Singapore. The 2nd leg is in fact longer than the 1st, clocking in at about 11.5 hours (versus just under 7 for JFK-FRA), which also explains why you can get a saver Suites ticket for 57,375 miles from FRA-JFK but need to spend 91,375 miles to go from FRA-SIN.

Given that it’s 93,500 miles to go SIN-FRA-JFK, if you wanted to go to FRA it might even make sense to throw in $100 (on a one-way saver) to add a stopover in Frankfurt, after which it’s like having a bonus onwards ticket to New York. I’m sure some people can make that kind of itinerary work .

The load on FRA-SIN looked every bit as full as the load from JFK-FRA. There was the usual scrum at boarding but everything was don with German efficiency and before long I was heading down the jetway to meet a new crew for the 2nd leg.

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The cabin shots from the JFK-FRA leg had a yellowish tint to them thanks to the cabin lighting (it was night time). No such issues this time- we had the full force of the morning sun blazing into the cabin.

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I made my way back to 1F which was ready for its closeup.

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Unlike on the JFK-FRA leg, this flight had the personalized little cards in each suite with the name of the person who prepared it. I love small touches like these.

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And unlike the JFK-FRA leg, SQ is able to serve alcoholic drinks on the tarmac at FRA (can anyone familiar with customs laws tell me what determines whether or not an airline serves alcohol before takeoff? I imagine they get taxed for every bottle they open on the ground but surely there’s some rule that governs this?).

I finally figured out that I could make better menu shots simply by using the crop feature.

Krug was the drink of choice for FRA-SIN.

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A second amenities kit and set of PJs were given to me, although I had already received one on the first leg.

I mentioned in passing to the crew that I was trying to collect the SQ Teddy bears and they gladly obliged by bringing over two.

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I took an expansive approach to my seat, as this shot shows.

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After takeoff the crew came around to take lunch orders.

As with all SQ lunch services, this one started with:

Singapore Chicken and Lamb Satay

With onion, cucumber and spicy peanut sauce

Satay is a mainstay of all SQ premium cabin meal services, but I’ve noticed the quality really differs depending on which station you fly from. These were fairly good, although I still think the best satay is catered out of Singapore.

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Warm Crusted Scallop with Olive Cream and Pancetta

Served with tomato confit and celery

Caviar was available again and I’ll be honest, I was tempted. But I had photographed the caviar on the JFK-FRA leg and for the sake of photo variety I wanted to take a photo of something else. The sacrifices I make…

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Tom Yum Gai Soup

Spicy Thai broth with chicken and lemon grass

Not usually a big fan of tom yum but it sounded better than the alternative (pumpkin soup with amaretto, pumpkin and balsamic vinegar). I quite enjoyed this version of it though. It was unfortunately toned down for western palates but still retained enough of heat you could sort of see what they were going for.

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Salad of baby spinach, arugula, frisee, tomato and kalamata olive

With choice of Balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil dressing or sundried tomato dressing

I’ve never been a fan of airline salads and this didn’t do anything to change my mind.

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There were several choices of mains but I had ordered lobster thermidor through book the cook.

Seared iberico pork loin with quince puree and jus

Served with savoy cabbage, sous-vide cold red apple wedges and artichoke

Pan grilled fillet of beef with rosemary jus

With buttered broccolini with pinenuts, roma tomato and green olive mash

Gaeng Phed Ped Yaang

Thai style red curry roasted duck, vegetables and steamed rice

Egg Noodles in soup

With seafood, Chinese greens and mushroom

I wish SQ had a lighter lobster option. Perhaps something grilled or steamed, or at least not smothered in cheese the way lobster thermidor is. Even an Asian take on lobster (lobster dumpings, chili crab style lobster…) would be great.

The lobster was fine, once I scraped off most of the cheese. I’m not a fan of saffron rice, so come to think of it I’m not sure why I ordered this. Good photos, though.

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Amaretto Bonet with Almond Ice Cream

And apricot puree

Chocolate Bailey’s Cherry Gateau

With vanilla ice cream

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I just opted for the vanilla ice cream and skipped the cake. It wasn’t good. It was more ice than ice cream. Which suggests the caterer was using a cheap brand with a low butterfat content. You know how when you have premium brand ice cream like Haagen Daz or (to a lesser extent) Ben and Jerry’s you can taste the rich creaminess of the milk? And when you have cheaper ice cream (think Marigold) you can taste ice crystals? This was much closer to the latter.

The dishes were cleared and the bed was made. It was too early to take a nap so I decided to browse some of the IFE

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The highlights this month included Jungle Book, a film I dismissed with a meh when it was released in cinemas but warmed up to when I read the reviews.

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I thought it was a great film. Idris Elba made a great Shere Khan, and I believe this was the first move to show Scarlett Johansson without makeup. I’m sure in the midst of all the capering there was some vague commentary on colonialism but that might just have been the 5th glass of Krug talking.

There are still a lot of questions coming through about just how private the Suite is and whether or not the blinds are see-through. I have no idea what people are anticipating doing within the confines of the Suite, but as a public service I will post this again-

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You can see through the top bit of the blinds. I have to believe this is design rather than oversight.

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Similarly, the bottom of the blinds also has the see through mesh. So let me take great pains to emphasize again- keep it PG in there.

I took a nap and awoke about 4 hours from Singapore.

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I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this before but the A380 has to be one of the quietest aircraft cabins I’ve ever been in (perhaps second only to the 787). Perhaps it was because I was seated in the nose section, but it felt entirely different from the experience on a 777 or 330 (cabin noise is not always a bad thing though- I’d rather hear the drone of an aircraft engine than the snoring of my seatmate).

It was time for a snack.

SQ doesn’t have the best snacks menu, and it’s a right shame. Here’s their snack menu

  • Egg noodles (prawns, vegetables, oriental chicken stock)
  • Kway teow (chicken black mushroom, oriental chicken stock)
  • Beehoon noodles (chinese greens, black mushroom and vegetable stock)
  • Ciabatta with cheddar cheese and grilled marinated vegetables
  • Wrap with smoked turkey, leafy salad and guacamole
  • Warm focaccia sandwich with gammon ham and roasted vegetables
  • Assorted nuts, chocolate bar, potato chips, butter cookies, cookies, fresh fruit, cheese

And for comparison, here’s what Etihad has to offer on a long haul flight in First Class

  • The Etihad Steak Sandwich (rocket leaves, turkey rashers, red onion compote, melted cheese, mayonnaise and grain mustard)
  • Beef fillet steak (chive omelette, king oyster mushroom and baked tomato)
  • Selection of Asian snacks (radish cake, prawn wonton, shrimp shumai, tofu dim sum, tahi fish cake, gulian sauce)
  • Made to order sandwiches
  • Breakfast bakery basket
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Fresh organic eggs cooked to order
  • Afternoon tea (scones, sweets, finger sandwiches)
  • Fresh fruit, Ice Cream, Potato chips, Fresh baked cookies and madeleines, Swedish crisp breads, Baklava, Cheese

SQ’s offerings are basically sandwiches or noodles. And their noodles are variations on a theme- you get instant noodles or kway teow, and you get chicken stock, mushroom, prawn and vegetables in some permutation or other. Their sandwiches also aren’t freshly made like they are on Etihad.

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I ended up going for the kway teow with chicken and prawn. If there’s one product flaw with Suites, it’s the inability to dine in bed mode (this is possible in the 77W First and Business class products). But because the bed was just so comfortable I asked the crew if it were possible to bring the portable table they have, which they gladly obliged.

The portable table, as you can see from the shot above, doesn’t have anywhere near the space of the main fold out one but it was more than sufficient for a plate of noodles. Hopefully the next generation of Suites will have a tray table that can be deployed in bed mode because nothing says luxury quite like breakfast in bed.

Speaking of which, breakfast service started about 2 hours before landing.

The meal started with a serving of fresh fruit

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I skipped the corn flakes. I don’t know how people can tell me corn flakes are healthy. It’s probably because they’re so bland that people think “something that tastes this bland has to be healthy”. But do a bit of reading and you’ll learn about the rather interesting history of corn flakes

For the mains there were choices of the following

Pork Congee

Singapore style sliced pork and meatballs in rice porridge

Nasi Lemak

Coconut flavored rice with sambal, omelette, marinated chicken and peanuts

Trilogy of seared beef fillet, lamb loin and veal sausage

With cafe de Paris butter, mesclun and potato cake

Fresh eggs

Prepared baked, scrambled or boiled with brie cheese, cherry tomatoes  and mesclun. Choice of bacon or chicken sausage

Lunches and dinners are pretty luxurious in First Class, but can you really glam up breakfast? The most atas option was probably the “trilogy” of beef, lamb and veal and that was probably because of the name.

Congee was the preferred choice for me then. It was good enough, if not a bit of an underwhelming option for First Class.

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I asked them to prepare a side of eggs for me which came out really nicely. I wonder how they prepare scrambled eggs in the galley.

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Before long my 2nd (or 3rd, if you count this trip as two flights) suites experience was drawing to a close. I remember how excited I was when I first reviewed Suites. Although that first time excitement can never really be recaptured, it’s still an amazing product to fly and it’s probably the closest thing you can get to a private jet experience with miles (well, you can do this too but you’d be dumb).

I mentioned before that when SQ launches its updated Suites product (very likely to be in 2017) the size of the Suites cabin will also shrink. Shrink by how much exactly I do not know, but this means that award space will be much harder to get. For the moment it is still possible to book 2x Suite Savers at one go on certain routes, if you get lucky. So if the Suites experience is on your bucket list, no time like the present.