Tag Archives: eva

Miami, no vice: The EVA and SQ Taipei lounges- in daylight

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
Revisiting the Taipei lounges


I thought I’d wrap up this trip report (a few months late) by revisiting the lounges in Taipei. The flight back to Singapore was with EVA, which was excellent as usual but pretty much the same as the previous reports.

However, my previous review of the lounges in Taipei was blighted by horrible lighting and photography. The way the Taipei airport tweaks the lighting in the evening means the lights are bouncing off every shiny/reflective surface, resulting in gems like this

This is not my fault as I am an awesome photographer and have been asked by many women to photograph them like one of my french girls. Besides, we all know that people read The Milelion for award winning, visually stunning photographs and not the dreck that passes for writing.

My flight from JFK to Taipei landed in the wee hours of the morning, and my Ansel Adams senses told me that the lighting at this hour was much different and more conducive to photography. So I decided to give it another shot-

EVA Air Lounge (Infinity & Star)

The Infinity lounge was deserted this early in the morning, which made photo taking a lot easier (remember the difference between the two is that the Infinity lounge is for EVA Air’s business class passengers, whereas the Star is for Star Alliance Gold passengers. If you’re a Star Gold flying EVA Air Business Class you can access both). You can see that, for whatever reason, my camera isn’t producing those weird lens flare things now. Here’s the main sitting area in front of the buffet, just before the Tron Tree.

And the Tron Tree itself! So much easier to photograph now.

The row of chairs that lines the wall facing the public departure area.

I came early. Like really early. So early the food for the buffet wasn’t even out yet. That was fine, as I wasn’t particularly hungry.

I decided to cross over to the Star lounge to attempt re-photography. They were also in the process of setting up breakfast.

There was tons of seating when I first arrived, but the place gradually filled up as more early morning flights landed.

The Star lounge has a quiet area with recliner seats. No separate sleeping rooms, sadly, but hey, we can’t all be the Al Safwa lounge.

Eventually the buffet was set up and I wandered over to take a look. There was a good selection of cooked and cold items, with a strong emphasis on vegetarian stuff.

But there was also back bacon, which made everything better.

It was early but the deserts and cheeses were out too.

As well as the full range of drinks.

I had the quintessential lounge meal- a bit of everything. The pasta was surprisingly passable, although and the broccoli was fresh and crunchy.

The Infinity & Star lounges are good enough to pass an hour or two, although they wouldn’t be in the “come early for this” category. They’ve got a good selection of food and places to work, but there’s no wow factor like a lounge, day rooms, video games or any bells and whistles. Kind of reminds me of the SilverKris lounges, come to think of it.

That brings me to…

SQ SilverKris Lounge

After taking my photos in the EVA air lounge I realised that it was just about opening time for the SilverKris lounge. As a lowly KF EG member, I am cast out from the SilverKris lounges in Singapore, but welcome to the ones overseas. Quite frankly, I’ve not met a SilverKris lounge I didn’t like- the one in London is amazing, the Bangkok one just got refurbished and I must be one of those rare few who appreciated the one in SFO before it got closed down.

I went on over to discover that I was the first person in the lounge! I could do whatever shenanigans I wanted and there’d be no one to give me puzzled looks. I could compose artistic angles, painstakingly document the buffet and take the sort of high impact photography people have come to expect of The Milelion. I felt like setting up a scaffolding and painting the roof.

The lounge hasn’t had its makeover to match SQ’s new Home theme, but it’s still a very pleasant place to be nonetheless. There is no separate First Class section (SQ doesn’t operate first class to Taipei anyway), so the entire lounge is one big room with plenty of seating by the windows, at the marble tables and by the TV.

They also had a wide selection of reading materials

I was so early the buffet hadn’t even been put out. But when it had, I made a beeline to photograph the food in its perfect virginal state. I was giddy with excitement, to be able to take proper photos without someone nudging me out of the way with a serving spoon.

The food options were substantial- scrambled eggs, dumplings and what I think is chicken.

And two kinds of veggies plus fried noodles

A steamer had a limited selection of baos and siu mai.

There was surprisingly good bak kut teh. I don’t know if they imported the mix from Singapore or made it in house, but it was nice and peppery and had an excellent kick.

They had cheese and cookies out as well.

And you could try and toast some stale bread to bring new life into it.

The full alcohol selection was out, with the usual hard liquors and wines.

The fridge was full of soft drinks, juice, fruit, yogurt and beer.

I assembled a plate and felt sophisticated sitting at the marble table, reading my favourite government mouthpiece and praying I wouldn’t run into a Sumiko Tan article.

The other great feature of the lounge was this display case which shows off all sorts of kitsch SQ accessories. I can’t believe they don’t have something similar in the Singapore lounge.

Have you seen SQ monopoly?

Or the SQ Hello Kitty dolls?

Or kebaya-patterned monkeys (not for sale sadly)

Or the SQ A380 playset?

On the whole, I actually slightly prefer the SilverKris lounge to the Infinity and the Star, simply because it’s less crowded. The majority of Star Gold passengers transiting through Taipei would be directed to the EVA lounges, and the SilverKris facility is relatively more under the radar. Yet it still has good food, comfortable seating and shower facilities.

So this wraps up Miami, no vice. For a novice to Miami (see what I did there), it was a great trip and full of places I’d love to re-visit (especially the Keys. Pity Bloodline Season 3 was such a steaming pile of refuse). I know I originally planned to do something on Disneyworld, but I think I’m going to save that for a special occasion…

Miami, no vice: Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
Revisiting the Taipei lounges


As I stepped off the aircraft I felt a sudden return to normality, as if the ghosts of Hello Kitty had been exorcised. I could now return to regularly scheduled programming.

The lounge situation in Taipei for Star Alliance Gold passengers is a bit confusing due to the sheer number of options there are. The Star Alliance lounge finder page would have you believe it’s very simple-

But when you get to the lounge area, you’ll see signs for the SQ lounge plus four lounge offerings for EVA

  • The Infinity
  • The Club
  • The Star
  • The Garden

Side note: I want to point out that the lighting in the Taipei airport is awful for photo taking. The interior of the terminal has little to no natural light, relying instead on the strong beams of overhead and spot lighting to illuminate things. Here’s an example of what I mean

You can see all those lens flares coming out from every light source. Any pro photographers can advise me on how I can reduce this effect (switching away from a Blackberry camera is not an acceptable answer)?

The EVA website isn’t very helpful in explaining the difference among the lounges or their access requirements

So, which of the 4 EVA lounges should you visit?

The Infinity & Star (Star Alliance Gold/Business Class Passengers + EVA Business Class)

I’ll start with these two lounges because they’re colocated. This is where Star Alliance Gold and EVA Air Business Class passengers will be directed to by default.

When you enter the lounge you’ll have the option of turning left and going to the Star, or right and going to the Infinity. The names of the lounges are indicative- the Star is meant for Star Alliance Gold card members who are travelling in economy. The Infinity is meant for EVA Air Elites (remember their FFP name is the quite awesome “Infinity Mileagelands”) and EVA Air/Star Alliance Business Class passengers.

The lobby also has a robot butler. I’m marking them down a few grades because the robobutler did not iron my shirts and give me advice about my career as a vigilante, as I understand all butlers should do.

If you’re like me (A Star Gold member flying EVA Air business) you’ll be able to access both lounges. I visited the Infinity first.

The food area has several different stations.

You can get yourself a slice of very weird pizza

There was as selection of hot dishes and salads.

There was a whole urn of sweet potatoes. I’m guessing this is a Taiwanese thing.

You can even make your own hot dog.

The highlight of the lounge for me was the serve your own Movenpick ice cream.

Apart from ice cream, there was a limited selection of cakes and such.

The soft drinks

And the hard drinks.

There is no champagne or sparkling wine available in the lounge. Instead there was a chilled white wine on offer. Could I make my own sparkling wine if I mix white wine and soda water? The enquiring mind wants to know.

I assembled my favourite vacation meal- mixed rice with soup noodles and a carton of milk. Yum.

And I plonked myself in front of the Tron Tree.

There was also a business centre in a corner with 3 computers and a printer.

The Star lounge is equally big, if not larger (which makes sense, given the sheer number of Star Gold members who might be flying in economy)

What I like is that unlike SQ and their Krisflyer Gold lounge, EVA has not created some subpar lounge for Star Gold passengers. The catering here is very much the same as that in the Infinity.

I’m going to point out only the items that were available here but not in the Infinity.

The main difference in the hot catering was the addition of one dish not found in the Infinity- fried rice and meatballs. Always a winner.

The biggest difference for me? The ice cream- the Star had Haagen-Dazs. I can’t decide if Haagen-Dazs is better than Movenpick. Don’t make me choose.

Oh but there was no vanilla ice cream here. So I guess Movenpick wins.

The business centre here had the same computers and printing facilities as the Infinity.

I asked for a shower suite and after a short wait got one. This was probably the coolest experience of all- there are 4 shower suites in the Infinity, each with a unique name.

I was assigned “Fantasy Flow”, and was very mature by not making any jokes about menstruation and/or diarrhea.

What was unique is that you are given a keycard to tap and open the shower room.

And once inside, you need to insert the key card to power on the whole shebang.

FYI the loo has a bidet. Fantasy Flow, amirite.

There are L’occitane branded toiletries in pump bottles in the shower.

Other amenities like toothbrush, razor etc were all readily available.

Overall I think the Star and Infinity are nice enough lounges to kill an hour or so, but not something you’d arrive early at the airport for. Both lounges felt really crowded to me, and unfortunately EVA has not really created quiet areas in the lounge for resting.

The Garden (EVA Infinity Mileagelands Diamond)

The Garden is a special lounge set aside for top tier members of EVA’s own loyalty program. It is not open to Star Alliance partner carriers so unfortunately I couldn’t explore it.

I can’t find too many reports on this lounge, but I understand that in addition to the regular buffet it also has an order by menu selection.

The Club (EVA Infinity Mileagelands Silver)

EVA, amazingly, even has a lounge specially built for its silver tier members. This is the second lowest rung, just above base. It would be like SIA building a lounge for Krisflyer Elite Silver members (qualification for EVA Silver requires 30,000 miles in a 12 month period)

This lounge is definitely much smaller than the others, but it ends up being a lot less crowded because of the relatively fewer numbers of EVA Silver members (as opposed to the massive number of Star Golds and Business Class passengers).

There is a small enclave of F&B options. From what I could see, the catering is very similar to that offered in the Infinity/Star lounges. The biggest difference was there was no ice cream, and a smaller selection of hot food items.

The selection of alcohol was still the same as in the other lounges.

The lounge has shower suites too and its own bathroom.

Regardless of what you think about the quality of the food and drink, it’s still quite something that EVA has gone and created a lounge just for its Silver tier members.

So that’s the lounge situation in Taipei for Star Alliance travelers. Now there was just the short matter of the 13 hour flight to Houston…

Miami, no vice: EVA Hello Kitty Business Class SIN-TPE

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
Decoding the lounge situation in Taipei
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
Revisiting the Taipei lounges


The first thing you need to understand about The Milelion is that he is a prime specimen of male masculinity. Where he walks, women swoon and men shake their fists in envious grief. He causes mass hysteria in the countries he visits. His bodily fluids have been incorporated into TCM as a remedy for many ailments. Indeed, centuries from now, historians will be unable to reference any epoch without doing so in standard units of Milelions.

Image result for asian bodybuilding
File Photo of The Milelion, before breakfast

It is because of this rampant surplus of masculinity that The Milelion saw no issue with booking a trip to Miami via Houston and Taipei on one of EVA Air’s Hello Kitty services.

I was gushing (in a manly way, of course) to my colleague about the upcoming Miami trip and the many manly exploits I would do while I was there. I would boldly stare down brightly-colored fish while snorkeling, hurl obscenities at Florida gators from a covered walkway, shop for torso-hugging v-neck shirts at the premium outlets and take limited public transportation where necessary.

“Don’t real men fly long haul economy?” he asked.

I ignored his question. It really wasn’t my job to answer the questions of men less manly than me.


Image result for eva air launch hello kitty jet

EVA launched its first Hello Kitty jet back in October 2005 in a marketing tie-up with Sanrio. The first aircraft, an A330-200, was described as follows-

On the right side of the aircraft, identified with “Hello Kitty EVA Air,” Kitty and her friends greet passengers with welcoming smiles. Daniel Star, his aviator glasses perched on his forehead, stands nearest the cockpit with Kitty by his side. Tim and Tammy, the mischievous monkeys, sit over the wing. Joy, the blue mouse, is poised on the engine. And Mimmy White, Kitty’s sister, joins parents Mary and George White, near the back of the aircraft. On the left of the aircraft under “EVA Air Hello Kitty,” Kitty stands nearest the cockpit beside her friend Kathy, the white rabbit. Rory, the yellow squirrel, frolics on the engine. Tim and Tammy and Kitty’s family are featured in the same positions as on the other side of the aircraft.

EVA currently services Cebu, Narita, Houston, Singapore, Paris, Haeda, Fukuoka, Seoul and Shanghai with Hello Kitty jets. The jets have names such as

  • Gudetama Comfort Flight
  • Sanrio Characters Shining Star
  • Sanrio Family Hand in Hand
  • Hello Kitty Loves Apples
  • Bad Badtz-Maru Travel Fun

The Hello Kitty planes get moved around ever so often, and the Singapore route will no longer be operated with a Hello Kitty jet come 31 May. No time like the present.


I had booked a complimentary airport transfer through the UOB PRVI card, thanks to my overseas spending in well-known masculine business destination Rio de Janeiro the month before.

In theory the limo booking covers a 4 seater vehicle like a Mercedes E Class. However, the agency had sent over a 7 seater van instead. This usually entails a $10 upcharge if specifically requested for, but it was pretty obvious they sent the larger vehicle due to the masculine way in which I entered my credit card details.

“This is logical”, I thought. “My selected mode of transportation needs plenty of room for my outsized biceps”

I arrived at Terminal 3 around 2pm for a 3.45pm departure. Eva Air’s desks are located at Row 6, next to SQ’s premium economy check in. There were no queues when I arrived, and even if there were I’m sure they would have parted like the Red Sea. Such are the perks of well-toned delts, I thought as I pulled my abductor muscle lifting my bag onto the belt.

“Where are you headed today sir?” the agent inquired with a slight tremble in her voice as she beheld the Adonis before her. This is a normal response for women when they see The Milelion.

“Houston.” I grunted (manly men always grunt. It’s a mixture of muscle mass and constipation). Houston seemed a suitably masculine destination, what with its association with the oil and gas industry and all. Renewable energy is so for whimps.

She weighed and tagged my bag to IAH, probably entertaining daydreams about my life on the oil rigs (bodybuilding oil comes from oil rigs right?) where my bulging muscles would be used to turn giant valves, lift massive pipes, and fix the occasional IT problem because Renaissance man. I was disappointed to learn that my bag weighed a puny 13kg because this represented a wasted opportunity for tricep and forearm development.

“This is the Hello Kitty flight, yes?” I clarified as I dropped to the floor to do some one-handed pushups. I managed to do about three or four before my arms started hurting so I stopped. Circuit training is all about knowing your limits.

She confirmed that it was. I was relieved. Although BR215/216 should be operated by the Hello Kitty jet, there’s no accounting for last minute equipment swaps.

I’ve never understood the ritualistic defacing of boarding passes that happens at check-in. It’s almost as if the ground staff believe that your ability to locate your boarding jet or remember your legal name will be enhanced through a liberal application of blue pen to the boarding pass. Fortunately, there was nothing of that sort this time and I received unadulterated boarding passes. Formalities complete, she bade me a good trip.

I had about an hour to kill before boarding so I headed off to the SilverKris lounge, which I’ve reviewed several times before so will only give you the highlights.

I was looking for raw eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and other protein-rich foods for my physique. Instead, I only found a selection of fruits, salad, simple carbohydrates and sugary drinks. SQ’s lounge food is so unconducive to bodybuilding it makes my hamstrings hurt.

Real men also down copious amounts of alcohol, of course, and I was hoping that SQ might have added a tavern or some sort of alehouse to the lounge since my last visit. It would be an appropriate place to mount a table and tell stories about my many epic (cyber) battles while fair wenches pour libations freely.

Unfortunately, I only found a selection of nancy wines.

Wines aside, I’d like to call out SQ for this latest cost cutting measure of hide the bubbly.

When I first saw this sign it was during a morning departure slot. I assumed that the timing had something to do with it. It now appears, however, that SOP is to keep the champagne under lock and key, only attainable through social interaction. How nefarious. They know my one weakness.

Because I could not find anyone in the lounge willing to engage in arm-wrestling combat and/or hot oil wrestling, I decided to leave early for the plane.

BR216 was departing from Gate B5 today. Security clearance took longer than usual. The uninitiated may think that this was because there was a large student group reaching before me, but everyone knows it was because my abs of steel kept on setting off the metal detector. Even from the end of the queue.

From the gate I could make out the rear end of the Hello Kitty jet. Alas, this was one of those gates that didn’t give great tarmac views.

I positioned myself at the entrance so I could be the first on board. I knew the rest of the passengers would respect the Alpha male’s right to first boarding, but I didn’t want to make them wait too long.

Boarding started and I gracefully bounded down the jetway, reaching the aircraft slightly winded. These jetways were longer than I remember. Catching my breath, I took in the 77W cabin.

There is no question in my mind that EVA totally kicks SQ’s ass on SIN-TPE routes. SQ’s flights are operated by A330s which have its regional angled-flat business product.

Image result for sq a330 business class

EVA, on the other hand, operates 77Ws with its latest reverse-herringbone flatbed seat installed in a 1-2-1 configuration.

With the recent Krisflyer devaluation, it costs the same number of miles (27,500 one way) to fly in Business Class to Taipei on SQ as it does on Star Alliance partners. Therefore I’d encourage anyone who is considering redeeming tickets on this route to opt for the EVA option, given the superior hard product. EVA is quite generous in releasing partner award space on this route too.

Do you really need a flatbed seat on a 4.5 hour flight? No. But do I really need all these Arnold Schwarzenegger workout videos and free weights? Sometimes, we just feel like treating ourselves.

I was bracing myself for a full-fledged assault of Hello Kitty from the moment I boarded the plane, but was surprised that the cabin looked identical to that of every other EVA flight I’d flown so far.

On first glance, there were only two immediately noticeable features that identified this as a Kitty flight.

First, there was a framed painting at the front of the cabin. The painting in each aircraft is unique.

Second there was a Hello Kitty pillow at each seat. Of course, there were many more cobranded items, as I’d soon discover.

I settled into my seat and, with much effort, finally managed to hoist my handcarry bag in the overhead compartment. This was totally not due to any weakness in my upper body but more because of the poor UX design of airplane overhead compartments. Why must they involve lifting weights above shoulder level? Preposterous.

Besides, I had a more pressing task- getting my hair tonic to cold storage asap. I would like to remind everyone it is well documented that male pattern hair loss is caused by an excess of testosterone. It’s true. Testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone which in turn causes hair loss. It speaks volumes to my masculinity and excess testosterone production that I have attained such illustrious male pattern balding at the young age of 29, and I challenge anyone else to do better. Bruce Willis, Andre Agassi and Gandhi would be proud.

“Would you be able to store this in your cooler?” I asked of a passing flight attendant.

“Of course sir. Is this medicine?” she asked.

It most certainly was not. I bristled at the suggestion that a man such as I would require anything of the sort.  “It’s a supplement,” I said, in a prickly tone. Manly men do not use medicine. They merely require an abundance of supplements. Properly chastised, she took my supplement and disappeared into the galley.

Pre-departure drink orders were taken. I enquired if they had any protein powder milkshakes, failing which I would gladly have a glass of Rose. Unfortunately, EVA has joined the ranks of airlines which do not serve champagne on the ground, for duty reasons. They do serve sparkling wine thoughs (and I was very glad that the crew drew a distinction between sparkling wine and champagne)

As I sipped my cava I took stock of the Hello Kitty situation so far.  The flight wasn’t even 10 minutes old and I had a Hello Kitty pillow, slippers, menu and air sickness bag. They even had Hello Kitty safety cards.

I unwrapped the slippers and put them on. Was this too girly? I asked myself.

No, I decided. It was not. I had big feet. And you know what they say about men with big feet.

Besides, I was wearing said slippers while reading hypermasculine broadsheet The New York Times. And the guy on the front page was bald. This surely more than compensated for things.

The aircraft taxied and took off in unspectacular fashion. I was half expecting Hello Kitty’s voice to appear on the PA as he/she/it willed the dual engines to full throttle through the power of audible kawaii. This did not happen.

Soon after takeoff I got my glass of Rose. I realise there are some people out there who would dismiss Rose as girly. But rose is fine and totally not girly to drink because the red reminds me of the blood of my enemies that I shed so freely.

I had a look at the menu while waiting for my lunch order to be taken.

It was very disappointing to note that there wasn’t any game meat on the menu. After all, I was by now used to dining on freshly slaughtered elk, caribou and the occasional Bambi’s mom.

 

While waiting for the food, I scanned the IFE system, looking for programs on weightlifting, polar bear wrestling or steel manufacturing/other metallurgy (all of which are hobbies of mine). I ended up watching Gilmore Girls because my fingers accidentally bumped  the icon and my hands accidentally put the headphones on.

The crew came around to dress the table. As you might expect, the tablecloths on the flight are Hello Kitty branded too.

The first course was a sweet and savory salad with smoked salmon, mini-apple cubes and capsicum.

I would like to point out that the capsicum had been cut into tiny stars, because Hello Kitty is all about stars. You gotta admire the folks at SATS catering who do this. Perhaps it’s automated, but I think it is safe to say no other airline has star-shaped capsicum.

I went with the prawn noodle soup for the main. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t Wah Kee standard. The prawns were tiny and the deshelled frozen type, the veggies were soggy and there was an overabundance of fishcake.

Desert was an excellent double chocolate mousse.

A byproduct of manliness is a super efficient digestive system. Hence I required the bathroom soon after my meal.

But even the loo isn’t safe from cobranding. There is Hello Kitty toilet paper. Yes, you heard me right. Anyone who needs to go number two can relish in the fact that they are. shall we say, browning the kitty.

The hand soaps and lotions have special branding too.

However, the toilet seat is stock. Would it really be so hard/disturbing to have a Hello Kitty bidet? It could play happy star music while cleansing your unspeakable regions.

I normally don’t pay much attention to the inflight duty free catalogue, but this one was a thing of beauty. It was chock full of Hello Kitty merchandise.

I was partial to the apron, which would let me live out my iron chef man fantasies.

But the other items weren’t bad too.

In the end, I settled for two decks of free playing cards and a complimentary bag.

Before long, our flight started its descent into Taipei.

Did the Hello Kitty service live up to expectations? Although the flight crew did not break out into a song and dance number midway through service, I still think this has to go down as one of the most kitsch things to do in the world. And some people just like that. I can imagine a whole planeload of hipsters doing the flight ironically, for example .

I disembarked the aircraft, manliness still intact. Now it was time to figure out which of EVA’s 4 lounges I should use…

How to get from Singapore to Miami, or why March can’t come soon enough

I finally had time to sit down and plan my leave for 2017. Although the vast, unexplored spaces of South America and Africa beckoned, I consider myself to be pathologically boring and decided to visit the USA (again). But just so no one could call me predictable, I decided to explore the great state of Florida this time round.

Image result for florida america wang
Florida, aka America’s wang

Miami would be my first port of call. My virgin US open experience had whet my appetite for more high quality tennis and the Miami Masters were scheduled to take place at the end of March/start of April.

Image result for miami masters tennis

But Miami is also known for great beaches, beautiful art deco buildings, Cuban and Argentine influenced cuisine and much more.

Image result for miami art deco

And since I’m in Florida, it only made sense to visit Orlando too. I do love theme parks and the idea of visiting the theme park capital of the world, excites me to no end. Orlando boasts Disney World, the Epcot Centre, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Legoland. Seaworld…the list goes on and on.

Image result for orlando

I’ll definitely do a separate writeup on Orlando and Miami with things to do ala my DC trip report, but let’s first look at the higlight of the trip- getting there!

Getting to the States

map

It’s not that straightforward to get from Singapore to Miami on miles (if you’re wiling to pay revenue prices you could fly SIN-LHR-MIA, with the LHR-MIA leg operated by Virgin Atlantic). The closest major international airports to Miami were Houston and New York, both of which were about 2.5 hour connecting flights away from Miami. SQ25/26 is one of the hardest routes to clear award flights on, so I decided to look at Houston instead.

SQ recently announced that it would start routing its IAH flight through Manchester instead of Moscow, presumably due to the downturn in the global oil sector leading to less oil-related travel between Houston and Moscow. The flight is currently operated in a 3-class 77W (with the 2006 premium cabin products) but eagle eyed observers noted that from 1 Jan 2017 First Class space was no longer available for redemption or revenue bookings. The most logical conclusion was that SQ has identified this route for deploying the A350.

Image result for sq a350

I’m going to fly Thai’s A350 in December from Bangkok to Singapore, but this will be my first long haul A350 experience and I’m really excited.

Image result for sq a350 business class

SQ’s A350 has its newest (2013) business class seat, and although there are some complaints out there about how narrow the cabin is, I think it’ll still be a great trip report to write. The cost of a one-way redemption was 72,250 miles + S$412 of taxes.

Once I land in Houston I have 90 minutes to make my connection to a domestic flight to Miami. It’s a short connection for international-domestic and some might say I’m playing with fire, but I’ve recently been approved for Global Entry which gives me a good feeling about this. What could possibly go wrong!

Here’s where I took advantage of one of the great sweet spots on the Krisflyer partner award chart– the ability to redeem domestic US tickets for only 12,500 in economy.

Image result for united economy

I did so because the one-way ticket prices from Houston to Miami that matched my schedule were in excess of S$400. 12,500 miles and S$8 of taxes got me my United economy ticket. It’s a 2.5 hour flight and since Netflix now lets you download movies to watch offline, I figured I’d be just fine.

Getting back to Singapore

map

The next problem I faced was how to get back from the States. I had two options.

I could fly back to IAH and take EVA back to Singapore. The problem was that flights between Orlando and Houston were expensive and didn’t suit my timings. The most workable option was to fly with United, but that would get me into Houston at 5.55pm for a flight that took off after midnight.

And that would be an awkward kind of layover, because it’s too long to stay in the airport and too short to go out and explore. Plus, I didn’t really fancy paying US$70 for an Uber roundtrip to downtown Houston for just a couple of hours, with my bags in tow.

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So I looked at option 2 instead, which was to fly to JFK and take EVA’s 1.25am flight home. And that solved it- Jetblue was offering S$219 tickets one way from Orlando to JFK (with a bag included- any FYI, Jetblue flights now earn Krisflyer miles) that got me into JFK at 11pm. That was plenty of time to make the connection.

Despite hearing so many great things about Jetblue, this is actually going to be my first time flying with them, It’s unfortunate I couldn’t take advantage of their great points matching promotion not too long ago, but I’m nonetheless excited to see why this LCC is so much more loved than the legacy carriers in the states.

The only downside of this arrangement is that EVA operates its Hello Kitty service to Houston but not New York.

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High on my to-do list is try one of the EVA Air Hello Kitty flights at some point in the future. But I guess that’ll have to wait until I travel one of the follow routes…

Sidenote: I cannot access the EVA Air Hello Kitty website from my office. why? Well…

The flight cost me 78,000 Lifemiles +$30 of taxes for a total outlay of about US$1,100 (I bought my Lifemiles at 1.375 cents during the last sale)

My only regret is that I really wanted to try a new cabin product this time round. I suppose SQ’s A350 sort of counts, but I was secretly hoping there’d be award space on Asiana’s Business/First class or something available with one of the European carriers.

Has anyone been to Miami/Orlando? Any highlights/must dos?

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: EVA Air TPE-LAX

The Milelion is embarking on a round the world trip over the next 4 weeks to more than 10 different countries. En route I will be doing reviews of different airlines and hotels. This will be one really, really long trip report. Thanks for keeping me company.


Introduction: Around the world in 28 days
EVA Air Business Class Singapore to Taipei
EVA Air Business Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Silvercar LAX
Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
United First Class Los Angeles to Mexico City
Le Meridien Mexico City
United First Class  Mexico City to Houston
United Business Class Houston to Sao Paulo
Sheraton Sao Paulo WTC
South African Business Class Sao Paulo to Johannesburg
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin Zagreb
Croatia Airlines Business Class Zagreb to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Riyadh
Four Points Riyadh
Air India Business Class Riyadh to Mumbai
St Regis Mumbai
ANA Business Class Mumbai to Tokyo
Asiana Business Class Tokyo to Seoul
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore


EVA BR 226
Taipei (TPE)- Los Angeles (LAX)
Saturday, May 21
Depart: 18:40PM
Arrive: 3:25PM 
Duration:  11H30M
Aircraft: B777-300ER
Seat: 5K (Business Class)

The doors to the plane opened at 5:52pm which meant I had just short of 18 minutes to get to the lounge and snap some photos before connecting to BR12 to LAX. I cleared security again and went up an escalator to the departure area.

I saw a sign labelled “VIP Lounges” and headed briskly in that direction. After jogging for 5 minutes I wondered why I wasn’t getting any closer to the lounge. Then I paused, took a look at the terminal map and realised I’d been going the wrong way. Probably the champagne.

So I turned around and jogged in the opposite direction, now with only 8 minutes to go to boarding.

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EVA operates 4 different lounges in Taipei airport- The Infinity,  The Star, The Garden and The Club. Because I was in such a rush I didn’t have time to accomplish my original plan of visiting all 4. Something for next time then!

The Infinity was really crowded when I entered, presumably full of passengers on evening departures to the USA and Europe. Because of time constraints I only managed to get snaps of the food. There was a large buffet spread with the following highlights

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The Chinese options

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And the Western ones. Even though I’m a pasta snob I am still a sucker for a bad bolognaise. Especially when the caterer goes through great lengths to convince me of its pedigree.

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Truth be told, it was closer to la mian with ketchup than pasta

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The Movenpick ice cream station has been a staple of the EVA lounge even back in 2012 when I first visited. Ah, I remember that trip. I was en route to New York as part of a business study module at SMU.

Although I wasn’t as astute at the miles and points game then as I am now, I still had the good sense to get myself a Diners Card (the Delifrance co-branded one because it had a $500 credit limit version that students could apply for ) which gave me 1 free entry per year to any of the Diners contract lounges (for more info on lounge access via credit cards, check this out)

I digress.

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There was a make-your-own-hotdog station

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And a salad bar with Tron-style lighting

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And the usual well-stocked drinks fridge.

After a hurried visit I dashed off to the boarding gate where boarding was just about to start

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As for the flight- I’ve covered most aspects of the hard product on the SIN-TPE route so I won’t repeat them here. The only difference on this flight was that they were using a newer version of the Panasonic IFE system- the type SQ has on its new cabin products with the touchscreen. There were also 2 USB ports for charging (versus only 1 USB port on the SIN-TPE leg)

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What struck me most was the difference in service between EVA’s short haul and long haul routes. My SIN-TPE flight was solid, not spectacular. There were bits and pieces missing from the service element (be it addressing passengers by name or doing frequent passes of the cabin) that detracted from the whole experience.

Not so TPE-LAX. The difference was visible the moment I entered the cabin. The crew greeted each passenger and showed them to their seat (versus absent crew and seat yourself model for the SIN-TPE leg), each seat had bedding, a Rimowa amenities kit and a bottle of Fiji water waiting (versus nothing for SIN-TPE). Later on, a stewardess came by with pyjamas. There are only a handful of airlines that provide pyjamas in business class and they tend to be those who don’t have a first class anyway (eg Delta).

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I finally had my long-awaited Rimowa kit.

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The standard stuff inside- toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, moisturizing cream, eyeshades and grippy socks. I’d be interested to know how much EVA pays per kit because the crew tightly control its distribution- any empty seat didn’t have one waiting there, only the seats they saw on the manifest would be occupied.

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A welcome drink was served together with a Godiva chocolate. Just as it was the case in Singapore, EVA sticks to serving only sparkling wine on the ground in Taipei

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I found the service a lot warmer than the SIN-TPE leg as well. The crew made an effort to address every passenger by name and frequently patrolled the cabin to see if anyone needed anything.

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Here’s the dinner menu for the TPE-LAX leg. I was disappointed that Din Tai Fung catering was not available on this flight. I’ve yet to understand how EVA decides which flights get DTF catering because the TPE-SIN leg had it on offer.

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I decided to pair dinner with what must be my favourite travel book- A Week At The Airport by Alain De Botton. Although I must have read it half a dozen times, I still find new joy every time in reading De Botton’s exquisitely crafted prose. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, De Botton is the kind of man who can take the mundanities of life and describe them back to you in a way that makes you see them in a whole new perspective.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the book, if only to whet your appetite

“While punctuality lies at the heart of what we typically understand by a good trip, I have often longed for my plane to be delayed so that I might be forced to spend a bit more time at the airport. I have rarely shared this aspiration with other people, but in private I have hoped for a hydraulic leak from the undercarriage or a tempest off the Bay of Biscay, a bank of fog in Malpensa or a wildcat strike in the control tower in Malaga (famed in the industry as much for its hot-headed labour relations as for its even-handed command of much of western Mediterranean airspace). On occasion, I have even wished for a delay so severe that I would be offered a meal voucher or, more dramatically, a night at an airline’s expense in a giant concrete Kleenex box with unopenable windows, corridors decorated with nostalgic images of propeller planes and foam pillows infused with the distant smells of kerosene.”

Beautiful.

Dinner started with a strange hodgepodge of appetizers. What strikes me as weird is that even if you pick the Chinese option, everything up to the main course is Western-style. This starter had peaches, avacado salad, half a cherry tomato and goose liver pate.

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This was then followed by a perfectly passable tomato soup.

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Curiously enough EVA’s standard cutlery loadout does not include a spoon. I noticed this on the SIN-TPE leg but assumed I just got lucky. They only bring spoons for dishes that require them, like soup

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Next was a lifeless salad. Wilted greens were never a more appropriate description.

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And then the main event

Three Cup Chicken and Coconut Cream Chicken with Taro in Egg Crepe Parcel, Mixed Vegetables, Monascus Rice

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I’m particular about my rice and was intrigued to learn that apparently this was Chishang Premium rice, something I’d never heard of but heck, if they commit an entire page in the menu to it it’s got to be good, right?

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After dinner it was time to wash up and test out the bed. Another difference I noted between the short haul and the long haul was that for the TPE-LAX leg they set up an amenities dispenser in the looo with earplugs, towels and toothbrushes (despite the amenities kit already having a toothbrush and earplugs)

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Here’s a picture of the fully-deployed seat

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The bed was excellent. The cabin was 1/4 empty so I helped myself to an extra pillow and blanket, which I laid on the seat as a replacement padding. It should also be noted that the kind of blanket EVA uses on the long haul flights is very different from the short haul one. The short haul blanket was thin and more of a day-blanket, if such a term even exists. The long haul one was much warmer and less scratchy.

I slept a good 5 hours and awoke for the pre-landing refreshment service

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My first choice (Royal Laurel) was unfortunately not available. I guess everyone likes a big bowl of soup noodles first thing in the morning. It didn’t bother me too much because I was making a beeline for In-N-Out burger the minute I landed. Anecdotally though, I’ve never been denied a first choice meal on SQ. I’m not sure if it’s just differences in catering strategy or whether my (admittedly insignificant) KF Elite Gold status meant I got higher dibs on meal choices in the event of a tiebreak situation

So I went with the Chinese option, described as

Superior Chicken Millet Puree with Sea Cucumber, Steamed Bun with Egg Yolk and Sweet Butter Filling, Pork Patties with Coriander, Stir Fried Spinach with Lily Bulb and Wolfberry

The steamed bun with egg yolk (aka liu sha bao) was really good, the rest was average.

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And a fruit platter

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There were some great views coming into Los Angeles

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We landed at LAX and parked near a familiar face that was just pushing back from the terminal…

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So what do I think of EVA? It’s a tremendous product on long haul routes and a passable one on short haul.

I think their hard product is even slightly better than SQ’s (but that’s mainly due to a personal preference for more lounging positions and I can completely understand why people would prefer the more private, wider SQ business seat), and they offer a lot of other touches that SQ does not (vintage champagne, Rimowa amenities kits, pyjamas). I also feel SQ’s catering is superior, but that might be because I didn’t get a chance to try the Din Tai Fung dishes on EVA.

All in all, I’d have no hesitation to fly EVA again.


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One day, Donald Trump’s face could be the first thing you see when entering the United States…

There was a huge line at immigration but thankfully I had my APEC Business Travel card. There was no “official” signage for APEC but someone directed me to the wheelchair/diplomat line where I queued uncomfortably behind 5 people in wheelchairs, always fearing someone would loudly question my right to be in that line. In all I waited about 20 minutes, which is still a lot better off than the flight crew line (which was stretching out the back of the immigration area).

Now it was off to Silvercar to try my first ever rental experience with them.

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: Eva Air SIN-TPE

The Milelion is embarking on a round the world trip over the next 4 weeks to more than 10 different countries. En route I will be doing reviews of different airlines and hotels. This will be one really, really long trip report. Thanks for keeping me company.


Introduction: Around the world in 28 days
EVA Air Business Class Singapore to Taipei
EVA Air Business Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Silvercar LAX
Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
United First Class Los Angeles to Mexico City
Le Meridien Mexico City
United First Class  Mexico City to Houston
United Business Class Houston to Sao Paulo
Sheraton Sao Paulo WTC
South African Business Class Sao Paulo to Johannesburg
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin Zagreb
Croatia Airlines Business Class Zagreb to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Riyadh
Four Points Riyadh
Air India Business Class Riyadh to Mumbai
St Regis Mumbai
ANA Business Class Mumbai to Tokyo
Asiana Business Class Tokyo to Seoul
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore


EVA BR 226
Singapore (SIN)- Taipei (TPE)
Saturday, May 21
Depart: 1:10PM
Arrive: 5:45PM
Duration:  4H35Mins
Aircraft: B777-300ER
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

I last flew with EVA back in early 2014 and had a really great experience, so I was looking forward to trying them again 2 years later to see whether they had maintained that standard.

EVA Air operates out of T3 in Singapore, and check in was at Row 8.

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The check-in agent took one look at my itineary and her jaw-dropped (I booked a single RTW ticket so anyone with the PNR can see all 14+ legs at once).

“Going places sir?”

“And how!”

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Boarding passes were printed as well as lounge invitations. Fortunately, because I was travelling in Business I was invited to SQ’s Silverkris lounge, sparing me a visit to the Krisflyer Gold lounge (which, if you’ll recall has no toilet, showers, champagne or happiness).

There are countless reviews of the business class section of the Silverkris lounge so I won’t repeat them, suffice to say it was a solid if unspectacular place to kill the 30 mins prior to boarding. Here are some photos I snapped in case anyone’s interested

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The regular buffet
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Charles Heidsieck on offer
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As well as other libations
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A very anemic interpretation of the prawn noodles we all know and love. For best results, try Pek Kio’s Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles. Thank me later.
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And the rest of it
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Kids Menu!
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Curated reading material! Also terrible backlighting!

The most interesting thing I noted is that SQ has downsized its mineral water bottles from 500ml to 350ml. It doesn’t really bother me because Changi’s security setup doesn’t allow you to bring water from the lounge onto the plane anyway, but it was interesting that SQ’s bean counters had done the math and figured that it was better to serve more small bottles than fewer big bottles.

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BR226 departed from gate A13, where I was met with what was the longest security queue I’ve ever seen at Changi. A downside about Changi’s style of security is that they don’t have priority lanes for frequent flyers/premium cabin travellers. It took about 10 mins to clear.

I was surprised that there was no stewardess at the door to do the usual greet and seat escort. If anything, I thought that it was SOP to do one last (completely unnecessary)  check of the boarding passes to ensure you were getting on the right plane. In any case I guessed at which aisle to go down and guessed right, arriving at seat 2A.

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EVA has what I think is one of the best business class seats around- reverse herringbone. I would even go as far as to say I prefer it over SQ’s flip-style seat, simply because you can pick a whole range of angles to recline at (as opposed to SQ’s upright with minimal recline vs full flat mode)

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That said, the nature of the seat’s design means it is not as private as SQ’s. Also, there is no additional padding or linen given for the bed (but this could be because it is a day flight)

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The seat controls were conveniently located, and there were the usual assortment of power, USB and AV plugs as well.

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I liked the small storage area where I could put my passport and other barang barang. It said no stowage during taxi takeoff and landing but the stewardesses didn’t really care.

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I was also looking forward to collecting another Rimowa amenities kit to accompany my existing one from 2014, but unfortunately it seems that they don’t give them out on daytime flights. Only a pair of slippers was offered. I still held out hope I’d get a Rimowa kit on the TPE-LAX leg.

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The menu was distributed and I thought the design was absolutely stunning.

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This was the menu from SIN-TPE

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EVA’s catering is undoubtedly better out of TPE, where they have Din Tai Fung meals available. More on that in the report of the second leg.

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As for the drinks- EVA used to serve Dom Perignon a while back, but that’s been replaced by Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, which is still an excellent vintage champagne. In contrast, SQ does not serve vintage champagne in business class.

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On the ground EVA only serves sparking wine. I believe some airlines do this because there are duty implications if they open the expensive stuff on ground. The sparking wine was overly sweet and I didn’t finish most of it. A hot towel accompanied the pre-departure beverage.

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You’ve got to love the style of EVA’s flight safety video.

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The flight ended up departing about 20 minutes late due to the big hold up at security, but after a long take-off roll we were on our way!

The strange thing is that the captain didn’t turn off the seatbelt sign until well after 1 our of takeoff, but everyone was moving around the cabin like normal.

Freed from my constraints, I visited the bathroom to snap a few photos.

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I promise this is the only time you will have to look at me. Well, apart from all the other bathroom shots

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Nothing to write home about here- no amenities drawer, just some nice toiletries and an orchid.

After that it was on to lunch. Note to self: should I really arrange the meal photos and the bathroom ones so close to each other? Ah, no one cares.

The starter was a single scallop and some smoked salmon. Garlic bread (not pictured) was served.

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For the main, I had the

Wok Fried Chicken with Dried Chili in BBQ Sauce, Mixed Vegetables, Steamed Rice with Black Sesame

The main was quite disappointing and closer to something you’d expect in economy.

Likewise, desert was very basic

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So minus points for the catering, but how about the entertainment?

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EVA’s inflight entertainment is called “Star Gallery”. Some of the newer movies onboard included

  • Deadpool
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • The 5th Wave
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Spotlight

It was at this point I realised that headphones had not been provided. Whether that was by design or accident I wasn’t sure, but a quick request got that sorted out

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EVA uses Thunder-brand headphones. Either that or they make their own and put “Thunder” on it. They certainly weren’t QC15s, but they fit well and had good audio quality.

There was WiFi on board, and I was pleased to know that EVA uses the T-Mobile time-based system as opposed to SQ’s horrible OnAir volume-based system (at least on their A380s- I know some of SQ’s planes have T-Mobile). A 24 hour unlimited use pass cost US$21.95.

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I worked through the flight and didn’t have time to test out the bed (got to save something for the second leg, right?). But overall I thought the flight was good, but certainly not spectacular. The hard product is no doubt solid but the crew aren’t anywhere as personable as SQ’s. It’s the little things, really, like addressing you by name or making frequent passes through the cabin after meal service to check on passengers where SQ excels. That was missing from this experience.

That said, I realised my only other point of comparison for EVA was a long haul flight from TPE-SFO, so decided to reserve final judgment until my long haul segment was completed.

It was going to be a tight connection to my LAX flight, but I wanted to rush to the delightfully named “The Infinity” lounge and snap photos. As soon as the doors opened I grabbed my roll-on and ran.

The Milelion is going on an RTW trip

By night The Milelion fights (or at least complains very loudly about) the great injustices of poorly-conceived cobrand cards, cashback cards masquerading as miles earning cards and unannounced devaluations.

By day, The Milelion works as a management consultant fighting the evil forces of misaligned KPIs, fixing sub-optimal resource allocation and making a lot of powerpoint slides.

But it’s by virtue of the day job that in a few weeks, The Milelion will embark on a round the world itinerary. Although I can’t disclose the specific nature of the trip (you might read something about it in the papers come September) , it’s probably more fun to discuss the logistics rather than the purpose.

So I thought I’d use this article to walk you through how to book a round the world (RTW) fare with Star Alliance.

What are RTW fares?

All 3 airline alliances offer their own version of an RTW fare, but Star Alliance was the obvious choice for me because SQ is a member and it’s the largest alliance.

RTW fares can represent great value if you’re going to multiple destinations- an RTW fare in Business Class with 16 segments and 39,000 miles will cost ~S$20,000. To put things in perspective, a return trip business class fare from SIN-LAX would cost you about S$10,000 (It is also possible to redeem a Star Alliance RTW ticket using miles, 180,000 for economy, 240,000 for business and 360,000 for first, but as Athen points out below this only gets you 7 cities)

I’d like to share my experience using the booking engine. This article will be relevant whether you are buying a revenue RTW fare or planning to redeem a RTW fare for miles (although I imagine your flight choices would be more limited if you were redeeming)

Star Alliance RTW Fare Construction

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Basic Rules

Star Alliance has a very user-friendly booking engine that allows you to piece together your trip segment by segment. There are some ground rules

  1. Your total trip (including connections) cannot exceed 39,000 miles (there are cheaper fares with lower limits but 39,000 is the absolute maximum)
  2. You can only travel in one direction- eastwards or westwards
  3. You cannot backtrack from one zone to another. So if I’ve flown from FRA-DXB, for example, I cannot then fly DXB-LHR (one is in the Middle East, the other in Europe)
  4. You can backtrack within a zone. If my overall route is eastwards, I could fly FRA-LHR-DXB, notwithstanding that FRA-LHR is technically moving westwards
  5. You must start and finish in the same country. So while it is possible to start in San Francisco and finish in Boston, if your first flight is from Singapore you must end in Singapore
  6. You have a maximum of 16 segments and 15 stopovers permitted. A segment refers to a flight. So SIN-TPE-LAX counts as 2 segments, notwithstanding the fact that you’re physically in TPE for an hour

Confused? Play around with the engine and it will all become clear.

Constructing your route

On the first screen you select your cabin class, city of residence (i.e where you want to start the trip from) and the number of travelers. City of residence also determines what currency your ticket will be priced in. staralliancertw4

On the next screen you will add your destinations in the box on the top right.

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The engine is a bit particular about names- you can enter city names just fine, but it only recognises certain airport codes. It wouldn’t recognise ICN for Seoul, but was just fine accepting BEY for Beirut.

I later realised this was because it wants to offer you more options- so if you enter Seoul it will offer you routings to both Seoul Incheon and the lesser known Seoul Gimpo airport. Do note that if you fly into Seoul Incheon and depart from Seoul Gimpo, it counts Incheon-Gimpo as a segment on your journey.

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See the car symbol next to the airplane? That represents a “surface route”.  You can build in a maximum of 5 surface routes into your itinerary, but each one adds mileage and segments towards your total cap.

Why would you want to do this? Well, Star Alliance may be the largest alliance in the world but its coverage is lacking in some areas. When I was trying to get from ASU-CPT, the best it could recommend me was ASU-PTY-GRU-JNB-CPT, which would take 29 hours and involve a ridiculous backtrack to PTY. I resolved this problem by adding ASU-GRU as a land route and buying a separate ticket on Go! airlines for a 2 hours direct flight.

When you’ve entered your final destination (Singapore in my case), the system will check the itinerary for validity and price it accordingly.

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Now the fun part- pick your flights!

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Note that not all flights are equal- some carriers add surcharges for particular aircraft types. If you want to fly SQ full flat business class on your route, there’s an additional surcharge…

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This is a great example of SQ’s typical snobbish attitude towards its alliance obligations. “Our product is so much greater than everyone else’s that you should pay a surcharge just for the privilege of flying it”

Only one other airline has surcharges, and even that is on a very specific route.

  • An Asiana Airlines Business Class surcharge (Q-surcharge) of USD 620.00 per sector is applicable for passengers booked in D Class on Boeing B772LR, Boeing B773ER or Airbus A380 when travel is between:Seoul and London / Los Angeles / San Francisco / New York

This makes SQ’s across the board surcharges even more ridiculous in comparison.

Once you’ve selected your routes, you’re set. On the subsequent screens you’ll enter your details and make payment. Protip- the DBS Altitude devaluation only takes place end June, so for May and June you can still earn 3 miles per $1 up to $10,000 of air ticket spend (the RTW ticket is processed by Lufthansa).

The system works beautifully. No need to worry about a browser timeout, I left it overnight and was able to pick it up the next morning. In any case, you can save your itinerary to pick it up later on a different computer.

My final routing (including stopovers) is

SIN-TPE-LAX-MEX-HOU-GRU-JNB-IST-ZGB-FRA-RUH-BOM-NRT-SIN, 36,000 miles

So what does this trip mean in terms of Milelion output?

Non-SQ Trip Reports

During the recent giveaway many people asked me to review other non-SQ airlines. I’m very pleased to say that this trip will allow me to do just that. Some of the business class products I’ll be reviewing on this trip include

  • EVA Air’s B777-300ER, SIN-TPE-LAX

I last flew this about 3 years ago and I’ve been eagerly looking forward to flying with them again. The service was fantastic. The food was catered by Din Tai Fung. The amenities kit was Rimowa-branded (still use it to store my unused credit cards). The seat was very comfortable. And until recently they served Dom Perignon in business class. So hopefully the experience this time round will be just as good as last time!

  • Turkish Airlines A330-300/A321 (JNB-IST)

The idea of flying Turkish excites me because they have an on-board chef from DO&CO and all the trip reports I’ve read so far have praised the food. The new Turkish seats are full flat (2-2-2 config unfortunately) which should make for a comfortable 9.5 hours flight.

  • Croatia Airlines A320 ZGB-FRA

I couldn’t find a decent photo of this so I’ll let it remain a mystery for now. But it’s a 90 minute intra-Europe flight on a narrow-body aircraft, and I’m under no illusions as to what’ll be offered. Again, it’s worth it just for the experience!

  • United Airlines B767-300, HOU-GRU

photo credit: fabflyer.net

Ah, United. Well, everyone’s got to do them sooner or later. United’s B767 is a strange 2-1-2 configuration, but as expected all the 1s are gone so it’s book a 2 and hope you get an empty seat next to you. I wouldn’t mind trying a United hot fudge sundae though, and can’t wait to experience the legendarily grumpy United service.

  • Lufthansa A330-300. FRA-RUH

Lufthansa recently finished installing their new full-flat business class beds on all their aircraft. Their old product was a joke, but fortunately the new seat looks pretty sweet. Again, 2-2-2 isn’t industry leading by any means, but I like the idea that every seat will have that new car smell. I have read that an unfortunate design flaw in the seat means you virtually play footsie with your seatmate. Let’s see what seat roulette brings me…

  • South African Airways A330-200, GRU-JNB

South African Airways will be another first for me. According to their website their seats are fully flat but according to every report I’ve read that just isn’t the case. I’ve never been to Africa before and yes I know South Africa is Africa lite, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

  • Air India B777-200LR, RUH-BOM

I worked for a year and a half in India after graduating from university, and every single Indian I met always told me he/she’d rather die than fly AI. I think I’m starting to see why. I purposely planned the routing so I could avoid AI as far as possible, but didn’t have a choice when routing RUH-BOM (a 4 hour flight, mercifully).

Other reports on AI have pointed out rather unsavory things like stains on the fabric or rats on the plane or pilots fighting each other or pilots refusing to fly without a particular female copilot.

Still better than economy though! And it should make for a great trip report.

  • ANA B787, BOM-NRT and NRT-SIN

I love ANA and would even fly with them over SQ. On my ANA flights so far (and I’ve done all 3 cabins with them) the crew have been amazing, the food has been excellent (I got amazing runny yolk eggs for breakfast, in economy. How do you even do that with an airplane oven?) and the airplane has so many of those small Japanese touches (like a bidet in the loo, a sleeping foam pad, an abundance of wet wipes) which I love. Note to self: Must. Find. Muskmelon.

So this and EVA are probably the 2 products I look forward to the most on this trip (any coincidence that they’re the only 1-2-1 configured products in this list?)

Airline amenities kit comparisons

Remember that SQ is actually an exception to the rule and most airlines do give out amenities kits in business class. I’ll be inviting a guestwriter who knows much more about skincare brands than me to review the different amenities kits offered in business class by respective airlines.

More hotel reviews

I’m planning to check off all 11 Starwood brand to complete the SPG dashboard challenge (well, 10. Element will come during my NY trip in September). Once I’m done with this trip I’ll just need to requalify for one more year to get SPG Lifetime Gold (well, before Marriott destroys everything anyway).

Silvercar and Turo reviews

I’ve written about Turo before, the P2P car rental that lets you rent cars at a fraction of what the airport car rental counters would charge. For most of the trip I’ll be Ubering around for work but in LA I’ll probably rent a car on the weekend for some personal R&R (on my own dime, obviously), and I’ve got my eye on this currently…

turo6

$55 a day? Yes please

The other service I want to test is Silvercar. I’ll do a full review afterwards, but to summarise it’s all Audi A4 rental service that does away with many of the annoyances that traditional rental car agencies have (like ridiculous refueling and toll charges).  I’ve wrangled a $35 a day rate thanks to a coupon that gives the first day free on a 2 day rental, which makes the cost even cheaper than renting an economy car at LAX airport

Conclusion

I’m very blessed to be able to take this trip and look forward to sharing as much as possible with you. The travelling may slightly interfere with The Milelion’s writing schedule, but you’re more than welcome to shoot questions through the contact us feature or simply by leaving a comment.