Tag Archives: first class

First Class for the Family: Hacking the SQ waitlist

First Class for the Family – Melbourne 2017

Hacking the SQ Waitlist
SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review
Krisflyer First Class Lounge Melbourne Review
MEL SIN A380 Suites Class Review


Hacking the SQ Waitlist

We have all heard of the adage, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’. Well, my wife and I certainly do not plan to spare the rod with our head-strong 2 year old. Besides, I can think of much better ways to spoil her than ‘sparing the rod.’ Flying her First Class for her 2 year old birthday trip could certainly count as one of those ways!

Planning travel with a young child can be challenging. One of the primary considerations for parents is the timing of the flight. Do you fly red-eye and arrive at your destination tired from the relatively poor quality of sleep, but increase the chance of your child sleeping through the flight? Or do you pick a day flight and risk spending the entire ride chasing after a bored infant, giving embarrassed and apologetic looks to everyone in your cabin. My wife and I (and most of the parents with young children we know) prefer the former. Of course, flying premium does help mitigate the part about the poor quality of sleep on a red-eye.

Whatever your preference is, chances are you will face a lot more restrictions on your travel time compared to the average traveller. As we all know, this can’t be good when considering award availability.

We only got around planning this family trip to Melbourne in about early January, about 2 months out from our intended date of travel. Although there were still scattered availability for 2 adults here and there, it was no surprise that saver awards for most of the flights were on waitlist on both Business and First class. At that time, the only available tickets to and fro was an outbound arriving on Monday, and an inbound departing on Thursday. 3.5 days for a holiday doesn’t exactly sound very enticing, but sometimes you’d do anything to get out of the country.

Now I’ve previously written about the SQ Waitlist here.  Aaron has a pretty good overview article here, and has also done some pretty good analysis on award availability here .

If you find yourself in my situation and the current available flights are not ideal, and/or you’d like some more time to think about it while putting the available award flights ‘on hold’ without subjecting yourself to change fees later on, here’s a nifty little trick you can use to ‘hack’ the waitlist.

For example, I wish to fly to NRT around the middle of August this year. The only available First Saver award is on the 17 of August, but I’d prefer to fly earlier or on a weekend if possible. For now, I would like to hold this available saver award.

I first make a reservation for this saver award on the 17th of August as one normally would, going through all the steps (including seat selection) until the payment page.

Selection of the only available flight

After entering your details, go to seat selection, and then proceed on to the payment page.

After entering your details, go to seat selection

When you’ve reached the payment page, exit the booking process by closing the page, or clicking any of the links on the SQ toolbar. I usually just click the Singapore Airlines logo on the top left hand corner of the page.

Now, head to the ‘Bookings’ tab under your account profile. You should see a booking reference number for that flight, even though the transaction wasn’t completed.

Booking Reference number for the ‘sham’ booking

If you attempt to select the ‘Manage Booking’ tab, this will return an error message and prompt you to complete the booking process offline.

Proceed to make the same booking again. This time, the flight should be on waitlist.

Same flight now on waitlist

Proceed to waitlist yourself on the flight. In about 15 to 20 minutes, the first reservation you’ve made should be automatically cancelled by the system after the ticketing time limit has lapsed. You will know this has happened when the booking reference disappears from the list of reservations under the ‘Bookings’ tab of your Krisflyer account. Almost immediately, you should receive a text message telling you that your waitlisted flight (the second reservation) is now available for confirmation. This is because you should be the next in line for an available award ticket on that flight.

Usually, when a waitlisted flight is made available for confirmation, you are given about 3 days or so to pay the miles / taxes and ticket your flight. Just like that, you have now bought yourself another 3 days to think about whether you want that flight or not. If you choose not to ticket in the end, just let the time lapse or cancel the waitlisted booking. There is no penalty for doing so.

In practice, I’ve found this useful to hold a suboptimal ticket while waiting for my waitlisted tickets on my preferred flights, especially for this trip. I held tickets for the Monday / Thursday flight, and eventually better flights opened up which I then ticketed on.

Theoretically, I guess one could repeat this process infinitely to hold the award for weeks, but you run the risk of someone else of higher Krisflyer status also waitlisting or buying a Standard level award on the same flight, thus beating you to the available ticket.

Experiment a little and see what works best for your travel plans. Of course with all things, use with consideration for others who may also be eyeing travel on the same flights as you. Stay tuned for my review of the SQ 77W First Class coming up!

Virgin Trains East Coast First Class (York – London Kings Cross)


I’d planned to spend about half my trip up in Northern England, but ultimately I did want to swing by London during my trip to the UK, so I’d booked advance tickets from York to London – those are the non-changeable/refundable tickets that usually go on sale about 12-24 weeks before date of travel. I was lucky enough to snag them at £14 each, as opposed to the £80ish or so you might expect to pay if purchased on the spot. Even among advance tickets the pricing is rather variable – I’m guessing that prices are tiered according to how many advance tickets have already been sold on that particular train.

(I find that it’s pretty safe purchasing advance tickets for a mid-trip journey – I’d tried the same thing with my train from Manchester Airport but ended up buying on the spot anyway. Since plane arrival times are less certain, I think it might be better to stick to a flexible ticket for arrival connections.)

Anyhow, as mentioned in previously, a week before the day of travel I received an email offering me the chance to upgrade to first class for the cool price of £15. I’m not entirely sure how I got the offer – it seems that Virgin Trains East Coast has a First Class weekend upgrade offer, but since I was travelling on a weekday I guess it might just have been a routine targeted offer to up-sell unused inventory?

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If so, it was pretty effective, since I decided to bite the bullet pretty quickly. £29 for a £140ish value experience? Sign me up! (Side note – I find train tickets hard to valuate precisely due to the many pricing tiers available, depending on how restrictive your fare is.)

The Hardware

Unfortunately, York station does not have a first class lounge, so I missed the chance to check out that perk associated with a first class train ticket. I could technically have gone into the one at London Kings Cross upon arrival, but at that point I was more interested in checking out the hotel. Don’t think I missed all that much, really – it seems similar enough to an airport lounge, but for a 2h journey on a roomy train it doesn’t really seem all that essential.

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(Image from Virgin Trains East Coast website)

Since there weren’t any special facilities at the station, the approach to the train was pretty standard.

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The first class carriages were nearer the front of the train, so there was actually more walking required to get there! Train carriages looks pretty much the same from the outside, so everything felt pretty normal up to this point…

first class carriage

…upon boarding the train, the differences became apparent.

Virgin Trains first class

For comparison, here’s a picture of the seats in standard class, below. The first class seats are wider, have more legroom and are upholstered in leather – relatively small differences, but the increase in comfort was noticeable. Similar to regional business class on a plane, I suppose?

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(Image from Forbo Flooring Transport)

There weren’t all that many people in the carriage, so we got a table (which usually seats four) to ourselves.

first class table

So with all that extra space, it was pretty easy getting comfortable for the journey ahead.

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On top of all that, travelling in first class grants access to free onboard WiFi, which was actually pretty useful given that we cut through some less-developed areas with spotty mobile coverage, so WiFi provided a more stable internet connection throughout the entire journey.

The Food

One of the other perks of first class train travel is complimentary food and drinks. Apologies for the substandard pictures of the menu items – it’s probably easier to browse the offerings on the Virgin Trains East Coast website.

first class menu drinks

first class menu food

I had the lamb & vegetable stew which I thought was actually pretty good, but the serving size is pretty small so I consider it something in between a snack and a proper meal. Definitely not the multi-course offering you get on a plane.

lamb stew

Still, pretty tasty, and good enough to get by until (early) dinner.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my first class train experience, and would be willing to pay ~£15 again for another upgrade. However, any higher and I think it probably makes more sense to stick to the standard carriage – the extra money is probably better spent getting a proper meal before boarding the train, if possible.


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

The Long Way to New York: JFK-FRA in Suites and a reader giveaway!

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


Does the world really need another Suites trip report? I thought as I left the Virgin Clubhouse and headed over the boarding gate. After all, flying Suites is on the bucket list of any travel blogger worth his or her salt, and a simple Google search will turn them up by the thousands. Heck, you can find more than a few on this site alone.

But it would bug me very much if my Long Way to New York trip report ended on an incomplete note. And so write I would.

Boarding was at Gate A7 and out the window I caught a glimpse of the whalejet that was going to take us back home to Singapore. It’s a right shame the economics of the A380 don’t make sense in the current climate, because this aircraft is a marvel of human engineering. I’m a starry eyed romantic but I’m under no illusions about the ultimate fate of the A380- unless Airbus gets a neo version out with better fuel burn, and unless Emirates keep buying them up like hotcakes, the A380 may within 20-30 years be consigned to the Nevada boneyards.

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Until then, however, 9V-SKP was fulled up and ready for boarding.

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When boarding was called,I bounded down the jetway so I could take photos of the cabin before it filled up (all but two seats were filled in Suites)

I was greeted at the door by the beaming inflight supervisor (but unlike my SIN-CDG flight, was not greeted by name. That’s understandable though, given that on SIN-CDG I was the only Chinese passenger in Suites and it was easy for them to do the math. This time there was a good mix of Singaporeans and Americans in the cabin), who checked my boarding pass, memorized the name instantly and said “This way Mr Wong”, leading me to seat 1F on the starboard side of the aircraft.

Apologies in advance for the tint of the photos, but this is a rather accurate representation of how the cabin looked. I assume the A380 has mood lighting and given that this was a nighttime departure they use the more soothing, gentler lights so as not to disrupt people’s sleep cycles. On the FRA-SIN leg report you’ll be able to see the cabin in its full, sundrenched glory.

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Suite 1F awaited in all its leather-clad brilliance. Note the darker leather trim- this is the 2nd generation of Suites products that received a new upholstery. It’s a mid-cycle refresh and needed, given that Suites launched in 2007 and has seen a lot of mileage since then. A brand new Suites product is coming in 2017, but details are sparse. We do know there will be no showers though.  I guess that limits my options of getting naked at 38,000 ft.

But more importantly, SQ’s new A380 configurations will have fewer Suites than before. This means that award availability will be harder to come by. Meaning that if you want to give Suites a try, no time like the present.

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While I was in the midst of photographic bliss the cabin lead materialized at my side with the menu and a bottle of water.

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And presented me with a variety of magazines. I continued my onboard pretentiousness where literature is concerned and selected The Economist and The New Yorker. It seemed appropriate to sip champagne and read The New Yorker while remarking in my head how good it was that they’d done away with Estate Taxes.

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And yet, I felt that something was strangely missing. I had all the usual seat photos, but could I show people something new?

I glanced down the aisle to make sure no one was watching. Then stood on my ottoman to take this downwards shot. I was very proud of how discreet I was.

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Naturally, the minute I stepped down I realised there was a cabin attendant next to me.

“Oh, just stretching my legs!” I said. Everyone needs to, you know.

I suppose she had seen stranger things done in the Suites cabin because she looked completely nonplussed. I am using the term in its North American usage, which is surprisingly the exact opposite of conventional usage.

She asked me if she could bring a drink before takeoff. I perused the menu

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The list was as impressive as always. Champagne isn’t served on the ground at JFK because of customs restrictions, unfortunately, so draining the SQ wine cellar would have to wait until after takeoff. I just requested a glass of sparkling water.

From my photo taking antics she deduced that I would like a photo taken, and willingly obliged.

7 out of 10 women say that early-onset male pattern baldness is a sign of rampant virility

After she left I went around documenting the rest of the seat

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Each seat has a universal (well, it doesn’t fit India plugs) power socket and 2 USB outlets for charging.

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You can see from the IFE controller that the systems on this aircraft are the older iteration of the Krisflyer IFE.

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The seat has an abundance of storage space for every little thing you need. There is no overhead storage, but that’s because it’s grossly unnecessary. The space under your seat, the personal cloak closet, the many many nooks and crannies to put and loose laptops, eyeglasses, dead bodies, you name it.

A Ferragamo amenities kit was brought (and for some reason the lighting in the cabin changed). SQ has very, very basic amenities in its kits, but you can supplement them with loot from the loo.

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And so I did.  SQ’s A380 loos, even in First Class, are barely distinguishable from those in coach. I really think it’s a missed opportunity and hope it’s something they’ll rectify on the new Suites.

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The amenities drawers were well stocked with goodies.

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They also had Tuscan Soul aftershave and fragrances in the loo. These are communal and not for individual consumption, so Hao Gong Ming told me to leave them behind.

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After enhancing my amenities kit I tried to duck out of the way to take a photo of the bathroom, failing miserably.

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I did, however, manage to perfectly photograph the sink, which is automatic.

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And the door

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Back to my seat and more goodies had arrived. All this, and we hadn’t even taken off.

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I already had a few sets of SQ PJs so I kept this set sealed for a giveaway (see the bottom of this article)

They also gave me a blanket. This is a sitting blanket, not a sleeping blanket. Yes, there is a distinction. The sleeping blanket is a much smoother, silk lined duvet. The sitting blanket is perfectly alright, but I’d never swap one for the other.

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SQ has upgraded their inflight headsets in First Class. They’re now using Bose QC25s instead of 15s. It’s like having Nimbus 2001s versus those lousy 2000s! I can’t wait for them to go with the 35s which are wireless. I think that would be a very big breakthrough.

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The Captain came on the PA and in a very reassuring baritone told us that we would be taxiing imminently and experiencing some limited turbulence along the way.

Service items were cleared from the suite for takeoff. As the aircraft taxied, I examined the menu.

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After takeoff my champagne was finally served (I opted for Dom, deciding to take Krug on the FRA-SIN route. Decisions, decisions) along with warmed nuts.

With this bounty before me I switched on Mr Robot. Oh Philip Price, when will you ever learn! The Dark Army cannot be trusted.

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Before long the crew came over to set up the table. The JFK-FRA flight is not particularly long, taking just under 7 hours. For the crew to squeeze in a full dinner service + continental breakfast means that they need to get things done rather sharpish in order to give the passengers about 4-5 hours of sleep.

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You’ll recall from my SIN-CDG flight that it was a redeye departure, so supper was served instead of a full dinner. In that case, caviar was used more as a garnish than the main dish. This flight was a dinner departure so we had the full caviar treatment along with condiments.

I have no idea how to eat caviar, but I imagine you put it in your mouth and chew. That seemed to work the first time so I continued doing it.

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A lovely roasted San Marzano tomato soup was served along with garlic bread. I’ve found the standard of SQ’s garlic bread to differ widely depending on which station you fly from. Unfortunately this was one of the poorer ones- the bread was completely hard throughout and impossible to eat without breaking it into a million crumbly pieces.

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The salad was a forgettable experience. I compressed the leaves together as best I could to make it appear like I ate it. They kept on re-expanding.

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For the main course, I had already ordered from the book the cook menu

U.S. Grilled Prime Beef Fillet

Grilled U.S. Prime Choice beef with asparagus, baby spinach, roasted potato, and served with balsamic onion sauce. Designed by Singapore Airlines International Culinary Panel Chef Alfred Portale.

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I have had very, very bad experiences with airline beef, but kept the faith in the belief that one day I would find the one. What a keeper this man is, ladies.

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Alas my heart was broken again. The beef was dry, tasteless and tough as a boot.

“This is why I don’t love”, I told myself.

I requested the Thai seafood curry and rice be served instead, and it was much better.  Even if all the seafood was clearly frozen and not fresh (you can tell by the texture of the shrimp)

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The desert, “Gotham Black”, sounded gothic but I enjoyed it anyway.

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The catering ex-JFK was good enough, all things considered. The beef was disappointing (but since when has airline beef ever not been disappointing. I challenge you to find an instance) but the Thai green curry seafood more than made up for it. The soup was great, the caviar was a proper serving and there was all the Dom I could handle. 4/5.

After I washed up I asked the crew to make the bed. I think that SQ’s Suites bed is the best in the business, bar none. I’m comparing this to the Lufthansa, ANA, Thai first beds, and none of them come close to the comfort afforded by the one in SQ Suites.

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Yes, you do have a great deal of privacy when the Suite doors are closed.

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When the seat is converted into bed mode, you have this convenient row of switches near your head.

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But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Suites, although enclosed, are not completely private. The blinds have small holes at the top that people can look through, and anyone taller than 1.8m can probably see into the Suite.

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I need to say again how ridiculously comfortable the bed is. It gave my bed at home a run for the money. I slept through all the way till landing in FRA, giving the forgettable continental breakfast a miss. There was also a limited snacks menu, but I decided to save that for the much longer FRA-SIN flight (stay tuned).

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The service throughout was top notch. I didn’t really have much opportunities to interact with the crew apart from meal and turndown service, but the service was everything you’d expect in an SQ First Class cabin. Then again, my requests aren’t really anything out of the ordinary. Perhaps if I wanted a lullaby…

We landed in Frankfurt on schedule for our 2 hour layover, bright and early at around 930 in the morning.

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And parked next to a Qatar Airways jet.

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Singapore Airlines Suites remains an unmatched product in the sky. True, I’ve not tried Etihad’s Apartments (and likely never will, unless I suddenly decide to put truckloads of spend onto a Citibank Premiermiles card so I can transfer miles to Etihad Guest…) but SQ Suites is probably the most “accessible” uberlux product for Singapore based flyers. What that means is that if you really wanted to try the product and didn’t care what route you flew, you could conceivably try the experience for as little as 31,875 miles (SIN-HKG). Yes, 3h 45 mins is probably insufficient for the full experience, but if it’s just a bucket list thing to check off…

Protip: During the Songkran festival SQ uses an A380 to serve the SIN-BKK route. First Saver on this route would be 25,500 miles, which would get you a Suites experience just over 2 hours. Read more about that here, and if you can plan a trip to Bangkok next year around that time…

We alighted the aircraft and met a ground staff who walked us 100m to the Senator Lounge.


Reader Giveaway: 

I’m always open to new ideas for trip reports that people want to read about! As much fun as it is to write about Suites, there are already so many similar reports out there that surely there’s some new ground to be broken.

So what kinds of trip reports do you want to read about?  Take part on our Facebook page by end of day Friday (28th Oct)!

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One winner will get an SQ First Class Ferragamo Amenities kit + a Sleeper Suit.