Tag Archives: jeriel

First Class for the Family: SQ F Ground Experience and TPR

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


First Class for the Family – Melbourne 2017

Hacking the SQ Waitlist
First Class for the Family – Ground Experience and The Private Room
SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review
Krisflyer First Class Lounge Melbourne Review
MEL SIN A380 Suites Class Review


About 2 weeks out from our intended travel dates, our outbound leg was still booked in Business Class. I had waitlisted First on the same flight, but when I tried to make a dummy revenue booking, there were 7 out of 8 seats occupied on the seatmap. I was pretty much resigned to flying J.

Why the need to fly F? Our primary concern was for our daughter. This red-eye was scheduled to depart at 2345hrs, and we were hoping that she would be sleeping by the time we boarded the plane. As anyone who has been to the SilverKris Business class lounge would know, it certainly isn’t an ideal place to coax a toddler to sleep. The Private Room would provide significantly more space, peace and quiet. In particular, there is a dedicated parents’ room at the back of TPR. While it is hopelessly under equipped, it still meant we would be able to turn down the lights and get her snoozing.

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Looks nice, until you try to squash your feet into that little recess there and sleep diagonally

On the flight itself, J isn’t so bad. I would say the only perk about flying with an infant in J is that you are almost guaranteed the bassinet seat. There is a significant difference in the hard product between the bulkhead and regular international business class seats on SQ. Bulkhead seats have a full ottoman, whereas the regular seats only have a small cubby for your feet. This makes a world of a difference when the bed is deployed, especially for taller individuals like myself. The bassinet seats are all bulkhead seats and are routinely blocked out for pre-selection by other passengers. Once you have your tickets confirmed, call the SQ hotline to purchase your infant-in-lap ticket and at the same time, request for them to assign the bassinet seat for you.

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Same seat, but much better. The ottoman allows you to sleep straight

Well, Imagine my surprise when our F waitlist cleared about 36 hours prior to departure. This presented somewhat of a conumdrum though: should I spend almost 34k miles and a couple hundred bucks (for the infant ticket) more to upgrade my family to First? School never prepared us for difficult, first-world problems like these… After waffling for about 3 hours, it was already midnight and my wife snapped, ‘just upgrade the bloody flight and go to sleep la!’ Thus it was decided.

Was it worth it in the end? Most definitely not. On hindsight, if I were given a choice again I’d probably have stuck with J for a number of reasons. But I guess this is what the Milelion is for, sharing expensive mistakes so that we all can maximize the miles and points we have painstakingly collected for better travel experiences.

Since I’ve written about the First Class check-in experience and TPR before here, instead of the usual review, I hope to examine some of the more esoteric considerations one may have to think about when deciding between J and F over the next 2 posts, especially in the context of travelling with a young family. Hopefully some of you may find this helpful.

1) Check in Process – All Style but no Substance

Flying First or Suites entitles you to use the First Class check in lobby at Terminal 3. Now I really think this area is quite beautiful. The driveway is huge and the room is beautifully appointed with lots of space and seating. We were the only people using the area (as you probably would be since the process is usually quick and seamless), so my daughter had a great time running around and exploring the different sofas and chairs.

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Driveway of First Class Check in Lobby
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Not another passenger in sight.

Well it definitely makes you feel special, but practically speaking this area offers little more than the dedicated queue in the main hall. You have a porter to carry your bags to the counter and a nice place to sit (instead of stand), but that’s about it.

With children, the main check in hall has so many attractions and displays which will probably keep them entertained for far longer. In my opinion, this is a nice facility to use once in your life perhaps, but definitely should not factor in much when deciding between J and F.

This is a huge pity though, as I’m sure it certainly wasn’t cheap to build and isn’t cheap to staff and maintain. Why Changi cannot collaborate with SQ to come up with a more seamless First Class experience befitting its status as the best airport in the world (like the FCT in Frankfurt or the TG First Class ground service in BKK) really escapes me.

This was made painfully obvious during this particular trip, where we encountered a snag right at the check-in counter, but there was no ‘extra mile’ in the service afforded to us when it mattered most.

We had arrived at Changi almost 5.5 hours prior to our scheduled take off, intending to fully utilize the facilities at the lounge. That proved to be a fortunate decision as we found ourselves in a messy situation with our tickets.

What happened was; as I wasn’t expecting my waitlist of F to clear, I had already ticketed my family on J prior to the upgrade. The CSO who processed my upgrade request had cancelled my daughter’s return ticket, but somehow only re-issued a one-way outbound ticket in return. Basically, she didn’t have a ticket for the trip home.

I have no doubt it was merely an honest mistake on the part of the CSO. It just needed to be rectified before take-off. As my whole family had valid outbound tickets, I was expecting that we could wait for the staff to resolve this issue while we headed up to The Private Room. I was told by the check-in staff member at the First Class area this was not possible. In fact, I was told I couldn’t even wait in the First Class check-in area, but had to make my way out to the SQ Ticketing counter in the main hall to approach the ticketing staff to resolve this. In the end, we had to wait for about 1.5 hours standing at the SQ ticketing desk in the main check-in area waiting for this issue to be sorted out. I can’t even remember how many rounds I walked around the Terminal 3 hall carrying my daughter singing ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’.

After about 30 minutes of waiting, I again politely suggested to the ticketing staff members that we be allowed to go air-side to enjoy the lounge facilities (also because it was getting late and my daughter was getting cranky). We were again denied that request. Another hour elapsed before the ticketing staff asked for permission from their manager for us to head up to TPR. It took another half hour before we were finally issued the new tickets. Thankfully by this time, we were in the comfort of the lounge.

Now, the service at SQ Ticketing wasn’t bad per se. The staff member there assisting me gave me her full attention and set about trying to rectify the situation as quickly as she could. However, shouldn’t prompt and attentive service should be the baseline level provided to any passenger in my situation, regardless of the class of travel? My experience exposes the gaps in the ‘service coverage’ for premium passengers. The service within the confines of The Private Room and during the flight itself is probably amongst the world’s best. From the time you leave home till you reach TPR, and during that short journey from TPR to the doors of the aircraft, it seems you’re pretty much on your own.

In my particular situation, I would have saved myself the long wait if we had simply kept our original tickets. But for now, don’t count on the supposed better service you get as an F passenger to help you get out of sticky situations comfortably.

2) TPR

The Private Room experience has to be one of the big reasons why one would choose F over J. The SilverKris Business Lounge is almost perpetually crowded and noisy, and at times, the First Class Lounge is not much better. TPR, even at its busiest, is truly a sanctuary of peace and quiet. Well, at least until some joker (yours truly) brings their infant over!

The layout of the area is still the same as our previous reviews, but here are some photos anyway.

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View from the Entrance
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View from the back
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Work Area
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One of two snooze rooms
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Dining Area
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The First Class Loo
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Same Tuscan Soul amenities as available in-flight

A positive development seems to be an update in the menu. Previously, a simplified menu was provided based on the time of day. Departing SIN LHR on a 9am flight I had received the truncated breakfast menu, whereas Aaron on his SIN CDG flight received the lunch and dinner menu. This time, we received a nice leather-bound folder with the entire menu, complete with the selection of available beverages. Here is the menu in all its glory (correct as of March ‘17). The wait staff told me that the menu is changed slightly every few months though.

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This looks a lot more presentable doesn’t it?

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Overall a good selection of drinks, but I thought the food menu was not as extensive as it used to be. The Charles Hiedsieck Blanc Des Millenaires on offer was good, but we all know better than to fill up on champagne before the flight itself…

The service was attentive but not intrusive. I received faux shock and dismay at the appalling experience we had at check in. We were shown to the family room and a staff member stayed on hand to make sure we had everything we needed as we put our daughter to bed (we just laid a blanket on the carpeted floor as a makeshift bed).

After she was asleep we had a nice, relaxing meal at the dining area. We had the Sauteed Lobster with Linguine to share, which was delicious. The lobster was fresh and the meat was succulent and QQ, and the pasta was done just right al dente.

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Sauteed Lobster with Linguine

The wait staff recommended Chocolate Therapy for dessert, which worked like a charm. All the injustice from earlier on was forgiven (but definitely not forgotten).

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This. Is. Super.

It was only then could I stretch my legs and look forward to flying the new 77W First Class product.

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!

Revisiting the value of a mile

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


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

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

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

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

  1. Using Miles

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

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

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

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

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

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Even if you could afford this… Would you really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Earning Miles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TL;DR?

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

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