Tag Archives: jeriel

First Class for the Family- SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review

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!


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


First Class for the Family – SIN MEL 777-300ER First Class Review

SQ237
Singapore (SIN) – Melbourne (MEL)
Date: Friday, 17 March 2017
Aircraft: B777-300ER
Seat: 1F/2A (First Class)

I may have given all manner of excuses for flying my family on F in my previous posts, but it’s time for some honesty; Prior to this flight, I’ve not had the chance to experience SQ’s First Class. That was pretty much the real reason why I shelled out all those additional miles.

Hindsight is 20/20, and seeing that we had already secured bulkhead J seats prior to the upgrade together with the fiasco we endured at ticketing, it was a terrible mistake. But for what it is worth, Milelion gets its very first trip report for this product!

SQ currently has 27 Boeing 777-300ER in their fleet, in 3 different configurations. The first 2 are similar, and consist of 8 First Class seats, 42 in business and 228 at the back. If you see this configuration on your seat-map, there is a 6/9 chance that you’d be flying the old 2006 product. The other 3 planes already sport the refreshed 2013 seats. I don’t think there is any practical way to determine which product you’d be flying, so it’s best to assume it would be the former. The good news is that the rest of the 77W fleet have the new products in the new configuration of 4F/48J/28S/184Y. Once you see this configuration at seat selection, you can be confident of scoring the new products (barring any last minute equipment change of course).

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Our 77W at the Gate

Our flight had 8 in First Class, and so it was a pleasant surprise when we stepped into the cabin to find that we’d be flying the new products. Having wanted to give our daughter as much undisturbed rest as possible prior to the flight, we were one of the last passengers to board, and the rest of the F cabin was already full.

I took a quick peek at the Business cabin behind, and was momentarily taken aback. In the 3-class 77W configuration, the Business cabin is divided into a small 8 seat cabin immediately behind F, followed by the main J section with the rest of the 34 seats. This makes for an extremely intimate front J section. In my late night stupor I actually thought to myself: ‘Why is it 16F on this plane?’ before I realized it was actually Business! The 2013 business class seats are really thoughtfully designed and i feel they afford a step up in privacy compared to the 2006 version, almost looking like First Class.

In terms of the hard product, the main advantage F provides over J is the dedicated legroom and additional storage space each passenger gets. Being over 6’ tall, the major gripe I have about SQ J is the small and angled foot cubby. In contrast, the F seat has a large (almost too large) cut out for your feet, and space enough for at least 2 cabin sized luggage.

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Leg compartment
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More than sufficient space for your carry-ons

In terms of numbers, the F seat is also wider at 35” compared to 28” in J, and the screen is also bigger at 24” compared to 18”. But I don’t feel it adds much to your personal comfort. The wider main seat does mean that 2 people can sit together comfortably, but you’re not allowed to do that for a prolonged period of time anyway.

In terms of seat functions, the tray is built in under the LCD screen, and just to the right of the tray lever is the usual power socket and a HDMI input. The left side has a generous storage cubby in which the Bose headphones could be found.

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Handle for tray table, power socket and HDMI input

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Cubby with Bose headphonesSeat and lighting controls where on the partition along the aisle, together with the headphone jack and little rack to hang it when not in use. The new generation entertainment controller was behind a small sliding door in the armrest. In the other armrest, there was another small compartment with a USB and charging port, presumably for your personal device.

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Small things which show the thought that went into the product – really appreciated the rack for the headphones which meant no more tangled cables in the blankets!
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Touch-screen Entertainment controller

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More small but functional storage spaces that just make sense – just remember to take your phone / personal electronic device when you deplane!The seat itself was more than adequately wide, and done up with a lovely dark brown leather. I had no issues with the extent of the recline in seat mode, but then again it was only a short while before I asked for the turn down to get some sleep.

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Picture of 1F taken after landing when there was better light

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Vanity mirror which I only found after landingOf course, First Class is never just about the hard product. The soft product is really what sets the best F experiences from the mediocre. If it is your first time flying at the very front of the plane, you should try to maximize your experience by picking a daytime flight where there will be a full service, instead of a red-eye where the service is abbreviated and you’d be wanting to sleep for most of the flight anyway. Some of the things you’d be missing out on a red-eye include the canapes (usually satay) and caviar for the appetiser. Also, each passenger only gets one meal by default; you either choose dinner (after takeoff) or breakfast (before landing).

You have to love how SQ cabin crew are trained to answer questions like politicians. On their routine welcome rounds, the following exchange ensued.

‘I see that you have placed a book the cook order for the Rack of Lamb, would you prefer to have that immediately after take off, or before we land sir?’

‘Can I have that for dinner now, and then have another meal for breakfast?’

‘Certainly! We can prepare a fruit platter for you to enjoy before we land.’

Saying yes without actually saying yes is a useful skill to master. Anyway, here are the customary shots of the menu for your reference.

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I shan’t put up the full menu here but I’ll just add quick note on the vino for those interested. I realized we haven’t covered the wine selection in our previous trip reports but I feel it’s worth a mention. We all know that SQ famously serves both Dom Perignon (2006 is the current offering now) and Krug Grande Cuvee (NV) for their in-flight champagne, but they have a well curated list of reds and whites as well.

There is usually a seasonal selection; on this flight the Penfolds RWT (Red Wine Trial) Barossa valley Shiraz (2012) was on offer. This is obviously a step below the premium Penfold’s Grange, but still runs up to about S$200/bottle at retail. I’m usually not big on Shiraz, but this was impressive with a superbly balanced palate of dark fruit and savoury flavours.

The Old World selection is typically from Bordeaux, and in this season was either Cos d’Estournel (2004) or Pichon Lalande (2004). Both are Deuxiemes Cru (2nd Growth) in the 1855 classification, and are excellent (and expensive) wines. The Pichon was the wine available on my flight, and it was a delectable pairing with the BTC Lamb Rack I had.

Rounding up the reds was the 2010 Chateau Corton-Grancey (Grand Cru, Cote de Beaune). For the whites there was a 2013 Riesling from Goldtropfchen, Mosel and a Chardonnay from Mornington Peninsula (Port Philip Estate, “Red Hill”, 2013). You can’t go wrong with a Riesling from Mosel, and I had a refreshing glass prior to landing. I didn’t get to try any of the rest though.

Crew service on this ‘Sleeper Service’ was polished and efficient, but was way too rushed if your intention is to savour the experience. The table was set and the main course was served immediately.

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Rack of Lamb

After my BTC order on my last trip from SIN LHR in R was mixed up and I ended up with a rather depressing Yu Pian Mi Fen, I just had to find out what the lamb rack was like. The meat was done to a perfect medium, and tasty with just a slight hint of the usual mutton smell. The sauce was a little too viscous and too salty for my liking though, I wonder if that was due to insufficient time for reheating.

My wife had the Boston Lobster Thermidor, which is essentially the same as what you get in Business, just with double the serving of Lobster. Every time I have the chance to BTC out of SIN, I struggle to choose between the Lobster which I know will be good or explore something I’ve not tried before. Well, this was another hit for the lobster; it was excellent as always.

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Boston Lobster Thermidor – My wife had this prior to landing (or rather, I pilfered most of it)

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Fruit platter to follow

After a rather muted fruit platter, it was time for bed. Similar to Suites class, you are also given a turndown service in First. This is in contrast to J where you’re expected to make your own bed. I took the time to change to the PJs and take photos of the toilet. Does anyone really want to see more photos of the boring SQ First class toilet though? Looks exactly like what you get in business with some leather trimmings, the same Tuscan Soul amenities from Ferragamo… Let’s leave those out.

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First Class Bed with 2 year old for scale

I couldn’t get any pictures of the bed before it was messed up as I had to get my daughter to bed, but here’s the end result. There’s more than enough space for an adult and child. That being said, it does pale in comparison with what you get on Suites class though.

I went to sleep and the next thing I knew, my daughter was stirring and it was 2 hours to landing. I was well rested, but that’s the frustrating thing about redeeming miles for a red-eye. You go to sleep and before you know it, it’s almost over!

I was given my second fruit platter as promised, and issued an express immigration pass. The priority queue was terribly hard to find at MEL though, and we ended up taking a normal lane which was empty anyway.

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Express Arrival pass

Conclusion? With the bad ground experience, limited sleeper service, and the alternative of bulkhead J seats on the same flight, it definitely felt as if the additional miles we spent on F were wasted. That being said, my daughter has now crossed her 2nd birthday and is no longer eligible for infant fares. We either have to redeem a normal award ticket for her, or pay child ticket fees which are only slightly cheaper than the usual adult fare. It is extremely difficult to find 3 F/R award seats in advance. First Class for the Family is sadly no longer practical, so I guess it was fun while it lasted.

Stay tuned for my review of the SilverKris First Class lounge in MEL, and of the MEL SIN leg in SQ Suites. Hopefully those will be completed in better time than this one!

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!