Merry Christmas in advance to all Milelion readers! I’m working on putting together my reflections on 2021, but first, here’s my annual Christmas wishlist for your consideration.
For the uninitiated, I’ve a little tradition of putting together a list of things I’d love to see happen in the world of miles and points. Some may be silly, others a little out there, but when I look through previous years’ lists, a surprising number have come to fruition.
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So, in no order of preference, here’s my wishlist for 2022…
(1) An end to VTLs
I’m hoping that 2022 will see the end of VTLs.
No, not in the way you think.
I’m talking about being free to take whatever non-stop flight you wish back to Singapore, without having to worry about specific days or flight numbers.
I get that the idea behind VTL flights is to have vaccinated passengers only, but it feels somewhat arbitrary when they’ll be mixing with unvaccinated individuals all the time before the flight- when walking through the airport, queueing at security, or at the airline lounge.
I mean, even if you’re arguing that prolonged contact is the issue, a traveller who just stepped off a crowded Paris to Frankfurt flight mixed with vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers would be perfectly at liberty to connect to a Frankfurt to Singapore VTL flight. Let’s not forget that VTL flights may also have unvaccinated passengers anyway, in the form of children aged 12 and below who are exempt from the requirement.
If there are still concerns, adjustments could be made to require unvaccinated passengers to take pre-departure PCR tests, while vaccinated passengers could continue doing ARTs instead. Of course, the simplest solution would be to make vaccinations mandatory for flying (like what Qantas and AirAsia will do), and frankly, I’m all on board with that (with exceptions for those who are medically ineligible, obviously).
The VTL process is complicated as it is, and allowing passengers to take any non-stop flight would greatly help.
(2) ART swabbing on arrival in Singapore
VTL travellers to Singapore currently do a PCR test on arrival at Changi, after which they head directly to their self-isolation premises and wait 6-8 hours for the results to come out.
While that’s an acceptable inconvenience for quarantine-free travel, my hope is that Singapore will make the switch to on-arrival ARTs in 2022.
It’s not as far out as it sounds. Just a few weeks ago it was reported that Singapore scientists had developed a saliva ART which is just as accurate as PCR tests, yet takes only 15 minutes to detect COVID-19.
This could be a gamechanger if it hits commercial production. Imagine touching down at Changi, taking a saliva ART, and getting a result in the time it takes for your bag to pop out on the belt. You wouldn’t need to worry about self-isolation arrangements; you could plan to head back to work or school that same morning. It’d make the VTL process that much more seamless.
(3) Negative test = fly
I’m going to sound like a broken record about this, but ICA really needs to relook at its positive test = no fly to Singapore for 14 days policy.
People who are holding off on VTL travel tell me it isn’t the virus they’re scared of; it’s the operation of this rule. A fully vaccinated individual could test positive for COVID-19 and be otherwise clinically well, clear a PCR test a week later but still not be allowed to return to Singapore.
Unless we’re saying we don’t trust the results of testing, there’s no reason to have this rule.
(4) New Book The Cook menu items
Earlier this month, Singapore Airlines brought lobster thermidor back to the menu– but not quite how you remember it. This lighter version represents the first in a wave of new Book The Cook options that will come online in January 2022, a welcome expansion from the current pared back menu.
I’m very excited to see the updated options, and hope they’ll bring some upscale local flavors to the menu. I’d love a good lobster laksa, or king prawn noodles.
(5) Rollout of live TV across the SIA fleet
In July this year, Singapore Airlines announced a trial of live TV service onboard its seven A350-900ULR aircraft. Passengers can choose from four channels: BBC World News, CNN, CNBC and Sport 24.
I’ve yet to experience this inflight (although the icon appears in KrisWorld, I always get the message “live TV unavailable” when I try to access it), but I already know I want it.
Why? Sport 24. Imagine being able to catch all these events in real time, from 35,000 ft in the air:
|🎾 Sport 24 Events|
I’m really hoping this trial leads to a fleetwide rollout, and since the vast majority of SIA’s fleet uses Panasonic Avionics equipment anyway (Panasonic Avionics holds the rights to the Sport 24 channel), it shouldn’t be technically difficult to do.
(6) Reopening the SilverKris Lounge network
This is a wish I’m sure will be fulfilled sooner or later (though sooner would be nice), but as of today, the only SilverKris Lounges open worldwide are:
The following lounges have yet to reopen:
- Hong Kong
and the following were permanently closed during COVID:
- Kuala Lumpur
With VTL flights from Bangkok and Seoul, you’d think the lounges here would be prime candidates for a reopening. That said, SIA can still piggyback on Star Alliance partners THAI and Asiana in these airports, which may reduce the incentive to operate their own facilities.
I have fond memories of visiting the new SilverKris Lounge at Bangkok Airport back in 2017. There was a full service bar, a very good buffet selection, Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and productivity pods. It lacked showers, but you don’t really need those for a short-haul station like this.
I’ll be visiting Bangkok in January, so fingers crossed.
(7) An excellent new SilverKris First Class lounge
After more than two years of COVID-disrupted renovations, Singapore Airlines finally took the wraps off its new SilverKris Business Class lounge at Changi. This marks the first phase of a S$50 million overhaul of its flagship lounges, with 30% more capacity, new facilities, more open spaces and a wider selection of F&B options.
I really like what I’m seeing so far with the new Business Class Lounge, but the true test will come in February 2022 when the new First Class Lounge and Private Room launch. The temporary First Class section, while functional, isn’t meant to be anything other than a placeholder.
So far, all we know about the new First Class lounge is that it’ll have a separate entrance, unlike the old layout where it was nestled within the Business Class lounge. We also know it won’t enjoy tarmac views (or natural lighting for that matter) owing to its location, so we’ll need to see how designers HBA work their magic with that.
When I first penned the header for this subsection, I wrote “a game-changing new SilverKris Lounge”, then realised if I expected something game-changing, I’d probably be disappointed. As the new SilverKris Business Class Lounge reminds us, SIA has always been conservative in its approach to lounges, preferring dignified elegance over (what it sees as) flashy gimmicks.
It’s safe to say we shouldn’t expect things like spas or private bedrooms, but I’d be very happy to see a thoughtfully-designed space with an excellent preflight dining experience.
(8) Free breakfast added as a DISCOVERY Titanium perk
As any DISCOVERY elite should know by now, GHA recently announced the biggest shakeup to the programme since its inception in 2010.
Among the changes are revised tiers and benefits, new elite qualification criteria, and a completely revamped rewards scheme. I’ve analysed the changes in full detail, plus held a Q&A with GHA’s CEO about the reason behind the changes and the way forward.
One thing that’s yet to be revealed are the “Brand Benefits” for Titanium members. These are additional perks that Titaniums can expect to receive when staying at specific brands, and may or may not include:
- Free breakfast
- Free airport transfers
- Free laundry
If DISCOVERY really wants to be generous, they’ll make breakfast a Titanium perk. All the other major benefits, such as early check-in/late check-out and room upgrades are “subject to availability”- and who knows what availability will be when hotels are flooded with Titaniums? Adding a guaranteed benefit in the form of breakfast would certainly make me more inclined to book stays with GHA.
(9) Another Visa Supplier Locator
At the start of this year, I wrote about a game-changing development for the miles game in Singapore: the Visa Supplier Locator. This online tool allowed you to look up the MCC of any Visa-accepting merchant, removing guesswork and enabling informed decisions about what credit card to use.
Unfortunately, the Visa Supplier Locator went MIA in October, following a decision by Visa to tighten access and make it available as a subscriber-only B2B service. This means we’re back to the stone age, in a big setback for information transparency.
My hope is that 2022 will see a viable alternative coming on the scene.
(10) Japan VTL. Japan VTL. Japan VTL.
How did previous year’s wishlists go?
On the off chance you’re feeling nostalgic, here’s the things I wished for in previous year.
|🎄 2015 Christmas Wishlist|
|🎄 2016 Christmas Wishlist|
|🎄 2018 Christmas Wishlist|
|🎄 2019 Christmas Wishlist|
|🎄 2020 Christmas Wishlist|
So that’s the list of things I’m hoping to find in my stocking come 2022! Stay tuned for more reflections on a very strange year.
What are you hoping to see in the miles and points game next year?