This article really highlights the value of miles, even with the current devaluations. I love how the author assumes that most of his readers will never in their lifetimes be able to afford first class flights on Cathay, Emirates, and Singapore, though all are obtainable with miles and points and our community does it every day! In fact, I redeemed for first class seats on all three of these airlines in the last year. He is right about the pricing though, my recent Emirates First Class A380 flight from LAX to the Maldives via Dubai was priced at $27,583 one-way. The Singapore Airlines flight from IAH to Bali via Singapore in first was pricing between $14-16,500 one-way and the Cathay Pacific flight home to JFK from Hong Kong was $13,853 one-way.

However, this is nothing compared with the luxury a few international carriers provide on their long-haul flights. From onboard showers to fully private suites to gourmet delicacies, these airlines have designed their service so that passengers are in no rush to land. Not surprisingly, the prices for this kind of service can be astronomical. Here are three particularly extravagant examples…

Check out the  article  for his briefs on flying first with Cathay, Emirates, and Singapore.  …or better yet my trip reports funded by points and miles and with lots of pictures:

Cathay Pacific

Singapore Airlines

Emirates

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These two Star Alliance partners are getting a bit closer. Air New Zealand announced this morning a “deep alliance” with Singapore Airlines, resuming flights to Singapore for the first time since 2006. Air New Zealand will fly its own aircraft between Auckland and Singapore and share revenue with Singapore Airlines from all flights on the route. Air New Zealand will also have a co-ordinated sales and codeshare arrangement with Singapore and its subsidiary SilkAir on its 14 routes to Britain, Europe and key South East Asian markets, including Indonesia and India. In terms of award seats to Australia / NZ, with a 30% increase in seats between Singapore and New Zealand due to additional flights and larger aircraft, we may see additional award availability if you’re willing to connect in Singapore (not a bad option)…we’ll have to wait to confirm that one though until the flights are loaded.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Air New Zealand will take over half of the flights currently operated by Singapore Airlines. The tie-up between Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand – two of Virgin Australia’s three largest shareholders – will also step up pressure on Qantas in the world’s fastest-growing travel market. ”This is a genuine win-win partnership, enabling Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand to work together to provide more frequency and enhanced travel options to our customers,” Singapore Airlines chief executive Goh Choon Phong said. The alliance comes in the wake of Singapore Airlines sealing a deal to set up a full-service airline in India. The tie-up with Air New Zealand will result in Singapore Airlines flying its A380 superjumbos on a daily basis between Singapore and Auckland.

Codeshare and co-ordinated sales to:
• France
• Germany
• Italy
• India
• Indonesia
• Malaysia
• Netherlands
• Philippines
• South Africa
• Spain
• Switzerland
• Thailand
• Britain
• Vietnam

Codeshare only:
• Bangladesh
• Brunei
• Burma
• Cambodia
• East Timor
• Maldives
• Nepal
• Russia
• Saudi Arabia
• Sri Lanka
• Turkey
• United Arab Emirates

Full PR release:

Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand have agreed to form an alliance enabling Air New Zealand to fly the Auckland-Singapore route again and Singapore Airlines to operate the Airbus A380 to New Zealand for the first time.

The A380 would be operated daily by Singapore Airlines between Singapore and Auckland, progressively replacing an existing daily service with the smaller Boeing 777-300ER. Air New Zealand would launch daily services between Auckland and Singapore using newly refitted Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, taking over five flights currently operated by Singapore Airlines and adding two more weekly flights, increasing the frequency to daily. Subject to regulatory approvals, the carriers would aim to boost their existing capacity between Singapore and New Zealand by up to 30% year round over time. Singapore Airlines’ daily Singapore-Christchurch service would continue as part of the alliance.

The proposed alliance would enable Air New Zealand passengers to access codeshare travel on the Singapore Airlines network to the United Kingdom, Europe, South East Asia and Africa, as well as on the network of its regional subsidiary airline, SilkAir. Singapore Airlines’ customers would be able to access codeshare travel across the Air New Zealand domestic network and to selected international destinations.  Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon added, “Air New Zealand is on a positive growth trajectory with a clear focus on Pacific Rim destinations. An alliance with Singapore Airlines clearly fits our business objectives of working with the right partners in the right markets to deliver seamless customer journeys.”

The alliance would see Air New Zealand’s ‘NZ’ code return to Singapore Airlines’ network for the first time since 2007. Air New Zealand last operated to Singapore in 2006. The parties are seeking approval for the alliance from the Competition Commission of Singapore and the New Zealand Minister of Transport.  Pending approval, flights could commence as early as December 2014.

AIr NZ Singapore

Posted by Adam | 2 Comments

Interestingly enough, one of the most read posts on this blog is How Much Do Singapore Airlines Flight Attendants Get Paid for Providing Great Service?. In response, I receive multiple emails per day asking if I know anything more about the application process. This week, I was finally able to get my hands on the latest Singapore Airlines employment application…and boy is it crazy! The majority of the questions and requests would be considered illegal if a US employer was to ask them. Here are some of my favorites, along with the full employment application below, picture of course required for any application:

  • Have you any visible scars, birthmarks and/or pigment spots on your face, neck, hands and lower arms?
  • Have you suffered from any mental illness or any physical illness or disability for which you have received medical treatment? (e.g. diabetes, tuberculosis, epilepsy, asthma, etc.)
  • Please provide your grades for all English, Math, and Science courses.
  • Are you currently wearing any dental braces? If yes, please proceed to question 11b. Please state expected date of removal of braces.
  • Have you ever been charged with any offense or convicted by any Court or detained by the authorities under the provisions of any law in any country? (Important: Please note you must give full details of any charges made against you even if you were eventually acquitted by the Court).
  • Has any Court judgement or order ever been made against you ordering you to pay a debt to someone?
  • Has any bankruptcy action ever been taken against you?
  • Have you signed a promissory note or an acknowledgement of indebtedness for which the amount pledged has not already been fully repaid?
  • Have you any relative in SIA? If yes, please give designation, name and relationship.
  • Are you able to swim?

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There was sadly no celebration and little acknowledgement when the world’s longest non-stop commercial flight, Singapore Airlines flight SQ 21, landed yesterday for the final time in Singapore from Newark.  As the AFP reports:

The world’s longest nonstop commercial flight ended without fanfare Monday after Singapore Airlines (SIA) flew its last nearly 19-hour service from New York. Flight SQ 21 landed early Monday in Changi Airport, bringing an end to a nine-year run. “Food and refreshments were served to customers at the airport gate hold rooms in Singapore and Newark. Customers were also presented with commemorative gift sets and certificates,” an SIA spokesman added. Analysts said the rise in fuel prices since 2004, when the 15,335-kilometre (9,529-mile)service was launched to cater to business travellers, made it economically unsustainable.

Following the withdrawal of the two direct US services by SIA, three routes will share the distinction of being the longest in terms of duration — Dubai-Houston, Dubai-Los Angeles and Johannesburg-Atlanta — at 16 hours and 20 minutes. In terms of distance, a Qantas flight from Sydney to Dallas will be the longest, but tailwinds enable it to be completed in 15 hours and 20 minutes.

As a travel and aviation enthusiast, I feel very fortunate that I was able to experience this flight (both ways) and you can see that Trip Report here –Singapore Airlines Trip Report – Newark to Singapore Business Class – The World’s Longest Flight. I hope some of you took advantage of the award seats that were available as late as last week.

From airlineroute.net, here are the frequencies during the entire operations of the flights to both Newark and LAX.

Singapore – Los Angeles 03FEB04 – 20OCT13 (1 daily. SQ reduced service to 5 weekly from 01MAR09 to 30SEP10 and from 01MAY11 onwards)
Singapore – Newark 28JUN04 – 23NOV13 (Initially operates 1 daily. SQ reduced service to 5 weekly from 02APR09 to 18JAN10, 6 weekly from 01APR13 onwards)

Singapore Airlines in 1999 placed the order for 5 Airbus A340-500 and 5 on options.

Interested in understanding why the two longest flights were canceled? Check out Bloomberg’s - Why the Longest Nonstop Flights Are Ending.

Also see, The World’s Longest Flights – How Many Have You Flown (I have 10)?

Need help planning a trip with your miles? Consider Juicy Miles assistance for the best possible award pricing and routes!

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On November 25th, Singapore Airlines will cease operations of its record breaking 100-passenger all-business-class non-stop flight from Newark (EWR) to Singapore (SIN) aboard the four-engine Airbus A340-500. The flight which began in 2004, is currently the world’s longest non-stop commercial flight. The second longest flight, Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) ended on October 22nd earlier this year.

Here’s the good news, you can still use points and miles to redeem an award and experience this unique flight. Availability is limited to Singapore Airline’s own KrisFlyer members, but transfers into that program are easy via American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 instant) and SPG transfers (1:1).  Better yet, awards booked on Singapore’s site receive a 15% discount.  …and even better – there’s remarkable amazing low level Saver award availability when flying from Singapore to Newark almost every day this month! A one-way Saver award will cost you 85,000 points pre-discount while Standard awards are 135,000 points pre-discount.  Newark to Singapore has no Saver availability but does have quite a few days with Standard seats (114,750 after discount).

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Unfortunately, these awards are currently not available via Star Alliance partner award bookings.

As a travel and aviation enthusiast, I feel very fortunate that I got to experience this flight (both ways) and you can see that Trip Report here – Singapore Airlines Trip Report – Newark to Singapore Business Class – The World’s Longest Flight.

Interested in understanding why the two longest flights were canceled? Check out Bloomberg’s - Why the Longest Nonstop Flights Are Ending

Also see, The World’s Longest Flights – How Many Have You Flown (I have 10)?

Need help planning a trip with your miles? Consider Juicy Miles assistance for the best possible award pricing and routes!

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Posted by Adam | 3 Comments

The new Star Alliance Lounge located at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) officially opens this Wednesday! The lounge will be open to all First, Business and Star Alliance Gold Card passengers departing on Star Alliance member airlines from the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). As the lounge isn’t yet open, I haven’t had a chance to check it out. However, I received the following official press release from Star Alliance and the lounge sounds awesome! Open air terrace, fire pits, water wall, and private first class area. Check out the pictures below…

The new premium customer facility offers space for around 400 Business Class and Star Alliance Gold passengers, including an exclusive area for First Class passengers. Designed by global architectural firm Gensler, the 18,000 square foot (1,675 square meter) lounge features a unique open air terrace, offering panoramic views of the northern runway towards the Hollywood Hills. This outdoor terrace provides passengers with an unparalleled sensory experience, complete with fire pits and a water wall.

Member carrier Air New Zealand was appointed to develop and manage the Alliance’s new lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, which is part of the expansion of TBIT. 

The lounge’s experience zones are designed to accommodate passenger needs ranging from social gatherings to quiet time away from home.  In addition to the outdoor terrace, the lounge offers a bar area for socializing, a library space, a den, a study and a media room. For those wishing to freshen before their flight can do so in one of eight shower rooms available.

Guests wishing to work will be able to do so from various locations throughout the lounge, which is equipped with high-speed wi-fi and offers printing, fax and copy services on request. In addition to traditional power outlets customer can also make use of USB power ports to recharge their mobile devices. For those traveling “light”, tablet computers are available on request for use in the lounge.

The design of the lounge is inspired by a contemporary interpretation of modernist L.A. architecture of the 1950s and 1960s.  This concept is in line with new guidelines for Star Alliance branded lounges, which aim to better meet the evolving needs of today’s traveler while at the same time introducing a local flavor in each location. Black and white photos, inspired by L.A. and shot by renowned photographer Peter Lik, complement the Alliance’s corporate colors. The lounge incorporates other new look brand elements Star Alliance has adopted for use in its lounges around the world.

In addition to local design inspiration, Star Alliance also selected locally sourced products and furniture wherever possible. Its glazed ceramic tile feature walls were created by local artisans. 

In total, eight Star Alliance member carriers operate out of the Tom Bradley International Terminal – ANA, Asiana Airlines, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, THAI and Turkish Airlines. Air New Zealand will move to the terminal in mid-2014, at which stage its Koru Lounge in Terminal 2 will close.  Together, these airlines account for more than 30% of Star Alliance’s international flights in and out of LAX. With all member airlines operating wide body aircraft from TBIT, this translates into more than 50% of the Alliance’s international seats on offer in and out of LAX.

Star Alliance LAX lounge – operated by Air New Zealand Star Alliance lounge at LAX – front desk Star Alliance lounge at LAX – front desk

The First Class experience in Star Alliance Lounge LAX Star Alliance lounge at LAX – Business Class section food Star Alliance lounge at LAX – Business Class section food Star Alliance lounge at LAX – Business Class section food Star Alliance lounge at LAX – Business Class section Star Alliance lounge at LAX – Business Class section Star Alliance lounge at LAX – Business Class section Star Alliance lounge in LAX - Overview internal shot Star Alliance lounge in LAX – Roof Terrace Star Alliance lounge in LAX – Entrance Star Alliance lounge in LAX – Roof terrace Star Alliance lounge in LAX Star Alliance LAX lounge – roof terrace Star Alliance LAX lounge Star Alliance LAX lounge – roof terrace Star Alliance LAX lounge – information board Star Alliance LAX lounge – interior Star Alliance LAX lounge – First Class entrance Star Alliance LAX lounge – First Class restaurant area Star Alliance LAX lounge – shower suites

Posted by Adam | 7 Comments

Don’t worry she’ll still be on-board, she just won’t be the main focus in Singapore’s latest round of advertisements…

eTN Global Travel Industry News is reporting that “Singapore Airlines is taking a measured step away from the iconic ‘Singapore Girl’ who has traditionally been at the heart of its advertising campaigns. In a new series of advertisements set to air next week, tagged The Lengths We Go To, the airline shifts the emphasis from its highly recognizable flight attendants towards the airlines’ overall attitude of customer service, particularly around providing the experience and comfort of ‘home’.” “The campaign is very much about the spirit of Singapore Airlines and the lengths that we go to make sure that each and every customer feels at home, feels that their needs are anticipated and taken care of” explains Sheldon Hee, Singapore Airlines’ VP of marketing communications and development.”

Full article here.

A sample of the new ads…

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Some of you may remember the completely unexpected and uncharacteristic problems I ran into during my first ever Singapore First award trip to Bali back in January. I flew from IAH-DME-SIN-DPS for 70k United MileagePlus miles (booked during the Singapore glitch), but had a non-functioning TVbroken seat that would not recline, and food incidents(hair in the dish and food poisoning) on two legs of the trip…both in first class! Some of the more memorable excerpts

….that’s when all hell broke loose. It started with a long line for the bathrooms and several passengers holding their stomachs. I then saw the line lengthen and flight attendants were handing out vomit bags and water bottles. I knew exactly what this was about…back in The Private Room (TPR), a few Point Me to the Plane readers who traveled on both the IAH-DME and DME-SIN legs, asked me if I was feeling OK. I said I was fine, though they said they were feeling very nauseous. They couldn’t even stand to look at food. I thought it was strange that more than one person was feeling ill, but I really didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t until I saw several of the business and first passengers from the previous flights lined up for the bathroom, that I knew something was very wrong….

Unfortunately, there was one problem with my baked clams appetizer…a nice long piece of hair was added to the dish for extra flavoring. 

However, there was a problem with my chair. It would not recline at all. The controls were not functioning and the seat had to be reset. They tried several times without any luck and then told me they could manually recline the seat each time or I could switch to the open seat that had a defective in-flight entertainment unit…my TV suddenly stopped working.  The crew reset my unit three times and then tried resetting the entire system with no luck. The system came back on but would play everything in slow motion with no sound.

Singapore first responded back in February and I thought their compensation offer was a little stingy, most readers thought it was just plain horrible. For a flight with an average first class fare of $8000 each way, they offered me $242 voucher. They would not discuss the food poisoning issue at all as they had only “received reports of 22 passenger complaints. Reports of 40 or more are required to investigate airline responsibility“.  OK, so forgetting my 24 hours of sickness, $242 still seemed off for an inoperable seat and TV in first class and some hair in my dish. With the coaxing of several readers, I responded back to the airline and received a response a few weeks ago in June. Essentially, they felt their initial offer was appropriate but would be forwarding the details on to senior management. Interestingly enough, reader reaction to that post was split:

Dave said - yeah SGD300 was too much for a broken IFE or seat… hair in food is not life threatening, only 22 people not feeling well – they could have gotten that from the lounge devouring. plus you only spent 70k miles, SQ has to make a living somehow.

Jonathan remarked – Firstly, the fact that the fare is normally $8,000 is irrelevant. The cost incurred by you was 70k miles.
Secondly, you were only able to book this flight due to the airline’s error. It’s questionable whether they were even obligated to honor the deal to begin with. Thirdly, the flight attendants made a good effort to accommodate you. In light of all of the above, I have to agree with SQ. $242 is fair compensation for the minor inconveniences you experienced.

Milezjunkie and Manoj seemed to understand my reasoning that compensation should be evaluated regardless of whether the ticket was purchased with cash or redeemed with miles:

Milezjunkie -You think SQ is letting award flyers on the plane for free? They’re paid by United. It’s not the full amount but its the amount they’ve agreed to accept for the class of service they offer. And do you think Point Me got completely free miles??? Even if he got them from a credit card sign up they were paid for, by the bank. If they were earned by credit card spend then he essentially paid for them as well because alternatively a cash back card would have given cash in lieu of miles. With your logic, if Starbucks gave you a free coffee after buy 30 coffees and your “free” coffee was just a cup of urine you wouldn’t complain. I’m sure that is likely.

Manoj – I think they should offer a 1 way upgrade from Coach to Biz or Biz to First; or refund half the miles. It is a small goodwill gesture to a passenger that was in F, regardless of whether it was a mileage ticket or not or it was booked in error. A passenger in F should get a F class product experience – the experience should not change based on what was paid.

Well, this morning I received word from Singapore once again, here’s a copy of that letter:

VIA EMAIL

Dear Mr Point Me to the Plane

Thank you for your email of 19 June 2013.

Please be assured that our management is aware of your experience onboard flight SQ61 /10 January 2013, and we sincerely apologise once again that your in-flight experience on this occasion had not met your expectations. We note that the audio facility of the in-flight entertainment system at your seat 2F (Houston-Moscow) was not functioning properly during the flight and we would like to share that this has since been rectified. While we understand that our crew was able to offer you a seat change to 1A, we acknowledge the disappointment caused in this regard as that seat was without proper in-flight entertainment system. Based on our findings, instead our crew had assisted you in manually adjusting your footrest to the required level for the Moscow-Singapore sector. However, based on our records, we confirm there were seat defects recorded at seats 1A and 2F for both sectors. 

That being said, we truly regret that our product delivery in these aspects had caused you disappointment.  We will ensure that our engineers intensify their pre-flight checks to ensure that our cabin facilities are functioning properly on our flights, and also have our Food and Beverage Manager work closely with our caterers to ensure that they continue to adhere closely to our strict food preparation guidelines. We hope that you will allow us the privilege of serving you better in future.

We have reviewed your case further and we would like to credit 15,000 miles into your KrisFlyer account in addition to the transportation voucher previously offered. The miles are valid for three years and can be used for future flight redemption.

We hope that you will consider our offer favourably, Mr Point Me to the Plane. We look forward to hearing from you.

I’ve already gone ahead and responded in acceptance of the offer for 15K miles and $242 USD. I don’t want to devote any more time to a flight I took six months ago and this certainly seems like their final offer. Interesting though that it took several emails for them to provide the full details of their investigation,  finally acknowledging and confirming the broken seat, food mishaps, defective IFE, and the fact that if I switched from the non reclining seat, I’d be without any IFE. After all that, they felt that this was the appropriate compensation.  What do you think?

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Posted by Adam | 16 Comments

Yahoo today posted an article listing their five favorite airlines for snacking:

We’ve compiled a list of best airlines for snacking so that you can know which airlines have a variety of tasty options on board (forget the terminal). To rank the airlines, we took authenticity, variety, and overall value for your ticket into consideration. From freshly baked French pastries to a choice of Turkish meze, these unexpected airline treats are raising the bar on airline snacks worldwide.

Three of the five winners are actually US based airlines, though Singapore took top-spot. What do you think of the list?

PS…my favorite western snack on Singapore was the philly steak…quite filling half way through a 19 hour flight!

Posted by Adam | 4 Comments

Some of you may remember the completely unexpected and uncharacteristic problems I ran into during my first ever Singapore First award trip to Bali back in January. I flew from IAH-DME-SIN-DPS for 70k United MileagePlus miles (booked during the Singapore glitch), but had a non-functioning TVbroken seat that would not recline, and food incidents(hair in the dish and food poisoning) on two legs of the trip.

Singapore first responded back in February and I thought their compensation offer was a little stingy, most readers thought it was just plain horrible. For a flight with an average first class fare of $8000 each way, they offered me $242 voucher. They would not discuss the food poisoning issue at all as they had only “received reports of 22 passenger complaints. Reports of 40 or more are required to investigate airline responsibility“.  OK, so forgetting my 24 hours of sickness, $242 still seemed off for an inoperable seat and TV in first class and some hair in my dish. With the coaxing of several readers, I responded back to the airline…and received no response until today.  Here is their updated response:

Dear Mr Point Me to the Plane,

I am following up on behalf of Mr xx who is no longer with our company. In addition, Ms xx has transferred to another department. Having reviewed your case again, we would like to apologise once more for your disappointing experience onboard flight SQ61 /10 January 2013. We note that the in-flight entertainment system at your seat was not functioning properly, and that you had difficulty reclining your seat. We also regret the in-flight meal issues that you had faced.

That being said, we hope to seek your understanding that we are unable to provide compensation under these circumstances. We regret to inform you that we are unable to refund you any UA miles that were utilised to redeem the above mentioned flight and we hope that you will reconsider our offer of the proposed SGD300 transportation voucher. As  per your request, I have also forwarded your request on to the Customer Affairs Senior Management team. 

I look forward to hearing from you, Mr Point Me to the Plane

Yours sincerely
xxxx
Customer Affairs Manager
Singapore Airlines Limited

For an airline with world class customer service, I’m just not feeling the love!

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Posted by Adam | 25 Comments

CNN’s The Gateway has an interesting video showing the training, preparation, and makeup needed to take “normal girls” and turn them into “Singapore Girls”. Check out the video here.

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