Bali and Berchtesgaden: Introduction

On July 7 Singapore Airlines switched the reservation systems they used, and as a result gave us one of the greatest mileage redemption opportunities in a long time. Singapore Airlines is the holy grail of award redemptions. Ever since Singapore Airlines introduced their new first class product several years ago they’ve stopped releasing first class award space to Star Alliance partners for that product. At the beginning that wasn’t a big deal since most flights were still operated by the old product (which I flew last year from New York to Frankfurt, for example), though as of this year all longhaul flights with a first class cabin feature the new product.

That means Singapore Airlines first class is off limits for Star Alliance flyers. It’s worth noting, however, that members of Singapore’s own KrisFlyer program can redeem for first class at reasonable rates, and they are transfer partners with American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.

Anyway, back to this “opportunity.” For whatever reason during their systems switch over all of the award space that’s regularly available to KrisFlyer members became available to their Star Alliance partners as well, so there was a period of about one day where Singapore Airlines first and business class was wide open.

With that in mind, after playing around with options for a while I managed to ticket the following for 160,000 US Airways Dividend Miles per person for a friend and I:

07/22 Singapore Airlines 61 Houston to Singapore departing at 5:30PM and arriving at 5:45AM (+2 days) [First Class]
07/24 Singapore Airlines 942 Singapore to Bali departing at 9:35AM and arriving at 12:05PM [Business Class]
07/30 Singapore Airlines 941 Bali to Singapore departing at 9:15AM and arriving at 11:45AM [Business Class]
07/30 Singapore Airlines 326 Singapore to Frankfurt departing at 1:55PM and arriving at 8:40PM [First Class]
07/31 Lufthansa 106 Frankfurt to Munich departing at 9:55AM and arriving at 10:50AM [Business Class]
08/04 Lufthansa 117 Munich to Frankfurt departing at 4:35PM and arriving at 5:40PM [Business Class]
08/05 Lufthansa 418 Frankfurt to Washington departing at 1:00PM and arriving at 3:45PM [First Class]

Now, there were a few things that made this especially awesome:

  • We had three longhaul segments in Singapore Airlines first class (the flight from Houston to Singapore stops in Moscow)
  • We would get to fly the Lufthansa 747-8, which is their newest airplane
  • We would get to visit two of my favorite places on earth, Bali and Berchtesgaden
  • We would get to fly with my favorite flight attendant, Janesis, from Moscow to Singapore

The timing of this couldn’t have been better, since I had been talking to Janesis to try and get on another one of her flights after the amazing flight I had with her from Singapore to Tokyo. I was literally going to pull the trigger on a KrisFlyer redemption to Singapore via Moscow just to fly with her, though this ended up being a much better option.

The last thing to point out regarding this redemption is that Lufthansa only releases first class award space two weeks before departure, so at first I had booked that flight in business class. As luck would have it Lufthansa opened up first class award space exactly two weeks out, so we were able to make that change. We really lucked out there, since US Airways doesn’t allow any changes after departure.

As far as the hotels go, I’ll cover my reasoning behind choosing them in each individual installment.

Sit back, relax, and get ready for some Diet Coke and Krug! And of course if you have any questions let me know.

Filed Under: Awards, Lufthansa
  1. @ Andrew — Between flying 200,000 revenue miles per year, credit cards, BankDirect, hotel stays, and taking advantage of every promotion I can, I earn well over a million miles a year. šŸ™‚

    @ Jason — Yep!

  2. How do you collect so many miles??? You must redeem at least 1 million a year. Credit card sign up bonuses don’t rack up that much!

  3. Holy Roulette Wheel Batman! LH F on a US Award! And here I was ready to believe the lengthy FT thread on the impossibility of such a thing! Stunning.


  5. @Stacey,
    Sadly there is now a $12 monthly fee for the Bank Direct account. However, if you’re like
    Lucky and have $50k+ in your account it makes sense.

  6. okay, i am with stacey on this one … i was wondering about BankDirect. i googled it and it seemed like there were a lot of products – CDs, money markets, checking.

    any new thoughts on this one?

    other than that, i am really excited about this trip report.

    post away!!!

  7. @ anonymous — I actually booked revenue tickets on US Airways and American, as I wasn’t coming from Tampa and still needed to firm up my schedule. It ended up being cheaper than paying the change fee, plus I earned miles to boot.

  8. @ rob — I have a mileage checking account. You earn 100 miles per month for every $1,000 of the monthly average collected balance in your account. That means you earn 1,200 miles per year, and at 1.5 cents per mile (conservative valuation) thatā€™s about a 1.8% return tax free, so to many thatā€™s the equivalent of ~2.5% interest.

  9. How did you get a stopover AND an open-jaw on a US award? The stopover looks legit (MUC and flew in on LH) … did you just throwaway IAD-IAH?

  10. Did you have any trouble getting US to find the LH O space? Were you able to cajole them out of the change fee?

  11. Since the whole flight was an F award, I’m assuming changing from LH J to LH F didn’t cost more miles. Is there usually a change fee associated? Based on status?

  12. @ Lee — Yep.

    @ discrep — Yes, they usually charge $150 to “upgrade” to your paid cabin, though there’s no difference in miles. For whatever reason the agent waived the change fee.

  13. How did you get the new LH 747-8 First Class award book on US… I’ve hear a lot of experience about problem redeeming US miles on LH/LX O Class. Is there any trick? On the other hand, it looks like you booked them about a month ago, did LH now releasing First Class award earlier than just a few days before departure? Thanks for sharing!

  14. I thought us air was charging 120k miles for first class to Asia… How did it end up being 160k for you?
    What am I missing?

  15. Lucky: It sounds like you got the US DM agent to do a ‘long sell’ to score LH F – good job!

    Lantean: North Asia = 120K in F
    S.E. Asia = 160K in F

  16. I’m debating on switching my Rez this Tuesday as I see LH F open. What’s the best way to call DM to switch and have them do a “long sell” ?

  17. Great! How successful to try for 3 LH F flights that show avail via ANA tool…..HKG-MUC, MUC-FRA, FRA-DFW …….?? I guess I need the right DM agent?

  18. @ Arthur — If the space is actually there you shouldn’t have any trouble if you give it a few tries.

  19. How did you get US to book LH F? I tried 4 or 5 agents a few months ago, and they all said they couldn’t see space, and flat out refused to long sell because they were forbidden by management. I ended up burning up the last of my Aeroplan miles (and paying the $300YQ).

  20. Ah I read your post. That’s what I read when I was trying to get it done. I spoke to an awful lot of agents and each of them flat out refused to manually request the space.

  21. Can someone explain how this routing worked? I am familiar with open jaws and stopovers, but I am seeing more than that here.

    For instance, how does Lucky get the round trip part from SIN to Bali, as well as FRA-MUC?

    Is the trip an open jaw IAD-DPS//DPS-IAH with stopover in SIN and in MUC? I am lost, since there are so many segments here. Help!

    Seems like there are at least 2+ stopovers here…

  22. @ Ced — I had a stopover in Munich and my destination was Bali. I also had an open jaw between Houston and Washington, which isn’t technically permitted.

  23. @lucky, thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

    So my understanding is:
    Outbound: IAH-(DME)-SIN-DPS (0 stopover, just connections)
    Inbound: DPS-SIN-FRA-MUC-FRA-IAD (1 stopover in Munich)

    I had misunderstood that from FRA you had tackled an extra rountrip to MUC, but that’s not the case, it’s simply DPS-MUC+MUC-IAD, the FRA parts are just connections.

    Am I right? Finally, your first FRA connection was overnight, with more than 12 hours between flights. Does this never count as a stopover?

    Thanks a lot in advance, this is very enlightening!

  24. @ Ced — US Airways counts anything over 24 hours as a stopover, so you are correct. The only part of this that wasn’t completely “legal” is that there was an open-jaw AND a stopover, as well as the roundtrip FRA-MUC-FRA (though with less than 24 hour connections in each direction).

  25. I’m curious. This is from LH Website- (2) The following passengers may also access the Lufthansa Welcome Lounge at Frankfurt Airport:
    – Passengers of United Airlines (First and Business Class and Global Services cardholders) and Continental Airlines (Business Class) arriving in Frankfurt

    – Passengers arriving in Frankfurt after a Lufthansa intercontinental flight (First and Business Class) via Dusseldorf or Munich

  26. Hi,
    Do you think that Singapore Airlines is the best option for reward travel from the U.S. to Bali? I’m new to the frequent flyer thing. My husband is Balinese, so we’d like to focus on earning trips to Bali to see his family. Unfortunately, we only have miles with Delta and Philippine Airlines (neither of which seems like a great option). Any insight or tips you could give us would be so appreciated!

  27. @ Hannah — Your best bet if originating in the US is Cathay Pacific, since they have one stop service out of all their North American gateways to Bali. You’d be best off accruing American miles to book Cathay Pacific.

  28. Lucky, thanks for another great trip report! Do you have a preference for row 1 vs. row 2? Is there even a difference? Deciding for myself and my girlfriend on sq1 later this fall. Currently we’re the only ones in the cabin so maybe we’ll get to try out all the seats anyway, but I figured I would ask.

  29. @ Matt — Both are great and I don’t have a strong preference for one over the other. I’d give a slight edge to row two because it’s a bit more private, though.

  30. I assume you weren’t charged a change fee when you changed classes on the LH flight back to the states because you were ONLY changing classes and NOT dates? At least I assume that’s what the US agent was thinking . . .

  31. @ erndog — Correct. In my experience I find they consistently charge the fee now even for “upgrades” to the paid cabin, so I think I lucked out here.

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