Introduction: A VERY Quick Trip To Hong Kong

Filed Under: Singapore, United
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I take a lot of quick trips, though this one was lightning fast even by my standards, as I flew to Hong Kong and back in about 32 hours, with just over four hours on the ground in Hong Kong.

Why? This trip was motivated by United’s new Polaris product. United introduced their new Polaris international premium cabin experience for flights as of December 2016. However, in reality, a vast majority of flights only have the new Polaris soft product, and not the new seat, which is only available on their 777-300ER aircraft.

United-Polaris-Seat - 2

So I was determined to review United’s new 777-300ER on a longhaul flight as quickly as possible after it was introduced. Late last year United announced the first routes that would feature the new plane. Specifically, Newark to San Francisco would get 6x weekly 777-300ER service between February and May, while the first longhaul route to feature the new plane would be San Francisco to Hong Kong, as of March 25, 2017.

Now, if you’ve ever looked at award availability between San Francisco to Hong Kong on United, you’ve probably noticed how little space there is. However, I set ExpertFlyer alerts for availability on this flight, and sure enough, just a few days before departure, space opened up. I managed to book the following routing using Avianca LifeMiles, for 75,000 LifeMiles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees:

03/28 UA414 Los Angeles to San Francisco departing 6:40AM arriving 8:12AM
03/28 UA869 San Francisco to Hong Kong departing 1:00PM arriving 6:45PM (+1 day)

Those are LifeMiles that I purchased for 1.375 cents each, meaning that the one-way ticket to Hong Kong cost me ~$1,000.

United’s 777-300ER business class

Since I had to be back in the US at most two days later, I decided to do a direct turn in Hong Kong. Singapore Airlines has a flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco leaving at 11:30PM, meaning I’d just have a few hours on the ground in Hong Kong.

Initially there wasn’t any availability, but I decided to waitlist the segment (one of the cool things about the KrisFlyer program is that they let you waitlist awards, and often they clear). Sure enough, just hours after I waitlisted the flight, I got a text saying that it cleared.


So I booked the following return flight:

03/29 SQ002 Hong Kong to San Francisco departing 11:30PM arriving 9:15PM

That cost me 82,000 KrisFlyer miles plus $79.60 in taxes, which I consider to be reasonable (especially since this is the award cost after KrisFlyer’s latest devaluation). KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies, so I transferred Citi ThankYou points and Amex Membership Rewards points to book this ticket, which I primarily earned through cards like:

Earn ThankYou & Membership Rewards Points

I was excited about this flight since I haven’t actually reviewed Singapore’s new(ish) business class product, even though I’ve reviewed their first class products many times before.

Singapore-777-Business-Class - 1
Singapore’s 777-300ER business class

In this report I’ll also be reviewing the United Clubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Hong Kong, given that I had the chance to check them out on this trip. Unfortunately none of these airports have Polaris Lounges yet. So far only Chicago has a Polaris Lounge, which looks incredible.

United-Club-LAX - 13
United Club Los Angeles Airport

All-in-all, I’d say this was a crazy but fun way to spend a couple of days.


Bottom line

I’m happy I had the chance to try United’s new 777-300ER business class just days after it began international service. Even better, I got to pair it with another product I hadn’t yet reviewed, and even managed to book it on the same route, so I could do a head-to-head comparison. I figured that this trip would be especially exhausting, but it actually wasn’t. I wasn’t in Hong Kong long enough to get any jetlag, but rather just got a great night of sleep after returning to the US, and then felt great.

Stay tuned, I’ll try to publish this report pretty quickly. Thanks for reading!

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  1. You didn’t visit the Singapore SilverKris lounge at Hong Kong? The new lounge is gorgeous…

  2. Worth noting that UA recently announced they are reducing their Polaris bedding. They will not be provisioning as many mattress pads, and will be giving one pillow instead of two (but gel pillows will still be available on request). Not a huge change but it happened quickly. They say it’s due to customer feedback that there is too much stuff and not enough space for it.

  3. If I’m reading this correctly, you were able to waitlist your Singapore flight without actually having enough miles in your Kris Flyer account, and then transfer points into the account after the waitlist cleared. Is that correct? I didn’t know I could do that. Can I waitlist myself and then decide to reject the offer when/if it comes through?

  4. @ David O — Sorry, I should have been clearer. I transferred over the points when I first started looking at this ticket, and then waitlisted them about 24 hours later, when the miles were in my account.

  5. @ Alvin — I did, but unfortunately it was so crowded that I decided not to review it. Literally every seat was taken, so taking any sort of decent pictures was nearly impossible. Agree it’s a very nice lounge, though I don’t love that it doesn’t have any natural light.

  6. Also, was premium economy not featured on SQ 2? I didn’t know that there were planes with the new first, business and economy products but no premium economy. Do those planes feature four seats or eight seats in first class?

  7. @ Alvin — Correct, it had eight first class seats, business class, and economy, but had the new cabins. As far as I know these are the same interiors as the ones with four first class seats and premium economy.

  8. You are crazy but I guess that is what makes you good at this 🙂 Looking forward to the rest of the report

  9. @lucky I was in the SQ F lounge that day, and the lounge itself is alright, but if there’s any reason to go there it’s to get out of the completely packed Business lounge

  10. I don’t suggest going to the united club in HK. It is no good. Go to the SilverKris lounge instead if you want to relax.

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