Singapore for the Weekend: Introduction

For months I had a meeting scheduled in Singapore, and originally my plan was to first visit Singapore and then continue on to Thailand for about a week (Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, specifically).

So while I had a ticket booked reflecting that schedule, I unfortunately had a schedule conflict on both ends of the trip. On the front end I was attending Starwood’s screening of “Mansome” in New York at the Tribeca Film Festival, and on the back end I had a family commitment back in Tampa.

Unfortunately this translated to a very quick trip to Singapore of just about 48 hours. While it’s not ideal, I was determined to at least get a few new airline products into the trip, and I’m proud to say that I think I succeeded in this instance.

For the outbound I’ve been dying to try Lufthansa’s new first class on the 747, which consists of both a seat and a bed. I’ve flown their other new first class product, which can be found on the Airbus 380, though never lucked out with the reconfigured 747, since only 10 of the 28 747s feature it.

In this instance the most convenient scheduled for the outbound was from New York to Singapore via Frankfurt in Lufthansa first class for 70,000 United miles one way (which I transferred from Ultimate Rewards).

The Frankfurt to Singapore flight was scheduled to be operated by the Airbus 380, so while it’s not a new product I didn’t feel too bad about flying it again, since I really do love the Airbus 380.

The flight from New York to Frankfurt proved to be a bit trickier. Lufthansa has two flights a day between New York JFK and Frankfurt, one at around 4PM and one at around 10PM. Initially I booked the late night flight, which I far prefer.

The thing is that Lufthansa flies the reconfigured 747s around pretty randomly, so when I woke up in the morning I looked up the tail numbers for the inbound flights from Frankfurt (this FlyerTalk thread is very useful for tracking them). As it turns out, the earlier flight from Frankfurt to New York (LH400) had the new first class, and that plane turns around to fly the early New York to Frankfurt flight (LH401).

So while I wasn’t looking forward to spending an extra six hours in Frankfurt, I decided it was well worth it for the new product. Fortunately the earlier flight had first class award space as well, so I called up to make the change, which took only a few minutes.

The return was also a spur of the moment decision. I initially booked a Cathay Pacific first class award from Singapore to Tampa via Hong Kong and Chicago, which is a tough value to beat at 67,500 American miles. Cathay Pacific has one of the most consistent first class products, though I’ve flown them well over a dozen times, so I was really hoping to try something new.

My flight out of Singapore was supposed to be at 1AM, and at around 4PM the previous afternoon I decided to get online and see if there were any other interesting alternatives.

I found Japan Airlines first class award space from Tokyo to New York in their new Sky Suite. While I flew their old product from Tokyo to New York several years ago, the prospect of trying their new suites proved too much to give up, so I canceled my Cathay Pacific award. The one-way award cost 62,500 miles in first class (flying out of Japan is 5,000 miles cheaper than flying out of Southeast Asia on American).

The issue was getting from Singapore to Tokyo. I had some Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, so decided to book the Singapore Airlines redeye from Singapore to Tokyo in first class for 51,000 KrisFlyer miles.

While I’ve flown Singapore Airlines’ old first class product and new business class product, I haven’t flown their new first class product.

Now, some might say that Singapore to Tokyo for 51,000 miles on a redeye is a waste. But 90% of the people I know really have no clue how far Singapore is from Tokyo. When I’ve asked people to estimate the flight length, they usually say 2-3 hours. It’s actually blocked at over seven hours, and the distance is further than Boston to London. So when you put it into perspective and think of it as the equivalent of a transatlantic first class flight for 51,000 miles, it seems like a bit better of a deal.

Ultimately there’s no doubt the Cathay Pacific deal was a better one, though you guys are always telling me you want me to review new products, and I figured this would be the perfect opportunity, since three of the four airline products were new ones for me.

When all was said and done, the itinerary looked as follows:

04/26 Lufthansa 401 New York to Frankfurt departing at 3:55PM and arriving at 5:35AM (+1 day)
04/27 Lufthansa 778 Frankfurt to Singapore departing at 9:35PM and arriving at 3:50PM (+1 day)
04/30 Singapore Airlines 638 Singapore to Tokyo departing at 11:55PM and arriving at 8:00AM (+1 day)
05/01 Japan Airlines 6 Tokyo to New York JFK departing at 11:20AM and arriving at 11:25AM

On the hotel front I decided to book the InterContinental Singapore. Since I was staying over a weekend I was able to use an InterContinental Buy One Get One Free Weekend Night Certificate, which is an unbeatable deal in conjunction with Royal Ambassador benefits.

Stay tuned!

Filed Under: Hotels, Japan Airlines
  1. Looking forward to the report as SIN is a top contender for my next big trip (vs. HKG). If I head to Singapore, the Intercontinental was on top of my list so I can’t wait to see the review.

  2. It seems that now LH would never release their first class reward ahead of time, and they even don’t release their “new” first class rewards before a few days of departure. So how did you get those LH first class award booked? Did you use M&M miles for standard award? Thanks:)

  3. @ New Girl in the Air — Stay tuned for the report, though if the choice is between Hong Kong and Singapore, definitely go with Hong Kong, in my opinion.

    @ Palmtenor — I simply booked only a few days before departure. 🙂

  4. Not sure I agree with Lucky on ‘definitely go with Hong Kong,’ they are two very different cities and I take a very contrarian view about Singapore, it isn’t just a stopover and it isn’t just ‘Asia light’ although English is one of the official langauges there so it’s more widely spoken than in Hong Kong.

    Singapore is my favorite food city in the world, at most ends of the spectrum. It outstanding high end dining, outstanding midrange, and probably among the very best at the lowest end. I can think of few things more pleasant than an evening at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village hawker stalls, since they’re great food at a great price in an open air setting on the beach. Perfect.

    The Intercontinental Singapore can be a really good value, but I don’t especially like it. I found the club too busy, too impersonal. The hotel needs updating.

    But a Royal Ambassador on a weekend paid stay it’s hard to argue against 🙂

    Still, independent of location I prefer the Grand Hyatt over the Intercontinental. The Conrad is a good hotel as well. And of course the St Regis is outstanding.

  5. what kind of points balances do you guys have? All of you bloggers are jetting about every week in F class it seems like to places all around the world. I have a few hundred thousand points and miles which are enough to last me through a couple of years of travel since I only have time to take one big trip per year. But if I was flying so often they wouldn’t get me far.

  6. As friends of mine know, I am a shameless fairmont promoter. And while their perks aren’t as slam dunk as say Hyatt, they do offer nice perks for repeat visiotrs (4upgrades, 1 free night, and $100 in dining credit annually for plats) but the point I am coming to here is: In Singapore you can’t do better on location* than Fairmont / Swissotel at CityHall (Adjacent to Raffles) and above the metro station. These properties were originally a Westin, but have been Fairmont for 10 years and have been recently renovated.

    When in Singapore, I stay at the Fairmont.

    *I guess you could stay at the Marina Bay Sands Casino Hotel (The iconic one with a sky bridge) That might be the best location.

  7. @lucky & Gary, Appreciate the insight. The choice is more complicated than SIN vs. HKG as both will just be the first stop of a 2-week trip (either China or Indonesia from there…) Don’t think I can go wrong either way!

    @Gary, thanks for your take on the Intercontinental. The Conrad is also a possibility, but I don’t have any Hyatt points so will probably forego that option.

  8. Lucky, will you include the Sheraton Tribeca? Considering staying there this summer.

  9. Just the mention of SIN/NRT brings back good memories of Chili crabs at SIN Do 1 and 2. It also brings back memories of sitting upstairs on a 747 in row 15 on UA. Sigh.

  10. I’ve done SIN/NRT seven times now, all but once in economy, and it feels like a fairly short flight. After a 13 hour flight from ORD or LAX, I get it, but even after my 9 hour flight from SEA to NRT, it just felt short.

  11. You’re so right about the NRT/SIN length, Lucky. When I fly BOS-ORD-NRT-SIN, after the layover at NRT (even in an F lounge), the trip to SIN seems like the LONGEST. FLIGHT. EVER.

  12. @ Panda — Nowadays all the availability they release to Star Alliance partners in first class is last minute.

    @ Josh — Absolutely, stay tuned, it’ll be coming up in a separate report shortly.

  13. I was actually wondering what days there will be no F availibilty at all.. i.e. Christmas Eve, etc..

  14. @ Panda — Whoops, sorry. No, there are no dates they have blackouts or don’t release space. Usually as long as there’s a good amount of space they’ll release award availability close to departure.

  15. @ flyer708 — They sure do close to departure, especially between FRA and NRT (as well as SIN and PEK).

  16. Hey B,
    So when all was said and done how many miles had you expended for this entire trip? Was all of this mileage you had previously flown??


  17. @ ThunderStorm — 70,000 United miles, 62,500 American miles, and 51,000 KrisFlyer miles. The American miles were mostly earned through flying, while the other miles were earned from credit cards.

  18. @ Simon — Correct, as long as you don’t stop for more than 24 hours it’s the same price as a US to Asia first class award via the Pacific, which is 70,000 miles one-way.

  19. @ Simon — Booked it online, and it actually came up as a natural connection when searching JFK to SIN.

  20. RakSiam said: “what kind of points balances do you guys have? All of you bloggers are jetting about every week in F class […] to places all around the world.”

    I would like to know the answer as well. How are all these trips possible? 🙂

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