We (my technical manager and me) had to attend two meetings in Germany and Hong Kong. After we had searched several different fares, we came to the conclusion that the cheapest way for us would be the Singapore Airlines RTW fare. There are two fares: In Business Class for USD 5,299 and First Class for 6,699 USD. But: If you have any segment on the 77W or the 345 included on your Business Class trip, SQ charges you 700 USD extra per leg. Because our trip indeed included 2 legs on the 77W, the prices for the RTW in Business and in First would have been the same by the penny.
Of course we went for the First Class version.
First leg JFK-FRA 744 SQ 25 Seat 1 A
After some long driving from South Virginia to JFK we were among first ones to check in and went to the Virgin Clubhouse. It's basically sad. SQ only sends C-passengers into the Star Alliance lounge, F-passengers are sent to VC. Does anybody know if the Star Alliance Club is really that poor? At the Clubhouse they have only very limited snacks for self-service, however, they have a full à la carte menu. We ordered a crab cocktail and some Bruschetta und found it had an excellent quality.
The good thing - for me as a smoker - is that the Clubhouse is outside the security area. So it is no problem to step out of the airport and have a short smoke during your waiting time.
I wondered what this flight would be like. In other trip reports I read that T 4 at JFK has no priority line for security and that the SQ 747 F seats are really outdated and way too narrow. Of course nothing of this applied. There was a priority line which let us pass security within some minutes and after boarding was announced we entered the plane as first passengers. At the door the cabin crew greeted us with a smile and guided us to our seats which were very comfortable, even for me as a really heavy guy. 5 of 12 seats had been sold on this flight.
After some pre-departure drinks (everything, even Espresso was available) doors closed in time and we were on our first leg to Germany. I ate caviar, followed by a soup, some salad, another soup and some ice cream to finish. Then I put on the really wonderful pyjama they provided and when I returned from lavatory my bed was already made. I slept like a baby until 20 min before landing (already descending). I changed clothes, got some cups of coffee and arrived relaxed from a remarkable good flight. I heard from other people that the SQ F service would be quite impersonal; excellent, but inflexible. I did not get this impression during any of my 4 SQ legs I flew on this trip.
After having arrived in Frankfurt, I picked up my car, which I had left at the Steigenberger hotel (park, sleep and fly service), and off I went to Cologne, the city where I had lived before I went to the US. James, my technical manager, is 62 years old and had never been anywhere else than to the US, Canada and Mexico. Now he entered his first German Autobahn by my side. Of course I speeded up a little and when I reached 155 mph he really got pale.
Second leg FRA-SIN 77W SQ 325 Seat 1A
We were in Cologne at a technical trade show and one week after our departure from JFK we went back to Frankfurt for our next trip to Hong Kong via Singapore. This leg was on a 77W. Although flying First we had to go to the LH Senator Lounge. As usual it was crowded, loud and not the cleanest one. An acceptable, but not outstanding choice of food and drinks was offered. It’s a shame what Lufthansa offers here.
We didn't stay too long there and proceeded to our departure gate. Again, after the elderly, handicapped and families with small children, First Class passengers boarded. On this flight the First Class cabin was full. The seat in this aircraft is amazing. It is big. It is nearly too big. You have a small cushion on the side which provides you from getting lost in this really huge. But you get used to it. VERY fast. After the normal pre-departure drinks we left the gate and were airborne to Singapore absolutely in time. It ought to be mentioned that we didn’t have a single minute delay on any of the flights. After dinner I changed clothes and went to this amazing bed in the sky. What should I say? I slept like a baby for more than 8 hours, watched a movie, had another snack and there we arrived in Singapore, about 1 hour ahead of schedule.
Third leg SIN-HKG SQ 870 772 Seat 2A
After a quite long walk through the new and impressive Singapore Terminal 3 we arrived at the silver Kris lounge. We gave our boarding passes with the invitation to the Private Room to the lounge manager. It was like entering a plane in the Economy Class section and proceeding to First Class. The Business Class section of the lounge (which didn’t look bad at all) was right behind the entrance area. From the Business section we walked through the First Class section (I think this section is used for all intra-Asian First flyers) and ended up in the "Private Room", an excellent lounge with an à la carte restaurant, very helpful and friendly staff. It’s very quiet in there. Time flew by and then we went to our plane to Hong Kong. It was a B 772 with intra-Asian First Class. Not too bad. You might want to compare the seats with some of the non-horizontal Business Class seats on the market. For this short 3 hour hop it was more than okay. The service on this short flight was friendly and effective again, however, not comparable to the First Class service on intercontinental flights. But this would be too much to expect in my opinion. In the late evening we arrived in Hong Kong, took a cab to our first hotel (Novotel airport, highly recommended) and encountered the problem that it was hard to fall asleep in our first night in Asia after these very long flights during which we had slept most of the time. However, I still managed to sleep for 6 hours that night.
Fourth leg HKG-SFO 77W SQ 2, Seat 1A
After some days on the Chinese mainland we had the last day off for some sightseeing and took the Airport Express from Kowloon to the airport. Of course we were there too early. There was a check-in lane open for the next departing flight back to Singapore and only an early-bird check-in for our flight SQ2 to San Francisco. The early-bird check-in was crowded, but we had plenty of time, so we queued up there. The other CI back to SIN was empty, so step by step they started to pick people out of the queue to SFO. When we were picked, we showed our passports and the girl turned pale. She disappeared with a non understandable excuse and returned some seconds later with the boarding pass forms for First Class. We got rid of our bags and went straight through security and passport control to the Silver Kris Lounge. This lounge is huge. It looked like it had enough capacity for all SQ C and F travellers of the whole day, maybe even more. The selection of drinks was quite good and the buffet in the restaurant section was excellent. We only had some small bites because we were curious about the food served on board. As with every other flight on this trip, boarding was announced in time; we boarded again after elderly passengers and families with children had gone on board and took off in time. Excellent food, excellent service, even better bed and both of us slept for almost the whole flight.
On this last leg I just had one small problem with the service, because they did not understand that for me a single cup of coffee is not enough to get awake. I almost had to beg for some more, but finally got them.
We arrived in San Francisco an hour ahead of schedule.
This was the end of a long and wonderful journey ... and the beginning of a nightmare.
UA LAX-SFO-IAD in Economy
From the airport we took the shuttle to the Best Western San Matteo. Everything worked fine, and in spite of the long sleep in the plane before, I managed to get some sleep in the hotel, too. The next morning, during breakfast, I asked at the reception when the next shuttle to the airport would leave. On their website it says that the shuttle to the airport leaves every 15 min. The girl looked at me with big eyes and said 8:30 (our flight left at 8:40). If nobody had told us, that we would have to ORDER the shuttle a day in advance? What? We arrived the night before, we came with the shuttle, we stayed only one night and had asked for a wake up call at 6:00 a.m. and the girl at reception didn't have the idea that we could need the shuttle the next morning and tell us to order it? Welcome back to the United States. We asked for a taxi which arrived 20 min later. 8 min before the check-in counters would close. Although the girl drove like crazy, we were two minutes too late. When we tried to check in, I took my buddy’s luggage on my account, as I only had hand luggage with me and because I’m Star Gold it should be free. The system forced me to re-book (75 Dollars) but issued the boarding passes for James. But they were only for the flight from SFO to LAX. We agreed to meet in LAX at the gate for our flight to IAD and walked together to the "fast lane" for security. This "fast" lane was about “100 people long”. Good morning, it is the first Sunday of spring break and SFO was as chaotic as no airport I had been to before. Of course my buddy did NOT make his flight. At the gate the girl told him something about waiting till late night and then taking a redeye. Sorry, but that sounded nuts. He went to the United service centre and got the last seat on a non-stop flight to IAD. I had to fly via LAX and we agreed to meet in Washington. The flights were a nightmare. On the flight to LAX I ended up in a middle seat (luckily Economy Plus) and from LAX to IAD in one of the last rows of Economy in a window seat (26 A). You get what you pay for.
I spent thousands of dollars for round-the-world flight in First Class and because of 200 dollars difference I flew Economy instead of First on this transcontinental flight? NEVER AGAIN. I arrived in IAD with every single bone in my body aching und lucky as I was I still had to drive about 4 hours back home. I managed it, but don't ask me how. I ended up in my own bed some time after midnight and swore to myself that this was the last long Economy flight in my life.
But nevertheless the RTW in F on SQ is an unforgettable experience and you get more than a perfect value for the price of this ticket.
kaitak From Ireland, joined Aug 1999, 12165 posts, RR: 35 Reply 1, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 18921 times:
Great post; most enjoyable, though pity about your experience on your last trip. These things are bad enough to deal with at any time, but when you were probably tired, it can't have been easy to deal with. Still, at least you got home!
You'll have to get your company to arrange more of these trips, so you can get used to SIA's F class ... and dealing with UAL! Still, in fairness to UAL, it seems like it was mostly the hotel's fault.
initious From Singapore, joined Dec 2008, 1034 posts, RR: 16 Reply 2, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 18912 times:
If only I got to travel like you did! You got to try all the variations of SQ's F (except the suites) in your trip and I am really envious of you! Wonder why you did not choose the SQ A380 on your SIN-HKG flight? I'd have gladly paid more to enjoy the suites, albeit it's only for 4 hours! Were all the flights paid for by your company? That would have been very great.
Mennix From Germany, joined Dec 2006, 69 posts, RR: 0 Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 16268 times:
I would love to check the SQ suites also, but this is not possible with this fare. You cannot even buy up. It is booking class A which will seat you in the A 380 automatically into Business.
You asked me, if he company paid it. Yes, however I am the owner of the company. My flight rules are easy:
Short flights Economy
medium flights ( coast to coast in US ) Business or, if not available, deep discounted F
Long haul Flights: Business. No choice of Airlines, cheapest available ( of course Icelandair or Kuwait airways, who do not have a real C Product can be choosen off ). Those are the rules for me and also for ALL employees of the company. SQ was for our trip the best and cheapest choice, and if there is a F ticket for the same Dollars than a C ticket, of course F will be booked.
But to make it clear: If there would have been a choice, lets say DL/AF combi for 300 Dollars less I would have voted for the cheaper one. ( or paying the difference both out of our private pockets )
AKLDELNonstop From New Zealand, joined Apr 2006, 305 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 15039 times:
Quoting Mennix (Reply 3): Short flights Economy
medium flights ( coast to coast in US ) Business or, if not available, deep discounted F
Long haul Flights: Business.
That is a very generous travel policy to have in this day and age. Of course I say this without knowing the circumstances of your company (whether majority of your people travel regularly or whether travel costs are directly passed on to clients etc).
Personally, I think you were cutting it close at SFO, even on a Sunday. I would have been at the airport about the time you were having breakfast! You never know what to expect with the security lines there, especially on UA. Too bad you had that experience. Great report about the SQ flights!
When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward -Leonardo DaVinci