About one year ago I got a little overwhelmed from reading an article about a traveler who flew in the luxury of Singapore Airlines Suites cabin from Singapore to New York.Who knew within the same year I found out that you don’t have to be rich to be able to experience the same privilege.
Booking the flights
I didn’t even realize my Krisflyer account had expired before I booked the flight because I haven’t flown Singapore Airlines in the past 4 years that I actually had to sign up for a new Krisflyer account.
I had enough miles to redeem for Singapore Airlines from my reward points using Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, including the 50,000 bonus points I had received at sign-up that I was saving for a moment like this.
I was able to transfer these points online into my new Krisflyer account at a 1:1 ratio, the miles became available in the account only within a few hours.
Booking the award redemption was very easy, but getting your seats confirmed on the other hand was a whole different matter. Arranging our flight home to Los Angeles from Jakarta as a family of four would have been easy if we chose to fly in the cheapest flight available.
However, because we were aiming to fly in a premium cabin without having to pay the hefty price tag, we had to sacrifice in flying home separately in order to have a bigger chance of scoring the award seats.
So we decided that my husband would fly with my eldest son with Japan Airlines and I’d fly with our toddler with Singapore Airlines.
You can search and book for SQ award redemption flights from singaporeair.com – when searching for award flights don’t forget to click the option to ‘Redeem Miles’.
Above is what is required for a First / Suites class seat from Jakarta to Los Angeles, an Award Saver requires 91,375 Krisflyer miles (after 15% discount from 107,500 miles by booking online) plus IDR 4,982,600 (equivalent to SGD 505 / USD 355).
If you choose to fly in Business Class, the Award Saver required is 68,000 Krisflyer miles (after 15% discount from 80,000 miles) plus IDR 4,773,600 (or USD 340).
I had waitlisted myself on 6 different SQ flights (yes six!) about 3 months prior, I did a combination of First and Business class seats on several consecutive days, I thought any seat will do as long as it would get me to Los Angeles by the first week of January 2016.
I probably called Singapore Airlines Customer Service about 4 times before departure just to check on my waitlist status and to see what my chances were, they all said since the date I was after is very popular my chances on getting the seats confirmed are very slim. SQ has also declared to passengers that they might confirm waitlisted award flights up until the day of the departure – ah the agony!!
Knowing that I did not have any confirmed seat to fly back home, I went on a different strategy and made bookings for separate segments of the trip by booking an award seat from Jakarta to Tokyo instead.
This route did show a lot more availability on the Award Saver level.So I ended up confirming a First Class Award Saver seat for Jakarta to Tokyo on the date I wanted.
Jakarta to Tokyo – Award Flight Saver
First Class (on 777-300)51,000 Krisflyer miles + IDR 1,420,300 (USD 101)
Business Class – 34,000 Krisflyer miles + IDR 1,350,600 (USD 96.50)
It was a relief that I had a confirmed seat on at least one leg of the trip, and because there was no Award Saver availability for the Tokyo to Los Angeles leg I decided to purchase one Business Class seat in cash – which cost me USD 2,000 to cover 1 adult + 1 lap infant, just for the sake of certainty so I won’t get stranded in Narita Airport on the day.
Before purchasing the paid ticket, I already made sure that if my waitlisted award seat did go through for the entire itinerary – I can still refund the miles for the first leg (in full) and refund my paid ticket with a penalty of only USD 150.
My first waitlist was for a departure on January 3rd and to my surprise on December 31st afternoon I received an email from Singapore Airlines saying my Award Flight Redemption in SQ First / Suites class from Jakarta to Los Angeles is available for issuance.
Yup, Singapore Airlines confirmed my seats only 3 days before departure.
Finally this seat ended up costing me 91,375 Krisflyer miles and USD 355 while the lap infant full fare for a first class ticket was USD 784.
In total our SQ Suite experience dollar cost was USD 1,139 (1 Adult + 1 Lap Infant) – much less than what people had to pay for an economy seat in the same exact flight.
Around peak season, the cost of a Singapore Airline ticket round-trip CGK-LAX in economy class is about USD 1,800 to 2,500, while a round trip in SQ First / Suites class is a staggering USD 20,000 – 25,000.
So I definitely got a heck of a deal.
(I‘ve blurred any personal details & my son’s name from the boarding passes for security purposes)
The Premier Lounge in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) was nothing but ordinary that it’s probably not even worth mentioning in details. The only significant difference is after collecting your boarding pass at check-in you can go straight to the lounge and the immigration is located inside the lounge – I believe this is only offered for First Class passengers – and there was only one immigration officer on duty right at the entrance (from photo above it is the guy behind the glass doors).
Inside Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER
SQ 955, Jakarta (CGK) to Singapore (SIN)
Departs: 09.20 AM, Arrive: 12:05 PM
Duration: 1 Hr 30 Mins
Three ClassConfiguration: 1-2-1, 8 Flat-Bed Seats
I have to admit, it is a little over the top to fly in First Class for a 1.5 hour flight, however since it was part of the whole itinerary it was our luck to experience such luxury in this very short flight to Singapore. Our connecting flight to Tokyo and Los Angeles is not until the next morning so we did get to spend one relaxing day in Singapore.
Upon entering the cabin, one of the senior flight attendants immediately grabbed my carry-on luggage even before we reached the aircraft door (of course he said hello before trying to grab on my carry-on) and he personally escorted us into our seat.
The flight attendant even stored my carry-on luggage at a different seat because there was only one other passenger in the cabin. The first class cabin consist a total of 8 flat-bed seats, I purposely selected seat 2A because it is more private than the first row, not too close to the galley.
I was in awe of how wide the seat was, it is 35 inches wide (89cm) – the widest airplane seat I’ve ever seen in my life, I could not complain.
It was so wide that they didn’t even need to turn it into a bed for my son to sleep in and I could still sit right next to him while he’s in a sleeping position.
Beverages offered before take-off included a Dom Perignon champagne, I immediately said yes, only to realize a few minutes later that it was barely 9 o’clock in the morning so I asked for a second glass once we were airborne +)
The in-flight entertainment screen was a large 23″ LCD screen. Too bad the flight was so short that I didn’t get to enjoy any of it except for an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Thank You Son).
While my son was taking his glorious power nap, I was able to enjoy a delicious breakfast at another seat, it felt like I was on a mini vacation.
I guess most people are already aware of how Singapore Airlines has an excellent reputation in providing the best in-flight customer service even when you’re flying Economy… so imagine flying in First Class.Right after I took my seat, they introduced themselves with genuine smiles (which I find quite important) and they also made an effort to entertain my toddler.
Throughout the entire flight they made sure we had everything we needed and of course it’s always nice being called Mrs Rumantir everytime they check on you, I was not just another Ma’am. Overall the service was impeccable and certainly met my expectations.
Singapore Changi International Airport
The next morning, I was so excited about my first time flying in Suites that my fear of flying had suddenly disappeared.
At Singapore Changi Airport, first class passengers have a dedicated Terminal and Check-In reception. It was beautiful.
At drop-off you would feel like arriving at a hotel lobby, there were porters and SQ staff standing by (I could count about 6 people) ready to greet you by the entrance complete with hotel trolleys.
They immediately greeted us even before I closed the Uber door and politely asked for our passports so they can assist us with instant check-in.
I had already checked-in my bags and received all my boarding passes back in Jakarta so I only had my carry-on luggage with me. At the reception I only had to wait for them to make sure that all my luggages to LAX were all accounted for.
Singapore Changi First Class Check-In Reception.
After a brief 5 minutes at the check-in reception, off we went to the private departure gate for Immigration with my carry-on being pulled by one of the staff – definitely a first class treatment.
Suites passengers are also invited to the Private Room, located inside the Krisflyer Lounge.
At reception, one of the staff once again took over in handling my carry-on luggage and personally walked me all the way into the Private Room.
As you go into the Krisflyer lounge, you can hear the noise & hecticness of the Business Class Lounge – it was early morning and the lounge was packed, walking past the Business Class lounge was the First Class Lounge, it was a little busy but less noisy… and then we finally reached the Private Room and it instantly turned into a calm & quiet atmosphere, it felt like we were inside a library.
The Private Room
The Dining Area inside the Private Room
I have to say the food selection from the Breakfast Bar and the Ala Carte menu was excellent and everything we tried taste amazing. Singapore really is my ultimate food haven – even the airport restaurants and stalls in Changi Terminals are all delicious.
Around boarding time, the lounge staff approached us to remind us to board the aircraft and told us there was already a buggy waiting outside the lounge. I truly appreciated this little perk otherwise it would have been a pretty long walk going to the gate and we could have missed the boarding time because it turns out we were one of the last ones to board the aircraft.
Inside Singapore Airlines Suites Class – A380
The first aisle in SQ Suites.
SQ 12, Singapore (SIN) to Los Angeles (LAX) via Narita International Airport (NRT)
Departs: 09.20 AM, Arrive: 11:50 AM
Duration: 6 Hours 40 Mins (SIN-NRT), 9 Hours (NRT-LAX)
Aircraft: A380 Configuration: 1-2-1, 12 Private Suites
The seat was wide and very luxurious, but the First Class seat in the 777-300ER was actually more comfortable because it has more padding.
Seat 2C & 2DFor both flight segments (SIN-NRT & NRT-LAX), seat 2D was vacant so we had the luxury of having two suites the entire time, so yes we were thrilled!
This suite basically had everything you could ever ask for, the 23″ LCD Screen, easy access to power supply and USB Ports, convenient storage and Bose noise canceling headphones.
The Suites’ amenities: pajamas, slippers, socks, toiletries bag by Salvatore Ferragamo.
Closed suite from seat 2D
My son made his way around the cabin and said hi to all the Suites’ passengers.
The menu had a very good selection of different types of cuisine, I opted for the Japanese cuisine and was served a 7-course beautifully presented meal in each of the 2 flight segments (so I basically had a 14-course meal in less then 12 hours).
I usually do not enjoy airplane meals, but this time I could not resist.I regret not being able to try any of the desserts, even though I could ask for it anytime during the flight – but there was always something happening when flying with a toddler.
The sashimi tasted so fresh and delicious, it was hard to believe that this was prepared in an airplane.
The meat was a bit too hard, the mashed potatoes & gravy were very tasty though.
I can’t remember what this was but the seafood inside the little mandarin was yummy.
Creamy potato soup – definitely meets restaurant standards.
Even the salad was good.
The famous SQ Suites’ Caviar
SQ is proud of their first ever (in air travel) stand-alone bed (not a bed converted from a seat), it really was quite special with a complete turn down service and high-quality linen provided, and we got to sleep in one of the very few double bed in the sky!
Mine & his entertainment
On both flights, my son slept very well and was behaving tremendously good that other passengers commented on how they couldn’t hear him make any noise during the flight.
I’d say the fact that we were not feeling claustrophobic and the Bose noise-canceling headphones (for other passengers) certainly helped.
It was definitely one hell of a flying experience and we felt so comfortable that I wish the flight time was a little longer than it should have been…. but you can’t always get everything =)