Singapore Airlines is known for its rare availability when it comes to premium cabins award redemptions on an award saver level, especially when you need to book for more than one seat.
So when I was searching for an award availability flying from Jakarta to Los Angeles on SQ Business Class and found a non-waitlist seat available on the flight I wanted I had to jump right to it.
The great thing about booking redemption online is the 15% discount on miles, which makes the total points required to only 68,000 miles (from 80K) plus tax + surcharges of USD 321.78 – this is considered high compared to Cathay Pacific (USD 50) or Japan Airlines (USD 40) for a similar route.
Flying from Los Angeles to Jakarta on the other hand, I had to use a different strategy because I wanted to save on some points.
So I purchased a Premium Economy seat for USD 1,179 hoping to upgrade to Business Class with only 38,500 miles (after 15% discount from 45,000 miles). If I couldn’t upgrade I would be happy sitting in Premium Economy anyway for the sake of experiencing the brand new cabin.
One-way economy from Los Angeles to Jakarta is USD 479.36 (non-upgradable) and USD 1,052.36 (upgradable to Premium Economy). It was a better value to purchase one-way Premium Economy at USD 1,179.36 and upgradable to Business.
You should be able to check for upgrades online from ‘Manage Your Booking’ option, if the option is not available it is always best to give the local SQ office a call (although the wait can be quite dreadful).
I didn’t have enough points sitting in my Krisflyer account but I was able to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my Krisflyer account in just a few seconds. The only downside is how the points transfer is not instantaneous like transferring Virgin Atlantic points or Korean Air points, however it will generally become available into the Krisflyer account within 24 hours (it took 12 hours in my experience).
If you were to purchase a round-trip Business Class fare between LAX-CGK, the price tag is around USD 6,000 (low season) and up to USD 8,000 (high season) – it’s crazy when it has to come out of your own pocket right?
Well business class as we all know it are meant for business travelers which means their company normally pays for these seats (they are what I call the lucky travelers).
So for ‘regular travelers’ like myself, playing around with promotional offers, points and upgrades are the best way to make business class ‘realistically affordable’.
Up until late last year, SQ was operating the A380 aircrafts for flights to/from Los Angeles (the one that has SQ Suites First Class Cabin) but this year they’ve transitioned all LAX flights to B777-300 which eliminates SQ Suites and the cabin now only has 4 first class seats (wider seats than business class but not a private suite).
When I had to select my seats online, I could see that the front section of business class was already quite packed and the back end from row 20 onwards was quite empty, so I opted on seat 22A from Los Angeles to Singapore and 22K from Singapore to Los Angeles.
Bear in mind that Row 21 is missing a window, so you might want to avoid selecting these window-less seats.
I’m glad I chose to sit towards the back because the last 2 rows of the cabin had no other passengers and it felt like I had that whole section to myself. Another great thing about sitting in the back section of Business Class is there were rarely anyone walking past because the lavatories are located in the middle of the Business Class cabin.
The new BMW-designed cabin was so sexy and SQ (as always) is extremely generous with their seat width at 28 inches (or 72 cm).
I didn’t see the need to fly in First Class anymore because at a glance the seats looked so similar. Although First Class does offer a 35 inches (89 cm) seat width and 81″ (205 cm) pitch on a lie-flat position.
While I’m in love with the seat width, I was not a big fan of the lie-flat bed as wide as it was because turning it into a bed is not as easy as in other aircrafts’ flat bed seats (Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Air Canada, Etihad). You actually need to stand up and flip the seatback into a lie-flat position (similar to Virgin Atlantic Upper Class).
The bed was hard even though it was layered with an extra padding which was too thin to begin with. The footrest position was also restricted to an angled ‘foot cubby’, unless you’re sitting at the very first row of the cabin which gives you a full ottoman but less storage space.
The seats in the very first row are also reserved for families with younger children who would require a bassinet (they totally deserve better seats!).
The In-Flight Dining
One of the best things about flying SQ Premium Cabin is the ability to ‘Book The Cook’ before departure, orders needs to be submitted more than 24 hours before departure though, so make sure you do this online through ‘Manage My Booking’ way in advance.
I opted for a regular in-flight menu for lunch and ordered a Beef Sukiyaki for dinner on the Los Angeles to Narita leg and it was delicious. I’m glad I pre-ordered this one in.
Flying in premium cabins also gives you access to a set of meals available to you at anytime during the duration of the flight. In this case, they had sandwiches, fruit platters, charcuterie & cheese platters, ice cream and other light food / snacks. I decided to order some rice pudding while watching in-flight movies.
The service level with Singapore Airlines could never ever go wrong from my numerous experience flying with SQ. They will always refer to you by your last name (not just a Sir/Madam), each staff was extremely attentive and would respond super promptly when you use the call button.
Typically, they have a crew-change after a layover in Narita. On one flight from Narita to Singapore, the senior flight attendant even came up to my seat and introduced himself to make sure I had everything I needed and not all senior flight attendant would do this (except when you’re flying First Class).
Here’s another bonus point for SQ for being exceptionally organized with flight delays…
My flight from Narita to Singapore left 40 minutes later from the scheduled time because Narita’s runway was packed with other flights taking off at the same time, so we were waiting to taxi for a while even though the boarding time was completely on-schedule.
This should not be a problem if your last destination is Singapore, however I had another connecting flight to Jakarta with only a 1-hour layover and without even realizing it as I arrived in Singapore, I had missed my connecting flight to Jakarta.
To make it even worse, it was the last flight of the day to Jakarta which means I had to wait until the next morning to get on the next flight (1-hour layover turned into an 8-hour layover).
As I entered the arrival gate in Singapore, there were already several ground staff with clear signage of my connecting flight and was prepared to hand me my ‘new’ boarding pass for the next morning flight and a complimentary airport hotel voucher for me to spend the night in Singapore.
Bummed that I had no spare clothes or any toiletries on hand, I was actually impressed on how beautifully organized the ground staff was.
Conveniently located inside Terminal 3 (my arriving terminal), the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel is only a 5 minute walk from the immigration checkpoint and the room was beyond my expectations for an airport hotel standard.
I was actually glad I got to stay here because I was honestly already too tired from the 20-hour of flying from LAX to SIN. This overnight stay in Singapore turned out to be a real nice break for me.
Kudos to SQ and all the crew! Would fly them again in a heartbeat.