Travel Planning: Fall in Asia
Review: LAX Star Alliance Lounge
Review: Singapore Airlines Suites Class LAX - NRT
Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo
Recap: Time in Tokyo
Review: HND JAL First Class Lounge
Review: JAL Business Class HND - GMP
Review: IP Boutique Hotel Seoul
Recap: Time in Seoul
Review: ICN Cathay Pacific Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class ICN - HKG
Review: Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui
Recap: Time in Hong Kong
Review: HKG Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge
Review: Cathay Pacific First Class HKG - SFO
We knew we wanted to visit Asia this fall since I had never been, and we had a few ideas of where we would like to visit, but in the end, we booked our trip solely around the premium award availability we were able to find on Singapore Airlines and on Cathay Pacific. We worked with Alex over at Points Pros and he did an amazing job - he booked us on our top two preferred awards - Singapore Airlines Suites class and Cathay Pacific First Class. Both are consistently chosen as the best international first class products in the world, so we were extremely excited, to say the least.
Our Suites tickets were booked out of LAX instead of our home airport of SFO because Suites are only available on Singapore's A380 jets, which unfortunately don't currently fly out of SFO. It wasn't too difficult for us to make the hour flight down to LAX, so we were happy to leave from there.
Many of you have probably seen the Suites class article on Medium that went viral, where the author mentioned that a one-way Suites class ticket can go for as much as $20,000 and up. This is where travel hacking really shines - we were able to book our tickets for 74,375 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles and $172.80 each in taxes and fees. A steal. Since we don't often fly Singapore Airlines (by often, I mean never), we transferred the points directly from Chase Ultimate Rewards, which recently added KrisFlyer as a transfer partner. Booking this amazing flight is really even easier than you would imagine! The hardest part is really just finding availability.
Disclaimer: Admittedly, this post may make me sound like a bit of a snob. I would like to preface my review by saying that many articles have simply presented all of the positive aspects of flying Singapore Suites, while leaving out anything that might not have been up to par. While this was absolutely one of the best flights I have ever taken in my life, I still want to present a review that is unbiased and honest.
Singapore Airlines #11
Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo Narita (NRT)
Saturday, September 27th, 2014
3:45 PM – 7:15 PM (+1) : 11 hours, 30 minutes
Airbus A380-800: Suite 3D (Suites Class)
After months of anticipation, we arrived at LAX around 12:30 PM for our 3:45 PM departure. Admittedly, we were a bit early, but we wanted to be sure we had enough time to settle in at the Star Alliance First Class lounge prior to boarding. We arrived at the Singapore Airlines check-in desk, but unfortunately there was no one covering the Suites line. One of the Business class attendants offered to check us in and even switched out the ticket machine to feed in the special Suites class boarding passes. We were checked in quickly, received our invitation to the Star Alliance First Class Lounge along with our boarding passes, and were directed to the priority line for security. I was honestly a bit disappointed at this point, because almost anyone who has reviewed this flight mentioned that they received an escort to the front of the security line when flying Suites class. Since we were so early, it really didn't matter, but even in the priority security line, we still waited about 20 minutes. Once we made it through security, we proceeded to the first class lounge until it was time for boarding.
We arrived at the gate a bit early to get a picture of the plane and to make sure we could be the first to board in order to get some photos of the cabin without awkward looks from the rest of the passengers. This was my second flight ever on an A380 and I really love flying on these planes. It's amazing how incredibly big the airplane is and you really don't even feel anything during takeoff or landing as a result. Singapore situates the Suites class on the first floor in the nose of the aircraft, so we were below the cockpit. Then, economy class was behind us and business class takes up the entire top floor. Suites had its own jet bridge, so once boarding began, it was incredibly efficient.
Once we boarded, I did my best to get a few photos of the cabin. Our flight had an older version of the seats, which I think look a bit more plush than the new version (although the new version looks a bit nicer aesthetically). I really have to say, the Suites were amazing. Seriously, I spent a good 10 minutes just trying to believe where I was sitting at that moment - that, and take a million photos.
The Suites have a full sliding door and window shades that pull down, although all of those must remain open during takeoff and landing. I really enjoyed the privacy that the Suites offered, but only had the doors and window shades closed when I went to sleep. The rest of the time, I didn't mind having them open since the cabin wasn't completely full and no one was in the Suite next to mine. It seems to me that Suites class is quite empty on most flights, but we had a fairly full cabin on our flight - out of the 14 Suites in the cabin, 8 of them filled up. It's also important to note that the window shades aren't fully "closed" and that there is an open area both at the top and bottom, so really anyone walking by could see directly into the Suite. This does limit you in exactly how much privacy you might have while you're in the Suite.
Once we sat down and I felt like I had enough photos, the cabin crew came around and introduced themselves. We were offered quite a few newspaper choices and pre-flight drinks. Like an idiot, I panicked and ordered a water, but Chris was on the ball and requested a glass of Dom.
They also brought around our amenity kits, which were Salvatore Ferragamo branded and each actually had a full sized perfume/cologne inside as well as some lotion and a few other products. Honestly, I wouldn't really call them amenity kits - they were more like product placement for Ferragamo or one of those "free with perfume purchase" things you get from Nordstrom. There was also a pair of socks and an eye mask. We would get our pajamas later.
The crew was absolutely amazing. Our female flight attendant wore the most beautiful top and skirt and I really wondered how she was able to walk around in it and serve passengers for the entirety of the flight. What I liked about the Singapore service was that the attendants were really just "on it" for the entirety of the flight. I never had to press my call button and they always seemed to know when I wanted something. As someone who despises bothering others (even if they are there to take care of me), I really appreciated not really having to ask for anything. Also, it should be noted that every time I went to the restroom (which was several times due to the large amount of champagne, wine, and port I consumed), one of the flight attendants hurried ahead to hold the door to the lavatory for me. Every. Single. Time. It was amazing. And maybe a bit excessive. But in a good way.
Speaking of the lavatory, it was quite nice and had a bench that folded down over the toilet, which came in handy when it was time to change into our pajamas. There was also Ferragamo soaps and lotions as well as razors, toothbrushes, and other amenities along the sides of the mirror. After each time a passenger went into the lavatory, one of the attendants would clean it to ensure it was ready for the next passenger - much appreciated!
Once we were airborne, they tried to keep refilling my water glass, but I wasn't going to make that mistake again. I requested one of their specialty drinks - a "Silver Kris Sling", which was made with gin, Cointreau, orange juice and pineapple juice, and topped with champagne. This was brought out with a serving of warm nuts - macadamia nuts and cashews. I went for just the macadamia nuts.
Then, it was time for our first meal of the flight. There was both a Western menu and a Japanese menu. Being me, I went for the Western menu, which included the following:
Chilled Malassol Caviar (with melba toast and condiments)
Warm Roasted Fig Salad with Proscuitto Ham, Frisee and Balsamic Vinegar
Fish Maw and Crabmeat in Thick Broth
Salad of Baby Spinach, Arugula, and Green Frissee Garnished with Semi Dried Cranberry, Goat Cheese, and Caramelised Walnut
Grilled Sirloin in Red Wine Sauce, Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon, Baby Carrot, Kenyan Bean and Yukon Gold-Blue Cheese Potatoes
Steamed Sea Bass Fillet with Seasonal Vegetables and Fried Rice
Korean Braised Chicken with Ginseng, Seasonal Vegetable and Fried Rice
I decided to skip the appetizers and the soups and went straight for the salad. They also offered a selection of bread and I had heard wonderful things about their garlic bread, so I was sure to request that. Chris chose the caviar (which was served with a shot of vodka) and the minestrone soup, so I was able to get pictures of those as well. Just prior to dinner, I had moved on to a glass of Krug Grande Cuvee, which, combined with the two glasses of champagne I drank in the lounge and my Silver Kris Fling, was the start of way too much alcohol.
Honestly, the food was alright, but nothing amazing. I do have to applaud the fact that all of this was cooked on an airplane and was definitely the best airplane meal I had ever had. The presentation was also quite gorgeous and the plates were custom Givenchy for Singapore Airlines branded. However, if I was paying retail for this flight, the food would be costing me approximately $5,000 per meal, so it better be fricking amazing.
For the "Finale" we had a choice of the following:
Warm Frangipane Tart with Fresh Raspberry and Almond Ice Cream
Camembert, Roquefort, Vella Dry and Saint Nectarine Served with Quince Paste, Grapes, Walnuts and Crackers
Fresh Fruits in Season
I had the frangipane tart and was still working on my French red wine and Chris had the cheese plate along with a glass of Port. It should be noted that you could honestly have all three desserts if you wanted. Or two of each or you could probably mix and match. Honestly, by the end of this flight, I felt so incredibly sick after eating and drinking so much rich food, but I felt like I had to get my "money's worth," so I was committed. After dessert, Chris ordered a cappuccino and we were also offered a selection of miniature macarons.
The food service lasted about two hours, so by the end, we were ready to change into our pajamas. The pajamas, like the plates, were Givenchy branded and were really comfortable and of excellent quality. The pants were nothing to write home about, but the shirt was a half zip with a Singapore logo zipper pull. Fan-cy.
I wasn't terribly excited about the in-flight entertainment selection - there were the same movies and television shows that you find on nearly every international flight. No matter how many times it's presented to me in-flight, I really don't need to watch X-Men: Days of Future Past. I was, however, incredibly impressed with the fact that they had an episode of the classic 90's sitcom: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
After watching a couple hours of TV, we decided we were ready to have our beds made up. We chose a center Suite because the beds can be "combined" into one full sized bed, which seemed kind of novel. As I mentioned earlier, however, there was not total privacy and the flight attendants literally noticed everything, so you don't want to try any funny business even if you have a center suite. At this point, it was quite dark in the cabin, so the quality of my photos really started to degrade - sorry about that.
As you can see, there's a divider in the center of the "bed", which was solid and definitely not something you want to sleep on. So in reality, the beds really didn't combine into one and it was not really possible to spread out across both beds. That being said, it was hands down the most comfortable bed I have experienced on an airplane. I fell asleep and woke up a few times due to turbulence announcements, but was able to fall back asleep pretty immediately each time. It was heavenly. I never want to sleep in another economy class seat with my inflatable neck pillow ever again!
We asked to be woken up in time to have the "Light Meal" served prior to landing. I don't think either of us was hungry, but again, we were committed to experiencing all there was to experience on this flight and if that meant taking one for the team and forcing down another steak, we were going to do it!
The "Light Meal" included the following:
Duck Liver and Smoked Duck Breast with Dried Fig and Mesclun
Stir Fried Prawns in Hot Garlic Sauce, Asparagus, Bell Pepper, Mushroom and ee fu Noodles
Beef Fillet with Chasseur Sauce served with Broccoli, Bell Pepper, and New Potatoes
Pistachio Dacquoise Topped with Pistachio Mousseline and Berries
We were both completely out of it after our long nap and were pretty disappointed to find that there wasn't a "breakfast" option. Granted, we were arriving into Tokyo in the evening (7:00 PM), but after sleeping for 5 or so hours, it seemed more like it was "breakfast time" than "more steak time". This time, I didn't get a chance to read the menu or choose anything other than the main course, so I was quite surprised when the duck liver and duck breast appetizer showed up. I thought it was my main course and that I had just misunderstood the flight attendant when she explained the options, so it was weird and I just now realized that I ate duck breast (I thought it was some sort of beef tartare since it was chilled). We were pretty sick of steak at this point, but neither of us are a fan of prawns, so the fillet it was! I didn't think this dish was as good as the one we ate a few hours ago and really wasn't in the mood for it at breakfast time, so I ate what I could. I passed on dessert, but being the trooper that he is, Chris managed to tuck it in.
Once the meal was finished, it was nearly time for landing, so I watched a bit of another movie and then it was time to get dressed and prepare for landing. We were both quite sad that the flight was over and would have been happy for it to last a few more hours (if only to give us more time to digest all that beef).
Overall, the flight was absolutely excellent. The service was amazing and I appreciated being referred to as "Miss Rhodes" for the entire flight. I also really appreciated that they didn't seem to differentiate between full-fare passengers and riffraff like us who clearly couldn't afford an actual Suites ticket. The hard product is really the best there is as far as I'm concerned and I got a great night's sleep. The minor criticisms I have are: the food was good, but definitely could have been better (we also really would have rather had breakfast prior to landing), and the "double bed" that Singapore likes to tout really isn't a "double bed" due to the solid divider running across the middle.
In the end, you really can't go wrong with Singapore Suites and it's absolutely worth signing up for a few Chase cards in order to book this flight. If for no other reason, the beds are absolutely top notch and you'll definitely feel like someone special for the entire flight.
Update: On our trip home from Asia, we flew Cathay Pacific First Class. Since we had just flown Singapore Suites on the way out, I compared the two flights and picked a favorite in my Cathay review here.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.