Ramon is the creator of Travelling Companion. He focuses on flight review, hotel reviews, and helping stretch your travel dollars, miles, and points further.
First Class Honeymoon Trip Report
Booking Singapore Suites
Booking Etihad Airways Apartments
After two years of traveling together my travelling companion (aka fiancée) Christina and I accumulated a large number of frequent flier miles, hotel points, and credit card points and have been saving them for one blowout honeymoon in two of the best first class airline products in the world for couples the Singapore Airlines Suites and Etihad Airways First Class Apartments. Both of these first class products feature actual beds in the sky which can be joined together to offer a double bed perfect for couples. I am happy to report that we booked the first leg of our honeymoon in the Singapore Suites last week! As you can see below these one way tickets in Singapore Suites normally cost over $8,000 each and we booked them for 120,000 Singapore Airlines miles and about $49 in taxes and fees each. This means that we got a value of 7 cents per mile significantly more than the 1.5 cents per miles if we had use our points booking directly through the Chase portal.
In this post I am going to share with you our tentative route, how we booked the tickets, and some of the features of the first product the Singapore Suites. Over the next year I will post as we book each leg of the trip, share advice for other traveling companions on how to book these trips, and of course write up a full review of the trip on the blog. This will be our first international business or first class experience and we are so excited to share it with you all! Also, we would like to announce a new URL for the blog travellingcompanion.ramonbullard.com. Thanks to Christina for the new URL and all of our readers for coming along on our adventures as we share our experience traveling as a couple around the world.
Tentative Honeymoon Itinerary
Below is our tentative route for our honeymoon next year. So far we only have the first long haul leg on Singapore Airlines Suites booked. Our current thinking is that we will spend two nights in Singapore, five nights in Koh Samui (Thailand), two nights in Bangkok, and two nights in Abu Dhabi but this could change as the trip evolves. A significant part of the trip will also be spent in the air since the flight from New York JFK with a stop in Frankfurt and on to Singapore is about 22 hours and the flight back from Abu Dhabi is about 14 hours.
Booking Singapore Suites
Singapore Airlines was voted as the world's best airline at the 2018 World Airlines Awards meaning it was rated as one of the 10 best airlines in the world. Singapore Suites is the airlines flagship product only available on its A380 aircraft which is the world's largest commercial passenger aircraft. New York JFK is Singapore's only U.S. A380 destination which makes this award one of the most difficult to book. Singapore Suites from JFK to Singapore can be booked for 120,000 miles each at the Saver award level and 225,000 miles at the Advantage level. Suites can only booked using miles from the airline's KrisFlyer frequent flyer program. In this case I logged into my Chase Ultimate Rewards account and clicked on Redeem Rewards and then clicked on transfer your points. I scrolled down to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and clicked on Transfer Points.
I then entered in my KrisFlyer number and after a few additional screens transferred 239,000 points to KrisFlyer. Because of a promotion earlier in the year my account already had 1,000 Kris Flyer miles. This was definitely the easiest part of the experience as Chase makes transferring miles very easy. However, after this the nervousness ensued. The vast majority of transfers from Chase process instantaneously but KrisFlyer can take up to two business days. I was nervous because even nearly a year from departure the New York JFK-Frankfurt-Singapore is one of the most difficult routes to book at the saver level and if the transfer took too long I might miss my opportunity.
The vast majority of the time, even a year out, when you try to book the Singapore Suites at the Saver level you will see the message below saying that you can waitlist for an award or another message showing that their is no availability. Waitlisting for an award is essentially your expression of interest and is unpredictable. However, when I logged into my account last week Monday I saw rare instantly confirmable Suites Saver space out of New York in May, however, my 239,000 points had not yet transferred.
I was extremely nervous and felt my one chance at booking the Singapore Suites slipping away. In the past month of watching Singapore Airlines space I had only seen one flight with two instantly confirmable Suites awards out of JFK and the timing of this award in early May would likely work very well with our tentative April wedding date. My response was not to panic but to turn back to my research. During my research some people said they had success holding award space when they already had miles in their account and told agents that they were waiting for their miles to transfer. I went to the Singapore Airlines website and called up the Singapore Airlines office in New York. I was only hold for what seemed like an eternity but realistically was about 20 minutes when an agent answered. Throughout this conversation I my nervousness only increased in part because I had serious communications issues with the agent as she only spoke limited English. At first the agent was very resistant to holding an award for me and asked me why I wanted to hold the award and said that they typically only do so if you already have the sufficient number of miles in your account. I explained to the agent that I transferred the miles the day before but had not yet received them in my account.
The agent asked for my transfer number and after verifying that I had in fact transferred the miles agreed to put the award on hold. However, I ran into an unforeseen issue which was the nomination process. The agent said that I could not book an award for anyone unless I had nominated them. In all of my research I did not see anyone mention the nomination process. The agent said if I did not complete the nomination process right away I would have to hang up and call back. I said that I would complete the process right away and logged into my account and she walked me through the process. Nominating a person for your Kris Flyer account requires logging into your account and clicking on your profile, redemption nominees, and filling in the person's information. I would advise anyone calling in to be patient and to complete the nomination process in advance so that you are able to quickly complete a booking.
Finally, the agent completed the booking process and but the reservation on hold. She said that I would receive an email with the confirmation number and needed to call back once the miles transferred to my account. I logged into the account and saw the sweet sweet image below showing that my award was reserved. A few hours later about 25 hours after my initial transfer my points showed up in my account I called back Singapore Airlines and the airline ticketed my reservation!
I read numerous blog posts about the process transferring points and booking international first class experiences but what shocked me about my first experience was just how nerve racking it was! Seriously, I hadn't been this nervous doing anything in quite a while but ultimately I remained calm followed my research and was able to snag what may be a once in the life time experience to start our First Class Honeymoon. My advice to couples trying to book a first class experience with miles is to plan, do your research, and be ready for unexpected. I was only able to book this route because I booked nearly a year out on the day that Singapore Airlines released their award space on this route. I know that on the majority of trips you won't be able to make plans this far in advance but if traveling in first class is one of your goals you should begin planning at least one year in advance.
Singapore Suites Experience
Now that we have the Singapore Suites booked what do we have to look forward to? First, as I mentioned earlier the attached suites feature a double bed in the sky. Given the difficulty I typically have sleeping on a flight this is the perk I am most looking forward to enjoying. Second, the Singapore Airlines serves both Dom Pérignon and Krug champagne onboard. Third, Singapore Suites has book the cook where you can select from a large menu of restaurant quality dishes in advance including prime beef, New York strip steaks, and rack of lamb. Fourth, on the ground at JFK Suite's passenger have access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge which some people consider the best airport lounge in the United States and features sit down a la carte dining, games, and a spa. Needless to say we are very excited for this experience and look forward to sharing it with you all.