Return to Being a points Junkee - SYD-SIN-LHR SQ R & FCO-SYD TG F

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bwhouse

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So I am going to try my hand at a trip report. Writing is certainly not my fortae so fingers crossed it works out ok.


We fly out in SQ Suites in T-5 days and I can’t wait, we started planning this trip about 18 months ago and every since I have been itching to get in to that SQ suite with my glass of Krug in hand :D


For those that are interested there is a bit of a back story as I have pretty much come full 360 when it comes to points and miles in the last 10 years. When I first stated working full time back in 2005 and work were flying me around a fair bit I became quite the point junkee. I remember enthusiastically singing up for the original earth companion card and chasing every QF point I could and racing to SG as quickly as I could (I just missed out on WP), after all a shower (and beer) in the Perth QF lounge made that redeye back to Sydney after a week of long hours in Perth all the more bearable :). Then I just kinda dropped out of game for many years, between stopping travel for work and using all the points I had built up on a few last minute flights for family it all just seemed too hard.


Then about 18 months ago in the midst of planning our wedding, I stumbled across a promo for the Amex Velocity 110k bonus. I initially dismissed it as I didn’t need a new credit card. But it was somewhat coincidental that I had started doing a little bit of flying for work again and we happen to use VA. The Amex promo was burning in the back of my head, after all 110k points seemed like a crazy amount for nothing. Long story short after doing some research (a large portion on here) and being suckered in with the idea of a trip in SQ suites I signed up and convinced my fiancee to sign up as well. Between the 240k simply from signup bonus plus wedding spend (turns out reception venue was classified as a restaurant 3ppd!!) and a few other tricks we were well on our way to accruing a nice sum of points. All this with the idea of heading to Europe for our 1 year anniversary, a couple of weeks after getting back from our honeymoon last year I found saver availability with SQ and locked it in. The rest is history, ever since then I am back to being a points junkee, always looking for a way to make a few bonus points :D I have to say it seems WAY easier to accrue massive amounts of points than it was 10 years ago.


So with the back story out of the way on to the trip we wanted to head to London first then we decided to take a cruise from Athens to Rome as it works well for us as lazy travellers then the idea was to spend some time in Rome, Florence and Venice, our flights looks like this.


SYD-SIN on SQ R
SIN-LHR on SQ R


STN-ATH on RyanAir Y (had to pay for this one)


ATH-FCO 7 Day Princess Cruise


FCO-FRA on LH J (yup that coughpy intra-eupore J)
FRA-BKK on TG F (A380 - looking forward to trying this one)
BKK-SYD on TG F (747 old config)


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As we were fixated on SQ suites, I locked those flights in pretty much as soon as they became available. We have a 2 days stop over in Singapore which seemed to make finding availability much easier. It also meant that it was easy to secure both flights on the A380. At the time all the direct SYD-SIN-LHR flights had one segment on a 777.


The return leg was a bit of a saga and only got booked a few months ago. The original plan was to try to get EY flights in J or F but I needed to save up some additional points so couldn’t book them 300 days out. By the time we had enough points it seemed that VA could see zero availability (coincidently this was right when VA announced the de-valuation and move of EY to the partner table) for the 2 week period around when we wanted to fly home. After much debate between buying a Y one-way ticket (which as we all know are crazy expensive) and playing the waiting game. I decided to take advantage of the Lifemiles promo back in May and topped up my life miles to redeem TG F flights. It’s not the best use of Lifemiles but at least we get to come home in comfort. I was also taking the gamble that we wouldn’t get TG’d and we would get to try Thai’s A380 which I was keen to have a look at. TG F is the only other time we have flown F and we enjoyed it despite some peoples negative reviews and the lounge in BKK was awesome.
 

RB

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Looking forward to following this. Our only experiences of F has been TG via Lifemiles & we have had an awesome experience each time.
Hope the next 5 days don't drag out for you!
 

bwhouse

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Sounds good. SQ suites straight to Ryan air might be a shock to the system, though!

Yup, not looking forward to that one. We have a week in London first so at least it's not straight from one plane to the other.
 

TomVexille

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Sounds like a great trip. We're also rather familiar with having to play the long game in getting the points required for long haul F. The anticipation is half the fun :)

Our next R trip is in 11 months... not that I'm counting or anything :D
 

bwhouse

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I loved my one and only TG F on 380 exp - it aint SQ R but it was a wonderful exp - have fun.
Considering how much we enjoyed our TG experience on the old config 747, I am really looking forward to this part of the trip as well. I'm sure it won't be up to SQ's level, but will be great to compare them back to back.

Our next R trip is in 11 months... not that I'm counting or anything :D

I was counting in months and then at some point around the 6 month mark it moved to counting in days, it's been a slow wait. But i'm sure it will be worth it :D
 

bwhouse

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One more day of work to get through, followed by some last minute packing tonight and fingers crossed we will be on the plane tomorrow!!


As mentioned above we decided to spend a week of our Europe trip on a cruise. Our first exposure to cruising was around the Caribbean for part of our honeymoon. Our logic for the honeymoon cruise was simple, we didn’t want to just go to an island resort and lie on one beach as we figured it would get boring pretty quickly, I know some people really enjoy that sort of holiday but it isn’t us. The cruise gave us the best of both worlds, we got to see lots of different places as well as plenty of opportunities to lie on some nice resort like beaches. As it turned out we really enjoyed the cruise and it ticked all the boxes. So when it came to Europe we thought why not, let’s give it another go.


We found a great cruise that was coincidently on the same ship (Royal Princess) that our honeymoon cruise was on. The original cruise itinerary was Athens, Santorini, Kusadasi, Messina, Napels and Rome. However a few weeks ago we got a notification that due to unrest in Turkey the itinerary has changed and our cruise now looks like this.

New Itenary.jpg


Unfortunately we were really looking forward to Kusadasi and Messina, but these things happen.

 

bwhouse

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The time had arrived, our boarding passes were scanned and I eagerly walked down the jet bridge trying not to speed ahead of Mrs bwhouse (I don’t think she was as excited as I was about the whole suites thing). I have never actually flown on an A380 before so not only was this my first flight in suites but also my first flight on the whale jet. Man it is an impressive looking plane, the sheer size of it still amazes me.


We got to the cabin door and were greeted by name, an impressive touch considering there were 6 pax in the cabin today. I have read many reviews of Singapore Suites and remember reading somewhere that a sign of a good crew (more on that later) was being greeted at the door by name so I was looking forward to what lay ahead with SQ’s famous service.


My first impression of the Suite really can be summed up in two words 'holy ****!!’, this thing is big, like really big. That is all you can really say, I mean you can comfortably seat two people in one seat (yes we tried), which is just insane when you actually stop and think about it. After the initial impression sunk in and we started to settle into our seats a lovely stewardess came around and offered us pyjamas and asked what drink we would like, I was somewhat surprised she asked this questions, I mean wasn’t it obvious 'Krug of course' I said with a grin on my face.


IMG_2644.jpg


With two glasses of Krug in hand a sudden wave of disappointment and terror came over me as I realised airline travel would now be ruined for life. What have I done, we can’t afford to fly in suites for the rest of our travels and the thought of traipsing to the back of the plane seemed criminal at that point in time. Oh well I guess that is a problem for another day.


A little while later someone was back to confirm our BTC selection and take our order for lunch. I say someone because interestingly not one of the stewards or stewardess on the flight actually introduced themselves so I never caught any names, I have read in many trip reports that the IFS came over to introduce them selves but I can’t say we experienced that.


Mrs bwhouse and I had both ordered the Lobster for lunch. For the additional courses I chose the Tuna, followed by the chicken soup and finishing off with the eclair, whilst Mrs bwhouse had the caviar, followed by the chicken soup and the pear tart for desert. I continued with my best efforts to finish the bottle of Krug and then sampled one of the red wines the stewardess recommended, which was fantastic. Interestingly I was actually brought the wrong meal, easy mistake I suppose, once I made the steward aware it was promptly taken away and replaced.


SQ232_Lunch_4x4.jpg


We were both too full for cheese or fruit as we had a late breakfast in the lounge. I did, however sample the Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee which was fantastic and definitely the best coffee I have ever had on a plane.


After lunch service the tables were cleared and I settled in to watch a movie. I was trying to behave and not drink too much but the red was delicious so I pressed the call bell and ordered another glass to have while watching the movie. Whilst it was probably a good thing, I was somewhat surprised that I was never offered a top up and my glass just sat there empty, maybe I just needed to be more liberal with my use of the call button :/


After my movie finished, we decided to ask for the bed to be made, because well why not. Whilst it isn’t really a true ‘double’ bed as most people know it has a bar down the middle it is still really impressive and was a nice change to lie down and have a quick nap followed by some work.


GOPR0013.jpg

After a short snooze, to which I was only woken up due to the cabin feeling like a sauna. We were informed that we would be landing in less that two hours and asked what we would like for our second meal. We both picked the spinach fettuccine with pork. I decided to go for another wander of the plane whilst our suite was being turned back into chairs and Mrs bwhouse went to get changed. Now admittedly this was the second time I went for a lap around the plane, but I can never stay still on a flight so always find my self walking up and down the aisles every so often. The funny thing was is Mrs bwhouse overheard the crew saying, oh Mr bwhouse is exploring the plane again, apparently the crew were keeping tabs on me as I got reminded when I was at the rear of the plane that our meal would be ready very soon and to make my way back.

Up until now, I was doing a good job of remembering to take photos, but I may have been a few bites into this meal before I got the camera out.

P9100147.jpg

Overall it was an amazing experience, the 8 hour flight just disappeared. I did feel, however, that the crew were not on there A game. Maybe I have just read too many reviews and had unrealistic expectations, but you so often hear how amazing SQ crews are especially in F, so it was a little surprising. When I rang the call sign they were quick and attentive, but I seldom saw them walking the isles. It was almost like the 3 male stewards weren’t doing much other than chatting in the galley and the poor stewardess was trying to serve the entire cabin. When preparing the table for the light refreshment, for example, she would attend to the 4 people on Mrs bwhouse side of the plane and then walk around to and look after myself and the other passenger on my side which just seemed odd. It will be interesting to see what our experience is like on the SIN-LHR flight in a few days.
 
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bwhouse

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Did you get your hand written Gold Invitation to TPR? If not go to front desk of lounge and ask for it - great souvenir.

We weren't given them when checking in in Sydney, although as we have a 2-day stopover in Singapore I wasn't too worried as we will get to check in at the FCT in Changi, fingers crossed they should hand them out there.
 

bwhouse

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As we only had a very short 2 night stopover in Singapore the original plan was to stay at Marina Bay Sands, mainly because I wanted to check out the infinity pool and it was close to the Gardens by the Bay. Unfortunately I left booking hotels for Singapore to the last minute and Marina Bay skyrocketed to $850/night for a standard room. In the end I booked the Mandarin Orchard on Orchard road. The cab ride from the airport was only about 20mins and cost $29sgd which seemed pretty reasonable.


We were offered an upgraded room for $20sgd per night upon checkin which we declined as we were only staying 2 nights and it didn’t seem worth it. I was pleasantly surprised when we got to our room, it was spacious with a nice view and a huge bathroom.
P9100150.jpg


Hotel_2.jpg


The hotel also provided an interesting service which I haven’t seen before. Each room came with a complimentary smartphone that you can use throughout your trip. It comes with unlimited data and free calls to 15 countries, including Australia.


We spent the evening exploring some of the shopping malls around the hotel and called it a night early as we knew the next day was going to be long. We did run in to what i believe was a lion dance competition outside one of the malls.


P9100199.jpg


We didn’t really have anything specific we wanted to see or do in Singapore the plan was really just to check out the Gradens by the Bay and eat all the tasty tasty food :)
 
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