In September last year, Singapore Airlines announced they’d be switching out the daily 747-400 service on the JFK-FRA-SIN run to an Airbus A380. Up to that point, Singapore had blocked their premium cabins on the A380 from Star Alliance award redemptions, so as soon as I heard the announcement, I started scouring for business class award space.
The hope was that the SQ revenue management folks hadn’t been as quick to shut down availability as the airline was to announce the aircraft swap. Success! What I saw available using the ANA Award Tool matched up with what United saw, so I made a roundtrip booking.
(Side note: There are reports now that business class award availability shows with some regularity on SQ’s A380s.)
I really wanted to fly the entire route to Singapore, but given my own calendar restrictions at the time, I was only able to book the JFK-FRA-JFK portion, with flights on United LAX-JFK-LAX. I wasn’t complaining, though. Not only would this be my first Singapore Airlines flight, it would be my first ride on an A380.
United only had coach award availability on the premium service (p.s.) flights between Los Angeles and New York and given there used to be issues with waitlisted segments being sent to another airline on the same PNR – often causing the OA segments to cancel – the agent simply booked me in coach. To avoid checking daily for business class space myself, I created an ExpertFlyer flight alert to notify me when a seat opened and crossed my fingers. I would hate to start a premium experience in a non-premium way, not to mention “wasting” the miles.
I had my reservation booked and ticketed on September 26, 2011. Between then and the flight date, a number of schedule changes came through, business award space opened up on the United flights (yay!) and the very scary systems migration from Apollo to Shares happened on March 3rd. My final itinerary ended up being as follows:
4/21/12 – UA 534 LAX-JFK 8:06am – 4:34pm: Business Class Seat 9A
4/21/12 – SQ 25 JFK-FRA 8:35pm – 10:45am+1: Business Class Seat 14A
4/23/12 – SQ 26 FRA-JFK 8:30am – 11:00am: Business Class Seat 14A
4/23/12 – UA 535 JFK-LAX 5:55pm – 9:28pm: Business Class Seat 9D
Total Cost: 100,000 miles + $135.20 in taxes
While I know many find such a short trip ridiculous, my goal was simply to ride the A380 and as I mentioned, my calendar at the time wasn’t open to book a longer adventure.
I called United back the day after booking the trip to get SQ’s specific record locator for the reservation and then called Singapore directly to confirm all looked good on their end, as well as get seat assignments. I wanted to be in the mini business cabin ahead of the first door on the upper deck, so was happy to get 14A in the third row (far enough from the lavs and galley). Later, I went on Singapore’s website and placed my “Book the Cook” order.
Stay tuned for the next installment reviewing my United p.s. flight from Los Angeles to JFK.