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Birthday Mileage Run to Singapore: Outbound

a blurry image of people in a large airport

So last fall I found myself in an interesting position. Opportunistically booking a last minute $400 weekend Alaska flight in addition to my planned travel put me at my Premier 75K eqm goal for the year. Was it worth the stretch to acquire another 25,000 eqms to make 1K?

In the beginning of 2011, I wasn’t planning on going for 1K again, there hadn’t been many mileage run opportunities and I didn’t see myself traveling as much in 2012. I did want to hit 75K eqms, since the merger was likely going to flood the program with premier execs from both airlines, and it sounded like with the proposed changes to elite status benefits it would be better to be in the higher tier.

By the time fall hit, I was using my 1K benefits more than I’d anticipated. In particular, booking and cancelling numerous last minute award tickets to accommodate family needs. I (and they) loved getting access to more flight inventory and not having to pay $75 in last minute fees. So I decided to go for it.

But how? I contemplated multiple, read 4, extra hops out to the west coast. But wasn’t relishing giving up all my weekends in that pursuit. So then I started researching a long weekend in Asia. Both Bangkok (one of my favorite destinations) and Singapore (which I’d never been to) were coming up around $1100, but Singapore had better times and earned more eqms.

I’d toyed with the idea of buying an upgradable ticket, but at almost twice the price and no confirmed upgrades available, I decided, rather optimistically, to settle for economy plus. My flight left IAD at 1:15PM, scheduled to arrive in SIN a little after midnight with a short layover in Tokyo.

I got lucky on my 14 hour leg from DC to Tokyo, the seatmate showing on the seat map never appeared and I had all 3 seats to myself.  I was able to sleep for alot of the trip and stretch out while watching United’s individual entertainment system. So much better than the old aisle TVs every couple of rows on the 747.

With only an hour and half til my next flight left, I went straight to the United Lounge upon arrival to grab a quick shower. I could have hunted down the ANA lounge to gain access as a Star Gold, but I wanted to maximize my shower time.

A spot had just opened up in one of the shower rooms, and I was taken to a very basic, but comfortable set up. They provided shower shoes, enough towels, and a complete amenity kit that included even a razor and facial moisturizer.

I felt so much better in fresh clothing (changing from cold weather attire to a sun dress) when I emerged in search of snacks and water. I needn’t have hurried though, our flight wound up delayed for several hours. That’s when I wished I had found the ANA lounge.

United had an extensive dessert spread (not interested) but very little actual food. They had a sushi presentation that emptied within 5 minutes of refilling it and some kind of anemic vegetable soup. Never the most gifted at new appliances, it was the beverage machine that really threw me. I wound up dispensing hot water, beer, and a diet coke in search of the regular water. A fellow traveler took pity on me and helped me find the poorly labeled water spigot. I wanted to take pictures of all of this but the lounge was packed and I’d attracted enough attention with my multiple beverage attempts.

We eventually boarded and the rest of the flight was uneventful. I had one of the most delightful seatmates — considerate, interesting, doing work that he liked, and in no way monopolizing the empty middle seat.

Landing at 3AM, 3 hours late for only a 32 hour stay  I appreciated one of my birthday gifts all the more: Jetquay’s VIP arrival service.

The flight arrived at the opposite end from their CIP terminal, so I was treated to a 10 minute race through the empty airport with the wind blowing through my bedraggled hair and the requisite, incessant beeping (like a golf cart backing up) deafening my ears. I’m sure I didn’t look like someone special to all the people jumping out of the way when we had to navigate tight hallways.

Invalid request error occurred.

We arrived at the empty immigration desk in the CIP terminal, where the agent courteously stamped my passport and my representative led me into the lobby. Normally you can wait in their lounge and have a drink while your car is called, but given my late arrival and the long ride through the terminals, my car was already waiting.

I opted to go straight to the hotel and was driven through intermittent tropical downpours through Singapore’s tree lined streets. My driver was great but I was amused by the boasting that I would love it in Singapore “We have everything! Shop! Eat! We have all the major US stores and restaurants.”

Coming Soon: 29 hours at the Conrad Singapore

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