How to Get a First-Class Seat on One of the Most Coveted Flights
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Singapore Airlines' Suites Class product, available on the Airbus A380, made headlines in 2014 after a blogger published his review of the lavish, first-class experience. Travelers have oohed and ahhed over the in-flight amenities and luxurious enclosed seat ever since, and lamented about how out of reach the experience is thanks to the high price tag (roughly $20,000 round-trip). But despite what most consumers think, a seat in the airline's first-class suites is attainable for the average traveler. Factoring in the 15 percent point discount the airline's KrisFlyer program applies to online award bookings, all it takes is 31,875 to 91,385 frequent flier miles and $50 to $250 in taxes per one-way flight, depending on the route you're flying.
So how do you accrue enough miles to fly one of these routes? It's actually pretty easy. The airline's frequent flier program offers four different reward program partners you can earn and transfer miles with at a 1-to-1 ratio, including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and the Starwood Preferred Guest program.
With four different transfer partners, earning enough miles for a seat in Singapore's Suites Class is just one or two credit card applications away. Below is a list of every credit card offering a sign-up bonus to cover at least a one-way award in Singapore Airlines' Suite Class.
American Express offers a variety of card options, though some of them have high spending requirements as well as annual fees that may not be waived the first year. In the past, both the American Express Premier Gold and Platinum cards have offered promotional sign-up bonuses as high as 75,000 to 100,000 points. With American Express restricting sign-up bonuses to one per card, it's preferable to get the highest bonus possible. For the latest news on the highest credit card sign-up bonuses, check the FlyerTalk forums or follow your favorite travel hacking blogs.
Since eliminating the Ink Bold business card, Chase offers just two options for acquiring Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred to Singapore's KrisFlyer program at a 1-to-1 ratio. Both the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus cards have been popular for years thanks to generous sign-up offers and bonus points earned through popular merchants, making mileage accrual even easier. Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 40,000 bonus points after $3,000 is spent in the first three months of opening an account, while the Chase Ink Business card offers 50,000 bonus points after $5,000 is spent in the first three months.
Both the Citi ThankYou Premier and Citi ThankYou Preferred cards offer bonus points for purchases made in common merchant categories like dining, entertainment and travel. So when you finally take that flight aboard Singapore's A380, you can splurge at your destination and earn bonus points. With Citi ThankYou Premier, you can earn up to 50,000 points just by spending with the card within the first three months of opening your account. And with Citi ThankYou Preferred, you'll rack up 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in the first three months of opening the account, plus an additional 10,000 points after spending $1,500 in the next three months.
Starwood Preferred Guest is an anomaly among hotel rewards programs in that it offers a 1-to-1 ratio for transfers to airline rewards programs. Plus, when you transfer at least 20,000 points from your Starwood Preferred Guest account to any of the program's more than 30 airline partners, you'll receive a 5,000 mile bonus. This is why, odd as it may sound, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is a popular way for travel hackers to earn frequent flier miles.
Once you have enough miles saved up for your first-class trip, it's time to search for award space. Point transfers are irreversible, so it's important that you wait to transfer your points to Singapore's KrisFlyer program until you find a seat on your desired flight. To search for award space, simply go to the Singapore Airlines website and check "redeem award flights" in the flight search box and select "First/Suites" in the cabin class dropdown menu. You'll be prompted to enter your KrisFlyer login information before the search results appear.
Once the results are shown, look for availability on the Airbus A380, which is the only aircraft that currently offers Suites Class. You'll also want to select a Saver level award, which requires the least amount of miles. Keep in mind that the Saver mileage requirements initially displayed do not include the 15 percent online booking discount. But once you select your flight and proceed to the booking page, you'll see the discounted mileage requirement along with the taxes and fees.
Unfortunately, Singapore Airlines doesn't allow holds on award tickets, so there is always the chance that your flight of choice won't be there once the miles appear in your account. Thus, it's important to be flexible when booking an award flight. Have a back-up plan and don't make any nonrefundable hotel reservations until your flight has been booked and confirmed.
There you have it. You don't to spend $20,000 to fly one of the world's most coveted first-class experiences. All it takes is a few credit card sign-up bonuses and a bit of flexibility.
About the author: Ariana Arghandewal is a travel writer who enjoys helping others navigate the world of travel hacking though her blog, Pointchaser. You can follow Ariana on Twitter or connect with her on Google+.
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