Use frequent flier miles to reedem luxury seat options at these airlines

The Residence is a three-room suite that includes a living room and a double bed, while each First Apartment houses a lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that opens into a flat bed (above). -- PHOTO: ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The Residence is a three-room suite that includes a living room and a double bed, while each First Apartment houses a lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that opens into a flat bed (above). -- PHOTO: ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The Residence is a three-room suite that includes a living room (above) and a double bed, while each First Apartment houses a lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that opens into a flat bed. -- PHOTO: ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The Residence is a three-room suite that includes a living room (above) and a double bed, while each First Apartment houses a lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that opens into a flat bed. -- PHOTO: ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The Residence is a three-room suite that includes a living room and a double bed (above), while each First Apartment houses a lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that opens into a flat bed. -- PHOTO: ETIHAD AIRWAYS
The Residence is a three-room suite that includes a living room and a double bed (above), while each First Apartment houses a lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that opens into a flat bed. -- PHOTO: ETIHAD AIRWAYS

Strategise well and you could chalk up enough frequent flier miles to board a luxe flight

Singaporean blogger and entrepreneur Derek Low made waves on the Internet last month with an envy-inducing account of his Singapore-New York flight, where he was ensconced in Singapore Airlines' Suites paid for with his frequent flier miles.

He revelled in its double bed and five-star meal service so much, he was loathe to leave the plane when it landed.

A step above First Class, Suites offers well-to-do fliers their own private cabin in the skies.

Mr Low first went viral in 2012 when a video he posted on YouTube of his Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm, or BRAD, garnered more than one million views. His room in the University of California, Berkeley, had motion-activated lights and settings such as "homework mode" and "romantic mode" and revealed his penchant for high-tech and aesthetically attuned settings.

He has followed up this class act by cashing in his miles for the luxe flight, worth $18,788 round-trip.

Singapore Airlines, however, is not the only airline with gobsmacking luxury on-board. SundayLife! looks at other luxury seats and suites available on international airlines and how many miles it would take to get to the stratosphere.

vlydia@sph.com.sg


ST 20141019 LIFSIA3 749625mST 20141019 LIFSIA1 749613m

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

Singapore Airlines' Suites has made the news, thanks to local blogger Derek Low's account of his flight in Suites from Singapore to New York last month.

But Suites is not new. It was introduced on the airline's inaugural A380 flight from Singapore to Sydney in October 2007 and has been in use on the airline's A380s ever since.

This does not diminish the ultra-first class experience, though.

In Suites, 12 passengers are cocooned in individual cabins separated by dividers and sliding blinds to ensure their utmost privacy.

The cabins include an 89cm-wide reclining armchair made of hand-stitched Italian Poltrona Frau leather with accompanying chaise longue for companion seating and a stand-alone bed which is 69cm wide and 1.98m long. It is prepared by the crew's turndown service and covered in Givenchy fine linen and plush, full-sized pillows.

If travelling as a pair, neighbouring seats can be converted into a double bed on which passengers can recline and enjoy their personal entertainment systems on a 23-inch high-definition flat-screen monitor.

A personal flight attendant will serve prepared-toorder gourmet meals in the comfort of the suite. Dishes include rack of lamb and lobster thermidor plated on Givenchy tableware, and top shelf drinks such as Dom Perignon champagne.

Each cabin also features a personal luggage stowaway and a coat closet with wardrobe lights.

A round-trip Suites ticket from Singapore to New York costs $18,788, including taxes and fees.

Miles: The frequent flier miles needed to redeem a one-way seat in Suites from Singapore to New York start from 110,000 miles.

It would take 111/2 flights in Economy Class from Singapore to New York (9,533 miles a leg) to accrue the minimum amount of miles required for this redemption.


ST 20141019 LIFVA 751012mST 20141019 LIFVIR2 748690m

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

In an aristocratic fashion true to British style, Virgin Atlantic's premium seats are not just first class, they are called Upper Class Suites.

Flying in Upper Class means arriving in style and passengers can arrange for a complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport. Once on board the plane, they are seated in a plush 55cm-wide leather seat and treated to a welcome cocktail. At the touch of a button, the seat reclines into an 83cm-wide, 1.98m-long bed, topped with a pillow, linens and a blanket.

Though the airline calls these seats "suites", they are not fully enclosed, unlike on other airlines, and are, instead, individual seats with dividers between them.

Passengers can opt for a full menu or a graze option, which includes hot and cold snacks and starters which they can order at any point during the flight. Other dining options include an afternoon tea set - a personal cake stand loaded with finger sandwiches, cakes and scones served with jam and clotted cream - or an English Breakfast that comes with eggs, bacon and beans made to one's specifications.

If fliers want to stretch their legs, they can take a stroll to the back of the cabin where the bar is.

A round-trip Upper Class ticket from Hong Kong to London costs about HK$46,000 (S$7,550), excluding taxes.

Miles: You need 120,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to redeem an Upper Class seat from Hong Kong to London.

A round-trip Economy Class ticket from Hong Kong to London costs about HK$8,000 and earns passengers 11,940 miles. It takes 10 Economy Class round trips to redeem one round-trip Upper Class ticket.


ETIHAD AIRWAYS

In December, Etihad Airways will redefine luxury travel with its new ultra-first class suites called The Residence and First Apartments aboard its A380 flight from Abu Dhabi to London.

The Residence is an 11 sq m, three-room suite available for single or double occupancy. It includes a living room, a room with a double bed and an en-suite shower room.

There is only one Residence on each A380 and a round-trip ticket from Abu Dhabi to London costs about 155,425 dirhams (S$53,890), including taxes.

Passengers willing to pay this hefty price will be rewarded with a 1.53m two-seater reclining Poltrona Frau leather sofa which has electronic seat controls and an in-seat massage.

There is also an ottoman that hides carry-on stowage and a chilled mini-bar, two 58cm by 48cm dining tables with custom marquetry, a 32-inch television monitor with noise-cancelling headsets, sconce lighting and custom carpets.

The en-suite bathroom is entered via a hallway which connects the living room and bedroom. It includes a full-length shower, a toilet, a hair dryer, a vanity unit and shower products.

After passengers have eaten their fill from the five-star custom menu prepared by the in-flight chef and served by a personal in-flight butler, they can change into the pyjamas provided and climb into their 2.08m-long, 1.2m-wide double bed.

The bedroom also features under-bed stowage, a side table with a drawer, a headboard with reading lights, a 27-inch television and a full-length wardrobe.

Less grand but no less luxurious are the First Apartments, which will be available on Etihad's Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The upper deck of the A380 will house nine Apartments, six of which have connecting doors that can be opened to allow guests travelling together to create a connecting room. Each 3.6 sq m Apartment includes a 77cm-long reclining lounge chair and a separate full-length ottoman which opens into a 2.04m-long and 66cm-wide fully flat bed.

In addition to hidden storage and a chilled mini bar, the Apartments feature a dressing table with a lit make-up mirror and a 24-inch television monitor with noise-cancelling headsets.

If guests of the First Apartments want to freshen up, they can use the shower room exclusive to First Class guests. And when they want to stretch their legs, they can head to The Lobby, located between the First and Business class cabins, which features a lounge and bar area with leather sofas, a marquetry table and a large- screen television.

A First Apartment round-trip ticket from Abu Dhabi to London costs $14,673, inclusive of taxes and fees.

Miles: To redeem a round-trip ticket for The Residence from Abu Dhabi to London will require 4,665,456 miles and 1,185 dirhams (S$410) in taxes and surcharges. This is the equivalent of 1,368 return Economy Class trips from Abu Dhabi to London, which cost about 3,805 dirhams (S$1,320) and earn passengers 3,409 miles.

Guests can redeem Etihad Guest miles for travel in The Residence, but they cannot use miles to upgrade to The Residence from First Class or any other cabin class.


ST 20141019 LIFEM2 749599mST 20141019 LIFEM1 749596m

EMIRATES

There are 14 First Class Private Suites on the Emirates A380's upper deck. Each suite is more than 2m long, with walnut detailing and amenities, including a personalised mini-bar, a work desk and fold-out table, a wardrobe and a built-in vanity table with an illuminated mirror.

Each suite has a phone that allows seat-to-seat calling and a room service feature. The leather seat has an adjustable lumbar support and a multi- mode massage system.

When you want to sleep, the crew will recline your seat into a flat bed and cover it with a mattress, down pillows and cotton-lined blankets, while you slip into complimentary pyjamas and slippers in one of two shower spas in the First Class cabin.

These shower spas with an opulent walnut and marble design include a shower cubicle with water temperature and time controls and a 15-inch high-definition LCD monitor displaying in-flight entertainment and tail camera view, and a selection of perfumes and toiletries. There is also a vanity unit, wash basin, hair dryer and full-length mirror. Heated bathroom floors, exotic flowers and ambient lighting add to the relaxed atmosphere.

If Emirates' award-winning in-flight entertainment system, which includes up to 1,800 on-demand channels displayed on a 27-inch high-definition LCD screen in each of the suites, is not enough to cure passengers' cabin fever, they can go to the lounge, which has a fully stocked bar, hot and cold canapes, two sofas and a 42-inch LCD screen showing the aircraft's position and views from its external cameras.

A round-trip First Class ticket from Singapore to Dubai costs around $7,800.

Miles: Passengers require at least 157,500 frequent flier miles to redeem a round-trip First Class ticket from Singapore to Dubai.

A standard round-trip Economy Class ticket from Singapore to Dubai costs about $1,450 and accrue 3,500 miles, which means passengers have to fly the round-trip route 45 times before they can redeem First Class seats.