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Flying Home and Back

I wrote this back in March when I traveled back to Phoenix to see Drew and my parents for a few days, but forgot to publish it….

It takes awhile to get home. 6 hours to Tokyo. 10 hours to San Fran. 2 hours to Phoenix. Add in layovers and you get to about 24 hours. The nutty part is that after traveling for a couple months, 24 hours doesn’t seem like that long anymore, especially when you’re traveling in first class on the world’s best airline…

It’s funny, right? Kelly and I go to great lengths to stay in cheapo hotel rooms for like $10/night, dine on $2-3 dinners and have taken our fair share of hard bus rides so why on earth would we shell out $10k for a roundtrip ticket home?

Well, we wouldn’t, of course! That’s crazy talk. This ticket was free. Or rather, this ticket cost me exactly 12 round trips to NY. That’s 2500 miles each way, plus the 100% bonus as a United frequent flyer. Finally, all that work travel was paying off.

The Singapore Girl has made a name for herself by stepping outside the box of conventional airline thinking. By providing loads of passenger amenties, wonderful service and with great execution they are not only constantly ranked the best international airline, but also do so with great profits (up until 2009, anyway). There’s actually a section about the Singapore Girl story in the Singapore National Museum.

Oh, and the Singapore girls themselves are known for their, uhm, attractiveness as well.

Checking in at Singapore, you go through a separate entrance and directly into a lounge where a number of staff are there to take yor bags and walk you to the counter. Except it isn’t a counter. It’s a lavish desk where you can sit down in a nice leather chair while you’re checked-in. After that, you walk across the hall to a separate security and immigration station where again there is no line (though generally you won’t see many lines anyway at Changi airport). After that, it is up to the SilverKris lounge.

Biz Lounge

Biz Lounge

Instead of the pathetic processed cheese and pretzels at the UA lounge or maybe some cold sandwiches at some nicer Euro airlines, at SilverKris, there’s a restaurant. There are actual chefs making fresh food throughout the day. Salmon quiches, a mixture of different Asian dishes, a variety of freshly baked croissants and on my last trip there they had just prepared some Shao Long Bao, Shanghai Soup Dumplings that were almost as good as the ones from Joe’s Shanghai, famous in NY. They also have a barista and pull coffee to order.

The lounge was a nice diversion for the 6 hour layover I had on the way to Bali, especially considering it was 3am when I arrived. One of the lounges has some sleeping rooms but I wasn’t tired after getting several hours of sleep on the flight. Oh, and Changi has a free airport theater and pool and fitness area, even if you are flying coach.

Because there are no lines in Changi, I didn’t need to leave for the plane until about 20 minutes before departure. A quick 3 minute walk to and into the nose of the 747. To start out, would you like some Dom or Krug? The Krug Grand Cuvee is the better champagne, right? Not knowing because I’ve had Dom exactly once and Krug never because it isn’t in my price range, it sounded more legit. After trying both on the flight, I can now safely say that the Krug is better.

Another cool thing about SIA is that you can Book the Cook ahead of time. I had called a few weeks earlier and pre-ordered the Lobster Thermidor. Flying ain’t so bad when you’re watching a Korean movie (“My wife got married” or something like that – one of over 150 video selections available) on a nice big 15″ screen in your leather chair, sipping $150/bottle Champagne and eating through a very delicious 5 course meal. Actually, I read somewhere that champagne is bad for jet-lag so at some point I switched to a nice French Red and then finished with some port. Let’s just say that I felt pretty relaxed after the cheese course:)

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Once dinner was over, one of the girls came by to give me some SIA pajamas. I don’t wear pajamas at home but I’m not at home, right? The PJs are thick and soft and much better for sleeping in than my regular clothes. While in the bathroom, the flight attendent converted my chair into a perfectly flat bed, complete with duvet cover and mattress. Add in a pair of eye-shades and ear plugs and sleep comes easily.

Cheese Course

Cheese Course

In Tokyo, I had to switch to United for my flight to San Fran, which is a bit of a drag as though even I was still in First, it really isn’t the same experience. Luckily, my flight all the way back to Singapore was on SIA and the experience was very much the same, except for the diversion to Osaka because of the Fedex crash in Tokyo. While there I witnessed some of the most shamelessness I’ve ever seen – and that is saying a lot when you realize I’m married to Kelly…

When we got to Japan, the pilot came on the intercom to let us know that we were being diverted to Osaka because of a plane crash at Narita. It kinda freaks you out a bit to hear that while on a plane especially when they don’t give you any more information other than that Tokyo is completely shutdown. But after a few minutes you relax a bit and I realized that this airport was one I’d always wanted to visit after seeing the Discovery show on its creation. Osaka’s Kansai Airport is one built entirely on a man-made island constructed only for this purpose. It is quite an amazing feat of engineering and also has a serious problem in that this island that costs billions of dollars to build is actually sinking.

When we landed, they told us to let all the people who were supposed to connect to another flight in Tokyo (this was a direct flight to Singapore with a stop in Tokyo) to get off first and those continuing to Singapore to stay on board. I felt bad for the 250 or so people that were now a good 5 hour high speed train ride from home or worse – people who were supposed to connect to somewhere else and now had to find out how to get home – though I’m quite sure that Singapore Air was well prepared for this.

As I sat there along with another American woman and some of the flight crew as people disembarked, a young woman (maybe 23?) walked up into first class and sat down in my seat. She then proceeded to go through all the nooks and cranies, drawers and seat pockets and starting taking out all the amenities as we all stood there in disbelief.And she showed no shame in her actions! She took the nice pen in the desk drawer along with the pad of paper, some lotion and a few other minor things like that and then got up, walked past us and left the plane!

When I told Kelly this story, she was pretty shocked at first – “I can’t believe someone could be so shady” and then as she thought more about it I realized what she was thinking…

I had to tell her I would no longer be seen with her if she pulled such a stunt…

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