Travelled to Hong Kong again last month and flew back with Cathay Pacific on their A350-900 Premium Economy cabin. That was good. But I enjoyed their lounge the most.
CX Lounge Map
In Hong Kong International Airport which is the home hub for Cathay Pacific, there are not 1 but 4 Business Class lounges for departing passengers.
The Wing, Business (Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 1-4): Noodle Bar, Long Bar, Coffee Loft, Shower Rooms, Workstations
The Bridge (Level 5, Terminal 1 near gate 35): Bistro, Bakery, Long Bar, Coffee Loft, Shower Rooms, Workstations
The Cabin (Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 23): Health Bar, Deli, Workstations
The Pier, Business (Level 6, Terminal 1 near gate 65): Noodle Bar, Tea House, Food Hall, Coffee Cart, Shower Suites, Relaxation Rooms, Bureau
So with my Marco Polo Club Elite Silver membership, I can go to any of these lounges for free. So which 1 should I go to? As my flight is near gate 65, The Pier, Business is a natural choice as it is near to my gate, newly renovated and with the best facilities across all these lounges. Will be keen to try out The Cabin in the future.
Many people know me as a big Uber advocate. I have stopped taking cabs when possible unless there are absolutely no Uber around or surge pricing is ridiculously high.
I have stayed in W Hong Kong in December 2016 and that was the first time I stayed in a Starwood property even though I have my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) membership since 2011. So with this stay and a promotion with World MasterCard, I got upgraded to SPG Gold.
So now with SPG gold, I can earn SPG points faster. But how to make it work even harder? That’s when partner programs will help to maximize.
With a stay done in Starwood property, I can start earning SPG points on every Uber ride. Simply link my SPG and Uber accounts together.
At the moment, earn rate is as follow:
1 SPG point per US$1 day to day.
2 SPG points per US$1 during stays with Starwood property.
From February 2017 onwards, earn rate will revise to following:
1 SPG point per US$2 day to day.
2 SPG points per US$1 during stays with Starwood property.
From now on, I will write more about how partner programs can help you in maximizing your membership programs and I call this series of articles 1+1>2.
For upcoming trip to Hong Kong, I thought I will want to watch a concert at the classic Hong Kong Coliseum AKA 红磡 and what can be more classic than a concert by god of songs 歌神 Jacky Cheung 张学友.
Jacky Cheung A Classic Tour
For this kind of concert, there is no doubt that tickets are sold out pretty quickly. So this calls for some special arrangement. You may know each credit card has a phone number behind that you can call your bank for issues with your credit cards. Some banks may even have their own concierge service but services offered may be quite basic or with limited global coverage unless you are holding a top tier credit card. (Like American Express Centurion.) So to get things done globally for average joe like me, who can help? Visa Signature Concierge.
How to reach them?
Phone: 800 448 1450
Online (Alternative contact numbers listed online for language and region.)
Car rental reservations
Event ticket purchases
Reporting lost or stolen cards
Emergency card replacement
Emergency cash disbursement
Other general requests
So how did it went? From enquiry to receive tickets via FedEx, the whole process took 2 weeks. Not too bad. Though I have to pay a premium for the ticket, (A little more than double the cost. What to do? Sold out!) I feel is worth it and I need not worry about the ticket’s authenticity. The seat looks good based on seating plan. So looking forward to an enjoyable concert on boxing day in Hong Kong!
Another flight in 2 weeks time again to Hong Kong. As usual, flying out on Singapore Airlines Suites on boxing day morning using my miles. Will be in The Private Room on Christmas night to enjoy my Christmas dinner.
So what’s new on this trip? Let’s start off with the return flight. This time round, I will not be returning on a Star Alliance carrier. I will be returning to Singapore on Hong Kong’s flag carrier: Cathay Pacific. (CX)
So why CX?
It’s Hong Kong’s flag carrier. I have been to Hong Kong quite a few times but have never tried it. Have friends who are fans of CX. All ask me to give them a try.
CX took delivery of their Airbus A350-900XWB recently. So got to give this plane and CX’s new cabin product a try. I’m an Airbus guy.
Got my Marco Polo Club Silver status for free. (Usually cost: USD100 and flights worth 300 club points.) Thanks to a corporate benefit from CX for the company I work for in my day job. Benefit: Business Class lounge access for any travel on CX’s flight. SCORE! Will be going to the Pier!
Marco Polo Club Silver (OneWorld Ruby BTW!)
Miles transfer. Most banks in Singapore only allow transfer of credit card points to 2 programs: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and CX Marco Polo Club/Asia Miles. (Citibank and American Express allows transfer to more programs while Standard Chartered allows transfer over to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer only at a pretty lousy rate of transfer.)
So I transferred 10,000 miles from UOB using 5,000UNI$ (Due to block redemption requirement.) and 14,000 miles from Citibank to redeem a Premium Economy Class ticket on CX’s A350-900XWB from Hong Kong to Singapore one way for 260HKD. (SG$49.16.) That’s a total cost savings of 7200HKD. (SG$1,361.35. 97% savings!)
Let’s see if I can score an upgrade on this flight…
Usually I will try a top 10 ranked local hotel (Not under any international chain and manage by locals.) based on TripAdvisor ranking when I visit a country for the 1st time. (Hotel Icon for Hong Kong-Rank 2, Dandy Hotel TianMu for Taiwan-Rank 3 and Hotel Ryumeikan for Tokyo-Rank 2.) So for my recent Bangkok trip, I choose U-Tiny Boutique Home Suvarnabhumi Bangkok which is currently rank 8 on TripAdvisor. So how was it?
A quick tour round the room.
A quick tour round hotel.
That was 2 Facebook Live broadcast that I did from U-Tiny. Hope it gives you a good look around. So here are some photos taken at U-Tiny.
Is not my first time travelling on A330-300 Business Class with Singapore Airlines. (Did that to Hong Kong before. My 1st adventure in a premium cabin.) However, it is my first time travelling with Singapore Airlines on my birthday in a premium cabin. So this is how it went. In this post, I will focus more on new experiences and some interesting points.
Green (Old Economy Class. Now is Premium Economy Class. Not done that yet.)/White Ticket Checked. (Economy Class.) Blue Ticket Checked. (Business Class.) Gold Ticket Checked. (Suites.) Only left Red. (First Class.)
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne served at SilverKris Lounge Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2. Same as inflight.
Priority both on and off the ground.
Deliciously Wholesome: Namyu Cabbage Roll and Jinlen Eggplant and Beancurd with Brown Lamien Noodle and Wood Ear Mushroom by Zhu Jun. (Book The Cook.) Not a common choice says the Stewardess. But good pick. Side dishes: Thai Style Salmon and New York Cheesecake as Dessert.
Hidden Menu: Birthday Cake! Have to call in to SQ to request. Available for all classes of travel.
Usually I do not recommend Changi Recommends (Pun intended.) for their Overseas WIFI Router Rental service because of their Fair Usage Policy (FUP) which is quite a deal breaker. I will rather touch down and buy local prepaid SIM or use Singtel DataRoam Saver Plan for places like China where I don’t have to worry about limit/VPN etc.
Recently, there is finally something from them that I can recommend. They are now running a promotion for single trip Travel Insurance to Thailand and Hong Kong underwritten by ACE Insurance. Free prepaid SIM card for Thailand or Hong Kong upon purchase.
Travel insurance costs SG$28 for Thailand and SG$36 for Hong Kong. Counting in SG$13 for Thailand prepaid SIM and SG$15 for Hong Kong prepaid SIM, it costs SG$15 and SG$21 respectively for travel insurance. Good deal eh? I have collected my Thailand prepaid SIM at Changi Recommends and will be using it on my Thailand trip!
For those who have been following this site on Facebook, (If you have not, please follow it with a like. I promise to do more Facebook Live as it now support Android on unverified pages too!) you should have seen that I have booked a trip to Bangkok as usual on Singapore Airlines using miles.
17,000 KrisFlyer Miles + SG$102.80 for flight out on Business Class.
Normal cost? SG$1,050.80! Save SG$948! (90% Savings.)
10,625 KrisFlyer Miles + THB2,722 (SG$108.97) for return flight on Economy Class. Paid THB707 (US$20 or SG$28.30) more for Exit row seat.
Normal cost? THB6,797! (Inclusive of Exit row premium.) Save THB4,075. (SG$163.13. 60% Savings.)
So this leads to a total savings of SG$1,111.13 (84% Savings!) with 27,625 KrisFlyer Miles. Comparing it to savings on my previous trip to Hong Kong on Singapore Airlines Suites/Economy Class with KrisFlyer Miles, this is not as worth it. However, I got some special plans.
Notice something special? I have Booked The Cook as usual but this time it will be Namyu Cabbage Roll and Jinlen Eggplant and Beancurd with Brown Lamien Noodle and Wood Ear Mushroom on their Deliciously Wholesome Menu. You can also see a special meal requested: Birthday Cake! You can call in to KrisFlyer Membership Hotline to request if you are flying close to your birthday or significant anniversary dates.
Booked on 1 of their 3 Executive Garden Access Rooms. Shall see how good is this.
Upon arrival in Suvarnabhumi Airport, I will be able to go on Immigration Fast Track as I am travelling on Business Class. Airport Transfer will also be provided by U-Tiny. Upon arrival back home, JetQuay will be waiting for me.
Look forward to reviews here and have a good week ahead!
So Madonna Rebel Heart tour is over in Singapore. How did she arrive and leave Singapore?
Private Jet: Yes
Terminal 1/2/3: Neither. CIP Terminal
Wait a minute. VIP is familiar to most people but what is CIP? CIP stands for Commercially Important Person. Examples of CIPs include Madonna, Gordon Ramsay and Lady Gaga just to name a few. Whenever a private jet or CIP lands in Changi Airport, they will be received and handled by CIP Terminal: JetQuay.
As mentioned in my previous post, I have decided to try JetQuay for the first time when I touch down in Singapore from Hong Kong. So here was my experience as a CIP.
Buggy ride from gate to JetQuay. My check-In luggage was retrieved in parallel by their staff.
Arrival in style.
Drinks and light food.
Table and bench: Casual
Can fit group comfortably.
Chill while waiting for DFS purchase.
Can do some business.
In front of JetQuay’s signature spiral stairs.
So this place looks very exclusive right? It is actually more accessible than many people think. All you just need is Standard Chartered Manhattan World MasterCard Credit Card which only require annual income requirement of SG$30,000. Any freshman who start work can access this. You can just call JetQuay for booking. For details, check my previous post.
Standard Chartered Manhattan World MasterCard Credit Card
One mode of transport I like other than plane is rail. So far I have been on KLIA Ekspres in Malaysia, Airport Express/MTR in Hong Kong, Intercity train from Hong Kong to Guang Zhou, Metro in Guang Zhou, HSR/Metro in Taiwan, NEX/Subway in Tokyo, Heathrow Express/Tube in London, Virgin Trains from London to Manchester and Milan Metro. So far more of modern rails or high speed rail and enjoyed them.
So on this recent trip to Hong Kong, I decided to venture into China for 1st time. 2 cities were considered: Shen Zhen and Guang Zhou which are both accessible by train.
Accessible by MTR.
Accessible by Intercity train. (2 hours approximately.)
Bigger city than Shen Zhen.
Ex colleagues are there.
So eventually decided on Guang Zhou. Here are some pictures and description on my rail journeys in Hong Kong and Guang Zhou.
Airport Express ticket. Return journey and 3 days of unlimited travel on MTR at HK$300. (HK$250 after HK$50 refund by returning ticket. HK$350 now for ticket after price adjustment. See this for more information.)
Airport Express platform directly accessible from Hong Kong International Airport concourse.
Airport Express luggage area.
Airport Express station Information.
Airport Express power socket. Good to see USB ports there.
Intercity Through Train to Guang Zhou at Hung Hom station. (Where stadium is.)
Intercity Through Train First Class tickets. Well, there is only First Class on this ride. HK$219 each way inclusive of booking fee. See this for more information.
Intercity Through Train Departure Hall Entrance.
Intercity Through Train Duty Free.
Intercity Through Train. Nice touch to have board to bridge gap between train and platform.
Intercity Through Train Cabin.
Intercity Through Train footrest and tray table.
Intercity Through Train magazines and tray table.
Intercity Through Train tray table set.
Intercity Through Train power socket.
Intercity Through Train Menu. Payment can be made by HK$ or RMB. Slightly cheaper in RMB.
Intercity Through Train Fried Ham Sandwich with Coffee.
Intercity Through Train Fried Ham Sandwich. Egg just the way I like.
On Intercity Through Train.
Guang Zhou East Station. Interchange for different type of trains including Guang Zhou Metro.