Uber has literally changed the way I travel. For those of you who don’t know, Uber is a great car service where you can use in many cities worldwide to order a car with your smartphone. The app has made it much easier to manage my transportation needs when in a city, especially where public transit isn’t the best option.

New users can earn up to a $30 credit on their first ride. If you haven’t already signed up, this is currently and historically the most credit that Uber gives from a referral code signup. 

Uber

Uber

Yesterday, I saw an article pop up on my feeds that Uber was potentially returning to Vancouver. I’ve been hoping for this day for a LONG time, so I was incredibly happy. They’ve had to avoid Vancouver due to bylaws which mandate a minimum $75 for private cars. Most recently they were in Vancouver for Ice Cream Day, where they delivered Uber Swag and Ice Cream to users.

Apparently, Uber has been looking at hiring drivers through targeted social media ads, and they’ve also uploaded several administrative position postings on their jobs site.

Uber Vancouver Targeted Ad

Uber Vancouver Targeted Ad

Most likely, they’d attempt restarting their UberBlack service before launching an UberX service, which is a ride driven by a regular person in their own car.

I’m really hoping they’ll be back in Vancouver soon!

 —

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This is a continuation of my flights from Vancouver to Melbourne via Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Singapore. I had just flown Suites Class on the Airbus A380 from Los Angeles to Tokyo. I wrote about how I booked my flights in this post.

You can see all my posts and review of this trip in the introduction.

Flight Path

Flight Path

Since I was taking the morning flight (SQ637) from Narita, I spend my quick overnight at the Mercure Narita. I got a rate for around $50 USD. The hotel and room was fairly basic but had a decent enough bed and was right next to the train station.

After walking around Narita town that morning, I took the Keisei Main Line headed to Narita at around 9am. The Singapore Airlines counter was located at the far side of the terminal. I wanted another set of boarding passes, so I headed over there to print the boarding passes.

There were separate First, Business, and Economy class lines, with no waits in the premium cabin check-in lanes. The lounge agent handed me boarding passes for Tokyo – Singapore – Melbourne, as well as a Private Room invitation for use in Singapore.

Singapore Airlines Check-In Tokyo Narita

Singapore Airlines Check-In Tokyo Narita

Unfortunately, there’s no priority security or immigration at Narita for Singapore Airlines passengers. Security and immigration probably took close to 20+ minutes. ANA does have a private security and immigration channel for NH Diamond (top tier) and First Class passengers, which United First passengers also have access to. I really wish SQ would get access, but I wasn’t in a hurry so it wasn’t too bad.

ANA F and United F Private Check-In

ANA F and United F Private Check-In

Narita is one of my favourite airports in the world. It’s pretty far from Tokyo but I love how it’s so clean and organized, especially Terminal 1.

Tokyo Narita Airport

Tokyo Narita Airport

As a first class passenger, there are two ANA Suites lounges, as well as the United International First Lounge. I had lots of time so ended up lounge hopping between the two ANA Suites lounges. The concourse is shaped like a triangle, so if you decide to walk a whole lap around the terminal you’ll pass by all three lounges.

Tokyo Narita Terminal 1 Map

Tokyo Narita Terminal 1 Map

They’re both pretty similar, so I can’t tell which photos came from the Satellite No.4 or Satellite No.5 Lounge. Pretty much from what I remember the only difference is that one of them has a dual entrance (and separate lounge areas) for business and first class passengers, while the other is on a separate floor.

ANA Suites Lounge Entrance 1

ANA Suites Lounge Entrance 1

ANA Suites Lounge Entrance 2

ANA Suites Lounge Entrance 2

All Star Alliance First Class passengers have access to these lounges, which include Lufthansa, Thai, Swiss, United, ANA, Asiana, Singapore and Air China. The ANA lounge entrance has a nice sign certifying ANA’s 5-Star Skytrax rating. The entrance counter also has a basket of incredibly delicious fruit-flavoured hard candies.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Entrance

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Entrance

When you enter you’re offered a hot towel and a drink of your choice, although everything after that is self-serve.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Welcome Drink and Hot Towel

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Welcome Drink and Hot Towel

The Suites lounge doesn’t usually get too crowded, even more so since ANA moved a few Europe morning departures to Haneda. The business class regular ANA lounge tends to be more crowded. There’s plenty of seating.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Tarmac View

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Tarmac View

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Seating

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Seating

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Seating

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Seating

The views from the lounge are quite good, and allowed me to see the Boeing 777-300ER I would be travelling on.

View of the Singapore AIrlines Boeing 777-300ER

View of the Singapore AIrlines Boeing 777-300ER

I love the ambiance and lighting in the lounge. The ANA lounges also have a fantastic scent lingering through the whole lounge area.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Seating

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Seating

There’s also a dining area with more seating.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Dining Area

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Dining Area

The lounge doesn’t have waiter service or made to order food, unfortunately. The offerings for breakfast were fairly basic. All the labels for the food had energy values.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Breakfast

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Breakfast

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Breakfast

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Breakfast

There was also a coffee machine, drinks cooler, and alcohol.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Drinks

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Drinks

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Coffee Machine

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Coffee Machine

All I needed, however, was the noodle bar, which makes delicious udon and soba.

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Noddle Bar

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Noddle Bar

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Menu

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Menu

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Noodle Bar Menu

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Noodle Bar Menu

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Udon

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Udon

The unlimited Hagen-Dazs available in a cooler is also great. I’ve probably had close to 20+ cups in the few times I’ve been to the lounge. ;)

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Hagen-Dazs Ice Cream Cooler

ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita Hagen-Dazs Ice Cream Cooler

Located a few steps away from the main seating area was a cubicle area and business center if you need to get work done.

ANA Suites Lounge Private Area

ANA Suites Lounge Private Area

ANA Suites Lounge Cubicle

ANA Suites Lounge Cubicle

ANA Suites Lounge Printer

ANA Suites Lounge Printer

ANA Suites Lounge Cubicle

ANA Suites Lounge Cubicle

A nifty looking automatic currency exchange machine was also near the business area.

ANA Suites Lounge Currency Exchange Machine

ANA Suites Lounge Currency Exchange Machine

The shower area is very nice.

ANA Suites Lounge Shower Area

ANA Suites Lounge Shower Area

For the most part you don’t have to wait, since there are many shower rooms.

ANA Suites Lounge Shower

ANA Suites Lounge Shower

They also have fancy Japanese toilets (I realize that’s like saying the lounge agents speak Japanese, haha!)

ANA Suites Lounge Toilet

ANA Suites Lounge Toilet

The showers themselves have fantastic temperature controls and excellent water pressure.

ANA Suites Lounge Shower

ANA Suites Lounge Shower

ANA Suites Lounge Sink

ANA Suites Lounge Sink

First Class passengers also receive miniature bottles of Shiseido products.

ANA Suites Lounge Shiseido Products

ANA Suites Lounge Shiseido Products

The lounges aren’t spectacular compared to other international first class lounges. For most people, this wouldn’t be much better than a business class lounge, except with slightly better amenities and fewer people in the lounge. But the ANA Suites Lounges are one of my favourite in the world. Perhaps it’s the fact that this was my very first international First Class lounge visit, or my irrational love of Tokyo Narita.

It feels as much like “home” as does the Plaza Premium Transborder lounge in Vancouver. Probably it stems from the 15+ hours I spent at one point in Narita over a 24 hour period. I think it’s also the fact that there’s nothing to “maximize” during your stay in the lounge, so you don’t have to arrival earlier to enjoy the ambiance as long as you can, unlike the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt or Thai First Class Lounge in Bangkok.

Anyways, I ended up heading to the gate a few minutes after the boarding time on my boarding pass, not before getting some Matcha flavoured kit-kat.

Boarding was at Gate 46, where there was a separate queue for First Class passengers.

Boarding Gate for Singapore Airlines Flight

Boarding Gate for Singapore Airlines Flight

There was only another first class passenger other than me, so I was looking forward to the emptier cabin.

I had monitored the inbound flight from Singapore, and knew it was fitted with the new refurbished First and Business class products. That was pretty good luck, actually, since in August the SQ637/638 flights got the new products only around 50-60% of the time.

While only KrisFlyer miles can be redeemed on Singapore First Class, Aeroplan First Class awards do let you access the ANA Suites Lounge. A simple way to boost your Aeroplan balance if you’re Canadian is the American Express Gold Rewards Card offers a limited-time bonus of 25,000 miles upon signup and $500 spend within three months, and the first year annual fee waived. AMEX Membership rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan.

Previous Segment: Singapore First Class Suites Los Angeles to Tokyo

Next Segment: Singapore First Class Tokyo Narita to Singapore

 

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Nobody likes to pay fuel surcharges. I tremendously dislike paying them, and often book trips around no fuel surcharge glitches. In fact, two of the trips I have booked in the future are because there was a glitch where fuel surcharges weren’t levied on awards – British Airways First Class with US Dividend Miles, and Asiana First Class with Aeroplan.

The easiest way to avoid fuel surcharges is to pay with miles that don’t levy them on awards at all, which are United and Avianca Lifemiles. Miles which only have fuel surcharges on British Airways include American and Alaska. Nearly all other foreign programs tack on fuel surcharges on award tickets.

However, if you are stuck with paying fuel surcharges, it’s important to figure out ways to reduce it, by knowing how these surcharges are collected. Today, I want specifically to demonstrate leveraging countries with capped fuel surcharges to reduce the overall out-of-pocket cost of taxes and fees on award tickets.

This is the basic idea:

Fuel Surcharges are aligned with base fares

A common misconception with fuel surcharges is that they are to pay for the fuel on the airplane. Although true in some cases, usually, it’s quite arbitrary. In 95% of flight redemptions, fuel surcharges align with a paid fare on ITA matrix. The amount can be found under the YQ, YR or Q Line in the fare breakdown. For example, you can see here that the Singapore Suites ticket has 170 in fuel surcharges under the YQ line. This is exactly the same as the fuel surcharges KrisFlyer would levy on an award ticket.

Singapore Suites Paid Fare Fuel Surcharge

Singapore Suites Paid Fare Fuel Surcharge

Singapore Suites KrisFlyer Redemption Taxes and Fees

Singapore Suites KrisFlyer Redemption Taxes and Fees

So, for the most part, if the fuel surcharge on a paid ticket is high, the fuel surcharge on a award ticket will be high if the frequent flyer program levies the fuel surcharge. Under the same reasoning, this means paid fares with low fuel surcharges will also result in the award ticket having low fuel surcharges.

Finding these “sweet spots” to reduce the amount of fuel surcharges are highly useful. The most common exploit is taking flights originating from Brazil, as Brazilian law prohibits fuel surcharges on award tickets. However, since flights within in the American generally do not have fuel surcharges to start with, it’s less of a value for North American based travellers.

Let’s go back to looking at fuel surcharges for Trans-Atlantic travel, specifically flights departing Europe.

Leveraging country based fuel surcharge application

The only two airlines with First Class across the atlantic worth paying for (in my opinion) are Lufthansa and British Airways. Lufthansa has hubs in Munich and Frankfurt, while British Airways has a hub in London Heathrow.

I talked about minimizing fuel surcharges on Lufthansa when booking with Aeroplan before, but there are also other ways you can reduce fuel surcharges for similar awards. The strategy here is using a different departure country. Given the nature of flight hubs, even though British Airways publishes a fare from, say, Dublin to New York, the actual flights you’re going to get on BA are going to be Dublin – London Heathrow – New York. It’s the exact same first class product you’re taking, which means any reduction on fuel surcharge is great.

That is exactly the crux of my post. You want to find flight pairs with low fuel surcharges, so you can pay less.

What do I mean? As I said, fuel surcharge is highly arbitrary and heavily dependent on the origin and destination. I know (and now you know too!) British Airways has a lowered fuel surcharge on fares from Ireland to North America.

Take a look at the cost of a direct London to Vancouver flight, which will cost 75,000 Avios and $673, $330 of which is the fuel surcharge.

Avios Award LHR-YVR Price

Avios Award LHR-YVR Price

LHR-YVR Paid Ticket

LHR-YVR Paid Ticket

Again, this corresponds exactly with a paid ticket.But an Avios award from Dublin to Vancouver, costs just $324 in taxes and fuel surcharges. That’s over a 50% reduction. A lot of this stems from the connection in London Heathrow since UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) isn’t applied, but there’s still close to a $100 drop in the actual YQ fuel surcharge component of the fare. If you were connecting in London, flying, say Brussels – London – Vancouver, you’d also be able to reduce the fuel surcharge by $100, as most fuel surcharges from Europe to North America on BA are $300+ with the exception of ex-Ireland fares.

Reduced Fuel Surcharge with DUB - YVR routing

Reduced Fuel Surcharge with DUB – YVR routing

Paid ticket price breakdown DUB - YVR

Paid ticket price breakdown DUB – YVR

Again, this correlates with the paid fare, where you can see the fuel surcharge (YQ) component drops to $246.50, which is actually not too bad for a 9+ hour flight from Europe to the west coast, given how difficult it is so snag direct flights from Europe to the west coast.

Let me show you another instance of this quirk, with Lufthansa First Class. I will use a different departing country to change the fuel surcharges required, and reduce the cost.

While Lufthansa First Class is only available to partners (excluding Lifemiles) starting 14 days before departure, having flexibility to book last minute makes one of the easier aspirational redemptions to get. The cheapest way to fly Lufthansa First Class is using Aeroplan, requiring 62,500 miles one-way from Europe 1 to North America. Aeroplan does levy fuel surcharges on Lufthansa.

For this award, fuel surcharge application is extremely arbitrary. Normally, the fuel surcharge is over $300 for a direct flight from Frankfurt to Toronto, with total taxes at $424.

FRA - YYZ

FRA – YYZ

FRA - YYZ Paid

FRA – YYZ Paid

However, if you leave from Copenhagen, that amount drops to $271, due to how Lufthansa publishes their fares from Denmark to North America.

Aeroplan Award CPH - YYZ

Aeroplan Award CPH – YYZ

Notice this includes only $207.50 in fuel surcharges, a drop again of close to $100.

Tax Breakdown

Tax Breakdown

This again corresponds exactly with the paid fare.

CPH - YYZ via FRA paid

CPH – YYZ via FRA paid

Leaving from Norway lowers the fuel surcharge even more, but since there wasn’t space, I chose Denmark for illustrative purposes. Nonetheless, that means you could fly Lufthansa First Class for only a $160 USD (~190 CAD) fuel surcharge (departing from Oslo), plus airport taxes, and 62,500 miles. That’s probably as good as it gets, and likely what I’ll be doing if I head to Scandinavia in the near future.

You can also call Aeroplan to get much better flights than what’s available online, but that’s for another post, and again what I selected was the limited space that showed up nicely online. A simple way to boost your Aeroplan balance if you’re Canadian is the American Express Gold Rewards Card offers a limited-time bonus of 25,000 miles upon signup and $500 spend within three months, and the first year annual fee waived. AMEX Membership rewards transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan.

This trick makes much more sense when leaving from Europe, because there are so many countries close by to position, all of which may have a different fuel surcharge amount that’s applied. It doesn’t make so much sense from North America, because generally Canada and the US have similar fuel surcharge amount when heading to Europe. But as you can see, where you’re departing from is crucial in determining how much in fuel surcharges you’ll have to cough up.

As always, if you need specialised assistance, I offer an award booking service (currently offering readers a special $35 discount). Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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I love Australia from the brief bits of Sydney and Melbourne I’ve seen, and I can’t wait to return. As you may or may not know, Canadian and American nationals are required to get an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) before boarding their flights for entrance into Australia. The ETA allows multiple entries of up to three months during a 12 month period for leisure visits. This application also applies to BRUNEI, HONG KONG (SAR), JAPAN, MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE & SOUTH KOREA nationals.

You can normally get it done online instantly (or within a few days) on the official site, which will cost you $20 AUD per person. If you forget, then you can may also be able to get it at the airport check-in counters for a higher price. Until today I had always been using the online website to apply, but today somehow I stumbled onto this pretty awesome Flyertalk thread.

Free Australian ETA

The poster in this thread is offering all Flyertalk members who have a 80+ post count and 6+ month Flyertalk history a free application for their Australian ETA. Instead of paying the fee, the post recommends you to pay it forward by making a charitable donation, or an equivalent good deed to make a difference in the world.

Free Australian ETA

Free Australian ETA

I haven’t done this myself so I don’t know what the process is. However, this thread has been around for 7 years with 48 pages of posts, so it’s extremely likely a legitimate process. Since I personally had no idea this existed, I thought I’d share it with y’all, and most definitely will be using this route to get an ETA without paying processing fees the next time I travel to Australia.

Oftentimes Flyertalk is a nasty place to get into, with a lot of people having an extreme amount of snark. But the generosity of the miles/points community really shines, and this is one of the case where being in an online community is really helpful.

Have any of you used this to get an Australian ETA with no fee? Comment below!

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This is the continuation of my trip to Australia from Vancouver, using miles and points to fly first class for less than the price of an economy class ticket. I wrote about how I booked my flights in this post.

Singapore Suites Class is basically one of the pinnacles of redeeming miles. A few years ago it used to be incredibly unattainable, but now is actually one of the aspirational products that are actually fairly easy to get, if you have KrisFlyer miles. As I mentioned earlier in my post on how this trip was booked, I used 119,000 KrisFlyer miles to fly Los Angeles – Tokyo – Singapore – Melbourne, which was a very decent deal. This included a leg on the Singapore A380 featuring Suites Class.

Flight Path

Flight Path

While Aeroplan points accrued from the American Express Aeroplan Gold Card do not have access to Singapore Suites space, the easiest way to fly this product in Canada is through a transfer to KrisFlyer, either through HSBC rewards or transferring SPG points earned through the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express, which currently offers a 10,000 points signup bonus. The American Express Gold Card as well as the Platinum Card also transfers to Starwood at a 2:1 ratio, which isn’t a fantastic deal but may be worth considering if you’re topping up an account.

The SQ ground representative picked us up from the Star Alliance Lounge LAX and walked with all the Suites passengers at the gate, where boarding was just beginning.

Boarding Gate

Boarding Gate

Singapore Airlines SQ11
Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita
15:45 to 19:15 +1 (11 hour 30 minutes)
Airbus A380-800

My very first premium class flight was business class on the Singapore Airlines A380, so stepping on the Airbus A380 again was amazing. Even though I haven’t flown Suites before, I knew coming into the flight that this is one of the best ways to travel commercially. The feeling of having gotten a great deal really hits home when you realize that you can do this flight for only ~$135 in fuel surcharges and taxes for this segment. I was warmly greeted by the cabin crew, and directed to my seat.

The Singapore Airlines Suites has 12 seats, configured in a 1-2-1 layout. The cabin configuration looks as follows (image from seatguru):

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seatmap

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seatmap

Most people say row 3 aisle seats are the best for people travelling alone, as it has three full windows and the most privacy. If it is available then by all means snag it, but I didn’t think it mattered that much. Any seat you get here is amazing! The flight load was 4/14, with the couple seats 3C/D taken and one of the seats on the F-aisle.

I settled into my seat, 3A.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seat 3A

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seat 3A

The seat that I had was recently refurbished, to align more with the cabin aesthetic that’s now in place on some of the new Singapore 777-300ER’s (77WN), designed by BMW Group.

For reference, the old seat looks like this. (Photo from One Mile at a Time)

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Old Seat Design

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Old Seat Design

I didn’t think it was a big difference, although it was nice knowing that your seat was fairly new.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Windows

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Windows

Everything else in the suite, including the IFE, tables, and décor was the same.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites IFE

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites IFE

There were lots of small pockets in the suite for storing wallet, phones, and other items, as well as the IFE controller.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites IFE control and pockets

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites IFE control and pockets

There were also 2 USB slots, a power outlet, and headphone jack, as well as Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones already in the suite.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Ports

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Ports

The leading steward came over and we made small talk about my flight from Vancouver. Menus were also handed out in a leather binder, along with a hot towel.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

I walked around the cabin taking a few more pictures. The aisles were a little crooked due to the width of the suites.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Aisles

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Aisles

I took a few more pictures of the cabin.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Reading Light

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Reading Light

Storage space.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Storage Space

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Storage Space

Overhead lighting.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Ceilings

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Ceilings

The ottoman across the seat has a seatbelt and two people can dine together.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Ottoman

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Ottoman

The seat is very comfortable, as it has armrests that can be pulled up to form an even wider seat. The only small negative about the seat was that it was so far from the windows, due to the ledge that was on the side, so it was nearly impossible to look out the windows and get a good picture. Boarding was completed fairly quickly and we pulled back, right beside a Korean Air A380 and a British Airways A380 that was taxiing.

A380's Taxiing

A380′s Taxiing

After takeoff, some water and nuts were served.

Water and Nuts

Water and Nuts

The amenity kit were handed out.  It featured Salvatore Ferragamo products and a 30ml bottle of eau d’toilette, as well as lip balm, hand cream, eyeshades, and socks.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Amenity Kit

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Amenity Kit

Givenchy-branded Pajamas were then handed out. I still prefer the Cathay Pacific PYE pajamas, but these were not bad at all and I still wear them at home.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Givenchy Pajamas

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Givenchy Pajamas

I was also given slippers, which was presented, unwrapped, and placed at my feet.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Slippers

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Slippers

After takeoff, I asked about the possibility of getting a double bed since the cabin was pretty empty. Then, I had a glass of orange juice. ;)

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Orange Juice

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Orange Juice

I took a look at the menu, which was quite thick as it contained the selections for the continuing Tokyo Narita – Singapore route as well.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

The LAX to NRT sector featured dinner, a light meal before arrival, and a snack list between meals.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

I had preordered the lobster thermidor for the second meal, so I’d be able to try the regular menu offerings for the first meal. Here is the menu for dinner:

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

There was also the Japanese meal, which I didn’t have a chance to try.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

 

0700

 

The table was set up with precision. I was offered another hot towel, as well the bread basket. I selected a piece of garlic bread. The Givenchy branded plates were really classy.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Table Setup

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Table Setup

The dinner service started with nicely presented caviar. It was served with all the garnishes.

Chilled Malossol Caviar with melba toast and condiments

Chilled Malossol Caviar with melba toast and condiments

Next, I had a smoked salmon starter.

Smoked Salmon with ginger and coriander

Smoked Salmon with ginger and coriander

A minestrone soup.

Beef Minestrone with basil pesto

Beef Minestrone with basil pesto

A salad.

Fresh spinach and Belgium endive salad

Fresh spinach and Belgium endive salad

Then I had the seared wagyu sirloin, which was one of the better beef dishes I’ve had on a plane.

Wok seared wagyu sirlion

Wok seared wagyu sirlion

Skipping the chesse course, the service concluded with a berry financier and iced chocolate. At this point, the cabin lights started to dim. Somehow, they managed to put whipped cream in my drink which I’ve never had onboard before and was a nice surprise.

Berry Financier

Berry Financier

Iced Chocolate

Iced Chocolate

Overall, the food was quite good for a meal served 35000 feet in the air, and while it wasn’t amazing it was tasty, simple, and delicious.

I headed to the lavatory, which was really nicely designed, with lots of lights and mirrors. There were drawers for dental kits, combs, and other items.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Lavatory

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Lavatory

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Lavatory

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Lavatory

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Lavatory

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Lavatory

The faucet was automatic which was convenient

SIngapore AIrlines A380 Suites Faucet

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Faucet

There was also a seat bench that could be lowered for changing.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Toilet

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Toilet

Then I headed over to 2C/D where my double bed was set up. It was actually really hard to photograph, but then I climbed onto one of the ledges to get a better shot.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Closed Double Bed

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Closed Double Bed

The amount of space you got in a double suite was INSANE. Definitely the roomiest “suite” I’ve been in on a plane.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed

I do think that the double bed however, is more style over substance if you really are intending to use the suite as a double bed. You see, there’s a ledge between the center seats, which is lowered when it becomes a bed.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Center Ledge

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Center Ledge

When the bed is made, the ledge is still perhaps an inch higher than the mattress pads. Although it’s covered with blankets when the bed is made, it still pushes into your back when lying diagonally across the double bed. Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed

I ended up mostly napping on one side of the suite. The bedding and mattress pad were very comfortable. I do think that having the bed as separate from the seat really helped with the padding.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed Pillows

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed Pillows

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Double Bed

This bed is probably on par with the width and length of the Lufthansa First Class bed, although the configuration of the suite makes it seem much roomier.

The novelty of having a double suite was  was definitely there when I rolled around the bed, played with both TV monitors, and drew the divider between the two seats up and down.

I managed to nap for around three hours, and when I woke up, I had a snack of Hagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream and a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Snack

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Snack

The in-flight snack menu wasn’t too comprehensive but satisfactory for any in-flight hunger pangs between meals.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

I also got a few more shots of the seat. You can see in the following image that the mattress is the rectangular shape on the suite wall behind the seat, which comes down to form the bed.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seat

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seat

The shades can also be lowered or raised manually. These made the suites quite private, although there were small gaps under the shade which allowed people to peer through if they really wanted to know what you were doing inside.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Shades

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Shades

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Shades

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Shades

This is the maximum amount that the seat can recline to, before converting into a bed.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seat

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Seat

I also took a walk around the plane, although most of the plane was darkened, which made it hard for good photos. There are two staircases, one at the front of the A380.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Stairs

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Stairs

There’s also a spiral stair at the back of the plane.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Stair

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Stair

This Airbus A380 was configured to have the entire upper deck with business class, although it was a bit emptier near the end of the upper deck.

I passed the time by watching a few movies in my double suite, and chatted a bit with the cabin crew in the galley. Apparently the crews that I talked with were all Japanese, and only flew on SQ flights to/from Tokyo/Osaka/Fukuoka/Nagoya, as well as the SQ11 and 12 route. That’s why it almost felt like NH service!

Soon we were around an hour or two from landing into Tokyo Narita airport, and a light meal service began.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Menu

Another hot towel was served.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Hot Towel

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Hot Towel

First up was a crabmeat appetizer, which was okay.

Crabmeat with corn and apple slaw

Crabmeat with corn and apple slaw

Then I had the lobster thermidor from book the cook. It was lukewarm and wasn’t very good, in my opinion. Quite underwhelming, and perhaps it was just a one-off situation.

Lobster Themidor

Lobster Themidor

For desert there was a lime tart with passion fruit.

Lime Tart

Lime Tart

We landed on schedule into Narita airport just as the sun was setting.

View of the A380 from Tokyo Narita

View of the A380 from Tokyo Narita

This route has a short stop to unload and pick up passengers, and to refuel. Instead of continuing to Singapore, I decided to have a quick overnight in Narita, and to take the morning flight 638 to Singapore.

Tokyo Narita Airport was pretty deserted, and clean and nice as always.

Tokyo Narita Airport

Tokyo Narita Airport

Coming off this flight was pretty surreal, having taken my first flight on one of the best in-flight experiences in the world. Singapore Suites really is an incredible way to fly!

Any questions? Let me know in the comments.

Previous Segment: Los Angeles TBIT Star Alliance First Class Lounge

Next Segment: ANA Suites Lounge Tokyo Narita

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Travelpony is a new hotel booking site (or OTA, if you want to call it as such). Their prices look to be pretty competitive/similar to what’s offered on other sites. However, right now they are offering two potentially very lucrative promotions which makes it a great place to book your next hotel stay.

10 to 45% Off All Hotel Rates

Right now, Travelpony are offering 10 to 45% off the cheapest available rate. Unsurprisingly, most of the hotels are at the 10% figure, however there are a few (mostly European) hotels offering bigger discounts (the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile for example, at 45%). Unlike many other discount code promotions offered by hotel sites, Travelpony’s discount applies to every hotel available for sale. A neat way to pick up a 10% discount, for sure.

45% off Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile with Travelpony

45% off Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile with Travelpony

For some hotels (such as the Hilton properties, as I’ve observed) the discount value hidden, and isn’t revealed until the booking stage. The 10% minimum still applies here, so you can safely assume it’s (at least) 10% off the published rate.

Travelpony Discount on Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle

Travelpony Discount on Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle

To access these savings, simply visit the Travelpony website and enter the promo code TPSAVINGS during checkout.

$35 off $200 or More Stay for New Customers

Travelpony is also offering a $35 discount on hotel stays of over $200 for new customers. This promotion is stackable with the previous discount code, meaning you are potentially getting over 50% off the standard (lowest) rate of certain hotels. This is an incredible deal, not much more to say.

Over 55% off Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile with Travelpony

Over 55% off Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile with Travelpony

Note that the $200 threshold is based on the original rate before discounts. So as you can see above, a $261 room at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile can be obtained for $116, or a 55% discount. The $35 discount is automatically applied to all new accounts – just sign up using this discount link and enter REFERRAL35 at checkout.

Hyatt.com Rate for Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile

Hyatt.com Rate for Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile

The Hyatt.com rate for the same stay is going for almost $200 more or three times the price – which makes this an incredible deal in anyone’s book.

You will likely not be receiving elite status credit or points on these stays, but the discount might be worth not getting points and credit. Most hotels should honour status benefits. As always, it’s important to weigh out your options and see which one is most cost-effective.

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American Express Canada is offering a $100 statement credit with a $500 spend at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. This offer I believe was a targeted statement credit last year, but this year there aren’t any terms on cardholder eligibility specifically.

American Express Fairmont Statement Credit Offer

American Express Fairmont Statement Credit Offer

That means cards like the American Express Gold Card, the American Express Aeroplan Gold Card, the Starwood Preferred Guest Card and the Platinum Card can be registered. Supplementary cardholders are also eligible.

You must register your card before December 30th, and stay before December 31st. The $500 spend must be in one transaction. The spend must also be made at participating properties, which include most North American Fairmont Hotels.

Participating Hotels

Participating Hotels

The statement credit may take up to two billing cycles to appear on your statement and up to 8 weeks to be credited to the account. To enroll, you have to fill in your card number and other personal information.

American Express Fairmont  Statement Credit Offer Registration

American Express Fairmont Statement Credit Offer Registration

After you submit the form, a confirmation email will be sent.

Registered

Registered

This is a pretty fantastic promotion, in my opinion, as you’re essentially getting a 20% rebate on your first $500 of spend at a hotel. This is especially lucrative with the American Express Platinum Card, because you can in some cases stack your spend with a Fine Hotel and Resorts rate, which I wrote about here. As well, since the Platinum card offers a fastrack to top-tier elite status, it’s quite a significant rebate if you do plan on staying in a Fairmont.

You can register for the offer here.

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This is the continuation of a trip report from my trip in August. See my posts on booking the trip, the lounge in YVR, and the Vancouver to Los Angeles flight.

LAX airport is pretty dumpy, but the one nice thing about is the Tom Bradley International Terminal (the completed parts anyways). It is spectacular, and it’s finally a terminal that is at least on the same playing field as the top airports of the world.

My flight got in at around 10:30am, so originally I was planning to head to In-N-Out, but I was way too tired. So I ended up sitting and walking around the check-in piers at TBIT, which was a perfectly pleasant way to spend a bit of time too.

I ended up at one of the seating areas a floor higher that gave a bird-eye’s view over the check-in concourse.

Nice VIew

Nice View @ LAX TBIT

The Singapore Airlines counters ended up opening at around 12pm.

Singapore Suites Check-In Counter

Singapore Suites Check-In Counter

The check-in lady managed to print out all my boarding passes to Melbourne, which was appreciated, and in proper Suites and First Class ticket stock. She confirmed that there were only four passengers in Suites today.

She also got me an escort to the lounge, who went through security with me. The security situation was slightly awkward, because while he told me to cut into the line, he didn’t do it himself at first. No way I was going to cut the queue in the premium security line with a whole line of people giving me death glares!

Suites Class Escort

Suites Class Escort (sorry for the blurriness)

We then proceeded to the lounge via the old set of boarding gates which was a longer walk, because there was some construction going on in pathway between security and the “normal” way to the lounge (between the designer shops in the main hall). There was a separate entrance to the First Class Lounge, although they were connected inside.  Some pictures are taken from previous visits to the lounge.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Entrance

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Entrance

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Entrance

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Entrance Podium

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Entrance

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Entrance

The lounge was surprisingly small, although there weren’t that many passengers in the lounge at once. It was basically a long seating area, with around 20-30 chairs, and a four tables which comprise the dining area. This picture basically captures the entire First Class section of the lounge.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Seating

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Seating

There was a display of printed reading material as well as a customized flight display screen only displaying flights whose passengers used the Star Alliance Lounges.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Reading Material

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Reading Material

The food on display is to the left. There were small amounts of ready-to-eat food, including chocolates, fruits, cookies, and cheeses. These were nicely displayed and refilled constantly.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Food on Display

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Food on Display

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Food on Display

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Food on Display

There was also a counter for a coffee machine, drinks cabinet, and alcohol display.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Drinks

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Drinks

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Drinks

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Drinks

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Alcohol

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Alcohol

If you wanted more food, there was a basic menu for made-to-order at the dining area. I think the food for both the First and Business Class lounges are similar (probably with slight differences) but they come from the same kitchen. The only difference is the First Class Lounge the food is brought to you.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Menu

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Menu

The menu had lots of “simple” choices that were nice. I liked the tables quite a lot as I could get a bit of work done and it was nicer for my back than using the lounge chairs.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Dining Area

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Dining Area

I had a Caesar salad, a tomato soup, and a crepe, which were delicious.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Salad

Salad

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Soup

Soup

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Crepe

Crepe

The check-in manager for SQ also stopped by to drop off a feedback form, and also to remind me not to consume any unattended alcohol in the lounge, as I am not of drinking age in the USA. ;)

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class SQ Feedback Form

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class SQ Feedback Form

The shower facilities are shared with business class passengers and are quite nice.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Shower Room

LAX Star Alliance Lounge Shower Room

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Shower Room

LAX Star Alliance Lounge Shower Room

The business class areas are also quite nice, with the outdoor terrace, and various seating areas, albeit a bit more crowded.

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Media Room

LAX Star Alliance Lounge Media Room

LAX Star Alliance Lounge First Class Outdoor Terrace

LAX Star Alliance Lounge Outdoor Terrace

LAX Star Alliance Lounge Balcony Seating

LAX Star Alliance Lounge Balcony Seating

This is probably one of the best lounges in North America (perhaps except for the JFK Virgin Clubhouse, JFK Lufthansa First Class Lounge and AMEX Centurion Lounges), and makes connecting in LAX that much more desirable.

I basically fall in love with everything new, so might be biased, but the food is simple and delicious, the atmosphere is decent, the wifi and showers are good, and the open-air seating areas are a refreshing change from closed off lounges. Of course there’s the crowding with business class lounges, but this is definitely a lot nicer than the average business class lounge, in my opinion. Especially with Vancouver having less international airline service than the typical US gateway, the lounge makes connecting in LAX very pleasant. The terminal layout and walking isn’t great, but the lounge makes up for it.

All Star Alliance premium passengers as well as Star Alliance Gold elite members can use this lounge. I used Krisflyer miles for Singapore Suites/First Class which is only accessible with Krisflyer miles, but you could also fly Asiana, All Nippon, EVA, Air China, Lufthansa, and Swiss to use this lounge (although the last two don’t release much space ex-LAX) on an Aeroplan award (or other star alliance mileage award). A good way to earn Aeroplan miles is to get the American Express Gold Card, which gives 25,000 Membership Rewards points after a $500 minimum spend in the first six months of holding the card. These points transfer 1:1 to Aeroplan. The easiest ways to earn KrisFlyer miles in Canada is a transfer from HSBC Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest.

At around 40 minutes before boarding, the SQ check-in manager came to escort all Suites passengers to the gate. I was really excited for Singapore Suites!

Previous Segment: Air Canada Rouge Vancouver to Los Angeles

Next Segment: Singapore First Class Suites Los Angeles to Tokyo

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TD has been issuing Aeroplan co-branded credit cards in Canada for a few months, and they’ve had I one public promotion in April, where the first year annual fee were waived on some of their credit cards.

A reader forwarded an TD Aeroplan Banking offer he was targeted for allowing him to earn up to 115,000 Aeroplan miles by opening new banking accounts.

TD Aeroplan Banking Offer (Targeted)

TD Aeroplan Banking Offer (Targeted)

That’s right, my title wasn’t wrong and your eyes aren’t seeing incorrectly. 115,000 Aeroplan miles! That’s almost enough for a mini-RTW in business class. To my knowledge he does have a TD Aeroplan credit card. You can actually check your eligibility for these offers online through this link here. If you’re targeted you’ll probably be directed to a different page. Unfortunately, none of my accounts I manage were targeted, even though some do have a TD Aeroplan Visa linked to the account. You’d probably get a message similar to the one below for a non-targeted account.

Not Targeted :(

Not Targeted :(

For opening checking, savings, investment, and cross-border banking accounts, you could earn 75,000 miles and an additional 10,000 mile bonus for opening all their products, which is incredibly impressive. The Small Business offer is for 30,000 Aeroplan for a combined total of 115,000 miles!

This is a very lucrative offer targeted at those who don’t bank with TD (but have their credit card) to try to get them to switch over all their banking. It’s very smart and it’s great to see TD leveraging their partnership with Aeroplan. I’ve never seen an offer this big that isn’t involved with opening some credit card, so it’s a really great offer to take advantage of if you are targeted. If not, then… :(

The easiest way to accumulate 25,000 Aeroplan miles in Canada is the American Express Gold Card, which offers 25,000 Membership Rewards points after $500 in minimum spending within the first six months of holding the card. These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan. Luckily, this is a public offer.

I’ve listed the bonuses below.

TD Aeroplan Banking Offers (Targeted)

Chequing Account
Earn 25,000 miles
• Open a new TD All-inclusive Banking Plan or Unlimited Chequing Account in your name during the period from August 5 to October 31, 2014; and
• Apply for overdraft protection on the Chequing Account by October 31, 2014;
and
• Complete two of the following three activities by December 12, 2014 for the new Chequing Account that has been opened:
a. A direct deposit to the Chequing Account;
b. A monthly Pre-authorized Debit from the Chequing Account; or
c. An online bill payment from the Chequing Account either through EasyWeb or the TD mobile app.

Savings Account
Earn 5,000 miles
• Open a new TD High Interest Savings Account (“Savings Account”) in your name during the period from August 5 to October 31, 2014;
• Set up a Personal Transfer Service for a minimum amount of $10.00 by October 31, 2014 for the Savings Account that has been opened and maintain
this service between October 31, 2014 and January 31, 2015; and
• Maintain a $5,000 minimum balance in the Savings Account between November1, 2014 and January 31, 2015

Cross-Border Banking
Earn 20,000 miles
• Open a new TD Canada Trust U.S. dollar account with a Borderless Plan (“TD Canada Trust Account”) in your name during the period from August 5 to October 31, 2014;
• Open a new TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, U.S. Dollar Premier Checking Account (“TD Bank Account”) in your name during the period from August 5 to October 31, 2014; and
• Link your TD Canada Trust Account and TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, Account through TD Cross-Border Online Account Portfolio View by October 31, 2014.

Direct Investing
Earn 25,000 miles
• Open and fund a new TD Direct Investing account (“DI Account”) in your name during the period from August 5 to October 31, 2014; and
• Maintain a $50,000 minimum balance between November 1, 2014 and January 31, 2015.

Special Offer for Small Business
Earn 30,000 miles
Open a new TD Canada Trust Business Chequing Account with a TD Every Day A, B or C, or Unlimited, Business Plan between August 5 and October 31, 2014

I’ve also uploaded the entire document with the targeted offer, available here: TD Aeroplan Banking Offers (Targeted)

Tip of the Hat to Boris

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Air Canada Rouge Introduction

When Air Canada switched over many of their leisure routes from mainline to Rouge many folks weren’t too thrilled about it, yours truly included. Nothing says premium travel like 35 inch seat pitch. Rouge is the “lower-cost” arm of the airline. They operate their own planes in a more leisure configuration, meaning fewer business class seats, more economy seats, and less legroom. This would also allow them (if I’m not mistaken) to hire new cabin crew at lower pay rates.

Rouge has been operating an increasing number of traditional Air Canada mainline routes, one of which is Vancouver – Los Angeles. What most travellers have been unsatisfied with was the fact that they were pretty much unable to receive compensation for the tighter seats, charge for in-flight entertainment, and similar reductions in benefits associated with a leisure airline.

Air Canada must be really hoping that Rouge will weather out the storm as them seem very committed to Rouge at this point, including cutting mainline service on many important routes and forcing all travellers to either fly Air Canada Rouge or switch to other airlines. Thankfully, Rouge is bookable with airline miles no different than a regular Air Canada flight. I used 25,000 Aeroplan for premium rouge, which would be the same price as a “real” domestic first award.

This was an awful value (in my opinion) as it costs only 7,500 Avios miles transferred from Membership Rewards to redeem on Alaska in economy, which are accessible with the American Express Gold Card as well as the Platinum Card. Unfortunately, at the time I booked there wasn’t any availability at the low level and it didn’t seem worth it to pay 20,000 Alaska miles for mid-tier economy, since Alaska miles are worth quite a bit more than Aeroplan.

Air Canada Premium Rouge Review

Air Canada Rouge AC1878
Vancouver to Los Angeles
07:00 to 10:02 (3 hours 2 minutes)
Airbus A319-100

I boarded promptly at Gate 82, after having visited the Plaza Premium Lounge at Vancouver in their Transborder Pier, which I think is better than the Maple Leaf Lounge.

Air Canada Premium Rouge Boarding

Air Canada Premium Rouge Boarding

By the time I got onto the plane, the cabin was pretty full, so I didn’t manage to take as many pictures as I would have liked to. But I’ll try and describe it the best I can. Today, I was on an Airbus A319, with premium rouge, and regular (rouge) economy. Premium rouge is in a 3-3 configuration, with the middle seat blocked off. I was in seat 2F, a window seat. The cabin was nearly full with perhaps one empty seat. See the seatmap from seatguru.com.

Air Canada Rouge A319 Seatmap from Seatguru

Air Canada Rouge A319 Seatmap from Seatguru

Pre-departure drink of orange juice or water was offered. We took off on-time and headed toward LA. At this point I tried desperately to sleep although given it was an economy seat with 35” of legroom, and an empty middle seat, I didn’t end up sleeping much. The pillows were nice, though.

Air Canada Premium Rouge Seats

Air Canada Premium Rouge Seats

Breakfast was served in the premium rouge cabin and I believe the meal card handed around had either a choice of fruit and oatmeal or an omelet. I choose the former.

Air Canada Premium Rouge Breakfast

Air Canada Premium Rouge Breakfast

There was no in-seat IFE but there was streaming media through iPads available for rent in economy (and free in premium rouge), as well as a phone app for Android or iPhone anyone could download. There was also no power, even in premium rouge. This was moderately annoying as my electronics hadn’t been charged completely.

Air Canada Premium Rouge IFE

Air Canada Premium Rouge IFE

Before I knew it we were descending into LA.

Descent into LA

Descent into LA

The best way to describe premium rouge is intra-Europe business class. With intra-Europe business, you get lounge access, extra baggage, and a blocked middle-seat in economy with more legroom, and meal service. That’s exactly what you get here in premium rouge. For my flight everything was okay, given that it was a tolerably short flight. However, for flights like Toronto – Las Vegas and San Diego (and not to mention flights to Honolulu), where the flight time is 4-5+ hours, I can imagine the limited legroom, especially for taller folks, can be unbearable.

The seat pitch in economy is 29”. That’s worst than Allegiant at 30” and almost as bad as Spirit at 28”. Given that economy class especially domestic are pretty much the same and the only difference is seat pitch and airplane, I probably personally would avoid Rouge. There’s no way I’d redeem points for rouge either, except if it’s close-in and/or a paid fare is excessively high. I’d rather redeem on star alliance partners or AC mainline metal, which do have a legitimate domestic first seat, and less bone-crushing legroom in economy.

The easiest way to accumulate 25,000 Aeroplan miles in Canada is the American Express Gold Card, which offers 25,000 Membership Rewards points after $500 in minimum spending within the first six months of holding the card. These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan (and British Airways as well). Currently, this is pretty much one of the better cards to get given the signup bonus of the American Express Aeroplan Gold Card decreased to 26,000 miles.

Air Canada Premium Rouge is tolerable, and even to an extent nice. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way to redeem on it and it wouldn’t be my first choice either when Air Canada is pricing similar to domestic first (and in the case of an award, exactly the same). Only time will tell if travellers continue choosing Rouge, which is pretty much the only airline in North America to operate with such a blocked middle seat business class configuration.

Previous Segment: Vancouver Plaza Premium Lounge Transborder Review

Next Segment: Los Angeles Star Alliance Lounge First Class

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Frequent Miler posted about an opportunity for Canadians to purchase collectors coins at face value, then redepositing or cashing them out at a bank. The Canadian Mint occasionally has silver coins which sell for their face value with free shipping online, which are available here.

These coins have been around for awhile, so it’s not the first time I’ve heard about them, but I think it’s not worth the time and effort to manufacture spend, especially with the lower amounts and no category bonuses. It’s very easy to work out the numbers.

There are currently ten coins available for sale. You can purchase three of them per household. The total value of these coins add up to $1500.

Coins for Sale

Coins for Sale

That’s of course assuming they’re not sold out.

$100 Coins for Sale

$100 Coins for Sale

So say you were able to get all of them. On unbonused spend, I’d be using the American Express Platinum Card to earn 1.25 points per dollar spend. You could also use your Starwood Preferred Guest American Express depending on how much you value your Starwood points. That means you’d get around 1800 Membership Rewards points. At most, I’d value them at 1.7 cents since there are pretty much no-hassle methods to acquire similarly valued miles for less.

That means those points are worth around $30 bucks. You’d just wait for them to ship, and then cash them out at your bank. Since there’s free shipping, and no fees of any sort, the points are absolutely free. The only cost is your time. I’m guessing it’d take 1-2.5 hours to do this process, so just even from that, your time is probably worth less than $20 bucks an hour, which honestly isn’t very great – especially since you’re getting miles instead of cash.

This is, of course assuming you’re actually able to cash them out because you won’t run into a stubborn bank, you’re able to purchase all these coins, and there aren’t any other logistical problems associated with receiving and transporting your coins.

That being said, it depends on how much time you have on your hands and if you could find ways to get around the limit of three per order and limit per household, it could be workable – but really not something that 99% of miles/points people would do.  Other than for collector’s purposes, I’m not sure there really is a purpose for you to use these coins to manufacture spend…

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