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Whenever possible I like to write an introduction to the trips I take to give readers an idea of how much things cost, how I book my trips and when I use points and when I choose to use cash. The point of this is to hopefully show just how doable these trips are and how, with a little bit of planning and a little bit of flexibility, these are trip that a lot of people can book.
For this trip I didn’t use any of my miles or points as I combined a great Qatar Airways Business Class fare between Europe and Singapore with one of Hilton’s better Asia sale to get myself back to one of my favorite cities in Asia.
Booking My Flights
I frequently write about great Business Class fares that Qatar Airways offers between Europe and Asia (see the Airfare Deals page for current good fares) and, when I see a fare that appeals, I usually snap it up before it disappears.
This was one of those occasions.
Booking My Qatar Airways Business Class Flights
Historically, most of the better roundtrip Qatar Airways Business Class fares for travel between Europe and Singapore have come in at somewhere between $1,500 and $1,600 so that’s the fare range I keep in my mind when I’m evaluating Qatar Airways sale fares to Singapore.
I usually rule out any fare that falls above that range (unless I have a very real need to get to Singapore) because I’m prepared to wait until Qatar Airways publishes a fare that’s under $1,600 (or at least very close to $1,600).
On this occasion I had no need to be Singapore but when one of my frequent fare searches turned up this particular fare I knew immediately that I was going to book it – it was an amazing deal.
Here’s the itinerary:
And here’s how much I paid (taken from my Platinum Card statement):
$1,284.83 for a roundtrip Business Class fare between Europe and Singapore on one of the best Business Class airlines in the world is nothing short of fantastic.
Sadly this trip was taken before Qatar Airways scheduled its A350-1000 (complete with Qsuites) on the Doha – Singapore route but, as I had never flown on the airline’s A350-900, this trip still gave me the opportunity to review a new aircraft/cabin.
Booking My Positioning Flights
Now that I had my Business Class fare booked it was time to figure out how to get to Stockholm in the most economical way (I knew I would be over in the UK ahead of this trip so I needed to book roundtrip travel between London and Stockholm).
One of the big benefits of the Qatar Airways flights I booked was that the timings worked very well for me. A late afternoon departure from Stockholm on the outbound part of my journey and a morning landing in Stockholm on the way back meant that I could fly to Stockholm on the day of my first Qatar Airways flight and fly back to London on the same day Qatar Airways got me back to Stockholm – there was no need for an additional hotel booking at Stockholm Arlanda.
Note: Positioning to a city on the same day that your main flight departs does come with some risks – make sure you understand these before you book such a trip.
For my positioning flights to and from Stockholm I booked the cheapest fare I could find that didn’t leave me in a cramped seat with next to no legroom – this meant booking Economy Class with British Airways as my oneworld status allowed me to select an exit row seat at the time of booking.
I could have used Avios if I had wanted to but as the award ticket would have cost me 13,000 Avios and approximately $45 in fees that would have meant getting just 0.7 cents of value out of each Avios….and that would have been a very poor return.
I value Avios at around 1.0 cents each and I usually try to get at least 1.5 cents of value out of each Avios I use.
Booking My Hotel
Price and location are the key drivers when I’m trying to decide which properties to book for my trips but I also factor in elite status benefits.
Specifically, I try to stay at properties where my elite status benefits will help me minimize my out of pocket costs so chains at which I get a complimentary breakfast are the ones I look to first.
That narrowed down my search to Marriott/Starwood and Hilton properties.
I’ve visited Singapore a few times in the past and on my last visit I’d stayed at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach with Joanna, so that was the first property I priced up.
This was to be a lightning trip to Singapore (2 nights only) and I wasn’t prepared to pay $300/night for the JW Marriott.
As I explained last week, when I’m traveling solo I have no real need for top-end properties so unless they’re offering a great rate I usually move my search on to properties closer to the middle of the market range….but on this occasion I decided to check on the Conrad before I set my sights lower.
I remembered that I had written about a Hilton Asia sale a few days beforehand so I was hoping that the Conrad would be available at a nice discount…and I wasn’t disappointed.
S$416 for a two night stay (before taxes and fees) was a very good deal….especially as the JW Marriott (a 5 minute walk away) had quoted S$700 for the same dates.
Booking the Conrad was a no-brainer at that rate and I ended up paying S$489.63 after taxes and fees for my two night stay….
…which came to $359.84 after I had paid with my Hilton American Express Card.
$180 per night for a top-end hotel that I hadn’t stayed at before (so I was going to get a review out of it) was a deal I was very happy with and the icing on the cake was the fact that I knew the Conrad had recently been refurbished (so I knew the rooms should be good).
Miles & Points Earned On This Trip
I was stepping out into a brave new world (for me) in 2018 as I was crediting most of my oneworld flights to the British Airways Executive Club (I’ve discussed why I’m trying to give American Airlines less of my cash and why it made mathematical sense for me to abandon the AAdvantage program in favor of the BAEC in earlier posts)…so this is what I earned for my flights:
Qatar Airways Business Class flights:
- 560 Tier Points (140 per sector)
- 16,824 Avios
British Airways Economy Class flights:
- 10 Tier Points (5 per sector)
- 1,338 Avios
This one trip earned me 570 Tier points which, had this trip been at the beginning of the year, would have got me 95% of the way to British Airways Silver status (ignoring the 4 flight minimum requirement).
As it was it pushed me to within touching distance of British Airways Gold status (oneworld Emerald) which was my target for 2018.
My stay at the Conrad Centennial Singapore earned me:
- 2 nights towards elite status
- 11,574 Hilton Honors Points
In reality the elite earnings didn’t mean all that much to me as I get Hilton Gold Status as one of the benefits that comes with my Platinum Card from American Express and that’s more than enough for my needs right now.
Credit Card Earnings
All my flights were charged to my Amex Platinum Card which earns me 5 Membership Rewards points/dollar spent on airfare directly with airlines.
These brought in a total of 7,115 membership Rewards Points which I value, conservatively, at 1.5 cents each – that’s an effective rebate of ~$107.
I paid for my hotel stay using my Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card which earns me 7 points/dollar spent with Hilton and, as that’s the only spend I put on my Hilton Amex in that period, my monthly statement summed up my earnings from this stay:
I value Hilton Honors points at around 0.4 cents each so the 2,520 points I earned for this stay is an effective rebate of $10.08
- 570 British Airways Tier Points
- 18,162 Avios
- 7,115 Membership Rewards Points
- 2,520 Hilton Honors Points
This is where the trade-off between the British Airways Executive Club and American Airlines AAdvantage is plain to see:
- One trip earned me enough Tier Points to get 38% of the way to top-tier status (I would have earned 21,090 EQM and 2,782 EQD had I credited this trip to AAdvantage and those represent 21% and 23% of the two requirements for American’s top-tier status) but…
- The number of Avios I earned pales into insignificance compared to the 28,752 Miles I would have earned had I credited my flights to the AAdvantage program.
I’m still happy to sacrifice redeemable miles in favor of Tier points…but it also still hurts a little 🙂
It may have been a super-short visit but I loved my time in Singapore – that city never lets me down.
In the coming days and weeks I’ll post reviews of the lounges I used in Stockholm and Singapore, (I’ve reviewed the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha before), I’ll review the Conrad Centennial Singapore (update: review is now live) and I’ll post reviews of the Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner (update: review is now live) and A350-900 Business Class experiences (update: review is now live).
If anyone has any questions on why I booked what I booked (or why I paid what I paid) then just ask in the comments section below and I’ll try to answer as best as I can.
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