The Upgrade

Here's Why First-Class Flying “Is Like Christmas Every Time You Get on a Plane!”

PART 29: One Mile at a Time blogger Ben Schlappig talks through all the gifts and goodies he gets.

Hi again from Ben Schlappig, the full-time traveler behind One Mile at a Timeand the guy who introduced you to my uber-luxury travel lifestyle all made possible by using miles and points. In our series with Jet Set, we're going around the world in 21 days... all in five-star luxury, and booked at the very last minute.

In my last post, I was confessing about how I actually don't love Paris.

After a few nights in the city, it was time to slowly begin the journey back to the U.S. I often choose transatlantic routes based on which airline has the best product, and in this case we wanted to fly Singapore Airlines Suites Class between Frankfurt and New York.

As some of you may recall, on the outbound portion of this trip we flew from Singapore to Bali on KLM, which is a Dutch airline. This type of a route is referred to as a fifth freedom route, because it’s when an airline flies between two countries in which it’s not based.

In this case, Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore to Frankfurt to New York, and if you want, you can just take the flight from Frankfurt to New York. Given that Singapore Airlines is known for their great service, I’d argue it’s one of the most luxurious ways to fly transatlantic. 

Flying Singapore

As much as I love planes, we didn’t fly from Paris to Frankfurt. Instead we took the train. My preference for trains has been increasing the past few years, especially for travel within Europe. The flight would have taken about an hour, but then getting to the airport sometimes takes almost an hour, you have to arrive early, and then you have to get to the hotel. The entire process door-to-door takes about four hours.

Meanwhile we could take the four-hour train ride, which is not only beautiful, but not nearly as hectic. The train was basically my “office” for half a day — I worked on my laptop the entire ride, and before I knew it, we were in Frankfurt.

We arrived in Frankfurt in the evening, and then spent the night at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport. I’m a big fan of airport hotels for quick overnights, or if I’m arriving in a city late at night. They’re typically cheaper than city hotels, have great blackout curtains and noise insulation. The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport has an especially nice club lounge, which more or less serves a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner (if you have access to the lounge, it’s totally free — you get access for being an SPG Platinum member, and also for having the Starwood Business American Express Card).

The next morning I packed up my carry-on — yes, I really live out of a carry-on, and we headed to the terminal. I get a lot of questions about how I manage to live out of a carry-on. I had an apartment in Seattle before I moved into hotels full time over three years ago. I had lived in Seattle for about 18 months, and was amazed by how much “clutter” I had accumulated.

Since I knew I was moving into hotels, I knew I had to get rid of everything. I figured I’d be sad about it, but I really wasn’t — I realized that most of the material possessions I had acquired were just unnecessary and didn’t add anything to my life. I then took it to the other extreme, and consolidated everything I needed into one 20-inch carry-on, as well as a weekender bag, which I carry with me everywhere I go. I love this — the only downside is that my wardrobe is as about as diversified as that of a cartoon character.

Anyway, our flight to New York was departing at around 8:30 a.m., so we left the airport early and headed to the Frankfurt Airport terminal. The benefit of staying at the Sheraton is that it’s directly connected to the terminal. 

We visited the Lufthansa lounge (which Singapore Airlines uses at Frankfurt Airport), and by 8 a.m. boarding was called.

There are a lot of great airlines in the world, though I don’t think there’s a single airline as well regarded or which has withstood the test of time in the same way that Singapore Airlines has. Singapore Airlines is known for their great service, their innovative seating arrangements, and their top notch food and drinks.

I remember my first ever flight to Asia in first class was on Singapore Airlines, and I couldn’t sleep for about a week leading up to the trip, that’s how excited I was.

The flight from Frankfurt to New York was on the A380. Singapore Airlines doesn’t have first class on the A380, though. Instead they have what’s called “Suites Class,” which includes the first double bed available on any airline. It’s probably not quite as fun to fly that alone as with a significant other, but hey, I’m not complaining!

Singapore's "Suites Class"

Upon boarding I was greeted by the crew person who would be taking care of me — she was lovely. Once settled into my seat I was offered all kinds of great amenities, including pajamas and an amenity kit with Salvatore Ferragamo products. Singapore Airlines basically gives you a full-size bottle of cologne, which I always gift to my dad, since he loves them.

Then I was offered a pre-departure beverage of choice. Naturally I went with a glass of champagne, though what makes Singapore Airlines even more special than any other airline is that they give you the choice between Krug and Dom Perignon. Those are two fantastic champagnes, and that’s a tough choice. You know it’s a good day when choosing between Dom and Krug is the toughest decision you have to make.

I ordered a glass of Krug, though stay tuned, because later in the flight I did a blind taste test of the two.

The flight was already off to a great flight, and we hadn’t even taken off yet…

Stay tuned!

FOLLOW MY JOURNEY:

Confession: I don't love Paris.

Check out my Paris suite upgrade (on points, of course).

Here's what it's like to hang out in an in-flight bar.

That feeling when your far-flung luxury trip looked great on paper... but now you're just tired and cranky abroad!

Confession: Even first-class travel can be utterly exhausting.

A day in the life in the Maldives... breathtaking!

Gasp at the beauty and luxury of my Maldives hotel.

Getting to the Maldives is one of the best parts of the whole experience!

Why the Middle East is an ideal place for a sensational stopover.

Dubai is over-the-top glitzy — but here's why it makes travelers like me feel right at home, too.

Here's why hotels club-level lounges are no-brainers for travelers (especially if you work on the road).

This is one of the best hotel suite upgrades I ever got... and that's saying a lot!

Here's what makes a Middle East vacation so unique.

Is this the most incredible all-inclusive hotel in the Middle East?

Tour one of the world's best first-class airport lounges.

This is what it's like to fly inside one of the fanciest cabins in commercial air travel: an apartment in the sky.

Come with me on my flight filled with caviar, designer pajamas, and luxury gifts.

I support my boyfriend's first-class travel life (and in return he lets me pull stunts like this).

See how I booked a $12,000 flight for nearly free.

See Bali's littler-known party side — including a hangover brunch (with a DJ) to end them all!

Glimpse the five-star life I love (and buy with miles!) in Bali.

Here's why I call Bali the ultimate place to recharge.

Check out my epic layover in the world's best airport on the way to Bali.

Read up on my Hello Kitty-themed flight to get this far...

And the Hello Kitty airport experience to match!

And here's where it all began at LAX.

It's not that I refuse to fly economy... it's that I don't really have to! Here's why:

Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, experiences about $1 million worth of travel every year using miles and points — and covers about 400,000 miles annually this way. Ben has teamed up with Bravo’s Jet Set for a series called The Upgrade, in which he shows you how you — yes, you! — can score real-world-ready strategies for upping your travel game. Come along for the adventure!

Jet Set is Bravo's launch pad for the most extravagant, luxurious, and unforgettable travel experiences. Ready for takeoff? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.

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