Maximizing Miles in the Maldives: Cathay First, Eating in Singapore, and a Park Hyatt Water Villa – Singapore Airlines Business Class, Male – Singapore

  1. Introduction
  2. Positioning flights to San Francisco, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, and Some Dim Sum for the Day
  3. Cathay’s New San Francisco Lounge
  4. Cathay Pacific First Class, San Francisco – Hong Kong
  5. The Wing and Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Singapore
  6. A Grand Suite at the Grand Hyatt Singapore
  7. Eating in Singapore
  8. Dinner at Waku Ghin, Marina Bay Sands
  9. Singapore Airlines Business Class: Singapore – Male
  10. Transfer to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
  11. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part I
  12. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part II
  13. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part III
  14. Maldivian, Kaadehdhoo – Male
  15. Singapore Airlines Business Class, Male – Singapore
  16. Cathay Pacific Business Class, Singapore – Hong Kong
  17. Conrad Hong Kong
  18. Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Chicago
  19. American’s Chicago Flagship Lounge and the Final Journey Home

We walked up to the Singapore Airlines check-in counter, which is manned by contract staff. There were two men sitting behind computer terminals and no passenger lines yet.

I pulled out my documents at the business class counter, and the agent said he couldn’t help us yet. “Not until 3 hours before the flight.”

I looked up at the clock behind him. I was perplexed. “But isn’t it 3 hours before the flight?” I asked.

The agent looks at the clock as well and says, “Four minutes.”

Now, he and his buddy weren’t doing anything. They were just sitting there. He told me I had to stand back and wait… for four minutes.

For good measure I let 5 or 6 minutes pass, I wouldn’t want to be scolded again. When it was safely inside the 3 hour window I re-approached the desk, handed over passports, and turned over my checked luggage.

I asked them to interline my bags, since I’d be connecting to Cathay. Really what I wanted them to do was check the bags all the way back to the States, but since that involved an overnight in Hong Kong they wouldn’t do it. No worries, I’d get Cathay to re-tag the bags when I reached Singapore. I just didn’t want to have to pick them up, and as long as they checked them to Hong Kong I wouldn’t need to worry about it, and when I reached a Cathay agent I wouldn’t need to pick them up in Hong Kong, either.

They fussed with the bags for quite awhile, not quite sure how to handle the interlining, but eventually they spit out a couple of baggage tags showing Hong Kong and not just Singapore as the destination. We were handed lounge passes and were on our way to head through immigration and security.

We headed over to the Plaza Premium lounge nearest our gate, and settled in for a couple hour visit. The furniture was comfortable, the internet serviceable, and that’s really all that I needed.

There was a separate room that was designated for Emirates first class, but it was nearly identical to the main lounge. When we arrived the lounge was almost empty but it quickly filled up, and I quickly realized that the main benefit of a separate room for Emirates first class was that there would likely be seats for late arriving passengers.

The lounge featured a buffet that was modest, though with some hot food, but I gave it all a miss. I tend to avoid hot food items in Central Asian lounges.

At boarding time we walked out of the lounge and down the stairs to our departure gate, and then out onto the tarmac to head out to our Singapore Airlines plane.

I was looking forward to trying out the angled-flat seats on our roughly four hour redeye. The seats are beautiful, but how would they sleep?

The answer is “ok.” They’re angled flat seats. They’re a bit narrow, they’re lumpy, but they’re a whole lot better than coach for catching a nap!

There were only about 8 of us in the cabin, but there was a bit of a fuss when a couple of passengers who apparently weren’t ticketed in business class tried to take a couple of the seats. The lead flight attendant confronted them, demanding to see their boarding passes. The passengers became irate, taking offense at the suggestion, but ultimately shrugging their shoulders and returning to the back of the plane.

Shortly after takeoff, a light dinner was served. Oddly enough, the printed menu said “lunch.”

Lunch menu

With onion, cucumber, and spicey peanut sauce

Caesar salad with roast chicken
Romaine lettuce, roast chicken and parmesan cheese

Provence style salmon fillet with basil tomato coulis, ratatouille and steamed potato

Braised beef rice noodle soup with Chinese vegetables and mushrooms

Phanang Kai
Thai curry chicken with seasonal vegetables and steamed rice

Roast lamb loin with thyme jus, buttered vegetable and mashed garlic potatoes

Mango crème brulee

Gourmet cheese with garnishes

A selection of fresh fruit

Gourmet coffee and selection of fine teas, with pralines

I had the Caesar salad and then the braised beef rice noodle soup.

Then it was off to a couple hours’ nap. I woke up as the plane was entering its descent into Singapore, and I couldn’t get my seat back into its upright position. I asked a flight attendant to help, who asked a colleague of hers to help, while I retreated to the empty row behind me. Soon there were 3 crew pulling, yanking, pushing on the seat, and after what seemed like an eternity but was almost certainly less than 10 minutes (since we weren’t on the ground yet!) they got it back into position. I took my seat, we landed, and suddenly we were back in what has to be the most amazing airport in the world.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m enjoying this series. While some items are a bit persnickety, it is one of the best, non-sponsored trip reports that I’ve ever read. The 3-part section about the Park Hyatt-Maldives was thorough, and the pix were great! More seriously, I have to wonder why some ‘award’ visitors’ primary mission seems bent on extracting every last cent’s worth of comfort from hotels and resorts, even when the service is not essential. I too make specific needs known, but recognize that going with flow is often a far more pleasant experience. Most experienced leisure travelers understand that genuine quality is not always the same as our First World experiences. On the while, a well written report and I look forward to the remaining sections. Thanks!!

  2. Central Asia? The Maldives are pretty much as far south as you can get in Asia. Gary, do you say you are visiting “Central USA” when going to South Padre Island in Texas?!

    Just teasing- nice trip report, and I particularly appreciate the detailed photos, as the Maldives are definitely an “aspirational” award for me…

    @Cedarglen- not sure what “first world experiences” you are talking about, but I would not expect to make any adjustments when staying in a $1300/night room in the Maldives. Sure, they have to fly in the soymilk- but they have to fly in everything, so there’s no difference in availability.

    @Dan- it’s an Airbus 330

  3. “but there was a bit of a fuss when a couple of passengers who apparently weren’t ticketed in business class tried to take a couple of the seats. The lead flight attendant confronted them, demanding to see their boarding passes. The passengers became irate, taking offense at the suggestion, but ultimately shrugging their shoulders and returning to the back of the plane.”

    Yeah, that’s so ghetto. If you cannot afford to fly premium or don’t have the miles to upgrade, stay in the back with the rest of the cattle.

  4. @Jill I was describing something that happened, not offering normative conclusions. And I certainly can’t afford to fly premium. I did not refer to them or to any one else as cattle.

  5. Thanks for the trip report. I’ll probably be avoiding the Maldives myself for various reasons, but I do appreciate being able to visit vicariously through your report.

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