Flying Singapore Suites Class Frankfurt To New York: The 3 Downsides

Singapore Airlines offers one of the best onboard products in the world, in particular in Suites Class, available exclusively on their A380s. Singapore tries to maintain the “integrity” of their premium cabins by only making most premium cabin award seats available to members of their own KrisFlyer program.

Singapore-A380

The great news is that KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major flexible points currencies — American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest. So while they limit most premium cabin redemptions to members of their own program, there are tons of ways to rack up those points.

Given the distance of Singapore from the US, Singapore Airlines no longer operates a nonstop flight between the two countries. Instead they have several fifth freedom routes, meaning they operate their flights via a third country. Out of the US they operate flights to Singapore via Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Moscow, Seoul Incheon, and Tokyo Narita.

To me that New York to Frankfurt flight is especially useful, given that my family lives in Germany. It’s also a fantastic use of KrisFlyer miles, at a cost of just 57,375 miles one-way in Suites Class (that factors in the 15% online booking discount).

Singapore-Suites-Double-Bed

I’ve reviewed this route before, in both directions:

In many ways it’s my preferred flight regardless of where in Europe I’m going. And Singapore Airlines is fantastic about making Suites Class space available on this flight, in particular last minute. Within a few days of departure it’s almost always possible to snag a saver level Suites Class seat.

As you might expect, it’s the flight I most recommend to people traveling to Europe, which is why I figure it’s worth a separate post. There are three potential downsides about this flight, though, or at least things to be aware of.

These include the following:

Early departure out of Frankfurt

As far as I’m concerned, the flight from New York to Frankfurt is timed perfectly. It leaves New York at around 9PM and gets into Frankfurt at around 11AM. That departure is late enough so that it’s possible to get some “real” sleep, unlike those early transatlantic flights, where I’m just never tired.

The same isn’t true in the other direction. The flight leaves Frankfurt at around 8:30AM and gets into New York at around 11AM. The flight leaves Frankfurt so early that it’s impossible to connect from most places in Europe the same day — instead you’d have to actually spend the night in Frankfurt.

Otherwise I actually quite like the morning departure out of Frankfurt, weird as it might sound. For reasons I can’t explain, I usually get quite a bit of sleep on the sector, and then still have most of the day ahead of me in New York. It’s also nice to avoid rush hour if heading into the city.

Singapore-Airlines-A380-Suites-38

The Frankfurt Suites Class ground experience is underwhelming

Frankfurt is a terrible airport, though as luck would have it, Lufthansa offers an all around amazing ground experience for their first class passengers, in particular with the First Class Terminal.

Lufthansa-FCT

The problem is, Lufthansa’s first class ground services are available exclusively to their own first class passengers. They don’t give Star Alliance first class passengers access to the same services. Instead Singapore Airlines Suites Class passengers can only use the Lufthansa Senator Lounge or the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, which are basically business class lounges.

Lufthansa-Senator-Lounge-Frankfurt-15

It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but is something to be aware of, since you likely won’t be impressed till you actually get on the flight. And it’s certainly something which makes it worthwhile to consider flying Lufthansa first class when departing Germany.

Connecting flights cost extra

I’m often asked whether connecting flights within Europe can be included on the same 57,375 mile one-way Suites Class award. And the answer is that they can’t be.

Singapore KrisFlyer publishes separate award charts for travel on Singapore Airlines and for travel on Star Alliance partners (if you fly Star partners and Singapore on one award, you’d be charged per the Star Alliance chart):

Furthermore, KrisFlyer offers a 15% discount for booking online, and you can only book Singapore Airlines awards online (partner awards have to be booked by phone).

While a one-way Suites Class award between New York and Frankfurt would cost you 57,375 KrisFlyer miles, a one-way Star Alliance first class award between the US and Europe would cost you 80,000 miles. In other words, you’d be paying a premium of 22,625 KrisFlyer miles for the connecting flight within Europe in business class.

Under most circumstances that’s not a good deal:

  • The cost of airfare within Europe can vary substantially, though if booking in advance there are many markets which are quite cheap
  • British Airways has a distance based award chart, so if you’re flying a route out of Frankfurt operated by a oneworld carrier, that can be a great way to “complete” the award
  • If neither is practical, I might consider redeeming Air Canada Aeroplan miles between Europe and the US instead, as you can fly Lufthansa first class and the award would cost you 62,500 miles

Lufthansa-First-Class

Bottom line

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class is one of my favorite ways to travel between the US and Europe. And on the eastbound flights I’d say it’s one of the all around best transatlantic experiences out there. However, there are a couple of things to be aware of regarding the westbound flight.

Beyond that, it’s important to understand that connecting flights within Europe on Star Alliance carriers aren’t included at the same rate, though there are several decent alternatives.

Does anyone like the SQ25/26 flights between New York and Frankfurt as much as I do?

Comments

  1. Hi, Lucky thank you for the review. I love Singapore Airlines and Ive traveled in their a380 first class and all a380 first class’s except for Korean air. But don’t you think that singapore airline’s suite is kind of getting out dated ?

  2. I just took my wife to Europe for our 10th anniversary, and we flew back and forth on SQ 25/26. One of the best experiences of our lives! Forgetting the fact that we had pretty much our own private room on the plane and a large, cushy double bed for the overnight flight, the SERVICE was absolutely impeccable! We felt like royalty with the way the staff waited on us, and they were also more than happy to let us take pictures of every little piece of the trip (I’m sure they’re used to that kind of reaction from people at this point). We didn’t much enjoy connecting to other cities from Frankfurt in European “business” class, so I’m not sure how often we’d take advantage of the connection through Frankfurt, but it was definitely worth doing at least once, and MAN is that a way to travel. Highly recommend to anyone else who is considering flying with Singapore!

  3. There are a lot more inconveniences in flying to Europe on Singapore than those you mention, unless you originate in NYC to begin with or adding a JFK layover isn’t adding segments. Of the 3 airports nearest enough to me, only ORD has direct flights to JFK on any carrier. The others only fly to EWR or LGA. But, if I’m already at ORD it’s just easier to fly to FRA directly on another airline.

    From MKE, for instance, you’d have the option of flying to Frankfurt via Chicago and probably other Star/UA hubs. Or, you can try to do Singapore and either add a stopover to get to JFK or transfer from LGA/EWR to JFK in New York. Plus, you wouldn’t get your 15% online discount either for having to use UA to get to the New York area. It’s not terribly inconvenient if all you want to do is fly Singapore Suites. But, man, hard to rationalize all of the extra hassle.

  4. I did the whole SIN-FRA-JFK route a couple of years ago in the suites and it was pretty awesome since you spend nearly a whole day on the plane. I think it cost about 93K miles (thanks to the Amex Plat 100K MR points promo).

    I don’t think I’d spend that many points on the short sector to Europe though. Unless you have millions of miles you want to spend I’d probably save some miles and just do business class instead.

  5. @Lucky

    Yes but the million dollar question is the FRA-NYC flight itself better than LH? I know LH has the amazing ground services and when you compare LH/SQ that probably puts it over the top but what about in flight itself?

  6. Hi Lucky,

    I’m planning a round-trip from NYC to Southeast Asia next year. I’m going to try to snag a first class ticket on Cathay for one leg, and Singapore Suites for the other.

    Any recommendation on which airline for which leg?

    I was thinking of doing NYC-Hong Kong on Cathay, then SIN-JFK on Singapore, mostly since flying west would allow slightly more time in luxury. But the SIN-JFK flight departs around 23:50, which might lead to the dreaded “supper flight” that you’ve mentioned.

    Any reason to favor the eastbound Singapore flight that much more over the westbound? (And I guess the same question for Cathay to Hong Kong?)

    Thanks!

  7. @ Lucky — SQ Suites are so nice, I had wished for a longer flight than NRT-LAX 🙂 Do you know what’s SQ’s longest A380 route?

    I guess I might be one of the few people who had paid 80000 KF for SQ’s *A award but I live in Houston so it was convenient enough to do IAH-DME on SQ and DME-VIE on OS. Thought of booking them separately but was afraid I’d have to pick up luggage at DME.

    FWIW, the same comment about inconvenient departure time applies to DME-IAH flight as well. It’s also in the morning which means there are very few connecting options.

  8. I’ve flown that route and I’m not a big fan. From JFK to FRA, it’s roughly a 7 hour flight and with takeoff, dinner service, sleep, breakfast service, and landing at most you’d only get 4-5 hours of sleep in your double bed. You still wake up a bit groggy with lack of sleep if you’re set in NYC time. You wrote a post a few weeks ago that the ideal time to be on a plane in First class is roughly 11-12 hours. I’d rather save up my KrisFlyer miles for a proper Suites experience on one of SQ’s other longhaul flights.
    As for FRA-JFK route, I agree with you that connecting from other European cities on the same day is almost impossible. However, it is a dayflight and a longer flight at roughly 8 hours. If you’re not jetlagged, it’s technically a day flight and you can actually enjoy the experience without needing any sleep up in the air. Of the two routes, I actually prefer FRA-JFK route for those reasons.

  9. My wife and I enjoyed the “middle seats” in the Suites to and from Europe earlier this summer. I kept it pretty much of a surprise, and when driving to JFK from Philadelphia, my wife kept asking why I picked JFK as our departure airport. From the time we entered the Virgin Atlantic Club (that Suites passengers get to use) to the time we arrived in Frankfurt, we truly felt like a King and a Queen. Not just because of the Suite, but the service on Singapore knocked it out of the park. I’d probably say I enjoyed their soft product even more than their hard product, and that’s really saying something. As pointed out, the westbound flight home warranted an overnight stay in Frankfurt, so I probably wouldn’t do that again, assuming I could get Business or First with better times/schedule on another airline, but I would definitely suggest to do what it takes to experience it at least once. BTW, my wife wasn’t complaining on the ride home from JFK after our return. It was a great experience.

  10. The FRA-JFK segment has a great connection option.. SQ26 from SIN. It’s not a Fifth Freedom route if they just shuttle people back/forth from FRA & JFK. That’s a Seventh Freedom route.

  11. What’s the YQ situation like when using Aeroplan on LH vs KrisFlyer on SQ?

    The comment about having to suffer Business Class Lounges is hilarious. Oh, the horror!

  12. Was considering this route for a Turkey/Greece trip. I would fly into Frankfurt and then hop cheap flights to Istanbul and then head over to greece and grab a cheap flight from athens back to frankfurt for trip back. Does this trip make sense?

    Also, I was looking at the LAX -NRT route. I would be flying from NYC though. Is signapore worth the extra step of taking a cross country flight to LAX and connecting on, or should I look at a different airline and just fly an award direct from NYC to NRT?

  13. Hi Lucky,

    Love your blog and insights- based on what I’ve seen and read, on our trip to Paris this month, we actually booked a day trip to Frankfurt to fly home on this flight just so we can see what all the hoopla is about :). Just hoping it’s all that, even though we couldn’t get the middle seats for the double bed treatment.

    And, I agree, the time getting back to JFK is great. Still gets us back home to Phoenix after the connection at a quasi normal time after our semi world tour. Now, what drink to pick- Dom or Krug 🙂 ?

  14. As someone who just flew LH441 A380 IAH-FRA in F, the ground experience in FRA is just OK, I’m not too sure why LH can’t give F passengers a ride to passport control, then given them a ride to the FCT, the walk is horrible!!! After arriving in FRA at 8am, who wants to walk that distance… I really think thay LH needs to step up their game on that side of the travel..

  15. @No Name,

    I’m not sure I understand. Are you recommending SQ from JFK to SIN, and then CX from HKG to JFK?

  16. @Tony

    “then given them a ride to the FCT…”

    They used to do the the first few years the FCT was opened, but after they created the updated first lounges in the main terminal the FCT rides stopped.

  17. Having just flown Singapore from SFO to HKG I have to say they have slipped as one of the better airlines. Flew business, they ran out of preferred meals, bed seat was partially broken, leaking water in toilet area. Planes are older and tired. Flew EVA as a comparison prior trip, brand new planes, service was excellent along with being far cheaper.

  18. Ben, I have seen in several places that Air Canada Aeroplan award charts are good to Europe, but what are the best ways to accumulate Aeroplan miles? Do they have any good transfer partners? Credit card sign up bonuses? Other?

  19. Other considerations include, these aging A380’s frequently have bathroom breakdowns and when a VIP is in the cabin all attention to detail suffer due to the extra attention mandated to be given to their perceived preferred passenger.

  20. Does SQ let F passengers on other STAR carriers into The Private Room at SIN? I don’t think so. Each airline has a special place for its own uber-premium fliers (even within alliances there is competition particularly for those spending the big bucks) which is why LH won’t let you use its FCT or FCLs if you’re not flying LH in F.

    As for scheduling, LH offers F (and FCT/FCL access) departures to NYC later in the morning and through the afternoon. SQ has opted to offer the first flight of the day ex-FRA rather than duplicate/compete LH’s schedule. Complementary scheduling where practical is how alliances mediate their competition when flying the same routes as other members of their alliances.

  21. I would also argue that another big downside of SQ is that while they offer great flexibility in the mileage currencies that you can transfer, unless things have changed recently, miles transfers don’t post immediately and often take 48 hours or more. You risk transferring points into KrisFlyer that you won’t be able to use as intended (granted there are some decent sweet spots, like Domestic transcon C on UA for 20,000 miles each way) and it can pose problems if you are trying to make a last minute redemption.

  22. Are you sure that connecting flights cannot be added when booked through KrisFlyer Miles? I just booked the Suites in Asia, from Mumbai to Singapore, and wanted to add on a leg to Bangkok but I wasn’t allowed to do so online. However, when I called to book they honored the 15% online discount since the route was unavailable online, and added on that business class leg with no extra surcharge. I can’t imagine it would be any different for Europe…

  23. After ditching Qantas/OneWorld last year after 35 years, I’m now flying Virgin Australia domestically and mainly SQ (Suites) on points and full fare.

    The Private Room in Singapore is a retreat only for SQ First/Suites passengers, never crowded and with a small excellent restaurant.

    I’ve had two very ordinary SQ medium haul First and Suites experiences. The first, from SIN to MEL on a 777: forgot half my food order and also kept stepping on my toes when eventually serving. The second, from SIN to SYD on A380 Suites: the main meal arrived completely, and I mean solid rock-hard, cold (it was meant to be a roast rack of lamb via “Book the Cook”). In each case SA apologised and credited me with 20,000 points. Have travelled SQ Suites frequently between SIN and HKG happily.

    If travelling alone, I recommend 3A or 3K in Suites as these are the only seats that each have 3 windows, the rest have two per passenger. Looking forward to the SQ hard product upgrade next year.

    Transfer of points from my Virgin Australia account to my SA KrisFlyer account takes about 2-4 hours, the only downside being a 25% discount (i.e. 100K Virgin = 75K KrisFlyer). But I still find KrisFlyer points seats easy to book in First/Suites.

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