Category Archives: Travel Feature

6 hours at Singapore Changi Airport – What to do?

You have a 6 hours stop over at Changi Airport? Awesome. Singapore Changi Airport has so much to offer. The whole airport feels like beeing in a hotel.

 

Here are some ideas, how you can spend your time smart.

Singapore Changi Airport - Terminal 3 - Shopping area
Singapore Changi Airport - Terminal 3 - Shopping area

Plenty of time? You can do a Free Singapore city Tour and take in the sights and sounds of Singapore.

Experience international cuisine at one of the many restaurants and dining options.

Spent some time waling through the flower and plants gardens at Changi Airport. You can find different gardens in every terminal.

Enjoy some time at the fish spa in terminal 1.

Watch a free movie at one of the cinemas and Terminal 2 and Terminal 3.

Take swim at the roof top swimming pool in terminal 1.

 

There’s much more to do and explore at Changi Airport, I will update this article everytime I visit Singapore or fly via Changi Airport.

Free WiFi at Singapore “Changi Airport” (2012 Edition) – How to

[note color=”#FFCC00″]Info: This guide is outdated! Click here for the updated 2012/2013 edition of the article.[/note]
The team of Changi Airport offers international travellers free WiFi  in all terminals. Just connect to the WiFi and you’re online? It’s not that simple. You can find here the original information page. Here’s a short and simple step by step guide:

step 1 – check requirements:

  • You need your passport
  • Your Netbook/Notebook/Tablet/Pad/Smartphone oder other WiFi enabled device

Okay, let’s start.

Free WiFi at Singapore Changi Airport
Free WiFi at Singapore Changi Airport

  • step 2:
    Go to any information desk in the transit area, you can find them every few hundred meters in all terminals.
  • step 3:
    Ask for the “Free WiFi Pass”.
    The staff of the information desk will eventually ask you for your passport to note the details.You get a piece of paper with login details.
  • 4th step:
    Connect your WiFi device with the access point “Wireless@SG” (SSID). As soon as you want to visit the first website, you will be redirected to a login form.
  • 5th step:
    Enter your the login details from the paper and submit. Now you’re online!
    Select as service provider “M1net”. The username contains @m1net.com.sg. The password is uppercase.

I’ve used this WiFi in Terminal 3 at Singapore Changi Airport a couple of times. It should work the same way in the other terminals.

[note color=”#FFCC00″]Info: The access for each Username/Password combination is limited to a few hours.[/note]

Star Alliance Gold – The Fast way [Insider tip]

Welcome to part 3 of my series of posts about the Star Alliance Gold Status. If you missed part 1 “Star Alliance Gold – Introduction“, you can read it here. Or want to read my article about the different member airline benefits?

In this article I will reveal how to get the Star Alliance Gold status with a long-haul round-trip ticket or in other words with 20,000 status miles.

 

Miles & Bonus Gold / Star Alliance Gold
Miles & Bonus Gold / Star Alliance Gold

Have you ever heard about the Greece based airline “Aegean Airlines”? I guess you didn’t. Even in Europe most people outside of Greece don’t know it.
But the important point here is, it’s part of the Star Alliance. Which means you can accrual miles on their frequent traveller program, even if you’re based in Australia or other countries.

Aegean has only 3 status tiers.  No status,  Miles & Bonus Blue and Miles & Bonus Gold. For Blue you need 4,000 miles. Blue status has basically no benefits outside of Greece, except for priority waitlist if you missed your flight.

Now to the good part.

After you achieved Blue you only need 16,000 miles to get “Miles & Bonus Gold“, which equals Star Alliance Gold.
4,000 miles + 16,000 miles = 20,000 miles

20,000 status miles sounds awesome, right? Let’s make it even better: Aegean Airlines has currently a promotion. Sign up for their frequent traveler program and get 1,000 status miles as a bonus. That means, you only need to accrual 19,000 status miles.

Eligible miles

I achieved my Star Alliance Gold status with one round-trip ticket from Frankfurt, Germany to Auckland, New Zealand on Singapore Airlines. (11 614 status miles for each direction)

The distance between Sydney / Kingsford Smith (SYD) and London/Heathrow (LHR) is 10576 miles (via Singapore). That means, you can collect 21152 status miles on a round trip ticket when flying economy class.

Have a look at the “Earning miles” list at http://en.aegeanair.com/milesandbonus/program-description/earn-miles/#linkTop
When booking your flight, make sure to book a fare that has at least 100% accrual factor.

In general, the cheapest booking classes are not eligible for miles accrual.
The difference between the cheapest fare and booking class W on Singapore Airlines for my flights between Europe and New Zealand was just 200 bucks.
[note color=”#FFCC00″]Info: Not sure about fare class when booking a flight? Send me an email or contact me on Facebook. I’m happy to help![/note]

Benefits of Star Alliance Gold

Holders of this status (like me) enjoy the following Star Alliance benefits:

  • Priority reservations waitlisting No seats left on your preferred flight? this will give you priority over others if a seat becomes available.
  • Priority airport stand-by  Missed your flight? even if the next flight is fully booked, you get priority.
  • Priority boarding Board the plane at the same time with business and first class passengers (if available)
  • Priority airport check-in You can check-in at the business class or first class counter (depending on the airline)
  • Priority baggage handling Sick of waiting for your bags at the baggage claim? Your luggage gets a special tag and will be among the first unloaded.
  • Additional checked luggage allowance of 20 kg (or one extra piece where the piece concept applies)
  • Airport lounge access to designated Star Alliance Gold lounges (over 950 worldwide)

Web links:

My Top 3 Airports worldwide – Cairns, Munich, Singapore

Here’s the thing, I love airports!

That’s why I’m presenting you my Top 3 Airports (from small to huge).

Cairns International Airport

Cairns International Airport

This is my favorite airport of the category “small airports”.

It’s located 2 km north of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. It’s a small, but also international, Airport at the north east coast of Australia.

This airport is served by Qantas, JetStar, Virgin Australia and other. I love especially the  Domestic Terminal of cairns Airport. You pretty much need just 10 minutes from Check-in to the Gate.
There  lots of small shops and eating places. Even a small pub, known as “Blue Sky Brewery”, can be found in the domestic  terminal.

 

Munich Airport International

This is my favorite airport of the category “medium-sized airports”. It’s located 30km outside of Munich. The airport is perfectly connected by train, bus and the motorway. I prefer the train connections between

Munich Airport Centre
Munich Airport Centre

Munich Airport and the city of Munich. Trains run on the lines S1 and S8 every 10 minutes. Even until 2am. The airport itself serves people in Terminal 1, Terminal 2 (The Star Alliance Terminal) and the Munich Airport Center.

Terminal 2 is the home of Lufthansa’s second Hub in Germany. Lufthansa flights and partner airlines depart from here until 10 pm at night. There are a few shops in the public area of this terminal. Most of the shops can be found in the passenger area. Many famous brands have their own flagship store at Munich Airport. You can even find an erotic and adult store in the transit area for your personal “pleasure”. You need your coffee in the morning? Starbucks can be found next to the arrival area of Terminal 2.

Terminal 1 is much older, but it’s also stuffed with shops, snack bars and restaurants. BA and other Oneworld partner airlines depart from Terminal 1.

The already mentioned Munich Airport Center is located between both terminals. Basically a shopping mall with big open air area and an Biergarten, where you can enjoy some delicious Bavarian Beer. The Beer is brewed at the airport at the AirBräu brewery. Awesome! It is also home to many fun sport events and other activities. Have you ever been surfing at an airport? Munich Airport was home for an big wave surfing event. Lots of people headed to the airport to go surfing. Sounds strange? That’s Munich. 😉

Munich is famous for its 30 minutes connection time. That means you can arrive from an international flight, go through passport control and board your domestic flight in under 30 minutes. Have you ever tried that at Heathrow Airport?

Singapore Changi Airport

First, this is my favorite airport in the world. It’s huge and it’s the world’s most awarded airport. The whole airport looks like a 5-star hotel. The whole airport is stuffed with carpet (almost everywhere) and plants. Free WiFi in the whole

Singapore Changi Airport - Terminal 3 - Shopping area
Singapore Changi Airport - Terminal 3 - Shopping area

airport, several gardens (Butterfly garden in T3 and cactus garden in T1), free cinema, awesome shopping malls…. You get it 😉

Changi Airport consists of 3 terminals, connected by automatic shuttle trains between them. It takes about 10 minutes if you want to walk from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1. The airport itself is perfectly connected by SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit) train service.

Terminal 3 is awesome. all famous brands have their own stores in the shopping area. Lots of dining and beverage options. E.g. Starbucks, Subway, Hard Rock Cafe, Boost juice bars.
You can find drinking water dispenser and foot massage chairs all over the terminal. Don’t know what to do? What about a free foot massage in one of those chairs that you can find almost anywhere in the terminal. Or you can jump over to the free movie cinema, where blockbuster movies are shown. Click here for the current screening times. What about a swim

Singapore Changi Airport - Terminal 3 - Cinema
Singapore Changi Airport - Terminal 3 - Cinema
while watching arriving and departing planes? Time to explore Singapore Changi Terminal 1.

Terminal 1 has the biggest shopping mall I’ve seen so far. Hundreds of shops, restaurants and fast food. All major brands have their own stores.
This Terminal is also home to another open garden of Changi Airport. The famous Cactus garden features many surreal plants. Terminal 1 also has a place that is very unusual to find at an airport. On the roof top of Terminal 1 you can find a leisurely swimming pool.

Terminal 2 offers a  sunflower garden. I heard it’s very beautiful. I haven’t been to Terminal 2 yet, hence I will write more about this terminal next time when I am at Changi Airport.

I will feature these airports in upcoming posts with much more detail. Stay tuned.

What’s onboard? Singapore Airlines – Coach – Meals (SQ298)

It’s Sunday, which means it’s time for some food porn.  “What’s onboard”.

Today’s featured flight is SQ298 – Christchurch – Changi (departs at 11:20am)

Lunch

This was my first daytime flight with Singapore Airlines. Therefore had been very excited about the lunch menu they’re offering.
Even in economy class you have the choice between several meals.

Lunch on SQ298 - January 2012
Lunch on SQ298 - January 2012

appetizer: Couscous salad with beef pastrami

main courses

  • Grilled salmon fillet with green peppercorn sauce
  • Kung-po style chicken with rice and vegetables

dessert: Ice cream

I opted for the Grilled salmon fillet. It’s really delicious and maybe the best economy class meal I’ve had so far.
They offered hokey-pokey ice cream. I read it’s Kiwi’s favourite ice cream.

Inflight snacks

The lovely Singapore Girls regularly go through the aisle and offer drinks and light bites

What they offer:

  • Savoury sandwich/rolls
  • vegetarian sandwich/rolls
  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sweet slice
  • Muffin
  • Potato chips
  • Fruit

I picked a delicious Savoury sandwich.

Light meal

Time for an early dinner. (I love time zone differences).
appetiser: Waldorf salad with smoke chicken
Main courses:

  • Roasted chicken with honey mustard sauce
  • Stir fried beef in oyster sauce

dessert: Chocolate mousse

I opted for the stir fried beef. with seasonal vegetables and rice. My first thought: The best inflight meal in economy class.

Light Meal on SQ298 - January 2012
Light Meal on SQ298 - January 2012

Star Alliance Gold – member airline benefits

Singapore Airlines Economy Check-in - Frankfurt AirportWelcome to part 2 of my series of posts about the Star Alliance Gold Status. If you missed part 1 “Star Alliance Gold – Introduction“, you can read it here.
 

While I focused first a bit on the introduction, I will now tell you more about the different benefits and requirements at the member airline frequent flyer programs.
In addition to the Star Alliance Gold benefits, you also get, what I call, “local benefits”. E.g. Upgrade voucher or Lounge access even If you’re only a Silver status member. These benefits depend on the member alliance and their frequent traveller program.
 
Continue reading Star Alliance Gold — member airline benefits

Star Alliance Gold – Introduction

Welcome to my series of posts about the Star Alliance Gold Status.

What is Star Alliance?

Star Alliance Livery at Munich Airport
Star Alliance Livery at Munich Airport

The Star Alliance is a worldwide alliance of airlines. Star Alliance was founded in 1998 by 5 major carriers. Lufthansa, SAS, Thai, United and US Airways.

Today, Star Alliance has a network of more than 26 airlines to more than 1200 destinations worldwide that fly on optimized schedules. That means, even if you have to change the airline for a connection flight, it’s smooth between these airlines.
Many airlines are home in the same terminal at airports around the globe. That results in less hassle and shorter connection times. Many airlines are also able to check you through to your destination. Which means, you can collect all your tickets before you board your first flight.

What is Star Alliance Gold status?

Star Alliance Gold is the alliance-wide “top  tier” frequent traveller status. Holders of this status (like me) enjoy the following benefits:

  • Priority reservations waitlisting No seats left on your preferred flight? this will give you priority over others if a seat becomes available.
  • Priority airport stand-by  Missed your flight? even if the next flight is fully booked, you get priority.
  • Priority boarding Board the plane at the same time with business and first class passengers (if available)
  • Priority airport check-in You can check-in at the business class or first class counter (depending on the airline)
  • Priority baggage handling Sick of waiting for your bags at the baggage claim? Your luggage gets a special tag and will be among the first unloaded.
  • Additional checked luggage allowance of 20 kg (or one extra piece where the piece concept applies)
  • Airport lounge access to designated Star Alliance Gold lounges (over 950 worldwide)

 

How to get Star Alliance Gold status?

While *Gold is the highest alliance-wide status, it’s often just the medium to high tier status from a member airline perspective.

Examples
Lufthansa Miles & More has 4 tiers in their frequent traveller program. The no status member, the Frequent Traveller status, Senator and HON-Circle.
The Senator and the HON-status are both  recognised as Star Alliance Gold when traveling on any star alliance flight.

ANA has also 4 tier status levels. Again the 2 highest levels are recognised as Star Alliance Gold status.

Singapore Airlines (my favorite airline) has 3 tier status levels. KrisFlyer, Elite Silver, Elite Gold.
For members of Singapore Airlines frequent traveller program this means, they have to achieve Elite Gold to get the alliance-wide Star Gold status.

Basically, you just have to achieve the right tier level on one of the member alliances to get the Star Alliance Gold status.
All member alliances have different requirements to their medium and high tier status members (segments flown, status miles accrual, qualification period).

In my next post I will feature the differences between some of the frequent traveller programs. All Airlines offer their members something special, what I call “local benefits”.

[note color=”#FFCC00″]If you have any question about frequent traveller programs, just send me an email.[/note]

What’s onboard? Singapore Airlines – Coach – Meals (SQ285)

Welcome to the 2nd part of my new series “What’s onboard”. In this series I will feature the awesome meals (and drinks;-)) I get while flying at 30,000ft.

Today’s featured flight is SQ285 – Changi – Auckland (departs at 21:10) on a Boeing 777-300ER.

Dinner

Dinner on SQ285 - January 2012
Dinner on SQ285 - January 2012

The first dinner was awesome. Even in economy class you have the choice between several meals.

I opted for the Chicken with rice, carrots, cabbage and Chinese mushrooms. It’s really delicious and a perfect meal before sleeping through the flight.
It also includes a delicious salad and a roll with butter, cheese and cracker.

It was also time for another Singapore Sling. 😉

 

Breakfast

I decided to eat a full breakfast.

Fruit appetizer, fruit yogurt, breakfast roll and the following main course:

Omelette with chicken sausage and baked beans. The Omelette was okayish, something that Singapore Airlines can improve.

The dessert was a very delicious muffin.

Breakfast on SQ285 - January 2012
Breakfast on SQ285 - January 2012

 

 

What’s onboard? Singapore Airlines – Coach – Meals (SQ325)

Welcome to my new series “What’s onboard”. In this series I will feature the awesome meals (and drinks;-)) I get while flying at 30,000ft.

Today’s featured flight is SQ325 – Frankfurt – Changi (departs at 22:00)

Dinner

The first dinner was awesome. Even in economy class you have the choice between several meals.

Dinner on SQ325 - January 2012
Dinner on SQ325 – January 2012

appetizer: Potato salad with hot-smoked salmon

main courses

  • Roast pork in caraway seed sauce
  • Braised fish with wood fungus in oyster sauce
  • Thai style green curry chicken

dessert: Lemon creak cake.

I opted for the Thai style curry chicken. It’s really delicious and a perfect meal before sleeping through the flight.

The Singapore Sling

Oh yeah! The Singapore signature cocktail. I just had to try it. Singapore Airlines offers it for free in every class.

My new favourite cocktail. It’s so delicious!

It’s a strong, but also very sweet cocktail. It definitely helps to make you sleepy on a long-haul flight. 😉

Singapore Sling on Singapore Airlines - Economy class
Singapore Sling on Singapore Airlines – Economy class

Breakfast

Fruit appetizer, fruit yogurt, breakfast roll and one of the following mains:

  • Braised egg noodles with sliced beef, chinese greens and black mushrooms
  • Scrambled egg with panfried ham, tomato and hash brown

I’d choose the Scrambled egg . It was okayish. The tomatos were delicious.

Breakfast on SQ325 - January 2012
Breakfast on SQ325 – January 2012

 

 

Questions about Contiki

Hi guys,

Quite a few people asked me “How is Contiki?”.
Quote: “Is Contiki just a big party or do we get to see some sights?”

I’ve done several Contiki tours. I think I am able to tell you more about the differences between tours in several countries

Are there only drinking people on the tour?

During my tours I’ve met 3 types of people on each tour.

First, the people who want party und action, then the people who want discover “country, people and culture” and the third group who want best of both world. You can see that with the booked optionals. While some people do  Bungy jumping, Sky diving…, other people do tours to the Rainforest or similar.
Usually you book the same optionals as your new friends. 🙂

How are the people in “Quad-Share” rooms?

Sailing boat - at the Whitsundays, Australia
Sleeping on a sailing boat between the Whitsundays

On my first Australian Contiki Tour, Justine, the tour manager did assign the rooms. If you had problems with any of your room mates, you could go to her and arrange something. Usually you stick together with the same people, which means if you like your room mates, then the tour manager assigns the same people to a room.

Josh did it a bit different on my Contiki New Zealand tour. He handed out a room list while on the coach, everybody can sign up for himself and
the new friends. So get the list early to make sure you get one of the better rooms (triple share instead of quad share in some hotels)

Contiki Tours are different in Europe?

According to my tour manager Josh: yes. In Europe it’s more like:
Sightseeing during daytime, Dinner at night and then booze and party all night.

Josh is a “Kiwi” tour manager, who did  tours in Europe for a long time, then he moved back to New Zealand.

Get up early or long nights?

Relaxed afternoon on Whitehaven Beach
Relaxed afternoon on Whitehaven Beach

On my first Australian Contiki tour and my New Zealand tour,there were often the so called “Early Mornings”.
Depending on how far the distance to the next point of the journey, sometimes this may mean:
7:20 am bags to Coach (bags / suitcases to the bus), 7:25 breakfast, 7:55 departure.
Sometimes there are also departures at 8:30 🙂

In Surfers Paradise Contiki stays 2 full nights, that means on the 2nd day you can sleep in, if you didn’t any booked early optionals.

On my first Australian Contiki tour and my New Zealand tour, there were often the so called “Early Mornings”.
Depending on how far the distance to the next point of the journey, sometimes this may mean:
7:20 am bags to Coach (bags / suitcases to the bus), 7:25 breakfast, 7:55 departure.
Sometimes there are also departures at 8:30 🙂

In Surfers Paradise Contiki stays 2 full nights, that means on the 2nd day you can sleep in, if you didn’t book any early optionals.