London & Amsterdam: Trip Planning

London & Amsterdam

With Tokyo 2020 canceled from my plans next year, I am able to re-purpose part of my savings for a different holiday. It was also timely that I accumulated enough KrisFlyer miles through my credit cards in the past 3 years to redeem a round-trip Business Class tickets to Europe on Singapore Airlines.

Thanks to my recent fascination with Victorian architecture and the British royal family after watching The Crown on Netflix, I decided it was time to burn my miles and embark on a solo trip to London, with an additional stop in another European city for the following reason.

London is expensive, and so is the UK airport departure tax. If I were to stay in London for my entire holiday and redeem a round-trip ticket with a straightforward SIN-LHR-SIN routing, I would need to pay S$426.30 of taxes in total, where the bulk of it comes from London Heathrow’s airport departure tax.

As an alternative, by spending a few days in London and taking a sub-S$100 high-speed train or budget flight to a nearby European city with cheaper airport tax, could save me hundreds of dollars.

Tip from "Here’s the cheapest (and most expensive) airports to redeem award flights from" by The MileLion

After researching and getting recommendations from friends about its beautiful canals and it being a bike-friendly city, I chose Amsterdam as my “stopover” destination en route back to Singapore.


Flight redemption with KrisFlyer miles

In order to avoid the expensive UK airport departure tax aforementioned, I had to redeem one-way tickets on separate bookings through SQ’s website.

SIN to LHR

I was hoping to try out the latest long-haul Business Class seat (2017 J) on the new A380 that is flying daily to LHR on SQ322. Unfortunately, unless you have PPS status with KrisFlyer, Business Saver redemptions for this flight are only available for waitlisting. As I needed firmed dates to apply for my annual leave and book my accommodations, the waitlist is definitely not an option for me. I settled for the next best in terms of arrival timing and seat – the B777-300ER with 2013 J – reportedly more comfortable than the ones on the new A380s, which are narrower in width and denser within the cabin.

Flight selection for SIN-LHR

AMS to SIN

Redeeming the return leg was a simpler affair because there is only one flight back from AMS daily. The seat will be the same 2013 J as my LHR flight, albeit a tweaked version to fit the narrower aircraft body of the A350.

Flight selection for AMS-SIN

I love having a window seat, but I hate the inconvenience to my neighbours who have to make way for me whenever I needed to go to the lavatory. (I know, I know, it’s really just me.) Hence when I’m traveling solo, I always end up choosing the aisle seat instead.

No such problem on SQ Business Class as the seats on most of their fleet are now configured in 1-2-1 layout, which means they all have direct aisle access. Big win for me! This time, I also picked my seats that are located in the smaller cabin, which hopefully means more private and quiet space for me to sleep on both red-eye flights.

2013 J seat. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)
Seat guide from "Business Class seats by route" by Mainly Miles

The only thing left uncompleted for my flights is pre-ordering my onboard meals via SQ’s Book the Cook, which will be available within 4 months before the flight’s departure. However, given the timing of my flights, I’m not sure if my meals are limited to breakfast and supper options, which means likely no Lobster Thermidor.

Nevertheless, 184,000 Krisflyer miles + ~S$90 paid for a round-trip to Europe on SQ Business Class is something I didn’t think I would achieve when I started my miles chasing journey 3 years ago. Definitely looking forward to a total of 26 hours of luxury in the air!

Flight confirmation

Accommodation

Even though I have spent most of my miles with little cash on flights, I am not going to splurge on the other aspects of my travel because overspending simply doesn’t spark joy for me. Things are mostly expensive in first-world European countries, much less for central London. Needless to say, I am setting a budget for my accommodation and expenses.

Requirements for my stays:

  • great cleanliness
  • good accessibility to locations I’m intending to visit
  • some level of privacy (I can never stay in an open-space dorm as I’m a light sleeper)

Having coin-operated washing machines & dryers, if not laundromat in the vicinity, was also one of my considerations as I’m planning to pack light on clothes.

For my 5-night stay in London, I scored a private studio in a – you guessed it – Victorian-style flat with shared bathroom in Pimlico through Airbnb at S$622, which is a pretty good deal for its location.

For Amsterdam, I settled for a hipster pod hostel at around S$233 for 3 nights. Although it is located slightly further away from Centraal, I didn’t mind because I am planning to get to places by the city’s main mode of transport: the bicycle.


Travel insurance

As the flights on my trip are redeemed with miles, it’s important to know that not all travel insurance policies cover lost of points from frequent flyer or hotel loyalty programs. There are 3 known policies in Singapore that cover the lost of miles, namely Aviva, Chubb and Sompo. After trying to get my head around the policy wording and reading reviews, I bought mine from Sompo’s TravelJoy Insurance.

Tip from "3 travel insurance options that cover airline miles and points" on The MileLion

It’s going to be my first time traveling to places that are outside of Asia (and Australia, if it matters). Definitely excited, but at the same time a little worried about the countless details I need to take note, typical of an overthinker. I am also undecided if I should be bringing any cameras along (and which one), and whether I’m going to do a detailed trip report on this blog. While the overthinking continues, let me know if you have any suggestions and advice for my trip!


Feature images by Free-Photos and belindasoundso from Pixabay.

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