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Old 11th September 2017, 07:42 PM   #1
SQ228
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Default Tricky *A Redemption Project to TSE

I've done some work on this but I thought I'd get some comment from those who have more experience before I proceed any further.

Looking to visit TSE next year for a week during one of my holiday breaks. SQ don't have any codeshares to Kazakhstan so I've come up with the most obvious *A itineraries involving maximum SQ:

1. MEL-SIN-PEK (SQ) then PEK-TSE (CA)
2. MEL-SIN-IST (SQ) then IST-TSE (TK)

I decided I should look into finally doing a J redemption because Y redemptions don't seem to offer much value and I might need some comfort on this long trek! I've checked all possible combinations of dates via both possible routes and there are still Saver redemptions available on the SQ sectors in J. I'm sitting on plenty of miles to cover, provided they are saver J or standard Y. I'm lead to believe by the website that *A redemptions have their own schedule of miles.

Firstly, is the best way forward to call the KF membership services number and see if they can book either of these routes through as a *A redemption flight? If I could get the ticket as a single booking that would offer me a lot more security.

Secondly- any tips anybody can offer on these two itineraries:

CA via PEK:
On the way to TSE, the transfer would be 2h40. With the next flight 2 days later, is this too short and I'd be better arriving on the previous flight and sitting in PEK for hours to be sure? If I am on one ticket, do I simply go through clearance on to the next flight or will luggage collection and checking in again be needed? I was thinking I could just do a redemption to/from PEK, but the idea of a separate ticket PEK-TSE gets me very nervous. If I did separate, the CA sector would have to be Y because it's 10% of the price for J. Is CA really, really awful for a 4 hour flight? Would English speaking staff work a sector like this?

TK via IST:
The flight times for this option are horrendous (they arr/dep TSE at around 0300!) but I've heard good things about *A Gold lounge at IST and the transit times are long, so there's little worry about missing connections. There's plenty of redemptions available in J on flights to IST so I wouldn't have to endure the old 772ER Y. Is this likely to be a safer itinerary that's worth dealing with the older plane, the awful flight times and the extra distance?

Any thoughts appreciated!
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Old 11th September 2017, 11:14 PM   #2
SQueeze
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Wow. What a strange place to visit for holiday.
But then ... I just came back from my holiday there too in that bizarre city. Trip report coming in less than a week btw. I am writing it.

First, have you checked if MEL-SIN-IST-TSE IS considered a valid routing? This is because you will be going to Middle East sector to get to The Central/South Asia zone. From Singapore, no routing to TSE is valid whether it is via China/Korea or Turkey as per my last check. They insisted on 2 separate bookings which will be too expensive.

From Australia, the China route seems to be fairly linear. You might be left with this option only.

As far as possible, put everything in one booking. It's not just the security but you should be saving a lot of miles too esp *A award is still the same since 2011.

For myself, I flew from Delhi. It's fairly cheap from there. About $500 return. Sometimes I see prices as Low as $300 too.
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Old 12th September 2017, 09:56 AM   #3
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Wow. What a strange place to visit for holiday.
But then ... I just came back from my holiday there too in that bizarre city. Trip report coming in less than a week btw. I am writing it.

First, have you checked if MEL-SIN-IST-TSE IS considered a valid routing? This is because you will be going to Middle East sector to get to The Central/South Asia zone. From Singapore, no routing to TSE is valid whether it is via China/Korea or Turkey as per my last check. They insisted on 2 separate bookings which will be too expensive.

From Australia, the China route seems to be fairly linear. You might be left with this option only.

As far as possible, put everything in one booking. It's not just the security but you should be saving a lot of miles too esp *A award is still the same since 2011.

For myself, I flew from Delhi. It's fairly cheap from there. About $500 return. Sometimes I see prices as Low as $300 too.
Nice to know I'm not alone in wanting to head to TSE on a redemption!

I'm fully expecting heaps of fine print and surprise rules to prevent a *A redemption. Nothing airlines do is ever transparent, no matter how simple they make things look on their websites.

The simplest way, most likely, is to get myself a J saver redemption return to a nearby city and then book a Y return from that city to TSE. The only hassle is that it means without doubt two separate bookings.

If I have to go with this option, I'm leaning toward IST as the layovers are longer so I don't need to stress about connections and I hear better stories about TK and the lounge at IST than I do about CA. If something went wrong at PEK with my connection, I'm stranded in China without a confirmed visa, having to buy an additional ticket.

Having said that, if I can't get my luggage checked through to TSE and have to go out to collect it, would they let me check in 10 hours before my flight so I can then go into the lounge? My travel insurance might also be invalid as Istanbul is currently registered by the AU government as a dangerous location.

I'd look into DEL but flying with KC offers me no elite mileage accrual and doesn't offer lounge access via KFEG privileges. The flights would have to line up really well and I'd need to look into transit visa requirements.
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Old 12th September 2017, 12:13 PM   #4
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One thing about redemption on CA, call KF ahead of time to check if they can see any CA flights available on their redemption screen. I've often encountered seeing plenty of CA on MileagePlus' website but KF sees none.

I would suggest calling KF and give them the 2 itineraries, sector by sector, and see if they can make a dummy booking. You never know...

Good luck and have a great trip.
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Old 12th September 2017, 01:46 PM   #5
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I would avoid PEK for multiple reasons...
1) Weather delays are often
2) Airspace jam (nightmare if the Chinese Air Force decides to conduct exercises)
3) Possible need for transit visa should the above 2 impact you. (I don't know if Aussies need it)

Never been to IST so can't comment.
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Old 12th September 2017, 06:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by worldrally View Post
One thing about redemption on CA, call KF ahead of time to check if they can see any CA flights available on their redemption screen. I've often encountered seeing plenty of CA on MileagePlus' website but KF sees none.

I would suggest calling KF and give them the 2 itineraries, sector by sector, and see if they can make a dummy booking. You never know...

Good luck and have a great trip.
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Originally Posted by 9V-JKL View Post
I would avoid PEK for multiple reasons...
1) Weather delays are often
2) Airspace jam (nightmare if the Chinese Air Force decides to conduct exercises)
3) Possible need for transit visa should the above 2 impact you. (I don't know if Aussies need it)

Never been to IST so can't comment.
Thank you for both these suggestions. I'm beginning to think these plans are a bit too ambitious even if they can find a valid routing. IST is somewhere I'd like to be avoiding right now, along with the unknown of travel insurance (Australia lists Istanbul as orange level which means policies are generally voided if you go to such an area). I agree that a short transit in PEK just isn't going to work. Both situations would make me too anxious which isn't conducive to a holiday.

New plan: Australians can now get a 72 hour visa on arrival in PEK. If I arrive a couple of days ahead of my flight to TSE, there's no issue with making a connection and I get to see a bit of Beijing. I can have my CA trip to TSE as a separate Y booking and get myself a J saver redemption MEL-PEK with SQ.

On the return, I'm thinking a 4 hour transfer might be okay though, as the incoming flight is CA which would get airspace priority and the outgoing is SQ which would likely suffer the delay (based on what I've heard).

What would SQ do though if you have a redemption flight and due to air traffic problems, you were delayed and missed it?

I could always book the later flight I guess and give myself a 10 hour connection. Anything under 24 hours where I don't leave the airport is allowable without a visa provided I show them my onward connection.

Anyone with recent experience of the SQ T3 lounge in PEK?
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Old 12th September 2017, 09:45 PM   #7
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What would SQ do though if you have a redemption flight and due to air traffic problems, you were delayed and missed it?

I could always book the later flight I guess and give myself a 10 hour connection. Anything under 24 hours where I don't leave the airport is allowable without a visa provided I show them my onward connection.

?
Are you referring to single ticket redemption or 2 separate tickets.

Since you are on fairly linear route via PEK, I really encourage you to book a 6-segment RT ticket and don't complicate things. Whichever is allowed by the system will be fine even if the connection time is tight.

Experience: I just missed a connection in Warsaw last week on a minimum 40 min connection. LOT to LOT award flight issued by SQ. They rebooked me on an alternative routing with no fuss with SAS. I saw my fellow passengers got offered an Air France routing even. If you miss such connection, they will find some way out. So even if you miss CA's flight to TSE, they will have to accommodate you on other airlines flights or put you in hotel room. Since it's unlikely they will put you 4 days later, they can put you on Air Astana or route via Urumqi, Seoul etc. They will have to.

I have missed connections before too on redemption flights. Same case, no sweat, got rerouted, sometimes even on revenue fare class and I earned miles out of it! Just relax and reap the insurance benefits also if the delay is Long.

Book single ticket and just relax is my advice.
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Old 12th September 2017, 10:11 PM   #8
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Well I've gone and secured a J saver redemption to PEK! There weren't many left and I've got a narrow window of time beginning at Easter. Now I'll see two great cities and coming back I left a 11 hour transit, which puts me on an A380 instead of a regional 773. I'll get to experience four different J seats.
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Old 13th September 2017, 06:37 PM   #9
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On the return, I'm thinking a 4 hour transfer might be okay though, as the incoming flight is CA which would get airspace priority and the outgoing is SQ which would likely suffer the delay (based on what I've heard).
Not necessarily true. They always prioritize international flights, to the point I often get in and out of PEK much faster than my HKG-based colleagues, who are not considered "international". There doesn't seem to be any priority given to CA over foreign airlines, and some suggest the opposite might be true to "save face".

Make sure your baggage is checked through directly to MEL from TSE. Immigration lines - both in and out - can be ridiculously long during peak periods. On top of that T3 is huge - the gates and check in area are connected by a train. PEK has a 1hr cutoff for check-in, but even that may be cutting it real close. [I wrote this when I read you have a 4hr transit, but now you have 11hrs. 11hrs is a bit tricky - I really wouldn't want to stick around in the airport for so long (see comments about the lounge below), but given traffic unpredectability, not even sure if it is worth getting out. Neither here nor there.....not sure how to advise you.]

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Originally Posted by SQ228 View Post
Anyone with recent experience of the SQ T3 lounge in PEK?
It's a contract lounge. Adequate, but nothing to shout about. Actually, it is quite run down. I often just wander out and get coffee at Starbucks or something.
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Old 13th September 2017, 07:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by 259850 View Post
Not necessarily true. They always prioritize international flights, to the point I often get in and out of PEK much faster than my HKG-based colleagues, who are not considered "international". There doesn't seem to be any priority given to CA over foreign airlines, and some suggest the opposite might be true to "save face".

Make sure your baggage is checked through directly to MEL from TSE. Immigration lines - both in and out - can be ridiculously long during peak periods. On top of that T3 is huge - the gates and check in area are connected by a train. PEK has a 1hr cutoff for check-in, but even that may be cutting it real close. [I wrote this when I read you have a 4hr transit, but now you have 11hrs. 11hrs is a bit tricky - I really wouldn't want to stick around in the airport for so long (see comments about the lounge below), but given traffic unpredectability, not even sure if it is worth getting out. Neither here nor there.....not sure how to advise you.]



It's a contract lounge. Adequate, but nothing to shout about. Actually, it is quite run down. I often just wander out and get coffee at Starbucks or something.
Thank you for this information, it is quite helpful to frame my mind for what I'm going to experience. It was either a 3.5 hour or an 11 hour connection. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself if I need to and I don't get bored easily, so I'd rather arrive relaxed knowing I can't miss my next flight than racing through an unpredictable environment, worrying about forfeiting 75k miles if I don't make it in time. I'm not overly optimistic about CA check-in agents in TSE wanting to check my bags through to MEL, or PEK's ability to handle them correctly, so now I have plenty of time to cover that factor. If the lounge is drab, at least I can find a quiet corner to sit and read in and I'll be happy.
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Old 14th September 2017, 09:11 AM   #11
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Why don't you call back KF and try to add the PEK-TSE-PEK.
Since you said to PeK is 75K miles. To TSE via PEK will be 72.5K miles.
It's cheaper, and you are 100% protected.

Like I told you I missed my flight on a 40 min connection, and they gave me an alternative with no fuss, and even on revenue class. I even earned miles and PPS points out of it.
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Old 14th September 2017, 04:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by SQueeze View Post
Why don't you call back KF and try to add the PEK-TSE-PEK.
Since you said to PeK is 75K miles. To TSE via PEK will be 72.5K miles.
It's cheaper, and you are 100% protected.

Like I told you I missed my flight on a 40 min connection, and they gave me an alternative with no fuss, and even on revenue class. I even earned miles and PPS points out of it.
The issue became waitlisting of J redemptions. I have only a very narrow window in which I can travel which includes departing at Easter. Getting any kind of redemption involving MEL during any kind of holiday, sometimes even Standard more than 6 months in advance, is a feat in itself. I've now added in a 72 hour stopover in PEK in order to get it to work which would throw out a direct flight if it were added now.

I understand your point about it being their problem to sort out, but arguing with ground staff in PEK or being rerouted via URC maybe involving a night in a hotel not of my choosing... These are just things I can't face spending my holiday doing. I like to be in full control.

I really liked your idea though of getting almost there (like you did with DEL) and then doing the last hop on a cheap ticket. That's what lead to the idea of visiting two cities and Beijing has been on my list for a while, so now I'm looking forward to that as well.
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Old 14th September 2017, 05:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SQ228 View Post
Thank you for this information, it is quite helpful to frame my mind for what I'm going to experience. It was either a 3.5 hour or an 11 hour connection. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself if I need to and I don't get bored easily, so I'd rather arrive relaxed knowing I can't miss my next flight than racing through an unpredictable environment, worrying about forfeiting 75k miles if I don't make it in time. I'm not overly optimistic about CA check-in agents in TSE wanting to check my bags through to MEL, or PEK's ability to handle them correctly, so now I have plenty of time to cover that factor. If the lounge is drab, at least I can find a quiet corner to sit and read in and I'll be happy.
I thought about your problem a little more. If it were me, here's what I would do:

1) In TSE, try and convince the agent to check you through all the way. CA agents in 2nd/3rd tier cities in China were able to do this for me. The issue with CA is not competence, but attitude. But then again, in TSE, it may have been outsourced. So if it fails....

2) ....and your flight lands on time in PEK, speak to the SQ check-in agent to see if they can move you to the earlier flight - SQ805 I believe. A 773 might be a downgrade from a 380, but it still beats sitting 10 hours in the PEK lounge. Moreover, this flight gets substituted with a 77W frequently. Who knows, it may become permanent in another 6 months. But if that fails....

3) ....check in to your scheduled SQ807. If you're not knackered and feeling adventurous, hop on the airport express and spend time downtown. Even if it is only for 3-5 hours, a simple walk in the park can be pleasant, especially in spring. But if you are knackered....

4) ......walk out of T3. There are 2 decent airport hotels within walking distance - Hilton and Langham. They're about the same. There are shuttle buses if you don't feel like walking (it is near enough, but not well-marked). Order a drink and sit in the lobby lounge. Don't go through immigration until at most 90 minutes before your flight.
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Old 14th September 2017, 07:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 259850 View Post
I thought about your problem a little more. If it were me, here's what I would do:

1) In TSE, try and convince the agent to check you through all the way. CA agents in 2nd/3rd tier cities in China were able to do this for me. The issue with CA is not competence, but attitude. But then again, in TSE, it may have been outsourced. So if it fails....

2) ....and your flight lands on time in PEK, speak to the SQ check-in agent to see if they can move you to the earlier flight - SQ805 I believe. A 773 might be a downgrade from a 380, but it still beats sitting 10 hours in the PEK lounge. Moreover, this flight gets substituted with a 77W frequently. Who knows, it may become permanent in another 6 months. But if that fails....
1) not sure if TSE agents will be that helpful when things are not exactly so clear cut as per procedure...(2 separate tickets interlining).

2) I have done this. It's a redemption flight on same ticket. MXP-FRA-PVG-SIN-CGK. In Shanghai, i changed from 10hour transit to 1.5hr connection at the check-in counter. For some reason, we were landside. I think PVG has no airside transfer? And we just popped by the counter and tried our luck. I can't remember about the bags though...
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Old 14th September 2017, 07:30 PM   #15
SQ228
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 259850 View Post
I thought about your problem a little more. If it were me, here's what I would do:

1) In TSE, try and convince the agent to check you through all the way. CA agents in 2nd/3rd tier cities in China were able to do this for me. The issue with CA is not competence, but attitude. But then again, in TSE, it may have been outsourced. So if it fails....

2) ....and your flight lands on time in PEK, speak to the SQ check-in agent to see if they can move you to the earlier flight - SQ805 I believe. A 773 might be a downgrade from a 380, but it still beats sitting 10 hours in the PEK lounge. Moreover, this flight gets substituted with a 77W frequently. Who knows, it may become permanent in another 6 months. But if that fails....

3) ....check in to your scheduled SQ807. If you're not knackered and feeling adventurous, hop on the airport express and spend time downtown. Even if it is only for 3-5 hours, a simple walk in the park can be pleasant, especially in spring. But if you are knackered....

4) ......walk out of T3. There are 2 decent airport hotels within walking distance - Hilton and Langham. They're about the same. There are shuttle buses if you don't feel like walking (it is near enough, but not well-marked). Order a drink and sit in the lobby lounge. Don't go through immigration until at most 90 minutes before your flight.
Thank you, they are all really great suggestions! It will be an unpredictable day but I feel so much more comfortable knowing the worst I will have to do is sit and wait. Maybe one of the hotels will serve me Peking duck and egg tarts all day and then I'll be glad I have a long layover.
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