Travel Dilemma: Should We Fly Business Class To Vietnam On Singapore Or Emirates?

by joeheg

I’m deep into the planning of our first Asia trip in years. The first thing I forgot was that flying from the East Coast to Asia takes a long time. I remember why I save points on other trips for when they really count – on flights like these.

When planning a big trip using award points, there are three variables: 

  • Flexible dates
  • Flexible destinations
  • Flying from a different city

We’re using a tour company for our trip, so our starting and ending airports and dates are set. I also have very little flexibility with my travel dates, due to work. 

In the points world, that would usually mean I’m screwed. 

Our trip starts in Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) so I needed to find a way to get there from Orlando (MCO).

When planning an award trip, I start by searching for revenue flights between the cities. It gives me a good idea of what carriers fly the route and I have a place to start looking for awards. 

Right off the bat, I saw an opportunity to book a flight I had never considered. 

While many think of Orlando as a leisure destination, we have a ton of airlines serving our hometown. One of the most unique flights, and the longest one from Orlando, is MCO-DXB on Emirates. 

I created an Emirates Skywards account and searched for award space. Unfortunately, Emirates has massively increased fuel surcharges on award flights and the price for business class tickets is 150K Skywards points plus $1,200 for MCO-DXB-SGN with an overnight in Dubai. 

However, the opportunity to take a one-stop trip from home to Vietnam is hard to pass up. We have plenty of miles in the bank and Emirates is a transfer partner of all four transferable programs. This would be a great use of our 100K Capital One points we earned when signing up for the Venture X cards.

But that’s only one way for us to get from Orlando to Ho Chi Minh City. While Emirates offers the only one-stop itinerary, there are other options. I looked for award tickets to SGN on and found several options with United for 180K points. Hard pass on those options. 

However, when I searched for flights from the west coast, I found flights on Singapore Airlines through SIN to SGN for 95,000 miles. Singapore Airlines is also a partner of all four transfer currencies, so I’d be able to book a flight to Vietnam from LA, San Francisco or Seattle for fewer miles. However, I’d have to book a 5+ hour positioning flight to the west coast, possibly adding an additional day to the trip.

My dilemma at the moment is totally a #FirstWorldProblem.

Should I book a one-stop flight from my home airport to Vietnam on Emirates in business class with an overnight in Dubai? Or should I book a flight from either Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle to Vietnam via Singapore in business class? On Emirates, we’d spend 21 hours in business class for 150K miles and $1,200 while spending overnight in a new country. With Singapore, our flights would be over 25 hours, including the 5 hours domestic leg in economy class.

Decisions, Decisions.

I have to make my mind up quickly because Singapore Airlines is devaluing the KrisFlyer program starting on July 5th, 2022. While the Singapore flights are less expensive, we’re already booked to fly home with Singapore and there’s a geeky part of me that wants to try Emirates, even if it costs more. The fact that we can fly to SGN with only one stop in DXB is a bonus and I’d prefer getting to sleep in a bed in the middle of the trip instead of trying to sleep on a red-eye, even if it’s on a Singapore Airlines flight.

Have any of you traveled from the US to Southeast Asia via Dubai or Singapore? What was your experience? Is it worth spending the night in Dubai or should we take the trans-pacific route?

Might I add that it’s great to be able to worry about problems like this again?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Z o July 3, 2022 - 2:25 pm

SQ J >>> EK J

David July 3, 2022 - 4:02 pm

Emirates J is nothing special, Especially if you fly 777, if the costs are 1200 USD, take a look at the y price and upgrade with miles, i did this onroute to SEZ, saved me 200 USD each

RG July 3, 2022 - 4:24 pm

I definitely prefer the SQ product, but one stop flying on two long-hauls is much preferred for me. And maybe you can use miles to upgrade from EK J to F? OMAAT had more details on the mechanics.

Christian July 3, 2022 - 7:03 pm

From a fair number of reviews I’ve read, Emirates business class is fairly mediocre. Singapore is pretty good. My wife and I flew SQ from JFK to SIN via FRA in May and it was pretty nice. I would have preferred the nonstop but it was unavailable.

Have you looked into EVA from JFK/ORD/IAH? They’re a spectacular airline. My wife adores first class but equally loves flying EVA business. Sure, it’s another stop but I’d say it’s worth it. Aeroplan miles from Amex could get you there without any YQ. Just a thought.

Paul Nguyen July 4, 2022 - 1:36 pm

My go to for flying back home to vietnam is ANA. Around 100k round trip + ~ $350 in fees. Out of the 2, Id go for SQ. You can probably find space from Houston too instead of LA

JohnB July 4, 2022 - 2:54 pm

What about the EWR>SIN flights on Singapore Air?

When we went to Vietnam, we flew Alaska to SEA, then Delta to SEL, and finally Vietnam Airways to Hanoi. All for 80K with all segments in business.

I second using EVA via Taipei. Have you explored using ANA via Tokyo? Another option is using Qatar or even Turkish.

Emirates business is nice in the A380, but not all aisle access on the B777. The service and food were very good on Emirates. But the fuel surcharges were less when we booked.


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