Last night I posted about Singapore Airlines releasing saver first class award space to Star Alliance partners during their system switchover, and it has quickly become the most commented post I’ve ever made.
First of all, I’m absolutely thrilled so many of you are able to take advantage of this, and I want to do everything I can to help. I’ve tried to answer every question, be it via email or in the comments section, and by all means keep asking away. While I hate the term “once in a lifetime opportunity,” I’d say this is about as close as it gets when it comes to award redemptions, since Singapore Airlines has a policy of not releasing first and business class award space on their new products to Star Alliance partner airlines.
I’ve answered 500+ questions via email and in the comments section, and I’ve noticed some questions that come up over and over. As a result I’ve decided to make this follow up post which hopefully consolidates the most frequently asked questions.
This FAQ is a work in progress as I’m doing my best to answer questions as they come in while writing this post since I suspect the window to still make these bookings is VERY limited. As a result I’ll go ahead and publish this post, and will update it after I answer each question.
In the meantime if you have any questions, ask away either in the comments section of this post or the previous one.
With that in mind, here we go:
Why is all this award space suddenly appearing on Singapore Airlines?
Singapore switched over their reservations system to Amadeus this weekend, and as a result had a 28 hour period where their systems were down and reservations couldn’t be made. As I mentioned above, Singapore Airlines restricts partner airline award redemptions in their new first and business class.
Despite that, they code their award classes the same way most Star Alliance airlines do — “O” is first class, “I” is business class, and “X” is coach class. Usually they completely block this space, though for whatever reason during the system switchover all the space that’s usually only available to KrisFlyer members became available to members of partner airline programs. While they haven’t pulled the space as of the time of this posting, I suspect it’s not intentional on their part.
How do I book Singapore Airlines first class on the Airbus 380?
Unfortunately you can’t. Singapore Airlines doesn’t have first class on the Airbus 380, but rather Suites Class. They code this cabin differently. So while the first class award space that’s available on many flights is in the “O” bucket, Airbus 380 Suites Class is coded differently. They don’t make it available to their own program members at the saver level, so it’s not available to partner members either. I can confidently say you have a zero percent change of finding the space, so you can quit trying.
Your only hope if you’re hell bent on flying Suites Class on the Airbus 380 is to book a route for a flight far out which you think has a high probability of being switched to an Airbus 380.
If I had to guess, I’d say there are two especially good candidates:
- London to Singapore on the once daily 777-300ER service. Singapore Airlines has four daily flights to London. Three of them are operated by an Airbus 380, and one of them is operated by a 777-300ER. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 777-300ER upgraded to an Airbus 380 sometime down the road.
- Singapore Airlines has been quoted as saying they plan to “operate as many Airbus 380s as [they] can to Sydney and Melbourne,” and that it “wants to put on a second superjumbo on the Melbourne route by the end of the year.” Folks, if you’re chasing the Airbus 380, they can’t be a lot more direct than that. Book Singapore to Melbourne.
All that being said, business class award space on the Airbus 380 is readily available as of now, if you’re chasing the aircraft more than you’re chasing the class of service.
What’s the best place to search award availability?
United.com seems to be the most reliable search tool for award space.
Is the premium for first class over business class worth it?
When Singapore Airlines introduced their new first and business class product a few years ago, many said that they shot themselves in the foot. Why? Because on the surface there’s hardly a difference between first and business class anymore. Both are in a “1-2-1” configuration with the widest seat in the industry.
But what makes Singapore Airlines so great isn’t the seat or entertainment, in my opinion (though both are phenomenal), but rather the service and food. The service will be infinitely more personalized and impressive in first class than business class (that’s not to say it won’t be great in business class too), and the food is also a huge step up.
So for me the answer is simple — YES, first class is definitely worth the premium. Business class is great too, but in most cases the mileage difference is modest, so you really can’t go wrong with first class. For example, United charges 120,000 miles for roundtrip business class and 140,000 miles for roundtrip first class to Asia. An extra 10,000 miles each way for Singapore Airlines first class? Bargain! US Airways charges 90,000 miles for roundtrip business class to North Asia and 120,000 miles for roundtrip first class to North Asia. At 15,000 miles for the “upgrade” in each direction, I’d once again say it’s a bargain.
Lastly, if you’re looking to maximize the Singapore “experience,” I recommend trying to book a flight that has a lunch or dinner service, and not a “supper” service (which is usually for flights leaving late at night). The “supper” service is abbreviated so isn’t as impressive as what you’d get on a lunch or dinner flight.
If I book something on Singapore Airlines now, can I still make changes later, or will I lose my flights on Singapore?
You shouldn’t have any issues modifying reservations, whether it’s now or 10 months from now, as long as the Singapore segments aren’t touched. So by all means add segments, change your origin or destination, or do whatever you’d like, as it shouldn’t impact the segments on Singapore Airlines.
What are the fees if I need to change my ticket later?
United lets you make free changes within 24 hours of booking, so if you need to redeposit your miles or make a change to the routing, you can do so for free within 24 hours. That’s why I suggest everyone ticket the Singapore Airlines segments you want immediately online, and then worry about adding the other positioning or regional segments later. They’ll be around, while this Singapore space probably won’t be.
After that United allows free routing changes up until 21 days before departure at no cost (however changing the origin or destination would incur a fee). Within 21 days of departure and for origin or destination changes, the fees are $75 for non-elites, $50 for Premier Silver members, $25 for Premier Gold members, and there are no fees for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members.
For canceling a trip and redepositing the miles the fee is $150 for non-elites, $125 for Premier Silver members, $100 for Premier Gold members, and there are no fees for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members.
US Airways charges a flat $150 for any change or mileage redeposit, which is waived for Chairman’s Preferred members. This includes changing a flight, route, origin, destination, date, etc.
How do I know if my ticket was issued correctly?
There is exactly one thing you should be looking for to make sure your ticket is issued correctly — your ticket number. If you have a ticket number your ticket is issued, and (in theory) can’t be revoked. If booking through United, access your itinerary and click “View Receipt.” The ticket number should appear at the top of the itinerary. When ticketing reservations with United it usually takes 5-20 minutes for the ticket to be issued. In the meantime you’ll see a script at the top of the itinerary which reads “your purchase is confirmed.” That means it’s being processed and not yet issued. The ticket is issued once that script says “This reservation was ticketed and confirmed at ______.”
US Airways issues tickets instantly, and the ticket number will appear at the bottom of the reservation when viewed on usairways.com.
You can also get your six digit confirmation code by calling the airline that issued your ticket or Singapore Airlines directly (though they may have especially long hold times right now given that their systems were down for 28 hours). However there really is no need to get your Singapore confirmation number until the dust settles, as it doesn’t make the ticket any more “official” than just having the ticket number from the airline that issued your ticket.
How do I select seats for my trip?
First of all I think lots of people assume that their booking is more official if they select seats — this isn’t the case. I don’t think there’s any rush to get seats, though if you have the Singapore Airlines six-digit confirmation code, you’re best off getting seats on Singapore Airlines’ mobile website, which even works on PCs. Their regular website is a bit glitchy given the huge system transition and as a result returns error messages, though you should have more luck if you go to https://mobile.singaporeair.com.
Once there select “My trips” and then enter your last name and the Singapore Airlines confirmation code. Once there you should be able to select your preferred seats and view your itinerary.