Fly Singapore Airlines First And Business Class With Miles!

Reader regionalSQ asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

Hi Lucky, I’ve read on numerous sites that SQ biz is not available with UA miles. But I’ve noticed that certain regional routes do release space. Do you have a comprehensive list of which ones or the general rule (e.g. which aircraft, flight lengths), so i can plan routes rather than hunting and pecking via the UA search page and hoping to get lucky. Thanks.

When it comes to releasing award space, airlines seem to have two different types of approaches:

  • Some airlines release the same award space to members of their own frequent flyer program as they do to members of their partner frequent flyer programs
  • Other airlines release more award space to members of their own program than members of other programs.

Singapore Airlines falls in the latter category, and only makes a subset of award space available to members of their partner frequent flyer programs.

First of all, it’s probably worth remembering that even if you’re based in the US, it’s not too tough to redeem miles directly through Singapore’s KrisFlyer program. They release a good amount of award space to their own members, and KrisFlyer is transfer partners with both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.

I wrote a tutorial on transferring Membership Rewards points to Singapore KrisFlyer last year. The only major thing that has changed since then is that it’s now possible to redeem Singapore KrisFlyer miles for travel in A380 Suites Class at the saver level, which wasn’t possible prior to last November.

Anyway, back to redeeming partner airlines miles for travel on Singapore Airlines — there’s a common misconception out there that Singapore Airlines doesn’t release any first or business class award space to partner airlines, and that’s simply not true. They definitely release much less space to partner airlines than to their own members, but there are many routes on which they do release space.

Singapore Airlines does release saver business class award space to their partner airlines pretty regularly to the following destinations:

  • Intra-Asia routes
  • Australia/New Zealand
  • The Middle East & India
  • Cairo, Copenhagen, and Istanbul

Singapore Airlines also releases tons of saver first class award space between Singapore and Delhi to their partner airlines.

However, they don’t typically release any saver first or business class award space to their partner airlines for travel to:

  • North America
  • South America
  • Destinations in Europe other than Copenhagen and Istanbul

Even knowing the routes, the challenge can often be searching saver award space. Typically the most accurate website for searching Star Alliance award space is the ANA tool, but they have a specific disclaimer stating that first and business class redemptions aren’t allowed on Singapore flights coded as 388s, 77Ws, or 345s:

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space10

In practice this is no longer totally true, but the issue is that even if there were award space on one of those flights, ANA’s website wouldn’t show it. Instead it just puts a “-” in the box. In those cases you’re best off using the United website to search for award space.

But in terms of first class award space between Singapore and Delhi, for example, there’s space almost every single day in first class on the daily flight featuring a first class cabin:

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space4

Meanwhile business class is available almost every day on every flight as well:

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space3

While Singapore doesn’t seem to release first or business class award space on their A380s to Australia, they do release a fair bit of space on their other aircraft, including between Sydney and Singapore:

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space1

The same is true between Singapore and Auckland:

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space2

Just looking at award space nonstop between Singapore and Melbourne on Singapore Airlines, there’s business class award space available virtually every day (the days marked in green):

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space11

Meanwhile Singapore Airlines also releases plenty of business class award space between Singapore and Dubai:

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space6

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space7

One of those flights continues on to Cairo, so there’s usually plenty of award space on that as well.

Singapore also releases business class award space on their flights to Istanbul and Copenhagen, which are the only two routes to Europe I know of that aren’t operated by the 777-300ER or A380 (however, even the 777-200 features the new business class product):

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space8

Singapore-Airlines-Award-Space9

So while there’s no “formula” or “rule,” to sum it up:

  • Singapore Airlines offers reasonably priced redemptions through their own program, and no flights or cabins are off-limits
  • Singapore releases saver first class award space to partner airlines on the Singapore to Delhi routes
  • Singapore releases saver business class award space to partner airlines on their intra-Asia routes, routes to Australia/New Zealand, routes to the Middle East/India, and routes to Copenhagen/Istanbul

If anyone knows of any routes on which Singapore releases saver premium cabin award space other than the above, please let me know in the comments!

Singapore-Airlines-Business-Class
Singapore Airlines business class

Comments

  1. says

    Given the huge devaluation of Mileage Plus, which you have recently written about, I was wondering if you think it is worthwhile for a NYC based flyer to have Krisflyer account as their primary Star Alliance account?

  2. ryan says

    @Lucky, I just flew business class on SQ to Johannesburg then Cape town last August. It was on the refitted B777 and I used USDM to redeem.

  3. Len says

    Is it possible (practically speaking) to get into SQ Suites at the Saver level with two travelers? As I understood it, in the past they only released one saver ticket per flight.

  4. Tommy says

    There are a few flights a day to Jakarta (CGK) with space in first for which United miles can be used. I don’t believe the flights depart out of the terminal in Changi with Singapore’s Private Room, but you could probably still use it if you had extra time.

  5. Joey says

    @Mark, unlike United’s Mileageplus program, KrisFlyer miles expire in 3 years regardless of any new activity. Thus, if you travel on SQ metal a lot and plan to redeem those miles within 3 years, perhaps that is a good idea.

  6. stoo says

    @John For lie-flat business class seats between SIN and Australia, you’ll want to select flights using the A380 or 777-300ER aircraft. The others (772, A333, 773) use the older angle business class seats.

  7. says

    @ Mark — I think it really depends how much you fly. If you fly enough to earn status I think you’re still better off crediting to the program of the airline you fly most.

  8. says

    @ John — Mostly agree with stoo, though Singapore has started retrofitting some 777-200s to feature the new product, which fly to Europe. Ultimately you’ll want to look at the seatmap. If business class is in a 1-2-1 configuration then it’s the new, fully flat product.

  9. says

    @ ryan — Interesting, thanks for the heads up. Looking at space on the route and not seeing any available dates in business class. How long ago did you book, if I may ask?

  10. Rhys says

    @Lucky @Len, in June I used KrisFlyer (Singapore) Miles to get 2 F seats on the 77W (non suite from SFO-HKG) connecting to SIN on the A380 in Suites. I couldn’t get my goal of LAX-NRT-SIN on the A380 in Suites to open up, but I know inventory came available (if it ever was going to) 14 days out from departure date.

  11. WN says

    Great post! Is there any way you could break up your discussion of the availability a bit more to distinguish between business and first class i.e. other than Singapore-Delhi and other short intra-Asia awards, can one find availability in first class from Cairo, Copenhagen, and Istanbul etc?

    Also do you have a post outlining the differences between Singapore business class and first class?

  12. says

    @ WN — Sorry for any confusion. The only routes I know of where Singapore releases first class award space to partner airlines is Singapore to Delhi as well as a couple of intra-Asia routes. They don’t for travel to anywhere else as far as I know.

    If you check out my trip report index (http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/trip-report-index/) I’ve written several posts about Singapore first and business class, so hopefully you find that useful for seeing the differences in product.

  13. WN says

    Thanks for the clarification. I’ll check out the trip posts. But just your gut sense, other than the configuration of the cabin are the menus and pajamas/amenities pretty much the same (although presumably no separate first class lounge or cart delivery)?

  14. says

    @ WN — Generally speaking the food and service is much better in first class than business class. The seat is only marginally better, in my opinion, while the entertainment is identical.

  15. Tommy says

    One datapoint re two A380 Suite Saver awards to/from the US: I was able to get two FRA-JFK seats for late Jan. Only one was the full SIN-FRA-JFK in Suites. The other was on the 777 from SIN-FRA. Booked many months ago.

  16. Tommy says

    @Lucky – No, SQ26 SIN-JFK was booked on Aug 13. SQ326-26 was booked about two weeks later. This was for Jan 22, 2014.

  17. Stuart Falk says

    Does Singapore charge taxes/fees for Kris Flyer first class redemption and, if so, are they substantial? I’m holding on to about 100,000 Starwood points, which I could transfer to Kris Flyer when I want to book an award.

  18. ryan says

    @Lucky, I booked my SQ August business class flight to Johannesburg in March. I noticed that it was only available on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

  19. Jamie says

    Think United may be blocking some SQ first class space. Just did a search for BOM-SIN on November 7th. Lifemiles is showing at least one seat in first on SQ423. United shows only economy space.

  20. says

    @ Jamie — Lifemiles actually seems to have access to more award space than other Star Alliance partners, so it’s not that United is blocking, but rather that Lifemiles somehow has access to extra space.

  21. Jamie says

    @Lucky – Would have thought all Star partners would be treated equally. Thanks for clarifying! Just another selling point for Lifemiles. If only they’d improve their booking engine to allow 23hr connections and if US Bank would offer a better CC sign up bonus…I’d be sold.

  22. concorde02 says

    Ben I actually redeemed UA miles on SQ FRA-SIN in J last year too (not with the glitch) … It was a rare occasion!

  23. regionalSQ says

    @lucky. For some reason I missed it when you orginaly posted this! Thanks so much for the detailed answer to my question. Though I guess things may be changing now with SQ releasing less space even on some of these routes…

  24. Vaidy says

    @lucky – I’m able to see SQ availability on ANA but when I called United, they mentioned they don’t see any availability. Does ANA have more access to SQ than UA ? This was for economy…

  25. says

    @ Vaidy — Theoretically space should match, though it does seem like Singapore is opening up more space to ANA than other carriers unfortunately.

  26. Leon says

    I see on life miles but united says it doesn’t see it. Any trick for united agent seeing the space?

  27. says

    @ Leon — Unfortunately Lifemiles seems to have access to more Singapore award space than United, so nothing that can be done there. Sorry!

  28. AJK says

    @lucky, seems to me they SQ stopped releasing F on the SIN-DEL route until close-in…

    Any other route you know of where SQ releases F to partners regularly?

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