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:
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:
Meanwhile business class is available almost every day on every flight as well:
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:
The same is true between Singapore and Auckland:
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):
Meanwhile Singapore Airlines also releases plenty of business class award space between Singapore and Dubai:
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):
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!