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Yesterday I posted about the news that Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program was added as a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Singapore Airlines is certainly now becoming one of the more “promiscuous” airlines, as they join British Airways and Virgin Atlantic as the third carrier to now be transfer partners with the “big three” flexible points currencies:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Starwood Preferred Guest.
But the reason people are so excited about Singapore KrisFlyer being added as an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner is because Ultimate Rewards points are so easy to come by.
Arguably the single best personal and business credit cards accrue Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — offers double points on dining and travel, and no foreign transaction fees
- Ink Plus® Business Credit Card — offers 5x points on office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
So I figured I would write a couple of posts about why Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is one of my favorite frequent flyer programs. In this post I’ll specifically discuss redeeming KrisFlyer miles for travel on Singapore Airlines, while tomorrow I’ll cover redeeming Singapore KrisFlyer miles for travel on other Star Alliance airlines.
Why you should care about Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Everyone knows that Singapore Airlines is one of the world’s best airlines, but what about their frequent flyer program? Why should you care that they were added as a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner?
Well, lots of airlines make the same award space available to members of their own frequent flyer program as they do to members of partner frequent flyer programs. Singapore Airlines isn’t one of those airlines. They make a lot — and I mean a lot — more space available to members of their own KrisFlyer program than to members of partner airline programs.
As a matter of fact, they make virtually no first class award space available to members of their partner frequent flyer programs. Meanwhile, if you’re a member of KrisFlyer, you can fairly easily (and economically) redeem miles for both first class and suites class (found exclusively on their A380s).
Where does Singapore Airlines fly in the US?
Singapore’s destinations in the US include Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, Given the distance between the US and Singapore, all of those flights stop somewhere along the way, including Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Moscow, Seoul Incheon, and Tokyo Narita.
In total, Singapore’s route network out of the US looks as follows (all of the below routes offer continuing service to Singapore):
- Houston to Moscow
- Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita
- New York JFK to Frankfurt
- San Francisco to Hong Kong
- San Francisco to Seoul Incheon
How many miles does Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer charge for awards?
The great thing about Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is that award rates are really reasonable, in particular for first class and suites class. Below are their award redemption costs, factoring in the 15% online booking discount:
|Route||Business Class (One-Way)||First Class (One-Way)||Aircraft|
|San Francisco to Hong Kong||63,750 miles + $112.40||70,125 miles + $112.40||Boeing 777-300ER|
|San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore||68,000 miles + $312.50||91,375 miles + $325.50||Boeing 777-300ER|
|San Francisco to Seoul||65,875 miles + $205.50||74,375 miles + $218.50||Boeing 777-300ER|
|San Francisco to Seoul to Singapore||68,000 miles + $312.50||91,375 miles + $325.50||Boeing 777-300ER|
|Los Angeles to Tokyo||65,875 miles + $172.80||74,375 miles + $172.80||Airbus A380|
|Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore||68,000 miles + $327.96||91,375 miles + $340.96||Airbus A380|
|New York to Frankfurt||48,875 miles + $205.50||57,375 miles + $218.50||Airbus A380|
|New York to Frankfurt to Singapore||72,250 miles + $340.81||93,500 miles + $353.81||Airbus A380|
|Houston to Moscow||48,875 miles + $213.90||57,375 miles + $226.90||Boeing 777-300ER|
|Houston to Moscow to Singapore||72,250 miles + $320.90||93,500 miles + $333.90||Boeing 777-300ER|
Note that they do impose fuel surcharges, though they’re quite mild compared to British Airways, where they frequently charge $850+ roundtrip between the US and Europe in fuel surcharges alone.
What are the sweet spots on the award chart for travel on Singapore?
I think all of Singapore’s redemption rates out of the US are extremely reasonable. And I’d say that the premium for first class over business class is well worth it in all cases.
Factoring in the fuel surcharges and overall experience, I’d say the very best values are:
- San Francisco to Hong Kong first class for 70,125 miles + $112.40
- Houston to Moscow first class for 57,375 miles + $226.90
- Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita suites class for 74,375 miles + $172.80
- New York to Frankfurt to Singapore suites class for 93,500 miles + $353.81
How many first and business class award seats does Singapore release per flight?
As you might expect, it varies substantially. In general:
- First class award space is more readily available than business class award space (which is great, given how small the premium in miles usually is)
- On the 777-300ERs it’s not unusual to see two first class award seats. On some A380 flights, it’s also not unusual to see two suites class award seats, though in general I’ve found suites class awards tougher to book than in the past
- If you want to fly suites class out of the US, generally you’ll find more award space on the Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore route than on the New York to Frankfurt to Singapore route
Does Singapore Airlines open up more award space as the departure date approaches?
Sometimes. They’re not as consistent about releasing last minute award space as, say, Cathay Pacific or Lufthansa, but they’re not horrible about it either. That being said, in my experience them opening up space seems to be more of an automatic process than a manual process, which means that I’ve seen cabins a day out that are mostly empty with still no award space.
So while I can predict with 99% certainty whether a given route will have Lufthansa award space open up, I can’t guess Singapore award space as consistently.
How does the 15% KrisFlyer online booking discount work?
Singapore Airlines does offer a 15% discount on published award rates if you make your booking online. It’s worth noting that this only applies for travel on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir, given that partner airlines aren’t bookable online.
The discounted price won’t appear on the search page.
Instead, it will appear once you click “Display total cost.”
As I’ve written about in the past, in some cases it’s possible to get the online booking discount by phone, if you’re trying to book a mixed cabin award or award that won’t price online. This won’t work for Star Alliance awards, however.
Does Singapore KrisFlyer allow award ticket holds?
Singapore doesn’t let you hold KrisFlyer awards. So there’s some risk involved, since points transfers aren’t instant, and will typically take about a day.
How does waitlisting KrisFlyer awards work?
If you’re searching for award space on the Singapore Airlines website, you’ll see that if space isn’t available it will show an option to “Waitlist.”
When you waitlist a KrisFlyer award, it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get the seat as long as one is available for sale. Instead, Singapore Airlines may or may not decide to “clear” that waitlist. If you’re waitlisted and they “clear” you, you’re not committed to taking that itinerary. You can choose not to accept it.
It’s tough to say in general what the chances of a waitlist clearing are since it really depends on the route, date, etc. But in general I wouldn’t count on a waitlist to get you to you on a flight, especially if it’s over peak dates.
Should you go out of way to fly A380 over the 777-300ER?
Singapore’s two primary aircraft for longhaul flights are their Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s. Their 777-300ERs feature a first class cabin, while their A380s feature a suites class cabin instead.
First let me start by linking to a few trip reports I’ve written about the two products:
- Singapore Airlines Suites Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
- Singapore Airlines Suites Class Hong Kong to Singapore
- Singapore Airlines First Class Singapore to Seoul Incheon
- Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul Incheon to San Francisco
- Singapore Airlines First Class Singapore to Frankfurt
- Singapore Airlines First Class Houston to Moscow
- Singapore Airlines First Class Moscow to Singapore
- Singapore Airlines First Class Singapore to Tokyo Narita
The food and service should be identical in first class and suites class. If you want to maximize the “experience” on a Singapore flight, try to avoid flights with a “supper” service. That’s what’s served on flights that leave late at night (like San Francisco to Hong Kong), and the meal service is much more abbreviated than an earlier departure.
In terms of the hard product, the 777-300ER has a good first class hard product. It’s not amazing, and I definitely prefer the Cathay Pacific first class seat. The bed isn’t especially long, I don’t think the bedding is amazing. But it’s definitely a solid seat.
Meanwhile the A380 has one hell of a gorgeous suites class cabin. It’s ridiculously private, and as of now still the only “double bed” in the sky on a commercial plane.
So yes, if you’re really looking for an experience, I would recommend going out of your way to seek out the A380.
Will award availability get worse now?
So it’s fantastic that Chase Ultimate Rewards points can now be redeemed through Singapore KrisFlyer. The only caveat I’d add is that KrisFlyer is now transfer partners with all three major flexible points currencies, so I expect availability will become a lot more fluid. Going back a couple of years, almost no one transferred points to KrisFlyer, so if I saw availability today, chances are it would still be around in a week.
While I don’t expect availability to get worse, there will be more competition for the same number of award seats, and transfers to KrisFlyer aren’t instant. Since holds aren’t allowed, understand that you’re taking a gamble when transferring points, if you’re doing so with a specific flight in mind.
This is a really exciting new transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards, and makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card , Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, and Ink Bold® Business Charge Card even more valuable in my opinion.
If you have any questions on the redemption opportunities with KrisFlyer, let me know, please!