Singapore KrisFlyer Announces Award Chart Devaluation As Of March 23, 2017

I love the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program, given that it’s just about the only way to redeem miles for Singapore Airlines longhaul premium cabin flights. They only make most award space available to their own KrisFlyer members, and not to members of partner frequent flyer programs.

On top of that, KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest — so the points are quite easy to come by.

Well, Singapore KrisFlyer has just announced an award chart devaluation for bookings as of March 23, 2017. The good news is that the devaluation is fairly mild, and even sort of fair. This isn’t some insane devaluation where some award costs are increasing by 100%, as we’ve seen from other airlines over the years.

Singapore-A380

So, what’s changing?

Singapore KrisFlyer is removing the 15% online booking discount

Up until now, KrisFlyer has offered a 15% discount when redeeming miles through their website rather than through their call center. That was generous, though always seemed sort of silly to me, given that very few people voluntarily book award tickets by phone. In my case sometimes I have to call to book certain awards, and they could typically manually provide the 15% discount when the award wasn’t bookable online.

So it’s a shame to see that discount removed, because I typically considered KrisFlyer’s award costs to be whatever the cost was after the 15% discount.

Singapore KrisFlyer is eliminating fuel surcharges on awards

The great news is that KrisFlyer is eliminating the carrier imposed surcharges they imposed for award tickets on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir. They’ll continue to charge these fees for many partner award bookings.

This is a positive change, though in fairness Singapore’s fuel surcharges aren’t as high as those charged by airlines like British Airways.

Just to give a few examples:

  • A one-way Suites Class ticket from New York to Frankfurt has $180 in carrier imposed surcharges
  • A one-way Business Class ticket from Los Angeles to Singapore has $230 in carrier imposed surcharges
  • A one-way Economy Class ticket from Houston to Singapore has $220 in carrier imposed surcharges

Singapore KrisFlyer is increasing award costs

Above we have both a positive and negative change, though the biggest change of all is with award pricing:

Keep in mind that the current KrisFlyer award chart doesn’t reflect the 15% online booking discount, so for the current chart you should subtract 15% to figure out the real current cost.

So, how bad are the changes? Let’s do some side-by-side comparisons for U.S. routes. In these calculations I’ll be accounting for the 15% online booking discount that’s currently available, but won’t be under the new chart.

First/Suites Class:

  • New York/Houston to Singapore — current price: 93,500 miles / new price: 120,000 miles
  • Los Angeles/San Francisco to Singapore — current price: 91,375 miles / new price: 118,000 miles
  • New York to Frankfurt — current price: 57,375 miles / new price: 76,000 miles

Singapore-Suites

Business Class:

  • New York/Houston to Singapore — current price: 72,250 miles / new price: 92,000 miles
  • Los Angeles/San Francisco to Singapore — current price: 68,000 miles / new price: 88,000 miles
  • New York to Frankfurt or Houston to Moscow — current price: 48,875 miles / new price: 65,000 miles

Singapore-Business-Class

Economy Class:

  • New York/Houston to Singapore — current price: 31,875 miles / new price: 40,000 miles
  • Los Angeles/San Francisco to Singapore — current price: 29,750 miles / new price: 38,000 miles
  • New York to Frankfurt or Houston to Moscow — current price: 17,000 miles / new price: 22,500 miles

Singapore-Airlines-777-First-Class-45

Just how bad is this devaluation?

Most of the award price increases seem to be about 30%, after factoring in the 15% online booking discount being eliminated. However, that’s somewhat offset by the elimination of fuel surcharges.

Take New York to Frankfurt, for example. In Suites Class the ticket goes from costing 57,375 miles to costing 76,000 miles. However, they’re eliminating $180 in surcharges. Assuming you value KrisFlyer miles at ~1.5 cents each, that’s the equivalent of 12,000 miles, meaning the apples-to-apples cost is really 64,000 miles. That’s an increase of only ~7,000 miles.

I’m finding similar patterns for other awards. Los Angeles to Singapore in business class is increasing in price from 68,000 miles to 88,000 miles. However, they’re eliminating $230 in carrier imposed surcharges, which I value roughly the same as ~15,000 KrisFlyer miles. That means the real cost increase is more like ~5,000 miles.

For Houston to Singapore in economy, the cost is increasing from 31,875 miles to 40,000 miles. However, they’re eliminating $220 in surcharges, which I value the same as ~15,000 miles. That means the overall cost of that economy award is actually going down.

Bottom line

Of course I’m not happy about an award chart devaluation, but I have to give Singapore some credit here. They’re communicating honestly and in advance (they’re not spinning this as an “enhancement”), they’re making a positive change as well, and the increases are reasonably mild, especially when you consider they haven’t increased award costs in five years.

So if you can, you’ll want to book awards within the next three weeks, though even with the new prices there’s a lot of value to be had with KrisFlyer. I’ll be coming out marginally behind with my travel patterns, but that’s fair enough given that they haven’t adjusted award rates in five years.

Singapore Airlines isn’t changing the cost of Star Alliance awards, standard awards on Singapore metal, or premium economy awards on Singapore metal.

So I guess to sum it up, I don’t like devaluations, but if they have to be done, this is about as good as it gets.

What do you make of KrisFlyer’s award chart devaluation?

Comments

  1. If i add United leg to SQ trip with new award price (let’s say i take SQ F)… Still cost 120k/118k if leave from LAX/SFO ? I live in DC, and will find it as acceptable if I can add united leg from IAD/DCA-LAX/SFO/EWR + SQ F for 118k/120k

  2. This is what differentiates a 5-star airline from the others. It’s called professionalism.
    I have also a real life example for this. I’m booked on a SQ flight this May from Singapore (SIN) to Milan (MXP). A few days ago they sent me an email informing me that the departure time changed from 23.30 to 23.25, literally. Not only that, but they also offered me to change my ticket for free or even refund it. Please note that I purchased the lowest available fare (Saver). This is hilarious!

  3. Am I missing something here? If Star Alliance chart stays the same, then US to Singapore in First/Suites would only be 112,500 miles compared to the new 120,000 miles on their own chart. So add domestic connection on United and save miles??

  4. Any word or way to find out if awards booked pre March 23 devaluation can later be moved to another date by only paying the change fee and not having the new award rates kick in?

  5. Does anybody how Krisflyer now compares to other airlines FF schemes.  I do know that it was always reported that the 15% discount was generous but I am thinking with that gone and increased miles required its now not so attractive?

  6. glad I haven’t been saving up their miles. Will they also finally start allowing you to book on non-SQ metal via the website? That would be a useful update.

  7. I think it’s amusing that bloggers think devaluations are ‘fair’ if they are only modest increases over what the program is currently priced. Fair is such a relative term and so easily misused. And I’m saying I love price increases but it’s silly to use a word like ‘fair.’

  8. Am I reading the charts right and seeing there’s no change to intra-Asian short haul awards (exception the 15% online discount being knocked off)? Count me among those who would prefer to redeem 5-6k more miles than pay $85 in fuel surcharges.

  9. I have the same question as Mark. Can we book now and change dates later without re-pricing?

  10. What about the award I currently have on waitlist? Doesn’t look like its gonna clear by March 23.

  11. This is why the long term future of points, will be tiered like FlexPerks, or credit cards are going to have to increase the category multipliers. 15-20 years from now, nobody is going to want miles that are worth 1c. Amex and Chase will need to reinvent “Loyalty” for those who prefer alternative awards to cash back.

    Anyone else agree? Would love to here others opinions.

  12. I’m really mixed on this. The elimination of 15% online bonus is huge, and I’m not sure elimination of fuel surcharge makes up for it, especially since rates going up a bit. Might be a wash on long-haul but short-haul hurts since surcharges weren’t huge.

    Maybe we can do mixed airline awards now more easily.

  13. @Taylor

    quote: “Does anybody how Krisflyer now compares to other airlines FF schemes.”

    As a transpacific flyer the one irritation I have is always seeing virtually every flight that would nominally work with my schedule be waitlisted for award bookings. In my mind that means I am hesitant to transfer miles/points over from any of my programs especially into a program where they expire after 3 years even if there is activity in the account (either gain OR usage).

  14. Assuming you value KrisFlyer miles at ~1.5 cents each …. how can you continue with the same valuation after the program is devalued??

  15. I have bookings to make now for later this year, but I am waiting until AFTER this change goes into effect.

    Factoring in the loss of the 15% discount, the award price increase for F awards US-Australia and the elimination of the huge fuel surcharges on this route, I am already at about a breakeven point.

    BUT, like several other readers have noted (and all the bloggers so far have missed) I can now add a commuting flight to the US gateway city and I can add a domestic leg in Australia without forfeiting the 15% award price discount that now no longer exists.

    If I’m booking a roundtrip SQ flight, this means 4 flights I can get at no additional cost! In my case, this adds ~$500 in additional value for each one-way booking, easily making their revised program cheaper than the existing one.

    And to get a few weeks notice ahead of the change? What a classy airline.

  16. I have never booked a Star Alliance award on KrisFlyer because of the 15% online booking discount, so I’ve had to separately get myself to a gateway (JFK.) So, I’ll save the fuel surcharge and the connecting flight – definitely could be worse!

  17. Confused about *A awards not changing. Wouldn’t it make more sense to book a *A award in many cases. Thinking specifically of US East Coast – SYD. With *A award you could book something like:

    EWR – FRA (LH F)
    FRA – SIN – SYD (SQ F)

    And it would be 49k (for 2x OW or 1x RT) than booking JFK – FRA – SIN – SYD on SQ F and still no fuel surcharges.

  18. We have just enough to get to Hawaii for 5 people each in separate accounts. I guess we have to stay there.;) Glad I came here today as this affects where my miles transfer.

  19. I’m glad I booked my SIN-LHR in Suites before the devaluation!

    Good article also, shows the value in collecting transferrable points for sure! I booked my award with a transfer from Citi

  20. I’ve waitlisted awards at the old price. Would you know if waitlisted awards are also subject to increase? I’ve waitlisted with the proper amount of miles in my account at the time of waitlisting.

  21. The redemption amounts are on par with other airlines, but I still don’t think I’ll ever transfer my points there. I don’t know how you guys do it, but waitlisting for every saver award up until the last minute just doesn’t work for me. 🙁

  22. @Sam: I just got an e-mail from Singapore Air and per their terms, any redemption TICKETED after Mar 23 will be at the new rate. So if your waitlist doesn’t clear by then it would be subject to the new award chart (no 15% discount). My issue is i have 2 segments confirmed and 1 segment on waitlist, I wonder how they’re going to handle that. I am sure the waitlisted segment will not clear before March 23.

  23. Hey Ben I just received the email from KrisFlyer about the DiVall you Asian including the current award cost and revised award cost of certain routes. I just wanted to do the math and see which was better so I was going to use your numbers. At how many cents do you value one KrisFlyer mile

  24. If I book by 3/23, but change date later. Would SQ charge me the new award price and take out the 15% discount?

  25. Ben,
    I’m confused, did I miss an important update about Singapore’s route out of Houston? They now only operate an a350 with no first class and also changed from Moscow to Manchester… so why are you including those updates?

  26. This devaluation is really, really bad? Let me give you an example.
    All currency in Singapore dollars.

    I recently booked 4 one-way business class award flights to Christchurch. Total miles reqd = 220,000. After 15% discount, it’s 187,000. Paid $937.60 in tax ($258) and surcharge($679.60). With the new changes, I will need to use 58,000×4=232,000 miles, which is an additional 45,000 miles and will save $679.60 in surcharge.

    So this means that you are trading 45,000 miles for a mere $679.60. A First Class one-way flight to Beijing ($3945) will cost 42,500 miles after 15% discount with $225 in tax($34) and surcharge($191).

    So now with 232,000 miles and $258, I get 4 one-way business class award flights to Christchurch.
    Before, with 232,000 miles and $1162.60, I got:
    a. 4 one-way business class award flights to Christchurch
    b. 1 one-way first class award flight to Beijing. (valued at $3945).

    This devaluation is not bad at the Economy level. It really gets very bad at the Business and First Class Award level. This is because the Carrier Surcharge that is waived in the new scheme is literally unchanged from Economy to First Class. However the additional point requirements increase drastically from Economy to first. Let me give you an example for an Award flight savings from Singapore to New York and additional miles required:

    Economy savings: $438. Additional miles: 8,125 miles (1000 miles valued at $54)
    Business savings: $477. Additional miles: 19,750 miles (1000 miles valued at $24)
    First Class savings: $505. Additional miles: 26,500 miles (1000 miles valued at $19)

    So in a nutshell, the value of your points decrease as you move from Economy to Business to First Class.

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