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This March Singapore KrisFlyer had an award chart devaluation. This devaluation only impacted travel on Singapore Airlines, and not travel on partner airlines. Specifically, KrisFlyer increased the number of miles required for many award tickets, though in the process they also eliminated the carrier imposed surcharges on those award tickets. So while it was a devaluation, it was a mild one.
Well, now changes have been announced to their partner awards, and it’s mostly bad news. These changes all kick in for bookings as of December 7, 2017.
Singapore KrisFlyer will allow Star Alliance award bookings online
While KrisFlyer has allowed award bookings on their own flights to be made online, up until now it hasn’t been possible to redeem miles on partner award tickets online. As of December 7, 2017, KrisFlyer will allow Star Alliance award bookings to be made through their website and app. While KrisFlyer has one of the more competent call centers out there, it’s still nice that it will no longer be necessary to book these tickets by phone.
Phone award bookings will incur service fees
Historically Singapore KrisFlyer hasn’t charged any booking fees for Star Alliance award tickets booked by phone, since it wasn’t possible to make them online. Now that it’s possible to make them online, there will be a 25USD or 2,500 KrisFlyer mile fee for booking Star Alliance award tickets by phone.
Singapore KrisFlyer is devaluing their Star Alliance award chart
And now the bad news. As of December 7, 2017, KrisFlyer will be devaluing their Star Alliance award chart. For reference, here’s their current Star Alliance award chart:
And here’s their new Star Alliance award chart:
With these changes we’re not seeing price decreases for any regions, though on the plus side at least not all regions are changing in price. Let’s take a look at just how substantial these award price increases are for some tickets originating in North America for one-way travel:
- North America to Europe: 80,000 miles to 95,000 miles
- North America to Middle East/North Africa: 75,000 miles to 90,000 miles
- North America to North Asia 1 & 2: 100,000 miles to 125,000 miles
- North America to Central/South Africa: 110,00 miles to 132,000 miles
- North America to Southeast Asia 1 & 2: 112,500 miles to 135,000 miles
- North America to Southwest Pacific: 127,500 miles to 152,500 miles
- North America to Central/South Asia: 132,500 miles to 145,000 miles
The cost of Lufthansa first class awards to Europe is increasing
- North America to Middle East/North Africa: 57,500 miles to 69,000 miles
- North America to Central/South Africa: 72,500 miles to 87,000 miles
- North America to North Asia 1 & 2: 87,500 miles to 105,000 miles
- North America to Central/South Asia: 97,500 miles to 105,000 miles
- North America to Southwest Pacific: 97,500 miles to 117,00 miles
The cost of EVA Air business class awards to Asia is increasing
- North America to Middle East/North Africa: 37,500 miles to 45,000 miles
- North America to North Asia 1: 45,000 miles to 48,000 miles
- North America to Central/South Africa: 45,000 miles to 52,000 miles
- North America to North Asia 2: 45,000 miles to 54,000 miles
- North America to Central/South Asia: 52,500 miles to 55,000 miles
- North America to Southwest Pacific: 55,000 miles to 60,000 miles
The cost of Air Canada economy awards to Australia is increasing
What I make of these changes
On the plus side, I appreciate that Singapore isn’t trying to spin this devaluation as an enhancement. In their email to members, they say that they’re adding the ability to book these awards online as “part of [their] ongoing efforts to give members greater convenience.” Then when they talk about the award price changes, they simply say they’ve made updates without any sort of justification. It’s oddly refreshing not to be told “based on member feedback we are enhancing the program by raising the cost of tickets.”
The ability to book Star Alliance awards online as of next month is certainly a positive development, though doesn’t undo the increased award costs we’re seeing here. The price increases in economy are minimal, and as usual, it’s premium cabins that are seeing the biggest price increases.
Unfortunately I’m not surprised to see this devaluation. When KrisFlyer devalued the award chart for travel on their own flights in March, there were some instances where there wasn’t much of a price difference anymore between the cost of a Singapore Airlines award and a partner award. That’s significant, since it made it more advantageous to book a Star Alliance award, where you can include positioning flights.
For example, as of right now Singapore charges 76,000 KrisFlyer miles to book Suites from New York to Frankfurt, and they charge 80,000 miles for a Star Alliance first class ticket from North America to Europe. That means for just an extra 4,000 miles you could include positioning flights to New York, and tag flights from Frankfurt to anywhere else in Europe.
These changes are negative and in some cases the cost increases are significant, though unfortunately I’m not surprised to see this. Furthermore, given that KrisFlyer passes on carrier imposed surcharges on most award tickets, this makes the program pretty uncompetitive in many regions.
There are lots of ways to earn KrisFlyer miles
On one hand Singapore Airlines is one of the most protective airlines out there when it comes to premium cabins. They only make most premium cabin award space available to members of their own program. So in a way it’s surprising that they’re also one of the few airlines to partner with all four major transferable points currencies.
So KrisFlyer miles are super easy to accrue regardless of which points you collect, which is why many people book Star Alliance partner awards through them. You can earn KrisFlyer miles by:
- Transferring Amex Membership Rewards points (earned on cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express, etc.) at a 1:1 ratio
- Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points (earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, etc.) at a 1:1 ratio
- Transferring Citi ThankYou points (earned on cards like the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, etc.) at a 1:1 ratio
- Transferring Starpoints (earned with cards like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred
It’s unfortunate that KrisFlyer is making a second negative devaluation this year. On the plus side, at least they’re adding online award bookings for Star Alliance award tickets. Furthermore, the cost of award tickets within North America isn’t increasing, so it’s a positive that you’ll be able to book those awards online without paying more.
As far as other awards go, this definitely puts KrisFlyer on the higher end of Star Alliance award pricing, and that’s not even factoring in their hefty carrier imposed surcharges. While it’s great that they partner with all major transferable points currencies, you’ll now find better values from many other partners. With Amex points you’ll find better value with ANA and Aeroplan, with Chase points you’ll often find better value with United, and with Citi points you’ll often find better value with LifeMiles and Turkish.