FAQ: Singapore Airlines first class award redemptions

Last night I posted about Singapore Airlines releasing saver first class award space to Star Alliance partners during their system switchover, and it has quickly become the most commented post I’ve ever made.

First of all, I’m absolutely thrilled so many of you are able to take advantage of this, and I want to do everything I can to help. I’ve tried to answer every question, be it via email or in the comments section, and by all means keep asking away. While I hate the term “once in a lifetime opportunity,” I’d say this is about as close as it gets when it comes to award redemptions, since Singapore Airlines has a policy of not releasing first and business class award space on their new products to Star Alliance partner airlines.

I’ve answered 500+ questions via email and in the comments section, and I’ve noticed some questions that come up over and over. As a result I’ve decided to make this follow up post which hopefully consolidates the most frequently asked questions.

This FAQ is a work in progress as I’m doing my best to answer questions as they come in while writing this post since I suspect the window to still make these bookings is VERY limited. As a result I’ll go ahead and publish this post, and will update it after I answer each question.

In the meantime if you have any questions, ask away either in the comments section of this post or the previous one.

With that in mind, here we go:

Why is all this award space suddenly appearing on Singapore Airlines?

Singapore switched over their reservations system to Amadeus this weekend, and as a result had a 28 hour period where their systems were down and reservations couldn’t be made. As I mentioned above, Singapore Airlines restricts partner airline award redemptions in their new first and business class.

Despite that, they code their award classes the same way most Star Alliance airlines do — “O” is first class, “I” is business class, and “X” is coach class. Usually they completely block this space, though for whatever reason during the system switchover all the space that’s usually only available to KrisFlyer members became available to members of partner airline programs. While they haven’t pulled the space as of the time of this posting, I suspect it’s not intentional on their part.

How do I book Singapore Airlines first class on the Airbus 380?

Unfortunately you can’t. Singapore Airlines doesn’t have first class on the Airbus 380, but rather Suites Class. They code this cabin differently. So while the first class award space that’s available on many flights is in the “O” bucket, Airbus 380 Suites Class is coded differently. They don’t make it available to their own program members at the saver level, so it’s not available to partner members either. I can confidently say you have a zero percent change of finding the space, so you can quit trying.

Your only hope if you’re hell bent on flying Suites Class on the Airbus 380 is to book a route for a flight far out which you think has a high probability of being switched to an Airbus 380.

If I had to guess, I’d say there are two especially good candidates:

  • London to Singapore on the once daily 777-300ER service. Singapore Airlines has four daily flights to London. Three of them are operated by an Airbus 380, and one of them is operated by a 777-300ER. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 777-300ER upgraded to an Airbus 380 sometime down the road.
  • Singapore Airlines has been quoted as saying they plan to “operate as many Airbus 380s as [they] can to Sydney and Melbourne,” and that it “wants to put on a second superjumbo on the Melbourne route by the end of the year.” Folks, if you’re chasing the Airbus 380, they can’t be a lot more direct than that. Book Singapore to Melbourne.

All that being said, business class award space on the Airbus 380 is readily available as of now, if you’re chasing the aircraft more than you’re chasing the class of service.

What’s the best place to search award availability?

United.com seems to be the most reliable search tool for award space.

Is the premium for first class over business class worth it?

When Singapore Airlines introduced their new first and business class product a few years ago, many said that they shot themselves in the foot. Why? Because on the surface there’s hardly a difference between first and business class anymore. Both are in a “1-2-1” configuration with the widest seat in the industry.

First class

Business class

But what makes Singapore Airlines so great isn’t the seat or entertainment, in my opinion (though both are phenomenal), but rather the service and food. The service will be infinitely more personalized and impressive in first class than business class (that’s not to say it won’t be great in business class too), and the food is also a huge step up.

So for me the answer is simple — YES, first class is definitely worth the premium. Business class is great too, but in most cases the mileage difference is modest, so you really can’t go wrong with first class. For example, United charges 120,000 miles for roundtrip business class and 140,000 miles for roundtrip first class to Asia. An extra 10,000 miles each way for Singapore Airlines first class? Bargain! US Airways charges 90,000 miles for roundtrip business class to North Asia and 120,000 miles for roundtrip first class to North Asia. At 15,000 miles for the “upgrade” in each direction, I’d once again say it’s a bargain.

Lastly, if you’re looking to maximize the Singapore “experience,” I recommend trying to book a flight that has a lunch or dinner service, and not a “supper” service (which is usually for flights leaving late at night). The “supper” service is abbreviated so isn’t as impressive as what you’d get on a lunch or dinner flight.

If I book something on Singapore Airlines now, can I still make changes later, or will I lose my flights on Singapore?

You shouldn’t have any issues modifying reservations, whether it’s now or 10 months from now, as long as the Singapore segments aren’t touched. So by all means add segments, change your origin or destination, or do whatever you’d like, as it shouldn’t impact the segments on Singapore Airlines.

What are the fees if I need to change my ticket later?


United lets you make free changes within 24 hours of booking, so if you need to redeposit your miles or make a change to the routing, you can do so for free within 24 hours. That’s why I suggest everyone ticket the Singapore Airlines segments you want immediately online, and then worry about adding the other positioning or regional segments later. They’ll be around, while this Singapore space probably won’t be.

After that United allows free routing changes up until 21 days before departure at no cost (however changing the origin or destination would incur a fee). Within 21 days of departure and for origin or destination changes, the fees are $75 for non-elites, $50 for Premier Silver members, $25 for Premier Gold members, and there are no fees for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members.

For canceling a trip and redepositing the miles the fee is $150 for non-elites, $125 for Premier Silver members, $100 for Premier Gold members, and there are no fees for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members.

US Airways:

US Airways charges a flat $150 for any change or mileage redeposit, which is waived for Chairman’s Preferred members. This includes changing a flight, route, origin, destination, date, etc.

How do I know if my ticket was issued correctly?

There is exactly one thing you should be looking for to make sure your ticket is issued correctly — your ticket number. If you have a ticket number your ticket is issued, and (in theory) can’t be revoked. If booking through United, access your itinerary and click “View Receipt.” The ticket number should appear at the top of the itinerary. When ticketing reservations with United it usually takes 5-20 minutes for the ticket to be issued. In the meantime you’ll see a script at the top of the itinerary which reads “your purchase is confirmed.” That means it’s being processed and not yet issued. The ticket is issued once that script says “This reservation was ticketed and confirmed at ______.”

US Airways issues tickets instantly, and the ticket number will appear at the bottom of the reservation when viewed on usairways.com.

You can also get your six digit confirmation code by calling the airline that issued your ticket or Singapore Airlines directly (though they may have especially long hold times right now given that their systems were down for 28 hours). However there really is no need to get your Singapore confirmation number until the dust settles, as it doesn’t make the ticket any more “official” than just having the ticket number from the airline that issued your ticket.

How do I select seats for my trip?

First of all I think lots of people assume that their booking is more official if they select seats — this isn’t the case. I don’t think there’s any rush to get seats, though if you have the Singapore Airlines six-digit confirmation code, you’re best off getting seats on Singapore Airlines’ mobile website, which even works on PCs. Their regular website is a bit glitchy given the huge system transition and as a result returns error messages, though you should have more luck if you go to https://mobile.singaporeair.com.

Once there select “My trips” and then enter your last name and the Singapore Airlines confirmation code. Once there you should be able to select your preferred seats and view your itinerary.


  1. Thanks Lucky! This is why you have a loyal following….unfortunately, I only was able to change my booked award flights from other carriers to SQs EWR-SIN flight. I so wanted to try the 380, but at least my buddy got it and a boatload of other readers.

  2. It’s funny that the premium on TPAC flights is 10K, but HKG-SIN the premium is 12.5K. I figured it wasn’t worth 12.5K miles to up from Business to First on a 3:40 flight, so SQ1 in business it is.

  3. hey Ben… awesome FAQ! wonder if any of this affects the (always-difficult) SIN-MLE Maldives availability? John and I were having so much trouble getting what we wanted that we finally ended up moving amex points to krisflyer and just getting the award from SQ directly. a shame, since we wanted to burn excess UA miles, and now it’s too late to turn back (unless we want to carry forward a krisflyer balance for some future travel, I suppose). but who cares, we’re goin’ to the Maldives! (heh)

  4. @ eric — Hey, look at the upside — you’re going to the Maldives! šŸ˜€

    Yep, this has definitely caused availability on the SIN-MLE route to get MUCH better all of a sudden.

  5. @ Angelina — In business class there are no pajamas or amenity kits. They do give you slippers and eyeshades, and then have the individual items that you would usually find in an amenity kit in the lavatory.

  6. Lucky: We are planning on traveling to BKK next summer, so would love to travel in F on Singapore Airlines with a stop in Singapore. Can I change the dates of travel, as long as we keep the same itinerary (SFO-SIN-BKK)? (Our travel won’t be until late June.) Or are we required to travel from SFO to SIN on whatever dates we originally book? Thank you so much for this amazing find.

  7. @ Kiddad — No, you couldn’t change the dates unless Singapore Airlines has award availability on the new dates, and once they pull the space they won’t, unfortunately. So you’ll need to know the dates for the segments you want to book on Singapore Airlines.

  8. Thanks for posting the FAQ! Just jumped on the bandwagon and have made booking for March!

    IAD to LHR
    Flight: UA924
    Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
    Fare Class: United Global First (O)

    LHR to SIN
    Flight: SQ305
    Operated by Singapore Airlines.
    Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
    Fare Class: First (O)

    SIN to DPS
    Flight: SQ946
    Operated by Singapore Airlines.
    Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
    Fare Class: Business (I)

    Now let’s home I can find flights using AA miles on the way back!

    Thanks again, Lucky! Very excited to go to Bali!

  9. Two questions Ben:

    Making changes later incurs a change fee?

    Is using US Airway miles just as easy as using Unite miles to book this?


  10. @ Sarah — Awesome trip, congrats!

    @ JP2 — Yes, you pay $150 per change with US Airways. Using US Airways miles should be just as easy as using United miles in this case as they have access to the same availability.

  11. Just wanted to say thanks for answering not only my questions, but everyone else’s. Wish it was February already so i can experience all these flights!

  12. Thank you very much Lucky !!!!

    I was able to book with Aeroplan:

    YUL-MUC LH Business (Will try to upgrade to First later)
    MUC-SIN SQ First
    SIN-SYD SQ First
    SYD-SIN SQ First
    SIN-MUC SQ First
    MUC-YUL LH Business

    All for 185,000 Aeroplan Points + $525 in fees

    I live in YVR and I was going to book YVR-YUL YUL-YVR on a separate redemption (100K Points + $325 in fees).

    When I called Aeroplan and asked if there was any chance to add YVR-YUL and YUL-YVR to my SYD redemption to my amazement the agent said YES ! And not only did he not charge me for the change (Supposed to be $90) I don’t think he charged me for the fees (He asked for my CC but when I look at my booking the fees have not changed.

    This must be Christmas in July.

    Thanks Again Lucky!!!

    Without you I’d be flying YVR-PVR with an overnight in PHX or maybe buying toasters.


  13. Hi lucky I am fairly new to redeeming united miles, however I’ve been wanting to do business or first NYC-PVG// HKG-NYC// NYC-HNL…. I’m not sure this is possible though because I do want to take advantage of trying Singapore for the asia part of my trip in feb mar or may 2013 however the dates only go as far out as June 2013 so if I wanted my NYC-HNL free one way to be in dec2013… How can I possibly do that if the award availability isn’t even up for grabs yet?


  14. @ Panda — Technically you can’t route via both Europe and Asia enroute to Australia. I doubt it would price with United, though chances are that you can get away with it with US Airways.

  15. @ Sash — No way to do that unfortunately. Tickets are valid a year from the date of issue, and there’s no way to extend that.

  16. My hat is off to you, Luckster…I saw this last night and balked…and balked…and balked…and then today booked IAH-DME-SIN-PEK for 80,000 UA miles and $19.50 for all-SQ F and all on one trip.

    Out-freaking-standing! I think you broke this story, to a tip of the Texas cowboy hat to ya.

    Maybe I will tweet the entire trip to SQ during the trip if there is wifi on the plane!! šŸ™‚

  17. Hi lucky,
    So to clarify, if i were to book an award flight today then the date of issue for the tickets would be today/ valid one year from today which means my free oneway would need to occur prior to July 2013…? Sorry if this was a bad question …this whole time I thought the issue date was one year from the date you are set to fly! .. How sure are you that these Singapore flights will no longer be available after 28 hrs?

    Thanks, looks like I’ll have to plan again…

  18. @ Sash — Correct, all travel would need to be complete by the same date next year.

    I’d say it’s pretty certain the space will be pulled soon. The 28 hours is over, so I’m sure it won’t be long.

    Either way the routing you propose wouldn’t be legal. You can’t return from HKG to HNL with a stopover in NYC.

  19. @ theblakefish — Awesome, congrats! Though I hope you paid 70K, which is the one-way cost in first class for that itinerary. šŸ™‚

  20. Ben,

    Is this legal and would be 160k United and 140k US Air?

    ATL-ZRH (LH) Bus
    ZRH-SIN (LX,SIN) stopover for a few days

  21. Thanks, Ben. I just booked SQ SIN-SFO in 1st on January 2nd. Going to fly UA to SIN from NRT (leaving from EWR) the week before. Very excited to try SQ 1st!!

  22. 12 hours after booking, my flights haven’t ticketed. I called UA about 6pm and they said, all fine, just running behind.

    I called again now (1130pm central) and the CSR said it hasn’t ticketed because I don’t have enough miles. I transferred 140K from Chase to get enough UA miles. It showed immediately on my UA page, but the agent is saying it hasn’t shown up yet.

    I’m afraid if I leave this until the morning, the pending ticket will be canceled.



    (fyi, it is First on Singapore from MCI-Moscow)

  23. I think I need to engage the Points Pros for this. I don’t have to patients to deal with both United and US Airways agents.

  24. @ Anita — Once the miles are in your account, have them rerun the ticket. It should be issued within a few minutes.

  25. @ JP2 — With United the tickets auto-price. Just ask them to enter all the segments and the computers will automatically price the reservation. Hanging up and calling back should do the trick.

  26. While in the process of booking flights on UA.com this morning I also joined Krisflyer and checked availability for the same flights using Singapore miles and the flights that I was able to book on UA.com were not available on Singapore’s web site.

  27. @ Mike — I’d be willing to bet it’s not. They’re dealing with a LOT with the system migration, and I doubt this is their first priority.

  28. Hi Lucky,
    Booked EWR-SIN RT and would like your opinion on the following (all are on SQ and assuming still available)
    EWR-SIN Bus direct on A340 vs EWR-SFO then SFO-SIN on 773 First (SQ1)

    SIN-CDG on A380 Bus vs SIN-SFO on 773 First (SQ2)


  29. Hey Ben,

    2nd UA agent and 1st US agent got me tkts on hold pending ticketing. Gotta transfers some miles now.

  30. @ Frieda — I would do Singapore first class in both directions even though the routing isn’t as direct.

  31. Still don’t see the SQ booking reference number yet. How can I get that and will I be able to choose my seats once I have it?

  32. Thanks Lucky … I’ve switched my SINHKG from SQ’s decent new regional J to their spanking 77W F =) not as great as those 10+ hour segments others got, but better than nothing.

    My question for you is : if SQ decides to switch my flight to A380 down the road, would they honor my booking and put me in suites, or involuntarily downgrade me to J?

  33. I see a lot of trip reports with SQ’s 777-300ER coming šŸ™‚

    (They are few and far in between on the likes of Flyertalk et al., but I think that will change very soon!)

  34. Thanx Lucky, I was gonna book a return trip from Europ to Shanghai on Swiss business and Turkish business (as the 1st class seats are hard to find during X’mas peak time). For 100,000 US Airways divident miles, now I’m all the way on Singapore 1st class, amazing tips!! Can’t thank you enough.

  35. Booked this for next month… Sfo-(icn)-sin-hkg-sin-dme-Iah in First class! Only 120,000 US miles. makes up for not able to book Lufthansa anymore. Thanks!

  36. So I just got off the phone with Singapore to get my confirmation number and they said the ticket hadnt been ticketed yet. They said I should call up the airline issuing the ticket. I called US Air and they told me that Singapore had denied the booking inspite of SQ creating a PNR. US Air said that SQ could deny booking up to 72 hours from time of issuance. So be careful out there!

  37. yep…no more inventory for biz and lst on singapore last i checked….oh well, at least i booked one trip for two

  38. Lucky

    It appears I got the ticket number but when I try to using the my trips to select seat, it says incorrect info. I am traveling in September 2012 on SQ15 from SFO to ICN, could that be the reason?

  39. suddenly my very simple SIN-LHR, FRA-SIN on SQ F for 110k US miles seems like a poor deal compared to the SFO-SIN-HKG-SIN-DME-IAH for 120k US miles which everyone seems to be getting! oh well, perils of being SIN-based. =) but hey, beggars can’t be choosy!! thanks Lucky!!! and apruva!

  40. Ben,

    Thanks for putting this FAQ together. I read a couple 100 comments on the original post and the above and I still have a question.

    If I book a ticket, can I subsequently cancel it and redeposit the miles if I can’t make if my or my companions situation changes?


  41. @ Dan — You sure can, up until your departure date. However, if you have two passengers on a single record, you can’t just cancel the ticket for one. If you’re on separate records, however, one person could cancel.

  42. Do you have links to any good 777W first class trip reports? After booking my tickets on SQ1 I tried to find some online, but didn’t come up with many. It seems that the suites garner most of the attention on flyertalk and other sites.

  43. Lucky,


    Booked CX F with BA pre-avios miles, BKK-HKG-JFK, gonna take the 0330 train back to DC. We’re flying out on CX ORD-HKG-DPS, also in F. Won’t cancel this because there’s a stop in HKG.

    Would you trade the CX F return flight for BKK-SIN (SQ/TG J) connecting with SQ F to SFO, then UA Y to IAD? IMHO, the routing absolutely sucks, and I have to spend 5 hours in coach.

    OTOH, I’ll probably get back $400 in fuel surcharges, 150,000 Avios points (2 passengers) and get to skip the Amtrak ride home.

    What would you do? I’m highly inclined to keep our current routing, as this is our first trip in CX F, and TBH, what I can piece together is pretty terrible. But is SQ F *that good* where you’d put up with all of that coach travel and connections?

  44. Lucky – you were right, I only paid 70,000 miles. Thanks again for the heads-up on this truly once-in-a-lifetime deal!!! šŸ™‚

  45. @ Puck — You can “book the cook” and if something looks more appealing on the menu you can ask for it instead. They almost always have extras and are therefore able to accommodate it.

  46. @ Dan — I’d keep what you have now for a few reasons:
    — I’m not convinced Singapore first is better than Cathay Pacific first. They’re both top notch products, so it’s more the novelty of being able to redeem for Singapore Airlines first class that’s tempting in this instance.
    — The transcon in coach sucks.
    — Your Avios points will be worth a LOT less if you redeposit them. Use them while you got great “bang for the buck.”

  47. The only time I remotely did any thing close to this is when I booked roundtrip from JFK to Vancouver via cathay Pacific.

    It was only 50 k for business & 65k for First Class.

    Never had First class (or Business for that matter) so I figured it was a no brainer 15k points to experience first class on Cathay Pacific for a 6 hour flight that cost over $600!!

    Looking forward!

  48. How likely is it that SQ211 (SIN-SYD) and SQ218 (MEL-SIN) will be flying A380s (not 777-300s) come February, 2013? I sure I hope I luck out on at least one of those!

  49. @ Ari — I’d say you have a reasonably good shot at an A380 upgrade on at least one of them, especially since it’s high season in Australia.

  50. @Ari @Lucky so sometimes they change to the A380 and all first class passengers would be in the suites? I’m on the SQ211 in Feb so I hope that’s the case!

    @Lucky I know this isn’t a big deal but is there a way to price the reward ticket I booked? I tried rebooking the same exact award ticket on United but exact flights and classes not available. (I’ve seen it say pay $xx,xxxx instead of using points). I tried booking a regular ticket on United but says it can’t find any tixs for my itinerary. Wanna write a blog post about it and would be cool to have the full fare price to mention.

  51. @ Benny — Yes, if they do switch the aircraft you would be in Suites. Your best bet for pricing it would be to go to Orbitz and search using multi-city.

  52. So I just spoke to Singapore Airlines and selected seats. I asked to confirm my seats were ticketed and confirmed I was told they see the reservation but no ticket was associated to the reservation. When I gave him the ticket number he said he was unable to associate my ticket with the reservation. I was told SQ’s system will automatically cancel unless United corrects this. When I call United they say the ticket is definitely issued.

    Does anyone know what United’s or SQ’s responsibility is? I’m worried because I had to cancel another first class flight so I don’t want to get left with nothing.

  53. @ Milezjunkie — I suspect it’s a function of their system having been down for so long. Just give it another 24-48 hours, and I’m sure their system will have caught up.

  54. Lucky, I just tried calling SIA – they are on long holds … so I will give them a couple days before I bug them with checking if my reservation is intact.

  55. I hope this gets resolved soon as my return flight on CX F in only on hold with AA until this Friday…

  56. I have one question. I got my SQ PNR number from UA agent, go to SQ mobile to assign my seats (5/8 occupied). I just check Experflyer’s seat map on that flight and the seat map shows empty as no one has reserved seats.

    Any idea if the SQ system is still migrating that EF won’t update until later?

  57. Hi Lucky,

    I’m curious why so many LAX passengers are choosing the SFO-SIN route rather than the LAX-SIN route. Is it because they can fly F out of SFO as opposed to Biz from LAX? Just wondering if I’m missing something here…



  58. @ stacey — Yes, that’s exactly it. The nonstop flight out of LAX is fantastic if you’re good with business class, but I do think first class is worth the premium, even with the connection.

  59. Any recommendations in terms of a seat choice for a solo traveler for 77W? I’m assuming one of the window choices, but is there any difference between row 1 vs 2?

  60. @ Papa Smurf — I prefer the row two window seats. They’re a bit more private since they’re further from the galley.

  61. Why are any of you calling the airline? Unless you have reservations booked within the next 3 weeks or so…please do not call! Let the fallout settle down and call later….

  62. Hey, SQ First is BACK!! I just found it from JFK-SIN (biz 380), IAH-SIN, etc. If you are regretting not jumping on this deal you have another chance.

  63. Lucky – do you know if it is still possible to book SQ Business Class on the A380 via USAirways? I tried with the Chairmans desk and they said they couldn’t see any availability. Not sure if I should try the US agent roulette or not

  64. I just tried a few different USAir agents—-all came back only Econ on dates that show BIZ N FIRST

  65. Sorry guys, it’s all phantom space. Not actually available. It’s not possible anymore via United or US Airways, no matter what you may see online.

  66. I just booked BKK-HKG-SFO including SQ2 in first. I couldn’t do it online or with an agent so I tried with my iphone and for some reason it worked. United now says ticketed and confirmed. Hopefully it really is!

  67. Seat assignment on SQ was issued almost immediately and I was able to change it on their mobile site. Meanwhile, I haven’t been able to select a seat for the Thai flight from BKK-HKG.

  68. @Ari That’s no good! Would have been awesome to be flying the same time! We’ll have to share stories afterwards. šŸ™‚


  70. Thanks to you I’m booked in SQ 15 and 16 first class in October. I was able to confirm seat with the mobile site. Do you think the regular site will show it soon. I was looking at the book a chef options but the full site won’t let me do anything since it’s not recognizing my reservations yet.

  71. @ Dan ray — Reservations booked through airlines other than Singapore have never been viewable on singaporeair.com, even before the system switch over. Your only option is to use the mobile site or call.

  72. Couple of corrections, firstly the first class seats on the 777 are dreadful, decent bed, dreadful seat! Secondly you can use miles for Suites, I was quoted , wait for this, 2 Million miles!! SQs policy on the Suites is nuts, they are not as good as First Class on Emirates and I have started flying them. SQ needs to sort out its 380 policies quickly!! The planes are always nearly empty when I travel Suites, a stupid name as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *