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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
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?