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Singapore Airlines is known for their excellent passenger experience in all cabins. The airline is interesting in how they market their cabins, given that the forward-most cabin on their 777s is “First Class,” while the forward-most cabin on their A380s is “Suites.”
The good news when it comes to redeeming miles on Singapore Airlines is that the program is a lot more accessible than most people realize:
- Singapore KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest
- Singapore Airlines blocks off a vast majority of premium cabin redemptions to partner airline frequent flyer programs, so if you want to redeem on Singapore in a premium cabin you’ll want to book directly through KrisFlyer
- Singapore KrisFlyer lets you waitlist award tickets, and those waitlists clear a surprising amount of the time
With that in mind, Singapore Airlines has fairly limited first class service to the US:
- Their flight from Singapore to Manchester to Houston is operated by an A350, which doesn’t feature first class
- Their flight from Singapore to Frankfurt to New York is operated by an A380, featuring Suites (which is the same price as first class if available, but it can be tough to come by)
- Their flights from Singapore to Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles, Singapore to Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles, and Singapore to Hong Kong to San Francisco, are all operated by Boeing 777-300ERs featuring just four first class seats
With just four first class seats on their 777s you’d think it would be really tough to find first class award seats, but that’s not the case nowadays, surprisingly. Singapore Airlines has excellent first class award availability for two passengers on their flights from Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon, Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita, and San Francisco to Hong Kong.
The availability isn’t as good if you want to go all the way to Singapore, though if you’re stopping at the intermedia point (either Hong Kong, Seoul, or Tokyo), availability is excellent. The flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong will cost you 92,000 miles one-way in first class, while the flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita or Seoul Incheon will cost you 95,000 miles one-way in first class. There are no carrier imposed surcharges on these awards.
If you wanted to, for 120,000 miles one-way you could book this as a Star Alliance award ticket, meaning you could include connecting flights on United to get to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and then flights within Asia on Star Alliance partners, assuming you stay within the North Asia region (Japan/China/Taiwan/Hong Kong/South Korea). That’s probably not worth it for most people.
There’s not award availability for two passengers in first class every day, but I’m seeing consistent dates throughout the schedule with availability. I’d say on average maybe two days per week have two first class award seats, with some seasonal variance. When you think about it, that’s pretty crazy — on some flights they’re making 50% of their first class seats available as awards in advance.
You can search award availability directly on Singapore Airlines’ website, which requires a KrisFlyer log-in (though you don’t need to have miles in the account to search availability).
If you’re transferring points from a transferable points currency, transfers typically aren’t instant. Transfers from Amex, Chase, and Citi, take anywhere from 12 hours to two days. The good news is that you can call the KrisFlyer service center and put a ticket on hold for up to three days, so you can hold the space while transferring points. Starwood Preferred Guest is a bit trickier, since transfers take longer.
These planes feature Singapore’s new first class seats (though not new Suites), which are nice, though not my favorite hard product. However, everything else about the experience, should be great, from the food to the service to the champagne.
As a reminder, here are some of the popular credit cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest points:
Finding two transpacific first class award seats in advance can be pretty tough, so I do think it’s worth taking note of Singapore’s award space right now. It’s especially remarkable when you consider that they have just four first class seats, and are willing to make half of them available as awards in advance on many flights. When Singapore Airlines first announced they’d be going from eight first class seats to four first class seats on the 777 I figured that was the end of award seats in advance, but that’s not the case.
Hopefully this is useful to some, especially given that KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies, making this a pretty accessible award.
Has anyone taken advantage of Singapore Airlines’ excellent first class award availability between the US and Asia?