We like the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program, with its range of partner airlines and mileage based earning. But, how does it fare when it comes to redeeming miles? In this article, we look at the many options for spending miles on flights, cabin upgrades and elsewhere, and point out some of the best value.
Redeeming on Singapore Airlines
Redeeming for premium cabins on Singapore Airlines is the most obvious, but also one of the best, uses of KrisFlyer miles. Being able to use mileage for award tickets in Business and First Class is one of the main reasons many travelers join KrisFlyer. Singapore Airlines are unusual in that they do not typically release their top products as reward seats to other partners (though you will often find business availability with other partners).
Rewards are priced by zone, depending on distance from Singapore, and can involve multiple sectors (with connection in Singapore). There are two mileage rates available – Saver and Advantage:
- Saver awards are lower priced, but have much more restricted availability.
- Advantage awards are higher priced, but with better availability. They also allow two stopovers on a return trip free (one on one-way).
The lowest Saver rates start at 7,500 miles (15,000 miles for Advantage) each way in economy for flights from Singapore to Malaysia, Indonesia or Brunei.
Long haul flights between Singapore and United Kingdom in Business are priced at 92,000 miles for Saver award and 120,000 miles for Advantage award. In First Class / Suites this would increase to 125,000 miles and 220,000 miles.
Redeeming miles with partner airlines
It is of course possible to redeem miles with any of Singapore Airlines’ partners – all the Star Alliance carriers plus Scoot, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Vistara. As with Singapore Airlines redemptions, these are all zone based – but there are a confusing spread of tables to be used for each – all on the KrisFlyer website. To try and make this simple:
- There is one chart (discussed above) for Singapore Airlines flights only, which offers standard Advantage awards and reduced Saver awards
- One chart covers all Star Alliance carriers, plus combined itineraries of Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance airlines
- There is one separate award chart for each other partner, and these partners can only be booked on their own
This system is fine once you get used to it, but it is somewhat limiting to not be able to combine all partners. And quite confusing to have so many tables! American Airlines AAdvantage, for example, has one award chart for flights with all partners, and (in general) all partners can be combined on one itinerary.
No fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines flights
There is good news and bad news here. KrisFlyer does not charge fuel surcharges (only government taxes and fees) for redemption tickets on its own flights. However, it does charge these for most partner airlines (generally those that apply them themselves). These can be prohibitively high for some economy class tickets, and you should always check before considering a route.
Award ticket routing rules
Compared to some other carriers, we think Singapore Airlines offers a generous set of rules for its award tickets. However, they can be very strict, and some routes may not be permitted. In general:
- Awards can all be booked as one-way or return
- KrisFlyer permits stopovers on Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance partner awards. One stopover is free on a Saver (or partner) award booked as round trip. To add one to a one-way trip costs $100. This can be anything from one day up to a full year stop. If you book an Advantage Singapore ticket you can add two stopovers for a return and one for a one-way for free. This can allow some very flexible and good value tickets.
- Back tracking within a ticket route is not permitted – this is where some routes can end up difficult to book
Some good value award route options
As with any airline mileage scheme, there are some routes that are particularly good value. We discuss here just a few of our favorites. Of course, don’t forget the Singapore Airlines premium cabin awards as well.
- Domestic flights within the US. These are priced at 46,000 miles round-trip in Business (or First if just two cabins). To/from Hawaii is 69,000 miles.
- Flights with Alaska Airlines. Economy rates here are quite low – flights within the US start at 7,500 miles each way and rise to 12,000 for flight to/from Alaska or Hawaii.
- Flights with Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand within South Pacific. Flights within this region (which includes Australia, New Zealand and many Pacific Islands) are great value at 25,000 miles round-trip in Economy and 56,000 miles in Business. With the right routing you could add a stopover on the same ticket to see more.
- Europe to South Africa. Flights between these regions are well priced at 55,000 miles return in Economy and only 90,000 in Business. South African Airways offers a good Business Class product, and you could also add a stopover and additional flight within the region.
Use miles for upgrades with Singapore Airlines
Another good use of KrisFlyer miles is to upgrade a revenue Singapore Airlines ticket. All but the lowest (known as ‘Lite’) tickets can be upgraded. Miles required depends on the route and booking class of the original ticket. There are tables on the KrisFlyer webstie.
Singapore Airlines is a lot more flexible with upgrades than many other airlines. They allow direct upgrading from economy to Business Class (this is a new feature in 2019), and also offer wait listing for upgrades on particular flights.
Use miles for upgrades with Star Alliance partners
KrisFlyer also offers mileage upgrades on other Star Alliance airlines. Economy to Business and Business to First (where applicable) upgrades are available, but generally only out of the higher fares. Business upgrades for example are only available with many airlines for tickets booked in full fare Y or B class.
Other uses for KrisFlyer miles
There are several options for redeeming miles other than for award flights or upgrades, but these tend to not be as good value.
Miles can be used for hotel stays and car hire globally, booked through the KrisFlyer Vrooms portal. There are plenty of options here, and rates vary – always compare with equivalent cash prices to check value.
KrisFlyer also has a shopping portal, KrisShop. This allows use of KrisFlyer miles to purchase items from a wide range of stores. Here 125 miles are worth one Singapore dollar. This is aimed at the Singapore market, but most products offer international shipping for those located elsewhere – just remember to factor that in.
And if you want even more options, KrisFlyer has a partnership with Virgin Australia’s Velocity program. Miles can be converted at rate of 1 Velocity point for every 1.55 KrisFlyer miles. In our opinion, there is probably better value in using miles in KrisFlyer’s shop, but this does open up options for those that regularly use Velocity.
The options to use KrisFlyer miles on flights are extensive – certainly this is one of the strong points of the program. Miles give you one of the only ways to access the excellent Business and First Class products that Singapore offers, as well as access to flights and upgrades on an extensive range of partners.
We like the zone based routing (rather than per segment) which allows more complex itineraries, and the ability to add stopovers opens up many options. The multiple routing charts can be confusing though, and the inability to combine all partners is certainly a limitation. The fuel surcharges on partner tickets are a problem, and somewhat limit value in many cases.
Overall though, this is an excellent mileage scheme with strong redemption options. For anyone who collects with one or more of the partner financial points schemes (see more details in our KrisFlyer guide), KrisFlyer can be a great way to get value out of points.