Did you know that you can redeem Singapore Krisflyer miles for travel on Star Alliance partner carriers? Of course you did! (And if you didn’t, just pretend like you did for now and we will go into further details later…)
Did you also know that Singapore Airlines may have access to all partner award availability shown at United.com? If not, then read on for some advice on how to save yourself some future pain and suffering!
But first, let’s get a quick refresher on the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program and why people should look into this program as an alternative to United MileagePlus, which may be much more familiar to most US based flyers!
Krisflyer Redemption Pros:
Transfer from most major flexible award currencies –
Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and/or Citi ThankYou points – the trifecta! Plus, SPG starpoints! All transfer to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer!
Lower saver mileage requirement –
There are many routes within the Singapore Airlines Star Alliance partner award chart where Singapore charges less mileage than United for the same exact flights! For comparison, let’s take a one-way Business Class redemption from the US to South Africa (MIA-JNB). Here is the United Airlines Star Alliance partner award chart applicable to that routing:
While here is the Singapore Airlines Star Alliance partner award chart:
That’s only a difference of 7.5k miles, but when you consider how easy Krisflyer miles are to earn via transfer from 4 major flexible award currencies (versus United MileagePlus with just 1 flexible currency transfer partner in Ultimate rewards – SPG is a partner too, but the transfer ratio is atrocious), a Krisflyer redemption may make more sense than one with MileagePlus!
AYP Tip: Check out Award Hacker to find this same result without all the research into the specific airline award charts!
Low award cancellation/change fees –
Singapore Airlines is one of the most generous airline carriers when it comes to award change/cancellations (second only to Alaska Airlines, in my opinion!), charging just $20-30 for a change or redeposit of miles!
Leveraging this generous cancellation/change policy is a great way to get into a Lufthansa First Class award flight, considering Lufthansa does not open First Class award availability until 2 weeks or less prior to the flight. If you are able to book a economy or business class partner award using Krisflyer miles, you can very cheaply change into a Lufthansa First redemption just a couple weeks prior to your flight! And if the award availability does not open up, you could stick with your original routing or redeposit the miles for a tiny fee.
Compare that $20-30 to United’s cancellation/change policy:
Stopovers on round-trip awards –
Singapore Airlines does allow 1 stopover on a round-trip saver award redemption. For example, if my redemption above was a full round-trip (MIA-ZRH-JNB-ZRH-JNB), I would be able to “stopover” in Zurich, Switzerland for as long as I wanted – provided I completed the full itinerary within 12 months! This is a great way to experience two completely different/distinct destinations within a single award redemption!
Of course, United now has the Excursionist Perk available on round-trip awards and if you can understand it, there are some pretty creative route combinations to be had… but that is a post for another day…
Krisflyer Redemption Cons:
Moderate to high fuel surcharges –
While you will you may be able to redeem fewer miles, you will pay for it in the form of fuel surcharges, which may sometimes exceed $200 per one-way! Singapore Airlines policy is to add fuel surcharges to your award booking if the operating carrier imposes them – Travel is free has a pretty great fuel surcharges chart where you can get a better idea on which of the Star Alliance carriers impose the highest fuel charges.
Just recently I was considering the routing mentioned above (MIA-JNB) and found award availability on Star Alliance partner Swiss – routing through Zurich (ZRH). The fuel surcharge on the one-way fare was over $500! This is especially steep when considering the fees on the redemption with United MileagePlus were ~$23…
Note: This was an extreme example as SWISS fuel surcharges a one of the highest of any Star Alliance carrier.
An additional ~$475 for only 7.5k fewer Ultimate Rewards… probably should stick with United MileagePlan for this one!
Ok, so now that you are up to date on a few Krisflyer basics and pros/cons, let me get to the real inspiration for this post…
PSA – Singapore Airlines DOES NOT have access to all partner award availability shown at United.com
BEFORE you make any irreversible points transfers into Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, please please please call Singapore Airlines directly and confirm access to award availability you saw on the United site!
Here is my full detailed process I recommend for anyone and everyone thinking about transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, and/or Starpoints to travel partner Singapore Airlines for redemption on Star Alliance Partners:
Create a Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Account – (its free!) & study the Singapore Airlines Star Alliance partner award chart for redeeming Krisflyer miles on Star Alliance Partners.
Search United.com for Award Availability of Star Alliance:
Call Singapore Airlines at 1-800-742-3333 to ensure the flights are available. Follow the prompts to book an award flight on a Star Alliance Partner Airline. Once you have the agent on the phone, tell him/her you would like to confirm the award availability.
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP! Just because the availability is showing on United, it does not guarantee that Singapore Krisflyer will have access to those same partner awards! There have been multiple instances (once related to the partner redemption on Swiss – as mentioned above – and another instance related to a Lufthansa redemption for my in-laws) where United was showing award availability that was NOT seen by a Singapore Airlines agent. If I would have transferred points prior to calling Singapore Airlines, I would have ended up stuck with Krisflyer miles in my account and without the flight redemption I wanted.
Not the end of the world right? I am sure I could find a use for those Krisflyer miles at some point in my life?
NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Remember, Krisflyer miles expire after just 3 years… so if you don’t use em, you lose em… meaning you DO NOT want to make irreversible point transfers into this program!
Ok, so now that we are all on the same page as far as the importance of calling Singapore Airlines BEFORE transferring points…
If seats are available from Step 3, request a points transfer online from Chase, Amex, Citi or SPG to Singapore Airlines (will have to provide your Singapore Airlines Krisflyer# created in Step 1).
It normally takes about 24-48 hours for these points to transfer (despite the “up to 7 days disclaimer”), so you will have to take a little leap of faith here and pray your availability is still there once the transferred points finally appear as Krisflyer miles in your account!
When the points post to your Singapore Airlines Krisflyer account (after 24-48 hours), repeat Step 3 and this time tell the agent that you would like to book the award! Pay the fuel surcharges and such with a rewards credit card (I recommend the Chase Sapphire Reserve for its 3x UR points earning and travel protections), jot down your record locator, and you are good to go!
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program is worth a look as an alternative to United MileagePlus for award redemptions on Star Alliance partners! With so many positive features and just one little small drawback (unless you are trying to redeem for flights on a partner like Swiss with sky-high surcharges, then it is a huge drawback!), it just may become your new favorite mileage program!
But for goodness sake, whatever you do, please do not start transferring points into your Krisflyer account all willy-nilly without first calling Singapore Airlines ahead of time to confirm your desired award availability!
What has been your experience with Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program? Have you ever redeemed Krisflyer miles for flights on other Star Alliance carriers?