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March 1 brought some mixed news for those of us who are fans of the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program. Effective for bookings starting March 23, the carrier is implementing a mileage devaluation while also eliminating fuel surcharges on award flights operated by SilkAir and Singapore Airlines.

These changes might be welcome for those who are miles-rich but cash-poor; the elimination of fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines itineraries is going to make these flights cheaper out of pocket. However, the elimination of the 15% discount on online bookings and the broad-based increases to the award chart are making the mileage portion of KrisFlyer awards more expensive.

Thankfully, the airline gave us a three-week notice before implementing the changes. So, before the updates kick in, let’s dig into the current Singapore Airlines award chart to see which flights you’ll want to book before March 23 — and which you might want to wait to book.

In this post, we’re going to focus on Singapore Airlines’ fifth-freedom routes. As with most airline programs, flights from hubs are generally going to have the most limited award space. But, fifth-freedom routes provide US-based travelers a chance to fly to either Asia or Europe on the SkyTrax 5-star Singapore Airlines.

1. San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) — Three-Class 777-300ER

Economy Premium
Economy
Business First
Current Mileage (one-way,
including 15% discount)
25,500 51,000 63,750 70,125
New Mileage 33,000 60,000 82,000 92,000
Current Cash Co-Pay (USD) $24 N/A $24 $24
New Cash Co-Pay (USD) $24 N/A $24 $24
Net Increase in Value $113 $274 $328
Book before or after March 23? Before Before Before

One of the hardest-hit routes is SFO-HKG. Singapore Airlines doesn’t currently impose fuel surcharges on this route, so March 23 is only going to bring bad news: an increase in award cost from an extra 7,500 miles each way in economy up to almost 22,000 more miles for a one-way first-class award. Based on TPG’s valuations of Singapore Airlines miles, you’re losing out on ~$328 of value if you book a first-class award after March 22. Thankfully, you still have two more weeks to book at current rates.

Singapore Airlines flies its three-class Boeing 777-300ER on this route. So, while premium economy awards are technically going up, this isn’t an award that’s available at this time.

2. Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT) — Four-Class 777-300ER

Economy Premium
Economy
Business First
Current Mileage (one-way,
including 15% discount)
27,625 53,550 65,875 74,375
New Mileage 35,000 63,000 85,000 95,000
Current Cash Co-Pay (USD) $69 $69 $69 $69
Post March 23 Cash Co-Pay (USD) $24 $24 $24 $24
Net Increase in Value $66 $97 $242 $264
Book before or after March 23? Before Before Before Before

Another transpacific route is the second hardest hit. While Singapore Airlines currently imposes fuel surcharges on this route, they’re only $45 one-way for any of the four cabins. So, you’re not going to save much cash by booking after March 23.

Unfortunately, this route doesn’t have the carrier’s signature Singapore Suites anymore. However, it’s still a great option to get from the West Coast to Japan. Singapore’s business-class product offers an excellent way to cross the Pacific in a lie-flat bed, and at less than 10k more miles each way before March 23, first class could be worth the splurge — even if it isn’t Singapore Suites. In economy, Singapore maintains a nine-across seating arrangement, in comparison to an ever-growing list of airlines switching to 10-across on the 777.

3. Houston (IAH) to Manchester, England (MAN) — Three-Class A350

Economy Premium
Economy
Business First
Current Mileage (one-way,
including 15% discount)
17,000 38,250 48,875 57,375
New Mileage 22,500 45,000 65,000 76,000
Current Cash Co-Pay (USD) $94 $94 $129 N/A
New Cash Co-Pay (USD) $24 $24 $24 N/A
Net Increase in Value $13 $31 $137
Book before or after March 23? Before Before Before

Did you know that you can fly one-way to Europe in economy for just 17,000 + $94 in taxes and fees? Well, that’s only if you book in the next two weeks. After that, Singapore Airlines will be charging a less-impressive 22,500 miles one-way. That said, the increase in miles is practically offset by the elimination of $70 of fuel surcharges.

Where it really makes sense to book before March 23 is in business class — which is jumping over 16,000 miles each way. This route is serviced by the brand-new — and quite incredible — Airbus A350. While that means no first-class cabin, Singapore Airlines delivers a solid business-class product on this aircraft.

4. Los Angeles (LAX) to Seoul (ICN) — Four-Class 777-300ER

Economy Premium
Economy
Business First
Current Mileage (one-way,
including 15% discount)
27,625 53,550 65,875 74,375
New Mileage 35,000 63,000 85,000 95,000
Current Cash Co-Pay (USD) $180 $180 $194 $204
New Cash Co-Pay (USD) $24 $24 $24 $24
Net Increase in Value -$45 -$14 $117 $129
Book before or after March 23? After After Before Before

As we move down the list, we start getting some options where it might actually make sense to book after March 23 — at least in economy. While paying an extra 7,000-plus miles each way in the main cabin sounds rough, the elimination of $156 in fuel surcharges definitely makes up for the difference. However, that’s not the case for business and first-class on this route, where you have to pay about 20,000 more miles each way. If you can cough up the fuel surcharges in the next few weeks, you’ll be able to stretch your miles much further.

5. New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) — Four-Class Airbus A380

Economy Premium
Economy
Business First
Current Mileage (one-way,
including 15% discount)
17,000 38,250 48,875 57,375
New Mileage 22,500 45,000 65,000 76,000
Current Cash Co-Pay (USD) $180 $180 $194 $204
New Cash Co-Pay (USD) $24 $24 $24 $24
Net Increase in Value -$74 -$55 $72 $99
Book before or after March 23? After After Before Before

Mercifully, the only Singapore Airlines fifth-freedom route with Singapore Suites (JFK-FRA) isn’t going to be that hard-hit by the devaluation. While Singapore Suites is going to cost 18,625 extra miles each way, you’re going to save $180 in fuel surcharges. The trade-off really comes down to whether you’d rather get the cheapest out-of-pocket cost or the cheapest mileage cost. If you’re looking for the best deal on paper, you’re going to want to book Singapore Suites awards before March 23.

However, booking an economy flight before March 23 is equivalent to buying the 5,500-mile difference for the extra $156 in fuel surcharges. At 2.84 cents per mile, this is a pretty bad deal. So, it’s fine to wait to book economy flights until March 23.

How To Book

Need miles to complete a booking in the next two weeks? Thankfully, Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program is a transfer partner of all four major transferable currencies (Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Starwood Preferred Guest). Once you have the miles in your account, booking online is easy — at least once you find award space. Here’s a quick how-to guide with some tips about which transferable currencies you might want to consider:

Bottom Line

Singapore Airlines’ current KrisFlyer program is an excellent way of redeeming relatively few miles for some of the best seats/beds in the skies. However, you’re going to want to act quickly if you want to save a considerable amount of miles. Starting in just two weeks, you’re going to have to transfer a lot more Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points and/or Starpoints to book the same products.

Which route(s) are you hoping to book before the devaluation?

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