Singapore Airlines Announces Changes to Upgrades, Unbundles Fares, Adds More Fees

Dec 15, 2017

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Singapore Airlines, arguably the best airline in the world, has announced some pretty huge changes to its award and paid flights. Earlier this year Singapore devalued the KrisFlyer award program and earlier this month it did the same to the Star Alliance award chart — most of these new changes just add on top of that.

Now, Singapore will increase award change and cancellation fees, unbundle its regular paid fares, and make it more difficult to get upgraded on cheap paid fares.

New Award Fees

Starting March 1, 2018, Singapore will start charging more for award changes and redeposits. Here’s a look at the new fee structure:

Before the change, Singapore’s fees were relatively modest. But some of the bumps are huge, like the increase in the no-show fee to as much as $300. Here’s a comparison of before and after:

Old Fee New Fee
Date and time changes 0 $25
Change of route or award class $20 $25
Change to partner award ticket $20 $50
Redeposit Fee $30 $50 (Advantage Awards)

$75 (Saver Awards)

No-Show Fee $75 $100 (Economy)

$200 (Premium Economy)

$300 (Business)

$400 (First)

The airline has also renamed its older, pricier “Standard” award class to “Advantage,” although nothing is different between the two.

While not all the increases are significant — and they are still low compared to other frequent flyer programs — it’s still a bummer to see a price bump like this.

Unbundled Economy Fares and Mileage Earning

Following in the footsteps of low-cost carriers and even some legacy airlines, Singapore is unbundling some of its paid tickets. There will be three new fare classes for economy and business, while premium economy will have two and first class will have just one.

Here’s a look at the new economy fares:

The main change here is that Singapore will now start charging for seat assignments on its cheapest economy fares, with prices starting at $5 per flight segment. Families with children under 12 will still be able to choose their seats on Lite fares. Standard tickets will also have to pay for “Forward Zone” seats which the airline says are in higher demand.

The good news is that 48 hours before departure, when online check-in starts, Singapore will open up seat selection to everyone, even those who purchased Lite fares — so all flyers still will be able to have some choice of where they sit. Seat selection fees for KrisFlyer elites will be waived, and Saver award tickets will still allow you to select a seat.

Another silver lining is that economy Lite fares will actually now earn more redeemable miles than the current set of cheapest fare classes (K & V). It’s increasing from 10% to 50% for Lite tickets. However, Standard rates fall from 100% to 75%.

Here are the new premium economy fares:

The main changes for premium economy will be a decrease in miles earned on standard fares, from 110% to 100% while Flexi fares will increase from 110% to 125%. Charges will now apply for extra legroom seats, except for PPS Club members.

Here are the new business-class fares:

Mileage earning on Flexi business-class fares will increase from 125% to 150%.

And lastly, the new first-class fare:

Mileage earning on first-class tickets will increase from 150% to 200%.

New Upgrade Rules and Rates  

Flyers will be able to upgrade from economy on Standard and Flexi fares at these new increased mileage rates — while Lite fares aren’t eligible at all. Before only Y, B and E economy fares could be upgraded with KrisFlyer miles.

In a bit of a negative change, the cheapest premium economy and business-class tickets will not be eligible for upgrades with miles.

Overall Impression

Most of the changes are negative, but luckily they are relatively small tweaks. The big takeaways are that you can’t upgrade a crazy-cheap premium economy or business ticket, which is where you can potentially get huge value, and you’ll be paying bigger fees to modify award tickets. Still, it’s nice to see that the cheapest economy fares will have increased mileage earning rates and still won’t charge for a checked bag — unlike many other large legacy characters.

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