Maximizing Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer partner awards
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Even if you’ve never set foot on a Singapore Airlines plane (or visited Singapore, for that matter), you probably have access to plenty of the carrier’s KrisFlyer miles. That’s because Singapore is one of the only airlines that partners with all of the major transferable point programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. And since Singapore Airlines almost never releases premium class award seats to partners, KrisFlyer miles can be extremely valuable to use to travel in some of the best products in the sky.
That said, the KrisFlyer program can also be useful for redemptions on its 25 Star Alliance partners and five other airline partners. In fact, there are some sweet spots within its partner award charts that make KrisFlyer partner awards worth considering over other programs.
To help you maximize your next redemption, this post will run down everything you need to know about booking partner awards through Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.
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Let’s start with some basics. The KrisFlyer program has multiple zone-based award charts, including its two main ones for travel on its own flights and those operated by its Star Alliance partners (warning: these are PDF links):
Each one of its non-alliance partners has its own, separate award chart (also all PDFs):
- Alaska Airlines.
- Virgin Atlantic.
- Virgin Australia.
- Vistara (an Indian carrier based in Delhi).
- Juneyao (a Chinese carrier based in Shanghai).
Although KrisFlyer also has a partnership with JetBlue, you can’t redeem miles with the airline.
How to book awards
In theory, Star Alliance and other partner awards can be booked online and in Singapore’s app, so you shouldn’t need to call the airline. However, based on my experiences, the Singapore website is really only useful for booking flights operated by Singapore and Silkair. While it was able to find some partner flights, it missed some of the options I found on United.com, which should have the same access to Star Alliance award flights that Singapore does. It also has a relatively slow search engine and provides minimal options for flexible searches like a calendar view or the ability to see multiple classes at once.
As a result, I’d suggest starting with another Star Alliance site to find award availability. Once you find available award flights, you can try to replicate the itinerary on Singapore’s site, but you’ll probably have to call to actually book. Fortunately, Singapore Airlines’ U.S. call center is open 24 hours a day and the carrier doesn’t charge phone booking fees. Just be advised that when their representatives quote the taxes and fees in dollars, they are usually referring to Singapore dollars (which are presently worth about 73 U.S. cents).
Every airline has its own rules that determine which flights you can and cannot book with your miles. You can read Singapore’s entire terms and conditions, but here are the highlights:
- Most partner flights can be combined: You can combine Singapore/SilkAir flights with flights from other Star Alliance carriers. However, flights on non-alliance partners must be ticketed separately in accordance with their own award charts.
- You can book one-way awards: One-way awards are permitted for flights on all carriers. Just be sure to look carefully at the applicable award chart, since some are priced as one-way and others are round-trip.
- There’s a six-segment maximum: You can’t have more than six individual flights on an itinerary, but you can book two separate one-way itineraries to have a greater number of permitted segments.
- You can’t backtrack: Singapore Airlines has a “no-backtracking” rule that doesn’t seem to be very specific. The terms and conditions simply say, “Travel must be made via the most direct route.” Clearly one can’t backtrack across regions, as most airlines forbid on award tickets, and there are reports that even small backtracking segments are not permitted. However, I’ve personally booked and flown Singapore Airlines from Delhi (DEL) to New York-JFK via Singapore (SIN) and Frankfurt (FRA) as a one-way award, so clearly they do allow backtracking in some situations.
- You’re allowed one free stopover on round-trip awards: However, this doesn’t apply to flights entirely within Europe or on flights within/between the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Stopovers are defined as any layover over 24 hours, or anything over 4 hours within or between the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico or U.S. Virgin Islands. You can also add up to three additional stopovers for $100 USD each. Stopovers on one-way saver awards are $100 each.
As is the case with most foreign carriers, Singapore imposes fuel surcharges, often labeled “carrier-imposed” surcharges, on most partner award tickets, though it doesn’t charge them on flights operated by Singapore or its SilkAir subsidiary.
Current exceptions include:
- United Airlines flights within the Americas.
- Virgin Australia domestic flights.
In addition, fuel surcharges for LOT Polish flights are very low.
Best KrisFlyer partner awards
Here are some of the partner award sweet spots offered by the Singapore KrisFlyer program (all award prices are for round-trip itineraries):
- North America to southern South America in business class: Singapore charges 115,000 miles vs. at least 120,000 miles on United. Flights on United or Avianca will have no fuel surcharges. However, if you’re booking Avianca-operated flights and have access to Amex, Capital One or Citi points, be sure to compare award rates through Avianca LifeMiles, as certain destinations to the U.S. are just 45,000 miles each way in business class.
- Mainland North America to Hawaii: United, Avianca LifeMiles and Air Canada’s Aeroplan program charge upwards of 45,000 miles to fly from the U.S. to Hawaii in economy class and 70,000 miles for business class. However, Singapore only charges 35,000 and 69,000 miles for these United-operated flights, respectively.
- North American flights in business class: Flights within the United States and Canada (excluding Hawaii but including transcontinental flights) are priced at 46,000 miles in business class. United usually charges at least 50,000 miles for these flights, but often more on transcontinental routes.
- Flights within “Hawaii/Central America”: Singapore’s chart considers Hawaii and Central America to be within the same zone, which also includes Bermuda, the Caribbean, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Flights within this region are 35,000 miles for economy and 69,000 miles for business class. Conceivably, you could fly round-trip from Aruba to Hawaii on one award for as little as 35,000 miles. To take advantage of this, you might pre-position yourself in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America or Bermuda before beginning an award trip to Hawaii, with a stopover in your home city in each direction (the second stop-over will cost $100) and an open-jaw return to another destination within the Central America/Hawaii zone (not including Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands). It would take a lot of planning, but you should be able to get two additional one-way tickets to Bermuda, Central America, or the Caribbean for the same number of miles as a simple Hawaii award, plus an additional $100. This would seem to work best if you live in a United or Air Canada hub, or any city from which those partners serve Hawaii.
- Alaska Airlines flights: Singapore’s Alaska award chart is surprisingly generous — unless you want to fly to Hawaii or Alaska in first class. Economy awards start at 7,500 miles each way and top off at 12,500 miles, including Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Cuba. Just note that you can’t book connecting award tickets with Alaska.
Earning Singapore KrisFlyer miles
As noted above, the KrisFlyer program is a partner of all of the major transferrable points currencies:
- American Express Membership Rewards.
- Capital One Rewards.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Citi ThankYou Rewards.
- Marriott Bonvoy.
As a result, you can transfer points earned on a number of different cards to Singapore to lock in these award tickets. Most transfers happen within 24 hours, but the times may vary by program.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months card membership.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Citi Premier® Card: Earn 80,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Singapore Airlines’ reputation has been forged thanks primarily to its terrific premium classes and its relaunch of the world’s longest flight, but its KrisFlyer program has some solid redemption options for partner award flights as well. It’s also exceedingly easy to bank a ton of Singapore miles thanks to its partnership with all of the major transferable point programs. If you’re looking to redeem credit card rewards for your next trip, especially for any of the above Star Alliance flights, be sure to consider KrisFlyer.
Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.
Featured photo by Ore Huiying/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
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