The ultimate guide to Singapore Airlines elite status
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Singapore Airlines has always had a special allure for me. There’s just something about its super-premium first and business class products, posh lounges and an assortment of interesting fifth-freedom routes that keeps pulling me in. So when I was writing the Ultimate Guide to Singapore Krisflyer earlier in the month, I was particularly interested in its elite status program.
In this article, I’ll give you a quick overview of Singapore Airlines’ various status tiers, with a list of each level’s benefits. I’ll also assign each benefit a cash value so you can compare the cost of earning status to the value you get in return.
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Before we dive into the specifics, I want to make a couple of quick disclaimers. The first is that these values are completely subjective since each traveler will have his or her own way of valuing these benefits. For instance, if you fly on Singapore Airlines every week, you’ll get a lot more value than someone who flies the airline three of four times a year. Additionally, someone who only flies in first or business class may see less benefit than someone that frequently sits in the back, since preferred seating and seat selection are already included with the ticket.
Further, these numbers are based on the benefits you’d enjoy after achieving status and continuing to qualify each year thereafter. These numbers will be skewed if you’re qualifying from scratch, as the first 25,000 elite miles you earn will have zero benefits. This can be tough if you’re sitting in economy class but, again, it will be a different experience in a premium seat.
As with all of TPG’s status valuations, I’ve made a few assumptions when calculating valuations and the cost to achieve status. In order to determine an accurate valuation of each status tier, I have to assume a certain amount of flying and spending. Here’s a quick look at my assumptions:
- You earn 20% more elite miles or PPS Club points than the minimum required to earn your desired status tier.
- You spend an average of 12.5 cents per elite mile.
Be sure to adjust these for your travel habits — if you’re exclusively flying short-haul Singapore Airlines routes, your cost per mile may be different than if you’re solely flying long-haul routes. Further, you may have a lower cent-per-mile cost if you’re crediting flights from other airlines to Singapore. But you’d also use the benefits less than someone that only flies on Singapore Airlines planes.
Finally, there are two different types of Singapore Airlines status: Krisflyer status and PPS Club status. Each has two different tiers, but they’re earned in different ways. Krisflyer status is earned based on miles flown while PPS Club is earned based purely on how much you spend for seats in premium cabins. I’ll discuss both in this article, but note that PPS Club status is more costly to earn.
So with that out of the way, let’s take a look at how much Singapore Airlines status is worth in 2020.
Krisflyer Elite Silver ($325)
Krisflyer Elite Silver is Singapore’s entry-level elite status tier. It requires 25,000 Elite miles to qualify for, but there’s no spending requirement. For the purpose of this valuation, I’m going to assume 30,000 elite status miles earned at a cost of 12.5 cents per mile, giving you a total spend of $3,750.
Seat selection privileges ($200)
Singapore Airlines charges for seat selection on its Economy Lite fares. For example, seat selection on Singapore (SIN) to Hong Kong (HKG) flights starts at around $10, while New York-JFK to Frankfurt (FRA) starts at $22.50 one-way. Elite Silver members can select seats for free on Economy Lite fares and the savings can add up, depending on how often you fly. I value this benefit at $200 for Elite Silver status members that take at least four annual long-haul flights in Economy Lite.
25% bonus on award miles ($100)
Silver Elite members earn a 25% bonus on redeemable miles when flying with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir, regardless of your booking class. This is equal to a 7,500-mile bonus on 30,000 miles earned, but could be more if you’re flying in premium cabins. This bonus is worth $97.50, per TPG’s most recent valuations of Singapore Krisflyer miles. I’ll round up to $100 for consistency’s sake.
Star Alliance Silver status ($25)
Elite Silver travelers are designated as Star Alliance Silver elites when flying on any Star Alliance carrier. This status only includes priority waitlisting and priority standby though, so I’ll value it at $25.
Krisflyer Elite Gold ($1,550)
Things get a little more interesting with Elite Gold status. You’ll hit this status after earning 50,000 elite qualifying miles in a given year, which is double the miles required for Elite Silver. I’ll calculate the value of Elite Gold status under the assumption of earning 60,000 elite qualifying miles, which costs $7,500 at 12.5 cents per elite mile.
Enhanced seat selection privileges ($450)
Elite Gold members will enjoy free seat selection on Economy Lite fares and can pick Forward Zone seats for free on all economy flights. Forward Zone seats are located towards the front of the economy cabin, making it easier to board and deplane. I’ll value this benefit at $450 since Elite Gold will use it more and can select better seats.
25% bonus on award miles ($200)
Like Elite Silver status, you’ll earn a 25% bonus on all award miles earned by flying with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir. I’ve doubled the $100 value of Elite Silver’s mileage bonus as we’re assuming double miles flown.
Extra checked baggage allowance ($100)
You can check an extra 44lbs of luggage when flying with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Virgin Atlantic, as well as with all Star Alliance partner airlines. I’ll value this benefit at $100, but you may be able to get more value if you check large bags on every flight.
Priority airport check-in, boarding and baggage handling ($100)
Gold Elite members receive priority boarding, check-in and priority baggage handling on all Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights. I’ll value this benefit at $100 for the sake of this article, but you may get more value if you really value speedier security lanes and not waiting at the check-in counter.
Star Alliance Gold status ($500)
The most valuable benefit of Elite Gold status is included Star Alliance Gold status. Star Alliance Gold benefits can be used on any member airline, and include access to priority boarding and extra baggage on all Star Alliance flights. Even better, you’ll get access to all Star Alliance business class lounges regardless of your class of service, including United Clubs when traveling on domestic flights within the U.S.
Ironically enough, United Premier elite members don’t get this access, so earning Elite Gold as an American traveler can make sense if you value a “free” United Club membership more than United Premier elite status benefits. I’ll value this benefit at $500.
Lounge access with non-alliance partner airlines ($100)
Gold Elite members also have access to Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Vistara lounges when flying on these non-alliance airline partners. The value of this benefit depends on how often you fly with these partners, but it’s undoubtedly a nice benefit to have — especially if you find yourself in Virgin Atlantic’s top-notch New York-JFK and London-Heathrow (LHR) Clubhouse lounges.
Shangri-La Jade status ($100)
Elite Gold members get complimentary Gold Circle Jade status with Shangri-La hotels. This is the hotel group’s entry-level status tier but includes nice benefits like free breakfast, free upgrades and a 25% bonus on points earned on stays.
Elite Gold Rewards
It takes 50,000 Elite miles to earn Elite Gold status and you’ll earn additional rewards for continuing to earn miles on Singapore and Silk Air. Here’s a quick look at all of the Elite Gold Rewards you can earn alongside their respective earning thresholds.
Double Krisflyer Mile Award (60,000 elite miles, worth $100)
Once you earn 60,000 miles, you’ll receive a voucher that lets you earn double Krisflyer miles on a flight segment of your choosing. We recommend using this voucher on a long-haul premium cabin segment, if possible. For example, if you fly Singapore’s ultra-long-haul flight from Newark (EWR) to Singapore in Z fare business class, you’d earn 14,301 Krisflyer miles one-way, since the fare class earns 150% miles flown.
This would earn a whopping 28,602 miles with the double miles voucher, with the bonus miles being worth $186 at 1.3 cents per point. On the other hand, using the voucher on a flight from Hong Kong (HKG) to Singapore in M fare economy would only yield 1,190 bonus miles (worth $15.50) as the fare class only earns 75% miles flown on a 1,587-mile flight. I’ll value this benefit at $100.
Short-haul Advance Upgrade (75,000 elite miles, worth $300)
At 75,000 elite miles, you’ll receive a voucher for a one-cabin confirmed upgrade on a short-haul Singapore Airlines flight. Unfortunately, these certificates are limited to certain booking classes. I’ll value the voucher at $300 under the assumption that you’ll use it to upgrader from premium economy to business class.
Premium Economy Advance Upgrade (100,000 elite miles, $500)
At 100,000 elite miles, you’ll get a voucher you can use to upgrade from economy to premium economy on all eligible Singapore Airlines bookings. This is best used for long-haul flights but is also limited to certain booking classes. I’ll value this voucher at $500 given you can use it for a long-haul flight like San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong.
PPS Club ($1,790)
PPS Club status is earned based on how much you spend on first or business class tickets on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights. You’ll earn PPS Club status after earning 25,000 PPS Club points in one year, with 1 Singapore Dollar being worth 1 PPS Club point. This means you need to spend at least $25,000 Singapore Dollars (approximately $17,634.20 USD) on premium cabin flights in a given year to earn PPS Club Status.
For this status tier, I’ll assume the member spent $21,160 USD (for 30,000 PPS Club points) on Singapore Airlines business and first-class flights combined, with 50,000 miles flown in business class and 10,000 flown in first class. Additionally, I’ll assume the member also flies 30,000 miles per year on Star Alliance partners or Singapore Airlines in the economy.
Here’s a look at PPS Club benefits:
25% bonus on award miles ($390)
You’ll earn a 25% bonus on all Krisflyer miles flown just like you would with Elite Silver and Gold status. This is worth more with PPS Club status, as you’re mostly flying in business or first class. This is worth $390 per TPG’s valuation of 1.3 cents apiece, but you’ll get more value depending on how much you fly.
Enhanced seat selection privileges ($100)
PPS Club members can select standard, Forward Zone and Extra Legroom seats for free when seated in economy class. I’m dropping the valuation to $100 since you’re only flying 30,000 miles a year in the economy cabin.
Extra checked baggage allowance ($100)
PPS Club members are entitled to the same extra baggage allowance included with Elite Gold status. I’m keeping the valuation at $100 as you’re unlikely to require extra baggage if you’re traveling in first or business class and already receive extra baggage with your ticket.
Priority airport check-in, boarding and baggage handling ($100)
You’re eligible for the same check-in, boarding, and baggage handling as Elite Gold members. We’ll keep this value set to $100 as it’s a minor benefit with very subjective value.
Complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi ($100)
All PPS Club members get free Wi-Fi access on Singapore Airlines flights. Unfortunately, access is capped to 100MB on most flights, with the exception of older A380 and 777-300ER flights, which have a 30MB cap. This is a small amount of data to work with, but I’m valuing the benefit at $100, as it’s a real cash saving for travelers who do pay for in-flight Wi-Fi on Singapore Airlines.
Dedicated PPS Club coordinator ($100)
All PPS Club members have access to a dedicated travel coordinator at their local Singapore Airlines office. This representative should provide quicker service than the standard Singapore Airlines call center (especially in a post-coronavirus world), so I’m giving it a value of $100 per year.
Lounge access with non-alliance partner airlines ($100)
PPS Club members have the same non-alliance lounge access as Elite Gold members. I’m keeping this valuation at $100, but again, the actual value will depend on how much you take advantage of partner lounge access.
Free travel insurance policy ($200)
Singapore Airlines provides travel insurance for PPS Club members through AIG Asia Pacific Insurance. This insurance covers international travel and you can view coverage limits on the airline’s website (warning: PDF link). I’ll value this policy at $200, but it’s obviously worth much more if you make a claim.
Star Alliance Gold Status ($500)
Similar to Elite Gold, PPS Club members get full-fledged Star Alliance Gold status. However, I’m valuing the benefit at the same $500 level as Elite Gold as — if you’re mostly flying on first and business class flights — most benefits are already included with your ticket.
Shangri-La Jade status ($100)
This is the same Shangri-La status included with Elite Gold, so I’ll keep the valuation at $100.
Solitaire PPS Club ($4,858)
You can earn Solitaire PPS Club when you earn 50,000 PPS points in a given year, equal to $50,000 Singapore Dollars ($35,268). Any PPS Club points you earn on top of this threshold is stored in a reserve balance that’s valid for three years — you can apply this reserve balance to a future year where you don’t earn enough PPS Club points to maintain your status.
For the purpose of this valuation, I’ll assume the member spent $42,332 USD (for 60,000 PPS Club points), with 100,000 miles flown in business class and 20,000 flown in first class. Additionally, I’ll assume the member also flies the same 30,000 miles per year on Star Alliance partners or Singapore Airlines in the economy.
First-class lounge access ($500)
One of the best benefits of Solitaire PPS Club status is access to first class SilverKris lounges regardless of your cabin of travel on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir. This comes in handy for the 100,000 business class miles and 30,000 economy miles flown, so I’ll value this benefit at $500. Again, the benefit’s value is subjective depending on how much you value access to the first class lounge.
Special services at check-in ($250)
At Singapore Airport, Solitaire PPS Club members have access to the first-class check-in area regardless of their class of travel. This includes a porter that handles your luggage and access to a private customs lane, which can really speed up your travel. I’ll value this benefit at $250.
First-class check-in at other airports ($100)
When you’re not flying out of Singapore, you still have access to standard first-class check-in when flying with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir. This is a nice benefit to have, but the value is minimal given it’s a small timesaver. I value the benefit conservatively at $100 per year.
Priority customs clearance ($100)
Solitaire PPS Club members have access to priority customs lanes at select airports worldwide. This benefit is available at major airports in Asia, Africa, Europe and the South Pacific, including Amsterdam (AMS), Bangkok (BKK), London-Heathrow and Sydney (SYD), so it can be a huge timesaver if you’re traveling on peak dates. That said, I’ll value it at $100 as the value is dependant on how often you travel through participating airports.
Access to the Plaza Premium Lounge at London-Heathrow ($25)
You’ll have access to this lounge when you arrive in London on SQ306 or SQ322 since this lounge opens before the Singapore lounge. I’ll value this benefit at $25 as you’re unlikely to actually use it unless you frequent these two flights.
Priority mileage redemption ($50)
Solitaire PPS Club members have priority access to saver level award tickets on Singapore Airlines. This can save a good chunk of miles, but it’s only valuable if you actually book award tickets frequently. I’m valuing it at $50, but it could be worth more if you book Singapore Suites award tickets at the saver level.
All PPS Club benefits ($2,333)
Solitaire PPS Club members get the rest of the benefits included with PPS Club. I’m keeping the valuation mostly the same. That’s because Solitaire PPS Club travelers are unlikely to use Star Alliance Gold, preferred economy seat selection, and other related benefits frequently since they’re mostly flying in premium cabins. However, I doubled the value of the free Wi-Fi credit to reflect more use, updated the value of the mileage bonus to $633 to reflect more flying and removed priority boarding and check-in as Solitaire PPS Club members have access to first-class check-in.
Solitaire PPS Club status for a friend ($1,500)
You can gift Solitaire PPS Club status to a friend or family member of your choice. I’ll value this at $1,500 recipient likely won’t use the benefits as much as the traveler that earned the status. Regardless, this is one of the most generous status gift offers we’ve ever seen, especially since there are no major benefit exclusions.
PPS Club Rewards
Like Krisflyer Elite Gold members, PPS Club members can earn additional benefits when hitting certain thresholds of PPS Club points. Here’s a look:
Double Krisflyer Mile Award (30,000 PPS Club points, $100)
This is the same as the Elite Gold benefit discussed benefit we discussed earlier: it’s a voucher that lets you earn double Krisflyer miles on a single flight segment of your choosing. I’ll keep the same valuation of $100.
50,000 KrisFlyer Miles Redemption Discount (40,000 PPS Club points, $650)
A certificate you can use for a 50,000 mile discount on any one-class upgrade or award ticket. I’ll value this at TPG’s 1.3 cents per point valuation for Krisflyer miles, meaning the certificate is worth $650.
Advance Upgrade certificate (60,000, 75,000 and 100,000 PPS Club points, $1,000)
A one-class upgrade certificate you can use to upgrade on any Singapore Airlines flight. You’ll get the most value when upgrading to first or business class on long-haul flights, but I’ll value the certificate conservatively at $1,000.
Is it worth it?
So now that you know how much Singapore Airlines elite status is worth, should you try and earn it? There’s no definitive answer to this question as everyone’s travel habits are different. Here are a few things to ask yourself as you work towards an answer:
How much do you travel on Singapore Airlines?
Singapore Airlines’ status is clearly geared towards those who travel on the airline frequently. So unless you really value Star Alliance lounge access, you’re not likely to get value from the elite status program unless you’re based in Singapore or otherwise fly the airline frequently.
Would another Star Alliance status be a better alternative?
If you live in the U.S. or another country outside of Singapore, you’ll likely get more value if you earn status with United Airlines or another Star Alliance carrier. Take a look at the elite status offered by a Star Alliance carrier in your home country and compare and contrast benefits with Singapore Airlines.
Do you already travel in premium cabins?
If you already spend a lot of money on flights in Singapore Airlines first or business class, PPS Club or Solitaire PPS Club is a good bet. On the other hand, spending more money on Singapore Airliners flights just to earn elite status is not a good deal.
Do you value Krisflyer redeemable miles?
You’re going to have to do a lot of flying to earn Singapore Airlines elite status, so make sure that you have a plan to use the redeemable miles you’ll earn in the process. If you don’t like the airline’s award chart, it’s in your best interest to focus on earning status with another airline.
These are loaded questions, so you’ll want to spend time thinking through them before you make a decision. You may find that there’s a better elite status program in the process, or you could find that Singapore Airlines’ status is your best bet. Regardless, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of which elite status is best for your travel habits.
Singapore Airlines has one of the more interesting elite status programs out there, especially when it comes to the PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club tiers. These programs go out of their way to reward the highest-paying Singapore Airlines customers with first class lounge access, free travel insurance and other stylish benefits.
On the other hand, Singapore Airlines’ standard elite status isn’t as valuable as status on the big three American carriers. Elite Gold members get much less value than Premier Gold members — the equal status tier on Star Alliance partner United — who are eligible for free upgrades and premium seat selection on United flights.
That said, analyze your travel plans before you decide to chase elite status with Singapore Airlines. You’re the only one that can decide if the benefits are worth the time and money required to achieve your desired status tier.
Feature photo by KITTIKUN YOKSAP/Shutterstock
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