Singapore KrisFlyer glitch raises the cost of some United awards — but don’t panic

Feb 10, 2021

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What is reportedly an error on the Singapore Airlines website has raised the cost of some United Airlines awards booked through its KrisFlyer loyalty program.

The program is temporarily pricing domestic United awards leg-by-leg, similar to how British Airways Executive Club prices award tickets. This means that you pay for each segment of a connecting flight individually, making one-stop itineraries more expensive than nonstop.

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We’re seeing this across all domestic flights operated by United — including those to or from Hawaii. This is a very popular option for using points and miles to get to the Aloha State and is usually one of the better deals when it is available.

As an example, take this award from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL). We see the usual 17,500-mile economy pricing in the search results for both a nonstop flight and a one-stop flight via Los Angeles (LAX).

ORD HNL KrisFlyer Search Results
(Screen shot courtesy of Singapore Airlines)

When we select the one-stop itinerary, however, the price changes to 30,000 KrisFlyer miles. This is the same as booking Chicago to Los Angeles (12,500 miles) and Los Angeles to Honolulu (17,500 miles) individually. Selecting the nonstop itinerary gives us the usual 17,500 mile pricing.

ORD LAX HNL Krisflyer Itinerary
(Screen shot courtesy of Singapore Airlines)

Interestingly enough, international awards don’t appear to be affected nor are other Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa and Air China. But, not to worry, this is not the end of these award deals as we knew them.

In a statement to TPG, Singapore Airlines confirmed that this per segment pricing is an error and that the airline is working quickly to fix:

“SIA is aware of an issue whereby mileage redemption levels may be incorrectly quoted when booking some multi-sector domestic U.S. itineraries.  We apologize for this error and are working closely with our GDS partner to resolve the issue.  In the interim, passengers requiring assistance may contact KrisFlyer Membership Services at www.SingaporeAir.com/contactus or reach our staff at +1 (312) 843-5333.  Once again, we apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

Don’t be too concerned if you see higher pricing on some United-operated awards. Singapore Airlines members looking to book connecting United awards should call the airline to book for the time being — otherwise, you could be subject to higher pricing.

What can you learn from this glitch?

United 737 at ORD
(Photo by EQRoy/Shutterstock)

You should use this glitch as a reminder to always double-check the cost of award tickets with the airline’s award chart (if it has one). This will help you quickly spot award pricing glitches and ensure that you never spend more miles than you have to on an award ticket.

Singapore Airlines is one of many major airlines that still publishes an official award chart (warning: PDF link). This helped TPG’s Nick Ewen quickly spot the pricing error when looking for a connecting United award ticket.

This also speaks to the overall importance of award charts for airline programs. Many airlines — including Delta and United — stopped publishing award charts in favor of dynamic pricing. If a similar pricing error happened with one of these airlines, we’d have no point of reference to know if a high-priced award was an error or simply a high-cost dynamic award.

A few of the airlines that still publish award charts include Air Canada, American Airlines and British Airways, amongst others. Some of these airlines have added aspects of dynamic pricing — for example, American Web Special awards — but thankfully retained an award chart pricing for partner awards.

Feature photo by J Hopwood/Shutterstock

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