You’ll need to wait months to redeem partner miles on this airline

Dec 3, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

Singapore Airlines is one of the most redemption-friendly airlines around. Its KrisFlyer program partners with all of the major transferable point programs, it doesn’t impose any fuel surcharges on its own metal and its flights are usually easily bookable through partners — at least in economy class.

However, through at least early next year, it’s going to be a lot harder to book award flights on Singapore.

In mid-August, we discovered that Singapore was blocking award availability to its partners, including United MileagePlus and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. This was originally only supposed to last through Sept. 1, but was later extended through November. Now, the airline has shared with TPG that the suspension will continue through at least March 2021.

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Booking Singapore awards through partners

Singapore awards could usually be booked through Star Alliance partners like Air Canada Aeroplan and United MileagePlus — along with some non-alliance partners like Alaska Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. The airline always restricted long-haul first- and business-class awards to partners, reserving those coveted seats to members of its own program.

However, now Singapore has blocked off award space to partners entirely, including economy class — and this is now slated to last well into 2021.

While this would usually appear to be a glitch, Alaska Airlines has the following message on its partner page, indicating that it’s not a technical problem and that the coronavirus pandemic is to blame:

Singapore Airlines has removed access to award travel due to the complexities of enforcing global travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Star Alliance partner All Nippon Airways (ANA) also posted a message that mileage redemptions for Singapore have paused, but that it’s due to special regulation of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

Awards in all cabins are still widely available through Singapore’s own KrisFlyer program.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson confirmed the suspension with TPG and provided the following statement back in September:

“The temporary suspension of award seats on SQ/MI from partner airlines’ frequent flyer programmes is aligned with Singapore Airlines’ current policy to limit interline connections due to border entry as well as transit restrictions for connecting flights imposed by various countries. At present, the suspension of award redemptions is valid through November 2020, and is subject to further review based on market conditions.”

On December 3, the spokesperson told TPG that the “suspension of award redemptions will continue through March 2021, subject to further review.”

What you can do in the meantime

If you urgently need to book a Singapore award, you will need to do so through the Singapore KrisFlyer program. Fortunately, KrisFlyer miles are some of the easiest airline miles to earn.

As previously mentioned, the airline partners with all five of the major transferable point programs: American Express Membership RewardsChase Ultimate RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy. However, note the average transfer times below, as point transfers to KrisFlyer usually aren’t instant.

Program Transfer time
American Express Membership Rewards < 24 hours
Chase Ultimate Rewards Usually same day (up to two business days)
Citi ThankYou Rewards < 24 hours
Capital One 36 hours
Marriott Bonvoy < 48 hours

Related: The best travel credit cards

Bottom line

The coronavirus pandemic has had massive impacts on the airline industry. In addition to blocking partner awards, we’ve seen Singapore even block some paid first-class inventory.

This pause is being blamed on COVID-related travel restrictions, so it should only be temporary. However, the fact that it has already lasted four months and is expected to continue for at least another four months is somewhat concerning. Let’s hope that partners regain access in early 2021 — and that other airlines don’t follow suit.

Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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