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I had miles stuck with Singapore Airlines — here's how I finally used them

June 23, 2022
6 min read
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My colleague Kyle Olsen suggested I title this post, “SF flyers with SQ miles… you’re toast,” and I couldn’t agree more.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area — and when I awoke to the news that Singapore Airlines would soon be devaluing their loyalty program, I may have panicked. Okay, I definitely panicked.

You see, while Singapore Airlines is a fantastic airline with world-class premium cabins, the options for flying the airline from the West Coast are pretty much limited to flights to Asia.

The pool of points I had sitting in my KrisFlyer account was from a canceled trip to the Tokyo Olympics — and I had been hoping to save them to get in that trip to Tokyo sometime in the future. When I learned that my precious, hard-earned points would be worth less — though thankfully not worthless — if I didn't book something ASAP, however, I knew I had some trip planning to do.

So, I asked my buddy Kyle — who I consider to be a legitimate points and miles genius — for his help in figuring out how I was going to use 184,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles on an itinerary taking us from San Francisco to Europe.

It's a story of disappointments and revelations — but thankfully, one that has a happy ending.

Here's how I used my Singapore KrisFlyer miles before the upcoming devaluation.

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Canceled plans

I've watched the summer Olympics since I was a child and it's always been a dream of mine to attend the games one year. That year was going to be 2020 and I was beyond excited to travel to Tokyo for the Games.

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(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

For our trip, I'd booked two one-way, business-class award tickets on Singapore Airlines for 92,000 KrisFlyer miles each, with points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. When the games and our flights were canceled, we got all of our points back but they were essentially stuck with Singapore Airlines — it was impossible to transfer them back to Chase or Amex. This didn't seem to be a big problem because the expiration date for KrisFlyer miles kept getting extended thanks to the airlines' COVID-19 support measures; I assumed I would just use them to get to Japan when Japan finally reopened.

A devaluation was a very real possibility, but I had hope.

Plan B

As I have said, Singapore Airlines is a great airline for flying from the West Coast to Asia, but Asia wasn't in the cards for us within the next year due to already pending vacation plans. That's where Kyle comes in. I asked Kyle how I could use these miles to get to Europe even though I was only familiar with people flying Singapore Airlines to Europe from the East Coast.

After a lot of back and forth, we concluded that, at least with miles, there weren't many options for flying from SFO to Europe, at least not when I would be traveling in early April. We checked SFO to Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP), Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) and London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) for a spring break trip to Italy. We didn't have any luck finding award space on Singapore Airlines or on other Star Alliance airlines. I began to think we were going to have to "fly somewhere to fly somewhere" — in other words: fly to an airport that had the flights we wanted.

Kyle received a promotion detailing KrisFlyer redemption from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) to England's Manchester Airport (MAN) or from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Germany's Frankfurt Airport (FRA) for as little as 72,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way. I did a quick search to see how easy it would be to get to Milan from Manchester or Frankfurt and decided that JFK-FRA was our best bet.

After a bit of mental math on what our travel time would look like if we went SFO to JFK to FRA and on to MXP, I decided that the trip was worth it when I factored in that we could easily break the trip up and take our time getting to New York from San Francisco.

(Screenshot from singaporeair.com)

Fingers crossed that we don't experience the same headache that director of content Nick Ewen faced on a recent trip to Crete with his family.

Redeeming Krisflyer miles to Europe

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

I was shocked when I found four business-class tickets available for 72,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way from JFK to FRA still available, and at a time that worked perfectly for my family.

Next, I did some quick math: I would need 288,000 miles to get these seats but I only had those 184,000 miles in my account. This left me with a deficit of 104,000 miles. Thanks to transfers from Amex and Capital One, I was able to transfer the remaining miles I needed to secure our seats.

Related: How to transfer Capital One miles to airline partners

I later found out that we would be flying in their new business-class seats on one of the airline's A380 aircraft — a sweet surprise. At the time of writing, there is still saver award availability for JFK to FRA in early spring 2023.

Bottom line

I had 184,000 miles essentially stuck with Singapore Airlines from canceled travel to Japan for the Toyko 2020 Olympics. When Singapore Airlines announced that a 10% devaluation of their award flights was coming in just a few short weeks, I went into panic mode to figure out how I was going to redeem my miles ASAP.

Thankfully, my colleague Kyle stepped in to save the day. He helped me find business-class award flights from JFK to Frankfurt, Germany for a spring break trip to Italy in 2023 for just 72,000 KrisFlyer miles each one-way.

While this itinerary won't be the most convenient due to having to catch positioning flights to New York, I'm confident that the comfort of lie-flat seats and the airline's signature "Book the Cook" inflight dining will surely make up for it.

Featured image by (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.