I love tennis and have made plans to watch the 2016 US Open in New York in September.
The issue now: how to get there?
When researching possible routings I came to a stunning realisation: SQ’s award surcharges are a rip-off.
Ok it wasn’t that stunning.
Option 1: Singapore Airlines Krisflyer (Business- 144,500 miles + S$980)
The most obvious option would be to get a business/first class award on SQ26 for SIN-FRA-JFK. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
SQ25/26 is one of the hardest routes to redeem Krisflyer miles for. I can’t even waitlist at the saver level for business/first right now. So unless something opens up in the 2 weeks before departure, this won’t be an option anyway.
And even if it were, there’s the surcharges- S$980 is a ridiculous amount of surcharges to pay on an award ticket. The breakdown-
- Airport/government taxes- S$205.60
- Carrier surcharges- S$773.20
SQ pockets S$773.20 on a “free” ticket. With oil prices at an all-time low, that’s almost criminal.
Option 2: Lifemiles (Business- 156,000 miles + S$88)
If I wanted to avoid SQ’s ridiculous surcharges, Lifemiles would be the next way to go.
Lifemiles offers me a good variety of Star Alliance carriers to experiment with. I know for a fact that ANA, EVA and Asiana (less preferred than ANA and EVA because the SIN-ICN leg will be on their angled-flat business A330s) offer award space to JFK, but those typically open up 2 weeks before departure.
My Lifemiles cost me 1.375 US cents each, so the imputed cost here including surcharges about S$2,960.
Not a bad option, but suppose I don’t fancy paying out of pocket?
Option 3: Cathay Asiamiles (Business- 145,000 miles + S$128 in taxes)
Until this afternoon I knew close to nothing about Asiamiles, so don’t take this as a primer on the subject. But since I have quite a fair amount of unconverted points in my DBS/UOB rewards account, I decided to sniff around and see if I could make this work. And I’m glad I did.
The mileage required with Asiamiles to go from SIN-JFK is virtually the same as Krisflyer, but check out how low the surcharges are!
S$128 with Asiamiles, versus S$980 on SQ!
This makes SQ’s surcharges even more of a jaw-dropping ripoff, and I’m seriously exploring other ways of routing to the States via Cathay, even if it means flying Cathay to Boston instead and taking a budget flight to NYC.
Immediate confirmation was not available so I had to waitlist. You can waitlist even if you do not have the required miles in your account. I am told that for my flight departing on 2 Sept, the ticketing deadline is 23 Aug, and based on what I’ve read on FT the waitlist can clear anytime between now and 23 Aug. Fingers crossed
Note: I know another option to redeem Cathay award tickets exists through Alaska’s Mileageplan, but I don’t want to spend money out of pocket buying Mileageplan miles given that I’ve not even finished using my purchased Lifemiles. In any case, the cost of redeeming a ticket through Mileageplan would be ~S$2,800, or about the same as buying through Lifemiles
For those of you interested in Asiamiles, here’s the award chart. Note that unlike Krisflyer, Cathay does not price one-way awards at 50% of the round trip cost
It is true that the one-way business class price is higher than SQ’s (85,000 vs 72,250), but consider
- the differences in surcharges
- the fact that a round trip business class ticket to JFK at 145,000 miles is practically the same cost of a round trip Krisflyer ticket
- Cathay services other cities in the USA that SQ doesn’t (Boston and Chicago), so if you need to fly there it would be cheaper than redeeming a Star Alliance partner ticket with Krisflyer miles
If nothing else, this should serve as a reminder of how high surcharges can be a form of stealth devaluation. There is no reason why SQ should be charging close to $1K on an award ticket
I always knew that SQ’s surcharges were high, but I never envisioned them being so much higher than Cathay’s. Now that I think about it, I would recommend people give Asiamiles a serious look when deciding which FFP to transfer their DBS Points / UOB Uni$ to.
I really wish we had a strong regulator in Singapore who would speak up for consumer rights regarding airline surcharges. Look at Hong Kong-
The Civil Aviation Department said that the tumble in oil prices had made the surcharges “not warranted”. And they’re right. SQ isn’t even calling it fuel surcharge anymore, they’re using the nebulously defined “carrier surcharges”
But how fair is it that SQ’s customers scrimp and save their miles for a chance to try their business/first class product, only to be hit by surcharges that bring the cost close to that of a discounted economy class ticket?
Of course SQ can charge whatever the hell they want and you’re not obliged to redeem your miles with them, but you’d think that they’d demonstrate a basic appreciation for their customers (even when you redeem miles you earned from your credit card as opposed to flying, the banks paid SQ good money for those miles).
To quote Charlie Brown:
PS: If anyone fancies playing tennis do reach out to me to set up something. I’m about an NTRP 4.0-4.5, depending how much I ate the night before.