Further analyzing the Krisflyer partner award chart

I’ve written several articles previously about how you can make Krisflyer’s Star Alliance partner award chart work for you.

4 sweet spots on the Krisflyer partner award chart

Revisiting the Krisflyer Star Alliance Partner Chart

It’s no secret SQ doesn’t want you to redeem your miles for partner awards. Whenever someone redeems Krisflyer miles for a Star Alliance partner, SQ has to pay the operating airline some measure of compensation. And yes, the reimbursement rates between airlines may not be a lot, but it still constitutes a cash outflow that SQ could do without.

Therefore, SQ makes it difficult to redeem Star Alliance partner awards by not offering any way of redeeming them online. To book an award you need to call up membership services, who will issue the ticket to you and take payment over the phone.

Does that mean partner awards aren’t worth getting? Hardly. At the risk of flogging a dead horse, I’ve now got some additional thoughts on redeeming Krisflyer miles for partner awards.

I was looking at the Star Alliance partner chart again and decided to do some analysis. The question I wanted to answer was this-

When does it make sense to redeem Krisflyer miles for Star Alliance partner awards rather than SQ tickets?

I entered the cost for Star Alliance award tickets, SQ Saver and SQ Standard awards (after 15% discount) into a spreadsheet.

I then looked at the premium you pay (in terms of Krisflyer miles) when you spend your miles on Star Alliance partner awards versus SQ award tickets.

Here’s the result for one-way awards, taking into account the 15% online redemption discount for Krisflyer award tickets.

click to enlarge

Let’s zoom in on just the premiums-

a positive number means SQ award tickets are cheaper, a negative number means Star Alliance award ticket are cheaper.

Here are my thoughts-

When Saver space isn’t available on Krisflyer, partner awards should be your next port of call

Rather than spending double the amount of miles to redeem a Standard Krisflyer award, why not explore some of the options offered by Star Alliance partners? I’ve flown Business Class on both EVA and ANA, and they are every bit as good as SQ’s.  EVA even offers vintage champagne plus Rimowa amenities kits in Business, meaning that I actually prefer to fly with them than SQ.



You’ll see on my table that Star Alliance partner awards on medium and long haul routes are 20-40% cheaper than SQ Standard awards. First Class awards to Europe, Japan and the US East Coast are 40% cheaper than SQ First Standard. Even if you fancy Business, you could save ~30% by opting for a Star Alliance partner over SQ Business Standard to Japan, the Middle East and Hong Kong.

Even when Saver space is available on SQ, you should look at surcharges

SQ levies a ridiculously high surcharge on award redemptions, not so much because fuel prices are high, but more because they can. The amount of junk fees they collect on award tickets is almost criminal when you look at what other airlines are doing. Cathay Pacific will fly you from Singapore to New York in business class and back for 145,000 miles and $137 in surcharges. SQ? 144,500 miles and $980.

Case in point- I recently redeemed a one-way business class ticket from BKK-SIN on TG for a short trip to BKK post Christmas. Yes, it was largely because they’re operating an A350 on that route (probably to train up as many crew as possible with numerous flights per day before deploying it on long haul routes) and I really want to write a trip report on that, but also because SQ was charging 17,000 miles + $102 in surcharges versus TG at 20,000 miles + $30 in surcharges.

That means by paying 3,000 additional miles, I’d save $72 in out of pocket costs. That gave me a return of 2.4 cents per mile, which isn’t outstanding but in my particular circumstances I was willing to take.

Opting for Star Alliance awards over SQ Saver works best when the premium in miles is relatively small (It’s also a great option when SQ is only giving you waitlist availability and you need to confirm your travel plans now). Possible options include flights from Singapore to

  • Sydney/Melbourne/NZ in Business (18% premium)
  • Europe in Business (18% premium)
  • Japan/South Korea in Business (18% premium)

To give you an illustration of how partner awards may or may not be better than Saver, consider the following two situations

  • SIN-FRA return in Business
    • SQ: 136,000 miles + $649 in surcharges
    • Lufthansa + Swiss: 160,000 miles + $171 in surcharges
    • ~2 cents per incremental mile (I might spring for this if the LH/LX flights had better timings + saver wasn’t immediately confirmable on SQ)
  • SIN-NRT return in Business
    • SQ: 68,000 miles + $159 in surcharges
    • ANA+ TG: 80,000 miles + $69 in surcharges
    • ~0.75 cents per incremental mile (probably not a good choice in this case)

EDIT: When else would you consider partner awards over Saver? Maybe when you’re travelling with family. SQ may only release 1 award seat at a time, whereas partners may have 2 or more. Always worth checking. Thanks JD for the reminder.

How do I identify Star Alliance partner awards?

Here’s my tip: don’t call up Krisflyer membership services and ask them to search for you. It will take forever as they have to poke around in the dark until they find something. Even if you give them your travel dates and class, they’ll have to manually search each possible airline pairing until they find something (or don’t).

Save yourself time by going on the Lifemiles booking engine and playing around. Lifemiles generally sees the same award space that SQ has. Safe to say that if you can see it on Lifemiles, SQ agents will be able to see it too. Once you know which dates and flight numbers have availability you can feed that to the SQ agent and the whole call takes about 5-10 minutes. Even better, use United Airline’s booking engine. You don’t even need to login or have a UA account, you can search from the main page by clicking on “book award flights”

It’s always fun to try new cabin products rather than flying SQ all the time. If SQ refuses to free up its waitlist for you, shop around. You might like what you find.

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28 thoughts on “Further analyzing the Krisflyer partner award chart”

  1. I’ll check if LifeMiles sees anything on intra-South Africa flights. UA does not see anything on route CPT-MQP or CPT-HDS in Feb-March next year.

    1. how much do intra South africa revenue flights cost though? when i was in south africa i remember what struck me was how cheap things were. at least based on my 10 minute run through of a supermarket

      1. If one takes CPT-JNB which is serviced but dozen of airlines, than you can fly for US $60. But as soon as you go in any remote place (where we need to go – Kruger National Park), prices skyrocket.

        Flight from CTP to MQP one way is US $240. If you want to do multi-city and end up to JNB, that goes to $450 via CPT-MQP/HDS-JNB and there is no way around it.

        Considering that I was able to book one way HDS-JNB flight using UA miles just a week ago, if one is fast enough and books these flights in advance, you might get lucky .

        Now nothing is available for award routes CPT-MQP or CPT-HDS or HDS-JNB or MQP-JNB.

  2. another option is that instead of considering a Partner Airline over SQ Business Standard award, why not consider SQ First Saver (if available) as an alternative ?

    1. Actually you’re right… one of the missing pieces of analysis here is to compare first saver to star alliance partner business…

  3. I did my research on Star Alliance redemptions based on partner websites, e.g. ANA, United airlines website.

    Only to find out that SIA slaps on a further tax/redemption fee on top of the stated taxes shown on the website…

    So SIA makes it EVEN less worthwhile for you to make a Star Alliance redemption

      1. Is the experience redeeming on Asiamiles (specifically on a CX flight) done purely online instead of having to call/email them with the details?

        1. purely online. the problem is that i have yet to see a non waitlisted slot. their waitlist might be worse than sq actually…

  4. Great site and excellent writing style.

    From a fellow enthusiast based not far from you so I share your frustrations with reading US based sites and their earning ease through churning. That said, MS techniques can be applied and with our access to Enrich, AsiaMiles and Krisflyer, Malaysian based travel hackers can’t complain much.

    Keep up the good work!

      1. I’ve procrastinated for a long time. Will start to log my travels properly from now on.

        Msian cards can earn us 1 mile for every RM1 spend. FFPs include Enrich, KF and Asia Miles. Hardly any huge sign-up bonuses MS or churning possibilities. One needs to get creative in this part of the world (especially when planning award travel for a family of six as is my case).

        1. 1RM=0.32 sgd= 1 mile. 1 sgd= 3.12 miles. are you kidding me?! that rate is unheard of in SG. is that general spend?

          maybe i need to relocate…

            1. i’m still trying to wrap my head around the RM1= 1 mile. i think i found the one he was referring to – Maybank 2 Cards Premier.

              Source: http://www.tommyooi.com/top-10-travel-credit-cards-apply-malaysians-2016/

              Redemption Rate : Asia Miles, KrisFlyer Miles & Enrich Miles – RM1.00 / 1 miles

              Annual Fees : RM800 – FREE for the first year. Subsequent years FREE if over RM80,000 spending per annum

              Advantages : Lowest Flight Miles Redemption, 50% discount on F&B at Shangri La KL & Starwood Dining Privileges, Free Travel Insurance Coverage and Complimentary Golf Green Fees.

              Disadvantages : High requirement RM180,000 annual income to apply, American Express not widely accepted in Malaysia, No Airport Lounge Benefit and RM80,000 spending for annual fees waiver.

                1. i’m wondering how much this must be costing maybank. surely it’s some sort of loss leader to get people to sign up for the premier banking products…which also means the rate is not sustainable. kind of like what hsbc is doing now with its advance card

                2. That is for just ONE card. And is limited to $2k/mo. And once one bunk decided that it had enough, that will be over.

                3. well to be fair there are lots of other cards 4 mpd (albeit with caps)- citibank rewards, titanium rewards, uob ppv, hsbc advance (no cap!)

                4. i haven’t read the T&C for the maybank cards but if that 1rm = 1 mile is for general spending….

  5. Was looking at the star alliance chart and wonder if it’s possible to book a return air ticket to Tahiti on air ns from Singapore with a stopover at Auckland. Is it can be done, seems like a worthy trade for 110k for biz class

    1. Good luck trying to find anything at Tahiti. People at UA forum on FT say that availability of seats in C for MP was zero last nn years.

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