I’ve written several articles previously about how you can make Krisflyer’s Star Alliance partner award chart work for you.
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.
Let’s zoom in on just the premiums-
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.