Lifemiles is offering discounted redemption tickets, but should you bite?

I mentioned yesterday that Ben over at OMAAT had managed to wrangle a special deal for his readers. To summarise, readers from OMAAT could register at this page to

  • Buy Lifemiles at a 140% bonus (with a minimum 101,000 mile purchase), equivalent to 1.375 US cents per mile
  • Redeem Lifemiles at an unspecified discount

I registered yesterday and received a confirmation email from Lifemiles that my 140% bonus was now active.

As for the discount, well, the unspecified discount is now specified, and is it worth the hoopla? Let’s have a look.

From now till 2 Jan 2017, you can book discounted Lifemiles tickets for certain routes. It says that travel period is until Dec 2017, but does not specify exactly when in Dec (i.e. start Dec? End Dec?). I suppose if you’re trying to book and you don’t see the discount reflected, it means your period isn’t valid.

As I mentioned in my analysis, given that OMAAT’s readership is mainly American, this promotion was created with US-based flyers in mind. We can see this in the way Lifemiles has further split the USA into several sub redemption zones for the purposes of this promotion (on the regular Lifemiles chart the entire continental USA is one zone). Here’s the chart, reflecting round trip prices (one ways are 50%)-

And here are the zones covered for this promotion.

So let me start with the bad news- there is no promotion on journeys starting or ending in Singapore, or anywhere conveniently accessible from Singapore like Malaysia or Thailand. 

Image result for darth vader no gif

To be fair, I did warn you in my other article this might happen

Of course, this, like my love life, could turn out to be a damp squib. Given OMAAT’s US-centric focus, it is entirely possible that the routes on discount could be domestic US routes, or journeys that must start in the USA, or routes that otherwise have little relevance to SG-based flyers.

So I’ve been wracking my brain to see if there’s anything us Singapore-based flyers can use, and here’s my analysis. Yes, I’m mostly grasping at straws here.

(1) If you could position yourself to South Asia…

The closest destinations to Singapore that are covered by this promotion are in South Asia. Geographically speaking, the closest one is in Colombo, a 3h 50 min flight from Singapore.

Hypothetically speaking, you could position yourself to Colombo and then take advantage of the discounted rates to USA 1 (East Coast USA), which includes New York.

And as soon as I say that, the following occurs to me-

(1) If you’re positioned in Colombo (or anywhere in South Asia for that matter) your are probably going to end up with Air India award space. And we all know what happens when you fly Air India….

(2) The incremental savings don’t really make the additional costs and time to position worth it. You save 3,000 miles on business class tickets to USA 1 (East Coast USA) and 2,000 miles on first class. That’s just not worth the trouble

(2) If you for some reason needed to travel between Europe and the East Coast…

The second thing I realised is that even for US-based flyers, the promotion is quite limited. Unless you live in USA 1, you don’t have a lot of places to choose from. The only international destinations USA 2 flyers can access are the Caribbean and Brazil. Live in USA 3 (West Coast)? The only international destination you have is Brazil.

But assuming you had just finished a nice holiday in New York and suddenly had the urge to visit the UK, you could now save on First and Business Class redemptions (I imagine you’d be flying either United or Lufthansa, with a transit) to the tune below. In business class, 52,500 is a good saving from 63,000, and in first,  75,000 is a good discount from 87,000.

One Way prices. Chart from OMAAT

You can’t even use this to make the infamous SQ25/26 route work for you, because it’s usually the SIN-FRA leg that is full, while the FRA-JFK leg has availability. But given that there’s no awards available to Singapore, you can’t even use this promotion to position yourself for an easier SQ redemption.

(3) If you have US domestic travel coming up…

I’m travelling to Miami in March, but to get there I’ll need to transfer in IAH, and to get back I’ll need to transit in JFK.

Both Texas and Florida are in USA 2, so I’d be paying the following rates (read the second row)

one way prices. Chart from OMAAT.

For comparison, on Krisflyer’s partner award chart they charge the following for domestic US flights, regardless of where in the US.

one way prices Economy Business First
Partner: North America (Canada, USA ex Hawaii) -North America 12,500 20,000 30,00

You can see that I’d be paying 7,500 LMs vs 12,500 Krisflyer miles to get from IAH to MIA. Or if I wanted to fly first class (remember that US domestic first class tickets as business class, so you should look at the business class prices) I’d be paying 15,000 LMs vs 20,000 Krisflyer miles.

So there is some limited value there. I’ve already booked my travel so I’d have to pay a US$15 fee. 7,500 LMs cost US$103, and together with the LM US$25 redemption charge I’m looking at US$128 before taxes (which are likely to be minimal). If I value my Krisflyer miles at 2-3 cents each, then those 12,500 miles are worth S$250-S$375, meaning I’d be somewhat better off redeeming Lifemiles. On the other hand, I paid out of pocket for Lifemiles and my Krisflyer miles are entirely the byproduct of my regular spending.

Conclusion

I think there simply isn’t anything of value here for SG-based flyers, unless you require travel that starts and ends outside of Singapore.

In a way it makes me feel a bit better about booking my JFK-SIN return leg on my Miami trip already. If there was actually a discount on tickets to Singapore, I’d have to weigh whether the savings would be worth the US$50 cancellation fee and the time I’d need to spend on the phone with Lifemiles customer service.

TL;DR, grapes are probably sour anyway.

Image result for sour grapes fox

Are there any opportunities for SG-based flyers that I’ve missed out?

HT: OMAAT

4 thoughts on “Lifemiles is offering discounted redemption tickets, but should you bite?”

  1. Hi Aaron , thanks for sharing, I had this email from LM.
    btw, do you mind sharing your next US plan? I wish to travel early next year too… see if can be travel pals.

  2. I’m curious about your experience with Lifemiles on the phone to effect cancellations. The online literature says it’s tedious.

    As it is I already find calling Krisflyer a tedious affair. How much worse is it? How is the standard of English?

  3. @YC: just make sure you have set up a PIN number on your online account before you call them. It can be any 4 digit number of your choice.

    I use Skype and the process is not as painful as it used to be… Just remember to press 2 for English right at the start!

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