Ah, 2016. The year that many people will look at and say, “let us never speak of that again”.
I thought it’d be fun to do a quick review of The Milelion’s 2016, linking you back to some of the material you may have missed and giving you some of my favourite articles and stats.
Let’s start by looking at the year that was-
2016 Year in Review
- The year started with some great news as Lifemiles introduced mixed cabin redemptions in January. This opened up many more business/first combination redemption opportunities and meant it was now possible to try products like TG’s First Class by connecting to Bangkok in Business class (because First class is not offered on short regional routes)
- United launched a nonstop SIN-SFO route using their 787-9 aircraft (and throwing down the gauntlet to SQ by dubbing it UA1/2 (SQ1/2 operates SQ’s SFO route), making it the only nonstop Singapore to USA option at the time. SQ would respond later that year, as you’ll see
- Starwood announced their annual category changes, with 168 hotels moving up and 114 hotels moving down. The biggest loss here was Bangkok, with great properties like Four Points, Le Meridien and Westin Grande Sukhumvit moving up one category. Given Bangkok’s generally low hotel rates, the devaluation of awards made it less worthwhile to use points. The cheapest SPG property in Bangkok is now the Aloft, which I just stayed in and may write a report on if I feel less lazy
- DBS Altitude cut its income requirement from $50K to $30K, putting it on the same level as any other entry level credit card. This was a monumental moment, because until then, anyone earning at the entry level could only cobble together a hodgepodge strategy of using multiple category bonus cards like the basic DBS Woman’s Card or the UOB PP Amex, with no decent general spending card available. A $30K income requirement general spending miles card put the miles and points game squarely within the reach of anyone who could get a credit card.
- We also bid a sad goodbye to the AMEX Imagine card, leaving FEVO as the main avenue for men to express their feminine sides.
- The Milelion rebranded as the Kilometiger in a move designed to bring enhanced value to readers. Nothing else of note happened this month, or at least nothing that could compare to the monumental importance of this rebranding.
- UOB enhanced away the 3 mpd earning on SQ/MI tickets, replacing it with 6mpd on Expedia and UOB Travel flight bookings on selected airlines.
- Krisflyer announced a major shakeup of their cobranded cards, but they still remained hopelessly inadequate compared to what was already on the market. They called it “the new travel hack to fly Singapore Airlines”. I died a little bit inside.
- The long rumored Krisflyer devaluation came in May. It wasn’t anywhere as bad as people were fearing- the main highlights were that in exchange for premium economy redemptions, we gave up full awards (don’t let the door hit you on the way out!) and the ability to upgrade directly from economy to business class. Award prices to Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Rome also rose as Europe I and II were compressed into 1 zone. It looks like the Krisflyer program is safe for at least another year
- May also marked the start of The Milelion’s RTW trip. If you’ve not read the trip report yet, please do because it is epic. You’ll get reviews for many different hotels and Star Alliance business class products, a visit to the Lufthansa First Class terminal and other goodness.
- DBS tightened their T&C for the Woman’s card which led to much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- But then after a while, people realised that nothing had changed.
- Or had it? I’m still not 100% clear
- SQ scrapped their Sao Paulo route while starting non-stop service to San Francisco on an A350, in response to United’s non stop route
- SQ did the unthinkable and started offering a bid-to-upgrade program for premium economy, most probably in light of poor loads. I shared my thoughts with ST on this, suffice to say that I am 100% certain SQ will not roll this out to cover business class because of their fanatical cabin protection policy
- Global Entry was finally made available to Singaporeans. The initial waitlist for an interview was more than a year, but fortunately the CBP came to their senses and scheduled a few additional sign up events. I got my approval in October 2016 and am now all set to visit Trump’s America.
- The Milelion started a year long fundraising venture for World Vision. Give, people, give.
- Joseph Schooling won the Olympic gold in Rio and was promptly inundated by fair weathered sponsors, The Milelion included.
- The Milelion concluded an investigation into the marvelous world of online mileage brokers, for which he did not win a Pulitzer but instead got several rude emails that said very hurtful yet accurate things about his physical appearance.
- Uber did a complete dick move and stopped disclosing surge pricing on their app. An Uber spokesperson was quoted as saying “hahahahahahahha what’re you losers going to do about it anyway”
- The Milelion was still unable to get SQ to shut down his fraudulent Krisflyer account, nearly 2 weeks after he emailed them and told them his indiscretions outright. The account has since been shut down
- But he felt better when he took the long way to New York.
- Krisflyer announced a reciprocal partnership with Shangri-la that provided for mutual status recognition
- The Milelion visited USS Halloween Horror Nights 6 and was absolutely terrified by how much bottled water cost
- DBS bought over ANZ’s retail banking operations, possibly meaning the end of ANZ’s consumer credit card portfolio
- OCBC rebooted the Titanium card to finally, finally have a decent miles earning card in Singapore
- Citibank killed the opportunity to earn 10X rewards points (or 4mpd) on bill payments via AXS. This drove many people to drink, and others to prepay large balances on their income tax bills. IRAS thanks you for your contribution to nation building
- The Milelion conducted 2 webinar sessions in conjunction with iPayMy, the materials for which can be found here and here
- Garuda Indonesia breaks the interweb with a 90% off award ticket sale. Much chaos ensues. Americans complain at the audacity of an airline to offer a deal they can’t take part in (I’m not kidding, go read some of the comments on the blogs at Boarding Area. Some people are seriously suggesting Garuda apologise for how “poorly run” the promotion is, simply because they can’t book it from the USA)
- Then they go and pull the sale early, but not before I get my award!
This isn’t a comprehensive listing of everything that The Milelion covered, of course, and for that you should always refer to The Milelion Directory which is updated monthly.
Most popular articles
Here are the top 5 most popular articles (by pageviews). This only includes articles that were published in 2016.
- What is your best option for data roaming?
- How Singapore based flyers can get cheaper first and business class tickets
- The last call for the UOB PP Amex (I received a few reports that it’s still possible, with some cajoling, to get approvals for the card…)
- AMEX reboots the SQ cobranded portfolio and it’s still terrible
- Coverage of the Krisflyer devaluation
And here are my top 5 favourite articles from the year, at least the ones I had the most fun writing
- Taking a look back at how SQ’s first and business class products have evolved from the lofty days of the 747 to now. It was fun to do the research and dig deep into articles from the early noughties. SQ public affairs was absolutely no help at all.
- A very, very long review in which I ruminate on the marvel that is the airport hotel
- How to rent a convertible for cheap. I love driving holidays, and there’s nothing quite like driving topless down an ocean road with the wind in your rapidly thinning hair
- My experience at USS Halloween Horror Nights. Not the type of report I regularly write, but I’ll have you know it counts as travel-related. Getting to Sentosa is quite a journey.
- The Conrad Koh Samui, and the awesomeness that it is, and figuring out how to return for cheap. Ok, not cheap, but at least not cutthroat expensive
New Products Reviewed
Premium cabin products reviewed for the first time this year include
United Airlines Business Class
Air India Business Class
Turkish Airlines Business Class
Croatian Airlines Business Class
South African Airways Business Class
Lufthansa First Class
Asiana Business Class
Asiana First Class (with Business Class service)
Thai First Class
Thai Business Class (A350 trip report coming soon!)
For 2017, I’m looking to add some airlines outside of Star Alliance. Garuda is already locked in, and Qatar Airways has a mighty tempting BKK-DOH-LAX business class fare for less than US$1.5K round trip. I’m also looking to review some of SQ’s newest cabin products once they launch (if past history is any indication, they should announce the products within the first quarter and launch them in the third quarter, most probably on a route like London or Sydney.
Total Travel Stats
Total miles flown: 128,675 miles
Total hotel nights: 98
Airports visited: 23
Total Webpage Stats
Unique Visitors: 115,865
Articles Read: 703,302
Top 5 countries: Singapore (83%), USA (4%), HK (2%), Malaysia (2%), Australia (1%)
Gender mix: 46% female (woohoo!), 54% male
It’s been great having your company for 2016, and here’s hoping 2017 brings much more exciting developments in the world of miles and points.
Have a good one everyone!