One little-known feature of Krisflyer awards is stopovers. I’ll bet you the average Krisflyer member has never booked one before. But for power users like us, stopovers can be a great way of saving thousands of miles each year.
A stopover refers to a break in a journey of at least 24 hours. You can add a stopover to a one-way Krisflyer saver award for US$100, or have a free stopover with a one-way standard award.
Here’s the deal- whenever you’re planning a vacation, book two one way awards instead of a round trip (one way awards cost half of a round trip). Then, think about your return flight like this-
Ending City of Previous Vacation (X)–> SIN Stopover (Y)–> Starting City of Next Vacation (Z)*
*For shorthand, we’ll refer to the ending city of previous vacation as X, Singapore as Y and starting city of next vacation as Z
When you do this, you end up saving miles because redeeming (X–>Y–>Z) costs fewer miles than redeeming (X–>Y) + (Y–>Z) separately.
An example to make things more clear: I’m heading to Tokyo in September to finish off the leftover SIN-HND JAL J segment from my RTW trip (I chose to start and end the trip in Tokyo because it represented a significant cost saving over starting and ending in Singapore, even after positioning to HND).
When planning my flight back to Singapore, my initial thought was to book HND-SIN in SQ F.
Then I remembered- I’m heading to SYD in December in F to hopefully get a chance to try SQ’s new Suites product (although with every day that passes with no announcement I’m starting to have doubts whether we’ll see it deployed by then)
Instead of buying two award tickets like this:
- HND-SIN: 65,000 Miles + $33 taxes (X–>Y)
- SIN-SYD: 80,000 Miles + $67 taxes (Y–>Z)
Why couldn’t I do this instead?
- HND-SIN (stopover)-SYD: 105,000 Miles + $100 taxes + US$100 stopover fee ($136) (X–>Y–>Z)
I’ll do my HND-SIN in September, have a stopover of a few months in SIN, then proceed with SIN-SYD in December. All in all, I’ll save 40,000 miles for an incremental cost of $136. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a good deal*
(*if you want to be technical about it my actual miles savings were a bit different because I booked SIN-SYD before the Krisflyer devaluation at 63,750 miles + $260. The figures I’ve shown above are post-devaluation figures. In other words I saved less miles and more money. But you get my point)
The maximum stopover duration is 1 year from the date of your first flight on the same ticket. That’s to say, if X–>Y is on September 1st 2017, I must fly Y–>Z by September 1st 2018.
Remember that date changes are free of charge with Krisflyer award tickets, so it doesn’t matter if your Y–>Z dates are a bit fuzzy. You can move it as often as you want (subject to there being saver award space) within the constraints of the 1 year period.
Points to note
- You cannot book stopovers on a one-way saver award online. You will need to call Krisflyer membership services to get it done. Give them the date of your first leg and second leg, tell them you know there’ll be a US$100 fee and everything should run smoothly. Remember to call it a STOPOVER, not a layover (layover is 24 hours or less)
- If you’re booking First Class from X–>Y but only Business Class is available from Y–>Z, you’ll pay the First Class price from X–>Z as shown on the award chart, regardless of the fact that you flew J from Y–>Z. This is often the case when your first vacation is to a long haul stop where F is available, but your second is to a regional destination where J is the highest cabin class available
- Although date changes do not attract additional fees, route changes do. So, if having flown X–>Y you later decide to change Y–>Z to Y–>A, you’ll need to pay a fee
- You may encounter a scenario where X–>Y is available and immediately confirmable but Y–>Z is waitlist only. If this happens, X–>Y–>Z cannot be ticketed immediately and you’ll have to waitlist. I’d recommend you be very flexible about the dates on Y–>Z and pick whichever one has saver space, even if it’s a random date, knowing that you can change the date later for free. It’s much better to lock in X–>Y first, and can worry about negotiating the Y–>Z dates later
- EDIT: An additional point came to mind- if you want to do this you have to be like a pendulum, swinging in one direction through Singapore and continuing to head the other way. In other words, I can’t do SYD-SIN-CHC because that’s a backtracking award. Nor could I do HKG-SIN-TPE, for example, or SFO-SIN-LHR Your next holiday has to be in a place where the East–>West / North–> South direction generally continues. It’s not a big deal for me per se, but if you’re the sort who likes to go to the same place all the time then this might not work for you. The Krisflyer award chart will tell you if it’s possible to fly between two regions.
Ideas and potential sweet spots
Some close study of the Krisflyer award chart will reap dividends, but if you need ideas for potential routings, here are some sweet spots I think are good deals.
(the + in the brackets refers to the incremental cost over ending your journey in Singapore)
- Zone 9 to Zone 1-4 (Same Cost) or Zone 8 (+25K in F/J)
- Zone 5 to Zone 8 (+15K in F/J)
- Zone 11 to Zone 7 (+23/15K in F/J- this is incredible value to me, 15K more miles +US$100 for a second trip to Tokyo!) or Zone 9 (+33/20K in F/J- this is also great, 33K more miles + US$100 for First Class to Sydney, anyone?)
- Zone 7 to Zone 8 (+10K in J)- build in a trip to Perth in Business Class?
- Anywhere to Zones 1-3 (Same Cost)*
*I’ve touched on this topic before when I wrote about the $100 Bangkok Trip, but needless to say regardless of wherever you’re flying back from it almost always costs the same to end your journey in Singapore vs Zone 2 and 3, so if you feel $100 is worth it you can always tag on another flight later on in the year
This is obviously not a complete list so feel free to chime in.
What I love about this opportunity is that it’s a good way for those of us based in Singapore to really stretch our miles. We may not earn them as easily as folks in the USA, but they won’t be able to take advantage of this unless their home base is Singapore.
So, always think one step ahead, and you’ll be saving a lot more miles.