This really came out of nowhere, but Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines have announced a new frequent flyer partnership that provides for codeshares plus reciprocal frequent flyer mile accruals and redemptions between Krisflyer and Mileageplan (Alaska’s frequent flyer program).
A reader actually tipped me off on this about a week ago. He said he called up Alaska Airlines and an agent just let it slip, but of course we had no way of verifying it then so didn’t write anything.
But it’s now official, and from 27th September you’ll be able to start reciprocal mileage earning, with reciprocal mileage redemption starting at a later date.
Here’s what’s relevant to those of us in Singapore.
SQ passengers can now earn valuable Alaska Mileageplan miles
This is one of the biggest pluses for me because it represents an opportunity for those of us based in Singapore to earn one of the most useful points currencies out there.
Here’s how many miles you get when you credit SQ revenue tickets to Mileageplan:
Mark over at The Shutterwhale has produced a useful comparison chart of how crediting to Krisflyer differs from Mileageplan, but to summarise, with the exception of
- Premium Economy (110% KF vs 100% MP)
- Economy E & M (100% KF vs 75% MP)
- Economy H&W (100% KF vs 50% MP)
- Economy N, Q, K&V (10-50% KF vs 0% for MP- these are SQ’s Super Saver and Sweet Deal fare buckets)
So there are some gaps in economy coverage, but otherwise you always come out equal or better in terms of absolute number of miles when crediting SQ flights to Mileageplan. (this is obviously not an apples to apples comparison insofar as 1 Krisflyer mile will not be worth the same as a 1 Mileageplan mile, but given how common Krisflyer miles are in Singapore I’d value 1 Mileageplan mile higher than a Krisflyer mile)
Don’t feel bad about not crediting your SQ flights to Krisflyer. In Singapore, we can easily earn Krisflyer miles from credit cards, Kaligo, Mileslife, petrol stations, telcos, fashion, airport loyalty programs, even your PAssion card…the list goes on and on. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that 80% of my miles are earned from non-flying means.
Remember that you can choose to credit your miles to Alaska Airlines but still earn PPS Value on Singapore Airlines for the purposes of renewing PPS membership.
Alaska Mileageplan has awesome partner awards on Cathay and JAL
Once upon a time, Alaska’s Mileageplan was the best way to redeem Emirates First Class awards. For only 100,000 miles, you could fly one way First Class on Emirates from SIN-DXB-JFK where you’d get not one, but two showers in the sky on their A380. Alaska sells their miles as low as 2.11 US cents each, meaning you could buy this experience for US$2,110. Not cheap, but a heck of a lot better than paying revenue rates.
But like all good things that went away with a massive unannounced devaluation (plus, the most ridiculous explanation ever). A First Class award ticket to the USA from Singapore now costs 180,000 miles. Similarly, Business Class awards went up from 75,000 to 105,000.
The good news is that Mileageplan still has some spectacular value partner awards on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.
- One way business and first class awards from SIN to the USA on CX cost a mere 50,000 and 70,000 miles respectively
- One way business and first class awards within Asia on JAL cost 25,000 and 30,000 miles respectively (you won’t really find F award space intra-Asia on JAL, but you could fly SIN-HND/NRT for 25,000 miles on business class. Or better yet, fly DEL-SIN-NRT for the same price. The engine allows it!)
- One way business and first class awards within Asia on CX cost 22,500 and 27,500 miles respectively
- If you don’t mind taking a very roundabout way to New Zealand or Australia, you can fly from Hong Kong on CX business for 30,000 miles one way. You’d need to plan your own way to HKG though
It won’t really mean less award space for you
If you’re worried that SQ adding another American partner means less award space for you in Singapore, don’t be. This is not like what happened back in 2014 when SQ added Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citibank in the USA to its transfer partner list. When that happened, yanks were able to transfer their steroid-enhanced credit card bonuses into Krisflyer miles and start competing with the rest of us for award space.
We all know that SQ is notoriously tightfisted about releasing its award inventory to partners, and long haul J/F awards are only available to Krisflyer members with Krisflyer miles. Therefore, if a US-based flyer wants to redeem SQ long haul J/F awards, he or she will need to convert credit card points into Krisflyer miles then book. They won’t be able to access these awards through Alaska Mileageplan.
At most, Alaska Mileageplan members will be able to access SQ’s economy space + regional business class routes served by the A330s/772s, however. So from that point of view there might be more competition, but it’s really on routes that we don’t care so much about.
It means better award connectivity in the USA when redeeming Krisflyer miles
We have yet to see Krisflyer’s award chart for Alaska airlines awards, but there is the potential for greater connectivity for those of us in Singapore trying to get to destinations in the US that SQ does not serve (and who don’t want to rely on United)
If you’re flying into SFO, for example, you can connect on an Alaska one-stop flight to Seattle, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St Paul, Albuquerque, even Mexico City. Alaska is historically mostly a west coast airline, but their acquisition of Virgin America will open up more routes on the east coast to them.
I will be interested to see how SQ implements this, although my sense is that they will have a separate award chart for Alaska that features only domestic US routes. In other words, you won’t be able to save miles by redeeming a SIN-HKG-SFO-SEA ticket, you’ll have to redeem one with SQ for SIN-HKG-SFO and another with Alaska for SFO-SEA.
Although this partnership was unexpected, it’s certainly great news for those of us in Singapore. From a miles redemption and accrual point of view, we certainly have more to gain than flyers based in the US.
I’d certainly start paying a lot more attention to Mileageplan sales, and try to supplement that balance whenever I fly on SQ.