As you know, the devaluation raised prices for Singapore Airlines award tickets across the board, but didn’t touch the Star Alliance partner chart. This means there’s a new calculus in play when weighing up redeeming your miles on SQ versus Star Alliance partners, and in this article we’ll examine how you should approach the Star Alliance partner chart.
For those of you new to the topic of Star Alliance partner awards, have a read of this article to find out how you can look for partner award space on other Star Alliance airlines (SQ does not show this online, and you’ll need to call up Krisflyer membership services to book)
For trips starting from Singapore
If you can’t find SQ saver space, look at the Star Alliance partner chart before considering standard awards
Look at the chart above (click on it to enlarge). SQ Standard Awards are a heck of a lot more expensive than Star Alliance partner awards. This means that if, for example, I can’t find business saver space on the elusive SQ25/26 route from SIN-FRA-JFK, I’d be much better off considering flying with EVA Air or ANA (97,500 miles OW) than shelling out the Standard award price (120,000 miles OW).
[I get that a lot of people have a “SQ or bust” mentality, but I’d like to encourage those of you who do to consider flying with other airlines too. EVA and ANA have two of the best business class products out there, and I’d put their long haul business class product in the same category as SQ for sure (EVA even has things SQ doesn’t have in J like Rimowa amenities kits, PJs and vintage champagne)]
Even if some saver space is available, remember that there may be a situation where you’re trying to redeem 2 or more tickets for your spouse/family and SQ only has one saver seat. In such cases it’s certainly worth seeing if other airlines have instantly confirmable award space in the cabin you want for the number of tickets you want before looking at SQ Standard awards (you could book a saver and standard award on SQ, of course, averaging out the price towards the middle, but the question again is how many seats you need)
Star Alliance partner awards are cheaper than SQ Saver awards on certain routes
One quirk that the Krisflyer devaluation brought about (intentionally or otherwise) is that it is now cheaper to redeem Star Alliance partner awards than SQ saver awards for certain destinations.
Look at the last 3 columns- where the values are in red, it means that Star Alliance partner awards cost less than an SQ saver award for a particular ticket class. Oh fine, I’ll spell it out
- Singapore to North America in F: 112,500 miles with *A vs 118-120,000 with SQ
- Singapore to Europe in F: 107,500 miles with *A vs 115,000 with SQ
- Singapore to Europe in J: 80,000 miles with *A vs 85,000 with SQ
- Singapore to Australia (ex Perth) in F: 75,000 miles with *A vs 80,000 with SQ
- Singapore to Australia (ex Perth) in J: 55,000 miles with *A vs 58,000 with SQ
- Singapore to Japan/S Korea in F: 60,000 miles with *A vs 65,000 with SQ
- Singapore to Japan/S Korea in J: 40,000 miles with *A vs 43,000 with SQ
The analysis above does not take into consideration fuel surcharges, which are no longer levied for SQ awards but may still be present on some Star Alliance partner awards (depends from airline to airline). Those are hard to make general statements about, and I’d advise you to call up SQ to see the final prices in terms of miles and surcharges for your particular routing and airlines before deciding.
But there’s more to this- even if you’re an SQ until I die person, you can still fly on SQ while paying fewer miles.
Here’s an example: suppose I want to fly business class from Singapore to Frankfurt. I can find a saver award available on SQ326 on 2 October 2017 that gets me to FRA at 2040. This will cost me 85,000 Krisflyer miles if I booked it straight.
But…I also see via Aeroplan (refer to my article on searching for Star Alliance partner space to learn more) that there is award space on Lufthansa for FRA-VIE on 3 October 2017.
What I can do is call up Krisflyer membership services and tell them that I want to fly from Singapore to Vienna on 2 October 2017. Then tell them that I see SQ326 and OS126 available, and ask them to book me on both. This will cost 80,000 Krisflyer miles on business class as per the Star Alliance award chart.
OS126 departs at 1950 on 3 October, so that’s still below the 24 hour threshold needed for it to be a layover not a stopover, yet long enough for me to ask the ground staff in SIN to short check my bags to Frankfurt. In FRA, all I do is exit the airport and don’t take the Vienna flight.
I get that this is some additional work for saving only 5,000 miles, and there is the possibility that fuel surcharges (if any) on FRA-VIE will further eat into the miles I save. I just wanted to point out that it’s possible. (EDIT: there is some discussion below on the comments regarding this practice, and I want to point out that it shouldn’t be something you do week in week out. But as an occasional practice I don’t see the harm)
Furthermore, if nothing else this should be a reminder that there’s so much more to explore of Europe than just the gateway cities that SQ flies to. Why not fly to Nice, or Brussels, or Prague? Star Alliance is strong in Europe, with TAP, LOT, Lufthansa, SAS, Aegean, ADRIA, Croatia, and Brussels, odds are good you can find a new place to explore.
Star Alliance partner awards cost the same as SQ saver awards for Zones 2, 3 and 4
Assuming you’re product agnostic, you can explore the possibility of booking Thai/EVA when you want to travel to Thailand or Taipei.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say you SHOULD fly with EVA between Singapore and Taipei over SQ. SQ operates A330s on this route with an awful angle flat product in J
EVA operates its 77Ws with full flat business class seats
There’s also a case to be argued for opting for TG over SQ if you want to redeem SIN-BKK (although I’d say in general it makes no sense to redeem miles for short haul business), depending on the type of TG aircraft you get. SQ operates regional J seats on these routes (unless you’re lucky enough to get the Ultimo seat…) but TG operates an eclectic mix of cabin products including the B787 and A350.
Yes, it’s a short flight, but it’s still fun to fly with this on a 2 hour hop…
Again, this doesn’t take into account the possibility of fuel surcharges, so you’ll need to call up and find out whether they’re substantial- but on short haul flights they shouldn’t be substantial.
For trips between other regions
The Star Alliance partner chart remains useful when you’ve got travel planned that’s outside of Singapore. Here are two sweet spots I picked up, but feel free to chip in if you’ve spotted others.
USA domestic flights/ flights between USA and Canada
Let’s say you’re touring the USA and want to fly from SFO to EWR (I’d say JFK but United doesn’t operate there anymore…noobcakes) so you can trade In N Out for Shake Shack.
That’s a flight that clocks in just over 5 hours, which is a lot of time to spend in basic economy. But for just 20,000 miles you could fly first class instead. Keep in mind domestic first class in the US is nothing to get excited about (still better than coach though)
You may even occasionally luck out and see award space on a direct flight, which means you’ll enjoy a lie flat seat on the flight (United offers premium seating on commercially important routes such as SFO and EWR, SFO and BOS, LAX and EWR etc)
Europe to Middle East flights
I discussed this in my review of the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, but it bears repeating. If experiencing the FCT is on your bucket list, one of the cheapest ways of doing it is by getting a one-way first class award redemption from FRA-the Middle East. This will set you back only 35,000 Krisflyer miles . I think that’s a fantastic opportunity to try the FCT plus a Lufthansa first class experience.
The issue is that Lufthansa only releases award space in F in general 2 weeks before departure, so you’re going to need flexibility. Here’s an example of LH F space from FRA-BAH, for a flight on 12 Sept 2017.
Sadly, a lot of Krisflyer members will never book a Star Alliance partner award. It’s their loss, really, because they’re missing out on the chance to overcome some of SQ’s restrictions on saver space, try new destinations and new cabin products.
I’m not sure how long SQ will retain its current Star Alliance partner chart given the quirk it now has where some partner awards are cheaper. It’s no secret that SQ doesn’t want you to book partner awards because it costs them reimbursement money, but maybe the volume of people taking advantage of this loophole is small and therefore not worth bothering with.