Airlines

Re-examining Krisflyer’s Star Alliance partner award chart after the devaluation

How has the recent Krisflyer devaluation changed how you should see the Star Alliance partner chart?

I’ve written a fair bit about Krisflyer’s Star Alliance partner award chart, but the most recent article was from before SQ’s devaluation in March this year.

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.

Krisflyer Star Alliance Award Chart- round trip prices. One way prices are 50% of the values shown here. Click to enlarge

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
Click to enlarge. SQ Standard Awards vs Krisflyer Star Alliance Partner Chart and cost ratio. Negative figures in last three columns mean Standard Awards more expensive

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).

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EVA Air Long Haul J product
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ANA long haul J product

[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
Click to enlarge. SQ saver awards vs Star Alliance partner awards

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.

(my understanding is that you cannot combine SQ standard awards with Star Alliance partner awards, but anyone with experience feel free to say something)

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)

Image result for nice beach france
Beach in Nice, France

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

Image result for sq a330 business class

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)

In the US, business AND first class awards book into first class. So a First Class ticket can be redeemed for 20,000 Krisflyer miles one way.

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)

Image result for united sfo ewr business

Europe to Middle East flights
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Lufthansa First Class Terminal Cabana

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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38 Comments on "Re-examining Krisflyer’s Star Alliance partner award chart after the devaluation"

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Excellent article!

Abandoning the flight at Frankfurt is only possible if you book a one way, no? If you booked a two way ticket, isn’t there a possibility the airline might cancel your return flight because you didn’t “complete” your first leg to Vienna?

Good article! Just a note: Swiss is also a star alliance partner within Europe and if you consider Turkey as part of Europe then Turkish Airlines is one too.

Very useful as always but let me further unpick the numbers on the route I know best, sin-lhr. Yes the A* biz is cheaper at 80k vs SQ 85k but the product is not the same. SQ is non stop and all the other A* options involve a stop. Unless one is desperate to try out some of the fancier lounges, the delta is not worth the inconvenience of stopover. To widen the comparison, if one were to use AsiaMiles on the same route, it is 70k for direct on BA which is even cheaper than A* but it is… Read more »
U are totally stirring trouble here. 1. U are trying to get SQ to devalue as quickly as possible. It is a publicity that both SQ and their Krisflyer members do not need. Those who knew, knew; those who do not, will not find it possible to redeem *A tickets anytime in the near future. (And it is likely when they do need to do so, hasten devaluation has taken place thanks to unwanted publicity). 2. SQ should look into your tickets if u tried to do throwaway ticketing; it could end up with consequences. It is one thing to… Read more »

Travel hacking is virulent in US which is the primary cause of devaluation in frequent flyer programs.

I reckon you are only partially right, it is more a case of people being able to earn points in many more ways and of the airline business being very competitive. If they wanted to stamp out travel hacking, they’d do what Accor does with Le Club.

What have Accor done exactly?

I guess SQ is entitled not to release it’s own seat under *A chart until last minute so it will be either the requestor book under SQ for immediate confirmation or take a chance and wait till very near the flight date and pray both SQ and Austrian flight is still available by then

The dodgy English makes me unsure of what his point is (too many grammar mistakes, broken sentences and “U”s) but my guess is he is angry that others can benefit from the rules? I thought the rules, whatever those are, were there for everyone 🙂

Aaron, which star alliance partnerwill you choose if you want to go to/from Europe to SG by using first class?

does *a redemption allow stopover?

There are free ones on roundtrip, and you can add them on one-ways for a fee. See the other MileLion articles for the specifics.

*A do not allow any stopover for one-way redemption, not even for a fee. Only round trip award has complimentary stopover. This is stated in the rule and I learnt it the hard way when I tried to do it on my itinerary.

Sin jfk is 97500 on biz saver on both ANA and Turkish air but there is an insane 400-500sgd of extra charges vs 100ish on Sq.

Besides the seating being a bad 2/2/2 or even 2/3/2 on ana/Turkish. Hence the waitlist on Sq for biz saver is worth any and all trouble

Hi Aaron, thanks for your post!

Im thinking of booking a one way *A F award to USA (East Coast) and am thinking of doing a SQ suite to FRA then a LH F up to the East Coast.

How do you suggest i go around closing in seats for both as I understand getting F seats in both airlines are extremely hard! Thanks in advance 🙂

oh forgot to add that Im looking at doing this towards the tail end of summer next year, so there’s (hopefully) enough time to get them secured!

Hey Aaron, don’t take what flyingcard said to heart. I mean there will always be naysayers and haters. What you’ve written isn’t secret per say as it’s been written before by many other miles & points bloggers. There’s even a website and iphone app dedicated to throwaway ticketing and hidden cities ticketing. Thanks for sharing it with the layman like us here in Singapore, who may not really be able to apply it as much as our peers in the States and Europe. It’s still an interesting read. Applying it though (for most people) is entirely a different thing. It’s… Read more »

“my policy is that whatever I know I share” and thats why we love your blog.

Seems awfulky selfish and hypocrtical of some readers to follow your blog then chastise you for revealing “secrets”.

Star alliance new devaluation on the 7th Dec???

First look, some of the routes appear unchanged. Waiting for Aaron to do a comparison.
But the best bit is allowing online redemptions on star alliance. Guess their call centre charges are going up.

Spoken too soon. Most F routes devalued. Plenty of J routes devalued as well, but by 10-15%.

Article is up, would to love to hear your thoughts

Is there anyway we can know the fuel surcharges on star alliance flights before we make the booking?

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