Redeeming Krisflyer Miles for Star Alliance Partner Awards

EDIT: Revised guidance to this article now exists. Please refer to this article for the latest version


The Idea

  • Star Alliance partner redemptions are not good value options for using Krisflyer miles because of the higher mileage requirements
  • Krisflyer miles should be redeemed for SQ flights. If you need to redeem Star Alliance partner flights, consider using Lifemiles

The Details

I’m going to make up some statistics here and say that 70% of Krisflyer members will never use their miles for anything other than Singapore Airlines flights. And you know what? That makes perfect sense when you think about the economics of the transaction.

One of the big trumpeted benefits that Star Alliance likes to play up in its marketing materials is the ability for members of one airline’s FFP to redeem their miles on the flights of any other Star Alliance airline. In theory, this opens up an amazing world of opportunities- Singapore has poor airlinks to South America and Africa, but by tapping on Avianca or EgyptAir’s operations I can get myself there with minimum fuss. My miles become a form of cross-airline currency in the sense that I can use them to redeem or upgrade a ticket on a partner airline.

That’s the theory, at least. In reality, Star Alliance partners often have 2 buckets of award inventory space. The first bucket is open to members of their own FFP. The second is open to members of other FFPs. Invariably, the first bucket has more space than the second. And this makes sense too- why shouldn’t you reward members of your own FFP first? Singapore Airlines is notorious for doing this. In fact, it’s not possible to redeem non Krisflyer miles for SQ’s latest first and business class products. Only SQ’s regional business class product or its long/short haul economy is open for partner redemption. Is this some nefarious rule-breaking? Probably. But that’s the situation we’re in.

Some background here on how alliance redemptions work. Star Alliance partners have to reimburse each other when a member from their FFP redeems on a partner. So, when a Krisflyer member redeems his miles on a Lufthansa flight, Singapore Airlines pays Lufthansa a pre-agreed amount depending on the route and class of travel. Although this article suggest that the internal reimbursements are low (http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2013/12/16/much-award-tickets-cost-airlines/), SQ still dislikes having to pay out any more money than it has to. Therefore they go out of their way to make it very difficult to redeem Star Alliance award tickets with them. You can only redeem by calling their call centre, and the rates are not particularly attractive.

Below is the chart for Star Alliance partner redemptions for Krisflyer members, followed by Krisflyer’s chart for its own members

staralliance1
Krisflyer award chart for Star Alliance redemptions

 

staralliance2
Krisflyer award chart for SQ redemptions

 

http://www.singaporeair.com/pdf/ppsclub_krisflyer/charts/StarAlliance_RoundTrip_Aug14.pdf

Let’s look at a long haul premium cabin flight from Singapore to North America. A round trip would cost you 195,000 Krisflyer miles (versus 136,000 miles if you redeemed through Singapore Airlines )

In other words- it really doesn’t make sense to redeem partner awards through Krisflyer. You’re much better off flying to an SQ destination as close as possible to where you want to go, then buying a cheap economy ticket the rest of the way.

But suppose you really want to fly direct, or you want to experience the new cabin product of some partner airline. What should you do then? Why not learn about Lifemiles and unlock deeply discounted first and business class tickets?

24 thoughts on “Redeeming Krisflyer Miles for Star Alliance Partner Awards”

  1. Hey there,

    I want to fly business from SIN to either Munich or Toulouse (latter being preferred) from June 29t 2016 until August 7th 2016. Do you have any magic fares lurking around? I will soon have 155k KrisFlyer miles and also still have 100k Aegean Miles&More miles. What would you suggest? I personally do not need any miles for keeping gold for next year as I am flying business at Christmas….my wife, who will only fly from the 29th of June until July 15th, will need miles though. Anyway, any help would be awesome.

    Cheers,

    Wolfgang

    1. sorry- totally missed this post. i would strongly suggest you don’t burn KF miles for star alliance redmeptions. Lifemiles is the answer! were you able to get in on the latest lifemiles sale? there should be another one around christmas

  2. Hi Aaron

    I am trying to redeem miles for a business class ticket to Europe in May, but am having no luck on available tickets. Am surprised as its more than 6 months later and it’s already on wait list. Care to share your tips on how to snag the business class tickets?

    Thanks

    1. hi cindy!

      need more details- what route? business saver is almost impossible to get for periods <9 months and >2 weeks to departure. it’s just like that sadly.
      i would suggest you look at cathay. you can waitlist without any miles in your account, if it clears transfer miles and book. have this as your backup option (hopefully you kept your miles in your dbs/uob account in point form so you can transfer to asiamiles at 1:1 ratio too). in fact you should count yourself lucky that business saver waitlist is open…for a lot of US flights business saver wont even be available. otherwise…lifemiles?

      1. Thanks! I will check on Cathay. That uses Asiamiles right? Any idea how much miles for a one way trip to Europe? Barcelona preferably.

        1. I haven’t exactly fixed my routes yet as I really want to fly business with my mum as a surprise so it’s kind of dependent on which routes are available. London is a must and preferably Barcelona. I currently have 89k krisflyer points (22k which expires in nov) , 110k in Citibank, 50k in DBS (think it’s only krisflyer redeemable?) and $13k with Amex. Think I have just enough to scrap 2 business class on krisflyer. Appreciate your help!

        2. yes asiamiles. round trip will be 120k miles, one way 70k miles for SIN-BCN based on the distance. does CX fly to BCN though?

  3. I wouldn’t say its not worth while in terms of mileage required but the surcharges they charge is atrocious. I have redeemed a flight on Turkish Airlines to Europe on business and they charge a whopping $300 for surcharges even though if you redeem the same ticket on United or with Turkish, surcharges are less than $50. I have written a feedback letter to them but I have not heard from them yet. Obviously the surcharges is going to them and not to Turkish and there is no justification for that. Interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. let me know what they say because i’m not clear on that too. i mean, lifemiles doesn’t charge any fuel surcharges on any award tickets but SQ does. does this mean that lifemiles eats the surcharges when customers redeem sq tickets? and similarly, for UA/ other ffps that don’t levy surcharges, who eats that? Unless the surcharges are really low and a good amount of that is a disguised fee to sq, which i wouldn’t put past them actually

  4. Hi Aaron,

    Would you happen to know how redemption can be done for Star Alliance flights, using Krisflyer miles?

    I happen to want to travel from Singapore to Sapporo, and SIA doesn’t serve the route, except during a niche period in the December.

    However, I can make a redemption with ANA, transiting in Tokyo, and be able to enjoy ANA Business/First Class, albeit at the cost of some miles.

    I found the routing using United Airlines search tool, and it states the number of miles and the taxes, however, is that indicative, or does Krisflyer charge an extra “fuel surcharge” or “tax for using other airlines”?

    It all seems to be a big black box…

    1. call up SQ membership services. it’s the only way. they’ll quote everything to you. fees should generally be lower than flying with sq metal though.

  5. Hi Aaron

    Have u taken a domestic flight in US by redeeming ur miles on a star alliance flight?
    If so can u recommend a star alliance carrier with an acceptable business class product?
    Also, how do you go about redeeming with that carrier using Kris flyer miles?

    Thanks a bundle!!!

    1. yes i have. are you taking about domestic US? then you’re out of luck. unless you’re flying one of United’s PS routes (SFO/LAX-EWR), you can forget about a decent product. you’ll have recliner style first class seats (see my trip report from the RTW trip). if you’re able to get PS routes you’ll have a full flat seat. all aircraft are narrow body (some exceptions though, they may fly wide body now and then but is exception not the rule)
      on the plus side, KF has very good star alliance partner rates for domestic US (see this article)
      you need to call KF membership svcs to book.

  6. Any idea wat about air Canada from SFO/lax to any Canadian state? Read they got decent business class but unable to confirm the kind of seating for these particular routes

  7. Hi Aaron… I take it you visited the Virgin Atlantic JFK clubhouse before? The services like head massage and haircut is stated as complimentary or $20 if taken as an additional service? any idea what that means?
    Also, if flying out from JFK on business are SIA passengers allowed to access these services too? Thanks again! 😬

    1. complementary only if you are a virgin customer. sq doesn’t get. and vx clubhouse is for suites passengers only. sq J goes to wingtips lounge.

    1. you have to pay, i’m not sure the amount. but i’m cheap so once she said that will be chargeable i went back to the bar to drink more champagne.

  8. Hi Aaron!

    Planning a trip to Japan in April / May and would like to experience the first class suites (prob can afford only 1 leg!). The trip plan is roughly to entire fly in to Tokyo and out Osaka or vice versa is also fine. My miles are mostly in Krisflyer at the moment but can transfer to Asiamiles via credit cards too.

    Are you able to recommend which flights are best to experience the first class suites? I recall one of your articles mentioning to be selective on redemption in case the hard earned miles get redeemed on a dud product.

    Btw, is there any websites to check what which are the “good” flights to redeem business and first class suites on? Loathe to keep asking you on this!

    1. sorry Cindy I totally missed your post.
      generally you might want to look for a daytime flight that features lunch or dinner service. supper services (I think these are the ones departing after 9pm although I’m sure there’s a proper cutoff time) don’t have the full meal service (i.e no caviar). I believe the A380 is operated both to KIX and NRT right now, so there’s no issue there.

      didn’t understand the second part of your question about good” flights, explain again?

      1. Thanks Aaron! Sorry… got to explain “Good” flights better. I was trying to ask which are the better planes to take business or first class flights on so as to get a better flight experience. For example, your recent Bkk trip was on an old model. How do we find this out especially if we are not as savvy as you are on plane models.

      2. Hi aaron, just saw your post regarding booking of daytime flights. Im booked on a 0130am flight Suites A380 to Auckland on A380. The original thought was that arriving in the morning in Auckland would save me one day of leave. (and hopefully eat some lobster thermidor). Should I reschedule in light of your advice (but I booked on the old system too….)

  9. Was thinking of flying biz to Montreal next year, anyone know if I redeem SA partner awards, can the 1st leg be by SQ, eg. SIN-Frankfurt by SQ biz and Frankfurt-Montreal by Air Canada?

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