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