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Airlines

Here’s how Alaska’s Mileageplan can get you really cheap JAL business class tickets

When I learned that Alaska and SQ were forming a partnership that would allow for reciprocal mileage earning and redemption, I got really excited. Excited because MileagePlan is one of the best tools of the miles game, and despite their big no-notice devaluation of Emirates awards some time back, still offers a great way to try out CX and JAL’s premium cabins for less.

I’ll talk about CX another time, because I want to use this post to focus on the JAL award chart and one particular aspect of it. JAL became an Alaska partner back in December last year. Here’s a summary of their award chart for one-way awards to and from Asia.

credit: One Mile at a Time

65,000 miles for one-way business from Singapore to the US is already very good value (Mileageplan does not impose fuel surcharges on redemptions), but I want to draw your attention to the Intra-Asia chart because that’s where the money is. MileagePlan charges 25,000 miles for a one-way redemption within Asia, and that creates an interesting opportunity…

MileagePlan’s JAL Trick

Thanks to a few people who commented on the previous Alaska post, I’ve learned that it is possible to buy a round trip business class award on JAL to Tokyo for ~US$550.

Let’s look for award space on JAL between Singapore and Tokyo. The trick is not to use the one-way function on Alaska’s search engine, but the multi-city tool. 

Put the first leg as SIN-TYO (this will cover both HND and NRT) and the second leg as TYO-KUL. You can leave the returning flight fields blank. Remember to check the “use miles” option on the left. Your first leg date is when you want to leave Singapore, and your second leg date is when you want to return.

If you’ve entered your details correctly the screen below will pop up

See what’s happening? The system is offering to let you fly on JL38 from SIN-HND on 8 June 2018, and then connect from NRT-KUL on JL723 on 15 June 2018. And it’s pricing this at the cost of a one-way intra Asia award of 25,000 miles plus some taxes (US$62 in this case). All you have to do is book yourself on a cheap budget flight back from KUL-SIN.

Note that your second leg doesn’t have to be Tokyo-KUL. You could also fly to BKK if you so wished for the same price, or any other destination that JAL serves in SEA. The point is, you’re getting a round trip ticket for the cost of a one-way. And that’s really sweet.

JAL operates its 787 aircraft between NRT and KUL, and depending on the day you fly you may either get this

WORLD AIRLINE WINNER SKYTRAX AWARDS 2013 BEST BUSINESS CLASS AIRLINE SEAT

or this

GOOD DESIGN AWARD 2016

Either product should be fantastic. You can read a review of my experience flying JAL business class from SIN-HND here.

Alaska sells miles as low as 1.97 US cents each, so the total cost of this award for you will be US$554.50. That’s fantastic for a round trip business class ticket.

Now here’s a point to note: sometimes, you may make it all the way through to the page where you enter your credit card details, but when you click submit to try and ticket, you get a notice saying:

Space on partner flights cannot be confirmed. Please change the dates, cities, or flights of your original request. -1620

Don’t panic, and please don’t call up customer service because such a routing would raise some serious eyebrows. This is a well known issue, and what it means is that Mileageplan is showing you phantom award space. That is- the system shows award space, but it’s not really available. In this case unfortunately you can’t really tell whether it’s your first leg that has issues or your second.

There are a few things you could do- you could try trial and error by moving the dates around one at a time, or you can try to use one of the methods mentioned here to search for oneworld award space (I am assuming that JAL releases the same award space to oneworld partners as it does to Alaska, which may not be the case. Someone confirm?) on JAL.

This happened to me the first time I tried to ticket, but by moving my trip one week back everything worked out great. I’m now booked to fly to Tokyo end of April next year. I know, I’ve just been, but this time I’ll probably take a further flight to Hokkaido.

What if I need to change an award?

Mileageplan doesn’t charge anything to change routes, flights or dates so long as you’re at least 60 days out from the first leg of your reservation. Once you’re inside 60 days, you pay US$125 per change, so be careful.

The good news is that you can make award changes online without having to call up anyone. Suppose I decide that instead of flying NRT-KUL, I want to head to Bangkok instead, get some shopping and spa treatments done and then take a cheap BKK-SIN flight home.

I just find my booking and click on “Change Flight” for the second leg. Enter Bangkok as the new destination:

And there you go- I merely pay the difference in airport taxes of US$1.60 and I’m all set. No human intervention needed.

How do I earn MileagePlan miles?

From 27th September 2017 you will be able to earn MileagePlan miles when you fly on SQ and credit to Alaska. Here’s how the different classes of SQ tickets will accrue to Alaska.

Crediting SQ revenue tickets to Mileageplan. Remember to add up all 3 columns for the total

But until then you can do the following:

  • Buying from Mileageplan: Mileageplan does not limit the number of miles you can buy per year. They often go on sale at up to 50%, which means buying miles at 1.97 US cents each. Even if you were to get a 40% bonus you’d be paying 2.11 US cents each. There’s a current sale ongoing till 5 October with a 35-50% bonus
  • Transferring from SPG: SPG points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Mileageplan, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. You can either earn SPG points the old fashioned way, or buy them when they go on sale. If you’re lucky enough to be targeted for a 50% discount, paying 1.75 US cents each for 20,000 points means you could redeem the aforementioned trip for US$411.90. That’s ridiculously good value
  • Kaligo: You can choose to earn Mileageplan miles as a reward when you book hotels via Kaligo

When Alaska bought over Virgin American, they gave out 10,000 miles to Virgin America Elevate members who had an account open as of 5 December 2016. It didn’t matter if you, like me, had totally 0 activity in that Elevate account. So in actual fact I only had to buy a further 15,000 miles to redeem my itinerary, lowering the effective cost even further. Apparently it’s still possible to claim your 10,000 miles, so if you have an Elevate account you should check this out. 

Conclusion

Awards like this are why I love Mileageplan. Now that it’s going to get easier to earn Mileageplan miles in Singapore, it may be worth your time to study the Alaska award charts to find other opportunities for good value.

Oman Air B787 Business Class CGK-MCT-FRA Review

Shannen’s quest for premium travel began with a taste of SQ’s First Class and The Private Room, where a good 5 hours was spent in the company of champagne, lobster and Chilean sea bass. Playing with Google Flights and fighting to foot the bill (especially when there are 10X points to be earned) count amongst her newly found passions.


Flight: WY850 CGK – MCT, 30 April 2017
Aircraft: Boeing 787
Flight time: 7h 55min, 14:50 – 19:45
Class: Business (fully flat)

Layover: 6h 15 min

Flight: WY115 MCT – FRA, 1 May 2017
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 JET
Flight time: 7h 5 min, 02:00 – 07:05
Class: Business (fully flat)


On the first leg from Jakarta to Muscat, I was surprised to see the old business class seats. According to the crew, we were on a leased plane so it had not been fitted with the new Apex suite (reviewed by Lucky here) but were reassured that we would get to enjoy it on the MCT – FRA flight.

WY850 CGK - MCT Boeing 787 business class
WY850 Oman Air CGK – MCT Boeing 787 business class

As I was travelling with my partner, I was happy that there was no privacy screen- however, this would be annoying for solo travellers. The seat was spacious and immediately (as this was my first longhaul business flight) I put the seat into bed mode and exclaimed how amazing it was to be lying flat on a plane.

Oman Air business class – Our seats
Oman Air business class Nicolas Feuillatte champagne

Kimberley, a very lovely and friendly FA, came over to introduce herself and welcome us onboard with Nicolas Feuillatte.

A little while later, amenity kits and headphones were distributed. I didn’t like that the amenity kit was presented in a plastic wrapper, which makes it look brand new but cheap.

Oman Air business class amenity kit
Oman Air business class amenity kit
Oman Air business class amenity kit

The amenity kit contained Amouage toiletries- we learned later while exploring the airport that Amouage is an Omani luxury cosmetics brand. I didn’t find the pouch itself particularly attractive. It’s a bit gaudy, and both male and female passengers received the same kit, which I thought was poor effort. However I did love the actual packaging of the amenities within, which looked very classy in black and gold. I put on the socks immediately (thin but still comfy). I also appreciated the addition of eye gel!

Oman Air business class unbranded headphones
Oman Air business class unbranded headphones

The menus were already in the cubby hole under the armrest with a bottle of water.

The crew started serving Arabic coffee and dates.

Oman Air business class – Arabic coffee and dates
Oman Air business class – Arabic coffee and date

The date was extremely sweet. I enjoyed my first taste of Arabic coffee- it tasted almost like herbal tea.

After take-off, dinner was served in several courses:

Oman Air business class appetiser- Salami and melon bruschetta

I skipped the salami bruschetta because it didn’t look appetising at all, but I tried the melon one and thought it was tasted pretty nice and fresh.

I had ordered the chicken soup to start and it arrived with adorable butter rolls.

Oman Air business class appetiser – Asian-inspired chicken soup

I was expecting a clear broth but instead I got what tasted like blended oatmeal with chicken flavouring. So I fobbed it off to my partner (who enjoyed it) and asked the crew if I could have the traditional Arab mezzeh platter instead, which they brought to me right away.

Oman Air business class appetiser- Traditional Arabic mezzeh

I am partial to middle eastern food and went to town on this. The stuffed red pepper and roasted tomato dip were delicious. The samosa crust was quite greasy but I liked its spinach filling.

Oman Air business class main – Chicken shish tawook

The crew served the main course shortly after clearing my plate from the appetiser course. The chicken breast had a surprisingly good texture but it was under-seasoned. The pumpkin was also bland. The potato wedges hidden behind were quite spicy and delicious, though slightly soggy. I had ordered the fruit platter for dessert which came with a completely unnecessary sugar syrup drizzle that I didn’t appreciate.

Oman Air business class dessert- Seasonal fruit (with unsolicited sugar syrup)

My partner ordered 2 desserts:

Oman Air business class dessert – Tiramisu coffee and mascarpone trifle
Oman Air business class dessert – Gourmet ice cream

While I didn’t have any, my partner claimed that neither dessert was good. The tiramisu tasted more of cream than anything else and the ice cream was already in a sorry state (as pictured) when it arrived at his seat.

As our tables were cleared, the FA asked if we wanted any coffee or tea. I ordered a mint tea with honey and it was served on a mini tray with a little jar of Egyptian honey on the side, as well as a separate mini saucer for the tea bag.

Oman Air business class – Arabian mint tea with honey

I had never been more excited about bedtime. There was no mattress pad but I felt that the seat was comfortable enough without one. I loved the pillow- it was thick and fluffy. However, the seat fabric trapped a bit too much heat- I woke up feeling quite hot.

Oman Air business class – Mood lighting in the cabin

About 1.5h before arrival, the lights were switched on and we were served a quick snack.

Oman Air business class refreshment

I didn’t eat the cheesecake but my partner loved it. The extremely stale roll was slathered with diced cucumber and some unidentifiable squash dressed with mayo. This time, the samosa contained ground lamb in a tomato sauce and was pretty delicious, but the snack as a whole was a let-down.

Upon arrival, we headed straight to the Oman Air business class lounge.

We had 6 hours to burn. The Oman Air complimentary 15-min massage offered to passengers was something I had been looking forward to. When we reached the counter, we asked the staff how we could book our slots and were informed that they could take our reservations on the spot. We were offered 12am and 12.15am as there was only 1 masseuse on duty.

The hot food spread was great- the middle eastern food on offer was very delicious.

Oman Air MCT lounge – spa treatment room

For the massage, I chose the hot stone back therapy. I was instructed to lay on my front, fully clothed, and the masseuse draped a towel over me. She warmed two stones in some kind of heater on the countertop and kneaded my back with them. After a long flight, it was a truly amazing 15 minutes of pure bliss.

We had decided not to leave the airport because the temporary visitor’s visa cost nearly 100 USD and for 6 hours, it just wasn’t worth it. So we read, tried to nap on the sofas and ate a bit too much to while away the time.

At 1am, it was finally time to board our flight towards Frankfurt. The holding pen was packed and there was no priority boarding. Instead, all passengers were simply herded onto buses in waves to board the plane.

WY850 Oman Air MCT – FRA Boeing 787 business class Apex suite cabin

My jaw dropped when I entered the cabin- the new seats were gorgeous and looked sophisticated. One thing we immediately noticed was that the window seats offered much more leg room than the aisle seats.

It was quite a full cabin but shortly after stowing away our carry-ons, the very efficient FA offered us some pre-departure Nicolas Feuillatte. No one introduced themselves to personally welcome us onboard, which was understandable given the almost-full cabin. The crew then distributed the same amenity kits we received on the previous leg. The crew also went around offering Arabic coffee and dates, which I declined.

Oman Air business class – Our seats
Oman Air business class – seat control

I loved the control with the different seat modes (for take-off, dining, flat bed, angled flat bed). They were idiot-proof and convenient.

Once again, the menus were left under the armrest- the wine menu was exactly the same as that on the previous leg.

Oman Air business class – IFE
Oman Air business class – IFE control

I explored the much newer IFE, which came with a touchscreen control. One can navigate their offerings via the control like a smartphone, which I thought was quite interesting and modern. However, as with most non-smartphone touchscreen contraptions, it was a bit laggy.

It was past 2am local time after take-off. I had eaten my fill at the lounge so I wasn’t interested in more food. I was almost dozing off at this point so I quickly informed the FA not to wake me up for dinner and also made my breakfast order. I really enjoyed the new seat- the seat fabric was more breathable and stayed cool throughout the flight.

Oman Air business class breakfast – Greek omelette, hash brown potato, sautéed spinach, grilled tomato, chicken chipolata sausage

I was woken up slightly under 2 hours to landing for breakfast. The omelette was delicious. Unsurprisingly, the hashbrown was really soggy.

Oman Air business class breakfast- Creamy natural yogurt with mango sauce

The yogurt was served a little while after I had started on the omelette. It was nice and refreshing. The FA didn’t pro-actively offer any beverages as he cleared my table so I ordered a latte.

Oman Air business class – Latte (served in an espresso cup?)

Before the captain announced our approaching arrival, we were offered hot towels on dishes.

Oman Air business class – Pre-arrival hot towels

Seat: This being my first business class longhaul trip, I hadn’t set any expectations at all. I guess I got really lucky with the Apex suite as it seems to be one of the best business class seats at the moment.

Food: The food was good, but not amazing. The snack meal especially was disappointing- they were basically cold bits of bobs of bread and meat.

Lounge: I enjoyed the MCT business lounge because of the amazing food and the 15 min complimentary massage. But perhaps they could work on expanding the nap room since Oman Air layovers are often during ungodly hours for >5 hours.

To sum up: If you’re thinking of flying Oman Air, I would strongly recommend booking a flight with a much longer layover to justify the cost of the visa. 6 hours in the lounge can be pretty painful if you’re travelling alone and especially if you have to spend half the night there and there are no vacant day beds. And don’t forget to book your complimentary massage as soon as you check in to the lounge.

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

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.

Lifemiles on sale at up to 140% bonus, buy miles at 1.375 cents each

Lifemiles are on sale again with a 125% bonus, plus 15% for readers of OMAAT (which is basically everyone). In order to get the 140% promotion you need to register your Lifemiles account via this link. After 24 hours, you will be able to buy Lifemiles at these promotional rates below-

You need to register by 18th September and buy your miles by 19th September latest. A 140% bonus means buying miles at 1.375 US cents each.

Check out the Lifemiles award chart here. As a point of reference, it costs 78,000/99,000 miles for one way business/first class from SIN to the USA, or US$1,073/US$1,361 if you were to buy Lifemiles (there will be some airport taxes payable too, but those are minimal and Lifemiles does not levy fuel surcharges).

You can see an example of the options available to you if you want to get to JFK below. Both EVA and ANA have amazing business class products, so you can’t go wrong with either one.

Lifemiles transactions code as airline spend, so you can consider using

  • DBS Woman’s World Card- 4 mpd
  • DBS Altitude AMEX/Visa- 3 mpd, first S$5K per month only
  • Any other card where you’re trying to hit a minimum spend

I’d recommend you play around with the Lifemiles booking engine and see if you can identify dates and flights that work with you. Miles purchased credit instantly, so if you see something you like lock it in quickly. Do remember though that Lifemiles has recently increased cancellation fees, so don’t be too trigger happy. As always, I don’t advise buying miles speculatively.

Remember that you will not be able to book SQ long haul premium award space (77W, A380, A350s) through Lifemiles, nor Lufthansa or Swiss cabins (although exceptions pop up here and there). If you need more education on Lifemiles be sure to check our historical posts on the topic.

Today’s can miss deal: convert Krisflyer miles to TFM points at a 20% bonus

Hands up how many of you didn’t know your TapForMore points could earn you Krisflyer miles. Hands up how many of you didn’t know your Krisflyer miles could earn you TapForMore points (also, hands up if you don’t know what TapForMore points are- they’re the loyalty currency earned by PAssion Card holders)

1 Krisflyer mile usually gets you 1.1 TFM points, which can be redeemed at merchants like Guardian, Cold Storage and Giant at a value of 150 TFM points= $1 off. However, Krisflyer sent out an email a few days back advertising a 20% bonus on TFM points when you convert your Krisflyer miles from now till 31 October.

KrisFlyer Masthead
It’s funny because it looks like the boarding pass is going through a paper shredder and out is coming TFM points. Which, if you choose to use your Krisflyer miles this way, is probably true

Not enough miles to redeem for an award flight? With KrisFlyer, you can use your miles not just in the air, but also on the ground. And from now till 31 October 2017, you can get 20% bonus points when you convert your KrisFlyer miles to TapForMore points to offset your shopping at Cold Storage, Guardian, Giant and more!

Enjoy the flexibility of converting between your KrisFlyer miles and TapForMore points to suit your needs. From groceries and everyday essentials to award flights for your next holiday, we’ve got you covered.

Find out more about TapForMore here.

1 Krisflyer Mile = 1.32 (1.1 + 20% bonus) TFM points= 0.88 cents. 

Needless to say this is horrible value and there’s really no reason why you should consider doing this. Keep in mind you can (but shouldn’t) use your Krisflyer miles to pay for revenue tickets on Singaporeair.com at a value of about 1 cent each, so even that would be a better use of your miles than this.

Although I welcome more ways to use miles, the fact of the matter remains that the best value for them will always be redeeming flights, not cashing out through third party programs. I’d give this promo a miss.

18% more Asiamiles when you transfer your HSBC rewards points by 30 Sept

It just figures that a few weeks after I go and transfer a buttload of HSBC points to Krisflyer (fearful of an imminent Asiamiles devaluation after their recent spate of losses) HSBC goes and announces a bonus on Asiamiles transfers.

(why did I transfer my points instead of maximizing their validity by keeping them with HSBC? These points were earned through the Advance card, and I had to transfer them out by end of August or they’d turn into cashback. Kind of like a reverse Midas. I tried applying for a HSBC Revolution card so my Advance points would transfer over but the application system was so fussy I gave up)

From now till 30 September, transfer HSBC reward points to Asiamiles and you’ll get 18% additional miles. As a reminder, 5,000 HSBC points= 2,000 Asiamiles, so you’ll get 2,360 Asiamiles instead with this promotion.

Here’s the relevant terms and conditions:

  • This Promotion is valid from 1 September to 30 September 2017 (both dates inclusive) (the “Promotional Period”).
  • Upon successful conversion, qualified HSBC Cardholders will receive additional 18% Asia Miles credited to their Asia Miles’ account within 4 to 6 weeks after the Promotional period.
  • Cardholder must be a Asia Miles member and enrolled in HSBC’s Mileage Programme.
  • If you have not enrolled in HSBC’s Mileage Programme, click here for more details.
  • General terms and conditions of HSBC’s Rewards Programme apply.

These transfer bonus promos are quite common in the States, but I can’t remember the last time we’ve seen one here. I wouldn’t call this the start of a trend, but we can always hope. One more reason not to jump the gun on your points transfers, I guess.

If you’re new to Asiamiles, try starting off with the primer I have here.

Thanks to Matthew for the tip!

SQ to unveil new A380 cabin products on 2 November

After much speculation, we finally have a date: As per AusBT, SQ will unveil its new Suites, business class and economy class seats for its new A380s on 2 November. The media event will be held in Singapore (and The Milelion was not invited, but good thing he is mature and completely not petty).

What’s interesting about the choice of date is that it looks to get the jump on Emirates’ new first class launch at the Dubai Airshow that runs from 12-16 November.

Based on what we’ve seen in the past, the gap between product announcement and product launch has been anything between 60-80 days

So I think it’s safe to say we won’t see these new products until start of Jan at the earliest.

What do we know about the new products?

Say what you will about SQ, but they’ve been playing their cards very close to the chest on this one. Here’s a collection of what we know and don’t know about the new A380 cabin products

  • Suites will be moved to the upper deck and cut from 12 to 6 in a single aisle formation
  • Suites will not feature a shower
  • Sydney will almost certainly be the launch destination for the new A380 products, with SQ221 and 232 likely to be the inaugural flights (neither is selling more than 6 Suites seats from January)
  • Some rejected designs for SQ’s new cabin products can be found here
  • The business class seat introduced on 2 November will be the same as that which appears on the ULR A350s that will restart non stop service to the LAX, New York and a third unnamed destination (Boston? Seattle? Chicago?)

Suites saver award availability on 221 is near impossible to find, but I managed to secure a date in late March. For those of you who are thinking of making a speculative booking, my advice is that you don’t bother messing around with the website checking date by date- just call up KF membership services, tell them you want to fly 221 in suites saver and don’t care what date. They’ll look through the months and feed you possible dates. That’s what I did.

This is all very exciting. Let’s see what SQ has up its sleeve.