Tag Archives: airlines

Miami, no vice: EVA Hello Kitty Business Class SIN-TPE

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Orlando: Disneyworld and other distractions
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
EVA Air Business Class JFK-TPE
EVA Air Business Class TPE-SIN


The first thing you need to understand about The Milelion is that he is a prime specimen of male masculinity. Where he walks, women swoon and men shake their fists in envious grief. He causes mass hysteria in the countries he visits. His bodily fluids have been incorporated into TCM as a remedy for many ailments. Indeed, centuries from now, historians will be unable to reference any epoch without doing so in standard units of Milelions.

Image result for asian bodybuilding
File Photo of The Milelion, before breakfast

It is because of this rampant surplus of masculinity that The Milelion saw no issue with booking a trip to Miami via Houston and Taipei on one of EVA Air’s Hello Kitty services.

I was gushing (in a manly way, of course) to my colleague about the upcoming Miami trip and the many manly exploits I would do while I was there. I would boldly stare down brightly-colored fish while snorkeling, hurl obscenities at Florida gators from a covered walkway, shop for torso-hugging v-neck shirts at the premium outlets and take limited public transportation where necessary.

“Don’t real men fly long haul economy?” he asked.

I ignored his question. It really wasn’t my job to answer the questions of men less manly than me.


Image result for eva air launch hello kitty jet

EVA launched its first Hello Kitty jet back in October 2005 in a marketing tie-up with Sanrio. The first aircraft, an A330-200, was described as follows-

On the right side of the aircraft, identified with “Hello Kitty EVA Air,” Kitty and her friends greet passengers with welcoming smiles. Daniel Star, his aviator glasses perched on his forehead, stands nearest the cockpit with Kitty by his side. Tim and Tammy, the mischievous monkeys, sit over the wing. Joy, the blue mouse, is poised on the engine. And Mimmy White, Kitty’s sister, joins parents Mary and George White, near the back of the aircraft. On the left of the aircraft under “EVA Air Hello Kitty,” Kitty stands nearest the cockpit beside her friend Kathy, the white rabbit. Rory, the yellow squirrel, frolics on the engine. Tim and Tammy and Kitty’s family are featured in the same positions as on the other side of the aircraft.

EVA currently services Cebu, Narita, Houston, Singapore, Paris, Haeda, Fukuoka, Seoul and Shanghai with Hello Kitty jets. The jets have names such as

  • Gudetama Comfort Flight
  • Sanrio Characters Shining Star
  • Sanrio Family Hand in Hand
  • Hello Kitty Loves Apples
  • Bad Badtz-Maru Travel Fun

The Hello Kitty planes get moved around ever so often, and the Singapore route will no longer be operated with a Hello Kitty jet come 31 May. No time like the present.


I had booked a complimentary airport transfer through the UOB PRVI card, thanks to my overseas spending in well-known masculine business destination Rio de Janeiro the month before.

In theory the limo booking covers a 4 seater vehicle like a Mercedes E Class. However, the agency had sent over a 7 seater van instead. This usually entails a $10 upcharge if specifically requested for, but it was pretty obvious they sent the larger vehicle due to the masculine way in which I entered my credit card details.

“This is logical”, I thought. “My selected mode of transportation needs plenty of room for my outsized biceps”

I arrived at Terminal 3 around 2pm for a 3.45pm departure. Eva Air’s desks are located at Row 6, next to SQ’s premium economy check in. There were no queues when I arrived, and even if there were I’m sure they would have parted like the Red Sea. Such are the perks of well-toned delts, I thought as I pulled my abductor muscle lifting my bag onto the belt.

“Where are you headed today sir?” the agent inquired with a slight tremble in her voice as she beheld the Adonis before her. This is a normal response for women when they see The Milelion.

“Houston.” I grunted (manly men always grunt. It’s a mixture of muscle mass and constipation). Houston seemed a suitably masculine destination, what with its association with the oil and gas industry and all. Renewable energy is so for whimps.

She weighed and tagged my bag to IAH, probably entertaining daydreams about my life on the oil rigs (bodybuilding oil comes from oil rigs right?) where my bulging muscles would be used to turn giant valves, lift massive pipes, and fix the occasional IT problem because Renaissance man. I was disappointed to learn that my bag weighed a puny 13kg because this represented a wasted opportunity for tricep and forearm development.

“This is the Hello Kitty flight, yes?” I clarified as I dropped to the floor to do some one-handed pushups. I managed to do about three or four before my arms started hurting so I stopped. Circuit training is all about knowing your limits.

She confirmed that it was. I was relieved. Although BR215/216 should be operated by the Hello Kitty jet, there’s no accounting for last minute equipment swaps.

I’ve never understood the ritualistic defacing of boarding passes that happens at check-in. It’s almost as if the ground staff believe that your ability to locate your boarding jet or remember your legal name will be enhanced through a liberal application of blue pen to the boarding pass. Fortunately, there was nothing of that sort this time and I received unadulterated boarding passes. Formalities complete, she bade me a good trip.

I had about an hour to kill before boarding so I headed off to the SilverKris lounge, which I’ve reviewed several times before so will only give you the highlights.

I was looking for raw eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and other protein-rich foods for my physique. Instead, I only found a selection of fruits, salad, simple carbohydrates and sugary drinks. SQ’s lounge food is so unconducive to bodybuilding it makes my hamstrings hurt.

Real men also down copious amounts of alcohol, of course, and I was hoping that SQ might have added a tavern or some sort of alehouse to the lounge since my last visit. It would be an appropriate place to mount a table and tell stories about my many epic (cyber) battles while fair wenches pour libations freely.

Unfortunately, I only found a selection of nancy wines.

Wines aside, I’d like to call out SQ for this latest cost cutting measure of hide the bubbly.

When I first saw this sign it was during a morning departure slot. I assumed that the timing had something to do with it. It now appears, however, that SOP is to keep the champagne under lock and key, only attainable through social interaction. How nefarious. They know my one weakness.

Because I could not find anyone in the lounge willing to engage in arm-wrestling combat and/or hot oil wrestling, I decided to leave early for the plane.

BR216 was departing from Gate B5 today. Security clearance took longer than usual. The uninitiated may think that this was because there was a large student group reaching before me, but everyone knows it was because my abs of steel kept on setting off the metal detector. Even from the end of the queue.

From the gate I could make out the rear end of the Hello Kitty jet. Alas, this was one of those gates that didn’t give great tarmac views.

I positioned myself at the entrance so I could be the first on board. I knew the rest of the passengers would respect the Alpha male’s right to first boarding, but I didn’t want to make them wait too long.

Boarding started and I gracefully bounded down the jetway, reaching the aircraft slightly winded. These jetways were longer than I remember. Catching my breath, I took in the 77W cabin.

There is no question in my mind that EVA totally kicks SQ’s ass on SIN-TPE routes. SQ’s flights are operated by A330s which have its regional angled-flat business product.

Image result for sq a330 business class

EVA, on the other hand, operates 77Ws with its latest reverse-herringbone flatbed seat installed in a 1-2-1 configuration.

With the recent Krisflyer devaluation, it costs the same number of miles (27,500 one way) to fly in Business Class to Taipei on SQ as it does on Star Alliance partners. Therefore I’d encourage anyone who is considering redeeming tickets on this route to opt for the EVA option, given the superior hard product. EVA is quite generous in releasing partner award space on this route too.

Do you really need a flatbed seat on a 4.5 hour flight? No. But do I really need all these Arnold Schwarzenegger workout videos and free weights? Sometimes, we just feel like treating ourselves.

I was bracing myself for a full-fledged assault of Hello Kitty from the moment I boarded the plane, but was surprised that the cabin looked identical to that of every other EVA flight I’d flown so far.

On first glance, there were only two immediately noticeable features that identified this as a Kitty flight.

First, there was a framed painting at the front of the cabin. The painting in each aircraft is unique.

Second there was a Hello Kitty pillow at each seat. Of course, there were many more cobranded items, as I’d soon discover.

I settled into my seat and, with much effort, finally managed to hoist my handcarry bag in the overhead compartment. This was totally not due to any weakness in my upper body but more because of the poor UX design of airplane overhead compartments. Why must they involve lifting weights above shoulder level? Preposterous.

Besides, I had a more pressing task- getting my hair tonic to cold storage asap. I would like to remind everyone it is well documented that male pattern hair loss is caused by an excess of testosterone. It’s true. Testosterone is converted to dihydrotestosterone which in turn causes hair loss. It speaks volumes to my masculinity and excess testosterone production that I have attained such illustrious male pattern balding at the young age of 29, and I challenge anyone else to do better. Bruce Willis, Andre Agassi and Gandhi would be proud.

“Would you be able to store this in your cooler?” I asked of a passing flight attendant.

“Of course sir. Is this medicine?” she asked.

It most certainly was not. I bristled at the suggestion that a man such as I would require anything of the sort.  “It’s a supplement,” I said, in a prickly tone. Manly men do not use medicine. They merely require an abundance of supplements. Properly chastised, she took my supplement and disappeared into the galley.

Pre-departure drink orders were taken. I enquired if they had any protein powder milkshakes, failing which I would gladly have a glass of Rose. Unfortunately, EVA has joined the ranks of airlines which do not serve champagne on the ground, for duty reasons. They do serve sparkling wine thoughs (and I was very glad that the crew drew a distinction between sparkling wine and champagne)

As I sipped my cava I took stock of the Hello Kitty situation so far.  The flight wasn’t even 10 minutes old and I had a Hello Kitty pillow, slippers, menu and air sickness bag. They even had Hello Kitty safety cards.

I unwrapped the slippers and put them on. Was this too girly? I asked myself.

No, I decided. It was not. I had big feet. And you know what they say about men with big feet.

Besides, I was wearing said slippers while reading hypermasculine broadsheet The New York Times. And the guy on the front page was bald. This surely more than compensated for things.

The aircraft taxied and took off in unspectacular fashion. I was half expecting Hello Kitty’s voice to appear on the PA as he/she/it willed the dual engines to full throttle through the power of audible kawaii. This did not happen.

Soon after takeoff I got my glass of Rose. I realise there are some people out there who would dismiss Rose as girly. But rose is fine and totally not girly to drink because the red reminds me of the blood of my enemies that I shed so freely.

I had a look at the menu while waiting for my lunch order to be taken.

It was very disappointing to note that there wasn’t any game meat on the menu. After all, I was by now used to dining on freshly slaughtered elk, caribou and the occasional Bambi’s mom.

 

While waiting for the food, I scanned the IFE system, looking for programs on weightlifting, polar bear wrestling or steel manufacturing/other metallurgy (all of which are hobbies of mine). I ended up watching Gilmore Girls because my fingers accidentally bumped  the icon and my hands accidentally put the headphones on.

The crew came around to dress the table. As you might expect, the tablecloths on the flight are Hello Kitty branded too.

The first course was a sweet and savory salad with smoked salmon, mini-apple cubes and capsicum.

I would like to point out that the capsicum had been cut into tiny stars, because Hello Kitty is all about stars. You gotta admire the folks at SATS catering who do this. Perhaps it’s automated, but I think it is safe to say no other airline has star-shaped capsicum.

I went with the prawn noodle soup for the main. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t Wah Kee standard. The prawns were tiny and the deshelled frozen type, the veggies were soggy and there was an overabundance of fishcake.

Desert was an excellent double chocolate mousse.

A byproduct of manliness is a super efficient digestive system. Hence I required the bathroom soon after my meal.

But even the loo isn’t safe from cobranding. There is Hello Kitty toilet paper. Yes, you heard me right. Anyone who needs to go number two can relish in the fact that they are. shall we say, browning the kitty.

The hand soaps and lotions have special branding too.

However, the toilet seat is stock. Would it really be so hard/disturbing to have a Hello Kitty bidet? It could play happy star music while cleansing your unspeakable regions.

I normally don’t pay much attention to the inflight duty free catalogue, but this one was a thing of beauty. It was chock full of Hello Kitty merchandise.

I was partial to the apron, which would let me live out my iron chef man fantasies.

But the other items weren’t bad too.

In the end, I settled for two decks of free playing cards and a complimentary bag.

Before long, our flight started its descent into Taipei.

Did the Hello Kitty service live up to expectations? Although the flight crew did not break out into a song and dance number midway through service, I still think this has to go down as one of the most kitsch things to do in the world. And some people just like that. I can imagine a whole planeload of hipsters doing the flight ironically, for example .

I disembarked the aircraft, manliness still intact. Now it was time to figure out which of EVA’s 4 lounges I should use…

Miami, no vice

Miami, no vice: Planning
EVA Air Business Class SIN-TPE
EVA Air Business Class TPE-IAH
Red Roof Inn IAH Airport
United Economy IAH-MIA
Renting with Sixt Miami
Element Miami International Airport
Miami, the Keys and everything inbetween
Orlando: Disneyworld and other distractions
Jetblue Economy MCO-JFK
EVA Air Business Class JFK-TPE
EVA Air Business Class TPE-SIN


Image result for miami spring break

When I first told my colleagues I was headed to Miami during Spring Break, questions were asked.

“Are you going to party on the beach?”

“No”

“Are you going to party on the beach with booze?”

“No”

“Are you going to party on the beach with booze and drugs?”

“No”

“Are you going to party on the beach with booze and drugs and topless college girls who have not learned the value of true self-worth?”

“No. Although I might drop by to pass out bottles of water to ensure no one gets dehydrated and everyone gets home safely”

It’s normally around this point that people lose interest in the conversation and ask me to ensure my files are handed over properly.

The thing is, the Milelion is a paragon of virtue, and such concepts are strange and foreign to him. Miami might be the town of Tony Montana (paraphrase: this whole town is akin to a bride awaiting consummation), but the Milelion is determined to take a walk on the mild side.


I first put together my Miami plan back in December last year when March seemed so far away. But now March is here, and even though I’d painstakingly put together v1 of the Miami plan, I’ve spent the past 48 hours taking it apart and reassembling it because of some interesting opportunities that have come up.

The Flights and Hotels

My original plan was to try out SQ’s new A350 aircraft with its 2013-edition business class seats on SQ52 from SIN-MAN-IAH, before transiting to a cheap American Airlines flight to finish off the journey to MIA.

Image result for sq a350

The problem? SQ52 departs at 0215 from Singapore on Saturday. By the time I arrive in Miami, it’d be close to 9pm on Saturday. No time to do anything but check into the hotel and try to fall asleep. And it’s not like I have a lot of leave this time round- my trip, sans travelling time, is only 8 days.

I always thought that you gain a day when you fly to the States, but what was happening in my case is that I’m actually overshooting Miami by going to Houston. Then add in a 2 hour layover and a 2.5 hour flight back, and there goes your Saturday.

And besides, SQ’s A350 business class product is more or less the same as the one you’ll find on the newest 77Ws, which I reviewed recently (I know there have been some complaints that the cabin’s a bit too narrow however). And I’ve already reviewed an A350

So I was looking for a way to depart from Singapore earlier on Friday. And lo and behold, I found a business class seat on BR216 for a 4pm departure to TPE before connecting on BR52 to IAH and arriving at 10.40pm on Friday.

But haven’t you already reviewed EVA? you ask. Yes, I have. But I’ve not reviewed BR216 before.

BR216, you say? Why does that sound familiar…

Image result for eva air hello kitty 777

It sounds familiar because BR215/216 is the flight pairing of the Hello Kitty  777 that is operated between SIN and TPE (and will be until 31 May 2017).

So yes, I am going to review the Eva Air Hello Kitty jet. Fortunately, I have such a surplus of rampant manliness that I think we’re all gonna be just fine.

I ended up booking this flight through Krisflyer for 97,500 miles and about S$370 in surcharges and taxes. The surcharges and taxes ended up being quite a bit more than I expected (SQ charged S$411), owing to the fact that EVA levies fuel surcharges (S$285) on redemptions.

I know I could have used Lifemiles and avoided the fuel surcharges, but I’m currently empty and would rather use some of my “free” Krisflyer miles than Lifemiles that I shelled out actual money for. Was this the best use of miles? Well, I spent 25K additional miles to start my vacation a bit earlier and review a new cabin product. I know there will be those who disagree with that assessment, but in my current situation I value time over miles, so this was an acceptable trade off for me.

Unfortunately, I arrive too late in Houston to catch an immediate connection to Miami. So I’m going to overnight at a dumpy Red Roof Inn near the airport for a grand total of S$88 (less 10% cashback with Shopback- there’s a special sale going on now with Expedia that upsizes the regular 6.5% cashback on hotels to 10% till 23 March).

I mean, the official photos look ok, but we all know that this is going to be a graceless airport property. That said, this seems to be one of the better ones in the area (the other budget motels have reviews that would make your skin crawl)

Image result for red roof inn iah

Image result for red roof inn iah

The next morning I’ll be taking an early flight out to Miami on United and reaching at 1040am. This one is the real pain point- the flight cost me S$335, and there wasn’t any award space that I could redeem a cheap Krisflyer Star Alliance award for. I played with many different permutations (including flying with legendary Spirit Airlines to FLL), but in the end the additional time and bag fees just didn’t make sense.

Now I suppose you could say that the net net effect is I’m paying just over S$400 for an additional 12 hours of vacation. I’d argue that it’s more like 24, because if nothing else, getting into Houston earlier allows me an additional evening in a proper bed to try to acclimatize to the time change. It’s definitely not a trade off I’d recommend for everyone, however.

Once in Miami, I’ve booked the Element Miami International Airport. An airport hotel isn’t the most intuitive of places to stay, but I’m going to have a car, so the distances don’t bother me that much

Image result for element miami international airport

Miami Airport Accommodations - Executive Corner Suite

Miami Airport Accommodations - One Bedroom Suite

Besides, the property is a mere 7,000 points a night with the 5th night free. So I’m paying 28,000 points for 5 nights, and getting a room that’s significantly bigger than what I’d have in downtown Miami. And it has a kitchen. If I’m feeling creative.

After Miami I’m heading to Orlando, where I’ll be staying in an AirBnB property. I’ve been buying more than a few AirBnB gift cards with the 20% off promotions that we’ve seen recently, and combining this with referral credit (thanks guys-here’s S$50 in credit for you if it’s your first stay) means I’m paying about S$82 in total for 3 nights.

From Orlando it’s a S$214 Jetblue flight to JFK, and from JFK I’ve booked myself back home with EVA again (really racking up those Rimowa amenities kits!). The cost: 78,000 Lifemiles and US$6 of taxes.

(random thought: should I be crediting my miles from Star Alliance flights to Lifemiles, since the non-existent surcharges mean that it’s going to be better value than Krisflyer post the devaluation? Of course there’s the whole issue of not being able to book SQ award space but hmmm…..)

The Ground Transportation

I mentioned I had a car for the trip. And indeed, I have. But I’m deeply suspicious because the deal I got sounds too good to be true.

That’s right, Sixt Miami (who have some rather dodgy Yelp reviews, although the majority of those seem to be from people who are incapable of reading fine print) is offering me a rate of about US$48 a day for this. It even includes SLI and CDW with a $0 deductible (if you’re thinking about rental car insurance beyond that covered by travel insurance, try this)

Now I get that it’s a “or similar” dealie, but this isn’t the base level convertible where they could easily substitute a Ford Mustang or a Chevy Camaro for a continental car. This is the premium level convertible, where “or similar” means a 4 series BMW convertible or an Audi A5 convertible.

General rule: if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is. So I’ve made a backup reservation with National for a rather pedestrian full sized car.

Let’s see how this plays out…

The Sights

I’ve put together a litany of things to see and do in Miami, which I won’t spoil here but will try to write about in as much detail as possible as this trip report goes on. I hope that if any of you are headed to Florida in the future, you might find the things here useful.

Image result for florida keys

Some highlights in Miami will include visiting the famous South Beach area with its Ocean Drive Art Deco buildings, the Design District, Wynwood, Coral Gables, the Everglades and the Keys (please tell me some of you watch Bloodline). Thanks to those of you who have reached out with travel suggestions, really appreciate it!

Image result for miami masters tennis

And, of course, who can forget the Miami Masters tennis, which I’ll use to fill evening time when all the cool kids are partying on the beach (did I tell you I’m going during Spring Break?)

Image result for disneyworld

In Orlando it’s all about Mickey as Walt and friends bend me over and charge me US$212 for a 2 day pass. Who’d have thought that the happiest place on earth could also be the most expensive? They want a further US$20 a day for parking, but I believe I might have found a way around that. I’ll report back on this. But, perhaps more interestingly, Orlando is 1 hour away from the Kennedy Space Center on the Florida coast. You can bet I’m heading there (they even offer the chance to see a launch on certain days!)

Image result for kennedy space centre visitor

Conclusion

All in all this is shaping up to be a fantastic trip. I’ll try to keep the articles and updates flowing. Remember, you can follow The Milelion on Instantgram and be the first to see his photos of relaxing at 8pm in the hotel and avoiding a potentially interesting neighbourhood because scary.

More implications of the Krisflyer devaluation

Ecclesiastes 1:2-3

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless”. What do people gain from all their labors  at which they toil under the sun?

You’d forgive many a Krisflyer member for feeling like Solomon on a Thursday morning as we take stock of the sudden Krisflyer carnage visited upon us last night.

Here’s a link to my initial take on the changes. After sleeping it over I’ve thought of some additional pointers raised by this devaluation. There will no doubt be more analysis in the days to come.

You should chase your waitlist to clear

I’m intrigued to see what SQ’s revenue management team will be doing in the 3 weeks we have before the devaluation takes place. We all know that the Krisflyer waitlist is cleared manually. But does the revenue management team

(A) Clear as many awards as possible between now and 23 March so as to maximise the money SQ collects from fuel surcharges or

(B) Deliberately hold up clearing the waitlist till 23 March so as to maximise the miles SQ clears off its balance sheet

It’s certainly an interesting thought exercise and I’m sure SQ management must have considered this already. The “fair” approach to take would be for SQ revenue management to follow exactly the same heuristics as they do now when clearing waitlists, but there’s nothing obliging them to do it.

Remember: it doesn’t matter when you waitlisted your award booking. All that matters is when it is ticketed. If you ticket before 23 March, you enjoy the old rates. If you ticket on 23 March or later, you pay the new rates (but no fuel surcharges).

I’ve established in my first article that the savings on fuel surcharges do not offset the higher mile requirements, so I’d recommend you pick up the phone and start chasing SQ.

SQ’s new cabin products will cost you more

Image result for singapore airlines suites
soon to be replaced

Part of me wonders whether the timing of this devaluation has anything to do with the fact that SQ is intending to launch new cabin products for its A380 aircraft some time this year.

If so, this would suggest that SQ will not prevent KF members from redeeming its new cabin products at saver rates, a tactic it has used before when unveiling the 2006 new First and Business Class seats and the 2007 Suites product.

Of course there’s nothing stopping you from locking in award tickets at the current rates for 2018 now and hoping your aircraft gets switched to a new one, which brings me to my next point…

Your existing awards are protected even if your dates change

In theory, any ticket you redeem now will be protected against the future price increase so long as whatever changes you make do not require a reissuance of a ticket. 

Date changes do not trigger a reissuance. So if I lock in a round trip first class ticket to SFO today at 182,750 miles and subsequently change my dates in August, I will not be required to pay anything new.

That’s the theory at least. Whether front line SQ phone agents will be bright enough to see this logic remains to be seen, and I fully anticipate we’ll see more than a few complaints about this. If the agents refuse to honor the old rates, ask to speak to a supervisor. Let’s see how this goes.

You should now be channel agnostic when buying SQ tickets

Airlines do not discriminate among channels when awarding miles for air tickets. A Y fare class bought from Expedia enjoys the same accrual rates as a Y fare class bought from Priceline as a Y fare class bought directly from Singaporeair.com.

However, if you want to upgrade your full fare economy/premium economy/business class ticket to the next highest fare class using miles, you’d traditionally need to buy direct from SQ in order to enjoy the 15% miles discount.

I learned this the hard way after buying a premium economy ticket from SIN-FRA via Expedia in order to take advantage of the UOB PRVI 6mpd promotion.

I went online to try and upgrade my ticket to business class, but found that SQ was unwilling to offer the 15% online redemption upgrade discount because I’d bought the ticket through a 3rd party.

The additional 15% I had to spend ended up offsetting the additional 2mpd I earned through paying with my UOB PRVI Miles AMEX as opposed to my HSBC Advance.

UOB PRVI 6mpd promotion

With the removal of the 15% discount, however, there’s really no incentive to buy your tickets directly from SQ. This might be one of the unintended consequences of the Krisflyer devaluation (although Krisflyer might very well make a new rule that only tickets bought directly from SQ can be upgraded using miles. We shall see)

There are some loopholes in the Star Alliance award chart

I pointed out in my first article on the devaluation that it was now cheaper to redeem Star Alliance first class. It seems I’m not the only one who has noticed this, as the US blogs have picked it up. Their examples are US centric, so let’s take this from a Singapore point of view.

click to enlarge- the % in the last 6 columns refer to the premium you are paying to redeem via *A as opposed to via SQ

Suppose I wanted to fly to a destination in the US that’s unserved by SQ. Think Miami, Seattle, Portland, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Boston etc. All awesome cities, but not served by SQ.

If I wanted to use Krisflyer miles what I’d traditionally do is book an award ticket to the closest SQ-served destination and buy a cheap economy ticket for the rest of the way. This is because the additional Krisflyer miles I’d need to spend to redeem a Star Alliance award would more than offset whatever savings I’d have by not having to buy a separate revenue ticket.

In other words, a one way itinerary like SIN-HKG-SFO-PDX in First Class would price (before the devaluation) at

  • 112,500 miles with *A
  • 91,375 miles with Krisflyer (and I need to buy an additional ticket to get from SFO-PDX)

After the devaluation

  • 112,500 miles with *A
  • 118,000 miles with Krisflyer (and I need to buy an additional ticket to get from SFO-PDX)

What I’d do in this case is call up Krisflyer membership services and ask to book a Star Alliance award from SIN-PDX in First. Assuming award space is available, they’ll give me SIN-HKG-SFO in First and a connection on UA from SFO-PDX, also in First. So it costs me less to get to where I need to go!

This is certainly an interesting opportunity for any Krisflyer member who wants to explore more of the US and it remains to be seen how long this loophole will exist.

Your valuation of a mile needs to change

Let’s talk theoretical value as opposed to actual value, because, as I mentioned in my iPayMy webinar presentation on airlines, actual value is the product of some complex considerations including how much you value certainty, how available saver space is, how much you would really have been willing to pay for a ticket etc.

sample revenue prices and miles prices for selected destinations. click to enlarge

The theoretical value of a mile  has traditionally been 1-2 cents for economy, 4-5 for business and 7-8 for first.

With the devaluation, it comes down ever so slightly.  1-2 cents is still the threshold for economy class (in the example above I’ve used SQ’s lowest possible economy fares, which strictly speaking will not be a fair comparison because award tickets can be changed or refunded with minimal to no charges, whereas these cheap economy fares will not be), 3-4.5 cents for business and 4.5-7.5 for first.

Keep in mind that I’ve also not considered airport taxes on award tickets as part of the equation because they should be minimal, but that will bring down the valuation ever so slightly.

Conclusion

I’m sure this is only the tip of the iceberg. I know a lot of people are asking about Asia Miles now and whether they should transfer their DBS/UOB points there instead of to Krisflyer. I promise you we’re looking at that and will publish something shortly.

Guestwriters, help.