Tag Archives: award

Silkair’s 50% off redemptions promo is back again

Krisflyer has run a series of discounted redemption prices promotions in recent memory

50% off Krisflyer redemptions till 10th July

Silkair is offering 35% off online redemptions till 4 August

These promotions cover economy class redemptions (and business class for SilkAir). Although I’m generally against redeeming miles for economy class travel, the 50% off miles required makes it an acceptable deal in my mind.

The 50% deal is back again. Bookings from now till 16 Oct 2016 get 50% off redemption prices when you travel by 15 Nov 2016.

Note that the 50% savings is calculated based on the regular price that appears on the site. You already get 15% off award prices when you redeem online, so you’re really saving an incremental 35%. Which is still none too shabby in my opinion.

If you’re planning a beach getaway, here are some destinations that may appeal to you

Economy Business
SIN-USM 6,250 10,000
SIN-PEN 3,750 8,750
SIN-DPS 8,750 Not available
SIN-HKT 6,250 10,000
SIN-MLE 9,250 17,500

Other things to note: The discount only applies for saver class availability, so you better hope and pray that Krisflyer finds it in its heart to actually open up some. Oddly enough, the T&C say that any changes are not permitted for bookings made under this promotion, and cancellation is not allowed for partially used tickets. My reading of this is- you can cancel and rebook provided you’ve not flown, but you can’t change a booking which you’ve not flown. Which is weird, but we’ll see.

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work that muffin top

Regular readers will know I love Koh Samui, it’s just that getting there is really expensive. This promotion makes it a lot more viable to get an award ticket there, assuming Silkair actually releases space on the route…

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sunset by the pool at Conrad Koh Samui

(HT: The Shutterwhale)

 

PSA: Lifemiles on sale again with 130% bonus, should you buy?

Ah, the one constant in my life- another Lifemiles sale. Lifemiles, for the uninitiated, is one of the best opportunities to buy Star Alliance premium cabin award tickets at a fraction of their revenue price.

The deal this time is as follows

Buy miles 2 for 1 and get additional early bird bonuses from September 1st to the 10th, 2016. Receive an additional bonus on each purchase level buying from 2,000 miles.

You can buy them by 1,000 miles, for USD33 + Taxes and you´ll receive bonus as follows:

When you buy between Receive Accrue up to
LM 2.000 – 50.000 2X1 + 5%* in Early Bird LM 102.500
when buying LM 50.000
LM 51.000 – 100.000 2X1 + 20%* in Early Bird LM 220.000
when buying LM 100.000
LM 101.000 – 150.000 2X1 + 30%* in Early Bird LM 345.000
when buying LM 150.000

In simple English, if you max out this promotion you will get a 130% bonus. Lifemiles usually retail at 3.3 cents each, so if you buy with a 130% bonus the cost of each Lifemile is reduced to 1.43 cents each. (all prices here refer to USD)

I bought my Lifemiles about a year ago at a 140% sale, making my price 1.375 cents per mile, and 150% sales are not unheard of (1.32 cents!)

Here’s how historical sales have gone (refers to maximum possible bonus)

  • May 2016- 135%
  • Dec 2015- 150%
  • October 2015- 150%
  • September 2015- 145%
  • May 2015- 120%

Here are some sample Lifemiles prices for premium cabin redemptions, and how much they’d cost at 1.43 cents per mile (business/first). Remember that Lifemiles does not charge fuel surcharges on any redemptions, and taxes + fees are very minimal (<$100, unless departing from LHR)

All prices one-way

  • Singapore to North America ($1,115/$1,416)
  • Singapore to Europe ($1,115/$1,460)
  • Singapore to Australia ($572/$858)

Remember that Lifemiles does not allow you to book SQ premium cabin space (except on A330 routes), you can cancel your tickets any time for a US$50 fee (but you need to call up the call centre) and you can only book your routes based on what you see on the online search engine.

I love Lifemiles, I really do. It’s how I’m taking the long way to New York tonight. I think there will be better sales than 130% come November/December, but if you urgently need miles now this is a decent price to pull the trigger.

The First Class Premium: Crunching the numbers for First and Business Class

The First Class Premium

Part 1: Tracing the evolution of First and Business Class on Singapore Airlines
Part 2: How does First and Business Class compare on Singapore Airlines?
Part 3: Number crunching First vs Business Class on Singapore Airlines
Part 4: How does First and Business Class compare on other airlines?


Ah, the ultimate first world problem.

Having looked at the evolution of SQ’s First and Business Class products and how the two compare today, it’s time to do some number crunching to see under what circumstances it makes sense to spend your miles on First Class over Business.

Here is SQ’s award chart for one way saver redemptions between Singapore and various destinations. The 15% online redemption discount has not yet been reflected. You can see that the average premium you pay for first class over business is about 40%. The premium generally decreases as the distance gets longer.

Business Class First Class Premium
Z2: Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei 17,500 25,000 43%
Z3: Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos 20,000 30,000 50%
Z4: Hong Kong, Taiwan 27,500 37,500 36%
Z5: Beijing, Shanghai 35,000 50,000 43%
Z6: India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh 35,000 50,000 43%
Z7: Japan, South Korea 40,000 60,000 50%
Z8: Perth & Darwin 32,500 47,500 46%
Z9: Rest of Australia & NZ 55,000 75,000 36%
Z10: Middle East & Turkey 45,000 70,000 56%
Z11: Europe 80,000 107,500 34%
Z12: San Francisco, Los Angeles 80,000 107,500 34%
Z13: New York, Houston 85,000 110,000 29%

I reached out to a few of our trusty guestwriters to get their opinions on when paying for First Class made sense. Here are some of their views-


Jeriel: I thought it would be useful to divide the discussion to 2 sets of considerations. Firstly, the redemption zones –

1) Regional / Medium Haul flights (i.e. redemption zones 1 to 8) and 2) Long Haul flights (i.e. redemption zones 9 to 14).

Secondly, the type of aircraft –

1) B777-300ER and
2) A380.

Zones 1 to 8

To begin with, many of the aircraft operating flights in this category do not even have First Class cabins. The first step is to double-check whether your flight even has an option for First Class! (Milelion note: even though there is no First Class on these routes (eg SIN-BKK), there is still a line in the award chart for First Class so that people routing from outside Singapore (eg SFO-ICN-SIN-BKK can see the cost of the award. You’d fly F from SFO-ICN-SIN and J from SIN-BKK) 

In general, First Saver redemptions from Zones 1 to 8 cost about 36-50% more miles than Business Saver redemptions. Let’s take a look at a few examples for some popular destinations.

Destination Business Saver (1-way, -15%) First Saver (1-way, -15%) Premium
HKG (Zone 4) 23,375 31,875 8,500 (36%)
PVG (Zone 5) 29,750 42,500 12,750 (43%)
NRT (Zone 7) 34,000 51,000 17,000 (50%)

While the incremental miles required to fly First may not be high, sometimes this can represent quite a high percentage premium over a Business Class product that is already excellent. Japan and Korea in Zone 7 is one such example. 50% more miles would really make one think twice!

There are only a few scenarios in which I can imagine how a First Saver redemption in this category would make sense. I feel this way because with a total flight time from 3-7 hours, sleep is not that big a consideration for me (refer to section on sleep below).

Scenario 1: Where it gives you access to the Suites Experience

I wholeheartedly agree with Aaron that the whole point of playing the miles and points game is to create access to experiences that one would otherwise not be able to experience. Flying Suites, experiencing sleeping in a double bed on the A380… these are definitely bucket-list experiences which would not otherwise be available to mere mortals.

When you’re talking about regular flights, HKG at 31,875 miles is the cheapest destination with which you can make your Suites dream come through. Some time back, I wrote about an even cheaper opportunity to fly suites which has sadly now lapsed.

While the short flight time leaves much to be desired, paying a couple hundred bucks and a bunch of miles for free flow premium champagne, experiencing The Private Room, good food, endless selfie opportunities and the customary photo of the golden tickets for bragging rights… Sounds like a good deal to me!

Also, while the credit card strategies in this blog  would give you a respectable earn rate on your points, at the end of the day you’d still need to spend to get those points. A return ticket on First Saver for 2 pax to zones 11-12 will set you back at least 365k miles after the online discount. Even if you earn at the maximum rate of 4 miles per dollar (which is near impossible for all you spending), you’d still need to spend almost $100k to get there. If you don’t have any massive spend lined up, it can take quite some time to get there. These short to medium haul First Class flights may be your best bet for now!

Scenario 2: When  Business Saver award space is not available

If you have to make a trip and Business Saver is not available, do not despair! Take a quick peek at First Saver availability and you might be surprised. Business Standard awards cost even more than First Saver, so you’d be kicking yourself if you pulled the trigger and redeemed for Biz Standard when First Saver was still available.

I was in this exact situation when trying to make a flight redemption to HKG for my mother who urgently needed to fly up to meet a relative. Business Saver was unavailable and even Business Standard was on waitlist. She was disappointed and started searching for the cheapest revenue Economy ticket. All it took for me was a quick check online and an additional 8,500 miles for my mum to be enjoying the flight of her lifetime a couple of weeks later!

Zones 9 to 14

The situation for long haul flights is slightly different. Firstly, the percentage premium of First Saver redemptions over Business Saver is slightly lower.

Destination Business Saver (1-way, -15%) First Saver (1-way, -15%) Premium
SYD (Zone 9) 46,750 63,750 17,000 (36%)
LHR (Zone 11)

LAX (Zone 12)

68,000 91,375 23,375 (34%)
JFK (Zone 13) 72,250 93,500 21,250 (29%)
GRU (Zone 14) 74,375 95,625 21,250 (28%)

Note: as the one-stop flights on SQ to GRU are now being pulled, it now seems that one has to fly through FRA-JFK and then codeshare on a LATAM Airlines 767-300 on the JFK/GRU leg. The last leg does not have First Class, so it looks like there will no longer be any way to fly First Class all the way to GRU on SQ.

Secondly, it is on these long-haul flights that you really get to savor the experience in all its glory, and where some of the small differences between the classes begin. Passengers flying First get the Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits, and (the now un-branded) pajamas. You’d get at least 2 meals, and a good stretch of time to experience what it feels like to sleep like a baby at 40,000 feet.

These are nice collectibles, but are they really worth the additional ~20k miles? Especially if you have already flown the product before, perhaps not so. If you take a KF mile to be worth about 2 cents each, 20k miles can be valued at about S$400. You can buy 2 bottles of Dom Perignon, or even a pair of Ferragamo heels with that!

From Aaron’s excellent history lesson of SQ’s premium offerings over the years, you can clearly see the difference in the First Class offerings in the 2 different planes. The soft product may be the same, but the hard product is miles apart, with the A380 Suites offering unparalleled privacy and the option of a double-bed. This to me is huge when considering whether or not to make the upgrade. I’d choose Suites over plain ol’ First Class any day, and would even go as far to say I think it is difficult to find a compelling reason to fly First Class over long haul Business.

For me, there are only a few reasons for which I would commit the additional miles for a First / Suites ticket.

Sleep

This is the most compelling point for me. When you take your first ever flight in a full-flat Business seat, the very fact that you are lying horizontally when flying would seem like an amazing thing. You’d definitely be able to catch more shut-eye than in Economy, but after a while you come to realize that the ‘bed’ is really not a bed at all.

Even in SQ’s excellent long-haul offering, I find the foot cubby-hole way too small and cramped. It doesn’t help that at 1.86m tall, I have to make use of every millimeter to really lie flat. I find my feet squashed and contorted into the foot cubby, which wakes me up multiple times throughout my nap. I guess if you’re around the average Singaporean height, this may not apply to you as much. My wife who’s about a foot shorter than me has no such problems.

Also, by virtue of the fact that you’re in a larger cabin, the foot traffic by other passengers and the flight crew is a significant distraction, especially if you are a light sleeper. On my recent CDG-SIN flight in June this year, a lady from across the aisle decided to stay up the whole flight reading her book with the bright LED reading light on. Having just flown my outbound in Suites with the memory of the absolute privacy it afforded fresh in my mind, I found myself incredibly irritated and must have took at least an hour to fall asleep. First world problems, I know. 😀

This is especially important on a long-haul flight where you’d want a really good long nap to hit the ground running when you land, and/or to minimize any jetlag. Perhaps less so on a 5 hour flight where any nap will only be about 2-3 hours anyway. (Milelion: I’m really going to disagree with Jeriel here- in fact the dynamic I’m thinking of is that if you want sleep, go for Business, if you want luxury, go for First. In First it feels very fei to sleep because you want to enjoy the experience more. In Business on the other hand, it’s all about maximising rest. I agree that First has a better bed for sure, but the Business bed is good enough for most people. Not everyone will agree with me on this though)

Special Occasions

It’s your honeymoon or Jubilee anniversary and you want to spoil your spouse’s expectations for future travel forever. ‘nuff said.

I was asked to provide a family-orientated perspective to this discussion. When considering this question in the context of flying with my young family, I would definitely tend towards sticking with Business Saver redemptions.


Milelion: I’m going to add a few points to Jeriel’s of how I decide whether or not to spring for First.

(1) Is it an A380?

I’d be much more willing to pay the premium for the excellent Suites product over regular F, for obvious reasons.

(2) If it’s not an A380, is it the new F or old F?

The new First Class seat is a thing of beauty and the last generation F seat just looks really tired right now. Comfort wise it’s not like you’ll be miserable in the Old F, it’s just that the new seat is that much more impressive. Ceterus paribus, I’d be very hard pressed to pay the premium for old F.

(3) Am I departing from SIN or going back to SIN?

The ground experience in SIN for First is definitely several levels above Business (Private Room!). The experience is somewhat different overseas, unless you’re departing from JFK where F passengers can assess the Virgin Clubhouse.

In my mind, there is one question that determines whether you should go for First or Business class (assuming you have the miles, and saver is available for both)

Comfort vs Experience

For comfort, Business Class is more than sufficient. SQ’s full flat Business seat is every bit as comfortable as its First Class peer. (and if you’re on one of their A330s with the less comfortable angled flat regional Business Class seat, First Class won’t be an option anyway) You’ll get a good amount of rest, the catering and service will be good quality and you’ll arrive at your destination ready to go.

For experience, it’s still hard to beat SQ’s First Class product. You can read about the nitty gritty here, but to summarise, if this is a once in a lifetime trip, there’s every reason why you should save up 30-40% more miles to make it extra memorable.

As reader Damian (look out for his guest post coming soon) puts it

Business Class: Yu Pian Mi Fen
First Class: Lobster Noodles

I think that’s as good a summary as any of what you can expect out of either one.

We’ve looked at the case for First and Business Class on SQ, but what if you intend to fly on other airlines? How different is the product and how many more miles can you expect to pay? Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of this article where we look at exactly that.