Tag Archives: award

How to save tons of miles by using Krisflyer’s stopover feature

One little-known feature of Krisflyer awards is stopovers.  I’ll bet you the average Krisflyer member has never booked one before. But for power users like us, stopovers can be a great way of saving thousands of miles each year.

this table refers to the number of FREE stopovers you get with each type of award. You can add a stopover to a one-way saver award for US$100

A stopover refers to a break in a journey of at least 24 hours. You can add a stopover to a one-way Krisflyer saver award for US$100, or have a free stopover with a one-way standard award.

Here’s the deal- whenever you’re planning a vacation, book two one way awards instead of a round trip (one way awards cost half of a round trip). Then, think about your return flight like this-

Ending City of Previous Vacation (X)–> SIN Stopover (Y)–> Starting City of Next Vacation (Z)*

*For shorthand, we’ll refer to the ending city of previous vacation as X, Singapore as Y and starting city of next vacation as Z

When you do this, you end up saving miles because redeeming (X–>Y–>Z) costs fewer miles than redeeming (X–>Y) + (Y–>Z) separately.

An example to make things more clear: I’m heading to Tokyo in September to finish off the leftover SIN-HND JAL J segment from my RTW trip (I chose to start and end the trip in Tokyo because it represented a significant cost saving over starting and ending in Singapore, even after positioning to HND).

Image result for jal 767 business class
JAL 767 Business Class

When planning my flight back to Singapore, my initial thought was to book HND-SIN in SQ F.

Image result for sq new first class
SQ 77W New First Class

Then I remembered- I’m heading to SYD in December in F to hopefully get a chance to try SQ’s new Suites product (although with every day that passes with no announcement I’m starting to have doubts whether we’ll see it deployed by then)

Instead of buying two award tickets like this:

  • HND-SIN: 65,000 Miles + $33 taxes (X–>Y)
  • SIN-SYD: 80,000 Miles + $67 taxes (Y–>Z)

Why couldn’t I do this instead?

map

  • HND-SIN (stopover)-SYD: 105,000 Miles + $100 taxes + US$100 stopover fee ($136) (X–>Y–>Z)

I’ll do my HND-SIN in September, have a stopover of a few months in SIN, then proceed with SIN-SYD in December. All in all, I’ll save 40,000 miles for an incremental cost of $136. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a good deal*

(*if you want to be technical about it my actual miles savings were a bit different because I booked SIN-SYD before the Krisflyer devaluation at 63,750 miles + $260. The figures I’ve shown above are post-devaluation figures. In other words I saved less miles and more money. But you get my point)

The maximum stopover duration is 1 year from the date of your first flight on the same ticket. That’s to say, if X–>Y is on September 1st 2017, I must fly Y–>Z by September 1st 2018.

(EDIT: There is some confusion about this so I have reached out to Krisflyer for clarification. Here’s the rule. Suppose on 1 Jan 2017 I book X–>Y–>Z with X–>Y on 1 September 2017 and Y–>Z on 1 Dec 2017. If the ticket is completely unused (i.e. I haven’t flown X–>Y yet), the maximum I can change my Y–>Z is until 1 Jan 2018. However, once i have flown X–>Y, I can then move my Y–>Z subsequently up to 1 year, that is 1 September 2018. Confusing? You bet. But it seems to work in your favour)

Remember that date changes are free of charge with Krisflyer award tickets, so it doesn’t matter if your Y–>Z dates are a bit fuzzy. You can move it as often as you want (subject to there being saver award space) within the constraints of the 1 year period.

Points to note

  • You cannot book stopovers on a one-way saver award online. You will need to call Krisflyer membership services to get it done. Give them the date of your first leg and second leg, tell them you know there’ll be a US$100 fee and everything should run smoothly. Remember to call it a STOPOVER, not a layover (layover is 24 hours or less)
  • If you’re booking First Class from X–>Y but only Business Class is available from Y–>Z, you’ll pay the First Class price from X–>Z as shown on the award chart, regardless of the fact that you flew J from Y–>Z. This is often the case when your first vacation is to a long haul stop where F is available, but your second is to a regional destination where J is the highest cabin class available
  • Although date changes do not attract additional fees, route changes do. So, if having flown X–>Y you later decide to change Y–>Z to Y–>A, you’ll need to pay a fee
  • You may encounter a scenario where X–>Y is available and immediately confirmable but Y–>Z is waitlist only. If this happens, X–>Y–>Z cannot be ticketed immediately and you’ll have to waitlist. I’d recommend you be very flexible about the dates on Y–>Z and pick whichever one has saver space, even if it’s a random date, knowing that you can change the date later for free. It’s much better to lock in  X–>Y first, and can worry about negotiating the Y–>Z dates later
  • EDIT: An additional point came to mind- if you want to do this you have to be like a pendulum, swinging in one direction through Singapore and continuing to head the other way. In other words, I can’t do SYD-SIN-CHC because that’s a backtracking award. Nor could I do HKG-SIN-TPE, for example, or SFO-SIN-LHR Your next holiday has to be in a place where the East–>West / North–> South direction generally continues. It’s not a big deal for me per se, but if you’re the sort who likes to go to the same place all the time then this might not work for you. The Krisflyer award chart will tell you if it’s possible to fly between two regions.

Ideas and potential sweet spots

Some close study of the Krisflyer award chart will reap dividends, but if you need ideas for potential routings, here are some sweet spots I think are good deals.

(the + in the brackets refers to the incremental cost over ending your journey in Singapore)

  • Zone 9 to Zone 1-4 (Same Cost) or Zone 8 (+25K in F/J)
  • Zone 5 to Zone 8 (+15K in F/J)
  • Zone 11 to Zone 7 (+23/15K in F/J- this is incredible value to me, 15K more miles +US$100 for a second trip to Tokyo!) or Zone 9 (+33/20K in F/J- this is also great, 33K more miles + US$100 for First Class to Sydney, anyone?)
  • Zone 7 to Zone 8 (+10K in J)- build in a trip to Perth in Business Class?
  • Anywhere to Zones 1-3 (Same Cost)*

*I’ve touched on this topic before when I wrote about the $100 Bangkok Trip, but needless to say regardless of wherever you’re flying back from it almost always costs the same to end your journey in Singapore vs Zone 2 and 3, so if you feel $100 is worth it you can always tag on another flight later on in the year

This is obviously not a complete list so feel free to chime in.

What I love about this opportunity is that it’s a good way for those of us based in Singapore to really stretch our miles. We may not earn them as easily as folks in the USA, but they won’t be able to take advantage of this unless their home base is Singapore.

So, always think one step ahead, and you’ll be saving a lot more miles.

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

[wpsm_comparison_table id=”22″ class=””]

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.

fix15
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…

IMG_5861-e1467619333218-1024x768
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.

[wpsm_comparison_table id=”17″ class=””]

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.

Lifemiles go on sale again with 125% bonus

You guys should know the drill by now.

Lifemiles= cheap first and business class tickets. Lifemiles frequently go on sale. To take part in a sale, you need a Lifemiles account that was opened before the sale was announced. So go open one now.

The sale this time is 125%, meaning you can buy miles at 1.47 US cents each. This is an ok price, but not one I’d pull the trigger on. I bought my miles at 1.375 US cents each when they went on sale last year, and the grand laojiao of travel hacking says you can buy at 1.35 US cents at the cheapest

There is an interesting article on View from the Wing interviewing the CEO of Lifemiles

Vincent sees offering miles for sale inexpensively as win-win for the program and the consumer. Flexible consumers who can travel on award tickets gain access to travel less expensively than if they were buying tickets directly. And the program generates revenue that’s greater than its redemption cost.

The CEO pretty much straight up comes and says that Lifemiles is gaming the Star Alliance award pool. Lifemiles sells miles at $X. Lifemiles members redeem awards on partner carriers. Lifemiles compensates partner carriers $Y as per internal reimbursement rates. $X>$Y. Lifemiles wins.

It makes me worry how long this can go on for. I don’t know if Star Alliance internal rules allow airlines to charge differential reimbursement rates to members, but if they do one thing that could happen is that everyone else jacks up reimbursements for Avianca.

If the rules don’t currently allow for that then it’s difficult to see what can be done- other carriers might star blocking award space (as SQ already does for its premium non-regional cabins), or start releasing less award space overall.

Anyway, that’s a problem for Future Homer.

If you want to take part, you should use your DBS Altitude Card to get 3 miles per $1 on the online purchase. You can also use your DBS WWMC or UOB Visa Signature for 4 miles per $1, subject to their usual caps and minimums.

Major Lifemiles improvement- mixed cabin redemptions

Lifemiles, everyone’s favourite South American FFP, has quietly launched a major improvement to its program.

It used to be that mixed cabin bookings were not possible. That is, your ticket would have to be flown in all First Class, or all Business Class, or all Economy class. This created routing problems. Suppose I wanted to fly First Class from Singapore to Europe. Because SQ does not release first class award space to partners, I’d need to try and book on another carrier that did, eg TG or NH. But getting to that “gateway city” would be a problem because although SQ allows business class partner redemptions on its A330 regional business class flights, Lifemiles would not allow that mixed class booking.

What I can do now is book an award ticket that goes SIN-BKK-FRA (For example), with SIN-BKK on SQ business class in their A330, and BKK-FRA on TG first class in their A380.

Or to show another example visually….

lifemiles1

Prior to the Lifemiles revamp the mixed cabin options shown here would not have been available. (OT: Am I immature for sniggering at Fukuoka’s airport code?)

While this doesn’t change the “cost” of your booking, it certainly opens up more possibilities to include airlines that do not offer First class products  (EVA) into your routings, and should improve the availability situation overall.

Remember that Lifemiles has frequent sales, and I’ll keep posting whenever they come up.

L10100051-1024x576
ANA First Class Suite- thanks to Lifemiles!

Happy routing!

Clearing the SQ waitlist

kf

Ah, the fabled SQ waitlist. I don’t think any other airline has such a perfect mechanism for torturing its loyal members as does SQ.

When there are award seats available in a particular award class (saver, standard, full) but revenue management has not decided to release them yet, the status shows as “waitlist”. Provided you have sufficient miles to redeem the ticket should the waitlist clear, you can fill in your details and add your name to the list. You’ll then receive a confirmation (but the miles will not be deducted yet).

krisflyer

Now you wait. Should the gods (SQ revenue management) look favorably on your request, you’ll receive an SMS anywhere from a few weeks to a day (typically 2 weeks out, although I’ve heard reports of people clearing the waitlist when they got to the airport (!)) before your flight telling you the waitlist has cleared and asking you to call the customer centre to confirm your seat .

How fast you clear the waitlist depends on 3 factors

  1. The route you’re flying on
  2. The cabin you’ve requested
  3. What status you have with SQ

With regards to (1), different routes have different popularity and capacity. Popular routes like SIN-FRA-JFK with good loads and relatively lower frequency have a lower chance of clearing than others. Regional routes which SQ services often (eg BKK, HKG) are popular, but because SQ runs so many flights to these destinations demand is spread out over more flights, increasing your chances of getting a seat. In reality this is a bit of a chicken and egg situation- popular routes have more flights but also more competition, less popular routes have fewer flights but less competition.

Suffice to say that some of the legendarily difficult routes to redeem miles for include

  • SIN-FRA-JFK in premium cabins
  • SIN-LHR in premium cabins
  • SIN-SYD in premium cabins
  • Silkair award flights to locations like USM (for some strange reason)

With regards to (2), award seats are all about opportunity cost. Yes, SQ has an internal metric that values the miles it has outstanding with members, and allowing a redemption will clear some of that liability from its balance sheet. But SQ also controls the value of that liability directly through its award pricing chart. What the American airlines are known for doing is that when they need to shore up the balance sheet, they just announce a devaluation and just like that, a mile which was previously worth 2 cents liability is now 1 cent. Brilliant.

SQ is generally willing to let the economy class seats get filled up with award passengers because their opportunity cost is lower. But business and first class seats represent a much larger opportunity cost, so SQ will wait until the absolute last minute before releasing these to ensure that they couldn’t otherwise have sold them

Another thing to consider is the type of aircraft- SQ has announced that on its new 777-300ERs, first class seats will be cut from 8 to 4 (they will however be increasing business class from 42 to 48 seats).

old
old configuration with 8 F seats
new
new configuration with 4 F seats

This will obviously have implications for award seats too. Given that the 777 is the backbone of the SQ fleet, this means there will be far fewer F award seats available in the future.

(3) is a black box, because I honestly don’t know how this plays into the equation, other than it is relevant. As I’m sure you know, the pecking order is-

Solitaire Life PPS >Solitaire PPS>PPS>KF EG>KF ES> KF

The higher you are on this rung, the more priority you have in terms of waitlist. It’s even a published benefit that Solitaire PPS members and their redemption nominees get priority access to Economy class saver awards (whee). But does it apply to business/first waitlists? Observation suggests yes. Ever since I’ve become a KF EG member I’ve noticed my business/first awards clearing about a week earlier than before. Of course, that’s from a grand total n of 1. But reading online suggests the same priority exists.

How to get your waitlist cleared?

I’d like to caveat this with the disclaimer that only SQ revenue management knows what their formula is for clearing the waitlist. Online forums are filled with speculation and heresay- some people swear by one method which others say doesn’t make a difference.

Everything below is anecdotal- stuff that has helped me or others I know. YMMV, but if you’re desperate, why not?

Call, call call

SQ really makes you work for your award tickets.  Obviously it’s too early to call them 6 months before you fly, but what I generally do is I start calling them at the T+21 day mark before departure. And then I call them daily. Each time they will say the same thing, that they will send a chaser to the relevant department. Whether or not they do that, I don’t know, but the way SQ’s system works is that award seats are not automatically released. This is a manual trigger process initiated by SQ’s revenue management team . So it doesn’t hurt to have someone bugging them about it.

Link to a revenue ticket, if one exists

If you’re flying with someone on the same flight who has a confirmed revenue ticket, you can ask the CSR to make a comment in your waitlist that your partner is flying on the same flight as well. Giving the PNR enables them to “link” the two (I say “link” because it’s more like a note than an official computer linkage).

Paying SQ a visit

ionsq

Of all the methods, I’m the most skeptical about this. The story goes that visiting SQ’s office in Ion and sitting down with a CSR will help your waitlist clear faster. I can see why people would say that, but the actual clearing takes place in a different department. So all the CSRs there would be doing is what a CSR on the phone would do- to send the same chaser along. Nonetheless, there are people online who swear this worked for them.

If booking for multiple people, use separate reservations

This is good for a few reasons. First, if one of you for whatever reason needs to change his or her plans, it’s easier to change the booking. Second, if they’re only willing to clear the waitlist for 1 passenger at a time, you won’t get skipped over the list (if they’re wiling to clear for 2, and if you waitlist both simultaneously they’ll clear you then your partner so you don’t lose out anyway).

To recap

  1. Only SQ revenue management knows the exact rules behind opening up award seats. 
  2. Waitlists generally start to clear 2 weeks before departure
  3. Accept that waitlists are a sad fact of SQ redemptions, and you should have backup handy in case the waitlist doesn’t clear

Happy waiting!

cover photo by xiaojun