Tag Archives: krisflyer

The $100 Bangkok Trip

During the second webinar I did as part of The Milelion-iPayMy travel hacking series, I alluded to a trick I called the “$100 Bangkok trip”.

Because of time constraints I couldn’t explain it as clearly as I would have liked to. But I feel this is a great feature of the Krisflyer award chart that doesn’t occur to many people. So I’m going to explain what the $100 Bangkok trip is and how you can book it.

The key to understanding this is to know what a stopover is, and how many free stopovers you’re entitled to on different categories of award tickets.

A stopover means a break in the journey of more than 24 hours. It’s not the same as a layover. A layover is a break in the journey of less than 24 hours, usually to refuel or change aircraft.

SIN-HKG on SQ2 with a layover of about 1.5 hours

For example, if I can fly SIN-HKG-SFO and do a layover in HKG for 90 minutes before continuing my journey. But I could just as well do a stopover in HKG for a week, and pick up the HKG-SFO leg of my trip a week later.

Krisflyer offers the option to add a stopover to your trip, the price of which varies depending on whether you’ve booked a one way or round trip award, in the saver or standard class.

  • One-way saver- 0 free stopovers (but can be added for US$100)
  • One-way standard- 1 free stopover
  • Round trip saver- 1 free stopover
  • Round trip standard- 2 free stopovers

How long can the stopover be? As long as up to 1 year from the time your ticket is issued.

So what is the $100 Bangkok Trip? The $100 Bangkok Trip refers to a quirk of the Krisflyer award chart that lets you add on a trip to another destination at the end of one-way saver award back to Singapore for US$100.

Note that despite the name, it doesn’t have to be Bangkok. It can be any of SQ’s destinations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Confused? Let me try to explain again

The Krisflyer award chart splits the world into different zones as follows

And the number of miles needed to fly between different zones is shown below

10 points to Gryffindor for anyone who can spot that the number of miles needed to fly from Zones 6-13 to Zones 1-3 is the same. That’s to say, for example, you can fly from London to Zone 1, Zone 2 or Zone 3 for the same number of miles.

In order to get from London to Zones 2 and 3, you need to transit through Singapore. That creates the opportunity to add a stopover to your one-way saver itinerary for US$100.

Still unclear?

Flying LHR-SIN costs the same number of miles as flying LHR-SIN-BKK. By booking a trip from Zone 11 (Europe) to Zone 3 (Thailand) and adding on a stopover in Singapore for US$100, I can then take the SIN-BKK leg to start off my next vacation! And assuming I’ve redeemed a business class award, I’m really getting a one-way Singapore to Bangkok trip for US$100. Not too bad, if you ask me.

Image result for sq a330 business class
not world class, but for a hundred bucks I’ll take it!

I keep saying Bangkok, but like I stated before the end point can be any city in Zones 2 or Zone 3.  Similarly, I keep saying London but the start point can be any city in Zones 6-13.

Here are some frequently asked questions you might have.

Does this have to be a one-way saver award? Could you do this on any other type of ticket?

Yes- you could book a one-way standard award (assuming you’re willing to part with nearly double the miles) and add a stopover for free. In that case, the title of this article becomes “the free Bangkok trip”. But given how few people book standard, that’ll probably come off as click baity. AND YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT/WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU!!!

You could book this as part of a round trip saver award. The issue then is positioning yourself to Bangkok to start your trip (eg BKK-SIN-LHR-SIN-BKK), and you’d end up having to buy yourself a round trip ticket to Bangkok (one leg to position yourself, the other to come home), which makes no sense.

How do I book this online?

Short answer- you can’t. You need to call up Krisflyer membership services to book. But you’ll still get the 15% online redemption discount because adding stopovers is a limitation of the website. The vast majority of call centre reps will be familiar with this, if you get a rep who insist no 15% discount applies hang up and call again.

What if I’m flying First Class back Singapore- SQ doesn’t offer First Class to Bangkok or any of these regional destinations, right?

Mostly right (see below). What happens in this case is that your SIN-BKK/wherever else leg will be flown in Business Class, but you’ll still pay the First Class rates indicated on the cart. So if I go LHR-SIN-BKK, with LHR-SIN in First and SIN-BKK in Business, I’ll still pay 107,500 miles (before 15% discount).

What other interesting permutations exist, other than Bangkok?

I mentioned that SQ does not operate First Class on any regional routes (i.e within South East Asia). There is one exception- First Class is offered on SIN-CGK (Jakarta, for the uninitiated).  So if you love your Private Room experience, you can book LHR-SIN-CGK for the same price as LHR-SIN and return to the airport another day for your First Class experience (SIN-CGK is operated out of T2 which does not have a private room of its own, but you can go over to T3 and they won’t turn you away).

EDIT: SQ operates F to MNL as well. Thanks Vin

The only issue I can see arising from this is when their is availability on the first leg of your flight. It could be that LHR-SIN has space, but not SIN-BKK. But really, it’s going to be a lot more likely that LHR-SIN doesn’t have space but SIN-BKK does. SQ’s award space availability is a lot better on their short haul routes than long haul ones.

Why not give this a try on your next trip?

Six lesser-known ways of earning Krisflyer miles

By now, everyone reading this site should be familiar with the main ways of earning miles. But today I was poking around the Krisflyer website while preparing for the upcoming Milelion-iPayMy webinar (sign up now, I guarantee I have a soothing baritone voice) and learned some very interesting things I’d like to share.

Apparently, there are several non-air loyalty programs with a tie-up with Krisflyer, allowing you to convert their points to Krisflyer miles. I’m just going to come right out and say most of them have very poor conversion rates. But if you’re going to spend money at these merchants anyway, is it worth the 5 minutes to sign up for a loyalty card just to accumulate a few more miles? Let’s find out…

Shell Escape Points

Image result for shell escape card

Cost to join: Free
Conversion rate:  350 points= 200 Krisflyer miles
Effective earn rate: Varies between $1=0.25-0.47 miles, depending on grade purchased
Points expiry: 2 years from earning, if there is at least 1 purchase every 6 months. Otherwise 6 months.


Shell ‘s rewards program is called Escape and awards about 1 point per litre of fuel you buy from them (as opposed to actual dollar spend, interesting…).

Based on today’s undiscounted fuel price of $1.94 for 1 litre of FuelSave 95 (further discounts may apply when you pay with particular credit cards), you’re looking at earning about 0.3 miles per $1.  That said, since points are awarded based on litres pumped, if you owned a Diesel vehicle  you could potentially earn up to 0.47 miles per $1, based on the pre-discounted diesel price of $1.23 per litre.

Esso Smiles Points

Cost to join: Free
Conversion rate:  110 points= 100 Krisflyer miles (Auto conversion), 150 points=100 Krisflyer miles (Flexi conversion)
Effective earn rate: $1= 0.38- 0.73 miles (depending on fuel grade purchased, and assuming auto conversion selected)
Point Expiry: Points do not expire so long as 1 earning transaction is made every 12 months


Esso Smiles is similar to Shell in that they award 1 point for every litre of fuel purchased. There’s a bit more choice when it comes to Smiles as Esso allows you to convert your Smiles points to both Krisflyer and Asia Miles (or even Citi Dollars, interestingly enough)

Smiles offers you two options- auto conversion and flexi conversion. Auto conversion means your Smiles points are automatically converted into Krisflyer miles as and when you accumulate a sufficient block (110 points in this case). Flexi conversion means you need to manually indicate when you want to convert.

I’m a bit confused why auto conversion costs fewer Smiles points than Flexi. Presumably this is because there is less of an administrative burden on the Esso side to process multiple requests, but I would have thought that Esso might want to charge people for the “convenience” of automatic conversion.

Petrol Watch Singapore tells me that Esso’s cheapest grade is now $2 a litre (again, factor in discounts with credit cards), so this means you could earn as much as 0.45 miles per $1. Diesel, on the other hand, is $1.25 a litre so you could hit 0.73 miles per $1. Diesel is such a great deal, isn’t it?

It appears to me that Esso’s rewards program, at least from a miles earning point of view, is much more rewarding than Shell’s.

M1 SunPerks

Image result for m1 logo

Cost to join: Free
Conversion rate:  1700 SunPerks points= 750 Krisflyer Miles
Effective earn rate: $1= 0.44 miles
Point Expiry: 2 years (all points(!))


M1’s loyalty program, SunPerks, gives you 1 SunPerks point per $1 spent on your bill. You earn a bonus of 100 points for every 1,000 points earned, making it an effective rate of 1.1 SunPerks point per $1 (assuming you do hit that $1,000 mark….that’s a lot of 1900 calls)

SunPerks can be redeemed for Krisflyer miles at a ratio of 1,700 points to 750 miles. This is a rate of about 0.44 miles per $1.

The annoying thing about the SunPerks program is (according to my reading of the T&C) all your points expire 2 years from your join date.

Yes, your points will expire 2 years from your ‘join date’, which is the date you first entered the SunPerks programme. After this date, you will begin accumulating points from the start.

If I’ve understood this right, it means that even if you earn points on the day before the end of your 2 year “cycle”, your points expire the next day. That’s just insane. Hopefully I’m wrong here but I don’t see any other reading of this clause.

Club21

Image result for club21 rewards

Cost to join: Spend $500 in 3 months with Club21
Conversion rate:  5000 Club21 points = 2.000 Krisflyer miles
Effective earn rate: $1= 0.8 miles
Point Expiry: 24 months (base tier)


Fashion brand Club21 has a rewards program of its own. This doesn’t seem to be the easiest loyalty program to sign up for. In order to join the program you need to accumulate 1,000 Club21 points (the equivalent of S$500 of spending) over 3 months. Then, you need to send in your receipts to join.

5,000 Club21 points = 2,000 Krisflyer miles, so you need to spend $2,500 to get 2,000 Krisflyer miles, or 0.8 miles per $1. That’s actually not too bad, all things considered.

The other thing about Club21’s loyalty program is that you can earn points around the world, making it the only program in this article that has that capability.

SINGAPORE – 2 points for every SGD1
MALAYSIA – 2 points for every MYR3
THAILAND –  2 points for every THB25
INDONESIA – 2 points for every IDR10,000
HONG KONG – 2 points for every HKD6
TAIWAN – 2 points for every TWD25
AUSTRALIA – 2 points for every AUD1
INTERNATIONAL – 2 points for every USD0.7

Based on current exchange rates, the best currency to spend in is Malaysian Ringgit, where S$0.96 gets you 2 points. The worst currency is Taiwan, where S$1.12 gets you 2 points. I wonder how often they have to update this chart to maintain parity…

Changi Rewards

Image result for changi rewards

Cost to join: Free
Conversion rate:  600 points= 200 miles
Effective earn rate: $1= 0.33 miles (base tier)
Point Expiry: The 30th of June after each membership year (which ends in April)


Changi Rewards points earning depends on your tier. Basic members earn 1 point per $1. Gold earns 2, Platinum earns 3. You quality for Gold and Platinum with a minimum spend of $4,000 and $8,000 respectively within between April and March.

 

I doubt anyone is going to splash that amount of money at the airport, so let’s assume for all intents and purposes $1= 1 point. Changi Rewards points can be converted at a rate of 600 points to 200 miles. So your earn rate is a rather poor $1=0.33 miles.

You are allowed to convert a maximum of 30,000 Krisflyer miles a year, which is really not a a hard limit because that implies some unimaginatively large spend.

The program has a funny validity structure too. Like SunPerks, it seems the program “expires” at the end of each year, after which your points all expire regardless of when they were earned. The program year runs 1 April to 31 March of the next year. Don’t join the program towards the end of March, I suppose is the message here.

Programme Year Changi Rewards points earned in the period of Expiry Date
2013 1 April 2013 – 31 March 2014 30 June 2014
2014 1 April 2014 – 31 March 2015 30 June 2015
2015 1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016 30 June 2016

PAssion Tap For More Points

Image result for passion card

Cost to join: $10 for 5 years
Conversion rate:  300 TFM= 120 Krisflyer miles
Effective earn rate: $1= 0.44 miles
Point Expiry: 18 months


The PAssion card is issued by the People’s Association and provides discounts in places like

  • 15% off at restaurants at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Singapore, M Hotel and Orchard Hotel
  • 15% off at Nam Nam ($20 min spend applies)
  • 10% off at Yoshinoya
  • 10% off admissions to Gardens by the Bay
  • 20% off the Singapore Zoo and Jurong Birdpark

And others too. Depending on whether you frequent such places, the discount might be worth the $10, 5 year membership fee alone.

But there’s also a loyalty program. PAssion card earns TapforMore points. I’ve done the analysis on the math here but to summarise, you earn the equivalent of $1=0.43 miles at Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian. The upside of this, if you want to call it that, is that you are far more likely over the course of a year to spend more at these merchants than Club21, Changi Airport, M1 or any of the other programs mentioned above.

Conclusion

One dollar at each of the following merchants will earn

  • Shell- 0.25-0.47 miles
  • Esso- 0.38-0.73 miles
  • M1- 0.44 miles
  • Club21- 0.8 miles
  • Changi Rewards- 0.33 miles
  • TapForMore- 0.43 miles

So none of the above will exactly be a mile minting machine. I’d view them as more of a slow burn thing- over time you might accumulate enough points to cash out for a few miles, but it’s hardly going to be life changing. The general earning rate of about half a mile per $1 are the equivalent of about a 1-2% rebate (depending on how you value your miles).

I hate leaving value on the table, but for some reason I still can’t convince myself to jump on any of these. Maybe I’m getting lazy…

Further analyzing the Krisflyer partner award chart

I’ve written several articles previously about how you can make Krisflyer’s Star Alliance partner award chart work for you.

4 sweet spots on the Krisflyer partner award chart

Revisiting the Krisflyer Star Alliance Partner Chart

It’s no secret SQ doesn’t want you to redeem your miles for partner awards. Whenever someone redeems Krisflyer miles for a Star Alliance partner, SQ has to pay the operating airline some measure of compensation. And yes, the reimbursement rates between airlines may not be a lot, but it still constitutes a cash outflow that SQ could do without.

Therefore, SQ makes it difficult to redeem Star Alliance partner awards by not offering any way of redeeming them online. To book an award you need to call up membership services, who will issue the ticket to you and take payment over the phone.

Does that mean partner awards aren’t worth getting? Hardly. At the risk of flogging a dead horse, I’ve now got some additional thoughts on redeeming Krisflyer miles for partner awards.

I was looking at the Star Alliance partner chart again and decided to do some analysis. The question I wanted to answer was this-

When does it make sense to redeem Krisflyer miles for Star Alliance partner awards rather than SQ tickets?

I entered the cost for Star Alliance award tickets, SQ Saver and SQ Standard awards (after 15% discount) into a spreadsheet.

I then looked at the premium you pay (in terms of Krisflyer miles) when you spend your miles on Star Alliance partner awards versus SQ award tickets.

Here’s the result for one-way awards, taking into account the 15% online redemption discount for Krisflyer award tickets.

awards
click to enlarge

Let’s zoom in on just the premiums-

a positive number means SQ award tickets are cheaper, a negative number means Star Alliance award ticket are cheaper.

Here are my thoughts-

When Saver space isn’t available on Krisflyer, partner awards should be your next port of call

Rather than spending double the amount of miles to redeem a Standard Krisflyer award, why not explore some of the options offered by Star Alliance partners? I’ve flown Business Class on both EVA and ANA, and they are every bit as good as SQ’s.  EVA even offers vintage champagne plus Rimowa amenities kits in Business, meaning that I actually prefer to fly with them than SQ.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’ll see on my table that Star Alliance partner awards on medium and long haul routes are 20-40% cheaper than SQ Standard awards. First Class awards to Europe, Japan and the US East Coast are 40% cheaper than SQ First Standard. Even if you fancy Business, you could save ~30% by opting for a Star Alliance partner over SQ Business Standard to Japan, the Middle East and Hong Kong.

Even when Saver space is available on SQ, you should look at surcharges

SQ levies a ridiculously high surcharge on award redemptions, not so much because fuel prices are high, but more because they can. The amount of junk fees they collect on award tickets is almost criminal when you look at what other airlines are doing. Cathay Pacific will fly you from Singapore to New York in business class and back for 145,000 miles and $137 in surcharges. SQ? 144,500 miles and $980.

Case in point- I recently redeemed a one-way business class ticket from BKK-SIN on TG for a short trip to BKK post Christmas. Yes, it was largely because they’re operating an A350 on that route (probably to train up as many crew as possible with numerous flights per day before deploying it on long haul routes) and I really want to write a trip report on that, but also because SQ was charging 17,000 miles + $102 in surcharges versus TG at 20,000 miles + $30 in surcharges.

That means by paying 3,000 additional miles, I’d save $72 in out of pocket costs. That gave me a return of 2.4 cents per mile, which isn’t outstanding but in my particular circumstances I was willing to take.

Image result for thai a350 business class
TG A350 Business Class cabin- watch out for a trip report post Christmas!

Opting for Star Alliance awards over SQ Saver works best when the premium in miles is relatively small (It’s also a great option when SQ is only giving you waitlist availability and you need to confirm your travel plans now). Possible options include flights from Singapore to

  • Sydney/Melbourne/NZ in Business (18% premium)
  • Europe in Business (18% premium)
  • Japan/South Korea in Business (18% premium)

To give you an illustration of how partner awards may or may not be better than Saver, consider the following two situations

  • SIN-FRA return in Business
    • SQ: 136,000 miles + $649 in surcharges
    • Lufthansa + Swiss: 160,000 miles + $171 in surcharges
    • ~2 cents per incremental mile (I might spring for this if the LH/LX flights had better timings + saver wasn’t immediately confirmable on SQ)
  • SIN-NRT return in Business
    • SQ: 68,000 miles + $159 in surcharges
    • ANA+ TG: 80,000 miles + $69 in surcharges
    • ~0.75 cents per incremental mile (probably not a good choice in this case)

EDIT: When else would you consider partner awards over Saver? Maybe when you’re travelling with family. SQ may only release 1 award seat at a time, whereas partners may have 2 or more. Always worth checking. Thanks JD for the reminder.

How do I identify Star Alliance partner awards?

Here’s my tip: don’t call up Krisflyer membership services and ask them to search for you. It will take forever as they have to poke around in the dark until they find something. Even if you give them your travel dates and class, they’ll have to manually search each possible airline pairing until they find something (or don’t).

Save yourself time by going on the Lifemiles booking engine and playing around. Lifemiles generally sees the same award space that SQ has. Safe to say that if you can see it on Lifemiles, SQ agents will be able to see it too. Once you know which dates and flight numbers have availability you can feed that to the SQ agent and the whole call takes about 5-10 minutes.

It’s always fun to try new cabin products rather than flying SQ all the time. If SQ refuses to free up its waitlist for you, shop around. You might like what you find.