(Update: the implementation has been delayed till 1 May 2018)
Back in December last year, Singapore Airlines announced some major overhauls to its fare classes, unbundling seat selection for the cheapest economy fares and tweaking accrual rates across cabins. The press chose to focus on the charge for seats in economy, but what most miles geeks really cared about was the dramatic change in Krisflyer service fees.
Now, let’s be clear: Krisflyer has traditionally had the most reasonable service fees in the game. In fact, they were almost too good to be true:
Don’t believe me? Consider this:
- Cathay Pacific charges US$25 per sector for a date change, US$100 for a change in routing and US$125 to cancel an award ticket
- Thai Airways charges US$16-40 for a reservation change and US$125-190 to cancel an award ticket
- Avianca Lifemiles charges up to US$200 to cancel an award ticket, depending on route
- Alaska Mileageplan charges up to US$125 to cancel an award ticket within 60 days of departure
SQ was doing date changes for free, and charging US$15-30 to cancel an award (which could very often be waived by asking for a “one-time exception”). That was way too good to last, and from 1 March, here’s how the fees will look:
Elite members don’t get any special treatment under the new system, with everyone ponying up the same fees. The main difference is whether you booked a saver or an advantage (formerly known as standard) ticket.
No show fees have increased significantly, but it appears there are no more late change fees (defined as <24 hours before departure). Honestly, though, these are easy enough to avoid (unless you’re connecting to your award flight and for some reason get delayed).
As much as it pains me to say it, the service fees levied are still reasonable, in the grand scheme of things. Cancellation fees going from US$15 to US$75 certainly hurts, but it’s not crazy.
What happens if I’ve booked an award ticket prior to 1 March 2018?
If you redeemed an award ticket prior to 1 March 2018, the old service fees will apply the first time your ticket is changed, and subsequently changes will be as per the new fee schedule. In other words, you have one free date change for tickets issued before 1 March 2018, but subsequently it will cost you (unless you booked a standard/advantage ticket).
Implications for the stopover trick?
Frequent readers will remember the US$100 stopover trick I’ve been such a strong proponent of. This is still possible under the new service fee regime, just that your date changes for your Y–>Z leg are no longer costless so you’ll need to be a bit more careful.
Higher fees are never welcome, but if it’s any consolation they’re still among the lowest in the industry. Most people would love to book their award and never have to think about it again, but the reality is that illness, work commitments and other annoyances of life may necessitate a change or cancellation.
If you have any awards you’ve been thinking of pulling the trigger on, now’s as good a time as any.