Airlines

When should I book a Krisflyer partner award?

Three scenarios where the Krisflyer partner award chart offers outsized value
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At Saturday’s Masterclass I did a segment on Krisflyer partner awards and situations where they could be useful. I thought I’d do a quick recap of this segment, especially for those who weren’t able to make it.

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Krisflyer partner awards can now be booked directly on the SQ website. The site is still buggy and doesn’t show all potential options, but the situation is gradually improving. There are three situations where I think the partner award chart is worth a gander:

When Saver awards are not available

Here are three charts that compare the prices of one-way SQ Saver, SQ Advantage and Star Alliance awards.

My observations:

(1) If an SQ Saver award is not available, it is always cheaper to see if a partner award ticket is available before settling for an SQ Advantage award

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(2) However, you need to factor in possibility of making connections. From a time point of view I might be indifferent between flying SQ or ANA between SIN-NRT, but flying TG would mean routing SIN-BKK-NRT, adding time to my overall journey

(3) You also need to take into account product quality differentials- there are few who would argue that the EVA or ANA Business Class experience is any less worthy than SQ’s, but I might be somewhat less enthusiastic to swap SQ for say, Air India.

I would advise that you always book two one-way awards on a partner airline instead of a round trip. One-way awards cost 50% the cost of a round trip, and remember that Krisflyer does not allow date changes on partially used partner tickets (it costs US$20 if you change before departure). Therefore it makes more sense to have these as separate tickets.

As mentioned in the intro, you can use the SQ website to search for partner award space, but a much better option is to use United.com, Aeroplan.com or ANA’s website to search for space, then (1) book it on the SQ website if it’s available (2) call up Krisflyer and ask them to book the award if it’s not. Emphasize that the award is not available on the SQ website and they will waive the booking fee.

When flying point to point outside of Singapore

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There may be situations where you need to get around outside of Singapore, eg if you’re flying domestically in the USA or within Europe. In those cases, the Krisflyer partner award chart has some good value too.

round trip prices

Domestic flights within North America cost 12,500 and 20,000 miles one-way for economy and first class respectively. Remember that flights on United within the US are two cabin configured, so if you book business class you essentially fly first class. That can be great value, especially if you’re doing a transcontinental route like SFO/LAX-EWR/BOS. These routes get the much upgraded United long haul business class product, as I reviewed from BOS-SFO recently.

United transcontinental business class

Intra-Europe flights are 12,500 and 27,500 miles one-way for economy and business class respectively. I’m not really sold on business class, given the underwhelming intra-Europe business class experience (some exceptions!), but economy class may be good value if revenue tickets are coming out at very high prices during the period you’re looking at and you don’t fancy Easyjet or Ryanair.

Lufthansa Intra Europe business class. Hint, it’s the area in front of the curtain

Flights within South America can also be good value at 12,500 and 20,000 miles one-way for economy and business class respectively. South America is a big continent, and getting from, say, Bogota to Santiago is 5.5 hours by plane, about the same distance as flying from Los Angeles to New York. There is good value to be found by redeeming awards especially if you manage to get one of Avianca’s widebody A330s. I had the opportunity to review Avianca’s excellent A330 hard product between Sao Paulo and Santiago, which features full flat reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Avianca Brasil A330 business class

The Europe to Middle East zone used to be one of the most amazing deals on the Krisflyer partner award chart at 35,000 miles for one-way First Class. That was insane, because it meant for a mere 35,000 miles you could enjoy the Lufthansa First Class Terminal (FCT) on your flights between FRA and RUH/DXB/wherever else in the Middle East Lufthansa offered First Class. That opportunity is now gone as the same route costs 60,000 miles, but if you twisted my arm I guess I could condone shelling out that amount of miles if it’s your only chance in life to try the FCT.

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Lufthansa A330 First Class

You want to try a new cabin product

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Singapore Airlines has one of the best long haul business class products out there, whether you fly their old A380, their new A380, their old 77Ws or their new 77Ws. Now that their old regional business class is getting replaced by a new full flat product, there’s very little reason to doubt the claim that Singapore Airlines will soon have the best business class hard products in the world. The First Class ain’t too shabby too.

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ANA B77W First Class

That said, if you’re craving for something different, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be trying other great business and first class products out there. I’ve found ANA’s First Class to be an excellent experience, and both ANA and EVA have excellent business class products as I mentioned earlier (you get Rimowa amenities kits on EVA). Heck, the new United Polaris is pretty decent too.

Award space between Singapore and West Coast USA is generally good on EVA and ANA, so if you’ve always wanted to try something different, why not start with that?

Conclusion

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Krisflyer devalued its Star Alliance partner award chart recently, which stung quite a bit. That said, there’s still some value to be found, especially if Saver awards on SQ metal aren’t available. There’s still an alarming number of people out there who have never redeemed their Krisflyer miles for a partner award, but hopefully as the online redemption engine improves we’ll see more members getting value out of the chart.

Edit: As pointed out in the comments below, one important point to remember when comparing SQ Saver awards against similarly-priced Star Alliance partner awards is that Krisflyer does not impose fuel surcharges on awards on SQ metal, but partner airlines might impose surcharges on partner awards.

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RyanAlexgaryAaron WongCC Recent comment authors
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Another consideration: Now that SQ has removed charges for fuel surcharge when making redemption, it has a comparatively lower cost than when partner airline redemptions.

gary.ong.kw
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gary.ong.kw

I suppose you need to be a FF member of that particular airline to search for available award space?

carefreelah
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carefreelah

If you want a free stopover, you will need to book round trip award

Ryan
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Ryan

True, but I think the point being made here is the flexibility to move around your dates, if required. If you know your dates are fixed, booking a round trip award makes sense and lets you play around with routings for a free stopover.

But if you’d like the flexibility to change your itinerary on a whim whilst on holiday, or there’s a chance you may have to change your return flight dates for whatever reason, then two one-way tickets make more sense.

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