KrisFlyer miles validity versus award ticket validity- what’s the difference?

Explaining a concept that often confuses people.

Most people know that KrisFlyer miles are valid for three years from the date they were credited to your account. For example, if you earn 1,000 miles on 1 January 2018, those 1,000 miles expire on 31 January 2021 (i.e the end of the month following the 3 year period where they were earned).

What’s a bit more confusing is how miles on cancelled award tickets are treated.

Consider this example:

  • John earns 50,000 miles on 1 March 2018
  • On 1 February 2021, he uses all 50,000 miles to book an award ticket that departs from Singapore on 1 July 2021
  • On 1 June 2021, he decides he doesn’t want to travel anymore and calls up KrisFlyer to cancel the ticket
  • The CSO tells him that his miles have expired and he will not be able to get them back.

“What do you mean my miles have expired?” says John, who is totally not an avid reader of The Milelion. “My ticket is still valid, how can my miles have expired?”

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John is mistaken, however. His miles in fact expired on 31 March 2021, and cannot be recovered. This brings us to the topic of miles validity versus ticket validity. 

Miles Validity vs Ticket Validity

Here’s what’s important to understand: conceptually, when you redeem your miles for an award ticket, you are converting one instrument into another. Your miles have a lifespan- 3 years from the date of accrual. The ticket you redeem with those miles also has a lifespan- 1 year from the date of issue.

Although KrisFlyer’s T&Cs regarding this point are badly worded (they suggest the validity is 12 months from the date of the first flight, as opposed to the date when the ticket was issued), experience and calling up the CSOs confirm that award tickets are valid 12 months from the date of issuance

John redeemed his miles on 1 February 2021, which means his ticket is valid until 31 Jan 2022. John chose to fly on 1 June 2021, but if he wanted to he could move that date up to and including 31 Jan 2022.

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Visually speaking, it looks something like this:

John could have cancelled his ticket any time before 31 March 2021 and got his miles back, but because he waited till 1 June 2021, the miles associated with the ticket have expired and cannot be recovered. John’s only choice now is to move the ticket date, or hope he’s purchased the type of travel insurance policy that covers award tickets.

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Implications

If you’re the sort who redeems award tickets just as your miles are about to expire, you’re going to want to take note of the example above. Should you choose not to travel later on, your miles may not be recoverable because their expiry period has passed, notwithstanding the fact your ticket is still valid.

Some people wrongly believe that redeeming an award ticket is a way of extending the validity of your miles, because when you cancel that ticket, the miles are redeposited and the 3 year cycle starts again. That is incorrect. Your miles have a “memory”, and that sticks with them until they are consumed or expire.

For those who find themselves in a situation where their miles are about to expire but don’t have travel plans just yet, it is possible to pay a fee to extend them. This fee is a standard 1,200 miles/US$12 per 10,000 miles, but Elite Silver and Golds get 12 months extensions versus 6 months for base members (miles for PPS and Solitaire PPS members do not expire).

I personally think that with some careful miles management, you shouldn’t find yourself in this sort of situation. Unless you’re using a co-brand KrisFlyer Ascend or KrisFlyer Blue card, you control when you want to transfer your miles into your KrisFlyer account (and hence when the countdown timer starts).

Conclusion

I hope this short example lays out the differences between miles validity and ticket validity. Remember- your miles “remember” when they were earned, so be sure to use them in a timely manner!

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Tiger9119

If the validity of the ticket is based on date of issue, what happened if a roundtrip ticket is issued on 01 Jan 2019 and the first outbound travel date is on 31 Dec 2019 and the return portion of the ticket will be expired the day you travel? Validity of air ticket is always based on departure date.

Tiger9119

The award ticket is valid for 1 year, what if the departure is 01Nov 2019 and the return date is on 31Oct 2020?
If based on issue date then we cannot redeem award ticket months in advance!

Of course, we can’t make the reservation for Oct 2020, have to book the last date the system allows and then change the date later when it is open for booking.

bluepanda

Correct. The system doesn’t allow it. I have tried it before and no says many agents (becoz the system says no). It is however possible that some intern might have coded the system (or software) wrongly, but SQ just left it be. But we dont know for sure.

Tiger9119

For example, today we can book for flights in Dec 2018 but not Dec 2019 because the reservation system do not display the year. I don’t think it is coding problem, it is that no airlines will want to plan their schedule years in advance and later cancel or change flight timing and then reaccommodate pax to other flights. Airlines may also face compensation claims.

bluepanda

Oh, I meant (the supposedly wrong) coding of the validity date count starting from booking date as opposed to starting from first date of departure. Again I don’t know for sure. Aaron is just stating what he has experienced. You can choose not to believe and you can try it for yourself. My hypothesis on wrong coding (of date count) gives your interpretation a possibility. You can try challenging the agents. Back to your example, you cannot book a return on 31Oct 2020 if schedule has not opened. So it’s a combination of system, operational, rule, and software constraints –… Read more »

Tiger9119

Of course you can book return flight if you make the redemption/reservation in mid Jan 19 for flight departing 31 Dec 19 and tentatively book the return for early Jan 20, then come Oct or Nov 19, change the return date to Oct or Nov 20 and pay the change fee.

I had personally experienced changing the date of a few revenue tickets which was issued in Nov and Dec 15 and only travelled in Feb, Apr and Nov 17. Redemption and revenue tickets are almost the same, just different form of payments.

Ros

Hi Aaron, which insurance company would you recommend that covers award tickets

Thank you

Ravi

Why do you say “Unless you’re using a co-brand KrisFlyer Ascend or KrisFlyer Blue card, you control when you want to transfer your miles into your KrisFlyer account”?

I thought amex cobrand cards will be auto converted to KF Miles at the end of each month?

Norah

Hi Aaron I have around 200 k KrisFlyer mike expiring nov 30 th ( unfortunate circumstances) so I can book a ticket for as far as nov 2020 on the route I want to take and when I have set plans pay for changing the dates. My miles will be ok if I am changing dates within the time frame of nov 2020. Thanks.

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