I’ve often joked that being a KrisFlyer Elite Gold isn’t much to shout about. Sure, you get all the usual benefits from being a Star Gold member, but apart from that you don’t actually get anything from Singapore Airlines itself.
Yes, you (allegedly) get priority waitlisting for award tickets on Singapore Airlines, but that’s basically it. Heck, when flying out of Singapore you’re not even allowed into the Silver Kris lounge. Instead, you’re exiled to the wasteland that is the KrisFlyer Gold lounge, with no champagne, showers, toilets, or happiness.
Well, an interesting email went out today from Singapore Airlines to all Elite Gold members:
The good news? KrisFlyer is adding new benefits for Elite Gold members, starting from 9 October. The bad news? They’re not actually that great.
Here’s the new Elite Gold rewards:
|Elite Miles Earned||Elite Gold Reward|
|60,000||Double KrisFlyer Miles Voucher: earn twice the KrisFlyer miles for a single flight segment|
|75,000||Short-haul Advance Upgrade: apply a one-cabin class upgrade for a single flight segment between Zone 1 and Zone 2/3 (Singapore to South East Asia countries), Zone 9 to Zone 9 (Australia & NZ) or Zone 11 to Zone 11 (Europe)|
|100,000||Premium Economy Advance Upgrade: receive an upgrade voucher which allows you to upgrade a booking from economy to premium economy at the time of booking, subject to availability|
Although you can requalify for KrisFlyer Elite Gold by clocking 50,000 elite miles from other Star Alliance carriers, only elite miles earned from SQ/MI will count towards the earning of Elite Gold Rewards.
The full T&C of these rewards can be found here. Let’s break these down one by one.
60,000 miles: Double KrisFlyer Miles Rewards
This reward lets you earn double the miles for a single flight segment flown on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir. The double miles is applied after including the cabin bonus, but not the tier bonus.
In other words, suppose an Elite Gold member flew SIN-SYD (3,908 miles) on an ‘S’ class Premium Economy ticket. This fare class earns 125% miles normally. Therefore the total haul is
- 4,885 base miles (125% of 3,908)
- 4,885 bonus miles (125% of 3,908- includes cabin bonus but not tier bonus)
- 977 Elite Gold bonus tier miles (25% of 3,908)
75,000 miles: Short-haul Advance Upgrade
“SQ doesn’t do upgrades”, I hear you say. “Especially not for non-PPS members”. Well, not anymore! When you hit 75,000 elite miles, you can redeem a one-cabin class upgrade. These upgrades are confirmed at the point of booking and are subject to availability. You can use this upgrade for either yourself or your redemption nominee, and only for commercial bookings.
However, and this is a big however, only the following commercial booking codes are eligible: Economy class – Y, B, E, M, H, W; Premium Economy Class – S, T, P; Business Class – Z, C, J, U.
That means discounted fare buckets, like D (where discount business class fares like RTW tickets book into), R (the class in which the recent awesome premium economy fare sales on the non-stop US flights booked into), K, N, Q, V (the economy lite fare buckets) are not eligible.
It seems a bit churlish to complain, because SQ didn’t have to give something, but the whole thing feels a bit “give with one hand”. If someone’s flown 60,000 elite miles with Singapore Airlines, does it really matter to give him/her a one-way upgrade on an economy lite ticket on limited short haul routes?
Limited short haul routes? Yes, these upgrades can only be used on certain routes:
- Zone 1 (Singapore) to Zone 2 (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei)
- Zone 1 (Singapore) to Zone 3 (Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar)
- Zone 9 (Australia & NZ) to Zone 9 (Australia & NZ)
- Zone 11 (Europe) to Zone 11 (Europe)
Those last 2 bullet points may confuse some people, until you remember that SQ indeed operates 5th freedom flights in these regions. You can, for example, buy a flight from MEL to WLG (but not SYD to CBR):
Similarly, you can buy a flight from ARN to DME:
Remember, however, that this is a one-cabin upgrade only, so even though SQ361 is operated by a spanking new A350-900, you’ll only be able to upgrade from economy to premium economy. MEL-WLG is operated by a B777-200 which does not have a premium economy cabin, so upgrades from economy to business class are possible (check out this article to learn which aircraft has what seats). That said, the 777-200s have angled flat business class seats- hardly an aspirational redemption.
Singapore Airlines operates First Class on its 777-300 aircraft that ply the Manila and Jakarta routes, so if you just happen to have a (non-discounted) business class ticket I suppose that’s one way to try The Private Room for less.
What do I make of this reward? I think it’s unnecessarily restrictive, given that I’m struggling to think of how many people could clock 60,000 elite miles just on Singapore Airlines/SilkAir within a year. Sure, it’s nice if you earn it, but I wouldn’t do a further 10,000 miles just to get it.
100,000 miles: Premium Economy Advance Upgrade
When you hit 100,000 elite miles, you get one premium economy advance upgrade. As is the case with the one-cabin upgrade, this voucher can only be used on commercial bookings in the following economy fare buckets: Y, B, E, M, H, W. That’s to say, economy lite fares are not eligible.
You can use this upgrade voucher for yourself or a nominee.
Why Elite Gold Rewards doesn’t really make sense to me
Look, I get the idea behind Elite Gold Rewards. It used to be that there was no further incentive to fly more after you hit the 50,000 elite mile mark. Whether you just scrapped 50,000 or whether you road-warriored your way to 500,000, it didn’t really matter. I imagine Elite Gold Rewards were created to address that issue.
But therein lies the problem: while rewarding members who go above and beyond the 50,000 elite mile threshold is a nice gesture, these rewards simply aren’t strong enough to encourage incremental business.
Suppose I’ve just hit 51,000 elite miles in my membership year and have the option of arranging further business travel. Will the proposition of a double miles voucher, a (highly restricted) one cabin upgrade award and an economy to premium economy upgrade voucher persuade me to do another 9,000, 24,000, 49,000 elite miles with SQ/MI? I doubt it.
On the other hand, suppose I’ve just hit 51,000 elite miles in my membership year and have a ton of compulsory business travel left to do. I may well hit 60,000, 75,000, even 100,000 elite miles in a year. But I would have done that anyway, with or without the presence of Elite Gold Rewards.
You see what I’m driving at here? These rewards aren’t good enough to sway discretionary travel. So what happens is that SQ will end up rewarding customers they didn’t really need to reward, while those who needed a little extra push won’t be particularly inclined to jump on.
Conclusion: better than nothing
“Better than nothing” is probably the best way of summing up the new Elite Gold Rewards. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to come off as ungrateful or anything, and it’s good that there’s some incremental recognition beyond the 50,000 mile mark. But I’d be very surprised if these led to any discernible change in customer behavior.
So, anyone else motivated to hit 100,000 miles now?