Airlines

KrisFlyer devaluation continues: Partner award and Star Alliance upgrades increase from 16 April

Come 16 April, you'll need to shell out more KrisFlyer miles for selected partner and Star Alliance upgrade awards. Here's the details.

The folks at KrisFlyer have certainly had a busy couple of months.

Back in January, we got word that the award prices for Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights were increasing. A week ago, it was the Star Alliance chart that got a price hike. And now, it seems that the rest of the partner charts plus the Star Alliance upgrade chart will see price increases effective 16 April.

Remember that SQ has two types of partner awards: Star Alliance awards, and what I call “bilateral awards”. The former all use a single award chart- whether I wish to redeem KrisFlyer miles on ANA, on Air China, on Thai Airways, I’ll always refer to the Star Alliance award chart. The latter all have individual award charts. If I want to fly with Virgin Australia, I refer to the Virgin Australia award chart. If I want to fly with Vistara, I refer to the Vistara award chart.

How are the partner charts changing?

Let’s tackle the “bilateral award” charts first. Here’s the summary: of the five partner charts out there, all are changing except Alaska Airlines. In other words-

  1. Virgin Australia
  2. Virgin Atlantic
  3. Vistara
  4. Juneyao

are seeing price increases. There has been no increase in the cost of Economy Class awards.

Virgin Australia

Old Award ChartNew Award Chart

Virgin Australia

Until 15 April 19From 16 April 19

Given that Star Alliance has no partner within Australia, the best use case for the Virgin Australia award chart is to redeem domestic flights. The good news is that if you want to redeem domestic flights, there have been no changes whatsoever.  

The only two changes are for flights between Asia and Australia 1 & 3 (see the zone definitions below)

The increases are around the 20% mark, as the table below shows:

One-way prices Until 15 April (J)From 16 April (J)
Asia to Australia 154K64K (+19%)
Asia to Australia 3 46K55K (+20%)
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Remember that Virgin Australia doesn’t fly to Singapore anyway, so unless you’re looking to fly from Bali or Hong Kong to Australia, this won’t even register for you.

Virgin Atlantic

Old Award ChartNew Award Chart

Virgin Atlantic

Until 15 April 19From 16 April 19

Like original content on Mothership, Virgin Atlantic awards on KrisFlyer simply don’t exist. This makes the discussion purely hypothetical. I have yet to meet someone who has successfully redeemed KrisFlyer miles for Virgin Atlantic award space, and if you have, the National Enquirer would like to have a word with you.

Maybe I’ll come back later and update this, but in the meantime I don’t see much point in writing about it.

Vistara

Old Award ChartNew Award Chart

Vistara

Until 15 April 19From 16 April 19

If you’re looking to fly domestically within India, do yourself a favor and opt for Vistara instead of Air India. Seriously. It’ll cost you fewer miles, plus you’ll save big on therapy. Having had the misfortune to choose Air India before, I can safely say that I’d pick Vistara any day of the week.

Vistara Premium Economy Class, with Economy Class behind it. Basically the same seat, with more legroom

Vistara Economy Class awards are staying the same price, and at 7.5-11K miles one way (versus 12.5K miles and massive trauma for Air India), these are still great value.

What is increasing is the cost of Premium Economy and Business Class awards. I’ve illustrated the changes from India 1 below, although prices between other regions also change.

One-way prices Until 15 April (PY/J)From 16 April (PY/J)
India 1 to India 1 9/17.5K10.5/19.5K (+17/11%)
India 1 to India 2 10.5/20K12.5/22K (+25/10%)
India 1 to India 3 13/24.5K15/26.5K (+15/8%)
India 1 to India 4 15/28.5K17/30.5K (+13/7%)
India 1 to India 5 9/17.5K10.5/19.5K (+17/11%)

Although I enjoyed my Vistara Business Class experience, I’m of the opinion that it’s probably not worth the miles required. Stick to Economy Class for the best value.

Vistara Business Class

Juneyao Airlines

Old Award ChartNew Award Chart


Juneyao Airlines

Until 15 April 19From 16 April 19

Juneyao is a bit of a strange creature- they’re a Star Alliance connecting partner, but unlike the rest of the Star Alliance carriers they have their own award chart. 

Juneyao B787-9 Business Class

Juneyao Business and First Class award prices are increasing. In case you didn’t know, Juneyao only offers Business Class on its B787-9 aircraft which plies the route between Singapore and Shanghai. First Class is offered on domestic flights on its A320/321 aircraft.

One-way prices Until 15 April (J/F)From 16 April (J/F)
North Asia 1 to North Asia 1 22.5/27.5K26/31.5K (+16/15%)
North Asia 1 to North Asia 2 22.5/30K26/34.5K (+16/15%)
North Asia 1 to Southeast Asia 43/65K47.5/70K (+10/8%)

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Although Juneyao’s Business Class product looks pretty swanky, do remember that you can redeem a flight between SIN and PVG for just 39K miles, making the 47.5K miles (plus fuel surcharges, remember) asked for a bit steep.

How is the Star Alliance upgrade chart changing?

Old Upgrade ChartNew Upgrade Chart

Star Alliance Upgrade Awards

Until 15 April 19From 16 April 19

I’ve written about Star Alliance upgrades previously, but to summarize, upgrading from Economy Class to Business is often a tall order because for most airlines, only the most expensive Y and B fares are available for upgrades. Heck, I’ve even seen some routes where you can’t buy Y or B fares, even if you were so inclined.

In my opinion, the Star Alliance upgrade chart is more relevant to those lucky few corporate travelers whose company lets them fly Business Class, and are looking to upgrade with their own miles. Keep in mind, however, that of the entire Star Alliance, apart from SQ only the following carriers offer First Class:

  • Air China
  • Air India
  • ANA
  • Asiana
  • Lufthansa (only available 14 days before departure)
  • SWISS (not open to anyone except Miles & More elites)
  • Thai Airways

Which fare classes can be upgraded? The SQ website rather unhelpfully lists only upgrades from Economy to Business and Business to First, although if you look carefully at the fare codes, some of those that they place under “Economy” are actually “Premium Economy”. I’ve redone the table to separate those out:

Economy to Business ClassPremium Economy to Business ClassBusiness Class to First Class
Adria AirwaysY, B
Aegean AirlinesY, B
Air CanadaY, BO
Air ChinaY, B, GC, D, J
Air IndiaY, BC, D
Air New ZealandY, BU, E, O
ANAY, BG, EC, D, J, Z
AsianaY, BC, D
AustrianY, B
Avianca BrazilY, B
Avianca-TACAY, B
Brussels AirlinesY, B
Copa AirlinesY, B
Croatia AirlinesY, B
EgyptAirY, BC, D
Ethiopian AirlinesY, G, S, B
EVA AirY, BK
LOTY, B
LufthansaY, BG, EC, D, J
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)S, Y, B
Shenzhen AirlinesG, Y, B, M, UG, Y, B, M, U
South African AirwaysY, B, M
SWISSY, B, U, MC, D, J
TAPY, B
THAIY, BC, D
Turkish AirlinesY, B
UnitedY, BC, D, J

The entire award chart has been devalued, but I’m just going to look at flights out of Singapore given that it’s probably the most relevant to readers.

One-way upgrade prices Until 15 April (Y->J/J->F)From 16 April (Y->J/J->F)
SEA 1 to SEA 1 18/18K19/19K (+6/6%)
SEA 1 to SEA 218/18K19/19K (+6/6%)
SEA 1 to North Asia 120.5/25.5K22/28K (+7/10%)
SEA 1 to North Asia 235/42.5K37/46K (+6/8%)
SEA 1 to Southwest Pacific50/55K52/58K (+4/5%)
SEA 1 to North America72.5/73K75/77K (+3/5%)
SEA 1 to Hawaii/Central America72.5/73K75/77K (+3/5%)
SEA 1 to South America98/103.5K105/111K (+7/7%)
SEA 1 to Europe70/72.5K72/75K (+3/3%)
SEA 1 to Middle East, North Africa35/45K37/47K (+6/4%)
SEA 1 to Central, South Africa40/50K42/52K (+5/4%)
SEA 1 to Central, South Asia30.5/37.5K32/40K (+5/7%)

My overall sense on the hikes is that they’re fairly modest. Given the high fares you need to pay for Economy Class to be eligible to upgrade (and remember: there needs to be award space available in the first place), I’d much rather look to do a full redemption instead unless of course your company is paying for the ticket.

Conclusion

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There have been no changes to the cost of Star Alliance RTW awards, which remain at 180/240/360K in Economy/Business/First Class respectively.

These changes do not come into effect until 16 April, so you have time to lock in bookings at the existing price now. It’s generally possible to book flights up to a year in advance (although award space may not be released so early for particular carriers).

The good news is that the good value Economy Class awards for domestic India/Australia/USA flights on Vistara/Virgin Australia/Alaska still exist, and that’s probably one of the best use cases for partner award charts.


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