Airlines

The Milelion’s KrisFlyer Guide: Award ticket changes and cancellation fees

Learn how much it costs to change a date, route, flight, carrier, award type, cabin class or to cancel an award.
The Milelion’s KrisFlyer Guide

Part 1: Introduction to KrisFlyer
Part 2: How do I earn KrisFlyer miles?
Part 3: Basics of award flight redemptions
Part 4: Changes and cancellation fees on KrisFlyer award tickets
Part 5: Redeeming miles for Singapore Airlines Flights
Part 6: Singapore Airlines First & Business Class Seats
Part 7: Redeeming miles for Singapore Airlines upgrades (coming soon)
Part 8: Redeeming miles for partner flights (coming soon)
Part 9: Redeeming miles for partner flight upgrades (coming soon)
Part 10: Redeeming miles for other options (coming soon)

Unless everything in your life always goes according to plan, sooner or later you’re going to have to change or cancel a KrisFlyer award. This usually incurs a fee, as outlined in the table below.

Although this table is a good place to start, it doesn’t begin to address the potential complexities and permutations involved. In this post, we’ll look at the different change/cancellation fees imposed by KrisFlyer, how they work and how they’re charged.

Let’s take the example of John, who wants to go to Taipei:

  • Scenario A: Books a round-trip KrisFlyer Business Class award on Singapore Airlines (SQ)
  • Scenario B: Books a round-trip KrisFlyer Partner Business Class award on EVA Air (BR)
Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Departure1 Dec 20191 Dec 2019
Return7 Dec 20197 Dec 2019
Miles + Taxes/Surcharges61,000 + S$71.60 [Saver]
100,000 + S$71.60 [Advantage]
83,000 + S$331.60

Cancellation fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Cancellation FeeUS$75 [Saver]
US$50 [Advantage]
US$75

Suppose John is no longer able to travel and needs to cancel his trip. He’ll pay a cancellation fee of US$75/50 in Scenario A, and US$75 in Scenario B.

There are two ways the cancellation fee can be charged:

  • If the taxes and surcharges on the award ticket are ≥US$75 (or ≥US$50 for Advantage awards), you’ll receive a refund to your card of the taxes and surcharges net of the cancellation fee
  • If the taxes and surcharges on the award ticket are <US$75 (or <US$50 for Advantage awards), you’ll pay the cancellation fee first, before receiving a refund to your card of the taxes and surcharges in full

Your miles will typically reappear in your KrisFlyer account within 5-7 working days, but if you need them urgently you can ask the team to expedite the refund.

Have your miles expired?
Before your ticket is cancelled, the CSO will check to see whether any of your miles have expired. This is confusing to some: how can my miles have expired when my ticket is still valid?

The short answer is that there’s a difference between ticket validity and miles validity. Your miles are valid for three years, but they can be redeemed for an award ticket that’s valid for a further one  year. Your miles have a “memory”, and if you redeem an award ticket close to the time your miles are due to expire, it’s possible they will have expired by the time you request a refund. In that case, you can’t get a refund, because there’s nothing to refund.Example: I earn 50,000 miles on 1 Mar 2018, which expire 31 Mar 2021 (end of the month 3 years later). On 1 Feb 2021, I book an award flight that leaves on 1 Dec 2021. On 1 Jun 2021, I decide not to travel and cancel my award ticket. But since my 50,000 miles expired on 31 Mar 2021, I can’t get them back anymore.

If this confuses you, have a read of this post which explains more. 

After first leg is flown

After the first leg is flown, the award is considered to be partially-used and cannot be refunded.

Change of date fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change FeeUS$25 [Saver]
Free [Advantage]
US$50

Suppose that because of work requirements, John now needs to reschedule his Taipei trip to 3-10 Dec 2019 instead. Assuming there’s award space available on these new dates, he’ll pay a change fee of US$25/free in Scenario A and US$50 in Scenario B.

This fee covers both date changes- he doesn’t need to pay two change fees to change the departure and return dates in Scenario A and B. That’s because the change of dates requires a revalidation of the ticket, and the fee applies per revalidation. 

Of course, if John decides a few days later to change his dates again, he’ll need to pay another fee because the ticket needs to be revalidated again. Moral of the story: make all your changes at one go!

After first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change FeeUS$25 [Saver]
Free [Advantage]
N/A- Cannot be changed

There is an important difference between Singapore Airlines and partner awards: you cannot change a partially-used partner award booking.

Suppose that after flying to Taipei on 1 Dec, John starts having so much fun that he wants to extend his stay by 3 days. In Scenario A, he just needs to pay US$25/free to change his return date from 7 to 10 Dec, assuming award space is available.

Ads

In Scenario B, John’s stuck. After he flew the first leg on 1 Dec, his award became a  “partially-used” partner award, which cannot be changed. Harsh? Yes, but that’s exactly what the rules say:

This rule means that when it comes to partner awards, it’s better to book 2 x one-way tickets than 1 x round-trip.

If John redeemed one ticket on BR from SIN-TPE on 1 Dec 2019 and another ticket on BR from TPE-SIN on 7 Dec 2019, he could still change the date of the 7 Dec 2019 flight after he flew from SIN-TPE on 1 Dec 2019 because they’re essentially two different tickets.

There are two potential downsides to this…

  1. If he needs to change his departure and return dates, he needs to pay US$50 x 2
  2. If he needs to cancel his Taipei trip altogether, he needs to pay US$75 x 2

…but in my opinion, it’s an acceptable tradeoff to keep the flexibility.

Change of cabin fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change FeeUS$25 [Saver & Advantage]Unclear- rules do not specifically mention this scenario, probably US$50

Suppose John books himself in Business Class, but also waitlists him/herself on First Class in case it opens up (yes, I’m aware there’s no First Class between Singapore and Taipei- just for illustration’s sake!). If it does, he can pay a US$25 fee plus the difference in miles to change his Business Class award to First Class.

This only works if you waitlist yourself on the same booking reference as the confirmed ticket. This can be done by calling up KrisFlyer membership services and asking them to add a waitlist to your confirmed booking. If you book a separate First Class waitlist and it clears, you’ll need to pay a fee to cancel your existing Business Class award. 

For Scenario B, the rules do not specifically address changes in cabin class on partner awards, but my best guess is that it can be done for a US$50 fee, just like changes in dates/routes/carriers.

After first leg is flown

No changes to cabin class can be made for partially-used tickets on Singapore Airlines or its partners.

Change of award type fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change FeeUS$25 [Saver & Advantage] N/A- There is only one type of award (Saver) for partner airlines

In Scenario A, suppose John was not able to find Business Saver space the first time round, so bit the bullet and paid Business Advantage prices. However, he also got the CSO to waitlist him on Business Saver in case an award opened up closer to departure. If it does, you might think that he could pay US$25 to switch from Advantage to Saver and get the difference in miles refunded.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. According to KrisFlyer’s CSOs, there will be no refund on excess miles paid, and John will have to cancel his Business Advantage ticket for US$50 before rebooking himself in Business Saver.

So while it is possible to top up miles to upgrade from a lower cabin award (Business Saver) to a higher cabin one (First Saver), you won’t be able to get a refund of miles by downgrading from a more expensive award (Advantage) to a cheaper one (Saver). You’ll need to pay a cancellation fee and book yourself from scratch.

This makes the “change of award type” fee more academic than anything else, because I can’t see anyone voluntarily upgrading from Saver to Advantage tickets.

This does not apply to Scenario B because there is only one type of partner award anyway- Saver.

After first leg is flown

No changes of award type are allowed on a partially-used Singapore Airlines award.

Change of route fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change of Route FeeUS$25 [Saver & Advantage]US$50

Suppose John has a change of heart and now wants to go to Tokyo instead of Taipei

He doesn’t need to cancel his ticket and book a new one. Instead, he can call up KrisFlyer membership services and ask them to change his destination to Tokyo. Assuming there’s award space available, he’ll pay the difference in miles, taxes and a US$25 (Scenario A) or US$50 (Scenario B) change of route fee.

This seems strange, until you think about it conceptually. When you redeem an award, what you essentially get is a ticket that’s valid for a year. Within that year, you’re perfectly entitled to change your destination as much as you please, provided (1) award space is available (2) you pay the difference in miles and (3) you pay the relevant change fee.

I wish I’d known about this earlier, because I’ve paid many unnecessary US$75 cancellation fees when plans changed, instead of a mere US$25 to switch my destination!

After first leg is flown

No changes to route can be made for partially-used tickets on Singapore Airlines or its partners.

Change of flight/partner carrier fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change Flight/Partner CarrierUS$25 [Saver]
Free [Advantage]
US$50

Singapore Airlines operates two flights to Taipei a day. Suppose John is booked on the earlier flight (SQ876), but wants to take a later departure (SQ878) instead. Assuming award space is available, he can do so by paying US$25/free.

Note that this is conceptually similar to a date change- he could change both the date (e.g 1 Dec to 2 Dec) and flight (e.g SQ876 to SQ878) and pay only a single fee.

Similarly, John may decide that instead of flying SIN-TPE on BR, he wants to fly SIN-BKK on SQ and BKK-TPE on Thai Airways (TG) instead. Assuming award space is available, he can make the change for US$50.

After first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
Change Flight/Partner CarrierUS$25 [Saver]
Free [Advantage]
N/A- Cannot be changed

The same rules apply as for date changes: on Singapore Airlines awards, you can change your return flight for US$25/free; on partner airline awards, no changes can be made to partially-used tickets.

No-show fee

Before first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
No-show feeUS$300US$300
RemarksUS$100 for Economy, US$200 for Premium Economy, US$300 for Business & First ClassUS$100 for Economy, US$300 for Business & First Class
Ads

Suppose John totally forgets about his Taipei trip, and only realises it on the morning of 2 Dec. He is considered to be a no-show on his flight, and needs to pay a no-show fee when he wants to change or refund his booking. 

Contrary to popular belief, SIA doesn’t charge his credit card the minute he misses the flight. That’s not how a no-show fee works. It’s not like a hotel reservation, where missing your check-in automatically incurs a fee to the card on file.

Instead, John will pay a US$300 no-show fee (the fee varies depending on which cabin his award was ticketed in) + the relevant cancellation fee to cancel his booking, or US$300 + the relevant change fee to change the date of his flight. This works the same in Scenarios A and B.

Certain airlines define no-shows as any changes or cancellations made within 24 hours of departure, which is what SQ used to do in the past as well. However, with the revised fee structure it appears that as long as you cancel/change your flight before T-0 (i.e. flight departure time), no-show fees do not apply. I have checked this with several CSOs, but if anyone has experienced different do let me know. 

After first leg is flown

Scenario A: SIN-TPE-SIN on SQScenario B: SIN-TPE-SIN on BR
No-show feeUS$300US$300- but not worth paying as partially-used ticket cannot be changed!
RemarksUS$100 for Economy, US$200 for Premium Economy, US$300 for Business & First ClassUS$100 for Economy, US$300 for Business & First Class

Suppose John reaches Taipei without incident, but midway through his trip is hospitalized in a stinky tofu related mishap.

If this causes him to miss his flight back to Singapore, then in Scenario A he needs to pay a no-show fee plus a change fee to reschedule his return flight (he won’t be able to cancel his ticket, because partially-used tickets cannot be refunded).

In Scenario B, he has a problem. Remember: partially-used partner award tickets cannot be changed! This means that there’s no point paying the no-show fee on a partially-used partner award ticket. You won’t be able to get a refund of your miles, and you won’t be able to change the date. This is another reason why you should book partner awards as 2X one-way tickets as opposed to a single round-trip.

KrisFlyer’s restrictive policy on changes to partially-used partner awards is a prime reason to get travel insurance that covers miles and points. If you can’t fly and your miles cannot be recovered, these policies generally reimburse you based on the commercial value of the ticket

By right, by left

Everything I’ve listed above is “by right”. “By left”, CSOs do have autonomy to waive change/cancellation fees, and may do so in certain situations.

For example, I mentioned how you may have booked a Business Saver ticket and waitlisted yourself separately for a First Saver. If the latter clears, by right you need to pay a US$75 fee to cancel the Business Saver (because you’ve made two separate bookings, instead of one booking with a confirmed flight and a waitlist), but by left you can appeal to the CSO and ask for a waiver. It’s an innocent enough mistake to make, especially if you don’t understand the way PNRs and booking references work, and it doesn’t hurt to ask.

In general you can also try asking for a “one-time exception”, but try not to do this too often. I made the mistake of asking for a “one-time exception” one too many times, and one day was told “Sir, we see on the record that you’ve been granted a few exemptions in the past…” Busted. I didn’t even know they kept track!

All things equal, your odds of getting a fee waiver are higher if you have status with Singapore Airlines.

Conclusion

A few final points to take note of

  • All fees are per ticket, not per booking. If I make a single Saver booking with two tickets for my wife and I, I’ll need to pay US$75 x 2 = US$150 to cancel it
  • Unlike Asia Miles, KrisFlyer does not have an option to pay change/cancellation fees with miles
  • If you’re using your credit card to pay over the phone, the transaction is processed offline. This means no 3 mpd on the DBS Altitude Visa, for example. I’d use a general spending card to pay, or one that earns 3 mpd on Singapore Airlines transactions that are made offline

Changes and cancellation fees can be confusing, but with this guide you should have every scenario covered!


Purchases made through any of the links in this article may generate an affiliate commission that supports the running of the site. Found this post useful? Subscribe to our Telegram Channel to get these posts pushed directly to your phone, or our newsletter (on the right of your screen) for the latest deals and hacks delivered to your inbox.

24
Leave a Reply

avatar
10 Comment threads
14 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
14 Comment authors
Wilson LooAaron WongJeremy NgPKW Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
bluepanda
Guest
bluepanda

Oh, this is where a 3mpd card like the UOB KF comes in useful, yeah? 🙂

Kelvin
Guest
Kelvin

What about in the case where I have got a business 1 way confirmed but want to do the USD100 stopover trip after it was ticketed? Is this change usd25 or 50?

James Quek
Guest
James Quek

Very informative and educational, thanks!

other phill
Guest
other phill

Some of my 2c: 1. I did one time try to downgrad from business to economy on a regional flight – was told by a CSO not possible, and miles would not be refunded. Did not sound right. Wasn’t too important to me so did not HUCA. 2. Recently I had to wait over 6 weeks for the miles from a cancelled flight to credited back to me. Because of the excessive delay, I asked what happened if I wanted to make a booking and CSO offered to do a hold booking for me. Wasn’t expecting that response, so wasn’t… Read more »

Fred
Guest
Fred

And how much do Chubb value FF miles?

Hendy
Guest
Hendy

HI Aaron,

I had redeem Eco seat flight for CGK-DEL on september. If i want to change to CGK-IST on Feb with biz seat ?

Is that still cost 25 USD or 25 USD + 25 USD + 25 USD ?

Thanks

Stick man
Guest
Stick man

Excellent article Aaron! One more scenario I was thinking about. Say one has booked a one way flight from SIN – HND (or anywhere) for a saver award at 47k miles plus taxes to fly next month and it has already ticketed some time back. (Because this Singaporean is kiasu and like to have plans confirmed). Low and behold spontaneous escapes for the tickets next month also includes the same flight going at a sweet discount in miles. Would you say in order to get this discounted ticket, one would have to cancel the the current ticket, incur the 75usd… Read more »

Happy Camper
Guest
Happy Camper

Book and confirm Spontaneous Escape booking BEFORE cancelling previously confirmed Saver booking, which will incur USD75.. I’d say in 99% (prolly 100%) of the time, it would be worth paying the USD75..

KW
Guest
KW

Hi Aaron, excellent stuff. If I may, I’d like to add some first hand details on this bit that you wrote: “For example, I mentioned how you may have booked a Business Saver ticket and waitlisted yourself separately for a First Saver. If the latter clears, by right you need to pay a US$75 fee to cancel the Business Saver (because you’ve made two separate bookings, instead of one booking with a confirmed flight and a waitlist), but by left you can appeal to the CSO and ask for a waiver. It’s an innocent enough mistake to make, especially if… Read more »

P
Guest
P

when is the latest one can make changes to a flight date? For e.g. 24 hours before the actual flight?

Jeremy Ng
Guest
Jeremy Ng

Change of award type fee I paid for the Advantage ticket after being informed that there was no Saver ticket available. After a month the Saver ticket is now on waitlist. It’s still 4 months before my flight in December. I called them up to request to be put on waitlist for Saver and will pay for the $25 switch if the Saver is confirmed. They told me that it is not possible to do such changes. The exact words were “It’s not possible to switch from a higher grade ticket to a lower grade”. A dumb system where those… Read more »

wkwloo
Member
wkwloo

Just to clarify: Change of date for Star Alliance is not a revalidation, it is a reissuance and hence prevailing mileage rates apply (miles will be recalculated)