Airlines

Analyzing 20 months of KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes: which destinations are likely to feature?

KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes are a great way of saving miles...but how can we predict which destinations will be offered?

Spontaneous Escapes are now a permanent feature of the KrisFlyer program. As the name suggests, they’re discounted flight redemptions (usually 30% off, but sometimes as high as 50%) for those who can travel on short notice, typically the month after.

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A common question many people ask is “will [insert destination here] be available for next month’s Spontaneous Escapes?”

Well, it’s important to understand that Spontaneous Escapes are a way to fill up flights that would otherwise go out empty. It’s why you only get one month’s notice- that’s about the time when the revenue management team is fairly confident about expected flight loads.

So unless you’re Singapore Airlines and know what the loads for a given month look like, there’s no way to know for sure. What we can do, however, is make an educated guess based on past data.

In this spreadsheet, I’ve compiled all the Spontaneous Escape promotions that have been released from September 2017 till July 2019. That’s 20 months (not every month had a promotion) worth of data, tagged by destination and colored by cabin class.

The sheet is best viewed on a desktop in the native Google Docs viewer. Click here to view

While it isn’t foolproof, we can use this data to observe certain trends about Spontaneous Escapes, including which routes are and are not likely to go on sale.

Here’s what I’ve observed.

Spontaneous Escapes are typically released 14 days before the end of the month

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Historically speaking, the observed range (in terms of number of days left in the month) when Spontaneous Escapes are released ranges between 11-16 days, with the mode and mean being 14 days.

2019 has seen relatively fewer Business Class Spontaneous Escapes

In the three months of 2017 data, Business Class awards made up 42% of total awards. In the 12 months of 2018 data, the figure was 46%. But in the six months of 2019 data so far, only 37% of awards have been in Business Class.

You might argue that this is the effect of seasonality- perhaps Business Class awards simply appear more in the second half of the year. However, even if we look at the same period in 2018, 47% of awards were in Business Class. This suggests that Business Class loads have improved in 2019, and perhaps that’s why SIA management has had the confidence to transition 100% of its fleet to lie-flat Business Class seats.

Certain cities are almost certain to appear in Spontaneous Escapes…

There are some cities which are almost nailed-on candidates for Spontaneous Escapes. Here’s the destinations which appeared the most frequently across the 20 month data set.

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  1. Beijing (18 of 20)
  2. Dhaka (17 of 20)
  3. Shanghai (16 of 20)
  4. Ahmedabad (16 of 20)
  5. Kolkata (16 of 20)
  6. Yangon (16 of 20)
  7. Shenzhen (15 of 20)
  8. Jakarta (14 of 20)
  9. Hanoi (14 of 20)
  10. Guangzhou (13 of 20)
  11. Seoul (13 of 20)
  12. Manila (13 of 20)
  13. Ho Chi Minh City (13 of 20)
  14. Sydney (13 of 20)
  15. Brisbane (12 of 20)
  16. Hiroshima (12 of 20)
  17. Kuala Lumpur (12 of 20)
  18. Chennai (12 of 20)
  19. Nagoya (12 of 20)

So if you’re heading to these cities then rejoice, because Spontaneous Escapes was made for you.

However, you won’t find other top travel destinations for Singaporeans like Tokyo (5 of 20), Taipei (4 of 20) and London (5 of 20). If you want to travel there, you should be prepared to pay regular award prices. On the plus side, Singaporean favorites Seoul (13 of 20), Sydney (13 of 20), Brisbane (12 of 20), and Nagoya (12 of 20) appear surprisingly often.

…while others are much less likely

In contrast, here are the destinations which hardly feature on Spontaneous Escapes (that’s to say nothing of those which don’t appear at all, like ARN, DME, and JFK)*

  1. Amsterdam (1 out of 20)
  2. Barcelona (1 out of 20)
  3. Copenhagen (1 out of 20)
  4. Cape Town (1 out of 20)
  5. Rome (1 out of 20)
  6. Munich (1 out of 20)
  7. Auckland (2 out of 20)
  8. Christchurch (2 out of 20)
  9. Newark (2 out of 20)
  10. Zurich (2 out of 20)
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*IAH and MAN have only featured once in June 2019, but as fifth freedom flights. That is, only MAN-IAH was available, with SIN-MAN at the regular price

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that most of these are European cities. In fact, Europe as a whole is seldom seen on Spontaneous Escapes. Dusseldorf used to be a fixture, appearing every month from November 2017 to July 2018, but after that it went AWOL for a prolonged period before sporadic appearances in March 2019 and July 2019.

Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class | Photo Credit: TPG

That’s a shame, because Dusseldorf can be a great gateway to the rest of Europe- fly in Business Class comfort on the A350-900 to DUS, then catch a cheap connecting flight for the final 1-3 hours of your journey.

The peak travel periods of June and December tend to feature fewer destinations

When it comes to Spontaneous Escapes, some months are bigger than others. In our 20 month period, the largest number of destinations on offer during any given Spontaneous Escapes was 71 (Jan 2018), and the smallest was 14 (Dec 2017).

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Note: There was no Spontaneous Escapes for Feb 2019, but Premium Economy awards to the USA offered in Jan 2019 were for travel in Feb 2019

June and December are peak travel periods for Singaporean, but unfortunately also tend to be slim pickings for Spontaneous Escapes offers (June-19 was, however, more generous than past vacation periods). Therefore, families who intend to travel during this period shouldn’t leave their plans till the last minute in the hope of snagging a Spontaneous Escape to their destination of choice.

Come to think of it, February has also not seen any Spontaneous Escapes offers in either 2018 or 2019, so those looking to get away during CNY have historically been out of luck as well. One wonders what we’ll see in Feb 2020, now that these deals are monthly.

North Asia, South Asia and South East Asia destinations feature the most frequently

In addition to the quantity of destinations, we should also look at their geographical concentration.

The data suggests that if you’re looking to travel to the Middle East & Africa, Europe, or the USA then Spontaneous Escapes don’t hold much value for you. This is especially true for those hoping to travel in the June/Dec period.

  • USA destinations only became available in November 2018, and even then, only in the fairly load-poor Premium Economy
  • Jo’burg has only featured six times, Cape Town once
  • From August 2018 to Jan 2019, there were no European destinations offered on Spontaneous Escapes (except for a brief appearance of Economy class awards to London and Frankfurt in November 2018).
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Another way of thinking about it is by distance. Although long and ultra long haul destinations are rare features in Spontaneous Escapes in general, they’re especially rare during June/December. Again, we see that June-19 was a bit of an outlier compared to historical trends, as we saw a higher proportion of long haul flights than usual. One hopes that trend continues.

One may be tempted to argue that the above charts are misleading, because Singapore Airlines serves more regional destinations to begin with, and therefore those would naturally be more prominent in the list of Spontaneous Escapes.

That’s a fair point, so I also looked at the overall % of destinations from each zone featured during Spontaneous Escapes. For example, if SQ serves a total of 5 destinations in the USA, and 3 of them appear during a given Spontaneous Escapes, then there’s 60% representation.

When you average out the representation over the 20 months with Spontaneous Escape deals, the story is very similar: USA and Europe destinations are hard to come by. If it happens to come out in the month you want to travel, count yourself lucky, but otherwise it’s better to make other plans.

Note: The % is based on SQ’s overall route map as of May 2019. Technically speaking, the % for South, North and South East Asia is historically overstated as some destinations have been offloaded to Scoot

Putting it all together

If you’re the kind who believes that past performance is indicative of future returns, here’s an easy reference table showing all of Singapore Airline’s/SilkAir’s destinations and the frequency of their appearances in Spontaneous Escapes.

CityTotal
Beijing90%
Dhaka85%
Ahmedabad80%
Kolkata80%
Shanghai80%
Yangon80%
Shenzhen75%
Jakarta70%
Hanoi70%
Guangzhou65%
Seoul65%
Manila65%
Ho Chi Minh65%
Sydney65%
Brisbane60%
Hiroshima60%
Kuala Lumpur60%
Chennai60%
Nagoya60%
Colombo55%
Fuzhou55%
Hong Kong55%
Phnom Penh55%
Bangkok50%
Bangalore50%
Mumbai50%
Chengdu50%
Dusseldorf50%
Lombok50%
Siem Reap50%
Surabaya50%
Balikpapan45%
Cairns45%
Delhi45%
Darwin45%
Hyderabad45%
Male45%
Makassar45%
Xiamen45%
Kochi40%
Dubai40%
Luang Prabang40%
Semarang40%
Vientiane40%
Visakhapatnam40%
Wuhan40%
Coimbatore35%
Chongqing35%
Chiang Mai35%
Bali35%
Fukuoka35%
Phuket35%
Melbourne35%
Trivandrum35%
Adelaide30%
Frankfurt30%
Jo’burg30%
Osaka30%
Kunming30%
Kathmandu30%
Los Angeles30%
Manado30%
Pekanbaru30%
Wellington30%
Bandung25%
Changsha25%
Da Nang25%
London25%
Mandalay25%
Medan25%
Perth25%
Kota Kinabalu20%
Canberra20%
Paris20%
Cebu20%
Davao20%
Tokyo Haneda20%
Tokyo Narita20%
Penang20%
San Francisco20%
Taipei20%
Koh Samui20%
Yogyakarta15%
Auckland10%
Christchurch10%
Newark10%
Kalibo10%
Zurich10%
Amsterdam5%
Barcelona5%
Brunei5%
Copenhagen5%
Cape Town5%
Rome5%
Kuching5%
Langkawi5%
Munich5%
Palembang5%

Istanbul, Milan, Moscow and Stockholm, and New York have never featured in Spontaneous Escapes. It could be that loads on these routes are so good that discounted awards aren’t needed, or it could simply be that capacity is restricted (especially in the case of non-daily services like Moscow and Stockholm).

Conclusion

If you’re hoping to snag a Spontaneous Escape award for an upcoming holiday, this data should help you set your expectations (e.g. don’t expect Business Class awards to JFK to go on discount), and perhaps nudge you towards choosing one city over another.

Feel free to download and play around with the data to see what other insights you can find.


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Aaron WongJustSayingMinhW HoDaniel N Recent comment authors
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Alian
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Alian

You got a great analysis. Thanks Aaron

What I’m interested to know is what is the uptake? Like yourself I can’t find time to use these deals to fit in my plans and wonder how many people do actually?

Alvin
Guest
Alvin

I have done the SE to HK last Oct and sampled the new A380 J seats at 38,500 miles each so that was great!

I was told by SQ that if I have a current reservation to a destination and it shows up in the SE promotion, I can actually make another booking(confirmed or waitlist which have to clear) and then cancel the original booking at USD75. Whether it is worth it depends on how you value your miles.

Mike Virgin
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Mike Virgin

I got a business class return to Adelaide for just 56000 miles (March 2019). Looking forward to this mints spontaneous escapes.

HY
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HY

Great analysis there, I think you could have also added which months had 30%, 40% and 50% to chart out seasonality (you might have done it and there was no conclusive pattern?)

Daniel N
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Daniel N

This is a seriously in-depth analysis. Nice work! I’m hoping they release another set of these for Sydney this month. Based on the award availability, there’s Saver space every day in business until late June.

W Ho
Guest
W Ho

Come to think of it, February has also not seen any Spontaneous Escapes offers in either 2018 or 2019, so those looking to get away during CNY have historically been out of luck as well. One wonders what we’ll see in Feb 2020, now that these deals are monthly.

I disagree – it’ll be nome for Jan. 2020.

Minh
Guest
Minh

Great analysis Aaron. Thank you so much!

May be create a automated sheet so that whenever new spontaneous escapes arrive, the data would be automatically updated?

Cheers,

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

I’d love to see this analysis broken out just for Business class and see that options to expect there as there are some of us that refuse to get on a plane unless we have a business or First Class seat.