Airlines

The Milelion’s KrisFlyer Guide: Redeeming miles for partner awards

If you only use your KrisFlyer miles for Singapore Airlines flights, you're ignoring their full potential.
I’m currently writing a KrisFlyer guide over on www.creditcardcompare.com.au, which I’m reproducing here with edits for a Singapore audience
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
Part 8: Redeeming miles for partner flights
Part 9: Redeeming miles for partner flight upgrades
Part 10: Redeeming miles for non-flight options (coming soon)

Redeeming Singapore Airlines flights and upgrades is a great way of using KrisFlyer miles, but if that’s all you ever do, you’re missing out on some of the best value in the program. 

That’s because your KrisFlyer miles can also be redeemed for flights on more than 30 different partner airlines, which increases your travel possibilities enormously. In this guide, we’ll look at your options for redeeming partner awards.  

Two types of partner awards

KrisFlyer offers two types of partner awards: Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance. 

It’s important to draw a distinction between the two because of the award charts involved. 

All Star Alliance awards use the same award chart. Whether I’m redeeming my KrisFlyer miles for a flight on ANA, on United, on Air China or any of the other 24 Star Alliance airlines, I’ll always refer to the same award chart. 

On the other hand, KrisFlyer has individual award charts for each of its five non-Star Alliance partners

Here are the other main differences between Singapore Airlines and Partner awards

Singapore Airlines AwardsPartner Awards (Star Alliance and Non-Star Alliance)
Fuel SurchargesNoneApplicable where charged by partner
ChangesFree (Advantage)/ US$25 (Saver)US$50
RefundsUS$50 (Advantage)/ US$75 (Saver)US$75

Fuel Surcharges

Singapore Airlines no longer imposes fuel surcharges on its flights. For example, a passenger redeeming KrisFlyer miles for a SIN-SYD round trip Economy ticket on Singapore Airlines would only be on the hook for $169 of taxes.

Inbound and outbound fares are covered by miles on award tickets; the taxes must be paid separately

However, partner carriers may still impose fuel surcharges, and KrisFlyer will pass them on where applicable. For example, a passenger redeeming KrisFlyer miles for a SIN-IST-LHR round trip economy ticket on Turkish Airlines would need to pay $284 of taxes and $483 of fuel surcharges (the YQ/YR in yellow below). 

Inbound and outbound fares are covered by miles on award tickets; the taxes and fuel surcharges must be paid separately

Changes and cancellations

Partner awards are slightly more expensive to change and cancel ($50-75) compared to Singapore Airlines awards ($0-75). 

It’s also important to note that KrisFlyer does not allow changes to partially-used partner tickets. 

Let’s say I redeem my miles for a Sydney to Auckland ticket on Air New Zealand, with the outbound leg on 14 January and the return on 28 January. Then suppose that after I’ve flown to Auckland, I decide to move my return date earlier. 

The problem is: since I’ve already partially consumed my round-trip itinerary (by flying the first leg from SYD-AKL), I cannot make any changes to the rest of my ticket!

The solution is to always book partner awards as two one-way tickets instead of a single round trip. Had I booked separate SYD-AKL and AKL-SYD tickets in the example above, I’d still be able to change AKL-SYD after SYD-AKL had been flown. One-way tickets in any case require 50% of the miles of round trips, so you’re not losing out by doing this.

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The only thing to note is that cancellation fees are charged per ticket, so if you book two one-ways and need to cancel your trip, you’ll end up paying 2 x US$75. Even so, one could argue that the additional flexibility is worth the (potential) double penalty. 

Star Alliance partner awards

To search for a Star Alliance partner award, simply run a search the same way you would for Singapore Airlines award space. When you get to the results screen, click on the “Star Alliance flights” option. 

For example, in the illustration below we can see Lufthansa award space between Frankfurt and London.


Star Alliance partner awards can be incredibly useful when you want to use your miles on route not operated by Singapore Airlines. Star Alliance offers more than 18,800 daily departures, so whether you’re flying from Perth to Auckland, London to Rome, or Boston to Los Angeles, you’re sure to find options.

In the map below, I’ve colored each country by the zone it corresponds to on the Star Alliance chart to help visualize sweet spots. 

Click to enlarge

I’ve also suggested some ideas for sweet spots, but the general rule is that you should always be looking to fly from one edge of a zone to the other. This nets you maximum distance for the same price as a shorter award. For example, I could fly from London to New York (7h 40 mins) for the same price as a Moscow to Los Angeles flight (12h 15 mins) – the latter obviously represents better value. 

Click to enlarge

However, Star Alliance partner awards can be useful even on routes that Singapore Airlines operates.

Suppose you want to fly from SIN to JFK. You run a search for Singapore Airlines award space and see that Business Advantage awards are available, but Business Saver is waitlisted. You don’t want to pay the additional miles for an Advantage award, but at the same time you want to lock in your vacation plans ASAP and not take chances with the waitlist. 

In this case, you can check out Star Alliance options, which show that it’s possible to fly from SIN-JFK with ANA in Business Class for 105.5K miles and S$410 in taxes and surcharges (remember, partner awards are subject to fuel surcharges).

That’s slightly more expensive than a Singapore Airlines Saver award, but it does offer the certainty of immediate confirmation. You’ll also notice that the number of miles required for a Star Alliance award is less than that required for an Advantage award. Even though the taxes and surcharges are higher, the miles saved generally more than offset the difference. 

Business SaverStar Alliance AwardBusiness Advantage
Singapore to New York JFK99,000 miles + S$105.30105,500 miles + S$410.10140,000 miles + S$105.30

This isn’t unique to the Singapore to New York route; in fact, whenever a SQ Saver award is not available, it is always cheaper to look at Star Alliance options than to pay SQ Advantage prices. 

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The chart below illustrates the relative cost of a one-way Business Class Saver, Star Alliance and Advantage award out of Singapore. Note that the blue bar (Star Alliance) is always between the green (Saver) and purple (Advantage) bars. 

The only exception is Perth & Darwin, where a Star Alliance award costs more than an SQ Advantage. This is because the Star Alliance chart sees the whole of Australia as one zone, while the SQ chart breaks up Australia into East and West with lower pricing for the former.

Non-Star Alliance Partners

To search for a non-Star Alliance partner award, run a search the same way you would for Singapore Airlines award space and this time click on the “Other Partner Airlines” option. 

There is an important limitation to note: with the exception of Virgin Australia, non-Star Alliance partner space cannot be found using the Singapore Airlines website

You could call up KrisFlyer membership services and ask them to search for you, but this is generally very slow and inefficient. It’s much faster if you use one of the websites below to search for award space before calling up KrisFlyer to make your booking. Simply create a frequent flyer account, and you’ll be able to search even with a 0 miles balance. 

Virgin Australia

Photo credit: Traveller.com.au

One-way Economy PricesStar Alliance AwardVirgin Australia
Domestic Australia12.5K11-20K

Star Alliance has not had an Australian partner since the collapse of Ansett in 2001, and the only option for domestic Australia redemptions is to take a very convoluted routing through New Zealand via Air NZ. 

Therefore, even though Star Alliance awards can be cheaper on paper (12.5K), it’s a much better idea to look for Virgin Australia awards instead (11-20K) when flying domestically. 

Searching for Virgin Australia awards

You can use the Singapore Airlines website to find Virgin Australia award space. Run a search the same way you would for Singapore Airlines award space and click on the “Other Partner Airlines” option at the top. 

Vistara

Photo credit: Vistara
One-way Economy PricesStar Alliance AwardVistara
Domestic India12.5K7.5-11K

If you’re looking to fly within India, do yourself a favor and book Vistara. The airline is a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons, featuring new planes, well-trained cabin crew and modern cabin products. It’s a night and day difference from flying on Air India, something I’ve done before and would not recommend to anyone. Plus, domestic India awards are cheaper on Vistara too. 

Searching for Vistara awards

Vistara awards cannot be found on the Singapore Airlines website. To search for these, create a Club Vistara account and click on the “Redeem Flights” tab on the flight booking page.

You’ll then be able to see award space. Call KrisFlyer membership services and provide them with the flight numbers, timing and date to complete your booking.

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Do not get confused by the mileage requirement here. It refers to how much AAdvantage members have to pay to book this flight. You will pay the prices as per the KrisFlyer award chart

Alaska Airlines

Photo credit: The Points Guy
One-way Economy PricesStar Alliance AwardAlaska Airlines
Domestic USA12.5K7.5-12K
USA to Hawaii/Mexico17.5K7.5-12.5K

Alaska Airlines awards are a cheaper way of travelling across North America compared to Star Alliance awards on United Airlines. Do remember, however, that Alaska Airlines is not part of Star Alliance, so KrisFlyer Elite Golds/PPS Club members will not enjoy any privileges like lounge access, complimentary baggage and priority boarding when flying. 

Searching for Alaska Airline awards

Note: From 1 March 2020, it will no longer be possible to redeem AAdvantage miles for Alaska Airlines awards. I will update this article with an alternative method of searching when the time comes

Alaska Airlines awards cannot be found on the Singapore Airlines website. To search for these, create an AAdvantage account and click on the “Redeem miles” box on the flight booking page.

On the next screen, ensure that Economy MileSAAver is selected

Then on the next screen, make sure only the Alaska Airlines box is checked to see award space. Call KrisFlyer membership services and provide them with the flight numbers, timing and date to complete your booking.

Do not get confused by the mileage requirement here. It refers to how much AAdvantage members have to pay to book this flight. You will pay the prices as per the KrisFlyer award chart

Juneyao Airlines

Photo credit: Online Travel Agency Reviews
One-way Economy PricesStar Alliance AwardJuneyao
Domestic China12.5K12.5K
Singapore to China20K- Singapore Airlines award
25K- Star Alliance award
25K

Although the Juneyao Airlines award chart maintains price parity with the Star Alliance chart, it’s a useful additional option to have for domestic China flights should Air China be unavailable. 

Searching for Juneyao awards

Juneyao awards cannot be found on the Singapore Airlines website. To search for these, create an Aeroplan account and navigate to the “Book Travel” page.

You’ll then see award options for Juneyao, if available.

Do not get confused by the mileage requirement here. It refers to how much Aeroplan members have to pay to book this flight. You will pay the prices as per the KrisFlyer award chart

Call KrisFlyer membership services and provide them with the flight numbers, timing and date to complete your booking.

Virgin Atlantic

KrisFlyer miles can technically be redeemed for Virgin Atlantic flights, but in my personal experience the airline blocks award space to KrisFlyer members, making it virtually impossible to book. Moreover, the airline does not serve Australia or Singapore, which further reduces the use cases for awards. 

Conclusion

By knowing how to use your KrisFlyer miles for partner award redemptions, you dramatically enhance the value of your mileage stash. These awards can be redeemed for yourself or your redemption nominees (see this guide for information on the redemption nominee system), so get started expanding your horizons!


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cheesecake
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cheesecake

Another important thing to note for partner awards is always, always book them individually. Say you redeem 2 tickets for A and B on SQ in one PNR. For whatever reason A cannot travel and you need to cancel the ticket. You can call KF and split into separate PNRs then cancel A. B’s booking is untouched and continue to travel. If alternatively you redeem 2 tickets for A and B on a partner airline in one PNR and you need to cancel A, you must cancel the entire PNR. KF cannot just split A aside and cancel A only.… Read more »

googoo
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googoo

This is good point, book them individually. however if you do that, the redemption slot might be filled when you try to do the 2nd booking. this sucks.

what you can do is you chop the seats and exit without making the complete redemption. and do the 2nd booking.

– this experience is based on KrisFlyer awards I’m not sure about partners awards.i guess the system works more or less the same.

Smudger
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Smudger

what you can do is you chop the seats and exit without making the complete redemption. and do the 2nd booking.

^ how do u chop the seats without completing the redemption, while making sure that 1 seat is guaranteed while proceeding to chop the 2nd seat as a seperate booking?

ej
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ej

Hi. Is it possible to redeem a flight for a friend on a partner airline if I’m not flying on that flight? Can I add friends as my redemption nominee? And does redemption nominees work the same on partner airlines?