There’s an interesting article in today’s Straits Times called “7 hacks to max your miles” (paywall). Unlike most frequent flyer coverage in the mainstream media, it’s actually pretty well-written, and clearly by someone who’s into the hobby.
I agree with most points the author makes- you get better value by redeeming your miles for premium cabins, there’s very little point in redeeming short haul flights (because of budget airline alternatives), miles should be spent on flights instead of hotels or shopping, and Star Alliance awards are superior options to paying Advantage prices.
That said, I disagree with his assertion that “upgrades and full redemption awards work out to be about the same”, because the way I see it, upgrades are a terrible use of miles (even after accounting for mileage earned on the ticket). The only time where upgrades can make sense is when someone else (e.g your employer) is paying for the cash ticket.
I also hope he isn’t genuinely thinking of blowing 240,000 KrisFlyer miles on a Business Class round-the-world ticket. An Asia Miles MCA is a much better option for such itineraries, in terms of flexibility and price.
Can the second leg of a stopover trick be changed?
But my main point of contention concerns the US$100 stopover trick, which the author describes in his article.
The tl;dr version of the stopover trick is that you could fly LHR-SIN for 92,000 miles in Business Class, or you could fly LHR-SIN-BKK (or any other destination that doesn’t involve backtracking) with a stopover in Singapore for 92,000 miles + US$100 in Business Class.
|I’ve written a full guide to the US$100 stopover trick here, so please have a read of that if all this is unfamiliar to you|
Your Singapore stopover can be up to a year, so you’re effectively adding an additional vacation’s flight for US$100 (+some small difference in airport taxes).
Whenever I teach people how to book a stopover trick, I continually emphasize the importance of confirming where you want to go for your second vacation, because the when can be changed, but the where can’t.
That’s why this part of the article confused me:
Ever bought a ticket to, say, Beijing and then a buddy suggests a Michelin-starred feast in Tokyo instead? Besides date changes, award tickets allow a change of routing, even after a trip has commenced. Travel hack: For example, I flew the first leg of a Shanghai-Singapore-Dubai award. But in Singapore, I decided to drop my Oman desert sojourn (from Dubai) and go for a truffle hunt in Piedmont instead (from Milan). With the US$25 administrative fee and a top-up of additional miles for the farther zone and its related airport surcharge and fees, I ended up in Europe.
The author seems to be saying that he managed to change PVG-SIN-DXB to PVG-SIN-MXP after flying the first leg, for US$25 and the difference in miles + taxes.
But it’s always been my understanding (and experience) that once the first leg of a stopover trick has been flown, the second destination cannot be changed. You can change the date or timing of your flight, but your destination is locked in.
The KrisFlyer T&Cs seem to back me up on this- as per I.11:
“An award ticket may be reissued, but only for travel by the same person and provided no part of the award ticket has been used.”
Changing PVG-SIN-DXB to PVG-SIN-MXP counts as a reissuance (unlike a date change), and since PVG-SIN has already been flown, it should not be possible to change the second destination.
So this claim has thrown me a bit, and I think there are two possibilities:
- the author got a one-time exception. I’ve heard anecdotal stories of PPS/Solitaire PPS members getting their way on this matter after escalating the issue
- there’s a new policy that now permits such changes (unlikely)
This could just be a classic case of YMMV, but I definitely wouldn’t book a stopover trick expecting that the second leg can be changed. Assuming it could, however, I also wouldn’t expect KrisFlyer to refund any difference in miles should my revised destination be cheaper than the initial one.
It’s refreshing to read a miles piece in the press by someone who actually knows what he/she’s talking about, but I’d urge caution regarding the point on changing a stopover trick.
I’d love to hear data points from anyone who’s managed to successfully change the second leg on a stopover trick after flying the first leg, so shout out below if you have.
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