SIA waiving change fees for all tickets issued between 6-31 Mar 2020, regardless of destination

There'll be no change fees for commercial or award tickets issued between 6-31 March 2020- and some potential upside for the latter.

Singapore Airlines has announced that it will be waiving change fees for all Singapore Airlines and SilkAir tickets issued between 6-31 March 2020, regardless of destination.

Any new travel dates chosen must commence before 31 March 2021, and customers will still be responsible for topping up any difference in fares. All refunds remain in accordance with the fare conditions of the tickets purchased.

How does it work?

While it’s great that Singapore Airlines is offering a waiver of change fees, you should note that it’s very often not the change fee that ends up costing you a lot of money; it’s the difference in fares.

To illustrate, suppose you snag one of the deep discount tickets that Singapore Airlines is offering right now. On 15 March 2020, you book an S$845 Economy Class fare to Seattle, with travel from 10-21 May 2020. 

This fare normally carries a S$270 change fee.

Then suppose in early May you get cold feet about traveling, and want to shift your trip out to December instead. Since your ticket was issued between 6-31 March 2020, Singapore Airlines won’t charge you the change fee. However, you will need to top up the fare difference, which can be substantial.

Here’s the cheapest Economy fare I found in December 2020, which costs S$1,542. In other words, you’ll need to pay the S$697 fare difference should you wish to change your travel from May to December.

Of course, I’m pulling the fares as they appear today, and who’s to say that come May there won’t be cheaper fares for December. I don’t know. You don’t know. But that’s the point- there is a degree of uncertainty involved, and it pays to be aware of that.

It also means that this isn’t an opportunity to lock in a cheap fare now and “teleport” it into the future via the change fee waiver, because that fare may not be available later on. The current round of fare deals are available for travel by 31 May 2020, which means you won’t be able to get them if you move your dates beyond that.

What about award tickets?

The website doesn’t explicitly state so, but based on three different calls to Singapore Airlines, this waiver policy also covers award tickets for travel on Singapore Airlines/SilkAir metal. 

This is highly intriguing, because with award tickets, there’s no question of fare differences (barring a devaluation of course)- a return Business Class award from Singapore to Seattle costs 190,000 miles whether you fly in May or December. There may be some differences in taxes due to exchange rate movements, but these are likely to be minor.

Therefore, what you could conceivably do is book a couple of “enhanced Saver” tickets from now till 31 March 2020. Subsequently, you could move these as many times as you wished throughout the ticket’s 1 year validity period, without having to pay the usual US$25 fee. That’s at least my interpretation of how these rules work. I’ve dropped an email to Singapore Airlines to clarify, and will update you when I hear back.

Do note that these “enhanced Saver” tickets will still have the regular US$75 cancellation fee, so don’t get too trigger happy.

The default behavior of the website is to charge you US$25 for any changes made to Saver tickets, so you’ll need to call up KrisFlyer if you want to get this fee waived. As long as the CSO sees the issue date between 6-31 March 2020, there shouldn’t be any problems

Since Spontaneous Escapes awards have specific travel dates unlike regular award tickets, you will not be able to move these beyond the month they were originally designated for. It is unclear how this waiver policy will affect Spontaneous Escapes tickets issued in March; we’ll have to wait until they come out.

Conclusion

I suppose the broader point behind this change fee waiver is to give people the confidence to book commercial tickets, which helps the airline’s cash flow situation. However, there’s a beneficial side effect for award ticket holders too, who can enjoy free changes on a Saver ticket without stumping out US$25 each time.

Assuming you’re confident of traveling within the next 1 year, this could be a reason to make some award bookings now.

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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IC

Does this work for change of destination?

Smudger

How about KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes then?

ithh

For award bookings, there is no guarantee that award seats will be available at the later date if one chooses to postpone travel. If one has to cancel, the US$75 fee per ticket (i.e. US$150 for two passengers) will apply.

Oliver K.

How about tickets issued before 6 March?

Rid

Qatar have raised the bar, they offer travel voucher valid for one year for those uanble to travel due to covid-19

SH

Dear Aaron, for award booking, you mentioned we can change as many times as we want within validity. Was that verified during your chat with SQ? am just afraid it may be one time free change only. There’s no FAQ in Sq.com on this, if anyone has asked this qn before, kindly share any update. thanks

SH

Thanks. Interestingly, i queried SQ on this via their portal. I saw 2missed calls from SQ yesterday and they even email me to ask me to call them back re my query. Of course, calling them back at such times is not ideal as I just couldnt get connected to an agent. From experience, SQ just don’t like to respond such things via email… intentional to make things grey for us…

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