Due to the cashflow crunch caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, we’re seeing many airlines bend over backwards to avoid giving cash refunds, even where they’re legally obliged to.
Therefore, it’s good to see that Singapore Airlines has published an unambiguous set of guidelines regarding Covid-19 travel refunds, which lays out how the airline will deal with refunds arising from flight cancellations.
Who is eligible for a refund?
To be eligible for a refund, your ticket must meet the following criteria:
- Issued on/before 15 March 2020
- For original travel commencing on or between 24 Jan and 30 June 2020
- Booked for travel on SIA, SilkAir or codeshare flight partners
This also applies to tickets which validity period has expired, or which have been partially flown, so long as they meet criteria (a) to (c) above.
By my reading, it will also apply to customers who have chosen to open date their tickets.
If your ticket meets the eligibility criteria, you can opt for a cash refund for the unused value of the ticket.
- In the case of a fully unused ticket, you’ll receive the total fare and taxes paid for the ticket
- In the case of a partially unused ticket, you’ll receive the total fare and taxes less the fare of the flight sectors that have been utilized. How this is calculated is at SIA’s discretion
For example, you may have bought a MEL-SIN-LHR ticket for S$2,000. Assume the MEL-SIN leg has already been flown. You’ll be eligible for a refund of the SIN-LHR segment, the value of which SIA will decide.
Flight Credits (with a bonus)
However, an alternative option exists. Instead of a cash refund, you can opt for flight credits instead.
|If you happened to pay for advanced seat selection and/or additional baggage allowance, these can only be refunded as cash, not as flight credits|
If you take this option, Singapore Airlines will award a bonus flight credit to the tune of:
- Economy Class: S$75
- Premium Economy Class: S$100
- Business Class: S$200
- First/Suites: S$500
|If the ticket contains a combination of cabin classes, the bonus flight credit will be based on the higher cabin class.|
Flight credits are valid for use with itineraries completed on or before 30 June 2021.
The flight credit option is not available if you redeemed an award ticket, or paid for a ticket with a mix of cash and KrisFlyer miles/HighFlyer points. It’s also not available if your ticket is partially used.
Which one should you opt for?
It really depends on your cashflow position. If you have a lot of money tied up in tickets (perhaps you made a booking for the entire family) and need it back fast, you should definitely go for the refund.
It’s important to remember that the refund will be made to the original mode of payment, and this may have implications for your sign up bonuses. For example, if the air tickets made up part of the S$6,000 spending for the SCB X Card’s sign up bonus, then a refund risks SCB clawing back the points awarded (because it’s as if you didn’t hit S$6,000).
It’s a tricky situation to be sure, and it’s precisely for this reason that i advise people to have some “safety spending” when going for sign up bonuses. Do yourself a favor and check exactly which card you used to purchase your Singapore Airlines air tickets before opting for the cash refund.
However, if you have no such concerns and intend to travel again as soon as it’s possible, the bonus flight credits can help cover any fare differences at the point of rebooking. Remember, you’re entitled to a waiver of change fees, not fare differences.
You also need to consider the value of the bonus flight credits relative to the amount you originally paid. It’s interesting that Singapore Airlines has chosen to go with a flat bonus regardless of the original fare, whereas other airlines are applying a percentage instead. It means there’ll be passengers who find a S$75 flight credit to be extremely enticing (e.g those who booked a S$198 fare to Bali), and others who find it derisory (e.g those who booked a S$1,200 fare to London).
At least you can rest assured that Singapore Airlines will be around in the future to honor the voucher. It’s much more than I can say about some other foreign airlines.
Do note that if there are multiple passengers on a single booking reference, each individual passenger has the right to choose between flight credits or a cash refund. In other words, you don’t need to both pick the same option.
For all your refund and flight credit requests, fill out this form and wait for Singapore Airlines to get in touch (it’ll save your sanity over waiting on the phone, trust me).
Offering bonus flight credits will help Singapore Airlines preserve some precious cash flow, and could be a good option for those who bought rock bottom fares. Do your own due diligence and figure out which makes more sense for you.
Singapore Airlines has also extended the refund policy to cover award tickets, with expired/expiring miles receiving an extension until 30 June 2021. Be sure to read the details of that extension in this article.