With Germany announced as the first VTL destination, there’s a real hope now that SHN-free travel to additional countries will open up in the months to follow. That’s as good a reason as any to pencil in some getaways for Q4.
For those planning to roll the dice, it’s ideal to redeem KrisFlyer miles since (1) Saver award space is plentiful (for now at least), (2) you get unlimited free changes, and (3) it’s always better to tie up miles rather than cash.
In this article, I’ll briefly explain how the complimentary rebooking policy works, how to make changes to your award ticket online, and the destinations worth taking a punt on for Q4.
Complimentary Rebooking Policy
|Complimentary Rebooking Policy|
Singapore Airlines passengers with commercial or award tickets issued on or before 31 December 2021 can make unlimited, complimentary changes to their bookings as per the table below:
|Date of Change||Remarks|
|On/before 31 December 2021||Unlimited free changes|
|From 1 January 2022||One free change|
This overrides the regular change fees that apply to Saver and Advantage awards, as highlighted below.
|Change of date/time on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights||
|Change of route, cabin class, award type or add a stopover on Singapore Airlines||
The complimentary rebooking policy does not apply to partner airline bookings (e.g. Lufthansa, SWISS) made with KrisFlyer miles.
It also does not apply to no-show fees. For example, if you forgot to reschedule your award flight and fail to show up for it, you’ll have to pay a no-show fee (US$100-300, depending on cabin) before you’re allowed to reschedule (free).
Changing an award ticket online
The good news is that the vast majority of award ticket changes can be made online.
Login to your KrisFlyer account and go to Bookings ➤ Upcoming Flights. Select the itinerary you wish to modify by clicking Manage Booking.
On the next screen, click the Change Booking button.
You’ll then be presented with several options.
(1) Change the date (e.g. 19 September to 20 September)
(2) Change the destination (e.g. Zurich to Frankfurt)
(3) Change the cabin (e.g. Economy to Business)
(4) Change the award type (e.g. Saver to Advantage [not shown in the screenshot above; this can be done on the following screen]
This is straightforward. Select your new dates and flights, and click through to the end.
You’ll see a confirmation screen informing you that the change is free of charge.
Before we talk about destination (or cabin/award type) changes, we need to know one important KrisFlyer rule.
If your new redemption booking requires fewer KrisFlyer miles, the excess miles will not be refunded
This means that only certain kinds of changes make sense; in other situations you’ll want to cancel and rebook.
For example, suppose I originally book a Business Class ticket to Tokyo (47,000 miles), then want to change to Frankfurt (92,000 miles). Assuming award space is available, I simply need to top up 45,000 miles and any difference in taxes, which can be done online.
But if I’m in the reverse situation (i.e. booked Frankfurt and now want Tokyo), I will not get a refund of my 45,000 miles if I make this change online (or via the phone, for that matter). Instead, I’ll need to cancel my Tokyo ticket (US$75 fee) and book a separate Frankfurt ticket.
Changing destinations may also involve a change in taxes and fees. For example, suppose I want to change from Zurich to Frankfurt.
German airport taxes are higher, so the system prompts me to pay an additional S$117.60. Zurich and Frankfurt are in the same award zone, so no additional miles need to be paid.
The same logic as above applies. If you’re upgrading cabins, go ahead and do it online- you’ll just pay the difference in miles.
However, if you plan to downgrade cabins, you’ll need to cancel the higher cabin award and book the lower cabin award separately. Do it online, and the system will happily tell you the change is free of charge…while you forfeit the difference in miles.
Again, this is simply the operation of the “no refund of excess miles” rule.
Award type change
If you hold a Saver award and something possesses you to upgrade to Advantage, there’s no issue- simply reselect an Advantage award, pay the top-up and flex in the mirror.
But if you book an Advantage award as an insurance policy while waiting for a Saver award to open, you can’t make that conversion- I mean, you can, but you’ll forfeit the miles difference. Instead, you’ll need to cancel the Advantage award then book the Saver award separately.
My speculative bookings
So, with all that said, what’s my game plan?
Well, I’ve already booked travel to Germany, but that’s unlikely to be the only country we can go to this year. Based on Singapore’s latest border restriction categories, I think it’s worth keeping an eye on countries in Cat. III: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland. These have the potential to be bumped up to Cat. II or the VTL list if all goes well.
|🛂Singapore Border Restriction by Category|
|Cat. I||Cat. II||Cat. III||Cat. IV||VTL|
|Application required||ATP||Details on ICA website||VTP|
|Pre-departure PCR test||✖||✖||✔
|On-arrival PCR test||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|ART during SHN||N/A||✖||✔
Day 3, 7, 11
Day 3, 7, 11
|Post-SHN PCR test||N/A||✔
|No SHN. PCR test on Day 3, 7|
|Cat I: Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China (ex-Jiangsu), New Zealand, Taiwan
Cat II: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Germany, Mainland China (Jiangsu)
Cat III: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland
Cat IV: All other countries/regions
VTL (from Sept 8): Germany, Brunei
If VTL arrangements do happen, they must be on direct flights. Of the Cat. III list, Singapore Airlines offers non-stop service to Denmark, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland so that’s the subset I’d watch out for.
Of this group, only Denmark and Switzerland are currently open to Singapore residents. While I’d love to visit Japan, my friends there tell me it’s highly unlikely to open to tourists this year, so that might be a bridge too far. South Korea and Singapore have been in talks about a bubble for a while now, but nothing concrete has materialised.
But yes, go ahead and make award bookings. Remember: you can make as many changes as you want up till 31 December 2021, and then a further free change beyond that. The travel date can be pushed up to one year from the date of issuance, and in a worse case scenario, you can always get your miles refunded for US$75.
One caveat: if VTL arrangements do happen, they may be added as separate flights. For example, suppose you book Singapore to Copenhagen, and Denmark is later declared as a VTL country. Your flight from Copenhagen to Singapore may not be the designated VTL flight, which means you wouldn’t qualify for a SHN waiver. Singapore Airlines might only run VTL flights on certain days, or add them as a new flight number.
In that case, you would have to change your return flight, and possibly pay a top-up of miles. From what we’ve seen with Germany, Singapore Airlines only releases Advantage award space on VTL flights (unless you’re a Solitaire/PPS Club member).
There won’t be any issues with your outbound flight from Singapore at least, since the VTL concept only applies to flights into Singapore.
The VTL arrangement looks to be our best hope for quarantine-free travel in 2021, and if you’re planning a year end getaway, there’s no harm in making a few speculative bookings thanks to SIA’s flexibility policy.
You’re of course limited by your “working capital”, i.e. the number of miles in your account, since every booking will consume some of then. But play your cards right and you might avoid the mad rush to book tickets when the situation crystalises.