|⚠️ Important Note|
From 1 August 2022, it is no longer possible to add a paid stopover to an award ticket, and complimentary stopovers can be no longer than 30 days. This effectively nerfs the Stopover Trick.
Existing Stopover Trick tickets will continue to be valid (and can have their dates changed), provided no reissuance is required. For the full details, refer to the post below.
The $100 Stopover Trick is one of KrisFlyer’s best kept secrets.
For a nominal fee of $100 (USD sadly, not SGD), you can save tens of thousands of miles per ticket, helping stretch your balance even further. It could be the difference between taking one vacation or two, or redeeming flights for a couple versus just one person.
In this post, I’ll explain what stopovers are, how they work, how to add them to KrisFlyer awards, and how many miles you could save.
What is a stopover?
Let’s first distinguish between two terms which are often used interchangeably:
- A layover is a break in the journey of less than 24 hours
- A stopover is a break in the journey of more than 24 hours
For example, SQ26 from Singapore to New York has a 1h 50 min layover in Frankfurt, where the plane is refuelled and passengers disembark. Once everything’s ready, they board again to continue their journey to New York.
However, a passenger on SQ26 also has the option of doing a stopover in Frankfurt. For example, he could land in Frankfurt on 20 June, clear immigration and explore the city for two days, before continuing to New York on 22 June.
But not everyone may have the time to visit 2 places on 1 trip, and besides, the number of cities where Singapore Airlines has layovers is rather restrictive. What if I told you there were a way to visit 2 places on 2 trips, combining (almost) any two points on Singapore Airlines’ route network?
It’s possible if you think of Singapore as a stopover point.
Now, I realise that’s not immediately intuitive to most Singapore residents: a stopover is something you do overseas, and Singapore is home. However, the exact same logic holds. If FRA can be a stopover between SIN and JFK, why can’t SIN be a stopover between AKL and LHR, or MEL and CDG, or ICN and FCO?
And what if it could save you a whole lot of miles?
How do KrisFlyer award stopovers work?
We’ll talk about the savings in a bit, but first, the ground rules of stopovers.
KrisFlyer award tickets come with a certain number of free stopovers, which depends on whether you’re redeeming:
- A one-way vs round-trip award
- A Saver vs Advantage award
Here’s the breakdown:
|Type||Award||Free Stopovers||Additional Stopover*|
|*Maximum of three stopovers|
In addition to the free stopovers included with an award ticket, additional stopovers can be added for US$100 each, subject to a cap of three stopovers on any award ticket.
All KrisFlyer award tickets are eligible for stopovers. The Singapore Airlines website is highly misleading in this regard, because it implies that stopovers cannot be added to a one-way Saver award.
By selecting 1 stopover, you can only choose a one-way Advantage award. If you want to select a one-way Saver award, remove the stopover
This is incorrect. Instead, it would be more accurate to say:
By selecting 1 stopover, you can only choose a one-way Advantage award online. If you want to select a one-way Saver award online, remove the stopover
It’s basically highlighting a website limitation rather than a policy limitation. Stopovers cannot be added to one-way Saver awards online, but can be added by calling up KrisFlyer membership services (+65 6223 8888).
Once again, the Singapore Airlines website is unhelpful because if you attempt to add a stopover online (e.g. to a one-way Advantage award), you’ll only be able to select a second leg date that’s 30 days or less from the first leg.
But in reality, stopovers can be up to 1 year. That’s crucial to making the $100 Stopover Trick work, because I can imagine most people don’t have the luxury of taking two trips within 30 days!
However, you may not be able to enjoy the full 1 year initially (stay with me here, because it gets a little complicated). Singapore Airlines’ booking engine allows you to book flights that are at most 355 days from today.
Suppose your plans are as follows:
- Fly A>B on 31 July 2022
- Fly B>C on 30 July 2023
That’s a perfectly valid stopover (you stay in B for just under 1 year), but you won’t be able to finalise it yet because as of today (19 May 2022), the furthest date you can book a flight is 9 May 2023 (+355 days).
What you’ll need to do is put B>C on a placeholder date, and subsequently move it to 30 July 2023 once bookings for that date open up further down the road.
Once the first leg of a stopover itinerary has been flown, subsequent legs cannot be rerouted or refunded, period. Special exemptions may have been made when COVID first started, but otherwise that’s the rule of the game.
At most, you can change the date of the second leg, subject to the duration rules in the previous section. This attracts the usual US$25 change fee (SIA is currently waiving fees for changes made until 31 July 2022).
So when booking a $100 Stopover Trick ticket, you’re locking in your destinations, not dates. Dates can still be changed, but destinations cannot.
How to save miles with stopovers
Stopovers help you save miles in two main ways.
2 cities on 1 trip
A stopover can be used to visit 2 cities on 1 trip.
At the start of this article, I gave the example of someone who did a stopover in Frankfurt en route to New York, but they could just as well have opted for any of the following:
- Singapore > Frankfurt > New York JFK
- Singapore > Manchester > Houston
- Singapore > Milan > Barcelona
- Singapore > Rome > Copenhagen (ends 1 June)
- Singapore > Tokyo > Los Angeles
|❓ Fifth Freedom Rights|
In order to convert a layover into a stopover, Singapore Airlines must have fifth freedom rights to carry traffic between the layover point and final destination exclusively.
This does not apply to all routes with a layover. For example, Singapore Airlines flies SIN-JNB-CPT, but does not have fifth freedom rights on the JNB-CPT leg. Therefore, you can’t book a stopover in JNB and fly JNB-CPT separately.
If you’re using a stopover to visit 2 cities on 1 trip, a one-year stopover is probably excessive- unless you have unlimited leave, you’re never going to need a stopover that long.
2 cities on 2 trips
What will probably be of more interest is using a stopover to visit 2 cities on 2 trips.
Suppose I have two vacations planned for this year: Tokyo in June and Sydney in December. If I booked these as separate awards in Business Class, I’d pay 218,000 miles, broken down into:
- SIN-NRT-SIN: 94,000 miles
- SIN-SYD-SIN: 124,000 miles
But there’s a better way: when flying back from Tokyo to Singapore, instead of booking NRT-SIN, why not book NRT-SIN-SYD with a stopover in Singapore?
- SIN-NRT: 47,000 miles
- NRT-SIN-SYD: 91,000 miles + US$100 stopover fee
- SYD-SIN: 62,000 miles
After my Tokyo vacation, I’ll return to regular life in Singapore for the rest of the year, then fly off to Sydney to “continue my journey” for the second trip in December.
All this for a total outlay of only 200,000 miles. Why? Refer to the chart below:
- Note the red box where Zone 9 (Sydney) intersects with Zone 7 (Tokyo): a NRT-SIN-SYD award costs 91,000 miles
- Compare that to the sum of the green boxes: a NRT-SIN award (47,000 miles) and a SIN-SYD award (62,000 miles) collectively cost 109,000 miles.
To put it in a more general sense, the Stopover Trick leverages the fact that A>B>C costs less than A>B + B>C.
In this case, I’m basically paying US$100 (plus some additional taxes) to save 18,000 miles, a very good trade-off in my opinion.
And keep in mind, there’s no reason why the party needs to end with SYD-SIN. Who’s to say I can’t use it as the starting point for another trip, like SYD-SIN-LHR? In other words: think of the return leg of your current trip as the starting leg of your next trip.
Here’s some other examples how many miles you can save via the Stopover Trick.
|For Business Class Travel|
|Route||Book Separately||With Stopover||Savings|
Obviously, you’ll save more miles if you’re redeeming a longer distance flight, or the First Class cabin.
Remember: it doesn’t matter if you haven’t confirmed the dates of your second trip just yet. So long as you know where you want to go, when doesn’t really matter. All you need to do is pick an estimated date with open award space, and if you subsequently need to change it, you pay a US$25 change fee at most (SIA is currently waiving fees for changes made until 31 July 2022).
The “no backtracking” rule
One important thing to know about the Stopover Trick is that not all city combinations are possible, due to the “no backtracking” rule.
What is backtracking? Singapore Airlines defines it as follows:
Backtracking occurs when a journey does not continue in the same direction in which it began
For example, CDG-SIN-LHR is not a valid stopover option, because your SIN-LHR leg is a backtrack of the CDG-SIN leg. On the other hand, JNB-SIN-NRT is a valid stopover option, because SIN-NRT does not represent a backtrack of JNB-SIN.
It’s probably clearer when seen on a map:
However, it’s not always so straightforward. Bangkok to Singapore to Frankfurt may look like a backtrack on a map, but it’s still a legitimate redemption. Therefore it’s not just direction, but also distance which feeds into the algorithm that determines if backtracking is triggered.
How do you know what zone combinations are and aren’t possible? One way is by referring to the KrisFlyer award chart.
If you see a numeric figure published between two zones, it means that particular combination is most likely possible. Be sure to refer to the footnotes too, however, because not all city combinations within those zones may be possible.
Similarly, the absence of a numeric figure does not necessarily mean that particular zone combination can’t be done. For example, the intersection of Zone 5 (Shanghai, Beijing) and Zone 11 (Europe) shows no figures, but it is possible to book a Shanghai-Singapore-Frankfurt flight.
Therefore, the best way of checking whether a particular pairing constitutes backtracking is to feed the cities into the KrisFlyer miles calculator; a route with backtracking will show an error message.
|❓ Why not do a dummy award search?|
You could do a dummy award search, but there’s a potential pitfall here. When backtracking is triggered, the online search engine won’t show an error message. Instead, it’ll price the award as the sum of two separate awards.
For example, Beijing to Frankfurt is backtracking; we know this because the KrisFlyer miles calculator throws up an error. Should you try to book this online, you’ll be quoted 58,000 miles, which is the sum of Beijing to Singapore (20,000 miles) plus Singapore to Frankfurt (38,000 miles)- no savings here!
FAQs about the Stopover Trick
How far can the second leg be from the first?
Singapore Airlines award space can be booked 355 days in advance. Therefore, the second leg can be a maximum of 355 days from the date you book the award (and subsequently moved a further 10 days to give a total of one year validity)
However, once you’ve completed the first leg, the second leg can be moved up to 355 days from the first leg (and subsequently moved a further 10 days to give a total of one year validity).
Must award space on both legs be available when I book the stopover?
Yes. It is not possible to have one confirmed and one waitlisted leg on a stopover itinerary. My advice is to pick an estimated date for your second leg based on whichever dates have immediately confirmable award space. You can move it later for US$25 (SIA is currently waiving fees for changes made until 31 July 2022).
Presumably, the more you move your second leg date, the more value of the stopover trick you lose (since you keep paying US$25). Try to move it once at most!
Can I change my mind about where I visit on my second leg?
If you haven’t flown the first leg, you can change your routing as you please, subject to the usual change fees.
However, if you’ve already flown the first leg back to Singapore, you cannot change the destination of second leg. You can change the date of your flight, but the destination is fixed.
That’s the so-called catch of this trick- you’re committing to travel to a specific destination.
Can I cancel and refund my ticket after I’ve flown the first leg?
No. This counts as a partially-used ticket and cannot be refunded.
Can I travel out of Singapore when I’m on my “stopover”?
Of course you can. There’s nothing stopping you from redeeming another flight via KrisFlyer even during your Singapore “stopover”.
Please, SIA isn’t monitoring the movements of all its members trying to spot “fake” stopovers.
Can I use a Spontaneous Escapes award in conjunction with the stopover trick?
No. Spontaneous Escapes rates are only valid for bookings made on singaporeair.com. Since you can’t book the stopover trick online, Spontaneous Escapes rates do not apply.
Does the Stopover Trick work on Star Alliance/partner awards?
Yes and no.
Stopovers on Star Alliance/partner awards can only be booked on round-trip itineraries. It’s therefore possible to do the 2 cities on 1 trip approach, e.g. flying SIN-DXB-FRA and doing a stopover in Dubai before going on to Frankfurt (since stopovers cannot be added to one-way Star Alliance/partner awards, the 2 cities on 2 trips approach will not work).
Stopovers are not allowed:
- On domestic tickets (e.g. SFO-IAH-EWR)
- On intra-Europe itineraries, or between the US, Canada, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands (e.g. LHR-FRA-VIE)
- Within the country of departure (e.g. HKT-BKK-PVG)
Also note that the stopover rules for the most restrictive carrier apply (some airlines don’t allow stopovers on awards, or restrict the duration possible). Singapore Airlines defines a stopover as a connection above four hours for an itinerary within or between the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands, or a connection above 24 hours for all other itineraries.
Remember: as long as your itinerary features at least one non-SQ flight, the entire itinerary is considered a Star Alliance/partner award.
What do I say when I call up KrisFlyer?
The most important thing to make sure is that the KrisFlyer agent does not charge you for two separate one-way awards. This is rare, but has been known to happen.
Before you call, check the award chart so you know how much the award should cost. Also, check and see that award space is available on both legs, because you cannot have one confirmed and one waitlisted leg.
A sample script follows:
“Hi, I’d like to book X-SIN-Y with a stopover in Singapore. I want to fly X-SIN on (DATE) and SIN-Y on (DATE). I’m aware I’ll need to pay a US$100 stopover fee. Can you please check the award space for me?”
The agent will be deduct the miles and charge you the taxes plus a US$100 fee over the phone. Make sure he or she is not quoting you the price of two separate awards!
What about mixed cabin awards?
Suppose you want to use the stopover trick to fly SYD-SIN-BCN in First Class. The problem is that although SYD-SIN has First Class, SIN-BCN (operated by an A350) does not. You’d still pay the First Class rate for the entire SYD-SIN-BCN journey, notwithstanding the fact that SIN-BCN will be in Business Class.
This is obviously a bad deal, and if your goal is to fly First Class, make sure
- it’s available on both the legs you want to fly, or
- that the Business Class leg is of negligible distance (e.g. I’d be fine to redeem BKK-SIN-FRA-JFK in First Class, even though BKK-SIN will be in Business Class).
Can I combine the 2 cities on 2 trip and 2 cities on 1 trip trick?
Why not? There’s nothing stopping you from getting creative with this.
Consider the routing below, where I fly SYD-SIN-MAN-IAH. I can do Stopover 1 in Singapore, and Stopover 2 in Manchester. In that sense, my first trip has 1 city (Sydney), and my second trip has 2 cities (Manchester and Houston).
That’s 3 cities on 2 vacations. Your head hurt yet?
What I love about the KrisFlyer Stopover Trick is that it levels the playing field for us in Singapore. We may not earn miles as easily as residents of other countries, but the Stopover Trick only really works if you’re based in Singapore.
If you’re not currently on a stopover in Singapore, you’re not making full use of your miles. Try a little advance planning, and stretch your miles even further!