Did you know that for as little as an extra 4,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, you can trek across the globe and stop in up to seven cities in Business Class instead of just flying to New York return?
Or for an additional 56,000 miles you can do it all in First Class? Today, I’m going to teach you how.
KrisFlyer is the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines, and one of the best ways to use your miles is to redeem a Round The World (RTW) Award in Business Class or First Class with Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partner airlines.
THAI First Class
What is the cost?
With a RTW Award, you can circle the globe, visit up to seven cities up to 35,000 miles over a 12-month period for 240,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business Class and 360,000 KrisFlyer miles in First Class.
Here is a cost comparison of flying to New York or Europe return, or doing a RTW trip in Business / First Class:
|To New York return||To Europe return||RTW Award|
|236,000 / 304,000||210,000 / 296,000||240,000 / 360,000|
Why is this award good value?
A cash RTW ticket on Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance partners for a similar journey booked with a travel agent will start around $18,000 per person, jumping to $29,000 in First Class. That’s a huge amount of money!
It’s also better value than a simple one-way or return award redemption.
For example, if you wanted to fly from Auckland/Wellington/Christchurch to New York return, it will cost you 236,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business Class or 304,000 in First.
In comparison, the RTW award costs 240,000 miles in Business Class and 360,000 miles in First Class.
Therefore, for an extra 4,000 miles in Business Class or 56,000 miles in First Class, you can fly around the world!
Let’s face it, 4,000 points won’t even get you from Auckland to Dunedin in Economy Class on Air New Zealand, whilst 56,000 points will get you a return Business Class seat between Melbourne and Brisbane. Would you rather fly two hours domestically in Australia or around the world in First Class for those extra miles?
Having said that, if you only wanted to have a holiday in Europe and USA because a RTW is too extensive, then read our guide to maximising KrisFlyer redemptions by using free or additional stopovers.
Why shouldn’t I save my miles and just use them on more Economy Class flights?
It’s absolutely your prerogative to spend your miles as you see fit, and a RTW Award in Economy Class costs 180,000 miles.
How do I earn KrisFlyer miles?
The good news for Kiwis is that Krisflyer miles can be earned relatively easily, as it is a transfer partner of American Express Rewards Program. Membership Rewards points earned from cards like the American Express Platinum Charge and Platinum Edge can be transferred to Krisflyer Miles at a ratio of 2:1.
Why does this redemption also apply to Velocity members?
In response to the popularity our guide on how to fly around the world in Business Class for 280,000 Qantas Points with the oneworld Classic Award, many Virgin Australia Velocity readers asked us how they can use their Velocity Points to make a similar round-the-world award redemption.
Velocity doesn’t have its own RTW Award but you can transfer your Velocity points to KrisFlyer miles at a ratio of 1.35 Velocity points = 1 KrisFlyer.
That means that for Velocity members, the redemption in this guide will set you back 324,000 Velocity points in Business Class or 486,000 in First Class.
Where can I fly?
Here are two examples that keep to the 35,000-mile maximum:
Auckland – Beijing on Air China // Beijing – Toronto on Air Canada // Toronto – New York on Air Canada or United // New York – Lisbon on TAP Portugal // Lisbon – Istanbul on Turkish // Istanbul – Bangkok on Turkish // Bangkok – Auckland on THAI
Auckland – Tokyo Narita on Air New Zealand // Tokyo Narita – Los Angeles on ANA, United or Singapore Airlines // Los Angeles – Vienna on Austrian // Vienna – Istanbul on Turkish // Istanbul – Johannesburg on Turkish // Johannesburg – Singapore on Singapore Airlines // Singapore – Wellington via Canberra on Singapore Airlines
You can use the excellent Great Circle Mapper tool to calculate the total distance for your trip.
Which airlines can I fly on?
You can choose from over 1330 destinations in over 190 countries covered by the Star Alliance network, which is made up of 27 partner airlines, including Singapore Airlines, United, and Air New Zealand.
All of the airlines have Business Class but only seven have First Class, notably Air China, Air India, ANA, Asiana, Singapore Airlines, THAI and United.
I’m leaving Lufthansa and SWISS out of that list because they only release First Class award seats to their partners 14 days before departure and for this award, you’ll need to book more in advance.
Most Kiwis will know that Air New Zealand is notorious for having poor award availability. Flights to Japan and China seem to be a notable exception, so you’re in luck there if your routing takes you in that direction.
Effective March 2017, KrisFlyer no longer imposes fuel surcharges on award redemptions on exclusively Singapore Airlines flights, however, it is not applicable on a RTW redemption because we will mixing with other Star Alliance airlines.
Here are some approximate taxes and surcharges examples:
- Sydney to Frankfurt in Singapore Airlines First Class: $365
- Frankfurt to New York in Lufthansa Business: $272
- Tokyo to Los Angeles in ANA Business: $41.50
- Seoul to Chicago in Asiana Business: $7
- As with all redemptions, the RTW award is subject to availability of award seats on Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partners
- You must travel in a continuous eastbound or westbound direction, so that means no backtracking and the journey must begin and end in the same country. However, you are allowed an origin open-jaw in the same country, so you can depart from Auckland and return to Christchurch, for example
- You must make only one crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and only one crossing of the Pacific Ocean
- Your total travel distance must not exceed 35,000 miles. You are allowed a maximum of 16 segments (meaning individual flights) and seven cities, and you cannot purchase additional stopovers
- You may stopover only once in each city and no more than twice in any one country
- Surface sectors are permitted but will count as stopovers, so if you land in Paris and take the train to London and fly out of London, that is counted as two stopovers – be careful
- No change of flight/date is allowed once your journey has started
How do I book a RTW Award?
- Step 1: if you want to fly on Singapore Airlines, especially in First Class Suites, search on the KrisFlyer website
- Step 2: for all other partners, use United’s search engine
- Step 3: call KrisFlyer as you will need to book over the phone
We have further details in our guide on how to search for award space most efficiently.
Like other award redemptions, seats are subject to availability and there is a chance you would not be able to fly on the date you desire, so you need to be flexible.
Because you are flying RTW, you do not need to search for all the flights at the same time.
It is best to search one flight at a time as if it were a one-way journey, e.g. Wellington to Singapore, Singapore to Tokyo, Tokyo to Toronto.
Note that in order to redeem the award for the purpose of the RTW, the availability must be classified as a Saver Award, because seat availability under Advantage/Full Award categories cannot be booked under RTW.
Have a notepad handy because when you find the available flights, you have to provide the information to the Singapore Airlines agent on the telephone. Not all agents are knowledgeable about this award, so you may have to hold their hand through this process.
Speaking from personal experience, these five handy tips will save you a lot of hassle, so write down the following:
- Date/s with available seats, e.g. 2 and 7 March 2019
- Origin and destination airports, e.g. Perth to Singapore
- Airline, e.g. Singapore Airlines
- Flight number, e.g. SQ 252
- Departure and arrival time (just in case), e.g. 10pm to 8am
The KrisFlyer Star Alliance Round The World award represents great value compared to both cash tickets and simple one-way or return routings, provided you can find the award space on the dates and routes that you are looking at.
I look forward to reading about your experiences in the comments section, where you can ask me any questions about this award.
Supplementary images courtesy respective airlines.