As you may know, KrisFlyer made changes to its Singapore Airlines award chart in March 2017, raising the cost of award redemptions for most of New Zealand.
However, the recent changes did not affect the Star Alliance airline partner award chart.
Previously, the Singapore Airlines award chart represented better value as it was both cheaper than the Star Alliance partner chart for similar redemptions and the 15% online discount for Singapore Airlines redemptions meant redeeming KrisFlyer miles on its own flights was more attractive.
However, now that the Singapore Airlines chart has become more expensive and the online discount removed, when you combine travel on Singapore Airlines and a Star Alliance partner, it will cost you fewer miles!
Not only has this opened up new opportunities to maximise your stopovers in more cities, you are no longer restricted to fly exclusively on Singapore Airlines because it may be good value to mix Singapore Airlines along with its Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa, ANA and Asiana.
Remember, a stopover is staying in a city for 24 hours or more; a layover is less than 24 hours.
And note an important consideration is that you will be charged fuel surcharges on the Star Alliance award redemption as opposed to not having to pay them on Singapore Airlines award flights.
What does it mean for you?
Here is a quick example:
Previously, if I wanted to fly from New Zealand to Greece, I would book flights and restrict myself to fly on Singapore Airlines from Auckland/Wellington/Christchurch to Singapore to Frankfurt and then buy a separate ticket from Frankfurt to Greece because combining travel on Singapore Airlines and another Star Alliance airline would bump up the price.
Under the new pricing, it would cost me 105,000 miles one-way or 210,000 miles round-trip in Business Class to fly exclusively Singapore Airlines from New Zealand to Frankfurt using the Singapore Airlines award chart.
However, if I tag on a flight from Frankfurt to Athens with Lufthansa, the award will fall under the Star Alliance partner chart, bringing the cost down to 95,000 miles one-way or 190,000 miles round trip. With Star Alliance awards, you must book a round trip to get a stopover.
Adding a leg on a Star Alliance partner airline may reduce the cost of your KrisFlyer redemption
How does that apply to stopovers?
You may know that KrisFlyer allows up to three stopovers on award redemptions. You can read about that in further detail in our guide to stopovers on Singapore Airlines flights.
No stopovers are permitted for one-way awards on Star Alliance and you will be charged per sector if you want to stopover. Although, the first one is free with a round trip award redemption with three additional stops costing $100 USD each.
With these stops, it is possible to build a multi-city trip. Take a look at the sample itineraries below:
Example 1: New Zealand to North America via Singapore and Europe in Business Class
- Christchurch to Singapore on Singapore Airlines with a Singapore stopover
- Singapore to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines with a Frankfurt stopover
- Frankfurt to North America on Lufthansa instead of Singapore Airlines
- Cost for Singapore Airlines-only flights (no fuel surcharges): 118,000 KF miles + $200 USD for two stopovers or 236,000 KF miles round trip + $100 USD for two stopovers
- Cost for combination flights: 97,500 KF miles one-way + ~$345 fuel surcharges or 195,000 KF miles round trip + $US100 stopover + $700 fuel surcharges
- Difference: save 20,500 KF miles one-way + $345 more in fuel surcharges or 41,000 KF miles round trip + $700 fuel surcharges
Example 2: New Zealand to North America via Singapore and Asia in First Class
- Auckland to Singapore on Singapore Airlines with a Singapore stopover
- Singapore to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines with a Tokyo stopover
- Tokyo to North America on ANA instead of Singapore Airlines
- Cost for Singapore Airlines-only flights (no fuel surcharges): 154,000 KF miles + $200 USD for two stopovers or 308,000 KF miles + $100 USD for two stopovers
- Cost for combination flights: 152,500 KF miles + ~$320 fuel surcharges or 305,000 KF miles return + $US100 USD for two stopover + $650 fuel surcharges
- Difference: save 1,500 KF miles one-way + $320 fuel surcharges or 3,000 KF miles + $650 fuel surcharges
Example 3: New Zealand to Brazil via Singapore and Europe in Business Class
- Auckland to Singapore on Singapore Airlines with a Singapore stopover
- Singapore to London on Singapore Airlines with a London stopover
- London to Lisbon on TAP Portugal with a Lisbon stopover
- Lisbon to São Paolo on TAP Portugal
- Cost for Singapore Airlines-only flights: not allowed as Singapore Airlines no longer flies to São Paolo
- Cost for combination flights: 110,500 KF miles one-way + ~$410 fuel surcharges or 221,000 KF miles turn + $US200 stopover + $410 fuel surcharges
Differences between the Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance partner award charts
The Star Alliance partner chart has the US and Canada classified together as North America, whereas the Singapore Airlines chart divides the US into East Coast and West Coast and doesn’t feature Canada at all as it doesn’t currently fly there.
Another difference is the inclusion of South America in Star Alliance chart, whereas the Singapore Airlines/SilkAir chart does not have the region listed because Singapore Airlines discontinued flights to São Paolo in October 2016.
When to book a Singapore Airlines vs Star Alliance partner award
Redeem a Singapore Airlines award if you are only looking for a one-way trip, you want to fly exclusively on Singapore Airlines and you would like one or more stopovers.
Redeem a Star Alliance award if you do not need a stopover on a one-way trip, the city you are flying into is not serviced by Singapore Airlines. However one stopover is permitted and three additional at $100 USD per stop is permitted on a round-trip Star Alliance redemption.
Two downsides to Star Alliance partner award redemptions
Unlike booking under the Singapore Airlines/Silk Air chart, KrisFlyer does not allow flight changes on travel already commenced on partner airlines, so be mindful when booking a roundtrip award redemption if you want flexibility on the return leg.
However, if you are happy to sacrifice the complimentary free stopover on a roundtrip ticket, you can book your trip as two one-way awards for added flexibility, i.e. booking your departure on one award and your return on a separate award, so you can make changes to the return segment (or the whole itinerary) for $20 USD.
Note that Lufthansa First Class is not available until it is within 14 days of the date you are travelling, which means that if you are booking a First Class award further in advance than that, you won’t be able to reserve First Class on Lufthansa. This is where booking one-ways makes sense.
Another big downside is that you will also be slugged fuel surcharges by KrisFlyer when redeeming miles for travel on a combination of Singapore Airlines and partner flights, whereas fuel surcharges are no longer payable on travel exclusively on Singapore Airlines.
How to piece together your trip
If in case you’d like to book via phone, an ‘offline service fee’ of $25 USD or 2,500 Krisflyer miles will be charged but will be waived if you are unable to make your bookings or changes online.
For booking via phone, you will need to search for availability on the Singapore Airlines flights through the KrisFlyer website and on its partner airlines through United. Read our guide to searching for award space first to get the basics down-pat.
Have a notepad handy because when you find the available flights, you’ll have to provide the information to the Singapore Airlines agent on the telephone, because not all agents are knowledgeable, meaning you’ll have to hold their hand through this process.
Speaking from personal experience, these five handy tips will save you a lot of hassle. Write down the following:
- The date/s with available seats (1 and 2 July 2017)
- Origin and desination (Wellington to Singapore)
- Airline name (Singapore Airlines)
- Flight number (SQ222)
- Departure and arrival times (10pm – 8am)
Keep repeating this search process for each city until you complete your itinerary.
Finally, once you have pieced together each flight, call the KrisFlyer Membership Services line on 0800 750 760 (24/7) to book your trip.
Devaluations of frequent flyer programs can drive up the price of some or most awards but there can also be a silver lining, like in this case.
Now that combination travel on Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partners has become relatively cheaper, it really opens up your options in terms of crafting some stopovers into your next international trip!
How do you plan to maximise your KrisFlyer balance by combining travel on Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partners?
Images courtesy Star Alliance.