Singapore Airlines (SQ) is making changes at a furious pace. After rolling out a new A380 First Suite and Business Class, increasing the amount of KrisFlyer miles needed for many flights and making StarAlliance award bookings available online, my favorite airline is changing Economy Class fare categories and the KrisFlyer award miles you earn! They are also increasing KrisFlyer in the process, so there is good and bad news in this announcement!
SQ has faced tough competition, with Middle Eastern carriers eating into their market for flights to Europe, mainline Chinese airlines on routes to America and low-cost carriers in the region! They are fighting back with new premium cabins at the high-end of the market – and it’s a promising upgrade for the 5-star airline.
Now, they are fighting back at the lower end of the market with a new structure for economy fares. They are falling the example of other airlines, offering “Lite”, “Standard” and “Flexi” fares that bundle seat assignments, mileage earning and fare conditions, making it simpler and easier to understand for travelers:
The main changes are the introduction of a dreaded seat assignment charge of SGD5 on Lite fares, something hardly fitting for a premium carrier! But you will earn more KrisFlyer miles than before, with Lite fares now earning 50% of miles flown versus as little as 10% previously!
While the same fare types are introduced for Premium Economy and Business Class as well, you can still select your seats for free. And you can earn (mostly) more miles in higher fare classes here as well, now as much as 200% in First/Suites Class!
In addition to these changes, Singapore Airlines is changing the fees for award tickets. They used to be some of the lowest in the industry, but now will go up significantly:
During my recent airberlin insolvency debacle, I booked an SQ Business Class award ticket as backup and was able to cancel it for a redeposit of my miles for only $30 – now, it will be $75 or 240%! In addition, no-show fees are now up to $300, so if you miss your flight for some reason without cancelling, you’d have to pay a total of $375, one of the highest in the industry!
Bottomline: The simplification of fare types brings Singapore Airlines closer to their competitors and the increase in miles earned is a very positive step. I do think that a seat assignment fee is a bad move for any premium airline, whether it’s Lufthansa or SQ. The increase in award fees is the most drastic I’ve seen in a long time and makes KrisFlyer less attractive, an unfortunate development. I will update my overview of the KrisFlyer Award Program accordingly in the near future.
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For the full detail of all the changes, please read the Singapore Airlines News Release!