Singapore Airlines Kris Flyer Enhancements 2019 – small improvements and higher award prices

The bad news for award travelers keep rolling in – Singapore Airlines announced “enhancements” to their loyalty program Krisflyer. That’s a dreaded term for all frequent travelers, as it usually means small improvements meant to hide a big devaluation of the program. The same is true here – the program receives some long over due improvements and at the same time award prices for premium cabins go up by around 10%. The new award prices will be effective January 24, 2019, so check out the details below and be quick to book at the old rates!

Let’s start with the good news of the coming changes to the Kris Flyer program:

Effective immediately, you will be able to upgrade from Economy Class to Business Class using KrisFlyer points on flights that feature a Premium Economy cabin. The number of miles will be the same on planes with or without Premium Economy cabin. That’s a welcome, if overdue change to compete with other airlines: Previously, you had to book an (expensive) Premium Economy ticket to upgrade with miles to Business Class – hardly worth it on leisure flights and impossible to do, if your company requires you to fly Economy Class. You can find the new upgrade award prices here!

Starting on January 31, 2019, you will have improved visibility of award seats. Previously, you could only see award availability on one day and had to browse flights day by day to find an available seat. Now, you will be able to see availability for 7 days. That’s a much needed improvement, although still far from industry-best – United for example offers a full month of visibility!

KrisFlyer is also changing the waitlist feature. You can currently ask to be waitlisted when an award seat is not available. The likelihood of an award seat becoming available is one of the much discussed mystery in award travel circles and you might not find out until departure.
Now, Singapore Airlines will cut-off the waitlist two weeks prior to departure and confirm your seat – or cancel your waitlist. Confusingly, the waitlist feature will still be available until departure, so I guess you can choose to make other travel plans or re-waitlist your seat in the hopes of a seat becoming available. 
Whether this change will be a positive or just a reduced seat availability will have to be seen – I’ll call this a neutral change for now!

Also good news, although with limited impact, is the announcement that the popular “Spontaneous Escapes” I have regularly reported on (for example here and here), will become a permanent feature of the KrisFlyer program: It’s good to know that Singapore Airlines is planning to make reduced award travel available when traveling last-minute, for bookings in the following month. For me personally, this has little value as I only redeem on Singapore Airlines for long-haul flights in premium cabin, which I typically book more than a month in advance!

And hidden at the end of this announcement is the bad news of increased award prices for travel in premium cabins. Singapore Airlines already has some of the highest prices for travel in premium cabins among their StarAlliance competitors. That is somewhat justified by the fact that Singapore Airlines has one of the best Business Class and First Class cabins in the industry (and my personal favorite) AND makes more of these seats available to members of their own KrisFlyer program. This latest price increase is around 10% for premium cabins, making the gap to other StarAlliance programs even wider and a booking harder to justify. You can find the full list of new award prices and compare them to the old award prices to see how it impacts your travel plans!

SQ A380 New First Suite

If you are accruing your award miles via credit cards (like the Citi Prestige), it makes sense to double-check availability and options, before transferring your points to KrisFlyer. 
If you are earning your miles through flying Singapore Airlines, there is not much you can do than grind your teeth and pay the higher prices. 

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