Singapore Airlines (SQ) is one of the most highly awarded airlines in the world and has been in the top 3 for the last 6 years. I joined their KrisFlyer program after moving to Singapore and have been a fan of their airline and rewards program ever since. With access to some of the best First and Business Class cabins in the sky, this is an airline reward program worth considering! You can find out why I’m a fan and why you might want to join below!
Reach – how far will it take me? Singapore Airlines serves 62 destinations in 32 countries around the world, including North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and most of the Asia-Pacific region!
As part of StarAlliance, the largest airline alliance in the world, they will give you access to hundreds of destinations served by the partner airlines, giving you the broadest possible reach!
Check out Singapore Airlines – Facts & Figures for more details!
Earning – what do I have to do to earn points? You earn miles in the KrisFlyer program based on flight distance and the class of service. Singapore Airlines is introducing new fare classes effective January 20, 2018, that change significantly the amount of miles you earn. Budget economy fares now earn at least 50% of distance flown, up from 10% before and all the way up to 200% of distance flown in Suites class (down from 300%). You also earn miles on the short-haul subsidiary Silk Air and can purchase bundles that include miles on budget subsidiary Scoot! As a KrisFlyer Silver, Gold or PPS member, you earn a tier bonus of 25%!
You also earn miles when flying on StarAlliance partners. The earning is based on distance flown, fare class and partner airline, with earning ranging from 0% on deeply discounted economy fares to 200% on First Class.
In addition to StarAlliance, you can earn points on other Singapore Airlines partners, including Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Alaska Air, JetBlue and Vistara. You can find the full chart here or just check at wheretocredit.com.
What makes KrisFlyer very interesting to anybody not living in Singapore is their partnership with a long list of banks and credit cards: You can earn and transfer points from banks including Citibank and HSBC in the US, as well as numerous banks across Asia and with credit cards issued by American Express in Singapore! You can transfer points from the Citibank ThankYou program, for example earned with the Citibank Prestige card, online at a 1:1 exchange rate, to your KrisFlyer account! The same is true for Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1), HSBC Premier Rewards (1:1) and American Express Membership Rewards. So, even if you don’t fly Singapore Airlines on paid tickets, you can still enjoy them on award flights!
Add to that a large number of hotel and rental car partners as well as online shopping and you have more opportunities to earn KrisFlyer miles than with most Asian airlines, making it a good choice of reward program even for people outside of Singapore!
Redeeming – what do I get for my points? Singapore Airlines devalued award ticket redemption in 2017 by as much as 67% for SQ flights and 25% for StarAlliance flights, making it much less rewarding than before. are based on regional zones and class of service.
One-way saver awards in Economy class start at 7,500 miles for a short-haul regional flight and now go up to 154,000 miles for a long-haul, Suites flight. The miles needed for the new “Advantage” awards with better availability are roughly double the miles needed, making them an unattractive option I recommend you to avoid – they are a terrible value in most cases! You can find the full award chart for SQ flights here! Fortunately, with the devaluation of miles needed, SQ also cancelled the high fuel charges previously levied on award flights. Unfortunately, the previous discount of 15% for online bookings has been eliminated as well!
You can also redeem for StarAlliance flights, now (kind of) available online, and the redemption rates for round-trip flights are available here!
Some of the previous sweet spots in the program have been eliminated with the recent devaluations, making it much more difficult to get exceptional value out of the program. Also, keep in mind that the website functionality is limited, making it very difficult to book complex itineraries. Call center staff isn’t much help either and I have hung up in frustration more than once when staff wasn’t able to book an itinerary that I had right in front of me as available. They frequently quote much higher prices for combinations of SQ and StarAlliance flights, making it undesirable to book those through Singapore Airlines.
Status – what perks will I get? The KrisFlyer program offers a total of 5 tiers. The base tier is available by signing up, Silver is earned after flying 25,000 miles and Gold after flying 50,000 miles on SQ or partner airlines. Three tiers – base, silver, gold – can be earned by flying on Singapore Airlines or StarAlliance partners. There is a separate program that allows to earn PPS status by flying in Business, First or Suites class and spending SGD25,000 in 12 consecutive months. Spend in Economy class or partner airlines doesn’t count, making it an even tougher status level to achieve than United’s coveted Global Service level. The top level is called Solitaire PPS, requiring a cumulative spend of SGD250,000 over 5 years. Effective June 2018, that will be simplified to SGD50,000/year! Despite the sky-high entry requirements for PPS and Solitaire PPS, the additional benefits are limited, compared to top-level status of US based airlines. In addition to access to preferred economy class seats, your miles won’t expire as long as your PPS. You can also earn PPS Rewards, for example an award redemption discount or upgrade vouchers. While these new benefits are valuable improvements, the PPS program is still lacking compared to US airlines! You can see all the benefits below:
What else is there? The greatest benefit of the KrisFlyer is preferred access to award flights in their premium cabins. Singapore Airlines Business, First Class and Suites are some of the most highly rated onboard experiences and coveted award redemptions! While that is also possible via StarAlliance partners, SQ gives their own KrisFlyer members priority in getting those award seats, making it close to impossible to book through a partner program. And if there are no seats available, you can have your request “waitlisted”, which should give you priority access to any award seats released at a later point in time.
Fees or changes of award tickets or redeposit of miles have been increased recently, but are still fairly low compared to US airlines.
One of the biggest problem with the KrisFlyer program is that miles expire after three years, regardless of account activity. You can extend your miles by 6 or 12 months – one time and for a fee, payable in miles! While you can purchase miles at a high price to top of your account for a redemption, the expiration makes the program less attractive for infrequent fliers or for anybody without the ability to transfer miles in. I guess it does encourage you to earn & burn your miles! Your complete account will also expire after three years, if there is no activity at all!
Bottomline: Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer program gives you access to some of the most desirable Business and First Class cabins in the sky with award miles. You can top up your account with miles from credit card programs, making it accessible even if you don’t fly Singapore Airlines regularly. You’ll have to live with mediocre earn and redemption rates and elite benefits that are a lot less attractive than with other airlines. While I won’t earn as many miles with SQ anymore, I’ll continue to keep my account for award flights on my – still – favorite airline!