After the March 2017 KrisFlyer miles devaluation, there was at least one sigh of relief. The redemption rates for award flights operated by Star Alliance partner airlines, it seemed, wasn’t being changed… for now. Well somewhat inevitably ‘now’ has arrived, or more correctly will arrive in about three weeks.
From 7 December, there is an updated (for “updated”, Singapore Airlines mean “generally more expensive”) set of redemption rates whenever you use your KrisFlyer miles for an award booking on a Star Alliance member airline – that’s any of the 26 other airlines in the alliance, aside from SIA.
Have all the miles rates been increased?
To be fair, no. The majority of economy class redemptions will stay at their current rate, particularly if your trip starts or ends in the South East Asia (SEA) 1 and SEA 2 zones (Singapore and it’s surrounding countries), which will probably be the case for most KrisFlyer members.
The old and new redemption rates
Here are the full Star Alliance redemption rate tables by cabin class:
The tables also fully describe which countries fall into each zone.
Economy class changes
Some of the more notable economy class increases are for flights between North Asia 2 zone (China, Japan and South Korea predominantly), and North America / Hawaii and Central America, where rates are increasing by 20%, with a roundtrip economy award redemption between these zones increasing from 90,000 to 108,000 miles.
Business class changes
In business class, it looks to us as though about half the zone combinations remain the same, while half will suffer a miles cost increase of typically between 6% and 36%. Some of the standout increases will be seen for flights within the South West Pacific zone (Australia, New Zealand and most Pacific Ocean islands), which previously required 25,000 miles for a business round-trip redemption and will now require 35,000 miles, a significant 40% rise.
This will certainly affect members who regularly use KF miles to fly trans-Tasman business class with Air New Zealand between Australia and NZ for a reasonable rate, no doubt SIA realised this zone was a little underpriced.
Getting to and from the South West Pacific zone (Australia, New Zealand and most Pacific Ocean islands) from Singapore and it’s surrounding countries (SEA 1 & SEA 2) will also become more costly in business class on Star Alliance airlines – to the tune of 20% (132,000 miles round-trip instead of 110,000).
Flights between SEA 1 and SEA 2 (Singapore and it’s surrounding countries) to the Middle East and North Africa go up a whopping 30% in business class, from 100,000 miles round-trip to 130,000.
Another notable one for us as far as business class is concerned is the 36% increase for award flights between North East Asia 1 (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), and the SEA 1 and SEA 2 regions (Singapore and it’s surrounding countries), a rise from 55,000 miles round-trip to 75,000 miles round-trip.
First class changes
Though there are some zone combinations with no changes, a large swathe of first class redemption rates will go up, some by as little as 5% but at the top end by an eye-watering 78%.
Of note is the change between both the SEA 1 & SEA 2 zones (Singapore and it’s surrounding countries) and South West Pacific (Australia, New Zealand and most Pacific Ocean islands). Here first class suffers the same 20% increase as seen in business, from 150,000 miles round-trip to 180,000.
First class Star Alliance redemptions between Singapore and surrounds (SEA 1 & SEA 2) and North America, Hawaii, Europe and the Middle East all increase in cost by about 20%.
The highest increases for first class redemptions, proportionately at least, are internally with the South West Pacific zone (Australia, New Zealand and most Pacific Ocean islands), where the round-trip rate increases from 45,000 miles to 80,000 miles (a 78% increase), though we can’t think of a carrier you could even redeem on, so it seems a moot point.
The other significant one, a 71% increase, applies for first class Star Alliance redemptions between Europe and the Middle East and North Africa zone, rising from 70,000 miles to 120,000 miles return.
Online booking functionality
KrisFlyer members who have used their miles to book a Star Alliance award before will probably agree with one thing – it wasn’t particularly easy. With a list of dates and flights in mind, you had to call the contact centre and ask them to check availability for you, flight by flight. It was often a rather torturous experience to say the least.
No surprise then that we’re really happy to learn that SIA have chosen to join so many other major airlines in the 21st century of IT advancements by allowing this searching and booking process to be completed through their online site. It will only be possible though after 7 December, once a lot of the redemption rates have gone up.
We are a bit concerned though. Recent website and IT upgrades at Singapore Airlines haven’t exactly made for a very smooth experience, so let’s hope significant systems testing of this new (and welcome) feature has been properly completed. We certainly look forward to seeing it in action, and will feedback our thoughts once it goes live.
Let’s start with the online booking function for Star Alliance awards – this is going to be a great advantage, provided it works well. Frankly it’s about time Singapore Airlines did this, other major airlines have managed the functionality for years for their frequent fliers. We hope to see slightly more advanced options like mixed-class itineraries bookable online too, but it might be asking too much at this stage.
In terms of the award chart itself, we didn’t really want to be writing about a KrisFlyer devaluation just a month after starting our blog. As devaluations go, however, this one won’t actually affect too many KrisFlyer members.
Being able to redeem your miles on Star Alliance flights isn’t that easy due to availability constraints, and we think the vast majority of KF members still use most or all of their miles where they work best – on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights, usually in the saver award category.
While it’s disappointing, it’s also not too surprising. Following the March 2017 KrisFlyer devaluation when the number of KF miles needed to fly SIA increased across the board, it really was a matter of “when, not if” for the Star Alliance chart to follow suit. Let’s hope we’ve come to the end of the devaluations for a while.
For those who do use the Star Alliance redemption option to their advantage – there’s still time to act. Book as many redemptions for the next year as you can before 7 December (just three weeks from now), and you’ll still get the old rate. Of course, you’ll have to call up to book, as the online search feature will only be turned on once the devaluation has happened.