Update: 7 Dec 13:20 – The MileLion was good enough to reach out to the SIA PR team this morning, and their response is shown here. In essence, “we didn’t mean the 7th when we said the 7th, Star Awards are being progressively rolled out.” Another positive – they did clarify that offline service fees will be waived for bookings made over the phone, which can’t currently be made online.
It was with bated breath this morning that we all awaited the next ‘big advance’ from the Singapore Airlines IT team. ‘Big advances’ from the Singapore Airlines IT team, by the way, are usually a disaster.
But surely not this time. Not after the proud announcement nearly a month ago, and all the systems testing they must have completed between then and now. No… this time, the big advance we’ve wanted for ages, and frankly should have had a long time ago, online redemptions for Star Alliance and partner airline awards, would surely go without a hitch.
So much so we didn’t even really complain when the airline announced on 14 November that despite an increase in many redemption rates, finally we would be able to book award redemption flights on Star Alliance airlines online, not over the phone.
To make sure we got the message, Singapore Airlines even made it clear about the harsh telling-off we would receive if we had the cheek to call a phone agent to complete this simple process – a new ‘offline service fee‘ of US$25 (S$34). They would surely make sure then, that they got the ‘online‘ bit right?
Well the day has arrived, many of the award prices have increased, but eagerly we still checked for our Star Alliance redemptions, happy in the expectation this online process would make it much easier from now on.
As of 3am Singapore time, it doesn’t work.
We’ve checked dummy bookings on countless redemptions where we know Star Alliance availability, either in economy, business or first class, definitely exists, and the Singapore Airlines website shows practically none of it. We started making a list of airlines it didn’t work for. In the end, it was a lot quicker to list the only ones it does appear to work for:
- Air New Zealand
That’s right – Singapore Airlines apparently forgot about 24 of the 26 other members of Star Alliance.
One thing did go right – partner airline awards
It’s not all embarrassingly awful news. SIA did manage to remember to load redemption availability for their ‘partner’ airlines (non-Star Alliance). We found plenty of redemptions with Alaska Airlines, Virgin America and Virgin Australia, for example, just by picking random dates.
Good question. We can only hope that given it’s only three hours in to the launch of this functionality, it’s just teething problems which can be quickly resolved.
If you’re in the unlucky position to really need to book a Star Alliance award redemption using your KrisFlyer miles, continue to use the United MileagePlus site to find the award space (Economy, Business Saver and First Saver are the categories you need to see), then call KrisFlyer to book the ticket, assuming the SIA website is still not showing the availability.
You should certainly refuse to pay the ‘offline service fee’ if the booking cannot be made online.
We’ll keep an eye on things tomorrow to check whether the situation improves, and report back. Until then, book Air New Zealand and Lufthansa award tickets at your leisure!