In December, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir announced a range of new fare categories, harmonising their economy and business class airfare pricing structures, and introducing new booking classes, each with different perks attached.
From 20th January, when the changes come into effect, you’ll have three new fare types to get used to for most cabin classes when booking full-fare tickets – ‘Lite’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Flexi’.
A few things are changing all at once including miles earning rates, cancellation policies, and for some economy class fares – paid seat selection is coming.
However, for the next three days you can still book the original ticket types for flights over the next year, with the current fare conditions, provided you don’t make any subsequent amendments to the booking, and that might be better for you.
Is it better to book now, or wait?
That depends on the ticket type you intend to purchase. Here’s our breakdown of which tickets it’s probably worth locking in now, and which will get you better conditions if you wait and book on or after 20th January.
We’ve focussed on the two main changes which will happen once the fare types are re-banded on Saturday – miles earning rates and upgrade eligibility.
Remember that these changes will only affect you if you’re booking cash tickets with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir, not redemption flights. There are some changes to redemption fees coming up, but not in this wave of changes. There are no real differences for redemption bookings yet, except that ‘Standard’ awards are renamed ‘Advantage’ awards from 20th January.
Economy Super Saver: Depends
If you’re looking to book a cheap economy ticket, in the K or V fare codes, you’ll only accrue miles at a 10% rate if you book before 20th January. That’s bad news because if you wait and book on 20th January or later, the accrual rate increases to 50%. On the downside however, advance seat selection will become chargeable on these fares.
If having your seat assignment well in advance is important to you, it’s a balance between earning the extra miles, and the charge you will pay for the seat selection. If you don’t care about that – it’s a no-brainer, book after 20th January to take the extra miles, and pick your seat for free 48 hours in advance.
Economy Saver: Book Now
For the next pair of economy tickets (N or Q fare codes), book now as these accrue miles at the 50% rate anyway, which won’t change after 20th January, however they will become affected by the same advance seat charges after that date. Remember provided you book before 20 January your seat selection will remain complimentary, even if you choose or change your seat at a later date.
Economy Flexi Saver: Depends
For the currently named Economy Flexi Saver ticket category (fare codes H, M and W), soon to be called Economy Standard fares, the KrisFlyer miles earning rate for these tickets will fall from the current 100%, applicable for bookings before 20th January, to 75% if booked on or after that date.
On the other hand, these tickets are currently not eligible for upgrade (to premium economy, or to business class on aircraft with no premium economy cabin), but will be eligible if booked on or after 20th January. If the ability to upgrade is important to you, or something you think you may wish to take advantage of, it may be worth sacrificing some miles to book a ticket that does have this ability. If not, book now to earn the more KrisFlyer miles when you fly.
Economy Flexi: No impact
If you’re planning to book an Economy Flexi ticket (B, E or Y fare codes), there is no big impact as these earn 100% KrisFlyer miles both before and after 20th January, and the tickets retain upgrade eligibility as before.
If you’re booking the cheapest premium economy fares (P class), book now as it’s all bad news after 20th January – miles earning rate is cut from 110% to 100% of miles flown and the fare becomes ineligible for business class upgrade using miles. You can keep both of these perks by locking in your booking now.
If it’s the more expensive premium economy fares you’re looking at (S or T fare codes), it’s best to wait until 20th January as you’ll then take advantage of an increased KrisFlyer miles earning rate of 125% instead of 110%, and will retain the ability to upgrade with miles if desired.
How do I know which premium economy fare I am booking?
This is the tricky part as there is currently (pre 20th Jan) no differentiation between the premium economy fares presented to you at the booking stage. To find out which fare code you are booking, once you are presented with the available flights and have selected the ones you want, you have to:
- expand the booking summary box at the top right,
- click ‘More Details’ next to the ‘FLIGHTS’ section,
- then see the fare code shown in brackets for each sector.
Business Saver, including ‘U’ fares: Book now
For full-fare business class tickets, there are two things to consider. From 20th January the cheapest fare categories (D and U) will no longer be eligible for miles upgrade to first / suites class. As the KrisFlyer miles earning rate will not change for these fares, it’s better to lock these in now in case you want to take advantage of an upgrade later.
The problem here, like for premium economy, is that it’s hard to know if you select a ‘Business’ fare whether it’s a ‘U’ fare or not, and that’s important as these also won’t be eligible for upgrade if booked on or after 20th January.
Follow the same instructions shown above in the premium economy section to determine whether your ‘Business’ fare will be ‘U’ or not.
For the more expensive business class fares (C, J and Z), it’s better to wait until 20th January as you’ll net 20% more KrisFlyer miles (150% of distance flown, instead of 125%), which on a London return flight would be nearly 3,400 miles more.
First / Suites
All fare types: Wait
If you’re looking to purchase a full-fare first / suites class ticket (A or F booking class), you’ll want to hold off until 20th January as the KrisFlyer miles earning rate increases by a third, from 150% to 200% of miles flown.
What if my booking contains mixed fare codes?
For the main fare conditions we’ve focussed on here – including advance seat selection, baggage allowance, earning KrisFlyer miles and upgrade eligibility using miles, the fare rules apply segment-by-segment.
For example if you book on or after 20th January and mix a new Economy Lite fare on the outbound flight with an Economy Standard on the return flight, you’ll be charged for advance seat selection on the first flight, but not on the second one.
We didn’t focus on the fees associated with the various ticket types in this article, but do bear in mind that charges for change, cancellation, and no-show apply based on the most restrictive fare code on the booking.
One major caveat
While we know exactly what’s happening to fare rules and benefits on Saturday, one thing we don’t know is the effect on fares themselves.
For example we are recommending to book now for a ‘Business Saver’ ticket to ensure you will still retain upgrade eligibility, which you won’t otherwise have if you book on or after 20th January, but we can’t guarantee that SIA won’t drop the cost of your Business Lite fare significantly on Saturday.
Similarly we’re suggesting you wait before booking a full ‘Business’ fare so you can take advantage of the 20% higher miles earning rate on tickets bought in the new ‘Business Flexi’ category from Saturday onwards, but again we can’t guarantee SIA won’t increase the cost of a ‘Business Flexi’ fare considerably, which might far outweigh the extra miles you will earn.
That means that to some extent it’s a bit of a gamble, and our advice is ‘simplistic’ in that it only accounts for the fare benefits, as we cannot know what will happen to fares themselves until Saturday morning, by which time you can’t go back and book under the old rules!
In case you thought that was enough change, there’s a bit more to come. From 1st March 2018, some fees for amending or refunding your KrisFlyer or Star Alliance / Partner award bookings will increase, by as much as 400% (though we think most changes are actually reasonable).
We’ll give you a full rundown and a heads-up on that a few days before it comes into effect, as the existing amendment fees will still apply until 28th February.