Firstly, the title of this article might cause you to think this is not a particularly original idea. I’ll admit – it’s not. Rob, founder of website Head for Points in the UK, ran a very similar article in February last year relating to the British Airways ‘Avios’ frequent flyer scheme, and I’ve been meaning to replicate the analysis for the KrisFlyer program for some time.
Partly it was for my own curiosity (I’m a bit of a self-confessed nerd when it comes to spreadsheets), but also I thought it would make a pretty interesting article for all to read too. After all, we often talk about KrisFlyer redemption ‘sweet spots’ without really looking closely at exactly what that means.
Anyway before we move on, Rob has kindly stated that he doesn’t object to my blatant plagiarism of his idea and (though he didn’t ask me to) I’d strongly recommend following his site if you have any interest in the Avios program, as there are often topics and articles that can be relevant to those of us based in Singapore.
It’s pretty simple – how many KrisFlyer miles does it take to redeem a round-trip ‘Saver’ award flight from Singapore per minute of scheduled flight time, by cabin class? I’ve left SilkAir out for simplicity and just concentrated on SIA flights. If there’s enough interest maybe I’ll do the SilkAir tables in a future article.
Where flight times differ slightly between Singapore Airlines services on the same route, I’ve assumed the shortest flight is chosen in both directions for fairness, based on flight schedules for the week commencing 2nd April 2018.
For example on Bali the shortest flight is scheduled at 02:40 on the SIN-DPS sector (even though most are 02:45), and 02:45 is the shortest scheduled time on DPS-SIN (even though most are 02:50). I’ve therefore used 05:25 as the shortest round-trip timings you can get for that route.
It becomes more important on long-haul east-west routes where flight times can differ significantly, such as Singapore to Amsterdam which is 13:20, while Amsterdam to Singapore is 12:40, so using a total of 26:00 takes account of the difference on a round-trip redemption.
For routes with a stopover, such as Singapore to Cape Town where the aircraft stops in Johannesburg for an hour, the time spent on the ground in both directions has been deducted from the total – since you usually have to get off the plane anyway during these stops, and even if you can stay on board there is little or no service offered.
Flight schedules were sourced from ExpertFlyer.com, but can also be found on the Singapore Airlines website. KrisFlyer saver award miles requirements were sourced from the redemption chart at the Singapore Airlines website.
For simplicity I didn’t look at the taxes and charges payable for each route, which can be significant (for example on ex-UK awards).
Of course average or cheapest fare is the true determining factor of the ‘value’ you are getting from your miles – this article does not attempt to do this and simply analyses the time-based redemption costs. If you’re interested in our analysis of the cash value of your miles see our guide here.
Here’s how the miles per minute calculation works out for economy class saver round-trip redemptions from Singapore, the average across all routes being 57 miles per minute.
|Route||Total Duration||Miles||Miles / Minute|
|Los Angeles (SQ7)||37:20||76,000||34|
|Los Angeles (SQ11)||36:00||76,000||35|
|San Francisco (SQ2)||34:35||76,000||37|
|San Francisco (SQ32)||31:55||76,000||40|
|Ho Chi Minh||04:10||25,000||100|
The longest routes come out best for economy saver redemptions at around 30 KrisFlyer miles per minute – Houston and New York, while the shortest flight to Kuala Lumpur is by far the worst at 115 miles per minute. That’s the same as the average business class miles per minute rate and more expensive per minute, for example, than a business class award to Zurich.
Ho Chi Minh also comes out particularly poorly at 100 miles per minute owing to its proximity to Singapore and high redemption rate. It’s not all bad news for closer destinations though, Bali is a very respectable 49 miles per minute.
Premium Economy Class
The average premium economy class redemption cost came out at 79 miles per minute.
|Premium Economy Class|
|Route||Total Duration||Miles||Miles / Minute|
|Los Angeles (SQ7)||37:20||130,000||58|
|Los Angeles (SQ11)||36:00||130,000||60|
|San Francisco (SQ2)||34:35||130,000||63|
|San Francisco (SQ32)||31:55||130,000||68|
Cape Town is the obvious standout on value once you move into the premium cabins – 47 miles per minute in premium economy on that route is less than most economy rates.
Melbourne and Hong Kong come out worst in this cabin, at nearly 100 miles per minute – that’s a higher rate than a suites redemption to New York. Moscow, Sydney and Brisbane also fare poorly.
It’s not all bad news in the Australia and New Zealand zone for premium economy though, as you’d expect for the same miles rate Auckland is a much more reasonable 73 miles per minute.
The KrisFlyer miles rate for saver business class redemptions worked out as 115 miles per minute on average.
For the business class table I’ve also added some colour coding to represent the seat types you can book on each route. It’s designed to help you easily see where you can get the best value redemptions on the latest products, like the 2013 J, 2017 J and 2018 RJ seats. It also exposes the routes on which you’re paying through the nose for an older seat.
|Key to Business Class Seat Types|
|Route||Total Duration||Seats||Miles||Miles / Minute|
|Los Angeles (SQ7)||37:20||▮||176,000||79|
|Los Angeles (SQ11)||36:00||▮||176,000||81|
|San Francisco (SQ32)||34:35||▮||176,000||85|
|Ho Chi Minh||04:10||▮||40,000||160|
Cape Town rules the roost again in business class – an incredible value redemption at 60 miles per minute of flight time – roughly the average economy redemption rate. Houston is second followed by Istanbul, Johannesburg and New York.
Istanbul benefits from being a relatively long flight which avoids the Europe pricing zone, instead falling into the ‘Africa / Middle East’ award pricing region.
At the bottom of the table – no prizes for guessing that a business class redemption to Kuala Lumpur is a complete waste of your miles – coming in at an eye-watering 269 miles per minute which is more expensive than any redemption on the network including for first class / suites.
If you’re looking at that route to try out the new ‘2018 RJ’ product launching next week, we’d strongly recommend flying to Bangkok instead (138 miles per minute), or waiting for the Perth or Osaka routes (both around 100 to 110 miles per minute).
Notice that the older ‘2006 RJ’ seat is more prevalent on the poorer value (usually shorter) routes, while the best value is found in the newer 2013 J seats which are concentrated on the longer sectors.
First Class / Suites
|First Class / Suites|
|Route||Total Duration||Miles||Miles / Minute|
|Los Angeles (SQ7)||37:20||236,000||105|
|Los Angeles (SQ11)||36:00||236,000||109|
Fewer surprises here – New York, the longest route with a suites cabin, is the best value at 94 miles per minute. Los Angeles and San Francisco also come out strongly, as does Auckland.
Jakarta is the worst value, and the oldest ‘2006 F’ product – it’ll set you back 238 KrisFlyer miles per minute of flight time for a saver redemption. You’ll literally have to gulp the Champagne back to do justice to that!
Melbourne also comes out quite poorly as one of the shorter Australia routes in the higher award band – 177 miles per minute is on the steep side.
Yes, it’s simplistic
Remember this is a ‘simple’ analysis based on flying to and from Singapore. I know it’s possible to beat these miles-per-minute rates on more complex routings and when stopovers are added.
For first class saver redemptions the best I could think of was from New York to Frankfurt to Singapore to Auckland, which comes in at just 91 KrisFlyer miles per minute (152,000 miles for nearly 28 hours in first class).
For business class – Los Angeles to Seoul to Singapore to Delhi will cost you just 67 KrisFlyer miles per minute (98,000 miles for about 24 hours in business class).
Neither of those routings are likely to be much use to many people though! If you can come up with any better value routings, please mention them in the comments section.
Remember there are a few routing anomalies too, for example Barcelona with a 1 hour stop in Milan comes in at a better miles per minute rate than the nonstop flight to Barcelona – even with the time on the ground excluded – but you’d have to be a bit of a nutcase to prefer the former to the latter.
Tokyo (Narita) comes out at a better rate than Tokyo (Haneda), purely because the flight is a bit longer, but if you’re heading downtown you’d be equally mad to choose a flight to Narita for that reason alone.
Don’t take it too seriously, the tables are supposed to be a bit of fun and aren’t intended to help you choose your next redemption destination.
If you want to go to Rome in business class, telling you that it’s half the KrisFlyer miles per minute to go to Cape Town instead is very interesting, but isn’t likely to make you want switch continents for your next vacation!