Most of us typically use our KrisFlyer miles for relatively straightforward routings, a simple one-way saver redemption or perhaps a return trip, but there’s a less well known way of extracting more value from your miles – the $100 stopover.
What’s a stopover?
Singapore Airlines define a ‘stopover’ as “any layover longer than 24 hours”. Effectively you’ll fly from A to B via C and spend at least one day in C (your stopover).
It can be a great way to split your trip across two destinations, provided you’re familiar with the rules.
The basic KrisFlyer rules state that you can add one free stopover to a saver round-trip redemption ticket or two free stopovers to an advantage round-trip redemption ticket. For one-way awards however one free stopover is only available if you book an advantage redemption. In fact the website implies this is the only way to achieve a stopover at all for a one-way award.
Straight away that puts most people off – you want to be securing a saver award flight wherever you can as the additional miles cost for an advantage redemption is significant.
When you try to price up a Saver award with a stopover, it’s less ‘implication’ – more ‘hard rule’.
What many people don’t realise though, is that you can add a stopover even to a one-way saver redemption, or add additional stopovers to round-trip saver tickets, for US$100 each.
The maximum number of stopovers you can add to a Singapore Airlines or SilkAir itinerary is three.
|Number of Stopovers|
US$100 is approximately S$131 at 30th March 2018.
How long can I stopover for?
Good news here – it’s anything from 1 day to 1 year, though you can’t ticket the second sector more than one year from the booking date, so if you’re booking the first sector six months ahead that gives you a further six month window to choose the second sector.
Once you’ve flown the first sector, you can shift the second one but it must be used within a year of the first flight completion.
The main drawback
To take advantage of the stopover trick on a one-way saver redemption, you have to call KrisFlyer to make your booking (it can’t be done online). That’s not a huge problem as you can still check redemption availability online first then call to book, just make it clear that you wish to pay the extra US$100 for a stopover as part of your itinerary so the agent does not get confused and try to charge you for two one-way redemptions, or price up an advantage award ticket with a free stopover.
Yes, I’ve had them try to do both – and yes it is frustrating. Just persevere – it’s worth it, as you’ll see.
How does this save miles?
The beauty of the stopover trick is that you pay the prevailing miles rate from your original origin zone to your ultimate destination zone, which can be significantly less than the alternative, which would be to book two one-way awards instead.
Let’s say you’re based in Singapore and you plan to use your KrisFlyer miles to visit Los Angeles in business class, but you would like to spend a few nights in Tokyo on the way.
Ordinarily you’d secure the following redemptions:
- A one-way business saver SIN-NRT: 43,000 miles + S$34
- A one-way business saver NRT-LAX: 85,000 miles + S$79
- Total Cost: 128,000 miles + S$113
By paying an extra US$100, you can take advantage of the direct Singapore to Los Angeles mile rate:
- A one-way business saver SIN-LAX (stopover NRT): 88,000 miles + S$100 (taxes) + US$100 (stopover fee)
- Saving: 40,000 miles
I’m planning to do something very similar later this year, as I need to be in the UK for a few days to attend a wedding, then I’ll to fly to the USA to meet Eddie.
Now that Singapore Airlines are flying five days per week from Manchester to Houston on the A350, I can redeem SIN-MAN (US$100 stopover) MAN-IAH as a business saver for 92,000 miles, rather than the 150,000 miles it would otherwise cost for two one-way award tickets (85,000 SIN-MAN + 65,000 MAN-IAH).
That’s a massive saving of 58,000 miles – probably one of the highest out there using this method. The saving alone is enough for a business saver award from Singapore to Sydney.
If you plan your holidays more than one trip ahead, you can use the stopover trick to save miles by assisting with your next flight on completion of your first trip.
For example if you were planning to visit Seoul in July and Auckland in December using your KrisFlyer miles in business class, this would probably be your usual redemption:
- A return business class saver SIN-ICN-SIN: 86,000 miles + S$68
- A return business class saver SIN-AKL-SIN: 116,000 miles + S$97
- Total Cost: 202,000 miles + S$165
Here you’ll have to play a slightly different game to get the $100 stopover trick to work. By changing your flight to Seoul to a one-way redemption, you can then book Seoul to Auckland with a stopover in Singapore as your second redemption (the stopover is in fact your time at home between the two trips).
Then round off with a one-way redemption back to Singapore from Auckland. It’ll look like this:
- A one-way business saver SIN-ICN: 43,000 miles + S$34
- A one-way business saver ICN-AKL (stopover SIN): 83,000 miles + S$73 + US$100
- A one-way business saver AKL-SIN: 58,000 miles + S$32
- Total Cost: 184,000 miles + S$270
- Saving 18,000 miles
Even if you don’t have firm dates for your trip, for example you’re not 100% sure which day you’ll want to head to Auckland, simply book the closest flight you expect for the second part of the ICN-SIN-AKL itinerary with a business saver redemption available.
You’ll then be able to change the date of the SIN-AKL flight for free, even long after you’ve returned to Singapore, provided a saver redemption is available on the date you want. That assumes you book your ticket before 1st May 2018, after that some fee changes happen for KrisFlyer redemption tickets, and you’ll pay US$25 for a date change if required.
We think that’s still worth it given the number of miles you are saving.
Closer to home
You don’t have to think long distance to save money using the $100 stopover trick. It can even save you miles on trips closer to home, for example if you’re using your KrisFlyer miles to fly business class to Jakarta one month, then the following month doing the same again but to Bangkok instead, the two return saver awards would normally set you back a total of 75,000 miles + S$116.
Simply repeat the process above to save 15,000 miles by instead booking:
- A one-way business saver SIN-CGK: 17,500 miles + S$34
- A one-way business saver CGK-BKK (stopover SIN): 20,000 miles + S$49 + US$100
- A one-way business saver BKK-SIN: 20,000 miles + S$31
- Total Cost: 60,000 miles + S$245
- Saving 15,000 miles
Again if for example you don’t know exactly when you’ll head to Bangkok, just pick an available date later in the year for the SIN-BKK sector since you can always change it. Then book the final BKK-SIN redemption once you know your plans.
Star Alliance / Partner Awards
Stopovers are permitted on award tickets booked partly or wholly with a Star Alliance carrier or SIA partner airline, but there are a few things to be aware of:
- The rules on award stopovers for the most restrictive carrier will apply. Some airlines don’t allow stopovers at all on a saver redemption, others significantly restrict the duration of a stopover.
- No stopovers on domestic tickets (e.g. San Francisco to Washington with a stopover in Denver won’t work).
- No stopovers on Intra-Europe itineraries (e.g. Rome to London with a stopover in Munich won’t work).
- No stopovers in the country of departure (e.g. Phuket to Hong Kong with a stopover in Bangkok won’t work).
Remember this does not prevent layovers on these tickets, so you can potentially squeeze up to 24 hours in another city en-route to your final destination, and not even pay a stopover fee on a saver redemption.
Significant backtracking is not allowed with a stopover in between. For example you can’t finish your trip to Yangon and use a Singapore stopover to link it with your next holiday in Bangkok, that’s backtracking. You could link it to Melbourne though, as your next flight would be continuing in the right direction.
For mixed-class awards, for example if you want to fly business from Seoul to Singapore but you can only secure an economy redemption from Singapore to Auckland, the whole itinerary will be priced at the business class rate. That more than cancels out the saving using the stopover method in that example, so isn’t something you’ll want to do.
There are some real savings to be had by considering using the $100 stopover trick on a saver redemption next time you use your KrisFlyer miles, especially in business class and even more so for first class or suites redemptions – which we didn’t examine here.
The saving on the Seoul / Auckland trip pair we looked at above for example – increases from 18,000 miles to 40,000 miles if you’re redeeming in first class.
Have a think about using the $100 stopover next time you plan a trip – and let us know what inventive routings you can come up with to save those precious KrisFlyer miles.
(Cover Photo: Böhringer Friedrich)