Analysis Credit Cards KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines

2018: The year in review for miles earning in Singapore

Our look back at all things miles, points and flying in 2018

2018 NY

After 285 Mainly Miles articles, over a million page views and half a million site visits, 2018 is drawing to a close. This was our first full year of running the site and thankfully there was a fair share of Singapore Airlines news, a raft of miles-earning opportunities and plenty of credit card offers to keep us going.

That’s not to mention all our travel in 2018, including five Singapore Airlines reviews, four reviews on other airlines including Qantas First, Emirates new First and Qatar Qsuites, several lounge and hotel reviews and aviation news from Star Alliance airlines and others of interest to our readers in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

Most of all we’ve been buoyed by the supportive comments we’ve received from our readers this year. We write about what we’re passionate about, and we’re pleased it hits the spot with so many of you. Thank you for your support this year and in the years ahead.

Here’s our year in review: 2018.

New planes

2018 saw a number of new aircraft in the Singapore Airlines fleet:

  • Boeing 787-10
  • Airbus A350 ULR
  • Airbus A350 Regional

See our latest December fleet guide for all the details of the current SIA fleet. Meanwhile if the three different Singapore Airlines variants of the Airbus A350 are starting to confuse you, we recently wrote a detailed guide to help out with that.

New seats

New planes meant new seats this year too. The 2018 Regional Business Class seat was introduced on the 787-10, and later on the A350 Regional, while down the back of the A350 ULR an enhanced 2018 Premium Economy seat made its debut.

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The 2018 Premium Economy seat. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Disappointingly the Singapore Airlines 2017 Business Class seat, as fitted on the newest A380s, didn’t make its way onto the A350 ULR aircraft.

New routes

Singapore Airlines mostly reinstated old routes this year with the advent of the A350 ULR, restarting non-stop flights to Newark and Los Angeles. Seattle was announced as the fourth non-stop city in the USA for the airline, which is set to be serviced by the regular A350 from September 2019.

Elsewhere on the Star Alliance network from Singapore some new redemption opportunities popped up from LOT Polish, operating a Boeing 787 to and from Warsaw, and Lufthansa, reinstating a long-forgotten Munich route, this time with an Airbus A350 rather than the A340 used previously.

New hotels

With the long-awaited re-opening of Raffles postponed until 2019, very few new hotels opened their doors this year in Singapore.

We took the opportunity to review the excellent Six Senses Duxton a few days after it opened in April. Just this month the group has opened a sister property, Six Senses Maxwell, which we hope to review soon.

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We loved our stay at the Six Senses Duxton in April, which included a tour of the other room types such as the Pearl Suite, pictured above. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Otherwise this year we played catch up with our stays at the Aerotel Changi Airport (opened in February 2016) and the Andaz Singapore (opened in November 2017).

Across the water in Bintan we were wowed by the nearly four-year old Sanchaya, and we long to return as soon as our bank balance allows!

Elsewhere in Singapore there was a new opening at The Capitol Kempinski in September, which we’ll aim to try in 2019.

Aside from the re-opening of Raffles, 2019 should see the new Capri by Fraser at China Square and Dusit Thani Laguna properties open. The launch of the JEWEL at Changi airport should also see the opening of Singapore’s second YOTEL.

The long-rumoured merger

2018 was finally the year Singapore Airlines announced it was merging its regional subsidiary SilkAir into the mainline operation.

The big news was that flat-bed Business Class seats will be installed in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft (the only ones transferring to SIA as part of the merger), and seat-back IFE will be installed throughout the cabin.

As part of the process lots of Boeing 737-800s SilkAir currently operates will be transferred to low-cost SIA subsidiary Scoot, as will over a third of its routes, in advance of full integration in 2020, when the SilkAir brand will finally disappear.

Credit cards

If 2018 proved one thing when it comes to miles earning credit cards in Singapore it’s that almost anything is possible.

Credit Cards 3.jpg

If you’d said to us this time last year that:

we’d probably have said you were mad. That summary though represents the highlights of ‘the year that was’ for the miles-earning credit card market in Singapore during 2018.

Highlights from the year, month by month

Grab a coffee, or your beverage of choice, and maybe some popcorn! Here’s a trip down memory lane to reminisce over what was reported in the Mainly Miles world during 2018.

January 2018

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Less than two weeks old meant that ‘new plane smell’ for our Singapore to Sydney 2017 Business Class review. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

February 2018

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Spot the difference. The MainlyMiles 787-10 Business Class seat map compared to the Singapore Airlines one.

March 2018

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Many of us ended up here at some point in March for 12 miles per dollar using the OCBC Titanium Rewards card. (Photo: Terence Ong)
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Farewell ‘Spacebed J’. The seat finally bowed out in early 2018. (Photo: Matt@TWN via Flickr)
  • Later in the month Mileslife said they’d give us at least 500 miles a year (10 per week) just for logging on to their app every day. The promotion continues, though they quietly cut the minimum to 1 mile per week in November meaning you theoretically could now earn as little as 50 miles per year from this promotion.
  • The crescendo for March was the much-anticipated delivery of 9V-SCA, the first Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 (and the first commercial 787-10 in the world for that matter). We covered the news and photos from the delivery day.
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9V-SCA’s arrival in Singapore. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

April 2018

  • We joined the inaugural commercial flight of the Singapore Airlines 787-10 (and the first commercial passenger flight of any 787-10 worldwide) between Singapore and Bangkok. By the same evening we’d published one of the first passenger reviews of the new Regional Business Class seat.
  • Never ones to do things by halves, the next day we took the same plane back to Singapore to focus on the middle ‘couple’ pairs at the bulkhead row for another detailed review.
Seat 11A
Whether it’ our first review or our second one a few days later, we had SIA’s latest cabin product, the 2018 Regional Business Class seat, well covered from the get-go. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
  • Later in the month a major bank and credit card issuer lost its mind slightly and decided to give us up to 8 miles per dollar on any Apple Pay transactions for 3 months, with no cap. Citi probably didn’t realise you could Apple Pay two Emirates First Class tickets for S$11,000 and earn enough miles for a Business Class redemption from Singapore to Europe in the process, which is exactly what Eddie did!

May 2018

MI and SQ Tails (joolsgriff via Twitter)
(Photo: joolsgriff via Flickr)
  • Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles scheme was ‘revalued’, there were winners and losers but the crux of the matter was – it wasn’t a disaster by any means. Qatar Airways made an epic display of how these things shouldn’t be done a few days later, decimating the value of their frequent flyer points with zero notice.
  • Just as the month was coming to a close, Singapore Airlines confirmed that non-stop flights from Singapore to New York would serve Newark once again from October, this time using the A350-900ULR.

June 2018

  • Singapore Airlines launched its longest seasonal capacity boost on the Osaka route with the A380 – a period of over 3 months. We found literally hundreds of saver award tickets in Suites class during the period. SIA later ramped up A380 flights on the route through the entire northern winter season to the end of March 2019, doubling down with twice-daily A380 flights for nearly a month over Christmas and New Year. All in all it resulted in the largest swathe of Suites saver awards on a single route we have ever seen.
  • It was revealed that the latest Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR aircraft were to get an ‘enhanced’ Premium Economy seat, with ‘solo’ seats featuring additional space and storage at the very back of the plane in a unique 1-4-1 configuration. While there was some confusion as to why, it turned out the additional overhead crew rest compartment in the ceiling at that location meant it was necessary for the storage space alone.
  • The owner of the first two Singapore Airlines Airbus A380s delivered, the first of which introduced the A380 to commercial service in 2007, announced it was scrapping the pair of aircraft for spare parts.
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A sad demise for 9V-SKA (pictured) and -SKB was confirmed in June, both aircraft are set to be scrapped. (Photo: Dieter Müller)
  • Nagoya and Ho Chi Minh City were announced as the next two 787-10 routes with the latest Regional Business Class seats.
  • The popular Citi PremierMiles credit card officially became an ‘entry-level’ product, with a cut in the income requirement from S$50k to S$30k per annum.

July 2018

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Round-the-world in First kicked off in Style – onboard Singapore Airlines’ new A380 Suites. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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A shake-up in the Singapore miles-earning credit card market for 2018

August 2018

September 2018

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The latest Emirates First Class Suite on the Boeing 777-300ER. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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Another one to try in 2019? EVA Airways opted for the Thompson Vantage XL for its Boeing 787 Business Class cabin. (Photo: EVA Airways Corporation)
  • Citi, probably reeling from the unexpectedly high cost of its 8mpd Apple Pay promotion earlier in the year, quietly revealed some terms and conditions changes for several credit cards. Foreign transaction fees increased, with the annual bonus points limit on the Citi Rewards card changed to a monthly cap and several payment categories excluded from points earning.
  • Singapore Airlines took delivery of the world’s first Airbus A350ULR in preparation for non-stop flights to the USA.

October 2018

  • A rare good-value method to convert your KrisFlyer miles to a form of cash was offered by the Shangri-La hotel chain for a month, offering the equivalent of 2.3 cents per KrisFlyer mile when converted to ‘Instant Dining Awards’.
  • Singapore Airlines launched ‘Elite Gold Rewards’ for Gold members achieving specific Elite miles thresholds during their membership year, including a double miles reward and advance upgrade eligibility.
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Nothing too exciting was included in KrisFlyer’s new Elite Gold Rewards announcement, but something is better than nothing. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

November 2018

  • Singapore Airlines kicked off the month with news that Seattle would be its fourth non-stop route between the Lion City and the USA. With the A350 ULR fleet fully occupied however, it was the regular A350 announced as the aircraft chosen to serve this route four times per week, with a 3-class cabin.
  • SIA low-cost subsidiary Scoot announced it was shifting its entire base in late 2019, not overseas but ‘up the road’ to Changi T1, to better serve expansion plans. We immediately said others would have to make way for them, and await the news about who that will be.
  • Singapore Airlines finally announced a move to Jakarta’s new Terminal 3. Lack of lounge capacity meant its Gold card holders would be shunned lounge access in place of a S$14 food voucher, however, a first to our knowledge and quite a slap in the face to frequent flyers at the airline’s largest outstation globally.
  • A couple of days later, SIA’s shuffling of 17 SilkAir routes to Scoot over the next two years finally paved the way for the full-service subsidiary to be merged into the mainline operation in 2020, in a ‘right-size’ condition (i.e. everything SIA wants, nothing it doesn’t).
  • Citi trialled its ‘PayAll’ concept targeted at some cardholders as a clear retaliation to the likes of CardUp and iPaymy, allowing customers to ‘buy’ miles from as little as 0.8 cents each.
  • Finally to wind up the month with more non-SIA news, Qatar Airways finally committed to serving the Singapore market exclusively with its excellent Qsuite Business Class product from March 2019.

December 2018

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A380s have been a prominent sight on Osaka flights this year. 2019 will also see them serve the Tokyo route again following a two-year absence. (Photo: Peter Russell)
  • Part of the same shake up meant peak-season London Heathrow flights would see the superjumbo operating three out of four daily flights in July and August 2019, with over 160 Suites saver awards up for grabs.
  • Passengers travelling in First and Business Class on Singapore Airlines flights can now pre-order their main courses from the in-flight menu (in addition to ‘Book the Cook’ if available). The scheme is designed to reduce waste and costs for the airline, and should reduce guarantee you the meal you want on any service in these cabin classes.

Summary

A very Happy New Year to all our readers, fellow bloggers and travel sites both in Singapore and beyond. Here’s hoping for an equally interesting and fulfilling 2019.

We’re only two parts in to our new KrisFlyer College series, and so far it’s been well received. Look out for more parts in January.

We’ve already locked in some Mainly Miles travel plans with much more to come, and it promises to be another exciting year of news and reviews for you all.

So fasten your seatbelts! There’s a lot more to come in 2019.

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