Following a devaluation of the KrisFlyer program two weeks ago, an interesting anomaly arose. The rates for redeeming in premium cabins on Singapore Airlines have now gone up, as we all know. However as soon as you introduce a Star Alliance airline in any redemption, or redeem purely on a Star Alliance carrier, the miles rate from the Star Alliance table takes precedence, and those rates have not (yet) been changed.
This leads to a situation where a number of routings are now cheaper if you fly on a Star Alliance airline for at least part of your journey. Here’s our summary of where you can now get better value from these kinds of redemptions.
How the KrisFlyer Star Alliance chart helps you
Effectively it’s simple – redeem all or any part of your journey with a Star Alliance airline and the rates on the Star Alliance chart take precedence over those published on the Singapore Airlines / SilkAir chart.
This remains the case even if a significant part of your journey is flown on Singapore Airlines flights.
Of course this only helps when the Star Alliance chart quotes a lower rate than the Singapore Airlines / SilkAir chart for the same routing, which is now the case on a number of itineraries, but not all.
Bear in mind that the zone definitions on the Star Alliance chart don’t exactly match those on the Singapore Airlines / SilkAir chart, so for many route combinations you have to work out what the equivalent Star Alliance chart zone combination should be.
There are three options for you to consider when your proposed route is cheaper using the Star Alliance chart.
Option A – Fly the whole route on Star Alliance flights
For example, Thai Airways to Bangkok, Asiana to Seoul or Lufthansa to Frankfurt, instead of Singapore Airlines.
Option B – Mix Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance flights
For example, Singapore Airlines to Bangkok then Thai Airways to Chiang Mai or Singapore Airlines to Seoul then Asiana to Tokyo.
Option C – The ‘hidden city’ redemption
The same as option B, with no intention of taking the second (or final) flight in the itinerary. You walk away at the connecting airport and discard the remaining segment.
For example, Singapore Airlines to Munich then Lufthansa to Hamburg. You are going to Munich, and that’s where you’ll be getting off, having paid 7,000 fewer miles.
This is sometimes referred to as ‘throwaway ticketing’, though that term is more usually associated with having no intention to use the return portion of a round-trip cash ticket (because buying a return is sometimes cheaper than a one-way).
What you need to know about ‘hidden city’ tickets
This option isn’t without risk, there are a few things to be aware of.
Is it legal?
Technically, hidden city ticketing is against the Singapore Airlines contract of carriage. However it is very difficult for most airlines, including SIA, to do much about it. If you do this infrequently, there is unlikely to be any issue.
Persistent ‘offenders’ however have reportedly been threatened with (or actually suffered) frequent flyer account cancellation, though we haven’t heard of Singapore Airlines doing this.
Remember too a violation of the contract of carriage isn’t going to get you hauled in front of a judge and jury (think civil not criminal law here), and this further limits what action the airline can realistically take.
It’s at your own risk, though on an infrequent basis it’s unlikely to cause you any problems.
Star Alliance redemptions
Here’s a recap on some of the considerations when using your KrisFlyer miles to make a Star Alliance redemption.
- Star Alliance award searching is available on the Singapore Airlines website and mobile app.
- Some airlines still can’t be searched and booked online, like Air India, Asiana and ANA / ANZ domestic flights. You’ll have to call to book itineraries using these airlines.
- Stopovers are not permitted on one-way Star Alliance redemptions (and there are many reasons you may want to book one-way as you’ll see below).
- Taxes and fees are subject to those charged by the operating airline, which can sometimes be significantly higher than for Singapore Airlines.
We didn’t look at Economy Class as that rarely represents a good value redemption for your KrisFlyer miles. There are also far fewer routings where the Star Alliance chart saves you any miles at all over the KrisFlyer chart in this cabin class.
Premium Economy redemptions can’t be made using the Star Alliance rates, so we just examined Business Class and First Class / Suites.
Here are the routes or zone combinations we found where redeeming these top two cabin classes on a Star Alliance airline now costs less.
Routes to and from Singapore
First let’s look at the savings you can make flying to and from Singapore by accessing the Star Alliance chart redemption rates on a variety of trips, rather than the KrisFlyer chart.
Singapore ⇄ Bangkok
|Saving (one-way):||1,500 miles||n/a|
Redeeming a Star Alliance flight in Business Class between Singapore and Bangkok is your ‘Option A’ on this route. It means flying Thai Airways instead of Singapore Airlines, an award that was previously an identical redemption rate at 20,000 KrisFlyer miles each way.
Now that the saver Business Class miles rate on Singapore Airlines has increased to 21,500, you can make a small saving by flying Thai on this route.
On many of these flights the Star Alliance carrier is flying its Airbus A350 with flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, arguably a better product than Singapore Airlines is offering on most Bangkok services.
Do be aware of the potential for equipment swaps though, and avoid the 777-300s (non-ER), which still have the older 2-3-2 configuration.
Also bear in mind that the taxes and fees associated with booking Thai Airways on this route are slightly higher than for Singapore Airlines.
On a Singapore to Bangkok flight it’s around S$89 in taxes and fees to book a Thai redemption, but only around S$50 on Singapore Airlines. This may outweigh the 1,500 miles saving for you, especially if your preferred flight is operated by one of Thai’s older aircraft.
This 20,000 miles one-way Business Class redemption rate also applies between Singapore and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines and Vietnam. This allows a number of other routings where you can save on the usual 21,500 miles rate quoted by Singapore Airlines.
For example an ‘Option B’ routing might be to fly Singapore Airlines to Bangkok then Thai Airways to Hanoi.
The additional taxes and fees over a Singapore Airlines SIN-HAN non-stop flight, plus the hassle of changing planes in Bangkok, probably outweigh the small miles saving here.
One great thing about domestic flights in Thailand with Thai Airways however is the low taxes and fees. It’s just THB 100 payable on a domestic flight (around S$4). Better still, it’s completely waived for passengers in transit from an international flight, which means if you fly Singapore to Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a single award ticket, the taxes and fees are exactly the same as for the Singapore to Bangkok flight alone.
You may see where we’re going with this one, ‘Option C’! Take Singapore Airlines on the first sector, then Thai Airways on the second (domestic) sector, for exactly the same taxes and fees as the Singapore Airlines SIN-BKK flight, but for 1,500 KrisFlyer miles less.
Travel with hand luggage only, and simply get off the first flight in Bangkok and leave the airport. Provided you don’t travel with checked baggage, there’s never any need to pay 21,500 miles to fly Business from Singapore to Bangkok with Singapore Airlines.
Singapore ⇄ Japan / South Korea
|Saving (one-way):||4,000 miles||n/a|
Quite a decent saving here, you can fly non-stop to Tokyo with ANA or Seoul with Asiana* for example, and save 4,000 KrisFlyer miles each way in Business Class. That’s effectively matching the pre-devaluation rate on these city pairs.
* Note that Asiana redemptions remain unavailable online through KrisFlyer, so search for saver award availability through united.com then call Singapore Airlines to book.
Like the Bangkok example though, you’ll be hit with some higher taxes and fees on both these itineraries with ANA charging S$123 and Asiana charging S$190 on top of the 43,000 miles needed, compared to Singapore Airlines charging only S$47.
Another Star Alliance alternative on this route is to take Thai Airways via Bangkok. You can fly either Thai or Singapore Airlines on the SIN-BKK sector, then Thai from Bangkok to South Korea or Japan (remember flying SQ on the first leg will reduce the taxes slightly).
Thirdly if Singapore Airlines is your preference for the longer flight, some ‘Option B’ itineraries would include Singapore Airlines to Seoul then Asiana / ANA to Tokyo, or Singapore Airlines to Tokyo then Asiana / ANA to Seoul.
On the ‘Option C’ hidden city side, just ditch the final sector of those last two examples if you’re happy to fly with hand luggage only. That means flying exclusively in Singapore Airlines Business Class for 4,000 fewer KrisFlyer miles than would otherwise be needed.
Singapore ⇄ New York
|99,000 miles||132,000 miles|
|97,500 miles||135,000 miles|
|Saving (one-way):||1,500 miles||No saving|
A small saving for such a long route, however it’s now 1,500 KrisFlyer miles less to fly Business Class on a Star Alliance airline from Singapore to New York than on Singapore Airlines itself.
Beware again however the curse of the taxes and fees, with airlines like ANA applying significant fuel surcharges to award bookings.
These are therefore only likely to be of interest on days where there are no saver award seats on the Singapore Airlines flights to JFK via Frankfurt or non-stop to Newark, rather than for the small miles saving.
For reference Singapore Airlines is charging S$70.20 in taxes and fees on non-stop Newark flights and S$103.00 on the JFK via Frankfurt routing.
For an ‘Option C’ hidden city routing, let’s say you’re flying non-stop back from Newark to Singapore in Business Class on a saver award. That will usually cost you 99,000 miles.
Assuming you only have hand luggage, instead search for a EWR-BKK redemption on the same date, and look at Star Alliance awards.
This option will save you 1,500 miles and cost you US$8.29 (around S$11.75) more. That’s worthwhile in our book.
In the other direction (from Singapore to Newark), tag a domestic United sector on to the end of the trip (there are lots of destinations to choose from), which will also reduce the miles needed by 1,500 for an additional cost of only US$5.60.
Singapore ⇄ Europe
|92,000 miles||125,000 miles|
|85,000 miles||129,000 miles|
|Saving (one-way):||7,000 miles||No saving|
Now 92,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way in Business Class after the devaluation, you can save 7,000 miles in each direction flying to or from Europe with a Star Alliance airline for at least part of the journey.
Do be aware that with ‘Option A’, flying the whole route with a Star Alliance airline, the significantly higher taxes and fees generally outweigh the miles saving, especially flying with Lufthansa or Swiss.
Instead it’s preferable to go with an ‘Option B’ redemption, flying Singapore Airlines for the longest stretch of the journey to Europe then a shorter Star Alliance flight to your final destination.
This will avoid the significantly higher taxes.
Not all Star Alliance options