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 to Europe suffer from the high charges though, LOT Polish is significantly cheaper than the Swiss / Lufthansa options and will still save you those all-important 7,000 miles.
One of our favourite methods though is to pop up to Bangkok on Singapore Airlines then take EVA Air Business Class non-stop to London, in a single itinerary. It’s a great last minute option, with EVA usually opening up generous Business Class award availability within 14 days of departure.
Now that it’s 7,000 miles cheaper than a Singapore Airlines redemption this is well worth considering, even if a non-stop SQ flight to London is available on your preferred date.
Remember EVA Air is flying non-stop from Bangkok not only to London, but also to Amsterdam and Vienna.
On the ‘Option C’ side, assuming you’re happy to travel with hand luggage only to Europe but still want to fly non-stop with Singapore Airlines, the saving here is quite substantial.
Let’s say you want to fly to Dusseldorf on the non-stop Singapore Airlines flight. Experiment with a few other nearby destinations and you may find you can tag a short Star Alliance flight onto the end of that flight (which you won’t be using).
The saving here is 7,000 miles for an additional S$54.
Even if you do need to take checked bags, if you’re travelling as a couple you have the option to book one ticket to Dusseldorf at regular KrisFlyer rates (92,000 miles + S$47.30) and one to Munich via Dusseldorf at Star Alliance rates (85,000 miles + S$101.70).
You both get to fly on the same flight, travel with a couple of checked bags (checked in only by the passenger terminating in Dusseldorf) and still save.
For a flight back to Singapore from Europe your ‘Option C’ to save miles is to tag a Thai Airways Bangkok flight on to the end of your desired Singapore Airlines non-stop service.
The additional cost is EUR 32.51 (S$50) for a 7,000 miles saving, definitely worth considering.
Turkish Airlines is another option to consider if you’re heading to Europe, and as we always remind people flying to or from London remember to search London Gatwick as well as Heathrow when doing your award searches as Turkish fly that route three or four times per day to/from their Istanbul hub.
If you’re not based in Singapore, or you often use your KrisFlyer miles on other routings around the world, the Star Alliance table can also help you save by adding a Star Alliance flight to a Singapore Airlines booking, or switching to Star Alliance altogether.
We haven’t looked in detail at all the examples, but here are a few which stood out to us.
Manchester ⇄ Houston
|Saving (one-way):||7,000 miles||n/a|
Singapore Airlines flies this transatlantic flight on the Airbus A350 five times per week, but it’s now 7,000 more KrisFlyer miles than a Star Alliance redemption on the same route.
Here’s the usual cost flying Singapore Airlines in Business Class.
Your ‘Option A’ alternative on this route is to ditch Singapore Airlines altogether and fly a Star Alliance routing, in the following example using Lufthansa and United.
As you can see, the taxes and fees increase significantly for the 7,000 KrisFlyer miles saving, so this is unlikely to be of interest unless you’re short of the miles, or SQ has no availability.
Finally an Option C ‘hidden city’ routing. Simply tag another United destination on to the end of your flight from Houston, and fly Singapore Airlines non-stop for 7,000 fewer KrisFlyer miles.
The additional cost here is only £4.30. You can even travel with checked baggage on this itinerary as all arrivals in the USA must claim luggage and clear immigration and customs at the first point of arrival (in this case Houston).
Instead of turning right to the transit recheck counters after customs at IAH, go straight through the exit and leave the airport.
Frankfurt ⇄ New York
|72,000 miles||86,000 miles|
|65,000 miles||95,000 miles|
|Saving (one-way):||7,000 miles||No saving|
Like the Manchester – Houston flight, the daily Singapore Airlines A380 service between Frankfurt and New York will now cost you 72,000 KrisFlyer miles.
Lufthansa on the same route will save you 7,000 miles, but you’ll be stung with hefty fuel surcharges increasing the cash element by over EUR200.
United is another option, flying Frankfurt to Newark, though this also suffers from the high taxes and charges.
Only really a better deal if you’re short of miles, or SQ is short of saver Business seats.
East Australia / New Zealand ⇄ Japan / South Korea
|91,000 miles||115,000 miles|
|83,000 miles||105,000 miles|
|Saving (one-way):||8,000 miles||5,000 miles|
For our readers in Australia and New Zealand, an attractive saving for flights to and from Japan or South Korea. The same applies in reverse of course, if you’re based in Tokyo or Seoul for example.
Flying Singapore Airlines on these routes via Changi now costs 91,000 miles in Business Class following the devaluation, however there are several other Star Alliance options still available at the old rate of 83,000 miles, a saving of 8,000 miles each way.
Here’s how a typical Singapore Airlines redemption looks.
In some cases the taxes and fees even come out lower than the Singapore Airlines option, like this Thai Airways itinerary:
A non-stop Sydney to Tokyo flight with ANA will set you back around AU$170 more than a Singapore Airlines redemption on the same route, but will save you 8,000 miles and avoid a transit.
A similar itinerary non-stop to Seoul with Asiana would be the same miles rate, plus a more palatable AU$143 in taxes and fees, though as mentioned before you’ll have to book over the phone for Asiana.
East Australia / New Zealand ⇄ Europe
|116,000 miles||163,000 miles|
|105,000 miles||148,000 miles|
|Saving (one-way):||11,000 miles||15,000 miles|
Not a big saving from Perth or Darwin, requiring just 1,000 fewer KrisFlyer miles, but if you’re flying from the east of Australia to Europe then it’ll now set you back 11,000 KrisFlyer miles less if you choose a routing with at least one Star Alliance airline sector.
Let’s say you want to fly from Sydney to Zurich.
The simplest method is to book a saver Business redemption with Singapore Airlines, however this will set you back the full 116,000 miles.
An Option B example is to fly Swiss on the second sector from Singapore to Zurich.
As you can see this reduces the miles needed by 11,000, however the taxes and fees increase sharply due to the additional fuel surcharge levied for the Swiss flight. Arguably the Singapore Airlines product is better, and the additional taxes outweigh the miles saving.
There is another Option B plan, to fly all the way to Europe on Singapore Airlines, and then take a short Star Alliance connection to Zurich at the end.
In this example the taxes and fees increase by almost AU$100, mostly because of the high rate of tax (APD) in the UK for the LHR-ZRH sector, however you may find cheaper options for example via Frankfurt, Dusseldorf or Paris.
Finally, the hidden city Option C. Fly Singapore Airlines all the way to Zurich on the same Singapore Airlines flights as you would do in the first example, but tag an additional flight to a different destination at the end. In this example we found that searching a Star Alliance award from Sydney to Dusseldorf did the trick.
No one can stop you getting off the plane in Zurich and simply leaving the airport. You’ll need to be flying with hand luggage only in this case, for obvious reasons.
This itinerary will cost you AU$48.70 more, but saves 11,000 KrisFlyer miles. That’s a significant saving just for one person in one direction. If you can replicate it for a couple on a return trip, you’re looking at a serious miles discount.
Other Star Alliance options between Australia / New Zealand and Europe include ANA via Japan, EVA Air via Taipei (to/from Brisbane only), Air China via Beijing and Thai Airways via Bangkok.
If you can find a valid First Class routing, the saving is higher at 15,000 miles each way.
South China / Hong Kong / Taiwan ⇄ South Africa
|Saving (one-way):||4,500 miles||n/a|
If you want to use your KrisFlyer miles to fly between Zone 4 of the KrisFlyer chart (South China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, also known as North Asia 2 in the Star Alliance chart) and South Africa, it used to cost 62,500 miles in Business Class flying with Singapore Airlines via Changi.
Following the devaluation however, that increased to 69,500 miles.
If you can find a routing with at least one flight operated by a Star Alliance airline however, the rate drops by 4,500 KrisFlyer miles, like in this example using EVA Air from Taipei to Singapore then Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Johannesburg.
If Singapore Airlines is your preference for the whole journey however, adding a ‘hidden city’ at the end of the journey is easy. Just pick a city like Durban, Port Elizabeth or Cape Town on the South African Airways network, then fly hand luggage only and finish your journey in Johannesburg.
If you’re heading to Cape Town, flying SAA on a JNB-CPT leg at the end of your routing will also trigger the lower miles rate, even though you can still fly Singapore Airlines for the rest of the routing.
Some other options
There are a few other savings to be had using the Star Alliance miles chart, which we didn’t examine in detail but you may want to investigate further if they are of interest to you. In Business Class they include:
- East Australia to the Middle East – 78,000 miles vs. 86,000 miles
- East Australia to West Coast USA – 117,000 miles vs. 121,000 miles
- Moscow to Stockholm – 27,500 miles vs. 31.000 miles
- Melbourne to Wellington – 28,000 miles vs. 31,000 miles
Will it last?
This situation whereby a number of routings are now cheaper when booked as Star Alliance awards isn’t something Singapore Airlines is going to like, and therefore isn’t something that’s going to last.
Following the last devaluation of the KrisFlyer scheme in March 2017, it took the airline over eight months to update the Star Alliance redemption table, practically removing all of these potential savings. We fully expect the same will happen again sometime this year.
The good news is that Singapore Airlines generally gives around 3 weeks advance notice of such changes, allowing you some time to transfer your miles into KrisFlyer and book at these Star Alliance rates before they are, as Singapore Airlines always likes to say, “revised”.
These routing options including a Star Alliance airline, especially between Singapore and Europe, are well worth considering while the disparity between the KrisFlyer and Star Alliance redemption charts still exists.
A number of options are available to reduce the miles cost, though do bear in mind the risks associated with ‘hidden city’ redemptions.
Remember we also looked at some good value Star Alliance redemptions using KrisFlyer miles, including some ‘sweet spots’, back in June last year. That analysis, which includes many non Singapore Airlines routings you may find useful, remains valid since the redemption rates have not yet been updated.
Did you notice any other ways to save KrisFlyer miles using the Star Alliance chart? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Bruno Geirger)