Last week we wrote about an upcoming devaluation of the KrisFlyer Star Alliance award chart, with an increase in the rates payable for Business and First Class redemptions on Star Alliance airlines using your KrisFlyer miles from mid-April.
This was an expected “when not if” move from SIA, bringing the rates broadly in line with those payable for Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights following the devaluation of those redemption charts in January this year.
This time round it’s partner airline award charts that bear the brunt of some negative changes, but once again Economy Class awards are immune from any increases.
Singapore Airlines has also applied some rate increases to the Star Alliance upgrade award chart, effective from the same date.
Which partner charts are affected?
Award charts for four out of SIA’s five partner airlines are being revised from 16th April 2019, in line with the changeover date for the Star Alliance award chart.
These airlines are:
- Juneyao Airlines
- Virgin Australia
- Virgin Atlantic
That leaves Alaska Airlines as the only Singapore Airlines partner free from any KrisFlyer rate increases.
Juneyao is a Star Alliance ‘connecting partner’ and SIA partner airline. While it’s not a full alliance member, you can still use KrisFlyer miles to redeem flights on Juneyao.
Economy Class award rates are staying the same here, with the following rates increasing:
- Business Class redemption rates are increasing by 10% to 16%.
- First Class redemption rates are increasing by 8% to 15%.
Note that First Class on Juneyao refers to the First Class cabin installed on its A320 and A321 aircraft, which have only First Class and Economy Class. Business Class applies only to the 787-9.
Juneyao is now flying to Singapore with a daily Boeing 787-9 service to Shanghai, including a rather swanky Business Class cabin featuring the Thompson Vantage XL Seats (like those used by Qantas) in a staggered 1-2-1 layout.
Currently this will cost you 43,000 KrisFlyer miles in each direction, however that changes to 47,500 miles (a 10% increase) for bookings made from 16th April 2019.
It’s hard to see this flight ever being a good value option, with KrisFlyer charging 39,000 miles for Singapore Airlines in Business Class on the same routing, unless saver award availability on SIA is an issue.
If you use KrisFlyer miles to redeem flights on Virgin Australia, you can breathe a sigh of relief as only two zone combinations in Business Class will cost more miles from 16th April.
Business Class redemptions between Australia 1 (Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney) and Asia will cost 64,000 KrisFlyer miles instead of 54,000 miles (a 19% increase).
Business Class redemptions between Australia 3 (Perth) and Asia will cost 55,000 KrisFlyer miles instead of 46,000 miles (a 20% increase).
Essentially that means you’ll only be affected if you use KrisFlyer miles to redeem Business Class on Virgin Australia flights from Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney to Bali or Hong Kong (now 64,000 miles) or from Perth to Bali or Hong Kong (now 55,000 miles).
In the latter case that means changing flights on the east coast of Australia en-route to Asia (e.g. Perth-Sydney-Hong Kong), which actually costs fewer miles than the flight from Sydney-Hong Kong itself. This was always the case, but strangely this hasn’t been “corrected” in this update.
55,000 KrisFlyer miles for a 4+ hour flight in a flat-bed Business Class seat to Sydney, followed by a 9+ hour flight to Hong Kong in that same product, is still pretty awesome value. Get in on it by 15th April and it’s just 46,000 miles.
That’s less than a 6-hour Singapore Airlines Business Class flight to Japan (47,000 KrisFlyer miles).
Your other option for redeeming KrisFlyer miles on Virgin Australia flights is to transfer them to Velocity points at a 1.55:1 ratio (assuming you have or are eligible for a Velocity account), then use the points directly in that scheme, though this does not usually represent good value.
That’s especially true after the transfer ratio between the two programs worsened from 1st January 2019.
Virgin Atlantic one-way awards
In our experience Virgin Atlantic severely restricts award availability on its flights to KrisFlyer members, so much so as to make the whole concept a bit pointless from the outset.
Changes to the chart here, if you can ever successfully use it, include rate hikes for Premium Economy and Business Class (which Virgin calls “Upper Class”) on flights between the UK and Asia (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Africa (Johannesburg and Lagos) and Mexico / the Caribbean.
Probably of most interest to our readers is a Business Class redemption from Hong Kong or Shanghai to London. Assuming you can ever find availability, the rate is increasing from the current 75,000 KrisFlyer miles to 85,000 miles, a 13% increase.
Rates for UK to North America and UK to India flights are not changing, and as with other partner charts there are no increases in Economy Class across the board.
Virgin Atlantic round-trip companion awards
Another benefit for KrisFlyer members redeeming on Virgin Atlantic is round-trip companion awards in Premium Economy and Business Class. Here you can get a redemption ticket at a lower than usual rate for a companion, provided you are flying on a paid commercial ticket on the same itinerary.
For example if your company has booked you a Hong Kong to London return trip in Business Class (Upper Class), you can bring your partner or companion along on the same flights for 105,000 miles. That’s 52,500 miles each way, rather than the prevailing 75,000 miles one-way rate.
The catch? You must have a full fare paid ticket to take advantage (‘W’ or ‘S’ for Premium Economy and ‘J’ for Business), which tend to be very expensive, and there must be award availability for your companion, which for KrisFlyer members is unlikely to say the least.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, companion awards on Virgin Atlantic flights for KrisFlyer members are ending from 16th April 2019.
Vistara, an SIA – Tata joint venture in which Singapore Airlines holds a 49% stake, currently only operates domestic flights in India. That’s set to change soon, but for now the KrisFlyer award chart simply splits India into five ‘zones’ for redemption on Vistara services.
Every Premium Economy and Business Class redemption rate on Vistara is increasing for bookings made from 16th April 2019.
- The rate increases for Premium Economy Class are 13% to 19%.
- The rate increases for Business Class are 7% to 11%.
While we haven’t done a full analysis on value for the KrisFlyer Vistara award chart, we picked up a pair of Business Class tickets from Delhi to Goa (India 1 to India 4) for S$600 each earlier this month, so parting with 30,500 KrisFlyer miles for the same journey seems a bit steep.
Star Alliance upgrade awards
The final domino to fall in SIA’s 2019 round of devaluations, assuming they aren’t going to catch up with the Alaska Airlines chart later, is the KrisFlyer Star Alliance Upgrade award chart.
With the 2017 KrisFlyer program devaluation, which finally caught up with the ‘regular’ Star Alliance redemption table late that year, this upgrade award chart escaped any increases. No significant surprise then that they have revised it this time.
If you aren’t familiar with this lesser-known redemption chart, it essentially allows you to upgrade a full fare ticket with any Star Alliance airline (not SIA / SilkAir) to a higher class using your KrisFlyer miles.
You can upgrade Economy to Business, Business to First, and with some airlines, Premium Economy to Business. You need to hold a revenue ticket in an eligible fare code, and these tend to be the expensive flexible ones (see the award chart for valid fare codes).
Also bear in mind that you will earn miles for the revenue class originally booked once you’ve flown the journey, which goes some way to offsetting the upgrade cost.
The entire Star Alliance Upgrade award chart has been devalued. Just looking at routes to and from Singapore (or more accurately ‘South East Asia 1’, which also includes Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia), we are seeing increases of:
- 3% to 7% from Economy* to Business Class
- 4% to 10% from Business Class to First Class
* For selected airlines, this also applies to Premium Economy to Business Class upgrades
There’s still time to act
Don’t forget, as with the Star Alliance award chart devaluation, these changes won’t come into effect until 16th April 2019, and apply to bookings made from that date. You can generally book flights up to a year in advance, even with partner airlines, and these will be at the current redemption rates if you book between now and 15th April 2019.
For example if you have a revenue ticket, let’s say a ‘Y’ or ‘B’ Economy Class fare with EVA Air, and you are considering using your KrisFlyer miles to upgrade it (to Business Class in this case), check the chart to see how many miles it will cost you.
You’ll pay the current upgrade rates provided you lock in the change by 15th April 2019 at the latest, after that the cost will go up.
The same principle applies if you’re considering a partner redemption (with the exception of Alaska Airlines, which isn’t changing) in Business or First Class.
16th April is becoming a sort of ‘D-day’ for Star Alliance and partner redemptions through the KrisFlyer program, with only those flying Economy Class or with Alaska Airlines apparently immune.
It certainly seems like we’re talking nothing but devaluations lately when it comes to the KrisFlyer scheme. In fact this is really one devaluation, trickled out over two or three ‘phases’ across the program.
Hopefully the increase in redemption rates for some partner airlines and for Star Alliance upgrades, which come into force on the same day as those for the main Star Alliance award chart next month, is the last we’ll see for a while.
It’s actually been some time since Singapore Airlines increased redemption rates for award flights on partner airlines, leaving them largely unchanged since the 2017 devaluation, so including those charts in this increase isn’t too surprising.
Most KrisFlyer members don’t often use the partner award options (though there is good value in some of them), so the impact of these increases is much less relevant than those we’ve seen for the SIA / SilkAir and Star Alliance award charts.
It’s also worth noting that for some schemes, like Virgin Australia, the changes are minimal and won’t affect many KrisFlyer members.
Once Singapore Airlines starts flying to Seattle later this year the Alaska Airlines award chart will come into play more significantly for many members, and so it’s good to see this one is being left untouched, for the moment at least.
Finally Star Alliance upgrade awards rely on you purchasing a full fare ticket from the outset, which can be expensive, and there being premium cabin award availability on your flight for an upgrade to even be possible, so these don’t often make a lot of sense either from a value or practicality standpoint.
The increases here are roughly in line with those seen for the other charts, but again we don’t foresee many people making regular use of this benefit anyway.
Were you expecting Singapore Airlines to devalue these redemption charts this year, and how does it affect you? Let us know in the comments section below.