KrisFlyer College Singapore Airlines

KrisFlyer College: Part 3 – Taxes & Fees

The cheapest taxes and fees on a KrisFlyer redemption will cost you less than $7 per person. The most expensive? Over $380.

Cash Laptop SQ

We kicked off our KrisFlyer College series with some basics in Part 1, then covered the waitlist process in Part 2. For this installment, it’s those dreaded taxes and fees associated with any KrisFlyer award booking.

How do you find out what you’ll pay, where they are highest, and how you can try and avoid them?

ADVERTISEMENT

Part 3 – Taxes & Fees

Updated: 19th May 2019

In the third part of our KrisFlyer College series we delve deeper into one of the less popular parts of a KrisFlyer redemption – the taxes and fees you’ll have to pay in cash on top of the miles needed to secure your booking.

In this part you’ll learn about:

  • Why your redemption is not not ‘free’.
  • Calculating the taxes via singaporeair.com.
  • Calculating the taxes via ITA Matrix.
  • UK Air Passenger Duty (APD)
  • Which routes charge the most and least.
  • Avoiding high tax routings.
  • Fuel surcharges on Star Alliance and partner airlines

It’s not “free” after all

So you’ve collected thousands of KrisFlyer miles through your regular credit card spending, apps like Grab, KrisPay and Chope, even when flying paid tickets on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot, not to mention Star Alliance flights.

Now you come to redeem your “free” flight with KrisFlyer miles and you might be in for a nasty shock.

11D.jpg
The redemption you’ve been saving for in miles will also set you back some of your own hard earned cash to secure. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

As we mentioned in Part 1, you’ll still be asked to part with some cash in addition to the miles due for your award ticket.

Can I pay the taxes and fees with KrisFlyer miles instead of cash?

Simple question, simple answer: No.

While some frequent flyer programs like Qantas do allow you to literally pay nothing but miles for a redemption by covering the cost of the flight and the taxes and fees with miles or points if you prefer, KrisFlyer does not permit this.

The exception is if rather than redeeming you pay for a cash ticket with KrisFlyer miles. It’s a poor value method which allows you to use your miles at a value of 1 cent each off any Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight, definitely something you should not be doing and not to be confused with a redemption / award ticket.

In that case you can actually reduce the cash element of a booking to zero, but again please don’t consider this as it’s frankly a waste of your miles.

Pay with Miles.jpg
It’s possible to use miles to pay the fare and all taxes and fees for a Singapore Airlines flight, but only at a very poor rate. This flight costs S$210.70.

Find out how much you will pay

We showed a couple of examples in Part 1, highlighting some good news which is that Singapore Airlines does not levy fuel surcharges on award tickets on its own flights, and some bad news which is that some airlines (like Lufthansa) certainly do levy these surcharges, which SIA will pass on to you if you book using KrisFlyer miles. More on that later.

Now you know (from Part 1) that you can check the taxes and fees that will apply to your redemption flight by making a dummy booking using the Singapore Airlines website or mobile app.

Taxes.jpg

Clicking ‘More details’ provides a breakdown of the Airport/Government taxes.

Taxes SQ.jpg

That process can be a little tricky and time consuming though, so there is another way – using Google’s powerful ITA Matrix.

ITA Overview.jpg

A little daunting at first, ITA Matrix is designed to show you the best cash fares on a route (with whole month view available), including filters such as airline and even individual flight number.

It takes a little getting used to but one major benefit, and the one we’re using here, is that once you have found a fare of interest you can see how it’s broken down in terms of the fare itself and the individual taxes and fees.

Effectively with Singapore Airlines flights your KrisFlyer miles are paying for the fare element, while you are paying for the taxes and fees in cash. Here’s how the ITA Matrix result appears for the same Singapore – Stockholm flight we looked at above.

ITA Final 2.jpg

For almost every route on the Singapore Airlines network this same principle applies. It is a much faster way to determine the taxes and fees payable (again, once you’ve become used to it) than making individual searches on the Singapore Airlines site.

ADVERTISEMENT

Limitations of ITA Matrix

There are a few Singapore Airlines routes (we know, because as you’re about to find out we checked all of them) for which ITA Matrix does not accurately show what you’ll pay in taxes and fees for a KrisFlyer redemption ticket.

  • To the USA (US International Arrival Tax is not levied on award bookings)
  • From the USA (Passenger Facility Charge and International Departure Tax are not levied on award bookings).
  • From India (India Goods And Service Tax, shown on ITA Matrix, is a percentage of the ticket cost and varies by cabin class, but is not levied on award bookings as no cash is paid towards the fare component).
  • From The Maldives (SIA charges a flat fee of US$50, around S$68, in addition to the miles required for all KrisFlyer redemptions from Malé. This is around double the taxes and fees actually levied by the Maldives authorities, according to ITA Matrix). Let us know if you have any ideas on the reasons for this one!
  • From The Philippines (Philippines Travel Tax, shown on ITA Matrix, is only imposed on Filipinos traveling abroad. It varies by cabin class and is paid over the counter at the airport, but will not apply to the majority of our readers and is not charged as part of your redemption booking.)

What currency will you pay in?

For one-way and return award bookings departing Singapore, you’ll pay the taxes and fees in Singapore Dollars. For one-way and return bookings originating overseas, you’ll pay in local currency of the departure point, for example Euros (EUR) for a booking starting in Frankfurt.

From some countries, taxes and fees are charged in US Dollars (e.g. departing Myanmar or Maldives).

SQ A350 SFO.png
For itineraries departing the USA, plus some other countries, you’ll pay your taxes in US dollars. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

When taxes and fees charged in foreign currency need to be converted into Singapore Dollars, for example the return sector of a Singapore – Dubai – Singapore redemption  (taxes and fees departing Dubai are charged in AED), the Singapore Airlines booking engine applies the IATA Consolidated Exchange Rates conversion (updated daily), with the amount rounded to the nearest 10 cents.

ITA Matrix also uses the IATA exchange rates (as does GDS / Amadeus, etc.), so it will always be consistent.

ADVERTISEMENT

Who charges more to premium passengers?

The majority of countries around the world don’t differentiate aviation taxes by class of travel, but there are a few on the Singapore Airlines network that do.

  • France: The “Air Passenger Solidarity Tax” is 10 times higher for Business Class and First Class passengers (e.g. CDG-SIN S$69.10), than for those flying Economy and Premium Economy (e.g. CDG-SIN S$6.90).
  • Hong Kong: The “Hong Kong Airport Construction Fee” is set at a higher rate for Business Class and First Class passengers.
  • United Kingdom: A higher rate of “Air Passenger Duty” applies in any cabin other than Economy (i.e. Premium Economy and up).

The taxes in these examples only apply to departing passengers, however they can also impact itineraries starting in other countries where a transit stop (layover) or stopover is made in one of the listed countries.

For example, the taxes are lower if you redeem Economy Class from San Francisco to Singapore on SQ1 via Hong Kong than they are if you redeem Business Class on the same flight, because of the higher Hong Kong airport construction fee rate, which also applies to transit passengers.

UK Air Passenger Duty (APD)

We alluded to some bad news in Part 1 which was that government and airport charges when departing certain countries, especially in Europe, can be outrageously high.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than the United Kingdom, which has the highest taxes in the world for departing air passengers in the form of Air Passenger Duty (APD).

If you’re redeeming a flight on Singapore Airlines from the UK you’ll be hit with APD as part of your award ticket cost on all three of the routes the airline operates from there – London to Singapore, Manchester to Singapore and Manchester to Houston.

Rates are based on the distance from London to the capital city of the destination country. In all cases for Singapore Airlines flights from the UK that means paying the higher rate.

Distance Economy Premium*
0 – 2,000 miles £13 (S$23) £26 (S$46)
2,001+ miles £78 (S$137) £172 (S$301)

* Premium Economy, Business or First Class

Also note that APD rates are rising (they never go down) in the higher distance band from 1st April 2020, to £80 and £176 respectively for the cabin types.

If you spend less than 24 hours in the UK (a layover, not a stopover), you won’t be hit with APD when you depart. That’s provided of course you’re flying on a single ticket issued by the same airline. A new ticket out of the UK booked with another airline (or as a separate booking with the same airline) will attract APD.

Upgrades

If you pay to upgrade your Economy Class flight on Singapore Airlines from London or Manchester, you’ll attract the higher rate of APD. That’s included in any upgrade quote or amount you pay, you won’t be chased for it afterwards.

If you are upgraded by the airline from Economy Class to a higher class for free (this does happen, even on Singapore Airlines), you won’t have to pay the additional APD.

So if I fly Singapore – Manchester – Houston, I must pay APD?

No, provided you fly all the way from Singapore to Houston via Manchester on the same flight your fare will not attract APD in any travel class. Once you stopover in Manchester for 24 hours or more, game over. In Economy Class S$72.70 in taxes just became S$238.60.

Step up to Premium Economy or Business Class and it’s S$405.30. Ouch.

You should always avoid departing the United Kingdom on a KrisFlyer award ticket, due to these ridiculously high taxes. The UK government calls it ‘APD’, claims it’s to help the environment, then doesn’t ring-fence a single cent of it for environmental causes.

In other words it’s just tax – because they can.

ADVERTISEMENT

What you’ll pay

Here are our tables analysing the taxes and fees applicable on every Singapore Airlines route when you make an award booking, by class of travel.

  • Y – Economy
  • W – Premium Economy
  • J – Business
  • F – First / Suites

For flights originating outside Singapore, amounts have been converted to Singapore dollars to make them directly comparable for our readers. This was done using the ITA Matrix currency option, which applies the IATA Consolidated Exchange Rate on the search date (14th May 2019 in this case).

These rates will therefore fluctuate slightly due to exchange rate variations as the rates are updated daily.

Departing Singapore

For Singapore Airlines flights departing Changi the amount of tax you’ll pay on top of your KrisFlyer miles rate for a redemption ticket is simple – currently set at S$49.80 for a one-way redemption regardless of your class of travel.

There are exceptions however, for flights to 19 cities on the network you’ll pay anywhere from a few dollars more (e.g. Bangkok) to over double that rate (e.g. Canberra).

Why? Well it’s because the country / airport of arrival imposes a tax or fee on arriving passengers. This is rare, but on the Singapore Airlines network it applies in:

  • Australia – the Passenger Services Charge (International Arrival) and the Safety And Security Charge (Arrival).
  • Myanmar – the Advance Passenger Information User Charge (International Arrivals).
  • New Zealand – the Border Clearance Levy (International Arrival) and the Passenger Service Charge (International Arrival).
  • Russia – the Terminal Use Charge (International Arrival).
  • Thailand – the Advance Passenger Processing User Charge and the International Arrival Fee.
  • United Arab Emirates – the International Advanced Passenger Information Fee (Arrivals).
  • United States – the International Arrival Tax, Immigration User Fee, Customs User Fee and APHIS Passenger Fee.

Singapore Airlines therefore collect these additional taxes at the redemption booking stage in addition to your KrisFlyer miles, with the exception of the USA’s International Arrival Tax, which is not charged on award bookings by law as mentioned above.

Here are the itineraries ex-Singapore that will cost you more than the ‘standard’ S$49.80 in taxes and fees when you redeem a KrisFlyer award, by cabin class. If your destination is not listed, it’s simply S$49.80 (at the time of writing).

Route Y W J F
SIN – ADL $70.70 N/A $70.70 N/A
SIN – AKL $80.00
SIN – BKK $52.00 N/A $52.00 N/A
SIN – BNE $81.80 N/A
SIN – CBR
transit SYD
$106.00
SIN – CHC $77.20 N/A
SIN – DME $64.30
SIN – DXB $51.70
SIN – EWR N/A $72.70 N/A
SIN – IAH
transit MAN
$72.70 N/A
SIN – IAH
stopover MAN
$238.60 $405.30 N/A
SIN – JFK
transit FRA
$105.40
SIN – JFK
stopover FRA
$202.40
SIN – LAX N/A $72.70 N/A
SIN – LAX
transit NRT
$92.30
SIN – LAX
stopover NRT
$117.60
SIN – MEL $69.80
SIN – PER $66.80 N/A $66.80 N/A
SIN – RGN $54.30
SIN – SEA $72.70 N/A
SIN – SFO N/A $72.70 N/A
SIN – SFO
transit HKG
$100.50 $104.00
SIN – SFO
stopover HKG
$130.10 $133.60
SIN – SYD $79.90
SIN – WLG
transit MEL
$78.80 N/A $78.80 N/A
SIN – WLG
stopover MEL
$180.80 N/A $180.80 N/A

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

ADVERTISEMENT

Europe → Singapore

We already spoke about the ludicrously high taxes for flights departing the UK, so it’s no surprise to see the highest levels in the table below for itineraries starting in Manchester and London.

Other European countries imposing high taxes are France (for Business and First Class) and Germany (for all passengers, though Dusseldorf rates are more reasonable).

Route Y W J F
AMS – SIN $39.20 N/A
ARN – SIN
transit DME
$79.80 N/A
ARN – SIN
stopover DME
$97.70 N/A
BCN – SIN $33.10 N/A
CDG – SIN $81.40 $143.40
CPH – SIN $33.00
DME – SIN $25.00 N/A
DUS – SIN $98.80 N/A
FCO – SIN $63.90 N/A
FRA – SIN $129.40
LHR – SIN $221.30 $388.10
MAN – SIN $175.10 $341.90 N/A
MUC – SIN $110.60 N/A
MXP – SIN $42.80 N/A
ZRH – SIN $47.00

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

Note that while APD rates are common across UK airports, other taxes are lower when you depart from Manchester so if you must fly to Singapore from the UK you can save some money doing so from there, or of course by flying Economy Class.

ADVERTISEMENT

USA → Singapore

Good news for those redeeming flights from the USA to Singapore, there are some very low taxes here. That’s because as we mentioned previously most of them are not charged on award bookings, the exception being the “US September 11th Security Fee”.

Set at just US$5.60, it means paying as little as S$7.70 on top of the miles required for some of the longest flights on the network (and in the world).

Route Y W J F
EWR – SIN N/A $7.70 N/A
IAH – SIN
transit MAN
$72.70 N/A
IAH – SIN
stopover MAN
$173.80 $340.60 N/A
JFK – SIN
transit FRA
$55.00
JFK – SIN
stopover FRA
$137.40
LAX – SIN $7.70
LAX – SIN
transit NRT
$27.30
LAX – SIN
stopover NRT
$52.70
SEA – SIN $7.70 N/A
SFO – SIN $7.70
SFO – SIN
transit HKG
$19.90 $35.60
SFO – SIN
stopover HKG
$53.00 $64.40

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

Additional costs only come in when you transit another airport, either by choice or necessity, as you’ll then pick up some additional taxes charged by those countries and airport operators.

These don’t have a dramatic effect though, it’s stopovers (24h+) where you really need to start watching out for those taxes. Manchester is the obvious one to avoid (your stopover means you’ll now pay UK APD on the second flight), but also having a few days in Frankfurt on your way back from New York will cost each passenger a not insignificant $82.40 extra.

Remember this is on top of the US$100 (c.S$137) stopover cost for saver redemptions so as you can see if you pick the ‘wrong’ place to stopover the US$100 fee could become the least of your worries.

Learn more about the US$100 stopover ‘trick’ here.

ADVERTISEMENT

Middle East / Africa → Singapore

No major taxes in this part of the world makes all four of these routings good value, especially given the cheaper redemption zone compared to say Europe.

Route Y W J F
CPT – SIN $45.20 N/A
DXB – SIN $44.70
IST – SIN $35.20 N/A $35.20 N/A
JNB – SIN $45.20 N/A

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

Istanbul to Singapore for example will set you back only 49,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business Class + S$35.20, compared to 92,000 miles + S$388.10 from London.

South West Pacific – Singapore

While the Kiwis aren’t really into aviation taxation in a big way for departing passengers, unfortunately the Aussies are. Remember you got stung when you arrived? Well it’s about to happen when you leave too.

Thankfully it’s nothing on the scale of UK APD, but the Australia Passenger Movement Charge (PMC) isn’t insignificant and applies on top of fees added by individual airport operators for departing passengers.

Route Y W J F
ADL – SIN $85.60 N/A $85.60 N/A
AKL – SIN $29.40
BNE – SIN $89.40 N/A
CBR – SIN $113.60
CHC – SIN $27.70 N/A
MEL – SIN $81.70
PER – SIN $80.70 N/A $80.70 N/A
SYD – SIN $87.50
SYD – SIN
transit CBR
$122.10
WLG – SIN
transit MEL
$28.30 N/A $28.30 N/A
WLG – SIN
stopover MEL
$136.20 N/A $136.20 N/A

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

Notice how a stopover in Melbourne on your way back to Singapore from Wellington will cost you nearly S$110 more per person.

ADVERTISEMENT

North Asia → Singapore

Low taxes are predominant in this region, especially departing China, though Japan and Hong Kong are slightly more expensive.

Route Y W J F
CAN – SIN $18.00 N/A $18.00 N/A
FUK – SIN $24.50 N/A $24.50 N/A
HKG – SIN $45.30 $57.40
HND – SIN $45.60
ICN – SIN $32.60
KIX – SIN $50.20
NGO – SIN $44.30 N/A $44.30 N/A
NRT – SIN $44.90
PEK – SIN $18.00
PVG – SIN $18.00
TPE – SIN $22.10 N/A $22.10 N/A

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

Speaking of Japan, if you’re touring around and then looking for a redemption home at the end of your trip you might want to arrange to finish your journey in Fukuoka. Why? Because it has by far the lowest departure taxes (less than half what you’ll pay departing Osaka, for example).

For an individual it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker, but for a family of four it starts to add up.

South East Asia → Singapore

Mostly low taxes applicable on redemptions from this region, with only Colombo, Dhaka and Male charging above average.

Route Y W J F
AMD – SIN $7.20 N/A $7.20 N/A
BKK – SIN $32.70 N/A $32.70 N/A
BLR – SIN $33.50 N/A $33.50 N/A
BOM – SIN $28.70
BWN – SIN $12.00 N/A $12.00
CCU – SIN $36.30 N/A $36.30 N/A
CGK – SIN $21.90 N/A $21.90
CMB – SIN $81.80 N/A $81.80 N/A
DAC – SIN $92.10 N/A $92.10 N/A
DEL – SIN $8.40
DPS – SIN $21.50 N/A $21.50 N/A
HAN – SIN $36.90 N/A $36.90 N/A
KUL – SIN $11.90 N/A $11.90 N/A
MAA – SIN $6.80 N/A $6.80 N/A
MLE – SIN $68.40 N/A $68.40 N/A
MNL – SIN $14.40 N/A $14.40
RGN – SIN $31.80 N/A $31.80 N/A
SGN – SIN $30.10 N/A $30.10 N/A
SUB – SIN $20.00 N/A $20.00 N/A

Correct at 14th May 2019. Variation due to exchange rates will occur.

Fifth freedom routes

Because of their varied nature on the Singapore Airlines network, fifth freedom routes (between two countries neither of which the airline is based in) attract some of the lowest and some of the highest taxes and fees.

Route Y W J F
ARN – DME $72.60 N/A
DME – ARN $25.00 N/A
FRA – JFK $152.60
HKG – SFO $80.30 $83.80