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?
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.
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.
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.
Clicking ‘More details’ provides a breakdown of the Airport/Government taxes.
That process can be a little tricky and time consuming though, so there is another way – using Google’s powerful ITA Matrix.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
|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.
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.
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.
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).
|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
|SIN – CHC||$77.20||N/A|
|SIN – DME||$64.30|
|SIN – DXB||$51.70|
|SIN – EWR||N/A||$72.70||N/A|
|SIN – IAH
|SIN – IAH
|SIN – JFK
|SIN – JFK
|SIN – LAX||N/A||$72.70||N/A|
|SIN – LAX
|SIN – LAX
|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
|SIN – SFO
|SIN – SYD||$79.90|
|SIN – WLG
|SIN – WLG|