KrisFlyer News Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines introduces new waitlist policy from August 2019

Some more details of Singapore Airlines' upcoming changes to the waitlist process were revealed today, including an implementation date

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Back in January this year Singapore Airlines “revised” (by which they meant “devalued”) the KrisFlyer program, increasing the number of miles needed to fly in Premium Economy, Business Class and First Class not only on the SIA network, but a couple of months later also on Star Alliance and partner airlines.

SIA always likes to give us a little carrot or two with every bit of bad news, and this time they decided to add the ability to upgrade directly from Economy Class to Business Class using miles on flights with a Premium Economy Cabin installed (previously this was not possible).

Additionally, award searching across a seven day period was to be added, which rolled out in late January 2019.

Waitlist changes

Another change the airline announced surrounded some modifications to the current waitlist process, which the airline called ‘Certainty for waitlisted redemptions’.

  • You would be be informed on the outcome of your waitlisted redemptions at least 14 days prior to your departure date.
  • If your waitlist was unsuccessful that would mean it would be cancelled at this time.
  • You would no longer be able to waitlist within 14 days of departure, with the exception of waitlists for redemption upgrades, which would continue to be available up to departure time.

At the time no one could really decide whether this “enhancement” was a good thing or a bad one.

The airline said the changes would come into effect “in the second quarter of 2019”. Well the second quarter came and went with no announcement, so here we are in Q3 and today the airline has outlined some of the changes, which take effect in August 2019.

Perhaps they meant the second financial quarter of 2019 (SIA’s financial year runs from April to March), but the email was to KrisFlyer members (not investors), most of whom would not know this. Strange if that’s the case.

The new waitlist process

Today the airline shared a few new details of the revised waitlist process, which will take effect for flights departing from 14th August 2019 onwards.

  • For flights departing from 14th August 2019, waitlisting will only be available up to three weeks prior to departure. For example if you wish to waitlist on a flight departing 14th August 2019, you will have to join the waitlist by 24th July 2019 at the latest.
  • All successful waitlists will be confirmed and unsuccessful ones cancelled two weeks prior to your waitlisted flight. In the above example for a 14th August 2019 flight, that would be on 31st July 2019.
  • Redemption upgrade waitlists will continue to be available to book and be held in the system right up to departure date, as previously announced.

There’s not much here we didn’t know already, except the addition of the new waitlist ‘registration deadline’ three weeks before your flight, and of course the implementation date itself.

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My saver Business Class waitlist for this seat to Sydney came up 11 hours before departure, on the morning of the flight itself. Things like that won’t be happening under the new system. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A couple of other ‘admin’ type announcements were also announced today:

  • With immediate effect if you have a waitlist booking on a Singapore Airlines or SilkAir flight, you can manage it online at singaporeair.com. This includes the ability to select alternative flights for immediate booking.

The ‘Manage Booking’ function for your waitlisted flight now encourages you to pick an alternative.

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(Image: singaporeair.com)

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You can’t change to other waitlisted flights, but immediately available alternatives are shown. You can also skip backwards and forwards day by day to look for alernatives (always remember to do this if you’re booked on a late flight, say 23:35, and another flight only a few hours later exists on the same route, for example 01:10, or vice-versa).

  • There will be periodic email remainders about your waitlist booking, you can opt out if you choose. Presumably this is to gently remind you that you are not ticketed on a flight yet, and to log on and view the immediately available alternatives. We’re sure there will be a “Your waitlist expires in 3 days, check to see if you can immediately confirm your ticket now” type of thing!
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(Image: singaporeair.com)

How many hopes will be raised, then dashed, by an email from SIA regarding your waitlist booking, which just says “you’re still on the waitlist”We might opt out!

Our thoughts

Fundamentally the key thoughts we had about this change back in January remain.

Though in planning terms it will be good to be informed of the outcome of your award waitlist request at least 14 days before your flight, it will soon be required to join the waitlist at least three weeks before, which is a little more restrictive.

We have joined the waitlist many times in the past within 3 weeks of departure, usually as an alternative or preference to other travel plans we have, or can easily make at short notice.

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Sometimes you’re using the waitlist as a ‘Plan B’, so it seems a shame to have it removed two weeks before, even if the likelihood of success was always low. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

It removes a potentially superior option close to day of departure when you have a firm plan which you can cancel (like a confirmed Economy award ticket, or refundable alternative) but are using the waitlist to try secure your preferred option (like a Business saver).

If SIA cancels your preferred option (the waitlist) 2 weeks before departure date, it has no chance of coming through in the last 14 days before departure, because it will no longer exist. Your only option will be to keep checking award availability.

It still remains to be seen whether Singapore Airlines will improve award availability closer to the flight departure date as an alternative to the short-term waitlist facility. This will be difficult to judge objectively after August 2019, but we’ll try!

You still won’t know your position

Despite some enhancement on the ‘Manage Booking’ online portal for waitlisted bookings, which don’t actually let you do anything you couldn’t have done before by simply confirming another flight separately then cancelling the waitlist request, one thing still doesn’t feature. What’s my position on the waitlist?

Unless Singapore Airlines is planning to add that functionality later, which is unlikely, you still won’t know.

You can actually get SIA to tell you this at the ION customer service centre in our experience, if you push them a little, but frankly it’s not that relevant.

You could be top of the list (or the only person waitlisted) for a flight and still not get the redemption. You could be top one day then 5th the next day after a bunch of Solitaire PPS members decide to join and jump ahead of you. Or you could be in last place, say 9th out of 9 on the list, and all 9 of you could be confirmed and ticketed two weeks out!

Some extremes there we grant you, but equating waitlist position with percentage chance just wouldn’t be accurate and in our opinion is more likely to get your hopes up unduly than anything else.

Check our guide to the waitlist

We have a comprehensive guide to the Singapore Airlines waitlist process, published as part of our KrisFlyer College series.

This remains accurate in relation to the current process. There are actually no changes for the next three weeks or so, after which you will start to be impacted by the ‘three week listing’ rule for departures from mid-August.

Of course, we’ll update the guide once the new system has bedded in, with all the new details you need to know.

Summary

A little more information today on the upcoming revamped waitlist process gives us a bit more ‘meat on the bones’, but we’ll still have to wait a few more weeks to see it in practice and start getting some feedback from readers on how well it works, or otherwise.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming changes to the waitlist process? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: Julian Herzog)

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