Analysis Credit Cards KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines

2019: The year in review for miles, points and flying in Singapore

Our look back at all things miles, points and flying in 2019

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2019 proved to be another busy year in the world of miles and points in Singapore and across the region. From frequent flyer programme devaluations to new airport lounges and hotels, not to mention a 100,000 miles credit card sign-up bonus, there’s been plenty to report on.

There was also a fair share of aviation and route news, most notably aircraft groundings affecting the Singapore Airlines group with both the Boeing 737 MAX and Boeing 787 in 2019.

We’ve done our best to cover it all while also managing to write 16 impartial reviews on our travels, covering flights, lounges and hotels.

Let’s kick off by looking at our most viewed articles of 2019.

Most viewed Mainly Miles articles in 2019

Here’s a look at the top 10 general and news articles we wrote in 2019. Most prominently, over 43,000 of you wanted to know why we had decided the value of a KrisFlyer mile was now 1.9 cents.

We hope our extensive analysis justified it!

Category: General articles
Article Views
How much is a KrisFlyer mile worth (in 2019)? 43,100
Singapore Airlines has grounded over half its Boeing 787-10 fleet 33,900
SIA is now blocking solo Premium Economy seats on A350 ULRs 25,700
Singapore Airlines to operate Boeing 737-800s with flat-bed Business Class seats 16,200
Credit Card Review: KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard 14,300
Singapore Airlines devalues KrisFlyer program from 24 January 14,200
SilkAir to fly it’s grounded 737 MAX aircraft to Australia for storage 13,900
First look: Jewel Changi Airport 11,500
100,000 miles sign-up bonus with the Standard Chartered X Card 10,900
Earn miles paying your 2019 income tax bill in Singapore 9,500

We also published a total of 16 reviews in 2019, including flights, hotels and airport lounges.

As always, all our reviews are completely impartial. We aren’t invited, no one knows we’re coming, and we pay cash (or redeem our own miles) for all our travel.

Here are the five most popular reviews of the year, with our Singapore Airlines ones naturally coming out as the most popular!

Category: Reviews
Article Views
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER First Class 13,800
The Private Room by Singapore Airlines 11,200
Plaza Premium Lounge Singapore Changi T1 9,100
KLM 777-300ER Business Class 8,700
YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport 8,400

Finally there are our permanent pages and guides, a sort of ‘year-round reference’ for your travel planning and ‘miles maximising’.

Not all of these were first written in 2019, but there’s no guessing where the popularity comes here – by far our First and Business Class seats by route guides went down a treat in 2019 with an average of over 300 views every day.

Category: Pages & Guides
Article Views
First and Business Class seats by route 115,100 (combined)
KrisFlyer miles expiring? 12 ways to save them from the scrap heap 16,200
The KrisFlyer $100 Stopover Trick (2019 version) 13,200
KrisFlyer College: Part 4 – Upgrade with miles on Singapore Airlines 12,700
Can you buy KrisFlyer miles from Singapore Airlines? 12,500

Highlights from 2019, month by month

Grab a coffee, or your beverage of choice, and maybe some popcorn! Here’s a trip down memory lane to reminisce over what was reported on Mainly Miles during 2019.

January 2019

  • Singapore Airlines ushered in the New Year with the announcement of a KrisFlyer miles devaluation. With three weeks’ notice, Premium Economy, Business and First Class award tickets were to become 3% to 12% more expensive, depending on your redemption zone.
  • On the plus side, we also reported that two-class upgrades from Economy to Business Class would become possible on aircraft fitted with a Premium Economy cabin, searching award availability across a seven-day window would become possible (admittedly it’s a bit clunky), and Spontaneous Escapes was set to become a regular monthly offer (after skipping 2019 Chinese New Year month, obviously).
  • As news of the devaluation was still settling in, and KrisFlyer members were scrambling to redeem miles at the old rates while they still could, there was good news for those waiting to see the back of some older cabin products. That came as we confirmed the last Boeing 777-300ER with the older 2006 seats had finally started its refit, well over two years after SIA originally promised the project would be completed.
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All Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ERs now have the 2013 Business Class seats. (Photo: Matt@TWN)

February 2019

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SilkAir opted for the Thompson Vantage seat as its flat-bed Business Class product. (Image: flydubai)
  • SIA announced that it would fly three times daily to Osaka from April 2019. Unfortunately the A330 with older seats was to be used, though this will be upgraded to the A350 from 1st January 2020.
  • The first regular monthly Spontaneous Escapes deal was revealed, for travel in March 2019, allowing you to “pay Economy, fly Business”. The one class down rates meant discounts of 45% to 61% in Business Class. Economy awards were half price. Premium Economy wasn’t offered, making redemptions in that cabin more expensive than Business Class on many routes!
  • Having teased selected customers in late 2018, Citi formally rolled out PayAll (to all!), allowing credit card holders to make a variety of payments like rent and education with their credit card from a cost of just 0.94 cents per mile.

March 2019

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BA’s new Club Suite is a shift change from its old Club World design. (Photo: British Airways)

April 2019

  • The month got off to a bad start for Singapore Airlines, already assisting with SilkAir’s 737 MAX issues, when it had to ground more than half its Boeing 787 fleet almost overnight. This was due to premature cracking being discovered in some of the engines. Within a few days, and with a few engine swaps, the airline managed to continue 787 operations with only two grounded aircraft. All SIA 787s are now operating again.
  • Virgin Atlantic revealed new Business Class seats for its upcoming Airbus A350s. For us, it was a bit of a letdown after seeing what competitor British Airways had come up with the previous month.
  • Jewel Changi Airport opened its doors in the middle of April. We took a preview, also spending the night at the newest airport hotel – YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport, which is inside the new facility.
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We joined the crowds at the Jewel preview in April. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
  • Singapore Airlines launched a new co-brand credit card in cooperation with UOB – the KrisFlyer UOB Mastercard. Headline uncapped earn rates of up to 3 miles per dollar in certain categories all looked fine and dandy, until people realised you might have to wait up to 14 months to see them in your account!
  • OCBC expanded its tax payment facility for Voyage cardholders to pay any bill they wanted for a 1.95% fee (1.9% if they had a whopping S$150,000+ bill to pay). The Voyage Payment facility sits alongside the existing income tax payment option, the latter remaining at a 1.9% fee.

May 2019

June 2019

  • We finally settled on 1.9 cents per mile as our new valuation (or ‘upper limit to buy’) for KrisFlyer miles, following the early 2019 devaluation.
  • DBS partnered with KrisPay to allow instant points to miles transfers, though there’s a hit on the transfer ratio meaning it’s of best use for urgent transfers or small top-ups.
  • It was revealed that Singapore Airlines would start flying to Phuket again under its own branding, for the first time since the 1990s. The daily flight is to support SilkAir’s fleet shortage.
  • The first refitted Singapore Airlines Airbus A380, 9V-SKS, finally took to the skies again after almost eight months. The second refitted aircraft, 9V-SKT, still hasn’t returned to service at the time of writing.

July 2019

  • Singapore Airlines’ Istanbul flight finally got a date for its new cabin product. It was revealed that from November 2019, the Boeing 777-200ER would be replaced with an Airbus A350 with superior seats, especially in Business Class.
  • Singapore Airlines introduced a new waitlist policy. Originally announced earlier in the year, from August 2019 award waitlists would be confirmed or cancelled within 14 days of travel, to give ‘certainty’ to customers.
  • It was announced that the dated SilverKris lounges, KrisFlyer Gold lounge and The Private Room at Changi T3 would finally go under the knife for a full S$50m refit, set for completion by mid-2021. The Business Class section is set to benefit from a manned bar and productivity pods.
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The Private Room is set for a full facelift by mid-2021. (Image: Singapore Airlines)

August 2019

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SIA’s new Regional Business Class seats now make up the lion’s share of seats on shorter routes, thanks to new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 deliveries this year. (Photo: Stelia Aerospace)

September 2019

October 2019

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Raffles in Singapore has been brought right up to date in the latest sympathetic renovation. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

November 2019

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Laurent-Perrier Brut from Bali to Singapore in November 2019. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
  • In its analyst briefing, Singapore Airlines said it wasn’t waiting for the 737 MAX grounding to be lifted to get on with its SilkAir – SIA integration plans, and that flat-bed Business Class seats will start being installed on Boeing 737-800s from early 2020.
  • We took a media tour around Singapore’s newest hotel – The Barracks Hotel Sentosa. Though we were also invited to stay for free the weekend prior to public opening, we’ve instead booked a paid stay next year for an impartial review.
  • As more refitted A380s rejoin the SIA fleet in 2020, Paris was revealed as the latest city to receive the new products. Year-round A380 service on the route will also replace the regular 10x weekly Boeing 777-300ER operation in the winter months.
  • We noticed that Singapore Airlines had removed A350 ULR operation completely from the San Francisco route, and cut flights to Los Angeles with the type, from late October 2020. That leaves two of the seven aircraft with nothing to do, paving the way for a new ULR route announcement. We’ve stuck our oar in for Chicago, though nothing has been announced yet.

December 2019

  • Qantas opened its Singapore First Lounge, probably the most anticipated lounge opening at the airport of 2019. We attended the launch event, and stay tuned as it’s set to be our first review of 2020.
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The Qantas Singapore First Lounge was the most anticipated opening at Changi this year. It’s set to be our first review of 2020. (Photo: MainlyMiles)
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Asia Miles is improving its miles expiry policy in 2020. (Photo: Cathay Pacific)

Summary

As always, thanks for joining us on our 2019 journey through the world of miles, points and more, not least for reading so many of our articles.

Our traffic more than doubled compared with 2018, and we’re enormously grateful for your support in making this happen.

We also tripled our Instagram following this year, well beyond our expectations. We’ve really enjoyed interacting with you all on that platform – so do join in if you haven’t already for regular updates and stories from our travels.

Finally Happy New Year to all our readers, fellow bloggers and travel sites both in Singapore and beyond.

As always, more to come in 2020!

Cheers,
Andrew and Eddie

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