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!
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!
|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|
|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.
- 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.
- February kicked off with news that SilkAir had selected the Thompson Vantage seat as its flat-bed Business Class product, ahead of the upcoming merger of the carrier into Singapore Airlines.
- 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.
- KrisPay finally launched the ability to earn miles using its app at selected merchants. It is essentially the only way to ever use it, since payment with miles remains such poor value.
- After the second fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX in the space of five months, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore grounded SilkAir’s six examples and banned foreign airlines from operating them at Changi. There’s still no end in sight to the worldwide grounding, which came two days later.
- British Airways revealed its long-awaited (and long overdue) new Business Class seat, “Club Suite”. Based on the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond model, it also features closing privacy doors. We recently revealed that the new product will make its way to Singapore by 2021.
- Singapore Airlines caught up with the tail end of its January KrisFlyer devaluation by repricing its Star Alliance award chart. A few days later they finished the job, with devaluations to the Star Alliance upgrade chart and some partner award rates.
- It was good news for Citi Rewards cardholders in Singapore, with the news that most online transactions would be eligible for the card’s 4 miles per dollar earn rate, making it much easier to achieve the S$1,000 monthly cap in the enhanced earning category.
- 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.
- 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.
- Another First Class redemption option to Europe with Singapore Airlines was withdrawn, with confirmation that the Copenhagen route would switch from Boeing 777-300ER to Airbus A350 operation from October 2019.
- In more positive cabin product news however, Delhi and Mumbai were confirmed to be the next two routes in line for SIA’s latest A380 cabins, including the latest Suites product.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tokyo was confirmed as SIA’s next new A380 Suites route, from January 2020.
- Star Alliance airline ANA revealed stunning new First and Business Class seats on its new Boeing 777-300ERs. Already flying to London and New York at the time of writing, Frankfurt is to be added in 2020 with more US routes anticipated by 2021.
- SIA’s usual seasonal A380 boost on the Osaka route meant 80 saver awards in Suites were up for grabs.
- Standard Chartered wowed us with a 100,000 miles sign-up bonus for its S$695-a-year new X Card. Those who got in early were lucky, in true Standard Chartered fashion the popularity of the offer took them by complete surprise and it was quickly (and confusingly) reduced to a 60,000 miles offer, before being pulled altogether.
- DBS Altitude cardholders had a good start to the month, with news that their cards would earn 4 miles per dollar on bus and train rides for the rest of 2019.
- Singapore Airlines started offering free Wi-Fi for First Class passengers and upped its free allowance for Business Class and PPS Club members from 30MB to 100MB on equipped aircraft. Our full Wi-Fi guide has all the latest details.
- Standard Chartered jumped on the card payments bandwagon for selected customers with SC EasyBill, allowing you to ‘buy’ miles from 1.43 cents each.
- We revealed that by late August, Singapore Airlines’ new Regional Business Class seats outnumbered the old version for the first time.