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Singapore Airlines adding new award category – is a KrisFlyer devaluation coming?

A new Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 'Promo' award category is coming, and we all know what that probably means...

Singapore Airlines updated its website yesterday with details of a brand new award category for KrisFlyer redemptions called a ‘Promo’ award, an inflexible and non-refundable level which looks set to be added to the current award lineup across all four cabin classes.

At this stage there has been no formal announcement, no change to the KrisFlyer terms, and the award type is not bookable, though a new three-tier award pricing structure is likely to be just around the corner.

The big question of course… is the dreaded ‘D-word’ on the horizon?

‘Promo’ awards

First thing to note is that the ‘Promo’ award category is not just a new name for ‘Saver’ awards, it’s a whole new option, with different conditions attached.

Fun fact: Those with long memories may recall KrisFlyer having three award types; ‘Saver’, ‘Standard’ and ‘Full’. The ‘Full’ category was eliminated in May 2016, while ‘Standard’ awards were renamed ‘Advantage’ awards in January 2018.

This new ‘Promo’ award option will be added to all four cabin classes, bringing them back to three different pricing options in terms of miles, with the exception of Premium Economy Class, which does not feature ‘Advantage’ rates and will therefore have two award price options instead of just one.

As you can see the big change with these new ‘Promo’ awards is a complete lack of flexibility.

Rather like ‘Spontaneous Escapes’ awards (remember those?), you’ll need to have very firm travel plans to commit to one of these because:

  • Your KrisFlyer miles cannot be redeposited if you cancel
  • Date changes are not allowed, even for a fee
  • Routing, cabin class and award type changes are not allowed, even for a fee

Complimentary stopovers are also not permitted, even on round-trip bookings, and we wouldn’t be surprised if the $100 stopover option potentially can’t be added to this award category either (as you may recall, ‘Spontaneous Escapes’ awards were the same).

Aside from Economy Class, here’s how the ‘Promo’ award is outlined for the three other cabin classes.

Premium Economy Class

Business Class

First Class / Suites

As you can see it’s the same story across the board. ‘Promo’ awards have all the same features as ‘Saver’ awards, even down to the baggage allowance and seat selection benefits, except when it comes to flexibility.

Changing anything about your award booking doesn’t just become more expensive, it becomes impossible. If you wish to travel the next day, for example, ‘book another award’ becomes the only option, because you won’t be getting anything back for this one.

Less flexibility during COVID-19?

It certainly seems a strange time to be offering a new award category with less flexibility than the others, while international travel has never been so uncertain.

It’s almost impossible to conceive someone locking in one of these new ‘Promo’ award types a long way in advance, in the current climate of changing border restrictions, testing / vaccination requirements and new COVID-19 outbreaks in often unpredictable places.

Even if SIA offers attractive rates for ‘Promo’ awards, who will take the risk with their miles in the current climate? (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Certainly Singapore Airlines will inevitably refund your miles even from a ‘Promo’ award booking if it cancels your flight, but if not and the flight goes ahead, and you choose not to travel or cannot do so for some other reason, you’ll risk losing 100% of the redeemed miles.

Devaluation?

The addition of a new award category means a new award chart is coming, and Singapore Airlines seems unlikely to waste an opportunity to amend it without the dreaded ‘D-word’ coming into play.

The airline last changed its award chart over two years ago, in January 2019, when we saw no change to Economy redemption rates but around 6-12% devaluations for the more popular Business and First Class award prices.

Without any further details at this stage it’s obviously too early to tell what the extent of any devaluation might be, if indeed there even is one.

One scenario is absolutely no change to ‘Saver’ or ‘Advantage’ rates, with the new ‘Promo’ option simply being like a year-round ‘Spontaneous Escapes’ rate, for those with firm travel plans.

That’s certainly something we could get on board with, even if its benefit wouldn’t be particularly advantageous until a more ‘post-COVID’ travel environment comes into play, except for very short-term travel.

It could also replace the ‘Spontaneous Escapes’ deal in due course and only be available, for example, 30 days in advance, on flights SIA wasn’t selling very well. Again, firm travel plans would still have to be a must, since you won’t get these miles back if you don’t travel.

Could ‘Promo’ awards be the future ‘Spontaneous Escapes’?

More likely in our opinion though is that we’ll see ‘Promo’ rates published that are cheaper than current ‘Saver’ rates, but that ‘Saver rates’ would increase in cost.

For example, instead of 47,000 miles from Singapore to Tokyo in Business Class on a ‘Saver’ award, that might increase to 52,000 miles, but the new ‘Promo’ rate might be 42,000 miles. That’s just a pure guess, based on a +/-10% split of the existing ‘Saver’ rate.

‘Advantage’ awards may then either stay the same, or increase slightly.

Worst-case scenario? ‘Promo’ takes over the existing ‘Saver’ rates, then both ‘Saver’ and ‘Advantage’ rates increase across the board, a pure devaluation since most members won’t be able to take the risk of losing their miles if their trip plans get changed or cancelled, especially when committing months or even a year in advance.

There should be some notice

If a devaluation occurs in the award charts (it’s still an if…), Singapore Airlines should give us its usual notice period of around three weeks, in order to lock in future redemptions up to a year from now at existing rates.

Problem with that concept this time round, assuming a devalued chart were to be announced soon, is that none of us can accurately predict where we can even travel to a year from now, in view of the unpredictable COVID-19 recovery.

That would limit the likelihood of being able to actually use any award booked so far in advance, but at least the miles redeposit option would still be available for those bookings.


 

 

Summary

It’s too early to tell at this stage what Singapore Airlines has in store with this new ‘Promo’ award category, but one thing is almost certain – something is afoot!

Hopefully all will become clear soon.

In our opinion the best we can hope for is that the new ‘Promo’ award category takes the form of a ‘year round Spontaneous Escapes’ type offer, perhaps (optimistically!) 20-30% cheaper than a ‘Saver’ award in return for a complete lack of flexibility and no ability to redeposit your miles if your plans or dates change.

Provided the existing ‘Saver’ and ‘Advantage’ rates then remained unchanged, that would certainly be fine with us!

Are new KrisFlyer award prices on final approach? (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

More realistically though, it seems logical that SIA will use this opportunity to re-price the KrisFlyer award chart, probably by increasing at least the ‘Saver’ award rates, with the sweetener of a new cheaper ‘Promo’ option alongside.

Stay tuned since we’ll bring you more details about the new KrisFlyer ‘Promo’ awards just as soon as we have them.

Thanks to Wilson for the late-night hat-tip!

(Cover Photo: jyl4032 via Flickr)

17 comments

  1. SIA is seeing billions of unredeemed miles in members’ accounts due to lack of travel and continuing extension of expiry miles. The easiest way to clear the backlog would be to devalue. Hence, buying miles now is probably not wise when we don’t know mileage needed when we eventually can redeem.

      1. Err… an airline with unprecedented miles exposure on the balance sheet, burning through billions of dollars to stay afloat and with no real end in sight for a profitable operating structure due to a lack of any domestic market.

        Might also be worth re-reading the article – devaluation is *one* of the options addressed. Helps to read passed just the title.

    1. Agreed. We wouldn’t buy miles right now. If you aren’t fat on miles by now then you haven’t been playing the game right or you’ve been lured in by KrisShop 🤣

      I dread to think what the real number of miles currently sitting in KrisFlyer wallets is 😬

  2. My gut feeling is that the worse case scenario is going to happen. SQ is bleeding and needs to trim its liabilities as much as they can.

  3. Agree that its probably a worse case outcome for KF miles. SQ never make changes like this for award category names etc without also hiking those rates up!

    Inevitable w/the balances we have all accumulated in this COVID.

    1. You are absolutely right. There has never been an award chart change without an associated devaluation. SQ is strong on tradition. We can now only hope that they break it on this one.

  4. This has actually already been used for a sale out of London – https://insideflyer.co.uk/2021/03/50-off-some-singapore-airlines-krisflyer-redemptions-from-london-including-business-class-ends-soon/ – 50% off as an extra categary of award along the lines of spontaneous escapes. Quite who SQ thinks will lock in a completely inflexible flight right now I’m not sure though!

    But I don’t see any reason to worry particularly, SQ award rates already aren’t particularly competitive vs other options globally and one imagines that they’ll be wanting to put transit bums on seats as parts of the world open up but their local market remains heavily restricted.

    1. Agreed to this. Whilst the miles can weigh heavily on SIA’s liabilities, a sudden devaluation would sure burn more goodwill than it would create more benefits to its finances. Especially when the government had already overtly underwritten their support

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