Singapore Krisflyer Program Changes 23 March

I’ve seen tons of posts on this subject in my rss feed.  Some people hate it because the miles required for most awards is going up.  Others love it because fuel/carrier surcharges are going away.  Here’s the details straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • Revisions to Saver Award levels in the Singapore Airlines and SilkAir Award Chart have been made to ensure that flight rewards remain sustainable yet competitive. We last made adjustments to award levels in various zones in 2012.

 

  • The 15% discount for redemption and redemption upgrade bookings made through singaporeair.com and the SingaporeAir app will be discontinued, and the same redemption fare will be applied across all channels.

 

  • Fuel and insurance surcharges from all redemption award tickets on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir operated flights will be removed.

 

> View the Revised Award Chart, effective from 23 March 2017

> View the Current Award Chart

 

Importantly, with this change, while there will be an increase in the number of miles required to redeem for flights in certain zones, you can also expect to enjoy savings in the amount of cash you would need to pay for your redemption ticket due to the removal of fuel and insurance surcharges. Here is a snippet of the old and new charts with emphasis on Zone 9 which includes Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne.  Old chart on top, new chart below.  A further 15% will be taken off the old chart if you book online.

This is further illustrated in the examples below.  I am using my own examples geared towards eco-tourists and birders ex-Australia.

EXAMPLE 1 SYDNEY TO JOHANNESBURG

The current prices reflect the 15% online discount and the carrier surcharge.  Below, you see highlighted in yellow how much surcharge is going away.  But the new mileage costs will be 47k economy, 60k premium economy, 78 business & 112k first.

Since most people prefer to redeem business class awards, the comparison is between 61,625 miles + $488 AUD vs 78,000 miles + $90 AUD in gov’t taxes which you always have to pay.  The economy example is 36,125 miles + $452 AUD vs 47,000 + $90 AUD gov’t taxes.

 

EXAMPLE 2 – BRISBANE TO KOTA KINABALU (SQ + SILKAIR)

This is a route I would actually be willing to do in SQ’s economy cabin which is one of the best in the world.  So I would be looking at 21,250 miles + $286 AUD old rates vs 28,000 miles + $88 AUD for gov’t taxes.

Are you a winner or loser with these new charts?  It all depends on what is easier for you to acquire, cash or miles.  If you get miles fairly painlessly with credit card spending and online mall portals then you will probably prefer the new charts.  If you have more cash to spare and don’t like bothering with the credit card game, you won’t be happy with these new changes.  As for me, I have grown away from SQ as a primary program mostly because of the fuel surcharges so this is encouraging to get me back on board.

Now if only Qantas would get rid of their surcharges!

Getting To Colombia With Airline Miles

Most frequent flier programs divide the continent of South America into northern and southern regions.  Colombia, which has an amazing bird list with over 1900 species recorded, falls into the northern region.  I already have a blog with my recommendations for which programs to join if you are new to the world of miles and points.

The major gateway cities for Colombia include Bogota (BOG), Medellin (MDE) and Cartagena (CTG).   It will be the same number of miles no matter which you choose.   Once you have been in the miles and points game for awhile, you will get a feel for which airline to use where but if you are just starting out Wikipedia will show you all the airlines that fly into Bogota, Medellin, Cartegena and any of Colombia’s airports.  To present examples below, I will be using Bogota as the example gateway airport.

ONE WORLD OPTIONS

From North America you can use American Airlines,  LATAM.

From South America you can use LATAM.

From Australia and New Zealand you can use Qantas or LATAM via Santiago.

From UK and Europe you can travel via the USA using BA or IB to get to the USA, then AA, LATAM to South America.

From Asia or Africa there are no direct flights so you will need to travel via the USA or Europe.

STAR ALLIANCE OPTIONS

From North America you can use United, Air Canada, Avianca-Taca or Copa.

From South America you can use Avianca-Taca or Copa.

From Europe you can use Avianca, Lufthansa or Turkish Airlines.

From Australia and New Zealand, Asia and Africa there are no direct flights, you can use NZ to Buenos Aires (EZE) or travel via the USA.  Depending on which program’s miles you have, this may require one or two awards.

SKYTEAM OPTIONS

From North America you can use AeroMexico or Delta.

From Argentina & Southern South America you can use Aerolinas Argentinas.

From Europe you can use Air Europa, Air France or KLM, or you can connect in the USA on Delta.

From Australia, Asia and Africa there are no direct flights, you will need to travel via the USA or Europe.

HOW MANY MILES WILL IT COST?

Every airline member of the 3 main alliances has it’s own frequent flier program.  They often have alliances with other airlines outside the program.  I have made some reference charts for the airline alliances and I strongly recommend that you check out the program of the airline in your country and the USA based partners of each program as the USA airlines tend to have the most lucrative bonuses.  Americans can get very generous credit card bonuses.  Details of credit card partners (and other partners) will be on each airline’s website, however often there are more lucrative sign up bonuses.  Details are usually posted in the Flyer Talk thread so I strongly suggest you read this thread and the Miles Buzz forum before you apply for any cards just in case a better bonus has been offered.  I don’t have any affiliate links and I recommend you do extensive research on your own when applying for airline credit cards.

USING ONE WORLD

AMERICAN AIRLINES

No matter where you live, frequent flyer programs based in the USA usually offer the best deals but it’s still a good idea to look at other members of the alliance.  Try to avoid carriers that charge a fuel surcharge.  Looking at AA’s award chart, we can see that Colombia is in South America Zone 1.

So let’s look at the chart.  AA no longer has all zones on one convenient chart so you need to look at the website for the region you are departing from.  You will notice there are taxes and fees with certain routes and that the awards are prices as one way trips.

We can see that a South Pacific to Central/South America award will cost 45,000 miles each way (90,000 round trip) in economy, 82,500 (160,000 round trip) in business class and 112,500 each way (225,000 round trip in first class.  AA doesn’t allow you to transit the USA on this award so you must fly on the only carriers that operate between Australia and South America-Qantas and LATAM.

If you are based in North America, economy will cost 30,000  each way (60,000 round trip), business class  is 57,500 each way (115,000 round trip) and first is 85,000 each way or 170,000 round trip.  You would be flying on AA or LATAM.

AVIOS (BA OR IB)

Avios can be a great bargain for shorter flights.  The awards are priced by distance flown per segment rather than zone to zone.

Avios

Avios chart

Using the Great Circle Mapper, we can see that a direct flight from Miami to Bogota would cost 10,000 Avios each way, a direct flight from LAX to Bogota would cost 20,000 Avios and a direct flight from NYC to Bogota would cost 12,500 Avios.  If you are using credit card miles, transferring them to Avios rather than UA or AA could save you some points.  If you need a connection from elsewhere in the USA to the gateway city, you need to pay for that segment separately with the Avios cost for the distance flown.  Example OKC-MIA is 1222 miles so you need to add 10,000 Avios to the total price of the ticket.

Avios BOG

QANTAS FREQUENT FLYER

For Qantas, it is easiest to use their points calculator to see how many points you need, then look for availability.  Not all itineraries can be booked online, sometimes you have to call them.  Using the example of Sydney to Bogota we can see that they route through the USA (probably because the Santiago route is very hard to get) and economy is 60,000 points one way.  If I were making this trip for real, I would be putting a lot more effort into finding a routing on QF through Santiago.  Although business class shows availability on the random date I chose, if you hover over the seat icon you will see that the DFW-BOG segment is in economy.  I am actually amazed that SYD-DFW has premium seats!  On the next screen you see the points plus taxes & fees that must be paid by credit card.

QF BOG1 QF BOG2 QF BOG3 QF BOG4

If you are based somewhere else, leave a comment if you don’t understand this part and I will help you out.  Meanwhile, here is a reference list for other One World carriers.

USING STAR ALLIANCE

United, Avianca and Singapore are probably the most common Star Alliance programs in use because of good credit card deals and buy miles promos.

UNITED AIRLINES

United Airlines is a USA based carrier that offers one way awards on its own flights and other Star Alliance carriers.  Due to the size of their award chart, I can’t paste it here so will link to it and give examples.  For example Orlando to Bogota has availability on several dates which I picked at random.  They are colour coded for economy, business/first or all three classes.  Make sure you scroll all the way down to see all the options.  Some routes are only 20k and others are a whopping 45k!  And beware of routes where it is cheaper to fly business class than economy!

UA BOG1 UA BOG2

AVIANCA TACA LIFEMILES

Lifemiles has some very attractive promos to buy and share miles.  While this doesn’t give you a free trip, it can greatly reduce the cost of a trip especially if you are after business or first class awards.  You need to be an existing member of Lifemiles when they announce  a promo so join now if you haven’t already.  Use their calculator to get an idea of award costs.  This will be a range which depends on class and any promos.

 

They have a Star Alliance Award chart and you can see that they divide the continent of South America into northern and southern regions.  Colombia is in the Northern South America region.  Australia and New Zealand are in the “Others” category.  The chart shows one-way awards.   I prefer to keep my Lifemiles for intra-South/Central America awards which can get pricy but are bargains using awards.

Avianca1 Avianca2

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

SQ miles have become much easier to get in recent years.  Americans can use Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, Amex Membership Rewards.  Aussies can use the Australian Amex Membership Rewards.  Everyone can use SPG.  Just beware of the high fuel (carrier) surcharges when you use Krisflyer.  Personally, I would be happy to use SQ miles for intra-South America awards where surcharges are low or even non-exixtant but would use other programs to get from Australia to South America.  SQ has only one region for all of South America so their awards can be a bargain if you are traveling around the continent!

SQ South America

I don’t use all the programs that are out there but these are the most commonly used programs by travel hackers in the USA and Australia so do some research to see which one works for you!  Bear in mind that the tickets are not completely free, there is usually a booking fee of $25-50 and various taxes, but you would have to pay the taxes whether you pay cash or miles for the ticket in any case.

WHAT ABOUT JUST PAYING CASH (WELL, CREDIT CARD)?

No, it’s not blasphemy but sometimes it is a good idea to save your miles and simply pay for the ticket.  The 3 main Central/South American carriers – Avianca, Copa & LATAM have been very competitive lately ex-USA and releasing some very good deals.  These are a few examples but they expire soon so always check the airlines’ website for current specials.

Avianca Colombia Avianca Colombia2 Copa Bog Latam Bog

 

 

 

Getting To Ecuador With Airline Miles

Most frequent flier programs divide the continent of South America into northern and southern regions.  Ecuador, which is one of the best destinations for eco-tourism falls into the northern region.  I already have a blog with my recommendations for which programs to join if you are new to the world of miles and points.

The gateway cities for Ecuador include Quito (UIO) and Guayaquil (GYE).  I have a separate post for using Guayaquil as a gateway city so in this post I will be using Quito as the example.  In any case, it will be the same number of miles.     Once you have been in the miles and points game for awhile, you will get a feel for which airline to use where but if you are just starting out, Wikipedia will show you a list of all airlines that fly into Quito.

 

ONE WORLD OPTIONS

From North America you can use American Airlines or LATAM.

From South America you can use LATAM.

From Australia and New Zealand you can use Qantas or LATAM via Santiago.

From UK and Europe you can travel via the USA using BA or IB to get to the USA, then AA, LAN or TAM to South America.

From Asia or Africa there are no direct flights so you will need to travel via the USA or Europe.

STAR ALLIANCE OPTIONS

From North America you can use United, Avianca-Taca or Copa

From South America you can use Avianca-Taca

From Australia and New Zealand, Europe, Asia and Africa there are no direct flights, you can use NZ to Buenos Aires (EZE) or travel via the USA.  Depending on which program’s miles you have, this may require one or two awards.

SKYTEAM OPTIONS

From North America you can use AeroMexico or Delta.

From Europe you can use Air Europa, Air France or KLM, or you can connect in the USA on Delta.

From Australia, Asia and Africa there are no direct flights, you will need to travel via the USA or Europe.

 

HOW MANY MILES WILL IT COST?

Every airline member of the 3 main alliances has it’s own frequent flier program.  They often have alliances with other airlines outside the program.  I have made some reference charts for the airline alliances and I strongly recommend that you check out the program of the airline in your country and the USA based partners of each program as the USA airlines tend to have the most lucrative bonuses.  Americans can get very generous credit card bonuses.  Details of credit card partners (and other partners) will be on each airline’s website, however often there are more lucrative sign up bonuses.  Details are usually posted in the Flyer Talk thread so I strongly suggest you read this thread and the Miles Buzz forum before you apply for any cards just in case a better bonus has been offered.  I don’t have any affiliate links and I recommend you do extensive research on your own when applying for airline credit cards.

USING ONE WORLD

AMERICAN AIRLINES

No matter where you live, frequent flyer programs based in the USA usually offer the best deals but it’s still a good idea to look at other members of the alliance.  Try to avoid carriers that charge a fuel surcharge.  Looking at AA’s award chart, we can see that Ecuador is in South America Zone 1.

So let’s look at the chart.  AA no longer has all zones on one convenient chart so you need to look at the website for the region you are departing from.  You will notice there are taxes and fees with certain routes and that the awards are prices as one way trips.

We can see that a South Pacific to Central/South America award will cost 45,000 miles each way (90,000 round trip) in economy, 82,500 (160,000 round trip) in business class and 112,500 each way (225,000 round trip in first class.  AA doesn’t allow you to transit the USA on this award so you must fly on the only carriers that operate between Australia and South America-Qantas and LAN.

If you are based in North America, economy will cost 30,000  each way (60,000 round trip), business class  is 57,500 each way (115,000 round trip) and first is 85,000 each way or 170,000 round trip.  You would be flying on AA or LAN.

AVIOS (BA OR IB)

Avios can be a great bargain for shorter flights.  The awards are priced by distance flown per segment rather than zone to zone.

Avios

Using the Great Circle Mapper, we can see that a direct flight from Miami to Quito would cost 10,000 Avios each way, a direct flight from LAX to Quito would cost 20,000 Avios and a direct flight from NYC to Quito would cost 12,500 Avios.  If you are using credit card miles, transferring them to Avios rather than UA or AA could save you some points.  If you need a connection from elsewhere in the USA to the gateway city, you need to pay for that segment separately with the Avios cost for the distance flown.  Example OKC-MIA is 1222 miles so you need to add 10,000 Avios to the total price of the ticket.

gcm uio

QANTAS FREQUENT FLYER

For Qantas, it is easiest to use their points calculator to see how many points you need, then look for availability.  Not all itineraries can be booked online, sometimes you have to call them.  Using the example of Sydney to Quito we can see that they route through the USA (probably because the Santiago route is very hard to get) and economy is 60,000 points one way.  On the next screen you see the points plus taxes & fees that must be paid by credit card.

qf uio1 qf uio2

 

If you are based somewhere else, leave a comment if you don’t understand this part and I will help you out.  Meanwhile, here is a reference list for other One World carriers.

USING STAR ALLIANCE

United, Avianca and Singapore are probably the most common Star Alliance programs in use because of good credit card deals and buy miles promos.

UNITED AIRLINES

United Airlines is a USA based carrier that offers one way awards on its own flights and other Star Alliance carriers.  Due to the size of their award chart, I can’t paste it here so will link to it and give examples.  For example Seattle to Quito has availability on several dates which I picked at random.  They are colour coded for economy, business/first or all three classes.  Make sure you scroll all the way down to get the best price.  Some routes are only 20k and others are a whopping 45k!

ua uio1 ua uio2

 

AVIANCA TACA LIFEMILES

Lifemiles has some very attractive promos to buy and share miles.  While this doesn’t give you a free trip, it can greatly reduce the cost of a trip especially if you are after business or first class awards.  You need to be an existing member of Lifemiles when they announce  a promo so join now if you haven’t already.  Use their calculator to get an idea of award costs.  This will be a range which depends on class and any promos.

 

They have a Star Alliance Award chart and you can see that they divide the continent of South America into northern and southern regions.  Ecuador is in the Northern South America region.   Australia and New Zealand are in the “Others” category.  The chart shows one way awards.  Personally,  I prefer to keep my Lifemiles for intra-South/Central America awards which can get pricy but are bargains using awards.

Avianca1 Avianca2

SINGAPORE AIRLINES

SQ miles have become much easier to get in recent years.  Americans can use Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, Amex Membership Rewards.  Aussies can use the Australian Amex Membership Rewards.  Everyone can use SPG.  Just beware of the high fuel (carrier) surcharges when you use Krisflyer.  Personally, I would be happy to use SQ miles for intra-South America awards where surcharges are low or even non-exixtant but would use other programs to get from Australia to South America.  SQ has only one region for all of South America so their awards can be a bargain if you are traveling around the continent!

SQ South America

I don’t use all the programs that are out there but these are the most commonly used programs by travel hackers in the USA and Australia so do some research to see which one works for you!  Bear in mind that the tickets are not completely free, there is usually a booking fee of $25-50 and various taxes, but you would have to pay the taxes whether you pay cash or miles for the ticket in any case.

WHAT ABOUT JUST PAYING CASH (WELL, CREDIT CARD)?

No, it’s not blasphemy but sometimes it is a good idea to save your miles and simply pay for the ticket.  The 3 main Central/South American carriers – Avianca, Copa & LATAM have been very competitive lately ex-USA and releasing some very good deals.

Singapore Airlines Adds Premium Economy As Redemption Option

This is good news for those who don’t have enough miles for a business class redemption but would like a little more comfort than economy.  But in most cases from Australia. the difference between economy & premium economy vs premium economy and business are enough that I still suggest you go for business class awards if you have/can get the miles.  SQ miles are relatively easy to get with American Express Membership Rewards and several other Aussie bank issued cards transferable to SQ.  Remember, you get a 15% discount for awards on Singapore Airlines & Silk Air booked online!

The updated Singapore Airlines award charts – Australia is split between zone 8 & 9.

Full text of SQ’s Announcement

Free 5000 Singapore KrisFlyer Miles For Australians, Posts Within A Day

For once Aussies are getting a really good deal!  Singapore Airlines is giving 5000 miles free to new accounts who register between 4 – 31 March 2015, insert the promotional code “KFACQPU” in the communication preferences area of the form, and you will earn 5,000 Bonus KrisFlyer miles to count towards your next trip.

Double your rewards and earn an additional 5,000 bonus miles when you book and complete your first return journey within six months of your enrolment date.

SQ 5000My previous account had been deleted several months ago for non-activity within 18 months so I re-registered myself and also signed up my husband yesterday around 6pm-ish.  This morning I woke up and found the 5000 miles already posted to both accounts.  I still haven’t decided whether to keep the SQ miles or convert them to 3403 Virgin Velocity points, that will depend on what trips I need to book but the options are there.

Mix Miles And Cash On Singaporeair.com‏

Singapore Airlines is on my recommended list of airline programs to join, especially for Australians as there are a number of credit card options to earn miles.  I got this email from Krisflyer announcing their new rememption option which is great if you just need a few miles to top up your account.  I also like the possibility of using miles to pay the taxes.  This is very similar to Virgin Velocity’s program.

We are pleased to inform you, that from 18 July 2013, you will be able to use your
KrisFlyer miles to pay for all, or a part of your Singapore Airlines or SilkAir airfare
(including taxes and surcharges) when you book on singaporeair.com

With this new feature, you can:

.

You may also like to know that in subsequent enhancements, you can use your
KrisFlyer miles to cover the cost of taxes and surcharges associated with your
redemption award tickets.

We hope that you will benefit from this additional option to use your KrisFlyer miles,
and we look forward to welcoming you on board soon.

They have prepared a nice tutorial on how to use the new feature.  Launch the demo to see a step by step guide.  This feature will only work on booking SQ flights  as partner flights can’t be booked online.  The screenshot below shows the slider tool you can use to toggle between cash and miles.  Always great to have more options!

Toggle between miles and cash

 

 

 

Airline Alliance References – Star Alliance

Star Alliance

Adria (JP)

Aegean (A3)

Air Canada (AC)

Air China (CA)

Air New Zealand (NZ)

ANA (NH)

Asiana (OZ)

Austrian (OS)

Avianca and TACA (AV), (TA)      My analysis of Avianca-Taca LifeMiles

Blue1 (KF)

Copa (CM)

Croatia Airlines (OU)

EgyptAir (MS)

Ethiopian Airlines (ET)

EVA Air (BR)

LOT Polish Airlines (LO)

Lufthansa (LH)

Scandinavian Airlines (SK)

Singapore Airlines (SQ)

South African Airways (SA)

Swiss (LX)

TAP (TP)

Thai (TG)

Turkish Airlines (TK)

United (UA)

 

As you can see, Star Alliance is the largest of the 3 alliances and is very strong in the Americas, Europe and Asia but has no domestic service in Australia.  Most people are members of several Star Alliance programs so they can take advantage of local credit cards and promos and also the more lucrative promos with United.  Avianca/Taca has  several 100% buy miles bonuses throughout the year and less frequently an even more lucrative share miles promo.  I am a member of United, Singapore and Avianca/Taca.  The main reason for joining Singapore Krisflyer is because my Aussie Amex MR points can transfer 1:1 and they are good for redemptions on NZ, but on most of their Asian and European partners will attract a very high fuel surcharge.  Buying miles on  Avianca/Taca is a great way to get cheap business class or economy awards when they have a double miles bonus promo.  United is a partner for Chase’s Ultimate Rewards programs with several credit cards that can accrue miles for sign up bonuses.

These links are also good if you want to check out an airline’s route map to see where they fly, join their frequent flyer program and see what you can do to earn miles by flying on partners, staying in hotel partners and patronizing their other partners such as credit cards, shopping malls, phone companies and survey companies.

This is a just a very brief overview of Star Alliance and there is so much more to learn.  The best source of information is on FlyerTalk  where each airline has its own forum, most forums have wikis or “read this first” posts to get you started.  I will be going into some programs more in depth as the subject relates to building your ecotourism dream trip