Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Program Review

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Program Review

Named for the mythical silver bird depicted on Singapore Airlines livery, KrisFlyer is one of the most fascinating frequent flyer programs today.

Many travelers know Singapore Airlines best for its award-winning service, and especially for its over-the-top suites, which was the only way to get a king bed in the sky before Etihad launched its new first class apartments.

It might seem that it would be hard to accrue miles in an Asian frequent flyer program and one based in a country composed of one city from the U.S. But Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is also the most connected program out there. It’s the first frequent flyer program to partner with all four major transfer programs, including Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is known for its few but useful members.

And beyond the glitz, Singapore offers a very solid frequent flyer program with advantageous rates on many more common routes, such as domestic flights and U.S.-to-Europe routes.

PROGRAM

KRISFLYERKRISFLYER

ALLIANCE

STAR ALLIANCESTAR ALLIANCE

CURRENCY

MILESMILES

POINTS TRANSFER PARTNERS

AIRLINE PARTNERS

  • ANAANA
  • Air CanadaAir Canada
  • Air ChinaAir China
  • Air New ZealandAir New Zealand
  • Asiana AirlinesAsiana Airlines
  • AustrianAustrian
  • Brussels AirlinesBrussels Airlines
  • Copa AirlinesCopa Airlines
  • EgyptairEgyptair
  • LufthansaLufthansa
  • Scandinavian AirlinesScandinavian Airlines
  • Shenzhen AirlinesShenzhen Airlines
  • South African AirwaysSouth African Airways
  • SwissSwiss
  • TAP PortugalTAP Portugal
  • Thai AirwaysThai Airways
  • Turkish AirlinesTurkish Airlines
  • United AirlinesUnited Airlines
  • LOTLOT
  • JetBlueJetBlue
  • Virgin AmericaVirgin America
  • Virgin AtlanticVirgin Atlantic
  • Virgin AustraliaVirgin Australia
  • VistaraVistara
  • Adria AirwaysAdria Airways
  • Aegean AirlinesAegean Airlines
  • Air IndiaAir India
  • AviancaAvianca
  • Croatia AirlinesCroatia Airlines
  • Ethiopian AirlinesEthiopian Airlines
  • Eva AirEva Air
  • Singapore AirlinesSingapore Airlines

Hub:

  • Singapore Changi Airport

How Can You Use KrisFlyer Miles?

Singapore Airlines issues three types of capacity-controlled awards: saver, standard and full. Because of the complexity of its award chart, which breaks the world into 14 zones, including two each for the U.S. (east and west) and Europe (Amsterdam, Athens, Copenhagen and Rome) have their own zone, Singapore has three pages of fully packed award charts just for Singapore-operated flights.

Singapore also has a completely different set of charts for Star Alliance partner flights and for itineraries that combine flights on both Singapore and a partner airline. Then there are separate charts for each of the Virgin airlines that Singapore partners with.

The sheer number of figures on the charts makes it difficult to spot the brightest spots of the Singapore program, but there are many. Flights to Europe from the U.S. begin at 20,000 miles one-way. You can fly from anywhere within the Southwest Pacific for 22,500 miles in first class, which means you can get from Western Australia to Tahiti (5,842 miles) for less than flying across the U.S.

All flights and upgrades booked online get a 15 percent discount off the published miles required.

Program Perks:

  • Cash plus miles fares available
  • 15 percent off required miles when booking flights or upgrades online
  • Award flights start at 7,500 KrisFlyer miles
  • More Singapore Airlines seats available to KrisFlyer members than through partner airlines
  • No date change fees on Singapore Airlines flights
  • Ability to revive expired miles
  • One-way awards permitted on Singapore Airlines and most partner airline bookings
  • One stopover allowed per saver round-trip award, two stopovers per standard and full award
  • One stopover permitted per standard and full one-way award
  • One open jaw on the departure/return location permitted
2016-06-22_1303

Booking Quirks:

  • Miles expire three years after they are earned
  • Any award with a partner airline must be booked by phone
  • The number of miles earned on cash fares depends on the booking class of the fare
  • Fares booked in G, V, Q, N and T classes earn between 0 and 50 percent miles
  • $30 mile redeposit fee
  • $20 change of cabin or route fee
  • One-way awards are not permitted on Scandinavian Airlines, TAP Portugal or Virgin Atlantic
  • Stopovers are not permitted on tickets within Europe or between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the USVI
  • High fuel surcharges

Best Value Awards:

The biggest bang for your KrisFlyer miles is the Singapore suite, an experience that has become in frequent flyer circles almost as mythically revered as the KrisFlyer is in Singaporean folklore. For an insanely detailed description of the magnificence of the experience, skim through the photos and much retweeted write-up of the suite flight by Derek Low.

While the suite is offered on several routes, you’ll get the most hours flying between Singapore and New York via Frankfurt. The one-way trip runs 110,500 miles at the saver rate, just a smidgen more than flying between Singapore and Frankfurt (107,500 miles), but you’ll get 20.5 hours of pampering rather than just 12.5.

Worst Value Awards:

Singapore’s strength and where you’ll get to most appreciate the airlines award-winning service is on its long-haul flights. Short-haul flights have a very poor value for your usually high-value Singapore Airlines miles. For regional flights, such as between Singapore and Malaysia (i.e. close enough to simply take a boat to), you’ll pay 7,500 KrisFlyer miles each way in coach and 25,000 in first class.

The Good Stuff: Upgrades and Elite Status

You can upgrade cash tickets on Singapore for a premium, usually around or slightly more than the number of miles required for the ticket. For example, to upgrade from economy to business on a saver award between Singapore and the U.S., you’ll need 65,000 miles. A business-class flight would run 80,000 miles.

Singapore Airlines Elite Levels and Perks

Singapore Airlines operates two parallel elite programs. Its main program, an extension of KrisFlyer, allows members to earn and redeem miles on partners. The PPS (Priority Passenger Service) Club is much more limited, and targets passengers who have accumulated 25,000 Singaporean dollars of PPS value by flying in Singapore Airlines suite, first and business class.

Each subsequent level includes the perks of the previous level, unless stated otherwise.

KrisFlyer Elite Levels

KrisFlyer Elite Levels membership cards
KrisFlyer Elite Levels membership cards

  • Elite Silver: 25 percent bonus miles, Star Alliance silver status, priority waitlist, priority standby, waived or reduced service fees
  • Elite Gold: Star Alliance gold status, priority check-in, additional checked bag, priority boarding, priority baggage handling, Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance partner airlines and Virgin Australia lounge access

PPS Club Levels

PPS Club membership cards
PPS Club membership cards

  • PPS Club: 25 percent bonus miles, priority waitlist, priority standby, priority check-in, double bag allowance on Singapore Airlines flights, additional checked bag on Star Alliance partner flights, priority boarding, priority baggage handling, Singapore Airlines lounge access for member and one guest, Star Alliance Gold lounge access, Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse access, membership renewal gift, travel accident insurance, concierge line
  • Solitaire PPS Club: Supplementary club card for the members spouse, first class check-in, lounge access regardless of airline of travel, priority access to saver economy awards

Associated Credit Cards

Co-branded credit cards are currently only available in Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and the UAE.