Singapore Airlines is Australia’s second-largest international carrier (after Emirates). Its KrisFlyer frequent flyer program is one of the more useful frequent flyer programs for travellers In our region.
However, the program is not without its downsides. This guide aims to explore both the good and bad of KrisFlyer.
1. Excellent premium cabins
Singapore Airlines generally relases good availability to its own members in its excellent premium cabins.
Whilst Velocity members can technically book these flights, fewer awards seats are made available to them.
The airline also has one of the most luxurious products flying in the sky. It’s on the Airbus A380 in Suites Class, which is available from Sydney to Singapore and onwards to a growing number of destinations.
2. Wide network in Australia
Singapore Airlines service all major airports in Australia. That includes the big ones of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra, as well as Cairns and Darwin via its regional subsidiary SilkAir.
They have some of their best products flying to and from Australia. A highlight is the updated regional Business Class seat on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for those in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
3. Easy to earn
KrisFlyer miles are relatively easy to accrue in Australia. They enjoy partnerships with most of the major Australian banks, including:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Amplify Rewards
- ANZ Rewards
- Citi Rewards
- NAB Rewards
- Westpac Altitude Rewards
Don’t forget that ability to transfer points from Velocity to KrisFlyer makes any Velocity-linked credit card a KrisFlyer-earning card too.
You can boost your balance by crediting your Virgin Australia and Star Alliance flights to KrisFlyer. You can also do your online shopping through the KrisFlyer Spree portal.
4. No fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines flights
KrisFlyer does not apply fuel surcharges to Singapore Airlines redemptions. To put that into perspective, a couple of years ago, it used to cost US$260 in taxes for a one-way Business Class flight from San Francisco to Singapore; now that is down to US$5.60.
The same goes for flights on its subsidiary, SilkAir—no fuel surcharges. However, they are added to redemptions on Star Alliance partner airlines.
5. Ability to transfer to/from Velocity
Singapore Airlines releases more saver award space to its own members. Therefore, sometimes it is worthwhile to transfer your Velocity Points to KrisFlyer.
Whilst you’ll lose some of the value of your points by doing this, it allows you to:
- access more award seats
- book award seats earlier
- get a free or cheap stopover
- book a round-the-world ticket
More on those benefits here.
6. Free or cheap stopovers
One of the best ways to maximise an award redemption on KrisFlyer is to add stopovers. That’s usually in Singapore but also available at some of Singapore Airlines’ appealing mid-point cities. They include Frankfurt, Manchester, Moscow, Hong Kong and Tokyo.
For example, a one-way Saver award from Sydney to Frankfurt via Singapore costs 116,000/163,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business/First Class.
If you redeemed Sydney to New York via Singapore and Frankfurt, it would cost you 129,000 miles in Business and 167,000 miles in First. That’s only 13,000 and a meagre 4,000 miles more, respectively.
If you book a roundtrip ticket, you’ll get one stopover for free and you can purchase more for US$100 each. That means you could stop over in Frankfurt on the way to New York and Singapore on the way back for just US$100.
7. Flexible change and cancellation policy
Singapore has one of the more generous policies when it comes to changing your travel plans.
It is only US$25 to change the date, route or cabin on a Singapore Airlines flight. Furthermore, it’s US$75 if you need to cancel your award booking and want the miles re-credited to your KrisFlyer account. Compare that to Qantas’ 6,000-point cancellation fee.
8. Simple to book
KrisFlyer’s online booking system is quite easy-to-use compared to other frequent flyer programs (but it is not so comprehensive). Before you had to phone up to book an award on a partner airline. However, now you can do it online for the most part.
Two other benefits of the booking system are that there are no ‘close-in award booking fees’ for booking 21 days or less from departure, like some other programs charge.
Plus, you can waitlist awards, meaning you put your name down in case award space opens up in the future (which it often can). Note that you do need to have required amount miles already in your account to do so.
9. Part of the largest alliance in the world
This means you have more diverse redemption opportunities on airlines like Lufthansa, SWISS, ANA, United and Turkish Airlines.
10. Last-minute travel discounts
Around the 17-19th of each month, KrisFlyer will usually run a 30% discount on selected routes. They’ll target ones that have lots of seats open for travel during the following month. Australian airports tend to be included each month.
This promotion represents great value for those with flexibility with dates and KrisFlyer miles (or Velocity Points) to burn.
Downsides to KrisFlyer
It is definitely not all rosy as KrisFlyer is not without its downsides:
- Limited space: they do not release much space to partners, such as Velocity and United; instead, they reserve more availability for their own members
- Limited expiry: miles expire 36 months after accrual regardless of other activity. That’s different to a lot of other airlines where you just need to earn more miles to extend the validity of all of them. If you want to extend their validity by six months, you’ll be up for a US$12 or 1,200-mile charge per 10,000 miles, (which is actually not a high charge in my opinion)
- Expensive award type: like most programs, KrisFlyer has two tiers of awards—Saver (cheaper) and Advantage (more expensive). If you want to try one of the newer cabins, chances are you will have to fork out more miles for an Advantage Award
- Frustrating call centre staff: KrisFlyer used to have a reputation for quite knowledgeable and helpful phone agents. However, more recent reports from frequent flyers are to the contrary
KrisFlyer is a program that is definitely engaged in the Australian market. It has connections with most major Australian credit card issuers, which makes their miles easy to earn. Their unique partnership with Velocity means KrisFlyer miles can be indirectly accrued in many more ways too.
Singapore Airlines fly a number of high-quality products to many Australian airports. The lack of fuel surcharges increases the value proposition of redemptions on the airline.
Their flexible change and cancellation policy is one of the more generous that is around. Plus, the free/cheap stopover options mean you can do combination trips on the cheap.
Of course, do be aware that no frequent flyer program is perfect and KrisFlyer is no exception. There is work to be done in improving their online interface and customer service on the phone.
Furthermore, they could improve their Saver level award availability and loosen the restrictions around miles expiry.
What is your take on the KrisFlyer program? Do you get any use out of it for your travel needs?
Supplementary images courtesy Singapore Airlines.