A couple of weeks ago, Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer program KrisFlyer announced its first change in award pricing in five years, affecting flights ticketed from 23 March 2017 onwards – and that day has crept up, so if you’re sitting on a KrisFlyer balance, it could be time to act.
In short – KrisFlyer are increasing the cost of many awards but also reducing the amount of taxes and charges to pay in cash with them. If you want to book at the lower points prices, you should look at this in the next couple of days.
At the time we noted that the increase in some award pricing and elimination of the online booking discount look negative, when you factor in the savings on fuel surcharges, in some cases you’ll come out ahead and in others paying more, so it’s worth looking at the big picture.
Here’s our summary from when the changes were first announced.
What is changing?
- Change 1 (negative): 15% online booking discount to disappear
- Change 2 (positive): elimination of fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights
- Change 3 (mixed, thanks to changes 1 and 2): increase in Saver award pricing on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights to/from most of Australia and New Zealand, North Asia, Europe and the US
What is staying the same?
- Saver Awards for Premium Economy
- The higher priced Advantage Awards for all sectors and cabin classes
- Upgrade Awards for all sectors and cabin classes
- Star Alliance award chart
- Other partners’ award charts, e.g. Virgin Australia
Change 1 (negative): 15% online booking discount to disappear
A nifty feature of KrisFlyer was the ability to access a 15% discount on award flights when booking online or via the mobile app, and in cases where you had to phone the call centre because you could not complete an online booking and they would honour the discount.
The online booking discount currently reflected in the top right-hand corner will disappear
This discount will now be eliminated, bringing the program into line with most of its competitors.
Change 2 (positive): Elimination of fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights
Even though KrisFlyer’s fuel surcharges were neither low like some US airlines nor extravagant like British Airways or Lufthansa, the elimination of these charges helps to temper the increase in award pricing on some routes and, in fact, reduces the real cost of awards to medium-haul destinations like much of Asia and the Middle East.
In welcome news, you’ll no longer be liable to pay fuel surcharges (YQ) on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir award flights
Change 3 (mixed): Increase in Saver award pricing on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights in 5 of 13 zones
I have analysed the change in points pricing on a range of routes from Australia and deepened the analysis by calculating how much you will save or be out of pocket when factoring in the savings on fuel surcharges you will no longer have to pay.
I made the following assumptions:
- We aim to redeem KrisFlyer miles when we get at least 2.2 cents per mile from them – I’ve used this to calculate the ‘real cost’ of an award
- Pricing is for one-way travel
- ‘Old rate’ automatically includes the 15% online booking discount
Some people would value KrisFlyer miles lower than our current 2.2c valuation so you’ll need to bear that in mind when reading the results.
Pay attention most to the fourth column showing the points change in percentage terms – which may scare you on the surface – and the last column showing the real cost change.
|Route||Old rate||New rate||Points change||Fuel surcharges savings||Old total cost||New total cost||Estimated total cost change|
|Perth - Singapore||27,625||32,500||+18%||$166||$774||$715||-8%|
|Adelaide - Mumbai||61,625||76,000||+23%||$331||$1687||$1672||-1%|
|Melbourne - Tokyo||65,875 (Business)|
|+26% / +30%||$207||$1656 |
|Brisbane - San Francisco||85,000||110,000||+29%||$482||$2352||$2420||+3%|
|Sydney - London||80,750 (Business)|
|+30% / +31%||$356||$2133 / $2834||$2310 / $3256||+8%
On the surface, it doesn’t look good when you look at an average increase in outright redemption pricing of 27% across these routes.
However, when we factor in the estimated savings you’ll make on fuel surcharges, with these examples and our valuation of miles, only an average increase in real cost terms of 6%.
Two contrasting examples
Let’s look at the first and last examples:
Whilst a one-way Business Class award from Perth to Singapore will increase 18% from 27,650 to 32,500 miles, we think you’ll now save $166 in fuel surcharges. It’s hard to say for sure, but that’s our assumption at this point.
Valuing KrisFlyer miles at 2.2 cents a piece, the old pricing costs $774 in dollar terms ($0.022 x 27,650 miles + $166 fuel surcharges), whereas the new real cost will be $715 ($0.022 x 32,500 miles + $0 fuel surcharges), representing a saving of $59.
Looking at the last example of a First Class ticket from Sydney to London, you’ll be up for a 31% increase in terms of points required but will save $356 in fuel surcharges, tempering the overall real cost increase to only 15%.
Our take: how the changes will affect you
The winners (or lowest losers) in these changes are travellers based in Perth and Darwin wanting to travel anywhere except North Asia, Europe and the US (East and West Coast).
Those four zones, along with the rest of Australia and New Zealand, are the only ones that have increased their pricing, with all others staying the same.
That means that if you are planning on booking travel from Perth or Darwin to a zone other than those mentioned above, it would be best to hold off until after the changes as your real cost will decrease.
If you are going to one of the long-haul destinations, you’ll save by booking before the changes occur.
If you are based near one of the other Australian airports that Singapore Airlines serves (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide), it would be best to book in the next three weeks as all flights from this zone will increase in price, regardless of destination.
This applies if you are currently waitlisted for a flight too, so try to get it ticketed before 23 March or else the new pricing will kick in.
Finally, if you’re travelling between or within any of the eight zones that are not affected by increased pricing, such as Cape Town to Singapore or Manila to Jakarta, you’ll be better off waiting.
The following Point Hacks guides have been updated as a result of these changes:
- 9 of our favourite ways to get the most out of 100,000 KrisFlyer miles
- 7 reasons why KrisFlyer is one of our favourite frequent flyer programs (and 4 downsides)
- How to and why to transfer your points between Velocity and KrisFlyer
- A guide to redeeming KrisFlyer miles on Singapore Airlines’ A350 service to San Francisco: make it a RTW for an extra 8,000 miles + $200)
- Singapore Airlines new Singapore – Canberra – Wellington route now open for Velocity & KrisFlyer redemptions
- How to redeem Velocity points for Business & First Class flights to the USA from Australia
- The airlines and frequent flyer programs that charge the lowest fuel surcharges
- The best value frequent flyer program redemptions – the programs and routes to target
- The best uses of 100,000 Velocity Points
- All you need to know about using points to travel with infants
- What can you use 100,000 Amex Membership Rewards points for?
- How to get to Italy using your Qantas, Velocity, Asia Miles or KrisFlyer points/miles
- How to get to Mexico using your frequent flyer points
- How to get to India using your Qantas, Velocity or other frequent flyer points
- The best options to get to South Africa using frequent flyer points
What do you think of the changes? And how will they affect your travel plans?