Prior to these changes, there existed a quirk whereby combining travel on Singapore Airlines and a Star Alliance partner would cost you fewer miles overall than redeeming for a Singapore Airlines only award redemption. This is no longer the case.
Even though those sweet spots are gone, this guide will help you maximise your stopovers in more cities when redeeming KrisFlyer miles, such as by mixing Singapore Airlines along with its Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa, ANA and Asiana.
Remember, a stopover is staying in a city for 24 hours or more; a layover is less than 24 hours.
And note an important consideration is that you may be charged fuel surcharges on the Star Alliance award redemption as opposed to not having to pay them on Singapore Airlines award flights.
What does it mean for you?
Here is a quick example – if you want to fly from Australia to Athens via Zürich, there are two options.
1. SQ: Book Singapore Airlines from (e.g.) Melbourne to Singapore to Zürich, then a separate ticket from Zürich to Athens. This would require 116,000 KrisFlyer miles from Melbourne to Zürich in Business Class, plus AU$96 in taxes. The ticket from Zürich to Athens is not included.
2. Mixed: If you book the same flights above, but tag on a flight from Zürich to Athens, the award will fall under the new Star Alliance partner chart. You would need 117,500 KrisFlyer miles from Melbourne to Athens in Business Class, plus AU$125 in taxes.
This is the far better option, as only 1,500 KrisFlyer miles and AU$29 in taxes extra will get you the connecting Star Alliance flight to your final destination on the same ticket, which makes life a lot easier.
How does that apply to stopovers?
You may know that KrisFlyer allows up to three stopovers on Singapore Airlines award redemptions. You can read about that in further detail in our guide to stopovers on Singapore Airlines flights.
Essentially, one free stopover is permitted on return Saver awards and two on return Advantage awards, with extras being US$100 (~AU$145) each, up to a maximum of two more stops.
No stopovers are permitted for one-way Star Alliance awards – you will be charged per sector if you try. However, the first one is free with a roundtrip award redemption with up to three additional stops costing US$100 each.
With these stops, it is possible to build a multi-city trip across multiple airlines while paying the same number of KrisFlyer miles as a straight-through journey. Let’s look at the examples below – it assumes Business Class travel on a Saver Award where possible.
The first case is based on the Melbourne to Athens example we discussed earlier. There are four possible scenarios depending on whether you book a one-way or return, and whether it’s just SQ flights up to Zürich or includes a Star Alliance connecting flight from Zürich to Athens.
Scenario 1: One-way trip, Melbourne to Zürich only
- This would be a one-way journey wholly on Singapore Airlines, so it’ll cost 116,000 KrisFlyer miles and AU$96 in taxes using the SQ Chart.
- Stopovers are permitted, but not free with this booking. You could stopover in Singapore for US$100 extra.
- You would need to purchase the Zürich-Athens fare separately and make your own connection.
Scenario 2: One-way trip, Melbourne to Athens
- This would be a one-way journey with Singapore Airlines and a Star Alliance Partner, so it’ll cost 117,500 KrisFlyer miles and AU$125 in taxes using the Star Alliance Chart.
- Stopovers are not permitted on one-way Star Alliance redemptions.
- The Zürich-Athens fare is included on the same ticket and in Business Class.
Scenario 3: Return trip, Melbourne to Zürich only
- This would be a return journey wholly on Singapore Airlines, so it’ll cost 232,000 KrisFlyer miles and AU$178 in taxes using the SQ Chart.
- Stopovers are permitted and the first one is free on a return Saver booking. If you wanted to stopover in Singapore both ways, that would cost US$100 extra.
- You would need to purchase the Zürich-Athens return fare separately and make your own connections.
Scenario 4: Return trip, Melbourne to Athens
- This would be a return journey with Singapore Airlines and a Star Alliance Partner, so it’ll cost 235,000 KrisFlyer miles and AU$216 in taxes using the Star Alliance Chart.
- Stopovers are permitted on return Star Alliance redemptions. The first one is free and additional stopovers are US$100 more.
- The Zürich-Athens return fare is included on the same ticket and in Business Class.
There are some other creative examples where you could mix-and-match Singapore Airlines flights with partner Star Alliance airlines. The following case is Melbourne-Singapore-Tokyo on Singapore Airlines, then using a partner (e.g. ANA) to fly from Tokyo to North America.
This reward would cost 260,000 KrisFlyer miles return in Business Class, along with applicable taxes. As a return Star Alliance redemption, you get one stopover for free which could be used in Singapore or Tokyo on the way to/from North America. Extra stopovers are US$100 each.
If you wanted to fly one-way on this route and have stopovers, the only way is to be on Singapore Airlines the whole way – they operate a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Your itinerary would look like this:
As a one-way Singapore Airlines redemption, it would cost 121,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business Class. Stopovers are permitted but are not free on one-way Saver-level redemptions, so you would have to add them for US$100 each. You could stopover in Singapore and/or Tokyo.
One final example, a trip from Singapore to London and down to South America, with stopovers along the way. This would be a very expensive trip if you booked it flight-by-flight. But as a Star Alliance Award, it would cost 245,000 KrisFlyer miles return in Business Class, plus taxes.
As a return Star Alliance redemption, you get one stopover for free which could be used in Singapore, London or Lisbon. The two extra stopovers are US$100 each, if desired.
It’s not possible to do this example one-way and have stopovers. The Star Alliance redemption (122,500 KrisFlyer miles) doesn’t permit them, and Singapore Airlines also don’t fly to South America anymore.
Differences between the Singapore Airlines and Star Alliance partner award charts
The Star Alliance chart is different to Singapore Airlines/SilkAir chart, with one flat rate for Australia, compared to the Singapore Airlines chart where the rates are different for most of Australia versus Perth/Darwin.
The Star Alliance partner chart has the US and Canada classified together as North America, whereas the Singapore Airlines chart divides the US into East Coast and West Coast and doesn’t feature Canada at all as it doesn’t currently fly there.
Another difference is the inclusion of South America in Star Alliance chart, whereas the Singapore Airlines/SilkAir chart does not have the region listed because Singapore Airlines discontinued flights to São Paolo in October 2016.
When to book a Singapore Airlines vs Star Alliance partner award
Redeem a Singapore Airlines award if you are only looking for a one-way trip, you want to fly exclusively on Singapore Airlines and you would like one or more stopovers.
Redeem a Star Alliance award if you do not need a stopover on a one-way trip and your final destination is not serviced by Singapore Airlines. One stopover is permitted and three additional at US$100 per stop is permitted on a round-trip Star Alliance redemptions only.
Two downsides to Star Alliance partner award redemptions
Unlike booking under the Singapore Airlines/SilkAir chart, KrisFlyer does not allow flight changes on travel already commenced on partner airlines, so be mindful when booking a roundtrip award redemption if you want flexibility on the return leg.
However, if you are happy to sacrifice the free stopover on a roundtrip ticket, you can book your trip as two one-way awards for added flexibility, i.e. booking your departure on one award and your return on a separate award, so you can make changes to the return segment (or the whole itinerary) for US$50.
Note that Lufthansa First Class is not available until it is within 14 days of the date you are travelling, which means that if you are booking a First Class award further in advance than that, you won’t be able to reserve First Class on Lufthansa. This is where booking one-ways makes sense, due to flexibility.
Another downside is that you will also be slugged fuel surcharges by KrisFlyer when redeeming miles for travel on a combination of Singapore Airlines and partner flights, whereas fuel surcharges are no longer payable on travel exclusively on Singapore Airlines.
How to piece together your trip
If in case you’d like to book via phone, an ‘offline service fee’ of US$25 or 2,500 KrisFlyer miles will be charged but will be waived if you are unable to make your bookings or changes online, which may happen when partner airlines or multiple stopovers are involved.
For booking via phone, it’s best to search for availability on the Singapore Airlines flights through the KrisFlyer website or on its partner airlines through United. Read our guide to searching for award space first to get the basics down pat.
Have a notepad handy because when you find the available flights, you’ll have to provide the information to the Singapore Airlines agent on the telephone, because not all agents are knowledgeable, meaning you’ll have to hold their hand through this process.
Speaking from personal experience, these five handy tips will save you a lot of hassle. Write down the following:
- The date/s with available seats (e.g. 16 and 17 July 2020)
- Origin and destination (Sydney to Singapore)
- Airline name (Singapore Airlines)
- Flight number (SQ222)
- Departure and arrival times (3pm – 9:20pm)
Keep repeating this search process for each city until you complete your itinerary. Finally, once you have pieced together each flight, call the 24/7 KrisFlyer Membership Services line on (02) 8228 1188 to book your trip.
Devaluations of frequent flyer programs can drive up the price of some or most awards, but there are still ways to make the most out of a reward booking, as you can see.
Combining travel with Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partners means easier connections and potentially more interesting stop-over destinations, even though it may require more KrisFlyer miles and cash for additional taxes.
How do you plan to maximise your KrisFlyer balance by combining travel on Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partners?
Images courtesy Star Alliance. Based on a guide previously written by Nelson Yap.