Singapore Airlines revises fare types and increases fees: how this will affect you in Australia

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 8 minutes
POSTED: December 27, 2017
UPDATED: May 20, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
STATUS: Singapore Airlines delays implementation of revised service fees to 1 May 2018; SilkAir is merging into Singapore Airlines over late 2010s/early 2020s

After devaluing its award chart for travel on its own flights back in March last year and then for Star Alliance partner flights in December, KrisFlyer have announced changes to fare types, upgrade eligibility, and change and cancellation fees.

All changes took effect from 20 January 2018, with the exception of the service fees, which will take effect from 1 May.

Here is our take on the changes and advice on how this could affect your current and future bookings through KrisFlyer.


What is changing?

  • Change 1: Standard redemption and flight upgrade awards will be renamed Advantage. The conditions for advance seat selection and checked baggage allowance will now depend on class of travel, and whether you book a Saver or Advantage award type
  • Change 2: Price increases for award changes and redeposit of miles for cancelled awards
  • Change 3: Introduction of unbundled fares, including shuffling of booking classes
  • Change 4: Minor tweaks to check-in baggage allowances
  • Change 5: New fees for advance seat selection in Economy and Premium Economy
  • Change 6: KrisFlyer mileage earn rates (some up and some down)
  • Change 7: Changes to upgrade eligibility—good news for those in Economy, not so good for those purchasing cheap Premium Economy and Business fares
  • Change 8: Companies enrolled in the HighFlyer corporate frequent flyer program will be unable to accrue HighFlyer points for some Economy booking classes

What is staying the same?

Change 1: Standard award class to be renamed Advantage; new conditions for advance seat selection and checked baggage allowance on award redemption bookings

There are currently two award types for redemption bookings and flight upgrades—Saver and Standard. From 20 January 2018, Standard awards will be renamed Advantage awards.

As you may know, Saver awards require fewer KrisFlyer miles, but have limited availability and come with more restrictive fare conditions; Standard/Advantage awards require more miles, as there are more seats available. The latter also have less restrictive fare conditions.

standard-advantage

If you redeem an Advantage award in Economy Class from 20 January onwards, your baggage allowance will increase from 30 kg to 35 kg, consistent with the new baggage allowance for those booking revenue tickets in Economy Flex.

Free standard seat selection will be available for both Saver and Advantage awards in Economy Class; however, you will only be able to select Forward Zone Seats for free if you redeem for an Advantage award. Extra Legroom Seats will need to be purchased under both award types.

Thankfully, there is still a litany of ways in which you can still select any Economy seat types for free regardless of the award type—we explore these later in this guide.

These changes have no effect on the more premium awards that we tend to target, i.e. those in Premium Economy, Business and First.

Change 2: Price increases for award changes and redeposit of miles for cancelled awards

From 1 May 2018, Singapore Airlines will begin charging more for award changes, redeposits of miles for cancelled awards and upgrades, and for no-shows, on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and their partner airlines.

Here is the current fee structure:

Booking SQ

And the new fee structure come 1 May 2018:

Booking SQ

Some of these changes are significant, particularly the increase in the no-show fee. The waived or reduced fees for Elite Silver, Elite Gold, and PPS Club members also appear to have disappeared. We’ve compared the current and future fees below:

ServiceCurrent Fee (US$)New Fee 1 May 2018 (US$)
Change of date on Singapore Airlines / SilkAirNo charge for Krisflyer or PPS members$25 on Saver Awards/upgrades

$0 for Advantage awards/upgrades
Change of route, cabin class or award type on Singapore Airlines / SilkAir$20$25
Change of date, route, flight or carrier on partner airlines$20$50
Redeposit miles of completely unused award tickets / upgrades$30 for Krisflyer, $15 for Elite Silver, Gold, or PPS$75 on Saver, $50 on Advantage
No-show fee$75$100 Economy
$200 Premium Economy
$300 Business and First Class

For award tickets issued before 1 May 2018, the old change fees apply the first time that the ticket is changed. However, the new fees will apply if you make any subsequent changes or cancel your ticket thereafter.

Change 3: Unbundled fares

Unbundled fares seem to be the way to go for most airlines, and these changes show that Singapore Airlines will not be the exception.

Economy will have three fare types:

Booking Singapore Airlines

Premium Economy will have two:

Booking Singapore Airlines

Business Class will have three:

Booking Singapore Airlines

First Class will have just the one:

Booking Singapore Airlines

Fare types and booking classes will align as follows:

  • Economy Lite: V, K, Q, N
  • Economy Standard: M, H, W
  • Economy Flexi: Y, B, E
  • Premium Economy Standard: P
  • Premium Economy Flexi: S, T
  • Business Lite: D
  • Business Standard: U
  • Business Flexi: Z, C, J
  • First/Suites: A, F

Change 4: Tweaks to check-in baggage allowances

For flights to and from all destinations except the US, the current check-in baggage allowances apply:

Booking Singapore Airlines

One could easily misinterpret Singapore’s website, reading it to imply that KrisFlyer Elite Gold or PPS Members will now only receive baggage allowance privileges on Economy and Premium Economy fares. However, this would be a drastic change, and would result in anomalies such as KrisFlyer Elite Gold members receiving higher baggage allowance on Economy fares, as opposed to Premium Economy. As such, we have taken a purposive approach to interpreting these changes.

Those who book an Economy Flexi fare will now receive an extra 5 kg, for a total standard allowance of 35 kg. This allowance will also apply to Advantage award seats in Economy.

PPS Members will only receive an extra 30 kg on top of this for a total of 65 kg, rather than the extra 100% that they currently receive on the Economy Class allowance.

KrisFlyer Elite Gold/Star Alliance Gold members will continue to receive an extra 20 kg, for a total of 55 kg.

Singapore have also clarified that extra check-in baggage for PPS Club members will also be extended to immediate family members on the same booking at the point of check-in at the airport.

Change 5: Fees for advance seat selection

Singapore Airlines will begin charging for advance seat selection for each segment booked under the following fare types:

  • Economy Lite: Standard, Forward Zone, and Extra Legroom
  • Economy Standard (inc. Economy Saver Awards): Forward Zone and Extra Legroom
  • Economy Flexi (inc. Economy Advantage Awards): Extra Legroom
  • Premium Economy Standard and Flexi: Extra Legroom

Charging for extra legroom seats when booked into a Flexi fare seems a bit rough, especially in Premium Economy.

Thankfully, there are still ways to avoid advance seat selection fees:

  • Any available seat can be selected for free when online check-in opens, 48 hours before your flight departs. This is regardless of fare type.
  • When travelling on an Economy Lite fare, all passengers with a child or infant in the same booking can select Standards Seats in advance for free, from the time of booking.
  • If you book a ticket before 20 January 2018, you will still be able to select your seats for free, even after this date.
  • KrisFlyer Elite Silver members may select Standard Seats in advance for free, while Elite Gold members may select Standard and Forward Zone Seats for free. PPS Club members can select any seat type for free, including Extra Legroom. The selected seat will be yours even if your status expires before the day of departure, so long as you do not make any changes to your seat or booking.

Remember, if you are an Amex Platinum cardholder, you can receive complimentary KrisFlyer Silver or Gold through the ‘Infinite Journeys’ partnership with Shangri-La Golden Circle.

Change 6: KrisFlyer mileage earn

The number of miles you can earn on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will be revised in accordance with the table below.

Travel ClassCurrent Booking ClassMileage Accrual LevelNew Booking ClassMileage Accrual Level
EconomyV, K10%V, K, Q, N50%
Q, N50%
M, H, W, Y, B, E100%M, H, W75%
Y, B, E100%
Premium EconomyP, S, T110%P100%
S, T125%
BusinessD, U, Z, C, J125%D, U125%
Z, C, J150%
FirstA, F150%A, F200%

Our take on the changes is that they are largely positive. While some mileage earn rates will reduce, most will increase, most notably for cheaper Economy fares where you’ll now earn 50% instead of 10%.

Note that if your ticket was issued before 20 January 2018, the old mileage accrual rates apply. If you make changes to your booking on or after this date, the new mileage accrual rates apply.

Change 7: Flight upgrade eligibility

The number of booking classes in Economy that are eligible to be upgraded with KrisFlyer miles will increase, and the number of eligible classes in Premium Economy and Business will be reduced:

  • Economy Class tickets previously had to be in Y, B or E (Economy Flexi) booking classes to be eligible for an upgrade redemption award. Booking classes M, H and W (Economy Standard) are now also eligible, albeit at higher mileage rate.
  • Premium Economy booking class P (Premium Economy Standard) will no longer be eligible for a flight upgrade redemption. You must be booked into classes S or T (Flexi).
  • Business booking class D (Business Lite) will no longer be eligible for a flight upgrade redemption. You must be booked into classes U, Z, C or J (Standard or Flexi).

Upgrade eligibility for existing bookings in Premium Economy or Business that fall within the soon-to-be-excluded booked classes will be unaffected, providing your ticket is issued before the 20 January 2018.

Planning to upgrade from Premium Economy to Business on your next flight to Singapore? You’ll now need to make sure you book a Flexi fare.

If you have an Economy Standard ticket purchased before the 20 January, you can have your ticket reissued after this date to make it ‘eligible’ for upgrade, however, Singapore advise that fees will apply.

The old upgrade award chart is located here; the new upgrade award chart can be found here.

For reference, the number of KrisFlyer miles required for an upgrade from Australia (excluding Perth & Darwin) is shown below:

Destination/routeUpgrade type (one-way)KrisFlyer miles required
SingaporeEconomy Standard to Premium Economy Class34,000
Economy Standard to Business Class55,000 (Saver)
85,000 (Advantage)
Economy Flexi to Premium Economy Class22,500
Economy Flexi to Business Class45,000 (Saver)
70,000 (Advantage)
Premium Economy Flexi to Business Class30,000 (Saver)
50,000 (Advantage)
Business Standard/Flexi to Suites/First Class50,000 (Saver)
90,000 (Advantage)
Canberra - WellingtonEconomy Standard to Business Class25,000 (Saver)
33,500 (Advantage)
Economy Flexi to Business Class20,000 (Saver)
30,000 (Advantage)

Further, the new chart has been tweaked to make clearer which zone combinations potentially include ‘backtracking routes’ that cannot be redeemed at the published mileage rates. The general notes recommend that you should phone KrisFlyer to confirm the exact mileage.

Routes where this could apply for those flying from Australia include:

  • Zone 2: Malaysia, Indonesia & Brunei
  • Zone 3: Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos
  • Zone 12: US West Coast
  • Zone 13: US East Coast & Houston

Change 8: No HighFlyer points for Economy Lite fares

While unlikely to affect too many of us here in Australia, if you have a small or medium-sized business that is enrolled in the Singapore Airlines HighFlyer program, your business will no longer be able to earn HighFlyer points for tickets issued on/after 20 January 2018 in Economy Lite booking classes Q and N.

Booking classes V and K are already excluded from HighFlyer points earn, so their inclusion in the Economy Lite fare type will make no difference.

If your business already has issued tickets under the Economy Lite fare type, comprising of Q or N booking classes, it will still accrue HighFlyer points for these flights. However, if the ticket has been reissued on/after 20 January 2018 in these classes, it will not be eligible for accrual of HighFlyer points from that point on.

Our take: how the changes will affect you

The biggest winner in these changes are those who fly regularly on cheaper Economy fares and don’t care about seat selection—they’ll earn more KrisFlyer miles than before.

The other changes, while negative, are generally pretty benign, unless you rely on being able to upgrade cheap Premium Economy or Business Class tickets—this will no longer be possible from next month.

The fee increases are also a bit of a sting, though these will only affect you if you’re needing to make changes to bookings, or you decide to be a no-show for your flight—these increases will take effect a little later from 1 May 2018.

Singapore Airlines have introduced many changes in 2017. Here is to hoping that there will be less in 2018!

What do you think of the changes? And how do you think they will affect your travel plans?

Singapore Airlines revises fare types and increases fees: how this will affect you in Australia was last modified: May 20th, 2018 by Daniel Kinnoch