Singapore Airlines Devalues KrisFlyer Award Charts & Makes Other Changes Too


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Welcome to 2019 and welcome to the first major airline devaluation of the year courtesy of your friends at Singapore Airlines.

Starting in January 2019 Singapore Airlines is introducing a number of changes to its KrisFlyer Program. Mostly the changes can only be categorised as negative (bad news if you hold a significant number of KrisFlyer Miles) but there are a couple of small pieces of good news too so it’s not all gloom and doom this early in 2019.

Here are the changes that are on the way:

  1. The cost of Advantage and Saver awards in First Class, Business Class & Premium Economy will be changing (for bookings made on or after 24 January 2019)
  2. The cost of upgrades will be changing (for bookings made on or after 24 January 2019)
  3. Upgrades from Economy to Business Class will be available on flights which offer a Premium Economy cabin (with immediate effect)
  4. From 2Q 2019 Singapore Airlines will inform waitlisted passengers if they have been successful in redeeming an award 14 days before departure
  5. KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes will be made a permanent program feature from February 2019.
  6. From 31 January 2019 Singapore Airlines will display award availability across a 7-day window

Here’s a closer to look at some of these changes.

Singapore Airlines Saver Award Changes

Changes are coming to both the Advantage and Saver awards but as it’s the latter award type that is most popular that’s what I’ll be focusing on here.

It does not appear as if the Singapore Airlines partner award charts are being devalued.

Here are some examples of the award changes we can expect.

First Class Saver Award Changes (One-Way)

  • US East Coast/Houston – Singapore: 120k to 132k (10% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Hong Kong/South China: 135k to 150k (11% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – North China: 145k to 160k (10% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 145k to 160k (10% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 145k to 160k (10% increase)
  • US West Coast – Singapore: 118k to 130k (10% increase)
  • US West Coast – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 138k to 153k (11% increase)
  • US West Coast – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 148k to 160k (8% increase)
  • Europe – Singapore: 115k to 125k (8.5% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 128k to 142.5k (11% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (excluding Perth/Darwin): 148k to 163k (10% increase)

Business Class Saver Award Changes (One-Way)

  • US East Coast/Houston – Singapore: 92k to 99k (7.5% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Hong Kong/South China: 100k to 110k (10% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – North China: 110k to 121k (10% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 110k to 121k (10% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 110k to 121k (10% increase)
  • US West Coast – Singapore: 88k to 99k (12.5% increase)
  • US West Coast – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 98k to 109k (12% increase)
  • US West Coast – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 102k to 113k (12% increase)
  • Europe – Singapore: 85k to 92k (8.2% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 95k to 106k (11.5% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (excluding Perth/Darwin): 105k to 116k (10.5% increase)
Singapore Airlines New A380 Business Class
Image Singapore Airlines

Premium Economy Saver Award Changes (One-Way)

  • US East Coast/Houston – Singapore: 70k to 73k (4.5% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Hong Kong/South China: 85k to 90k (6% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – North China: 90k to 95k (5.5% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 88.5k to 93.5k (5.5% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 90k to 95k (5.5% increase)
  • US West Coast – Singapore: 65k to 68k (4.5% increase)
  • US West Coast – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 83.5k to 88.5k (6% increase)
  • US West Coast – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 85k to 90k (6% increase)
  • Europe – Singapore: 62.5k to 64.5k (3% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 66k to 70k (6% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (excluding Perth/Darwin): 87.5k to 91.5k (4.5% increase)
Image – Singapore Airlines

Award Change Thoughts

Most First and Business Class saver awards appear to be increasing in cost by between 8% and 13% while the increases in most Premium Economy saver award costs are between 4% and 6%.

On the face of things this probably doesn’t seem too bad and had this been the first devaluation in a few years I’d be saying that this could have been a lot worse….but that isn’t the world we’re living in.

The award charts that are currently in place have only been around since March 2017 (which is when the airline removed the 15% discount for booking online and increased the cost of awards too) so, less than two years after the last major devaluation, we’re seeing the costs of KrisFlyer awards rise again….and the awards weren’t cheap in the first place.

Singapore Airlines Upgrade Award Changes

I’m not going to go into great detail here as the upgrade charts speak for themselves but, for a sense of how things are changing, here are the moves in a few select standard saver upgrade costs:

Standard Economy to Business Class

  • US East Coast/Houston – Singapore: 59.5k to 70.5k (18.5% increase)
  • US East Coast/Houston – Hong Kong/South China: 62.5k to 76.5k (22.5% increase)
  • US West Coast – Singapore: 57k to 68k (19.5% increase)
  • US West Coast – South Asia (inc. Maldives): 61.5k to 74k (20.5% increase)
  • Europe – Singapore: 57k to 67k (17.5% increase)
  • Europe – USA: 26.5k to 32k (21% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (Perth/Darwin): 57k to 68k (19.5% increase)
  • Europe – Australia (excluding Perth/Darwin): 66k to 79k (19.5% increase)

Upgrade Award Thoughts

These increases are just egregious.

The cost of upgrades wasn’t exactly very tempting on most routes as things stood so to see them rise by over 20% (in a large number of cases) is very disappointing.

It’s all very well making upgrades available between Economy Class and Business Class on flights which offer a Premium Economy cabin but when the upgrade can cost well over 70% of an outright  Business Class award it’s hard to see the value here.

Image Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines Waitlist Changes

If the changes to the cost of awards and upgrades are negative (which clearly they are) then at least this is a little bit of good news.

As Singapore Airlines puts it:

To give you greater certainty for your waitlisted flight redemptions, you will be informed of the outcome of your waitlist 14 days before the flight.

At least two weeks prior to the flight, all successful waitlist redemptions will be confirmed, and unsuccessful ones cancelled.

This change is aimed at removing the uncertainty of being on a redemption waitlist, and to give more time to make alternative travel plans should your waitlist not be successful. It will come into effect in the second quarter of 2019.

Waitlists for redemption upgrades will continue to be available up to the point of departure.

Considering a lot of other airlines tend to release awards within the two weeks leading up to the departure date this move from Singapore Airlines will be useful for some – knowing that a Singapore Airlines waitlist request has failed two weeks away from departure will give people more confidence to book awards on other carriers as they become available.

KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes To Be A Permanent Feature

KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes are Singapore Airlines’ discounted awards which, up until now, have appeared online every now and again.

The last set of Spontaneous Escapes offered 30% off the award costs on select Singapore Airlines routes including routes to/from the US so, considering how expensive some of these awards can be, KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes can be a great way to extract a lot more value out of your miles…..and now this should become a little easier.

Per Singapore Airlines:

Due to popular demand, KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes will be made a permanent programme feature from February 2019. It offers significant discounts off regular redemption rates each month to selected destinations across the Singapore Airlines and SilkAir network, for travel the following month.

To commemorate the official launch of KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes, the February edition will offer never-before redemption deals to destinations in our network. Details will be made available on singaporeair.com/kfescapes on 15 February 2019.

I like the sound of “never-before redemption deals” so it will be interesting to see what Singapore Airlines announces in a little over a month’s time.

Bottom Line

Overall these are negative changes to the KrisFlyer program.

The increases in award costs should not be viewed in isolation but, instead, viewed alongside other considerations such as the frequency with which Singapore Airlines increases award costs and the scarcity of premium cabin awards on some of the more popular routes.

The increases in the cost of upgrade awards are terrible and really call in to question the point of the awards in the first place.

Singapore Airlines isn’t a cheap carrier on which to book cash fares so when an upgrade to Business Class can require over 70% of the miles of a full Business Class award it starts to get hard to see where the value lies.

The remaining changes are positive ones and it’s great to see KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes being made a permanent fixture…..we’re going to need them now that normal awards cost as much as they do!

Has anyone been caught out by this set of devaluations?

5 COMMENTS

  1. I am very very disappointed at the SQ devaluations. The 2017 devaluation was just 2 years ago, and that was already a huge devaluation. Now this devaluation really hurts and makes it much harder to get an award seat.

    I think one of the biggest drivers behind these devaluations is the mass proliferation of websites around the world promoting award seats which in turn caused the demand for them to skyrocket. Since there is only a limited amount of award seats available, by raising the amount needed to redeem a seat, it lowers the redemption rates since it takes much longer to acquire the miles. And if the bar keeps getting raised, for some people they might never have enough despite their best efforts to collect Krisflyer Miles.

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