Well, this is an unfortunate development: Singapore Airlines has announced that they are making changes to their award chart. They are raising prices on some redemptions and removing the 15% discount that they are currently offering if you book online. Singapore last devalued their award chart in 2012, and these new changes will go into effect March 23, 2017. This basically gives KrisFlyer members just 3 weeks notice.
There is some good news to accompany this devaluation, though. KrisFlyer will no longer be charging fuel surcharges on award tickets on Singapore Airlines or Silk Air.
Bad News: Overall Price Bump with KrisFlyer Devaluation
Singapore has a pretty granular award chart, so you can visit the new chart here and the old chart here. All the changes appear to be on the Saver Award chart for travel on Singapore Airlines. The Standard Award chart and the Star Alliance chart are unaffected.
Currently, a one-way award ticket between Singapore and the East Coast of the US is 110,000 KrisFlyer miles. However, booking online will give you a 15% discount, so you’re paying just 93,500 miles. Starting March 23, the price will go up to 120,000 KrisFlyer miles one-way. Since the online booking discount will no longer be available, we are looking at a 28% increase for East Coast – Singapore itineraries, like the coveted JFK-FRA-SIN.
The price bump only technically affects a few regions, and Premium Economy awards will not increase in price.
- Japan and Korea
- Australia and New Zealand
However, even with routes that technically avoid a price bump, you’re still be losing the 15% online booking discount. So you can continue to fly the Singapore Suites for 37,500 KrisFlyer miles one-way between Hong Kong (HKG) and Singapore (SIN), but you are basically looking at a 17.8% price increase on miles anyway.
Finally, Singapore Airlines is also revising the change fees on award tickets. One thing I like about Singapore KrisFlyer is how low their change fee is—currently, it’s $12 if you make changes online, or $20 if you make them through the phone. Starting March 23, the fee will be $20 regardless of whether you make changes by phone or online.
Good News: No More Fuel Surcharge on Singapore Airlines Flights
Fuel surcharges have long been a pain point for those who wish to leverage their miles for travel on the cheap. This is good news, and might even be good enough for some of you to consider these KrisFlyer changes to be a net positive.
For example, I recently booked a flight from New York (JFK) to Singapore (SIN) via Frankfurt (FRA), and the fuel surcharge for one person came out to be around $295. So using that same New York to Singapore route as an example, you’d be effectively paying 26,500 more miles, but $295 less in cash. I don’t consider that a good value. Even if you are someone who can frequently generate KrisFlyer miles at less than 1 cent per point, I think you’d agree that your points would be worth more than 1.11 cents each elsewhere.
Personally, I count this as an overall devaluation. I do appreciate Singapore Airlines at least giving some advance notice, though 3 weeks doesn’t feel quite enough. I also appreciate that they are getting rid of a huge pain point with the removal of fuel surcharges. However, I frequently leverage my KrisFlyer miles for premium cabin travels, and the reduction in out-of-poocket cash doesn’t quite make up for the bump in mileage cost.
To be honest, this is really not as bad a change as it could be. But unless you are someone who used to book over the phone, it will now definitely cost you more miles to fly Singapore Airlines on an award ticket. But if you fly Premium Economy or Economy cabins, you might actually even come out ahead while factoring in cash money payment.
I am a bit puzzled that they chose to eliminate the incentive of booking (and making changes) online, since this may put a higher burden on their phone agents. However, as it stands, some people can get online pricing over the phone if they find an agent that’s nice enough to do it, so perhaps Singapore thinks it’s time to axe that altogether and simplify the rate structure.
Considering how easy Singapore KrisFlyer miles are to come by—since they partner with all four major flexible currency programs (Chase, AMEX, Citi, SPG)—I think we can all continue to derive value from KrisFlyer. The price bump may not be welcomed, but at least the removal of fuel surcharge is a step in the right direction.