Analyzing the 2017 KrisFlyer Devaluations

Earlier in the year, Singapore Airlines announced changes to the KrisFlyer program, specifically about increases in the cost of redeeming award seats for miles earned (an exercise in what travel hacking circles call a devaluation).

Just when we discussed the appeal of the KrisFlyer loyalty program, Singapore Airlines has recently announced further changes to the program. These new changes, on the other hand, are a devaluation of Star Alliance partner awards effective in December.

Various travel blogs have already given their thoughts about these changes here, here, here, herehere, here and here. Now that the dust has settled, we’d like to give you our own take on this announcement.


The Bad

Inflation on Partner Awards

Starting this December, KrisFlyer increases the cost of round-trip Star Alliance awards by as much as 36%, but only on the premium cabins (read: Business and First):

Those flights on First to North America? It’s increasing from 225,000 miles to 270,000!

How about those to Europe? It’s up from 215,000 miles to 258,000.

Fancy a trip on Business to Japan or South Korea? It’ll cost you 75,000 miles, up from 55,000.

Introduction of Service Fees

Singapore Airlines is introducing fees for basically any booking-related transaction that’s not completed online via their website or mobile app.

Starting next month, they’re going to charge US$25 or 2500 miles for the following services done with any airline office or call center:

  • Booking for redemption tickets
  • Redemption ticket changes
  • Redemption upgrades
  • KrisFlyer membership services, including updating of passport details, adding or changing Redemption Group Nominees

Unless what you’re trying to do can’t be done online, in which case only then would the service fee be waived for you.

Earlier this Year: Inflation on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir Awards

Remember those changes back in March? We thought we’d remind you of how KrisFlyer adjusted the awards chart for one-way Singapore Airlines and SilkAir redemption earlier.

KrisFlyer removed the 15% discount for making these bookings online, which resulted in increases across the board (based on Saver Awards prices):

How does it stack up against partner bookings?

A Singapore Airlines Suites or First flight to the United States is 118,000 (West) or 120,000 (East) one-way. The 236,000 or 240,000 round-trip cost is only slightly cheaper than a Star Alliance partner award.

The same flight on Suites or First to Europe sets you back 115,000 miles one-way. That’s 230,000 both ways, which is slightly cheaper.

The Business-seat flight to Japan or South Korea costs 43,000 one-way or 86,000 round-trip, which is quite more than on a Star Alliance partner.

Of course you shouldn’t forget there are more destinations and carrier options when booking partner awards.


The Good

Book Partner Awards Online

Singapore Airlines is finally making available an online way to book partner flights. This is something many other Star Alliance carriers have been able to do for years now. Details are scarce at the moment, so it remains to be seen how effective and truly useful their search engine would be.

Earlier this Year: No More Fuel Surcharges

In previous years Singapore Airlines slapped fuel surcharges on every redemption booking made, while other charges such as airport and travel taxes remained. Depending on the distance covered, these fees even went upwards of S$300!

However, whether or not the removal of such surcharges make up for the overall increase in redemption mile costs is up for debate.


Final Word

Devaluations are a reality in the travel hacking game. No traveler is happy to see their dream vacation costs increase. Surely Singapore Airlines is not the only one to be doing this exercise in recent years: United, Malaysian, Delta and American have all carried devaluations in the past few months alone. Others have plans to do so in the year ahead.

Asian Miler recommends that you always pay attention to these frequent flyer announcements so you can plan your redemption more effectively. And it’s always a good idea to never let your miles linger unused for too long. Proprietary currencies such as miles are much more subject to drastic decreases in value.