KrisFlyer Changes in the New Year (with Some Devaluation)

The new year 2019 has come upon us all. We all look forward to great, new experiences and hope for pleasant surprises. But Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer, it seems, has decided to alert us about some changes to the program first thing in the year.

KrisFlyer announced tweaks to the awards redemption experience, including some miles devaluation effective January 24th.

Let’s break down the start of this year’s KrisFlyer changes:

 

The Bad

Rising Award Rates

Let’s start with the most important and impactful changes: devaluation to premium cabin redemptions. Starting January 24th, award prices for Business and Suites/First on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will rise.

Here are the old prices, while these are the new ones.

To summarize a bit, here is a comparison of rates for some routes to/from Singapore:

  • Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta
    • Saver: 17,500 to 19,000 on Business (+9%); 25,000 to 27,500 on First (+10%)
    • Advantage: 50,000 to 52,500 on First (+5%)
  • Manila, Bangkok
    • Saver: 20,000 to 21,500 on Business (+8%); 30,000 to 32,500 on First (+10%)
    • Advantage: 60,000 to 62,500 on First (+4%)
  • Hong Kong, Taipei
    • Saver: 27,500 to 30,500 on Business (+11%); 37,500 to 40,500 on First (+8%)
    • Advantage: 70,000 to 73,000 on First (+4%)
  • Tokyo, Seoul
    • Saver: 43,000 to 47,000 on Business (+9%); 65,000 to 70,000 on First (+8%)
    • Advantage: 115,000 to 120,000 on First (+4%)
  • Perth, Darwin
    • Saver: 32,500 to 36,500 on Business (+12%); 47,500 to 52,000 on First (+9%)
    • Advantage: 95,000 to 99,500 on First (+5%)
  • San Francisco, Los Angeles
    • Saver: 88,000 to 95,000 on Business (+8%); 115,000 to 125,000 on First (+10%)
    • Advantage: 120,000 to 125,000 on Business (+4%); 210,000 to 222,000 on First (+6%)
  • New York, Houston
    • Saver: 92,000 to 99,000 on Business (+8%); 120,000 to 132,000 on First (+10%)
    • Advantage: 135,000 to 140,000 on Business (+4%); 225,000 to 237,000 on First (+5%)

As you can see, all routes take a hit of about 6~12% on business or first. Prices for premium economy – while not outlined here – also rise around 3~7%. KrisFlyer may be betting that people have gotten used to the last devaluation, but increased costs still sting nonetheless.

Some may argue that it would be a better idea to start banking on those Spontaneous Escapes redemption discount offers. This brings us to a few silver linings…

 

The Good

Spontaneous Escapes

Spontaneous Escapes

Over the past year, Singapore Airlines started offering Spontaneous Escapes. This promotion offered discounted redemption rates later in a month, for flights to be made the following month.

According to the airline, the program seems to have been popular enough that they’ve decided to make it a permanent feature of KrisFlyer starting February 15th.

That means if you have considerable miles for travel you have to make soon, it may be worth your while to wait a bit and see whether the itinerary will open up for reduced rates. That, or when you are fairly sure that, when it’s unavailable, fare prices won’t spike drastically enough as you instead pay at the last minute.

 

Multi-class Upgrade Redemptions

With the introduction of premium economy on aircraft of various airlines, there are now four ticketed cabins. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer has until now allowed seat redemptions on – as well as upgrades to and from – premium economy.

Starting immediately, KrisFlyer will now also allow seat upgrades from economy to business class even on aircraft with premium economy. Such upgrades will cost the same number of miles as on aircraft without premium economy.

Take note, however, that upgrade award charts have been updated (and devaluated), too. You can compare the old rates with the new ones. These rates will also change come January 24th.

 

Multi-day Award Search

One pain point of the KrisFlyer redemption experience has been looking for availability of space for a given route on a given day.

If you wanted to search for a business seat on the Singapore-Houston route for days around Chinese New Year, you had to check the outbound on February 2nd, then 3rd, then 6th, and so on. If you did find one, you do the same for the inbound such as February 8th, then 9th, then 10th… you get the picture. In other words, it was tedious.

Beginning January 31st, KrisFlyer will now allow you to check at a glance award availability for a given date, plus the three days before and after. We don’t know what’s stopping them from showing the few weeks or full month around the date, but for now this should somewhat alleviate the inconvenience.

 

The Mixed Bag

Clearing the Waitlist

The KrisFlyer program has become notorious for its waitlists. If members are unable to book an award spot on a given flight, they can get waitlisted – but at times it doesn’t get cleared until just hours before departure!

Singapore Airlines aims to rectify this by confirming successful waitlisted awards (and cancelling unsuccessful ones) at least 14 days prior to the flight. This new policy will take effect from the second quarter of 2019.

This should mean that flights less than two weeks away cannot be waitlisted; award space would simply be either available or unavailable.

However, there will be no changes to how and when upgrade award waitlists are processed; KrisFlyer will continue to allow this up to the point of departure.

 

Final Word

It’s great that KrisFlyer trying to improve the less obvious aspects to the miles and points experience. By paying attention to and improving the redemption process, everyone is able to more easily reap the benefits of their hard-earned miles. That, and we get less frustrated by it all when it’s supposed to be the reward for loyalty.

And the chart devaluation (yet again) is indeed frustrating, and another reminder that we shouldn’t hold on to our miles for too long. Earn and burn, as they say. Just remember that if you’re still on the fence on that award you’ve been eyeing, you have until just January 23rd to book – and clear the waitlist for – the journey.

How are you going to start your new year with KrisFlyer this 2019?