The majority of KrisFlyer users will never redeem a partner award. With a little bit of planning, you can stretch your miles by using them to redeem these flights.
Opinions expressed reflect the view of the writer.
If you've only ever redeemed your KrisFlyer miles for awards on Singapore Airlines, you're missing out on some of the best value in the programme. That's because your KrisFlyer miles are remarkably flexible - in addition to flights on SIA, they can also be redeemed for travel on over 30 different airlines on the Star Alliance global network.
What this means:
You can use KrisFlyer miles to fly to destinations not served by Singapore Airlines
You don't need to be stuck on waitlist under "SQ Saver" category (and don't want to spend more miles to upgrade to the next category
Fly cheap on domestic travel within India, China, US and Australia
30 different airlines can sound hopelessly overwhelming, but never fear. In this post, we'll help you maximise your KrisFlyer miles by breaking down the different kinds of partner redemptions, and when you should use them.
How much do partner awards cost?
KrisFlyer has two types of partner awards: Star Alliance and non-Star Alliance.
All Star Alliance awards use the same award chart. Whether I'm redeeming my KrisFlyer miles for a flight on Air India, Air China or Air Canada, I'll always refer to the same award chart.
On the other hand, there are individual award charts for each of the five non-Star Alliance partners
HOW ARE PARTNER AWARDS DIFFERENT FROM SINGAPORE AIRLINES AWARDS?
|Singapore Airlines Awards||Partner Awards (Star Alliance and Non-Star Alliance)|
|Fuel Surcharges||None||Applicable where charged by partner|
|Changes||Free (Advantage)/ US$25 (Saver)||US$50|
|Cancellations||US$50 (Advantage)/ US$75 (Saver)||US$75|
|Redeem For||Self and redemption nominees||Self and redemption nominees|
Fuel surcharges: Singapore Airlines no longer imposes fuel surcharges on its flights, but other airlines still do. KrisFlyer will pass on fuel surcharges on partner awards, where applicable. These can be hefty on certain airlines (e.g. Lufthansa), so always be sure to confirm them before you book.
Changes and cancellations: Partner awards are slightly more expensive to change and cancel ($50-75) compared to Singapore Airlines awards ($0-75).
Moreover, do note that no changes can be made to partially used partner tickets. For example, suppose I fly from Singapore to Taipei with the outbound leg on 20 June and the return leg on 30 June. If I decide on 25 June that I want to extend my time in Taipei, I won't be able to change my return leg because I've already flown the outbound leg. The entire itinerary is now considered partially used.
The solution is to always book partner awards as two one-way tickets instead of a single round trip. Since one-way awards cost exactly 50 per cent of the miles of a round trip, there's no reason not to do so.
Redeem for: Partner awards can be redeemed for yourself or any of your redemption nominees, just like Singapore Airlines awards.
HOW DO I BOOK A STAR ALLIANCE PARTNER AWARD?
You search for Star Alliance awards the same way you would for Singapore Airlines awards. At the results screen, click on the "Star Alliance flights" button.
This will show you Star Alliance flight options for a given date.
Now let's get down to the nitty gritty. Here's three ways you can stretch your KrisFlyer miles by hacking your way through Star Alliance and non Star Alliance partner networks.
1) USE STAR ALLIANCE AWARDS TO REACH DESTINATIONS NOT SERVED BY SIA
Star Alliance partner awards are great when you want to fly on a route that's not operated by Singapore Airlines. Star Alliance offers more than 18,800 daily departures, so you're sure to find options for using your miles.
The cost of a Star Alliance award depends on the zone you flying to and from. KrisFlyer divides the world into 12 zones for the purposes of Star Alliance redemptions.
It might be more intuitive to view the table as a map instead, and I've coloured each country by its zone to help visualize sweet spots.
Here are some good ideas (one-way prices):
East Coast to West Coast USA: 23K miles for First Class
East Coast USA to Hawaii: 34.5K miles for First Class
South America to North America: 57.5K miles for Business Class
Europe to Middle East: 29K miles for Business Class
Europe to USA: 72K miles for Business Class
Middle East to USA: 76.5K miles for Business Class
South Asia to Europe: 54.5K miles for Business Class
Australia to New Zealand: 31K miles for Business Class
Remember: for maximum value you'll always want to fly from the edge of one zone to another. For example, it costs the same number of miles to fly from Los Angeles to Moscow (12 hours) as it does Boston to Dublin (6 hours), but the former represents much better value.
2) USE STAR ALLIANCE AWARDS WHEN 'SQ SAVER' AWARDS ARE NOT AVAILABLE
Star Alliance partner awards can also be useful even on routes that Singapore Airlines operates.
Suppose you want to fly from Singapore to London. You run a search for Singapore Airlines flights, but see that Business Saver (92,000 miles) is waitlisted. You don't fancy paying the additional miles for an Advantage award (120,000 miles), but you want to confirm your plans immediately.
What you can do is look for Star Alliance partner flights instead. In this particular instance, LOT Polish Airlines is operating a one-stop flight to London via Warsaw, for the same 92,000 miles plus $174.10 of taxes and surcharges.
The taxes and surcharges are slightly higher than a Singapore Airlines Saver award (thanks to fuel surcharges), but it's a small price to pay for immediate confirmation.
As a general rule, whenever a Singapore Airlines Saver award is not available, look at Star Alliance options than to pay Advantage prices. The chart below illustrates this - note how the blue bar (Star Alliance) is always between the green (Saver) and purple (Advantage) bars.
The only exception is Perth & Darwin, where a Star Alliance award costs more than an SQ Advantage. This is because the Star Alliance chart sees the whole of Australia as one zone, while the SQ chart breaks up Australia into East and West with lower pricing for the former.
3) USE KRISFLYER MILES FOR DOMESTIC TRAVEL IN INDIA, CHINA, US AND AUSTRALIA
You can also use KrisFlyer miles to hack your way to domestic travel in India, China, US and Australia through non-Star Alliance partners. First things first though…
How do I book a non-Star Alliance partner award?
Award space on non-Star Alliance partners can be found by clicking on the "Other partner airlines" button in the search dialogue.
However, there is a problem: with the exception of Virgin Australia, non-Star Alliance partner space cannot be found using the Singapore Airlines website.
Instead of calling up KrisFlyer and asking them to search over the phone, it's much more efficient to use one of the websites below to search for space before calling in to book:
- Vistara (Vistara website)
- Alaska Air (American Airlines website)
- Juneyao (Air Canada Aeroplan website)
Simply create a frequent flyer account, and you'll be able to search even with a balance of 0 miles. Here's how to get great value out of these awards.
USE VIRGIN AUSTRALIA FOR DOMESTIC AUSTRALIA FLIGHTS
|One-way Economy Prices||Star Alliance Award||Virgin Australia|
|Domestic Australia||12.5K miles||11-20K miles|
USE VISTARA FOR DOMESTIC INDIA FLIGHTS
|One-way Economy Prices||Star Alliance Award||Vistara|
|Domestic India||12.5K miles||7.5-11K miles|
USE ALASKA AIR FOR DOMESTIC USA FLIGHTS PLUS FLIGHTS FROM THE USA TO HAWAII/MEXICO
|One-way Economy Prices||Star Alliance Award||Alaska Air|
|Domestic USA||12.5K miles||7.5-12K miles|
|USA to Hawaii/Mexico||17.5K miles||7.5K-12.5K miles|
USE JUNEYAO AIRLINES FOR DOMESTIC CHINA FLIGHTS
|One-way Economy Prices||Star Alliance Award||Juneyao Airlines|
|Domestic China||12.5K miles||12.5K miles|
The vast majority of KrisFlyer users will never redeem a partner award - and that's a shame! With a little bit of planning, you can really stretch your miles by using redeeming them for the flights listed above. Expand your horizons!
This article was first published in SingSaver.