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A routing I never knew for cheap Business Class air miles redemptions with KrisFlyer to Singapore

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I did an article last April on sweet spots in the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer frequent flyer scheme.  This was based on discussions I had with reader Andrew, a UK expat and long-term HfP reader who moved to Singapore a couple of years ago and decided to start Mainly Miles to cover KrisFlyer.

You might think that the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer programme, which is part of Star Alliance and so accesses a different group of airlines to Avios, is irrelevant to you.

And yet …. if you were willing to do a bit of jiggling, there are decent deals – and one exceptional deal – you can nab.

How can you earn KrisFlyer miles?

The obvious route is transferring American Express Membership Rewards points.  As you can see here, it is a 1:1 airline partner from the UK scheme.

Other options include Heathrow Rewards and moving points from hotel schemes, in particular Marriott Bonvoy where the rate is 3:1 (3:1.25 if you move chunks of 60,000 points at a time).  It is also a HSBC Premier credit card partner if you want a Visa / Mastercard option.

Best redemptions with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

And there is a ‘secret’ permanent 30% Amex transfer bonus

There is a permanent transfer bonus from Amex to Singapore Airlines which is currently 31%.  Last time I used this method it was 58%.  It is complex, I admit, but if you are transferring a lot of Amex points it may be worth it.

The process is explained here and I strongly recommend reading that HfP article if this sounds interesting.  Basically:

you get the Amex International Dollar Card, which is run out of Brighton and only available to non-US residents like you

you transfer your Amex Membership Rewards balance to your International Dollar Card’s MR account

under Amex rules, your MR balance is grossed up by the current $ exchange rate, currently $1.31 per £1, when transferred, so 100,000 points becomes 131,000 points

Most airline and hotel partners have worse transfer rates out of IDC so this is not a benefit.  The exceptions are Alitalia, Asia Miles, Finnair, Malaysia Airlines and KrisFlyer which are 1:1.  Here is the IDC Membership Rewards catalogue.  You effectively get a 31% transfer bonus, based on the FX rate today, when moving to these five airlines.

As an extra perk, IDC cards can transfer into the Jumeirah Sirius hotel programme, an option no longer available to holders of UK £ Amex cards.

What is this new Singapore Airlines sweet spot?

We are finally getting to the point of this article (!).   But let’s first remind ourselves of the main KrisFlyer sweet spot for UK residents.

Here is the Singapore Airlines reward chart for partner airlines.

There is one deal which I have mentioned a few times on HfP, because I have booked it myself.  The slam dunk best deal is ‘Europe to Middle East’ for 50,000 miles RETURN in Business Class.

Remember that British Airways wants up to 120,000 Avios on a peak day for a return Club World flight to Dubai, Abu Dhabi etc.  You can use just 50,000 KrisFlyer miles, most likely routed on Lufthansa via Frankfurt or SWISS via Zurich, instead.  (Other fun routings include Turkish via Istanbul and Egyptair via Cairo!)

Here is my new ‘find’

I spotted another interesting opportunity on Mainly Miles over the weekend.

If you book London to Singapore in Business Class, using Singapore Airlines miles, it will cost you 184,000 miles return plus £235 in taxes and charges.

Avios charges 175,000 Avios off-peak and 210,000 Avios on peak dates to Singapore, return, with higher taxes and charges.

However …. take a look at the Singapore Airlines reward chart for Singapore Airlines flights.  You want Page 2 which covers ‘Saver Awards’.

The top row confirms that Zone 1 to Zone 11 (Singapore to Europe, including the UK) is 92,000 miles each way, so 184,000 miles return as expected.

Look more closely though.  If you look at the definition of Zone 10, which is Africa / Middle East, it actually says “Africa, Middle East and Turkey“.  Those flights are just 49,000 miles each way in Business Class.  Even better, there are virtually no taxes out of Turkey.

A return flight from Istanbul to Singapore in Singapore Airlines Business Class is just 98,000 KrisFlyer miles plus $55 in taxes!

Here is a dummy booking to confirm (click to enlarge):

Singapore to Istanbul KrisFlyer

The slight downside is that you are getting the old 2006 Singapore Airlines business class seat from Istanbul.  It isn’t a bad one apart from the colour scheme – see here – just not the latest.

Obviously this isn’t a deal for everyone as it requires positioning yourself in Istanbul. Flights to Turkey are not hugely expensive, however.  You can also redeem Avios (17,000 Avios + £35 off-peak return).

If paying cash or using Star Alliance miles, Turkish Airlines runs a Boeing 777 on some services which will get you a flat bed in Business Class.  Spending a day in Istanbul on the way is also well worth doing.

Comments (88)

  • James Want says:

    Moscow is also great value and generally sees more availability. Good excuse to visit too.

    • Oh Matron! says:

      True, but it seems impossible to book the Stockholm (IIRC) Moscow segment in 1st class. Business is fine, at £523. A nice tier point run for VS (with the exception of having to get a russian visa)

    • ADS says:

      might need a Russian visa if you didn’t a have through ticket ?

      • Oh Matron! says:

        Exactly. Always wanted to visit. Not as lucrative as the Man – MUC run, or the cheap as chips KUL – SIN run, but worth the effort 🙂

  • Roger says:

    TK itself is also good going from Europe to Central Asia. Now look at definition to Central Asia.
    Brings you much closer to SIN too.

  • Robert Mullen says:

    OT There’s zero reward flights available inbound from Asia during April,May,June in F cabin, does anyone know from experience what the likelyhood is BA will open up more reward seats, ideally SIN or HKG on the A380 or KUL on the 787-9 and do these generally appear on the system at midnight? Guessing it’s due to a lot of exec members making the return to UK from Oz. Many thanks, I’ll be in Singapore so any travel tips while I’m there much appreciated.

    • Genghis says:

      Great food all over Singapore. Colony at the RC best buffet I’ve had with a decent free flowing Cheteau Mouton at the time. At the other end of the scale, Lou Nine for Burmese and the various street style places. As two adults, we loved Singapore Zoo and breakfast with orangutans.

      • Michael C says:

        RC is also in my Top 3 club lounges of all time!
        So much going on, at such a high level, you feel bad missing out on anything.

      • Paul says:

        I can’t find Lou Nine online?

      • Polly says:

        Keeping these tips handy for Nov, out and back on QR J from ARL. Tnx G.
        ESP the eateries. Might do 3-4 days on route to Bali. And doing a quick jump to Perth from Bali for the last week. Flying J in QF back to SIN. Must look at SQ miles tho. IST is a city we love and easy to transfer MRs to KF. Handy jump off city.

        Great data point, must start studying KF opps.

      • Tom W says:

        Good timing too for this tip, off to Singapore next week on a 4 day stopover before Phu Quoc. Will check RC out!

        • TescoTease says:

          Stayed at IC PQ in August. It was and absolute cluster f***. Hopefully they’ve sorted themselves out by now.

        • Crafty says:

          We are there now. It’s good, not great. Service and food not up to the high standard of the property.

    • Rob says:

      Nothing out of Seoul or Beijing? We got 4F on Easter Monday from Beijing in 2017.

      • Robert Mullen says:

        I’ve got F out of Beijing, but will involve a 6hr flight with Air China to connect. Disappointed as they’ve changed equip from 789 to 773, but never done the 777-300 before so can see how it compares. Just amazed at how little availability there is for inbound flights. Perhaps more will be released soon.
        Thanks for all the advice. Also used the Hilton sale for an excellent rate at the Conrad.

    • Jake Mcloughlin says:

      Bit of a history geek post but the WWII artefacts on sentosa island were interesting. Most eye opening part of the trip though was the changi prison museum. Horrific but also compelling and interesting. Also useful something to do on your last day (if you have time) due to its close location to the airport.

      Singapore zoo also v. Good on a lighter note

  • Adam says:

    Flew this in April last year when it was 45,000 each way. You can also connect on to Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

    Great value and worth a night in Istanbul first!! None of the BA flights (certainly in April when I went) arrive in time to connect.

  • Sam G says:

    Ahhh Rob don’t let my secret out!! As Adam says it’s actually a better deal as you can carry on to Zone 2 or 3 as well for no extra miles. (Stopover possible – 1xfree on a return IST-Asia-IST ticket otherwise $100USD)

    Connecting from UK is a pain though- outbound from UK the flight leaves too early- so needs an overnight in Istanbul. Inbound it misses all the morning TK flights to the UK. In the winter you can HBO onto BA otherwise AtlasGlobal to Stansted or a long wait!

    The seat is fine, not really any different from those on the LHR flights except the new A380

    • Neil says:

      Why can you carry on to Zone 2 & 3 FOC? That’s a sweet extra bonus

      • pauldb says:

        Because on the Award Chart, Zone 10 to Zone 2&3 is the same 49k e/w. You get one stopover on a return booking.
        I’m also going to point out that on SQ’s Star partner chart, Turkey to South West Pacific is 156k return. That’s less than SQ’s own chart (86k e/w) and much more flexible. Not going to better a BA 241 to SYD, but better than most alternatives and of course could get you to NZ. I’m not exactly clear if a one-way is ok for 78k but could be a very good option back as NZ has no fuek surcharges.

  • Samantha says:

    this article makes me think it might be sensible to keep points within Amex and transfer to the appropriate scheme as needed. How do you do this as, at present, my BA Amex auto transfers my earned points. Is there a way to stop this and “store” them within Amex until needed? I appreciate that it might take time to transfer to my preferred reward partner snd might miss a promo, but just wanted to understand my options. Istanbul might be a nice option as it’s serviced from Edinburgh and makes a change from the usual BA routing via (expensive) Heathrow!. Thanks

    • darrenf says:

      The post is referring to Amex membership reward points earned on, for example, the Amex charge cards – not the Avios earned by the BA cobrand Amex cards.

    • Shoestring says:

      simple answer on BA Amex card/s MR points is computer sez no – they will be transferred monthly to BAEC, you can’t stop it happening

    • Samantha says:

      Thanks guys!

  • Marcw says:

    Rob is slowly discovering a world outside BA Avios and Virgin miles.

    • Shoestring says:

      tbf I think HfP’s been wanting to cover more AF/ KLM opps for a couple of years – will have to start doing it himself once the new joint points program (with Virgin) launches (in March?) 🙂

      I’m definitely interested & have built up a sizeable Virgin miles stash in anticipation.

      • Tom1 says:

        Which reminds Me, I need to return something to Tesco this weekend. Not hopeful though. (not blaming you!)

        • Shoestring says:

          @ Tom1: I gave that up as more trouble than it’s worth a long time ago, just used mine in store in the end combined with my £15 off £100 MOCs, nice cheap Amazon giftcards & 15% discount

      • Rob says:

        Reviewing Air France J next week as part of this swing.

    • Combatjohnny says:

      He was slightly confused when i askes him about Aeroflot points in an email a while back but then again its a niche airline on this site so i can say i blame him for not knowing.

      • Beholder says:

        Niche but often great value. When I saw an ad for Aeroflot on the tube (2017 I think?) I was sceptical, but ended up being very impressed by the product. Hands down the best service in business class I’ve ever received! I imagine it’s similar to what was the standard during the olden days. And the best meal – utterly delicious, all of BA chefs need to take mandatory flights with AFL to experience what it should be like. Also – none of those economy seats with the middle one blocked for Business class, even short haul has a nice 2×2 configuration on an A320.
        On the other hand, no wifi, not the best transfer experience, and if you want to have a stopover in Moscow you’re going to need a Russian visa…

        • Combatjohnny says:

          I must admit i am an economy traveller but i also found aeroflot to be fantastic service. Not quite as good as Air astana which stands as my favourite airline, they still give you a sweet for take off and landing. I should be getting an Armenian passport in the next couple of years so then there will be no need for a Russian visa

  • Neil says:

    It’s articles like this that make me think collecting Kris Flyer points is the way forward sometimes. Especially with my LLoyds Avios card coming to an end soon. Hello HSBC

    • shd says:

      Look at redemption availability very carefully before you convert your MRs to any airline. SQ only see a subset of redemption seats on other *A carriers..

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Indeed, but their availability to KrisFlyer members is much better. I’d have no worries concerting to KrisFlyer, despite the 3yr hard expiry, as I can almost guarantee I’d use them (and worst case I can move them to Virgin Australia Velocity at a now not so great 1.55:1 if they do get towards expiry)

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