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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)

  • Zoe says:

    So we could get from Istanbul to Vietnam for 98k miles each which would only cost approx 74k MR ? This sounds very tempting.

    • John says:

      Only if you want to go through the hassle of getting the IDC, otherwise it’s 98K MR

  • Paul says:

    I’ve started to discover the opportunities of Kris Flyer. Got a great deal from HKG to PER with them

  • Russ says:

    Nice reminder thanks Rob. Singapore airlines also run what seems to be a permanent offer on the 16th of each month called Spontaneous Escapes with select routes requiring fewer miles. SIN-DUSS appears for 59,000 points on either an A380/350.

  • Alex says:

    OTish: what’s people’s view on the best *alliance program for the UK resident? I used to collect with Lufthansa but I am infrequent flyer with *A and lufty miles expire every few years (plus their charges on reward flights are insane).

    • John says:

      If you want credit card I think you’re limited to Lufty SQ and SAS.

      I’m more about status so I use Aegean but that’s because I got Gold when it was easy, now it is only easy to renew but hard to get for the first time. Other options are TK (has a 2 year requal period) and OZ which has lifetime Gold at 500K

    • Richard says:

      If you travel 20k+ miles a year on cash tickets, even in economy and travel to China/HKG/Japan/USA or Africa, then do Aegean, and use an SAS premium economy ticket or Ethiopian to get you over the initial qualification for silver and gold. The renewal thesholds are very low it should be almost impossible to do retain if you do remotely enough flying to make status not pointless.

      If you are only really flying on miles tickets then Singapores Kris Flyer is the only game in town really due to MR conversions.

      • Rob says:

        You need 4 Aegean segments per year for status, do you not? Similar rule to BA. Not impossible obviously given you could do a return trip via Athens to a Greek island but still a pain.

        • Kip says:

          2 for Silver; 4 for Gold.

          Another quirk with A3 is that once you’re Silver you can open a family account then if you revert back to Blue then the head household account gets all the points from the other accounts.

        • John says:

          No, you renew Gold with 12K miles + 4 A3 flights, or 24K miles.

          Two J longhauls would probably get you the 24K, otherwise it’s one J longhaul and 4 A3 flights.

          To get the 4 flights you can do things like TXL-ATH-LHR for £50 in winter (I’m doing this in 2 weeks). Whilst in ATH go to SKG for 5 hours for 40 euros, or a back-to-back if you have no time

    • 1nfrequent says:

      FWIW Lufthansa Diner’s Club card stops your miles from expiring as long as you spend on it every month.

    • Kip says:

      Amex SPG card can convert into lots of *A carriers including Aegean.

      A3 has low status thresholds and some good redemption rates and now has online booking that seems to mostly reflect United’s website availability. Last year I redeemed PVG-ZRH-MAN in J for 55k and EUR36.
      OZ has a 2 year status period to earn and then retain which may be useful for some.
      SQ doesn’t open up its F and some J classes to some other alliance members and is relatively easy to earn through Amex MR & SPG.

      If you’re going to do *A it can be useful to have more than one program as not all earning classes are equal across airlines. For example, LH P class (business) earns 100% in KrisFlyer but zilch in A3.

  • pixielott says:

    isnt that seat an angle flat?

    • Uknoobie says:

      That’s what I thought as well. 777-200

    • guesswho2000 says:

      It’s really not that bad, they fly a 777-200 on the SIN-MEL-WLG flights, and it’s perfectly serviceable.

  • Golsquare says:

    Booked this route for April. Raffles has recommended mainly miles before which has been great for learning about Krisflyer. Looking forward to seeing new IST Airport lounge. Hopefully less crowded than the current one.

    KF also has advantage over virgin and lifemiles as I’ve seen better availability on SQ metal and silkair their regional subsidiary is only available on KF.

  • Combatjohnny says:

    50,000 points return, but can i do 25,000 one way? Ill be honeymooning in the middle east and only need a one way flight home

  • aliks says:

    I need to book flights for London to ASB (Ashgabat, Turkmenistan) returning TAS (Tashkent, Uzbekistan). Using KrisFlyer points, it should be possible to book Turkish Airlines via Istanbul using the Singapore Airlines Star Alliance partner chart – Business flights for Europe to Central South Asia at 95000 for a round trip.
    However, I have been monitoring this for months, and Singapore Air does not recognise ASB (it comes up as a Baghdad airport) nor do offer a Turkish flight TAS-IST-LHR – they seem to want to route via Zurich or Frankfurt presumably to use Swiss or Lufthansa.
    Is this because Turkish is stingy with partner redemptions, or is there a better way to book these flights?

    • Mr. AC says:

      I’ll be extremely impressed if anyone can help you with this… That looks like a very interesting trip. Crossing the land border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan? Fun!

      • Aliks says:

        Its actually an organised tour with Explore! and they plan to make the crossing into Uzbekistan at Farab.

    • John says:

      Have you tried calling to see if it’s a website error or their entire system gets ASB wrong

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