Singapore Airlines offers an almost mythic first class product. The service is great. The seats are top notch. The Krisflyer inflight entertainment system is grand. The food is good, the alcohol very high end, and the amenities copious

Mostly though the awards are perceived to be very hard to get. That’s because they almost never make long haul premium cabin award space available to their partners like United and US Airways. US Airways added a footnote to their award chart to say these seats are not an option.

Back in July Singapore Airlines awards were made available to partners as a result of a systems glitch. This wasn’t awards at a discount. The error was that the awards existed for partners at all. And there was a feeding frenzy.

But the truth is that Singapore Airlines first class awards are available nearly every day of the week. You just need to know where to look for them.

That’s because Singapore Airlines makes a great deal more premium cabin award space available to their own frequent flyers than they do to partner airlines. And Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles are actually quite commonly available to U.S. customers.

Where Singapore Offers First Class Award Seats

Let’s take a look at the flights Singapore offers to and from the U.S., and which ones are available for first class redemptions (for the purposes of this post I am only interested in two first class awards on the same flight).

Singapore Airlines US destinations are San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Newark and Houston

  • Newark service is on an Airbus A340-500 which is all business class — although my understanding is that they plan to get rid of these aircraft from the fleet. I haven’t paid close enough attention to their plans for Newark service (hub of their Star Alliance partner United) once that happens. They are currently selling seats on these flights through the end of 2013, but since it’s business class service it’s beyond the scope of this post.

  • From Los Angeles they offer non-stop service on the same all-business class flight aircraft as from Newark (which they’re slated to shed themselves of) and also a one-stop via Tokyo on an Airbus A380. They seem to only make one seat at a time available in their A380 suites, so getting two first class award seats from Los Angeles is a challenge.

  • From New York JFK they have one-stop service aboard an A380 via Frankfurt. Again, with Singapore seemingly releasing only one first class suite award when they do release any, it’s not all that useful a flight for people traveling together to use.

Fortunately that leaves service from two airports:

  • From Houston they offer one-stop service via Moscow five days a week. First class award space is reasonably good.

  • From San Francisco they offer one-stop service to Singapore — two flights, one stopping in Seoul and the other in Hong Kong. It’s the Seoul flight that I want to focus on because awards are available. Very available. Most of the time.

As of this writing, In the month of February there are 2 first class award seats on the San Francisco – Singapore via Seoul flight available a whopping 82% of the time using Krisflyer miles.

    Available: February 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28

    Not Available: February 5, 14, 15, 16, 17

I find that both directions — San Francisco to Singapore and Singapore to San Francisco both via Seoul — are roughly equally available.

And it’s not just close-in, as in next month where there’s availability. This is across the entire schedule. After taking a look at February, I also scoured availability for September. Where two first class award seats are available every single day of the month, 100%, on the San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore flight SQ15.

    Available: September 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30

    Not Available: None. It’s literally available every day in September.

SQ1/2 (the flights which stop in Hong Kong) do have some availability. During the winter that Hong Kong flight, which does offer better connecting times in Singapore, is operated by an Airbus A380 which means you won’t find two award seats on it. And even at other times of the year, when it’s operated by the Boeing 777, there’s availability to be sure just not nearly as frequently.

It’s the Seoul flight — SQ 15 and 16 — that’s the secret weapon.

Let’s take a look at the flight times a little bit closer, though.

SQ15: San Francisco – Singapore, 2:20pm – 12:50am+2

The Seoul flight is probably less popular and easier to get because of the flight times. Part of the year it isn’t as easy to connect from some East Coast cities (when it’s a 12:50pm departure), and the flight arrives in Singapore rather late for many though not all connections. It’s going to be carrying mostly San Francisco – Singapore traffic rather than connecting traffic. Although if you are willing to spend some time in Singapore before traveling onward — something I highly recommend — then the flight can work well for you.

While Singapore flight 1 that stops in Hong Kong may offer more convenient connections beyond Singapore, some people disfavor it because the 1am departure means Singapore offers only ‘supper’ service rather than a full dinner. That means no caviar service and no satay. So while you can still have your choice of Dom Perignon or Krug for champagne, in some ways you may not get the ‘full’ Singapore Airlines first class experience. And in that way the Seoul flight may actually be superior to some.

SQ16: Singapore – San Francisco, 9:25am – 12:45pm

Like the outbound version of this flight, it seems perfect for folks who are Singapore passengers. You really do need to start your journey in Singapore in order to take this flight rather than connecting from another Asian destination.

And it gets into San Francisco just too late to really work for many folks on the East Coast who want to connect home same-day without a redeye, although some flights will still work for this purpose.

But because there are two Singapore flights from San Francisco that’s a whole lot of seats — more first class seats than Singapore will sell. And the flight that’s really geared towards originating and destination traffic in Singapore tends to be more lightly booked up front. So award seats are almost always there for the taking.

How to Get Singapore Airlines Miles

Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.

American Express transfers seem to take between 12 and 48 hours to hit Krisflyer accounts. They aren’t ‘live’ and instant like they are with British Airways, Delta, Aeroplan, and Air France KLM Flying Blue. But they’re faster than they were a few years ago, when they could take 72 hours to transfer. Transfers are 1:1.

Starwood transfers seem to take between 2 days and a week to hit Krisflyer accounts. While Starwood points are incredibly valuable and flexible given the sheer number of airlines they partner with, the waits tend to be much longer than via Membership Rewards. Transfers are 1:1, plus of course there’s a bonus of 5000 Krisflyer miles when transferring 20,000 Starpoints.

Neither program tends to offer transfer bonuses with Singapore’s Krisflyer program. In fact, at one point Starwood points were only 2:1 transfers (meaning 10,000 Starpoints would yield only 5000 Krisflyer miles). Thank goodness that change was reversed!

I usually don’t like finding award seats, making a transfer and having to wait. Because award seats may well be gone by the time the points show up. And Singapore Airlines doesn’t just offer to hold the seats for you, either.

But there are two things working in our favor here. Really these seats can only be taken either by paying passengers or by other Singapore Airlines Krisflyer members. So it seems to rarely be the case that the award space just disappears over the course of a few days, at least if we’re more than a few weeks out from travel. And second there is just so much darned availability that if you’re even a little bit flexible and a given seat disappears, if you can shift your travel by a day you’ll probably still be fine.

Where to Search for Space an Book

These award seats are only available to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer members, and the only places to book them are on the Singapore Airlines website and over the phone.

The only place to search for availability is on their website, or using the (subscription-based) KVS Tool which accesses the same, only more efficiently.

Here’s the Singapore Airlines award chart (.pdf)

What I’m most interested in is the cost of an award between Zone 2 (Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei) and Zone 13 (West Coast of the U.S.). Note that awards between the West Coast of the US and Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia are the same price.

It’s 107,500 miles each way, per person. But wait! Singapore Airlines offers a 15% discount if you book your award online. So instead of 215,000 miles roundtrip (ouch), it’s 187,500 miles roundtrip as long as you do your booking on the website.

And if the points came over from Starwood, it’s 152,500 Starpoints (since you get transfer bonuses built into that program).

Still not cheap, but it’s Singapore Airlines first class.

The Singapore website does not include partners in their award search. Which means you will be able to book only Singapore flights. If you have to get to San Francisco, and want to take advantage of the 15% discount, you’ll have to buy your domestic positioning flights.

On the other hand, though, Singapore offers one-way awards. So if you didn’t have the miles to do a roundtrip, you could still fly Singapore Airlines first class one-way. And intermediate destinations are cheaper — San Francisco – Seoul is 87,500 each way on the award chart, minus 15% online discount, so just 74,375 miles.

Singapore allows you to make one stopover on a roundtrip award, so you could book a ticket to say Bali and have a Singapore stopover or you could have a Seoul stopover in one direction.

Will This Cost Me Anything in Addition to Miles?

You can expect to pay $732 in taxes and fees for San Francisco – Singapore roundtrip in first class on SQ15 and 16. Of that, $646 are fuel surcharges.

Not Cheap Awards — But Worth It For Many

Singapore adds fuel surcharges onto award tickets like most Asian and European programs do (when a paid ticket would include fuel surcharges as well).

That’s a clear disadvantage relative to United and US Airways.

And their award chart isn’t cheap, it does take a bunch of miles for long haul first class under their program.

But the availability is excellent for Singapore Krisflyer members, and if you value a top notch first class experience this is one way to get it — whether it’s for a very special trip or just because…

  1. MilesAbound said,

    This is good info. When we did SQ15 it was noticeable how most passengers seemed to leave in Seoul. While it was just one day, it left me with the impression that this flight really is driven more by SFO-ICN point-to-point traffic (and then ICN-SIN point-to-point) than SFO-ICN-SIN traffic. It ties in with what I see on seat maps two where the seat map for each legs rarely bears much semblance to the other.

    And while SQ’s F product is great, so is Cathay and Etihad and they can be had without the fuel surcharges SQ levy.

  2. clayd333 said,

    Gary, Will be flying SQ1/2 suites next Friday, booked during the glitch. I am thinking about doing an SPG-EK suite to SEZ, but not sure (tempted more by the shower than the trip). I love the premise of this post, could you do a Suite class round-up and how to book w/ points?

  3. Arcanum said,

    I’m a bit confused as to the status of Singapore premium seats booked with US Airways miles. Are they absolutely unavailable (as with Lufthansa First) or does Singapore just not release them to partners? What about the “old” premium products to places like Amsterdam/Rome and mid-range destinations such as India? Are these stick available through US?

  4. Arcanum said,

    Sorry, that should be “still available”.

  5. Gary said,

    @clayd333 perhaps i should. the best way to book saver seats for EK Suites is SPG->JAL.. far fewer miles… just make sure there’s availability because EK can be stingy with those A380 F suite awards

  6. Gary said,

    @Arcanum – as a general matter, SQ does not release them to partners. So US Airways has declared them completely unavailable (A380, 77W, A345 but not the regional 777s). You can still book the 777 regionals with US Airways miles.

  7. Jon said,

    I was looking at using my krisflyer miles to go from JFK-FRA-SIN in suites for about 110k one way, but the site says “wait list only”.. Do those lists typically clear or should I find other confirmed options?

  8. Frequent Flyer University said,

    Great post Gary! This is really useful. I just assumed everything was blocked out.

  9. Gary said,

    @Jon I would not count on waitlisted space clearing

  10. Apu said,

    To your point about -

    SQ16: Singapore – San Francisco, 9:25am – 12:45pm

    Like the outbound version of this flight, it seems perfect for folks who are Singapore passengers. You really do need to start your journey in Singapore in order to take this flight rather than connecting from another Asian destination.

    I beg to differ, you could be coming in on a red-eye from other Asian places like BOM, DEL, etc. – there are 2 flts from BOM, one getting in at 6.15 am and another at 8 am. Both offer perfect connection to this one :).

  11. steve said,

    quite frankly, this seems like a huge waste of starpoints. i’d much rather spend 5-7 nights at cat. 6/7 places then 15 hours on a plane.

    unless you’re just swimming with points, it seems silly–regardless of how nice a flight it is.

  12. David said,

    Does SQ release any more suite class seats after the one that’s available now gets booked?

  13. Gary said,

    @milesabound that’s fair, lots of Seoul-bound passengers, my overall point was about the flight times which are perfect for SIN O/D traffic

    @APU I really wouldn’t want to fly between the US and India via Singapore, but then I’m not from the West Coast. I suppose it’s not actually much extra flying than via Europe so fair enough!

  14. Gary said,

    @David in most cases that they release Suites seats at all is new enough I don’t think we *really* have enough data points to be actionable yet

  15. clayd333 said,

    @steve obviously it is silly! I have more points than I have time off. So when I go, I go..

  16. TC said,

    I think your arrival time is off for SQ 15. It arrives in Seoul at 6:35 pm +1; Singapore around 1:00 am +2.

  17. Seabird said,

    Thanks for the great post.
    I have a question about flying business class on A380 from LA to Narita and vice versa.

    What is the best way to utilize Amex points for their business class?
    I’ve read from the previous post that transferring points to JAL is the most inexpensive option for booking.
    How is their business availability for awards?

    Thank You

  18. Peterson said,

    I thought recently SQ allowed redeeming Suites/R at the same mileage rates as regular First ?

  19. Gary said,

    @Peterson yes they do now but it’s not nearly as available as the flights i’m talking about here

  20. Gary said,

    @Seabird — JAL is best for EMIRATES, Singapore’s miles are best for Singapore flights

  21. Gary said,

    @TC yes of course that’s correct :) I think I actually had in mind the +1 into Singapore that is the Hong Kong flight I have booked for myself :) Corrected..

  22. iahphx said,

    Seems like a lot of trouble — and expense — to get an airline seat. It’s hard for me to imagine how it could be worth it unless you were very “into” first class travel.

  23. joe said,

    Gary- great information, thanks. I will be keeping this in mind for later this year.

    By chance have you written anything similar for trips to Europe? I’m looking to take a trip for 3 in biz class from LAX and an open to destinations. Any tips on where to begin the research?

  24. Wolfgang said,

    So is it possible at all to book connecting flights on SQ as an award? I’m looking at RDU/JFK/FRA/VIE for example. Can that be booked by calling? If so I’d gladly forfeit the online booking discount for the additional two segments…

  25. Gary said,

    @Wolfgang yes you can book connecting flights on Singapore’s partner airlines like United and US Airways over the phone

  26. Gary said,

    @iahphx – you need to be looking for first class travel of course. And if you live in the Bay Area…

  27. Wolfgang said,

    Thanks Gary. I may just try that this summer…

  28. Brian Hoyt said,

    Great post Gary, thanks

  29. Chris M. said,

    So is there any way currently to get 2 suites?

  30. Gary said,

    @Chris M – you can pay more miles for the second one…

  31. AC said,

    Just want to point out the online system WON’T price out (to get 15% discount) if you do SFO-SIN-BKK or other Zone 1 or Zone 2 countries in first since most of the regional flights do not have first class. It will automatically price out at business class only. So the best way to go around it is to use US Airway miles to book a separate ticket.

  32. Gary said,

    @AC it’s not that it won’t ‘price out’ it’s that if you add a segment without first class, it will only show business class options. Thanks for flagging that, of course it’s always something I run into but had forgotten to add to the post.

  33. Beachfan said,

    No caviar on SQ1??

    I wanted to experience SQF so coose the long way from lax (lax-sfo-hkg-sin) during the glitch for travel this May. Turns out that the suites are not being continued on SQ1 for May, so I was so lacing myself with the thought of caviar. Probably should have just done the lax-sin nonstop in biz.

    Any caviar on SQ2 ( the return)?

  34. Jason said,

    Can you book with krismiles, jfk-sfo-sin?

  35. Chris M. said,

    Thanks for the suggestion! Sadly, the second suite seems to only be available at the ridiculously priced “full” level, not the saver or standard levels. I would have done standard, but full is just insane. Like, burn my miles in a pit of fire insane.

  36. Beachfan said,

    Does sq allow a stopover in Seoul?

  37. Gary said,

    @Beachfan yes. @Jason yes

  38. Dan said,

    Hi Gary

    So if I am looking to book suites for two people on the a380, is it pretty much impossible with SQ?

    Is there different suites? (for 1 vs 2 people)

  39. Gary said,

    @Dan each suite is for one person though the center section is great for 2 suites / 2 people traveling together. But really right now — and this might well loosen up in the future, the ability to book suites at all at least than say 800k miles roundtrip between the US and Singapore is still brand new — you can generally only find one per flight.

    But you can still fly Singapore first class is the point of my post :)

  40. ffi said,

    Gary
    You can not book flights for just about anyone with you Singapore account, unlike DL, AA, US, UA.
    I think you can only book for upto 6 people in your account I think when I last checked
    It is a bit better than Korean and Asiana, but not by much.
    Otherwise I would park my Amex in SQ kris miles

  41. SQ F awards said,

    For those with more miles and money than brains.

    Different story if you can actually afford a SQ F revenue ticket.

  42. KK said,

    Just a slight correction. When I punch in the same itinerary, I got US$688.78 for surcharges and taxes ($646 for surcharges, $42.78 for Gov taxes).

    Also, after 15% discount, 215,000 miles is 182,750 miles, not 187,500.

  43. beachfan said,

    @Gary;

    Thanks for being patient on the stopover question and not pointing out it was already answered in your post!

    (Unless you were answering yes to my caviar queston for SQ2)

  44. Gary said,

    @beachfan yes was meant to answer both questions :)

  45. Justin said,

    Gary – Thank you for the very interesting and informative post. Would you consider doing a post on the availability of the all business class flight from EWR to Singapore (SQ 21)? I was wondering if they had good availability on the EWR to Singapore flight using Krisflyer miles? Also, didn’t Singapore Air release a bunch of award seat availability to their star alliance partners last year as a promotion to try to get some of the alliance frequent flyer members a chance to fly their product? Thank you.

  46. Gary said,

    @Justin the release of seats to Star partners was not a promotion it was a glitch — that they fortunately did not attempt to push back on :)

  47. Southside said,

    Thanks for this info, Gary. And to Chris as well for this comment:

    “Chris M. said,

    Thanks for the suggestion! Sadly, the second suite seems to only be available at the ridiculously priced “full” level, not the saver or standard levels. I would have done standard, but full is just insane. Like, burn my miles in a pit of fire insane.”

    Gary, to your knowledge, is it always the case that the second suite is only available at the “full” and not standard level?

  48. Kevin said,

    I have an award ticket from United in economy Singapore from Incheon to SFO – is there anyway to upgrade to business or first class by loading up my Krisflyer account with Amex points – I have a lot?

  49. Euro said,

    Would you say it’s a good idea to credit revenue miles you earn on Star Alliance carriers to Krisflyer in order to work your way up to earning award tickets on SQ or are they more stingy with awarding points for revenue travel than Aeroplan/Mileageplus etc?

  50. Ray said,

    Per one of the previous comments, if you are connecting on after Singapore, how does one book a first class award if it only shows business class options (since the connection only has business class)? I.E. I want to fly from San Fran – Singapore (via Soeul) in First Class and then connect from Singapore to Bali or to Bangkok (if only regional business class available). How does one book this online to take advatnage of the 15% discount? Or does one have to book via a Singapore Airlines phone rep (but forego the 15% discount)? Thanks!

    “AC said, Just want to point out the online system WON’T price out (to get 15% discount) if you do SFO-SIN-BKK or other Zone 1 or Zone 2 countries in first since most of the regional flights do not have first class. It will automatically price out at business class only. So the best way to go around it is to use US Airway miles to book a separate ticket.”

    “@AC it’s not that it won’t ‘price out’ it’s that if you add a segment without first class, it will only show business class options. Thanks for flagging that, of course it’s always something I run into but had forgotten to add to the post.”

  51. New 75,000 Point American Express Business Gold Rewards Signup Bonus: One Week Only - View from the Wing said,

    [...] I detailed earlier in the month, using American Express Membership Rewards points there is Singapore Airlines first class award space almost all the time for two passengers, even. 75,000 Amex points is enough for San Francisco – Hong Kong or San [...]

  52. The Best Ways to Use American Express Points said,

    [...] Other than that, the only other reason to transfer to Krisflyer is if you’d like the ultimate flying experience in Singapore Airlines’s first class (and really, who wouldn’t).  Just be prepared to pony up a lot of miles as well as a pretty hefty fuel surcharge. [...]

  53. American Express OPEN Savings is Great – But the New Bonus Point Option is Not - View from the Wing said,

    [...] they transfer to most partners, and especially that they transfer to Singapore Airlines (for their amazing first class award availability, not the laugh-worthy Virgin America premium cabin [...]

  54. Making the Most Out of (Devaluing?) Membership Rewards Points - View from the Wing said,

    [...] but that they don’t make available to their partners. I’ve written in the past that it’s possible to grab two first class award seats to Singapore just about every single day! You do pay fuel surcharges, but I consider that worth it for Singapore first class. They [...]

  55. maxmin said,

    You know you can still get the online discount when you phone… as long as you explain that the route you want is simply not coming up on the site.

    I found SFO-SIN-BOM via ICN and it’s a nice deal at 105K miles, as your F time is all in during waking hours so you won’t waste any of it being sleepy. Plus you arrive in SIN at 1am and dont depart for BOM until 8pm so you have lot so options to spend ridculous amounts of time in the TPR coupled with a day in the city, or even to zoom off to a nearby country if you are not interested in Singapore itself.

  56. Does United's Devaluation Change the Relative Value of Chase, American Express, and Starwood Points? - View from the Wing - View from the Wing said,

    […] Within Star Alliance they have ANA (distance-based award chart that offers some good values, adds fuel surcharges to awards), Aeroplan (fuel surcharges on half their partners, and other than nearer Europe many awards are extortionately priced), Singapore (fuel surcharges but great availability on Singapore’s own flights). […]

  57. Add A Comment

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