Reader Brian said,
I’d like to see you talk about the singapore waitlisting process (especially for the much touted suites class). There isn’t much written about it so it would be interesting to hear your analysis as a “professional” award booker. Possible areas of content: Is it ever successful? How often does it clear and on what routes? Is it worth speculatively transferring flexible miles over for the chance of getting into suites? Is there any way to predict your chances?
Singapore Airlines is pretty generous with reward space for their own members, they’re just not at all generous with reward space for their partners’ members. If you have United miles you won’t be able to get long haul business and first class awards on Singapore. But if you use Singapore Airlines own miles you probably can. (They’re a bit tighter with Suites Class space on some routes than they were a year ago, however.)
Singapore Airlines miles are pretty easy to get because they are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Citi ThankYou Rewards. So if you have any of those, you can have KrisFlyer miles.
The other unique thing about Singapore is that they allow you to waitlist for awards.
The question here is: what do we know about when waitlists clear? And in my experience it isn’t a completely predictable process.
I’ve seen waitlists clear far in advance, and I’ve seen them clear at the last minute. And I’ve seen them clear not at all.
- If a flight is filling up, there’s very little likelihood that it will clear.
- If a flight is wide open, there’s some chance but it is not guaranteed that the waitlist will clear.
Suites Class awards do clear — sometimes — and unfortunately I do not have a foolproof way of telling someone that they can pick a flight, waitlist, and wind up with the award space they’re after… because in my experience just because there are seats available doesn’t mean Singapore will open those seats for folks on the waitlist.
The good news is that waitlists do sometimes clear, which is a better situation than a few years ago when I find it inconsistent whether you’d even wind up staying on the waitlist when you added yourself to it. Under the old reservation system (2.5+ years ago) I found that sometimes you’d drop off.
As a result of that history I do tend to get paranoid and check every so often that someone is still listed, but of late that hasn’t seemed necessary.
Here’s the award chart for travel on Singapore Airlines (.pdf).
Awards aren’t the cheapest of any award chart, but in many cases they are reasonable. If you book on the Singapore website you get a 15% discount of the prices on the award chart. So, for instance:
- San Francisco – Hong Kong in ‘suites class’ is 70,125 miles one-way.
- Houston – Moscow in first class is 57,375 miles one-way.
- New York JFK – Frankfurt in suites class is 57,375 miles one-way.
You can have one enroute stopover on a roundtrip award.
Singapore adds fuel surcharges to awards (whatever the cost of a fuel surcharge would be on an equivalent paid ticket).
If you want to fly Singapore Airlines, which really has one of the world’s best first class products, the way to do it is with Singapore’s own miles.
Strong Values Redeeming on Partner Airlines
Singapore’s partner award chart is here. The chart lists roundtrip award prices, but one-way awards are half the cost of roundtrip. These awards have to be booked over the phone.
- US – Hawaii costs 35,000 miles roundtrip in coach, 60,000 miles roundtrip up front (in ‘business class’ — United classifies their domestic first class as business class for award purposes, for experts out there that means United’s domestic first class awards book into “I class”.)
- North America domestic first class awards cost just 40,000 miles roundtrip (again, because United books their domestic first class into “I” which is Star Alliance business).
- North America – Europe is 130,000 miles roundtrip in business class; 160,000 miles roundtrip in first.
- North America – Middle East is 115,000 miles roundtrip in business class, 150,000 miles roundtrip in first.
- South Africa is 145,000 miles roundtrip in business class.
There are no fuel surcharges on US domestic awards (or awards between the US and South America).
A Great Place to Pool Your Points for an Award
Effectively the addition of Singapore Airlines Krisflyer as a transfer partner puts Star Alliance first class awards to several destinations back in the realm of possibility for Chase cardholders even after the United devaluation.
It also makes Singapore an even more useful transfer partner because you can pool points from Chase, American Express, and Starwood all into the same account.
But you only want to do this when you have a specific use for the points. Singapore’s miles expire three years after they are earned.
Key things to know about waitlisting Singapore Airlines award space:
- You have to have enough miles in your account to waitlist for an award
- You cannot waitlist for a flight and in the same class of service you are already confirmed on (eg waitlist for a saver award on a flight where you are booked standard in the same class of service)
- You can waitlist multiple flights. You do not need enough points to support booking everything you waitlist.
- You do not have to actually book what clears off the waitlist.
Update: Lucky and I were both asked about Singapore Airlines award waitlisting at the recent Frequent Traveler University event in San Diego. He covers the top in a post as well.