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One of the hardest things to grasp for many people that are new to the hobby is that it’s worth collecting airline miles on foreign airlines, even if you predominantly (or only!) fly domestically.  I wrote the other day about how I used Air Canada miles to book on United without having to pay the $75 close-in booking fee that United wants to charge.

One such example is Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles.  I tried to use Singapore to book the aforementioned United flight, but in that particular case, couldn’t get around a $100 charge they were trying to give me, so ended up using Air Canada.

No close-in booking fees and 15% online discount

The other great part about using Singapore Airlines miles is that they don’t charge any close-in booking fees.  So if you’re looking to book a United flight within 21 days of departure, Singapore would be a great option!

When you redeem a flight online, you also get a 15% discount on how many KrisFlyer miles it takes.  So if your flight costs 90,000 KrisFlyer miles, when you book online, it will only cost 85% of that amount, or 76,500 miles.

Unfortunately you can’t book partner awards online, so that won’t work if you’re trying to book United (or other Star Alliance) partners.

Even if you live in the US, you can take advantage of the sweet spots on Singapore Airline's award chart.  They have the cheapest way to travel to Hawaii

Award Chart sweet spots

Here is the Singapore Airlines partner award chart

singapore-airlines-award-chartI’ve marked a few interesting parts on the chart, especially as compared to United’s chart.

Within North America (in premium cabins)

Singapore charges the same 25K miles for an economy roundtrip within North America, but whereas United charges 50K for business and 70K for first class domestic roundtrips, Singapore only charges 40K and 60K.  Again, this is on THE EXACT SAME UNITED flights!!

North America to Hawaii

United charges 45 / 80 / 90K miles for roundtrips from the mainland United States to Hawaii.  But on Singapore’s award chart, these flights are only 35 / 60 / 80 – so it’s lower in every class of service!

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North America to Europe

Continuing on with our theme, United’s award chart 60 / 115/160 for a roundtrip to Europe.  And if you fly on one of their Star Alliance partners, the prices jump up to 60 / 140 / 220K for economy / business / first class travel.

Singapore charges 55 / 130 / 160 for Star Alliance partners, but they also have their own award chart if you’re flying on Singapore itself – 40  / 115 / 135K for economy / business / first class travel.  Plus, since you’re flying on Singapore itself, you can book online and get the 15% discount, which drops the roundtrip price to 34 / 97.8 / 114.75.

  • So if you are flying North America to Europe on Singapore, you’re better off booking on Singapore (34K for a roundtrip economy vs. 60K)
  • If you’re flying on Lufthansa (or another Star Alliance partner), you’re better off on Singapore, but not as big of a difference (55 / 130 / 160K vs. 60 / 140 / 220K roundtrip)
  • If you’re flying on United itself, it depends on which class of service you’re looking for.  Singapore is cheaper for an economy ticket (55K vs. 60K roundtrip), but United’s cheaper in Business Class (115K vs. 130K).  They’re both the same price (160K miles) for a roundtrip first-class ticket

The Hawaii / Central America / Caribbean “zone”

I saved the best one for last!  For some reason, Singapore treats Hawaii in the same zone as Central America and the Caribbean!?!?  Seems totally reasonable right?  Even though Barbados and Kauai are over 6500 miles apart!!

Barbados to Kauai - courtesy of

Barbados to Kauai – courtesy of

Singapore allows one stopover and one open-jaw on a roundtrip flight (neither are allowed on a one-way flight).  You can also buy a 2nd stopover So, assuming that you live in North America (as I do), it would take some positioning (to put yourself in the Caribbean or Central America), and it would DEFINITELY take a bunch of time trying to find all the right availability, but you should be able to book a roundtrip to Hawaii, PLUS 2 additional one-ways to anywhere in the Caribbean or Central America, all for only 35,000 miles + $100.

Here’s how that would break down.  For ease of example, I’m going to assume a Chicago-based traveler.  I’m not sure if it would work to use your stopover in a non-hub city – it certainly would be easier to do if you live in / or have access to a United or Star Alliance hub city.

Red: one-way from Cancun to Chicago Blue: roundtrip from Chicago to Honolulu Green: One-way from Chicago to Bermuda (via Newark)

Red: one-way from Cancun to Chicago
Blue: roundtrip from Chicago to Honolulu
Green: One-way from Chicago to Bermuda (via Newark)

  • Start yourself in Cancun (or anywhere in the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America).  Your outbound flight according to Singapore is CUN-ORD-LAX-HNL.  CUN-ORD is in November 2014.
  • Stopover #1 (free) is in ORD in November.  You fly the rest of your outbound leg (ORD-LAX-HNL) in March 2015
  • After a wonderful week on the beach in Hawaii, you get ready for the return part of your flight (HNL-ORD-EWR-BDA).  Fly HNL-ORD in March 2015
  • Stopover #2 (costs $100) is in ORD again.  Remember, this is your home town, so you just go home and wait for your 3rd trip
  • After a few months, in September 2015, you fly the rest of your ticket, ORD-EWR-BDA.

Total cost would be 35,000 miles plus $100 (plus TSA fees).  In this example, you would also need to get TO Cancun and HOME from Bermuda, but you could definitely get 3 trips (1 to Hawaii and 2 to anywhere in the Caribbean or Central America) for somewhere around 50,000 miles.  Compare that to United, where you’ll pay almost that much JUST to go to Hawaii!!!

Suites Class

Singapore Air has probably THE most aspirational first class product out there – what they call “Suites Class“.


Image from Singapore Airlines

The good news for that is that it costs the same number of miles as redeeming for “only” First Class (which is still pretty awesome on Singapore Airlines!

1:1 Transfer from Chase

Singapore Airlines is the latest transfer partner from Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the points transfer 1:1.  Points take about a day or so to transfer.

What is your favorite destination on Singapore?  Have you ever flown Suites Class?  Leave us a note in the comments!


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