A guide to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer loyalty programme for UK flyers

Sep 26, 2019

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KrisFlyer is the loyalty programme of Singapore Airlines, the national carrier of the tiny island-nation of Singapore. Why should you be interested in a non-European frequent flyer programme if you’re based in the UK? Good question.

Firstly, Singapore is an ideal launching pad for UK-based travellers looking to explore South East Asia due to its location, first-class infrastructure and English-speaking population. With the world’s best airport, it’s also the preferred pit stop for those making the long journey to and from Australia. Secondly, Singapore Airlines is one of the world’s most-decorated carriers, consistently perched at the top of industry rankings and at the forefront of innovation in commercial aviation. Experiencing Singapore Airlines’ decadent First Class Suite remains at the very top of most aspirational flyers’ bucket lists. And finally, although a member of Star Alliance, Singapore Airlines isn’t exactly a team player when it comes to award space. It reserves the vast majority of its newest and most-desirable cabin space for KrisFlyer members only.

Therefore, if your goal is to fly Singapore Airlines’ award-winning first and business class products and you’d prefer not to shell out thousands of pounds for the experience, you need to be familiar with the KrisFlyer rewards programme.

Singapore Airlines A380 First Class Suites. Photo by Brian Kelly / The Points Guy

KrisFlyer status

Let’s deal firstly with elite status. Singapore Airlines operates two distinct loyalty schemes: KrisFlyer, which is the regular loyalty programme in which most of us will participate, and PPS Club, which is the more exclusive version of KrisFlyer.

Within these two programmes, there are six status tiers:

KrisFlyer

  • KrisFlyer Membership — This is the most basic of all membership tiers and where you will start your KrisFlyer status journey. KrisFlyer Membership gives you the ability to earn and redeem KrisFlyer Miles, but not much else. You will automatically be given this status upon sign-up, which you can do here.
  • KrisFlyer Elite Silver — You can unlock Elite Silver status by earning 25,000 Elite miles in any 12-month period and retain it by earning a further 25,000 Elite miles each subsequent year. For example, a return Business Standard trip from London to Singapore earns you 16,904 Elite miles, so earning 25,000 Elite Miles in a year is not particularly difficult. Once you’ve qualified, you’ll receive a 25% mileage bonus on flights, seat selection privileges, priority airport standby and some other, smaller benefits.
  • KrisFlyer Elite Gold— To qualify for Elite Gold, you’ll need to earn 50,000 Elite miles in any 12-month period and you can retain it by earning a further 50,000 Elite miles each subsequent year. In addition to a 25% mileage bonus, KrisFlyer Elite Gold members get Star Alliance Gold status, an increased baggage allowance, KrisFlyer lounge access and priority check-in, boarding and baggage handling.

PPS Club

  • PPS Club — PPS Club is Singapore Airlines’ more exclusive loyalty scheme. Admission to this programme is not based on how many Elite miles you earn, but how much cash you spend directly with the airline. To qualify, you must spend at least S$25,000 (~£14,500) on Singapore Airlines’ first or business class flights in any 12-month period. After qualifying, spend another S$25,000 to retain your status for a further 12 months. PPS Club members enjoy enhanced privileges including access to better lounges, priority award redemptions, free onboard Wi-Fi, a dedicated PPS Club hotline, KrisFlyer Miles do not expire and a guaranteed economy class seat on any Singapore flight.
  • Solitaire PPS Club — You can unlock Solitaire PPS Club by spending the equivalent of S$50,000 (~£29,100) Singapore Airlines first or business class flights in any 12-month period. Once you’ve qualified, spend S$50,000 on flights to retain your status for a further 12 months. In addition to the above benefits, Solitaire PPS Club members enjoy access to first class check-in and lounges, the highest priority for award redemptions and one Solitaire PPS Club supplementary card where your supplementary cardholder will enjoy most of the same perks as you.

Singapore also offered a Lifetime Solitaire PPS Club level of status, though it stopped awarding this status in 2007, and there are said to be less than one hundred members world-wide.

Earning KrisFlyer miles

There are three forms of currency in the KrisFlyer programme: miles that can be redeemed for award travel, or KrisFlyer miles; miles that count towards KrisFlyer status, or Elite miles; and points that count towards PPS Club status, or PPS Value.

KrisFlyer miles are more accessible to UK-based travellers than you’d think, and can be earned in numerous ways:

  • Up in the air — This is the most obvious way of earning KrisFlyer miles — by flying and crediting flights to Singapore Airlines. KrisFlyer miles are awarded based on distance flown, and either multiplied or discounted depending on the type of fare and your KrisFlyer status. When flying with other Star Alliance airlines, you can also choose to credit your miles to your KrisFlyer account.
  • On the ground — These are usually the easiest ways to earn KrisFlyer miles. Whether it’s with travel partners, such as with Rentalcars.com, Avis, Europcar and Hertz, various hotel groups and more. Additionally, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to the Singapore KrisFlyer programme at a 1:1 ratio. Membership Rewards points can be earned from cards like the Platinum Card from American Express UK and the Preferred Rewards Gold Card from American Express UK.
  • Retail therapy — Singapore Airlines operates two online retail platforms: KrisShop and KrisFlyer Spree. Shoppers can earn KrisFlyer miles by completing purchases on both platforms. Singapore Airlines also partners with some rather interesting retailers around the world, including Heathrow Rewards and Bicester Village. Heathrow Rewards points convert to KrisFlyer miles at 1:1 rate, while shoppers will receive 2 KrisFlyer miles for every pound spent at Bicester Village.

Unlike KrisFlyer Miles, elite miles and PPS value can only be earned by flying. Elite miles are awarded based on the distance flown with Singapore Airlines or any Star Alliance airline, and multiplied or discounted based on the type of fare and your status. PPS value, on the other hand, is awarded based purely on revenue spent on business or first class flights with Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance flights will not earn you PPS value).

Redeeming KrisFlyer miles

KrisFlyer miles can be redeemed for flights and upgrades with Singapore Airlines and its partner airlines, including United Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways. There are two rates for redeeming flights:

  • Saver awards, which cost fewer KrisFlyer miles to redeem but are of limited availability, and
  • Advantage awards, which cost up to double the KrisFlyer miles of a Saver award, but have much better availability.

It goes without saying that you should always aim to redeem your KrisFlyer miles for Saver awards, which also means planning your trip and redeeming your miles as far ahead as you possibly can. Singapore Airlines opens up award space 355 days in advance, but Suites and first class award space are usually snapped up within moments of opening. You should also note that a return Saver award entitles you to one free stopover, whilst a return Advantage award will get you a free stopover each way. You can also add further stopovers on both saver and advantage awards for a fee of $100 (~£80) each, provided the total number of stopovers for your award ticket does not exceed three. Stopovers can be a maximum of one year, and if you’re planning to make use of stopovers, it’s highly recommended to call the KrisFlyer hotline as the online booking system has restricted functionalities.

KrisFlyer miles expire three years after accrual, but may be extended for a fee. To calculate how many KrisFlyer miles you need to redeem for your flight, you can refer to the Singapore Airlines Award Chart (PDF) or the Star Alliance Award Chart (PDF). You’ll notice that KrisFlyer’s award chart is based on zones rather than distance flown, which means there are certain routes that provide greater value than others. For example, a one-way first class award flight from Sydney to Singapore requires 85,000 KrisFlyer miles, whilst Sydney to Hong Kong requires only 88,000 KrisFlyer miles. That’s just an additional 3,000 KrisFlyer miles for four extra hours of Singapore Suite action.

Once you’ve accumulated enough KrisFlyer miles in your account, you can redeem them for award flights via the KrisFlyer website, mobile app or by calling KrisFlyer directly. The KrisFlyer website and mobile app are both intuitive and easy to use. The award search engine recently added a calendar feature that allows you to see availability on either side of the date of your search. However, there are certain advantages to redeeming via the call centre, such as when you have a complex booking or want to make use of the Hundred Dollar Stopover.

Like most frequent flyer programmes, KrisFlyer allows members to join a waitlist for flights with fully redeemed award space. If space subsequently opens up due to cancellations or revenue management, seats will be released to members in the order they joined the waitlist. While you must have enough KrisFlyer miles to cover the flight you are waitlisting, there is no limit on the number of waitlists you can add yourself to. If your waitlist clears, you will have 72 hours to confirm your redemption, but you are under no obligation to do so if your plans have changed. All waitlist redemptions will be either confirmed or cancelled at least two weeks before the scheduled flight date.

Tips and tricks

Finally, here are some lesser-known features of the KrisFlyer programme that can help you get more from your miles:

  • Spontaneous Escapes — Every month, KrisFlyer releases special award seats for travel in the subsequent month at substantially discounted rates. In February, for example, one-way business class award seats from Singapore to Sydney were released for 28,000 miles instead of the usual 62,000 miles — a 55% discount. Do note, however, that Spontaneous Escapes award tickets cannot be changed or refunded once booked.
  • Nominee system — KrisFlyer does not allow members to pool or transfer KrisFlyer miles to one another. It does, however, allow members to make redemptions on behalf of up to five other nominated KrisFlyer members. This is particularly useful if you have family, friends or loved ones who have limited ability to earn KrisFlyer miles.
  • Hundred Dollar Stopover — When redeeming for a Saver award ticket, KrisFlyer allows you to add a stopover for USD100 (~£80). Apart from the obvious benefit of breaking up a long trip, utilising stopovers with KrisFlyer can actually save you a tonne of miles. For example, suppose you wanted to fly business class from London to Singapore, spend a few days or weeks in Asia, and then onward to Melbourne. If you were to book these as separate journeys, it would cost you 92,000 KrisFlyer miles from London to Singapore, and 62,000 KrisFlyer miles from Singapore to Melbourne — a total of 154,000 KrisFlyer miles. On the other hand, if you booked a one-way business class Saver award from London to Melbourne with an added stopover in Singapore, it would cost you only 116,000 KrisFlyer miles. That’s a saving of 38,000 KrisFlyer miles for a fee of USD100. Note, however, that adding a stopover to a Saver award redemption cannot be done online — you must call the KrisFlyer hotline and speak to a customer service representative.

Bottom line

Singapore may be half a world away, but Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer programme can provide incredible travel opportunities for European travellers and should definitely not be overlooked.

Featured photo by C. v. Grinsven/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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