Upgrading Using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles – The Best Value?

I’ve had a few comments on the site about upgrading using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles, but are they the best value use of you hard-earned miles?  This article will look at how these upgrades are priced and what the value is.

Singapore Airlines A380

How Many KrisFlyer Miles Will You Need for Upgrades?

The first thing that you need to understand is how Upgrades Awards are priced. Singapore Airlines uses a zoned based system from zones 1 (Singapore) to zone 15 (Sao Paulo) for pricing its awards. Some zones have multiple countries within them, but are priced the same as the rest in that zone, for example both Malaysia and Indonesia destinations are all in Zone 2.  This is formed in a grid and cross referencing the zone you are flying from and to as well as the class of travel will give you the relevant cost for your upgrade in KrisFlyer Miles.

  • For example a flight from London is Zones 1 to 12 and costs a minimum of 65,000 (Business) or 67,500 (First/Suites).

In addition Singapore Airlines has three types of flight award – Saver, Standard and Full for upgrades to business and First/Suites. The price in KrisFlyer Miles increases as you go from Saver Awards to Full Awards to reflect the rarity of Saver Awards and the improved flexibility of the Full Award.

  • Using the London Example – A upgrade to business would cost Saver – 65,000, Standard 90,000 and Full is 220.000

You can find the full award chart here: Singapore Airlines and SilkAir Upgrade Awards Chart

What’s the Value of A Upgrade Award on Singapore Airlines/SilkAir?

In order to understand this we need to take value of the flight if you paid in cash and take off the cost of the lower class that you have upgraded from.  You can then use this to divide by the number of KrisFlyer Miles (either Saver, Standard or Full) giving you the value of your KrisFlyer Miles.  So I’ve taken the examples of a flight from Singapore to London and Singapore to Bangkok (all for flights in September 2014).

Example Singapore to London Upgrade from Economy to Business Class (Long Haul)

Value if paid in cash: $S8,100 – Economy Class Ticket Cost $S2,726 so the upgrade value is $S5,374.  If you were able to get a Saver Award this would value the KrisFlyer Miles at 8 cents per Mile, a Standard at 6 cents and a full award at 2.6 cents per KrisFlyer Mile.

Example Singapore to Bangkok Upgrade from Economy to Business Class (Short Haul)

Value if paid in cash: $S1,307 – Economy Class Ticket Cost $S667 so the upgrade value is $S640.  If you were able to get a Saver Award this would value the KrisFlyer Miles at 4.3 cents per Mile, a Standard at 2.1 cents and a full award at 1.3 cents per KrisFlyer Mile.

Are KrisFlyer Award Upgrades to First/Suites better Value?

You can of course use your KrisFlyer Miles for upgrades to get into First or Suites class depending on the route and aircraft.  For the same dates and flights to London from Singapore this is the value:

Value if paid in cash: $S14,200 – Business Class Ticket Cost $S8,100 so the upgrade value is $S6,100.  If you were able to get a Saver Award this would value the KrisFlyer Miles at 9 cents per Mile, a Standard at 4.7 cents and a full award at 2.1 cents per KrisFlyer Mile.

Additional Bonus for Upgrade Awards – Earn KrisFlyer Miles

The other additional bonus for using you KrisFlyer Miles for Upgrade Awards is that you’ll earn the miles based on the original ticket purchase.  So for the London flights in economy you would earn 6761 and Business 8452, further improving the value of the upgrade award.  This would bring the cost of a save award to 58.239 Miles.  Assuming you’d be taking advantage of the 15% discount (speaking about this is the next section), that could reduce the cost in KrisFlyer Miles to just 48,489.  This would bring the value to over 11 cents per KrisFlyer Mile for a Economy to Business Upgrade.

Important Points to Consider for Upgrading Using KrisFlyer Miles

There are a few things to consider before you read through the analysis on the valuation of KrisFLyerr Miles for Upgrade Awards.

(1) Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Discount

Singapore Airlines does offer a discount for those redeeming on their flights online. They offer a 15% discount, which of course makes your KrisFlyer Miles more valuable!  None of the above calculations include that discount, so you’ll get even more value if you are able to book online (where there discount applies).  If you have an issue when processing your upgrade and have to call the call centre, then mention it to the agent they will usually then apply the discount.

(2) Availability

Singapore Airlines along with every frequent flyer program will only release a certain number of award seats available to book, so even if you have the KrisFlyer Miles you may not be able to use them.

(3) Devaluations

Whatever you value a KrisFlyer Mile at always remember that this is a frequent flyer scheme and so is subject to change at any time.  2013 saw quite a few programs, notably Hilton HHonors reduce the value of their scheme.

(4) Only Flexible Tickets are Eligible for Upgrades

If you are intending to purchase a cheap discounted economy ticket and then upgrade it you may be in for a surprise, as most of these are not eligible for upgrade.  Only Economy Class tickets purchased on flights operated by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir in S, Y, B or E booking classes are eligible for redemption of upgrades from Economy to Business (flexible).  Handily if booking through the Singapore Airlines website you can find out whether your ticket will be eligible for an upgrade by checking the fares details (you don’t need to upgrade immediately):

Upgradable Tickets

(5) Finding Upgrade Availability Prior to Booking

There is no sure-fire way of finding whether there will be award availability prior to booking the ticket paid for by cash.  You can of course do a full award redemption and this may give you an idea of whether there are spaces available.  However if you find that only waitlist options are available then I’d suggest that you are unlikely to find upgrade availability.

(6) Codeshares

Only flights operated and marketed by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir are eligible for redemption of upgrades.  This excludes codeshare flights marketed by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir and operated by codeshare partners, as well as flights marketed by codeshare partners and operated by Singapore Airlines or SilkAir.

(7) Taxes and Fees for Upgrades on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir

Don’t forget that you’ll be paying a small increase in cost for the upgrade due to the various and duties that are imposed for the higher class, but compared to the overall cost these are usually minimal.

Conclusions

As you can see with the examples here generally upgrades are better value than you would normally get for outright redemptions (when compared to the examples here), they are certainly better than using the pay with KrisFlyer Miles option that you could also use.  Getting anything over the 2 cents value I going to be a good value redemption and getting $S4 cents per KrisFlyer Mile is really great value.

However you are limited by quite a few restrictions, and you should be careful when booking the revenue part of your ticket if you are aiming to upgrade it at a later date.