Singapore Airlines is known for their excellent passenger experience in all cabins. The airline is interesting in how they market their cabins, given that the forward-most cabin on their 777s is “First Class,” while the forward-most cabin on their A380s is “Suites.”
The good news when it comes to redeeming miles on Singapore Airlines is that the program is a lot more accessible than most people realize:
- Singapore KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies — Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest
- Singapore Airlines blocks off a vast majority of premium cabin redemptions to partner airline frequent flyer programs, so if you want to redeem on Singapore in a premium cabin you’ll want to book directly through KrisFlyer
- Singapore KrisFlyer lets you waitlist award tickets, and those waitlists clear a surprising amount of the time
With that in mind, Singapore Airlines has fairly limited first class service to the US:
- Their flight from Singapore to Manchester to Houston is operated by an A350, which doesn’t feature first class
- Their flight from Singapore to Frankfurt to New York is operated by an A380, featuring Suites (which is the same price as first class if available, but it can be tough to come by)
- Their flights from Singapore to Seoul Incheon to Los Angeles, Singapore to Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles, and Singapore to Hong Kong to San Francisco, are all operated by Boeing 777-300ERs featuring just four first class seats
With just four first class seats on their 777s you’d think it would be really tough to find first class award seats, but that’s not the case nowadays, surprisingly. Singapore Airlines has excellent first class award availability for two passengers on their flights from Los Angeles to Seoul Incheon, Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita, and San Francisco to Hong Kong.
The availability isn’t as good if you want to go all the way to Singapore, though if you’re stopping at the intermedia point (either Hong Kong, Seoul, or Tokyo), availability is excellent. The flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong will cost you 92,000 miles one-way in first class, while the flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita or Seoul Incheon will cost you 95,000 miles one-way in first class. There are no carrier imposed surcharges on these awards.
If you wanted to, for 120,000 miles one-way you could book this as a Star Alliance award ticket, meaning you could include connecting flights on United to get to Los Angeles and San Francisco, and then flights within Asia on Star Alliance partners, assuming you stay within the North Asia region (Japan/China/Taiwan/Hong Kong/South Korea). That’s probably not worth it for most people.
There’s not award availability for two passengers in first class every day, but I’m seeing consistent dates throughout the schedule with availability. I’d say on average maybe two days per week have two first class award seats, with some seasonal variance. When you think about it, that’s pretty crazy — on some flights they’re making 50% of their first class seats available as awards in advance.
You can search award availability directly on Singapore Airlines’ website, which requires a KrisFlyer log-in (though you don’t need to have miles in the account to search availability).
If you’re transferring points from a transferable points currency, transfers typically aren’t instant. Transfers from Amex, Chase, and Citi, take anywhere from 12 hours to two days. The good news is that you can call the KrisFlyer service center and put a ticket on hold for up to three days, so you can hold the space while transferring points. Starwood Preferred Guest is a bit trickier, since transfers take longer.
These planes feature Singapore’s new first class seats (though not new Suites), which are nice, though not my favorite hard product. However, everything else about the experience, should be great, from the food to the service to the champagne.
As a reminder, here are some of the popular credit cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest points:
- 5x total points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3x points on dining
- 2x points on travel purchases
- 3x points on Travel after the $300 Annual Travel Credit
- 3x points on Dining
- $300 Travel Credit
- 4x points at restaurants
- 4x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $25,000 in purchases annually
- 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com
- Earn 5x points on flights purchased directly from airlines or through Amex Travel (up to $500k/year)
- $200 Annual Uber Credit
- Amex Centurion Lounge Access
- Earn 3x Points on Airfare
- Earn 3x Points on Hotels
- Earn 3x Points at Restaurants
- Earn 2x Venture miles on every purchase
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary
- Earn 2x Venture miles on every purchase
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check Credit
Finding two transpacific first class award seats in advance can be pretty tough, so I do think it’s worth taking note of Singapore’s award space right now. It’s especially remarkable when you consider that they have just four first class seats, and are willing to make half of them available as awards in advance on many flights. When Singapore Airlines first announced they’d be going from eight first class seats to four first class seats on the 777 I figured that was the end of award seats in advance, but that’s not the case.
Hopefully this is useful to some, especially given that KrisFlyer is transfer partners with all four major transferable points currencies, making this a pretty accessible award.
Has anyone taken advantage of Singapore Airlines’ excellent first class award availability between the US and Asia?
We flew the LAX to NRT route first class in November last year and were pretty disappointed with the service. We're not sure if it was an isolated incident, but we flew suites class in 2015 and it was a night and day difference. First, at check in, there is a First Class check-in counter, but they waved us to the regular counter instead, and serviced some other non-first class customers at the first class...
We flew the LAX to NRT route first class in November last year and were pretty disappointed with the service. We're not sure if it was an isolated incident, but we flew suites class in 2015 and it was a night and day difference. First, at check in, there is a First Class check-in counter, but they waved us to the regular counter instead, and serviced some other non-first class customers at the first class counter. No big deal, but the check in was very matter of fact and not warm. Then, when we were waiting in line to get through the long security line (we were surprised there was no longer a premium line like there was on our previous flight), we saw the same guy who checked us in lead a gentleman to the front of the security line. Guess what, when we got on our flight he was one of the other first class customers! We were a bit miffed that he got special treatment while we didn't, even though we were in the same cabin and had checked in around the same time.
During the flight, the main flight attendant for a major portion of the evening was super inattentive. After dinner, at first I didn't want my bed made and it was difficult to signal that I wanted it made a little later on. And later, my husband and I both pressed the call button several times for water and the FA never came by. She even ignored us when she walked by us! We were in the two middle seats and there's only 4 seats in our cabin, so I don't know what her deal was. Once she went to bed the male attendant took over and he was much better. But it definitely was nothing like our Suites class experience we had in 2015, which was really wonderful.
I just flew in Suites Class on SQ 26 from SIN to JFK on points.
I found first class Saver availability LAX-ICN-SIN-SYD in January for 154k miles. Only SIN-SYD has the A380 suites, but don't mind flying the 777-300ER the other portion. There was even better Saver availability out of Australia back to the US at the end of January.
@Peter: No you didn't, because SQ doesn't operate Suites Class [A380 only] to SFO.
Thank you Lucky, I just booked a HKG-SFO nonstop flight in suites.
@Ole: You're wrong. They opened it up on two routes: CPH-SIN v.v and SIN-AKL. Otherwise it's not bookable with Eurobonus.
Thanks for the heads up. I'm waitlisted HKG-SFO. Hope I get cleared!
Sorry, mistakenly conflated your comments.
We flew business SIN-HKG-SFO this past October. I had a hard time seeing the difference in the hard product between J and F on the 777, at least from the bulkhead J seats.
Thanks for the tip!
Are you saying that there is availability LAX-NRT and NRT -SIN as seperate awards but not LAX -NRT-SIN as a connection in NRT? If so , how many points is it via two awards?
@ Beachfan -- There's often not two seats on the NRT-SIN segment, so it's not a function of booking one award vs. two, but rather just a lack of availability on that second segment. It isn't always the case, but sometimes.
Thanks very much for the heads-up! Just snagged an F ticket from SIN to LAX
Is it now difficult to redeem aeroplan for SQ J or F anywhere? Not just from NA
The Star Alliance Award Ticket is posted is the old one. The new one as of Dec 7, 2017 is now 250K from North American to North Asia 1.
@ Rusty -- My mistake, thanks for the correction.
“Emirates recently introduced their new first class on the 777, which I’d argue has set the new industry standard, and is better than Singapore’s new A380 Suites.”
“These planes feature Singapore’s new first class seats (though not new Suites), which are nice, though not my favorite hard product. “
Soooo...which is it?
Someone’s been sipping too much Krug lol
@ Potreroflyr -- I might be missing something, but those statements don't contradict one another? I said the new Emirates 777 first class set the industry standard, not the new Singapore 777 seats.
I wish there was better F availability for redemptions on FRA-JFK! I need to get from Europe to the US next month. I guess I'll blow 110k UA miles on LH F, as I'd rather fly F than J.
FYI: SQ recently opened up F awards to SAS EuroBonus, with wide availability which appears to be as good as Krisflyers.
Safe to say that Scandinavians are going crazy with SQ redemptions at the moment.