Using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles for domestic US flights

Back in May I wrote a post about how to redeem American Express Membership Rewards points for travel in Singapore Airlines premium cabins by transferring points to Singapore’s KrisFlyer program.

As it turns out there are some other great uses for Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles, specifically for travel within the US (including Hawaii).

The KrisFlyer partner award chart reads in part as follows:

So through KrisFlyer a domestic US award costs 25,000 miles in coach or 40,000 miles in business class, while an award to Hawaii costs just 35,000 miles in coach or 60,000 miles in business class. Best of all, KrisFlyer allows one-way award redemptions for just half the cost.

As a point of comparison, United charges 25,000 miles in coach or 50,000 miles in business class for a domestic award (10,000 more than KrisFlyer), while to Hawaii they charge 40,000 miles in coach (5,000 more than KrisFlyer) or 80,000 miles in business class (20,000 more than KrisFlyer). Of course that’s not even an “apples to apples” comparison, given that American Express Membership Rewards points can’t be transferred to United anymore. The best comparison would be Aeroplan, which is also an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. For domestic awards they charge 25,000 miles in coach and 50,000 miles in business class (10,000 more than KrisFlyer), while to Hawaii they charge 45,000 miles in coach (10,000 more than KrisFlyer) and 80,000 miles in business class (20,000 more than KrisFlyer). But most importantly (for many), Aeroplan doesn’t offer discounted pricing for one-way awards, so you’d be stuck paying the full roundtrip cost for a one-way award.

KrisFlyer has access to all the same award space that United offers on their website, so you can just use United’s website to search availability. These awards have to be booked over the phone via the KrisFlyer service center, though they don’t charge a booking fee. They’re open 24 hours a day and can be reached in the US at (213) 404-0301.

Despite the pain of booking over the phone, this is the cheapest option for using Membership Rewards points for travel to Hawaii in a premium cabin, and the only way to use Membership Rewards points for discounted one-way Star Alliance awards. I should also mention that they don’t impose fuel surcharges on domestic award redemptions, and also don’t allow stopovers for these redemptions.

The one “catch” is that Membership Rewards points take about 24 hours to transfer to KrisFlyer, and there’s no way to hold award space while the points transfer.

Anyway, hopefully this is something some of you guys can take advantage of. If you have any questions on the above, please let me know!

Filed Under: Advice, Awards
  1. Good find. I’ve been too focused on using SQ miles just for SQ, but not a bad way to funnel AmEx to *A domestic. LAX-JFK in UA BF for 20K one-way is pretty good!

  2. Lucky,
    I assume only “saver” awards are available to Kris Flyers if booking on United. On US Airways, would it be safe to assume availability is based on the “low” (lowest miles) ticket award. Would that be right?

  3. I currently do not have a card that offers membership reward points but do they transfer 1-1? if so, time to apply 🙂

  4. I’m glad I inspired this great post, thanks Lucky!!!
    It’s also worth mentioning that on short domestic routes it may be better to transfer to ANA as they don’t seem to charge fees on domestic tickets and short flights like EWR-TPA are only 22K miles RT in coach.

  5. Is it worth buying 20,000 starwood preferred points at the current 20% discounted price just to transfer to KrisFlyer? I really want to fly businessclass one day on Singapore but have no way of accumulating miles on that program than other than transferring from Starwood or membership rewards.

  6. This probably only applies to people on the west coast, but you should probably mention that if you transferred your MR points to BA and used those points to fly in business on Alaska, you’d only have to use 50,000 points/miles to get to Hawaii. Works out even better if you wait for a 50% transfer bonus that happens at least once a year.

  7. @ Vivek D — If you want to fly Singapore Airlines then yes, it’s one of the only ways. That being said, you’re limited in the number of points you can buy through SPG, so it may not be enough for a one-way award.

    @ Goosh — Keep in mind that Alaska codes their premium cabin to Hawaii as first class, so the roundtrip cost would be 75,000 Membership Rewards points. Great deal in coach, though, at only 25,000 miles roundtrip!

  8. Lucky, Lucky,
    You are giving away the house on all the tricks!

    Anyway, you can only buy 20k SPG for each account = 2.8c each => SQ at 2.24c each
    Amex is unlimited (well, 500k a year) at 2.5c each.

  9. This is sweet, 60k MR->KrisFlyer for roundtrip BusinessFirst on UA EWR-HNL right? Unfortunately, looks like availability is very low – Saver BusinessFirst(class I) on sample Expert Flyer searches 330 days out produces almost nothing on that nonstop 🙁

  10. @ CatJo — That’s correct, though as you point out UA almost never releases award space on the nonstop EWR-HNL flight. But going via another routing it’s still only 60K.

  11. Intriguing, looking at the nonstop EWR-HNL flight, there’s availability next week Wed/Thu (8/15 and 8/16, 5 and 6 seats respectively), nothing on the return though. Does UA typically release some a week before (similar to LH?) so one could perhaps count on this for future travel?

    Heckuva deal, for a family of 5, BusinessFirst roundtrip EWR-HNL for 300MR (vs 400UR). I have 400k+ of each, and would much rather use the MR anyway even if it was the same amount for either.

  12. Regarding, “But most importantly (for many), Aeroplan doesn’t offer discounted pricing for one-way awards, so you’d be stuck paying the full roundtrip cost for a one-way award.”

    It would be surprising if I knew something you don’t, Lucky, so I may be wrong, but I think that statement might be incorrect. I think Aeroplan does offer discounted one-way, it’s just not half. It’s usually 60 to 70 percent of round trip. For example, business RT from US to EU1 is 90k, but OW it’s 60k. The taxes are important, though.

  13. @Lucky Sooo I just tried booking LAX-CLT for next week and they wanted to charge me the 30.. she told me she see’s it as First not Business. Is it worth hanging up and calling back?

  14. @ Larry — Hmmm, isn’t that just for travel on Air Canada?

    @ Ryan — That’s tricky. Technically US Airways codes domestic first class as “O” (first class) while United codes it as “I” (business class). I thought they’d charge the first class price, though I called twice to ask, and both times got told it was the lower price (I was asking about Hawaii, so it was 30K one-way). I’d hang up and call again. Let me know how it goes, please!

  15. @ Larry — Hmmm, isn’t that just for travel on Air Canada?

    Looks to me like it’s for *A. @ Larry — Hmmm, isn’t that just for travel on Air Canada?

  16. Its not quite true that partners have access to all the same space UA shows for their own metal. UA holds back a bunch of space on United Express for their own members. I’ve noticed this particularly on ex-UA routes, such as IAD-YOW. Plenty of space on but US, AC, A3 can’t book it.

  17. @ arcticbull — In my experience they’re not actually holding it back but it’s just a technical glitch because of the flight numbers. In my experience flight numbers in the 5xxx range often can’t be seen by partners, I assume because the system somehow processes it as a codeshare or something else. Not sure the reason, but I think it’s a technical error and not United actually intentionally holding the space back.

  18. @lucky Also the Aeroplan thing I can confirm (and you can too by mock booking) that “discounted” awards for one way apply across *A. Combined with YQ makes it just an awful value though haha.

  19. @arcticbull, lucky, and Larry

    Yep, Aeroplan offers one way *A awards, at 67% of RT cost…but only if at least one of O/D is US/Can.

    @Ryan and lucky,

    Think Ben’s wrong on this one. US F is F for SQ, UA F is C/J.

  20. @lucky That’s an interesting thought but I doubt it’s the reason. A few months ago I was booking an award from the east coast to Zagreb. For the last leg I searched UA for 2 seats, and found 2 from EWR-YOW. I booked one via US, ad searched again. Still a seat left on united. Tried to snag the second seat with AC and nothing showed. They released X2 for themselves and X1 for partners, im almost 100% sure. I guess I could have called US and had them look, but you know how much fun that is 😉 just paid the $200, rest was in LH F so I wasn’t gonna let that spoil the fun.

  21. Argh! I just booked the nonstop EWR-HNL with 40k UA miles today. I have 24 hours to cancel but… I’m worried about canceling, and then losing the ticket. (The trip is in two weeks and I can’t afford to have one of you guys snatch it up.)

    I assume the consensus is that it’s too risky to (1) transfer miles to KrisFlyer, (2) cancel the UA ticket (it hasn’t been 24 hours, and (3) re book using SQ miles?

  22. @ LTL — There’s definitely some risk involved, and if your schedule is completely set I probably wouldn’t do it.

  23. @LTL Also remember that a cancelled award seat doesn’t always return to inventory! This is particularly true closer in, I find. Sometimes they just disappear. If I were you, I’d just plan to do it next time.

  24. Yeah. And there is the additional risk of incurring the wrath of my wife when she finds out I cancelled our ticket and now we have to connect in Cleveland or something.

    (Side note: UA flies nonstop CLE-HNL? Who knew?)

  25. I got to thank you for this little tidbit of information. I have been trying to find out where to transfer the rest of my membership rewards as i fly to hawaii a lot and it was all going to go into hawaiian airlines. But singapore airlines redemption of 25K roundtrip is a great deal!

  26. It’s also worth noting that they have (relatively) low service fees–$20 for changes and $30 for cancellations

  27. Hi Ben,
    This is Valerie from Aeroplan.
    Thanks for the comparison but I just want to correct one piece of information regarding Aeroplan’s one-way Flight Rewards. (something a few of your readers have already pointed out). Aeroplan’s one-way rewards start at 10,000 Aeroplan Miles and are available anywhere Air Canada flies as well as on any of the Star Alliance member airlines (except Scandinavian Airlines).

  28. @ Michael — Until Singapore starts flying between LA and Honolulu, yes!

    @ Aeroplan — Thanks for the correction.

  29. @Aeroplan (Valerie), Aeroplan is becoming one of the least valuable miles around (possibly highest fuel surcharge around and miles expire after 12 months and has a limited shelf life. Now when I fly any star alliance partners, I credit my miles to either UA or US. As a Canadian, I would love to support Aeroplan but Aeroplan doesn’t make it equitable to do so. Any chance Aeroplan will at least consider charging just 50% of r/t miles for a one way redemption like United, Singapore and American Airlines to make its loyalty program a little more competitive?

  30. How good is the availability on Singapore for redeeming United flights?

    In the past Qatar sucked as they wanted almost double.

    I don’t mind transferring to Singapore, but after transferring if Singapore doesn’t give me the Saver awards of United (if I can see them on United’s site), then this wouldn’t be that great of a deal.

  31. @ John — Singapore has access to the same availability United gives their own members, so you can always search first. Availability is generally quite good, depending on the route.

  32. Just checked on an award on domestic US airways in “business”, but the agent also said it was pricing at 60,000 miles instead of 40,000. I guess this advantage may only work on United flights?

  33. @ papergirl — Right, United flights only, since US Airways codes their domestic first class the same as international first class.

  34. just tried to book HNL->GIG for 110k Kris miles, but SQ’s call center kept quoting me 140k. I directed them to the award chart.

    Now I get a call back on Tuesday, March 9. I have asked them to honor their award chart, specifically because it was just revised in January 2013.

    It will be interesting to see what happens considering I specifically transferred Amex points for this flight.

  35. This is for a Business/First to IAD, then Global First to GIG right during next year’s Carnival dates.

    At first they said they were charging me the “higher fare” because it was a mix of Business and First. They kept repeating this like a broken record until I asked them to look at their website showing I was paying the highest fare of 110k. There is no 140k award from Hawaii to South America.

    At that point I asked to speak to their supervisor. And then they said I would get a call back on Tuesday, March 9 after they talked to whoever decides whether to honor the award chart or call it an error? Probably the “super corporate rate desk in the sky.”

    United did the same thing to me when I booked a 135k Hawaii to Europe First Class Ticket. The routing was roundtrip United Global First from HNL-NRT, then Lufthansa First from NRT-FRA and back. Eventually they gave in after I talked to six different agents who gave me a whole plethora of reasons why the routing was invalid; everything from “no layovers” which is allowed for roundtrip tickets to “the computer crashed.” My guess was that they were guessing since the computer had difficulty ticketing the routing. Eventually it was done manually.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Singapore Airlines handles this. Both United and Singapore (maybe all Star Alliance?) seem to have difficulty booking international award flights to and from Hawaii on multiple carriers.

  36. @ Grant — Very strange about the United award to GIG — I think you’re spot on there. That being said for the award to Europe, the agents were actually correct. You can’t route from Hawaii to Europe via Asia. You can only connect in the mainland.

  37. @lucky: Do you know if Singapore Air imposes fuel surcharges on international United flights? For example, if I want to fly SFO-HKG or SFO-SIN by redeeming KrisFlyer miles for United flights, do I have to pay fuel surcharges?

  38. @ umc — Yes, they sure do impose fuel surcharges on United itineraries that would have fuel surcharges when booking a revenue ticket.

  39. @lucky – Can I use book a stopover with Krisflyer on a domestic award ticket to Hawaii?

  40. I just called Kris Flyer for miles required to fly domestic first (2 cabin plane) from PHX-MCO on US AIR. There is a lot of availability for first class saver (and the agent confirmed it was a saver ticket), but they are saying 60k miles (not 40k). I’ve called twice and when I mention the award chart they suggest I call them and not reference the award chart. Is it written anywhere that a 2 cabin domestic aircraft should be coded as business (and not first)?

  41. @ kristian — Don’t hold me to this, but I do believe you still get one stopover since it’s an award between regions.

  42. @ boilerhoops10 — The agent is actually correct. US Airways codes their domestic first class as “O” class, so you’d be charged the three cabin first class price. You only get the business class cost on United, since they code their domestic two cabin first class as “I” class.

  43. @lucky – Thanks for the info. You are, in fact, correct. A stopover is allowed but an open-jaw is not. I just got off the phone with Krisflyer but was unable to book my itinerary just yet. I had it planned out as an open jaw which I was told was not allowed. So I added two segments to get me back to my original departure airport but busted the segment maximum, which apparently is six. She called them “sectors,” by the way. Back to the drawing board for now.

  44. @lucky – Oh, and another question for you. What do you think the odds are of any (like three) lie flat seats opening up on a mid february SFO-HNL segment? Thanks! Kristian

  45. @ kristian — I imagine there would be space as it is. If not, I’d say it’s quite likely space will open up for awards.

  46. Thanks for your help here.

    I am holding 5 saver awards on United for next summer. I’m traveling from PHX to HNL with a stopover in SFO on the way out. 35k Krisflyer miles per ticket.

    When I went to pay, the agent said there was a ~$150/ticket fee. This didn’t seem right to me. The agent also seemed surprised. Seem strange to you?

  47. @ boilerhoops10 — That does seem a bit odd, the taxes should be much less than that. Did the agent say what the fees were for?

  48. @ lucky – the agent herself seemed surprised at the fees. She was expecting something in the $50 range. She said it was the fees/taxes that United was charging. When I pressed her she said we would work it out today when I called to book the tickets. I’m hoping that I can get it worked out. I wonder if it’s in writing anywhere that there are no fuel surcharges imposed on United?

  49. @ boilerhoops10 — Well when fuel surcharges are imposed, it’s simply a function of the ticketing carrier charging what the operating carrier would. In this case United doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on domestic flights, so Singapore wouldn’t have any fuel surcharges to pass on. I’m sure it’ll be resolved favorably. Let me know how it goes.

  50. If you use Krisflyer miles to book united, can you avoid the $75 close in booking fee for booking under 21 days to departure?

  51. @ David — KrisFlyer doesn’t charge a close-in ticketing fee, so that would be one way to avoid it.

  52. Lucky,

    Quick question – If I want to do LAX-JFK-FRA-CDG(final destination) with no stopovers or anything, how will this price out? I’m looking to especially do JFK-FRA in SQ Suites.

  53. Hi, so from reading this entire thread it looks like it is NOT possible to use Singapore miles when the United travel includes a segment operated by United Express. Is that correct? Is there any workaround?

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