It's a great option for business travellers who may otherwise be barred from flying first class on the company dime, or also for extra indulgence when jetting off on far-flung holidays.
Just 50,000 KrisFlyer miles is enough to land that upgrade between Sydney and Singapore, while 77,500 miles gets you bumped up on longer treks from Australia through to London.
What's more, you can also use KrisFlyer miles to upgrade to first class on Thai Airways flights between Sydney and Bangkok for a slightly-higher 55,000 KrisFlyer miles, and in all cases, upgrades can be confirmed instantly, rather than being waitlisted as you'd find with Qantas..
Here's what you need to know to turn those KrisFlyer miles into a relaxing first class suite on your next trip to or through the Lion City.
Singapore Airlines first class upgrades
Upgrades are all single-class on Singapore Airlines, which sees economy passengers moving forward into premium economy – or business class when premium economy isn't offered – which means only business class travellers have a shot at first class and Suites.
SQ upgrades can be locked-in via the KrisFlyer website until 24 hours before wheels-up. As they're first-come, first-served, we'd suggest doing that sooner rather than later.
Not every first class seat is available for upgraded travellers, so if you’re beaten to the punch, consider joining the ‘waitlist’. The airline will consider your upgrade closer to departure, so you might still be in with a fighting chance.
As a last resort, you can try to fork over extra miles to help sweeten the deal. ‘Saver’-level upgrades are by far the best option, but sometimes ‘Standard’ upgrade awards might remain available when the Saver seats have all been snapped up.
Keep an eye on the overall cost, though – 'Standard' upgrades typically need twice the number of points as 'Saver' upgrades, so if you are going to waitlist, sim for Saver if you're not bleeding miles.
Star Alliance first class upgrades
Across the Star Alliance network, upgrades are a little more limited – you’ll need to avoid the less-expensive business class fares in order to snag that upgrade.
On Thai Airways such as from Sydney to Bangkok, upgrades can be done from the C and D ‘fare buckets’, although not from the cheaper J- and Z-type tickets.
It’s a similar story on United Airlines – the bottom two fare types (Z and P) can’t be upgraded, so remember to book J, C or D tickets scuttle to the very front.
While upgrades on Singapore Airlines can be done via the KrisFlyer website, regrades on SQ’s Star Alliance partners have to be processed manually – either over the phone or by fax to the airline’s main offices in Singapore.
In Australia, residents can call (02) 8228 1188: a local call from most fixed phones in Sydney, and an STD or ‘national’ call from most other cities.
If you’re planning to book a commercial fare solely to upgrade, we’d recommend giving the KrisFlyer team a call to check what’s available before firming up your paid business class flights.
Requesting your Singapore Airlines upgrade
To get started with your Singapore Airlines upgrade, load up your reservation through the ‘manage booking’ section of the website – available from the moment you book until 24 hours before take-off.
Here, hunt down the ‘redeem an upgrade’ button – but if you’re travelling on a ticket that was already booked with frequent flyer points, it’ll be greyed out:
There are now two types of Singapore Airlines upgrade awards:
- Saver – the best value upgrade, but with the lowest availability
- Standard – a more expensive award, but handy if you'd still like an upgrade when Savers aren’t available
The same redemption types also apply when using KrisFlyer miles to book award flights, which looks like this on the Singapore Airlines website:
We can see that 75,000-mile Savers are gone from SQ232, but if you’re willing to pay more points to lock in a Standard award, you can.
The same principle applies to upgrades – so if you just stay put in business class and join the Saver waitlist for First or Suites, you’ll discover your fate closer to departure.
Whether confirmed or waitlisted, you’ll part with 15% fewer miles by upgrading through the KrisFlyer website than over the phone, which is both a handy and rewarding feature.
The mileage figures shown at the top of each column don’t include this discount, but the ‘display total cost’ button reveals what you’ll actually be shelling out:
In some cases, government taxes, airline fuel surcharges and other fees can vary between business and first class – in which case you’ll also be asked for a credit card to cover the difference.
A few tips…
If you’ve managed to wing an upgrade to first class or Suites, both KrisFlyer and Elite Miles accrue only as they would on your original business class ticket.
Also, upgrades aren’t available when travelling on most frequent flyer award tickets, whether booked through KrisFlyer, Virgin Australia Velocity or any other program.
Virgin Australia isn’t a Star Alliance member, so while Velocity points can be redeemed for flights on Singapore Airlines, they can’t be used for upgrades.
You can, however, convert your Velocity points into KrisFlyer miles and then request your Singapore Airlines upgrade via the KrisFlyer scheme.
One final tip: you also can’t upgrade on codeshare flights – so with Singapore Airlines you’ll need to be booked on the SQ code (not others like VA), and for partners such as Thai Airways and United, seek out the TG and UA codes, respectively.
Booking an SQ flight number or any other codeshare service on these airlines – while useful for KrisFlyer members – keeps you in sitting in business class.
More on first class travel from the AusBT team:
- Inflight degustation: sampling Etihad's first class tasting menu
- Emirates to launch new luxury first class A380 suites next year
- British Airways updates first class lounge at London Heathrow T5
- Singapore Airlines to cut back on A380 first class suites
- A Qantas degustation: sampling the first class degustation menu
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