While there's much to be said in favour of both Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyer schemes, a key criteria for assessing any 'best' program is the availability and value of reward seats bought using your points.
As it happens, arguably the best scheme on that score doesn't belong to either of the home-grown Aussie airlines. Instead, it's Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer.
KrisFlyer boasts generous frequent flyer availability and reward rates and a decent clutch of credit card partnerships through which you can earn points (or miles, in SQ parlance).
Added to that, each stay with hotel brands including Accor, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Shangri-La and Starwood can boost your balance, as can making your travel bookings via Agoda or hiring a car with Avis, Europcar and Hertz.
That’s not to mention the miles you can earn from actually flying with Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic and a broader network of Star Alliance partners such as Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, EVA Air, SAA, Thai Airways, United and many others.
Rounding out the deal, KrisFlyer’s tie-in with Virgin Australia also allows you to earn miles on things like fuel from BP, electricity and gas from Lumo Energy and restaurant bookings via OpenTable by first earning Velocity points and later converting these to KrisFlyer miles on a 1.35:1 basis.
Redeeming KrisFlyer miles for free flights
With a 15% mileage discount for online bookings, just 46,750 KrisFlyer miles is enough for business class from Sydney to the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, South China, Thailand or Malaysia.
63,750 miles is all it takes to get you there in style in either first class or Suites Class, depending on the aircraft flown.
Compare that with Qantas Frequent Flyer where you’ll part with 60,000-65,000 points on comparable routes in business class or 90,000-95,000 points in first class – and with similar earning rates via the programs’ mutual credit card and hotel partners, KrisFlyer stretches your points further.
(The upside of Qantas is of course that it's easier to earn Qantas Points here in Australia due to the Flying Kangaroo's extensive web of retail partners.)
It’s a similar story when jetting further afield to major European cities including London, Paris, Frankfurt, Milan and Zurich – 80,750 miles nets a business class seat or 112,625 miles returns a first class or Suites Class ticket, against 128,000 and 192,000 Qantas Points, respectively.
What’s more, Singapore Airlines usually restricts first class and Suites Class awards on its Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s to KrisFlyer members, rather than opening them up to partner airline frequent flyer programs like Velocity or United MileagePlus, which puts more options at hand for KrisFlyer members.
KrisFlyer awards: Saver, Standard and Full
KrisFlyer takes a tiered approach to award travel with these falling into the Saver, Standard and Full categories, rather than the commonly-adopted system of a reward seat either being available for booking on a flight or no seat being available at all.
KrisFlyer Saver awards present the best value, requiring the least number of miles to book and can be likened to Qantas Frequent Flyer ‘classic reward’ bookings. Yet, when these aren’t available, the Standard and Full options allow you to use more miles – but not an exorbitant amount – to secure a seat.
That’s a useful trick when your mileage balance is overflowing, your travel dates are firm and you’d rather not pay full fare for a business or first class flight.
You can even ‘waitlist’ for a less-expensive Saver award, should one become available before departure, while locking in a Standard award to maximise your chances of securing a ticket at the best possible mileage cost:
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Whichever option you pick, just bear in mind that taxes, fees and carrier surcharges (including fuel surcharges) are payable in addition to the miles burned, which vary from route to route, can sometimes be pricey and are displayed on the KrisFlyer website when making your booking.
Flights taken on partner airlines such as Thai Airways and Lufthansa also require significantly more miles than with Singapore Airlines or SilkAir, so if your journeys often take to you other parts of the world or where SQ doesn’t fly, KrisFlyer might not prove the best fit.
More on Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer:
- The top five credit cards for Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles
- Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer scheme for Aussie travellers
- Upgrading to business class with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles
- First class and Singapore Airlines A380 Suites upgrade guide
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