Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer has plenty of appeal for business travellers, including the airline's membership of Star Alliance and its partnership with Virgin Australia.
There are many reasons for Australian travellers to take advantage of Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer program, so we've put together this introduction to KrisFlyer.
Thanks to Singapore Airlines’ Star Alliance membership, KrisFlyers can earn and redeem miles with the likes of Air New Zealand, Thai Airways, United Airlines and Asiana, along with Virgin Australia, and of course, Singapore Airlines itself.
Membership is free – to start earning miles, just head to the Singapore Airlines website to enrol.
You’ll receive your KrisFlyer membership pack in the mail after taking your first flight, with all accrued miles expiring approximately three years from the month in which they were earned.
For example, if you flew on June 15 2014, those miles would expire on June 30 2017, regardless of how often you travel.
Miles can be extended for either six or 12 months depending on your KrisFlyer status, but comes with a fee and can only be done once.
Beginning at the entry-level ‘KrisFlyer’ tier, you’ll progress to Elite Silver and Elite Gold as you begin to travel more.
Status levels are determined by Elite Miles. Unlike KrisFlyer Miles, which can be redeemed for flights or upgrades, Elite Miles are exclusively used to measure your status.
If you’re familiar with Qantas or Velocity Frequent Flyer, think of Elite Miles as your Status Credits – you’ll earn more on flexible fares and travel in business and first class, and less on cheaper tickets in economy.
Along with Singapore Airlines and its Star Alliance partners, Elite Miles can also be earned on SilkAir and Virgin Atlantic flights.
It’s possible to earn Elite Miles with Virgin Australia, but you’ll need to book on the Singapore Airlines (SQ) code – only available when making the booking as part of an international itinerary.
On regular Virgin Australia (VA) flights, you’ll earn KrisFlyer Miles, but not Elite Miles.
KrisFlyer Elite Silver
After reeling in 25,000 Elite Miles in a year, you’ll move up to Elite Silver status.
If travelling on a last-minute (and unconfirmed) reservation or on an overbooked flight, priority is given to elite members – which could be the difference between grabbing the last seat and sitting at home until the next day.
These members also receive Star Alliance Silver status, which provides the same priority travel benefits across the global alliance.
A 25% bonus on KrisFlyer Miles applies when flying with SQ, SilkAir and Virgin Atlantic, although other creature comforts like extra baggage allowances or priority check-in aren’t available at the Elite Silver level.
KrisFlyer Elite Gold
With benefits like worldwide lounge access and priority check-in and boarding, Elite Gold is definitely what you want to aim for in KrisFlyer.
Like Silver Elite members, Golds earn 25% more KrisFlyer Miles, but receive a higher priority than these travellers when hoping to fly without a confirmed ticket.
The status itself is relatively easy to obtain for business travellers – 50,000 Elite Miles will get you across the line each year, and comes with Star Alliance Gold recognition.
In practical terms, that’s only two return trips from Sydney to London each year in business class, or a single return trip in Suites on the Airbus A380.
Checked bags are handled with priority, while an extra 20kg or one extra bag is allowed at no charge.
Better yet is access to the airline’s SilverKris and partner airline lounges worldwide whenever travelling on SQ or SilkAir, while Star Alliance Gold status provides lounge access when flying with a Star Alliance airline.
Things aren’t so exciting in Singapore – KrisFlyer Elite Gold members, along with other Star Alliance Gold members, are directed to the KrisFlyer Gold Lounges in Changi Airport.
Don’t be confused by the naming… KrisFlyer Gold lounges are a step below SilverKris, and in Singapore, are without showers or even toilets.
On the home front, Gold members can make use of Virgin Australia lounges before domestic flights.
Based on spend rather than distance flown, PPS Club membership is yours after shelling out at least S$25,000 on first and business class fares each year for your own travel.
While employer-funded travel and amounts paid for fuel surcharges contribute to your personal tally, airport and government taxes are excluded from calculations.
Over and above Elite Gold is the ability to book a confirmed seat on an already-full flight – provided you’re willing to buy the most expensive and flexible ticket – and a baggage allowance double that of the regular fare.
Extra baggage is also offered through Star Alliance Gold status and separate partnerships with both Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic.
PPS Club members receive annual gifts and undisclosed incentives for retaining their membership, while access is granted to the Singapore SilverKris lounges when travelling in economy.
Similar to premium credit cards, SQ also offers complimentary worldwide emergency assistance, overseas medical and travel accident insurance and priority customer service lines.
Solitaire PPS Club
The highest rank in KrisFlyer is Solitaire PPS Club – reserved for cashed-up members or serious corporate high-flyers.
You’ll need to amass at least S$250,000 of your own first and business class travel with SQ and SilkAir over any five year period, and as with the lower PPS Club tier, amounts spent on airport taxes or economy flights don’t count.
Once you’re at the upper echelon of the program, first class check-in desks are yours to use (even if travelling in economy), and a free supplementary Solitaire PPS card is offered to your spouse.
The SilverKris Lounges in Singapore can be used on arrival, as can the Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge in London Heathrow – both providing a chance to shower and freshen up before the long day ahead.
Retaining Solitaire PPS status requires a more modest S$25,000 annual spend on premium travel – matching the initial qualification level for regular PPS Club status.
Earning KrisFlyer Miles
On a return trip from Sydney to Singapore, the number of points you’ll earn depends on the type of fare you’ve purchased and the travel class you’ve booked.
Business class passengers earn a total of 9,780 miles on the return journey, while the cheapest economy fares earn just 391 miles in each direction.
Travellers in Suites rake in 23,472 miles on the return trip, while those enduring ‘regular’ first class on non-A380 aircraft bring in a more modest 11,736 miles – and in all cases, these figures are before the 25% bonuses kick in for elite KrisFlyer members.
The number of Elite Miles earned between Sydney and the Lion City is the same as the KrisFlyer figures above, although the 25% status-based bonuses don’t apply to Elite Miles.
Redeeming KrisFlyer Miles
KrisFlyer Miles can be redeemed for travel on Singapore Airlines and its roster of partner airlines, with the airline encouraging bookings through the Singapore Airlines website.
Online discounts of 15% are available when redeeming for Saver, Standard and Full award tickets and upgrades, with Saver fares naturally the best value.
On that same Sydney-Singapore-Sydney journey, a Saver business class booking costs 110,000 miles before discounts, while economy sets you back by 50,000. In first class, it’s 150,000 miles.
If you’ve already paid for your tickets outright, upgrading to business or first class might be tempting, but it’s an incredibly poor way to use your miles.
Only the most expensive economy tickets are eligible for upgrades – that’s anything in the S, Y, B or E ‘fare buckets’ – and even then, the number of miles needed is quite high.
A Saver upgrade to business is 90,000 miles – only 20,000 miles less than redeeming outright for a confirmed business class seat.
Moving from business class to first is 100,000 miles on the same return journey, but when you consider the already-high cost of the business class ticket, it’s also not terrific value.
Upgrades can either be confirmed instantly or waitlisted until closer to departure, so consider checking for availability before you book a paid ticket by contacting the airline.
Miles can also be redeemed for one-class upgrades with most Star Alliance airlines, but it’s again restricted to business class tickets and full-fare economy passengers.
KrisFlyer upgrades aren’t available with Virgin Australia, so that’s where the airline’s own Velocity Frequent Flyer scheme becomes useful.
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