Singapore Airlines & Virgin America's frequent flyer partnership

By David Flynn, March 5 2013
Singapore Airlines & Virgin America's frequent flyer partnership

Singapore Airlines and Virgin America are opening their respective frequent flyer programmes to allow 'earn and burn' privileges on each other's flights.

Under the arrangement, which came into effect on March 1, members of SQ's KrisFlyer scheme will be able to rack up the miles when flying on Virgin America. In turn, Virgin America travellers can bulk up their Elevate points on Singapore Airlines flights.

KrisFlyer miles and Elevate points can also be used to obtain 'free' reward seats on the other airline.

How do the earn rates stack up?

The airlines are keen to point out that "KrisFlyer has a mileage-based earn/redeem structure, while Virgin America's Elevate program has an earn/redeem structure which is more revenue-based."

"Therefore one KrisFlyer mile does not equal one Elevate point, and hence the apparent difference in reciprocal earning levels."

Virgin America's earn rate on SQ flights is pretty underwhelming: Elevate members collect only 40% of the total number of miles flown in economy and a meagre 50% in business class, with 60% in first class and Singapore Airlines' ritzy private A380 suites.

Even if you cough up full fare for the suites you'll see just 70% of your miles credited as Elevate points.

"For a San Francisco to Hong Kong flight in Suites Class you’d accrue roughly ~4,849 Elevate points" estimates points expert Ben Schlappig, who offers a detailed breakdown of the deal on his One Mile at a Time blog. "That’s the same number of points you’d earn for a ~$970 Virgin America ticket (which is) far worse value than accruing ~10,391 KrisFlyer miles."

Things are much better for Singapore Airlines loyalists flying with Virgin America: economy and premium economy tickets on VX earn at the full 100% rate, with 125% in business class and 150% in first class.

The deal is an extension to the codeshare agreement which both airlines launched in December 2012.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

25 Feb 2013

Total posts 61

To be fair, SQ points are worth 4/5 of bugger all and 7500 SQ points gets you a one-way flight from SIN-KL on a good day, while 7500 VX points can get you a LAX-SEA return pretty regularly.

Doesn't surprise me that the earn is toned down, otherwise VX would be up for 3-4 domestic flight redemptions for every SQ leg flown. The burn rate for VX on SQ seems pretty good though.

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