Singapore

6

Singapore Airlines is altering its routes to the United States in October 2016. Currently, Singapore flies from four American cities to Singapore with stops along the way in Europe and Asia.

  • San Francisco to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore
  • Houston to Moscow (DME) to Singapore
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt to Singapore

Singapore is making several changes though. It is changing which West Coast city flies to Seoul, and adding a direct flight from San Francisco.

  • Subtracting San Francisco to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore October 22, 2016
  • Adding Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore October 23
  • Adding San Francisco to Singapore October 23

It also changing the routing from Houston to Singapore.

  • Subtracting Houston to Moscow (DME) to Singapore October 29, 2016
  • Adding Houston to Manchester to Singapore October 30

That means from October 30, 2016, the new routes will be:

  • San Francisco to Singapore on the A350-900
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Houston to Manchester to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt to Singapore on the A380

The new route map, from October 30, 2016 will look like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.55.04 PM

I’ve already written about Business Class award space on the new routes here; this post will focus on Business and First Class award space on the routes that are being cut.

Singapore Business Class Product

Singapore Airlines Business Class is among the best in the world. The massively wide seats/beds are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration on the A350, 777, and A380.

The seats look almost exactly like the Singapore First Class seat and better than the First Class seat on many airlines. In addition, you will get top-notch service, delicious food, expensive alcohol, and lounge access during your journey.

Singapore Business Class is world-class.

Singapore First Class is mostly distinguished by the incredible service, food, and alcohol. I flew Singapore First Class in May and loved it. Click here for the full trip report.

5

Getting Singapore Miles

Singapore Business and First Class awards can only be booked with Singapore miles, not partner miles like United miles, because Singapore only releases longhaul Business and First Class award space to its KrisFlyer program and not to partners.

You can easily get Singapore miles because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

Award Space on Ending Routes

Houston to Moscow

The last Houston to Moscow flight is October 29, 2016. Until then you can find 2 First Class award seats on many flights, 2-4 Business Class award seats on many flights, and up to 6 Business Class award seats the week of departure.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.56.31 AM

After the automatic 15% discount for booking awards on singaporeair.com, the total price per person from Houston to Moscow is:

  • 48,875 miles + $202 one way in Business
  • 57,375 miles + $212 one way in First

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 11.18.49 AM

San Francisco to Seoul

The last San Francisco to Seoul, South Korea flight is October 22, 2016. Right now, the only First Class award seats I see are in the last week before departure, like the 2 on Friday’s flight.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.37.02 AM

In Business Class, I see one seat per flight on some flights in September and October.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.50.58 AM

After the automatic 15% discount for booking awards on singaporeair.com, the total price per person from San Francisco to Seoul is:

  • 65,875 miles + $193 one way in Business
  • 74,375 miles + $203 one way in First

Those are about 17,000 more miles for a flight that is two hours longer than Houston to Moscow.

Sao Paulo to Barcelona

The last Sao Paulo to Barcelona flight is October 20, 2016. I love this route because it connects two fantastic cities without a connection in the United States and because there are no fuel surcharges ever when departing Brazil.

Unfortunately there isn’t much First Class award space at the moment, just one seat here and there.

There is tons of Business Class space, though, with up to 6 Business Class seats the week of departure and 2 on many flights through October.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 11.22.12 AM

After the automatic 15% discount for booking awards on singaporeair.com, the total price per person from Houston to Moscow is:

  • 50,150 miles + $35 one way in Business
  • 58,225 miles + $35 one way in First

Bottom Line

Singapore is ending some of its routes from the Americas, presumably for lack of demand. Lack of demand usually means plenty of award space, and these routes follow that pattern. Book now to travel by October from Houston to Moscow, San Francisco to Seoul, or Sao Paulo to Barcelona in luxurious Business or First Class award space.

You can easily get Singapore miles because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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0

Korean Airlines releases the most First Class award space of any airline for a fantastic First Class product. All five possibilities are fully flat beds. Korean miles are the main way to book Korean First Class. (Delta miles cannot book partner First Class.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.36 PM

Singapore Suites is even more luxurious, possibly the most luxurious First Class in the world, and the only one that allows two suites to be combined into a flying double bed. Singapore miles are the only way to book Singapore Suites.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

In my mind, the problem with Korean First Class and Singapore Suites is the cost. Singapore charges for First/Suites Class (one way):

  • San Francisco to Hong Kong: 70,125 miles + $49.60 (15 hours flying)
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore: 91,375 miles + $263.30 (17:45 flying)
  • San Francisco to Seoul: 74,375 miles + $203.30 (12:50 flying)
  • San Francisco to Seoul to Singapore: 91,375 miles + $263.30 (19:20 flying)
  • Houston to Moscow-Domodedovo: 57,375 miles + $211.70 (10 hours flying)
  • Houston to Moscow-Domodedovo to Singapore: 93,500 miles + $271.70 (21:15 flying)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita: 74,375 miles + $113.30 (11:45 flying)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita to Singapore: 91,375 miles + $275.97 (19:20 flying)
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt: 57,375 miles + $203.30 (7:35 flying)
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore: 93,500 miles + $285.85 (20:05 flying)

Korean charges in First Class (one way):

  • United States to China, Japan, Korea, Northeast Asia: 80,000 miles
  • United States to Southeast Asia: 95,000 miles
  • United States to the Indian Subcontinent: 105,000 miles.
  • Fuel surcharges vary by destination but from the United States to Korea are usually $80 or less each way. From the United States to Southeast Asia, they can hit about $180 one way.

While a few prices were pretty good, most of those prices seemed high to me because American Airlines and United awards were fewer miles and had no fuel surcharges. Well, United devalued its First Class awards in 2014, and American Airlines devalued its chart on March 22.

Here’s what their charts look like now for First Class awards. Slashes indicate flying on that airline’s metal–cheaper–and flying a partner–more expensive.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 2.16.13 PM

Now, Korean and Singapore awards don’t look expensive; they look downright reasonable.

To Japan:

  • American charges 80k in First Class on American or Japan Airlines
  • United charges 80k in First Class on United
  • United charges 110k in First Class on ANA
  • Korean charges 80k and small fuel surcharges on Korean
  • Singapore charges 74.4k and tiny fuel surcharges on Singapore

At those prices, my top choices are Singapore, Japan Airlines with AA miles, and Korean in that order.

To Singapore:

  • American charges 110k in First Class on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines
  • United charges 80k in First Class on United
  • United charges 130k in First Class on ANA, Asiana, or Thai
  • Korean charges 95k and fuel surcharges on Korean
  • Singapore charges 91.4k or 93.5k and fuel surcharges on Singapore

At those prices, my top choices are Singapore and Korean in that order. Next is probably United First Class or Cathay Pacific, but they are way worse values.

You can find similar values to other places that show that Korean and Singapore awards are about to be as good or better value from the United States in First Class as American Airlines and United awards.

And for awards within Asia, Singapore (from 32,000 miles one way) and Korean (from 45,000 miles one way) offer some exceptional values.

Getting Korean and Singapore Miles

Getting Korean Miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 80,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 65,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant.

Ultimate Rewards also transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles. The best cards to get Ultimate Rewards are the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Getting Singapore Miles

Every transferable points program transfers 1:1 to Singapore miles.

  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • SPG Starpoints (with the customary 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred)

The first three take about 36 hours to transfer. SPG transfers take about a week or two and seem to post on Tuesdays in Singapore.

That means you can get the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus mentioned above.

Or you can get the Citi Prestige, which offers 40,000 ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Bottom Line

Korean and Singapore haven’t made improvements to their award charts, but as competitors devalue their charts, Korean and Singapore First and Suites Class become a better value.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

1

I just booked myself a $1,233 economy flight from Hawaii to Chicago for 17,500 Singapore miles and $5.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 4.46.43 PM

You probably already have the miles I used, so you’re only a 10 minute phone call away from a trip to Hawaii that costs thousands of miles fewer than it “should.”

The basic idea is that you don’t want to use United, American Airlines, or Delta miles to fly to Hawaii. You want to use their planes, but you want to book those flights with miles issued by foreign airlines, which for whatever reason, offer far cheaper award prices to Hawaii.

My flight is a direct flight from Honolulu to Chicago on United. It is cheaper to book the exact same United flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer miles than with United miles.

  • United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
  • Singapore charges 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles each way in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 United miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 70,000 Singapore miles. Instead of paying 160,000 United miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 120,000 Singapore miles–even occasionally for flat beds!

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore has access to all the same Saver award space United releases to people with United miles (except for some space set aside only for United elites and credit card holders.)

For similar examples and even cheaper awards, look at this post about booking Delta flights to Hawaii with Korean, not Delta, miles or this post about booking American Airlines flights to Hawaii with British Airways Avios.

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one.

  • Singapore awards cost fewer miles than United awards
  • Singapore awards are way cheaper to change or cancel than United awards if your plans change
  • Singapore awards do not have a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like United awards do (though here is how to get out of that fee on United awards)
  • Singapore awards of United flights do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of around $11 roundtrip.
  • Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles, and even share a key transfer partner.

Getting Singapore Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of the four major transferable points program:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1:1
  2. Citi ThankYou Points, 1:1
  3. American Express Membership Rewards, 1:1
  4. SPG Starpoints, 1:1 with a bonus. Every 20,000 Starpoints transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus, so the ideal transfers are in exact increments of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Singapore miles.

Right now, the best cards to earn Singapore miles are:

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, 5,000 more bonus points for adding an authorized user.

To compare this to earning United miles, United has its own co-branded personal and business cards plus is a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards but not any of the other three transferable points programs.

Searching for Award Space, Transferring Miles, and Booking the Awards

I need to get from Hawaii to Chicago in October. The direct United flight is definitely my preferred option for convenience.

To book United flights with Singapore miles, you have to search for award space on united.com; then you call Singapore Airlines at 312-843-5333 to book the awards.

Here’s how to search united.com. Make sure that you do NOT sign into united.com when searching for award space that you plan to book with another type of miles because signing in can cause award space set aside for elites or credit card holders to appear, and that space is not bookable with other types of miles like Singapore miles.

I found Saver award space on my date in Economy, but none in First Class.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 4.47.20 PM

I would prefer to pay 12,500 extra Singapore miles for First Class even though it’s just this recliner First Class I reviewed from Houston to Honolulu.

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 8.00.46 AM

I used my method to estimate the likelihood of First Class award space opening on the flight later. Things don’t look good, though, as award space isn’t available any time in the next two months on the flight in First Class.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 1.34.33 AM

Even if First Class award space was likely to open though, I’d probably book economy now because I wouldn’t want to miss out on booking my preferred date and because Singapore’s change and cancellation fees are minimal.

  1. United charges $200 to cancel an award booking and get your miles back. Singapore charges $30.
  2. United charges $75 to $100 to change an award booking. Singapore charges $20.

Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles all take about 19-48 hours. SPG transfers take at least as long as the other three.

Normally once I find award space, I initiate the transfer, though in this case I already had enough Singapore miles to book the award.

Award space changes all the time, so in a worst case scenario, your award space could disappear before your miles post from a points transfer. If you can’t handle this outcome, transfer Ultimate Rewards to United miles instantly instead, and pay the extra miles.

I can handle the small chance that my award space will disappear. Maybe it will reappear later. If not, I can always use Singapore miles in the future for a different high value award.

How to Book Singapore Awards

Once your miles post, you have to call Singapore Airlines to book the award. I called 312-843-5333 and was ready with your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account number and six digit PIN.

The agent readily found my award space and quoted me a price of 17,500 Singapore miles and 7.20 SGD ($5.37.) From dialing to hanging up, the call took me 10 minutes.

Within a few minutes, I got an email from Singapore Airlines with an attachment like this.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 4.43.39 PM

Picking Seats

To pick my seats and confirm that my reservation was ticketed correctly, I headed to united.com and input the Singapore Airlines confirmation number on the home page where it says “My trips.” The Singapore Airlines confirmation number is the six letter/number code listed on your email attachment next to “Booking Reference.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.42.41 PM

United.com will recognize the Singapore Airlines confirmation number. You can select your seats and note your United confirmation number, which will be a different six letter/number code.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 4.49.42 PM

You can also permanently add this reservation to your united.com account, which will be convenient for checking in without having to search for it again. To do that, click “Save to my Account” from the tiny links above “United Confirmation Number.”
Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 4.49.59 PM

Bottom Line

Use Singapore miles instead of United miles to book economy and First Class awards to Hawaii on United flights. You’ll pay fewer miles, lower fees, and be able to book the exact same seats. Plus Singapore miles are so easy to get as a transfer partner of pretty much everyone.

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, 5,000 more bonus points for adding an authorized user.

If I didn’t have miles, I would have paid $1,233 for the same flight or, more likely, slogged through a much worse itinerary for $370.
Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 4.47.01 PMOr if I had miles, but didn’t know the right ones to use, I might assume that United miles are best for booking United flights and paid 22,500 miles for my ticket instead of the 17,500 I did pay.

For more info on booking awards to Hawaii with Singapore miles, see Complete Guide to Booking Singapore Awards to Hawaii on United Planes

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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11

You wouldn’t like Hawaii… unless you like pristine beaches, beautiful hikes, and 80 degree weather. Hawaii is my favorite place in the world. (A few of my photos are sprinkled through this post.)

If Hawaii is your favorite place, or if you’ve always wanted to take a family vacation there: one person can easily earn enough miles to book 6 economy roundtrip awards to Hawaii or nearly 4 First Class roundtrip awards.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 7.55.29 AM

There are two basic ideas:

  1. You don’t need many Singapore Airlines miles to get to Hawaii on United flights. You just need 17,500 miles each way in economy between Hawaii and the mainland or 30,000 miles in United First Class–even on the routes with flat beds.
  2. You can transfer any type of transferable points to Singapore miles.

You can get the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus from Chase, the Citi Prestige® Card, and the Mercedes-Benz Platinum from American Express, and then transfer all the points you earn to at least 216,000 Singapore miles.

With a simple five-step process, one person can go from zero miles to booking a party of six their roundtrip flights to Hawaii.
Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 7.55.45 AM

The steps are:

  1. Open four credit cards
  2. Meet their minimum spending requirements
  3. Find award space on United flights to Hawaii
  4. Transfer your cards’ points to Singapore miles.
  5. Call Singapore to book the awards

1. Open the Cards

The four cards are three personal cards from three different banks plus a business card from one of the same banks. You an get all four on the same day as long as you can meet their combined minimum spending requirements of $15,000 in the first three months. If you can’t meet that high of a combined minimum spending requirement, stagger your sign ups.

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. While I can not directly link to the current offer for the Ink Plus, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Meeting the cards’ minimum spending requirements will earn a total of at least 216,000 points (probably more considering the cards various category bonuses), all of which can be transferred to Singapore Krisflyer miles. That’s enough for 6x roundtrips in economy to Hawaii (210k Singapore miles) and almost enough for 4x roundtrips in First Class (240k.)

2. Meet their minimum spending requirements

If $16,000 in three months is more than you normally spend, you can manufacture spending or stagger the applications.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 7.56.04 AM

Your points will post at about the same time that the statement period ends during which you met the minimum spending requirement.

While meeting your minimum spending requirements earn extra points by hitting category bonuses like 3x points for hotels and airfare on the Citi Prestige® Card.

3. Find award space on United flights to Hawaii

I’ve explained in detail steps three through five in my post about how I booked myself a Singapore Airlines award to Hawaii on United flights.

During these steps, you’ll have to decide whether you want to pay 17,500 miles each way in economy or 30,000 miles each way in United First. I’d pretty much always choose First Class for that differential, and I’d also try to find United flights on which First Class features flat beds as explained in this post.

Why United flights? Because Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance with United, so you can use its miles to book all the same Saver award space that United releases to its general members.

Can you find six award seats on the same flights? That’s not a problem at all, especially during the winter. All the yellow days below have economy award space for six from Los Angeles to Honolulu on one or more United flights.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 1.58.14 PM

4. Transfer your cards’ points to Singapore miles.

This can take about 36 hours, so you have to live with the small chance that award space disappears in the meantime.

5. Call Singapore to book the awards

Easy and explained here.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 7.55.53 AM

The total cost of the awards will be about $11 per person plus the miles.

Bottom Line

One person can open up four credit cards and have enough miles to book six people to Hawaii roundtrip for just the miles earned from the sign up bonuses plus $66 total.

This amazing deal is possible because Singapore miles are a transfer partner of Chase, Citi, and American Express points. Any other use for which Singapore miles are valuable (like United flights to Europe, Singapore Suites, and awards to South America with a few stopovers) can also be leveraged by getting multiple credit cards from all the transferable points programs.

There’s no excuse for not taking your family to Hawaii to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf!

Application Links

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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7

Singapore Airlines is altering its routes to the United States in October 2016. Currently, Singapore flies from four American cities to Singapore with stops along the way in Europe and Asia.

  • San Francisco to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore
  • Houston to Moscow (DME) to Singapore
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt to Singapore

Singapore is making several changes though. It is changing which West Coast city flies to Seoul, and adding a direct flight from San Francisco.

  • Subtracting San Francisco to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore October 22, 2016
  • Adding Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore October 23
  • Adding San Francisco to Singapore October 23

It also changing the routing from Houston to Singapore.

  • Subtracting Houston to Moscow (DME) to Singapore October 29, 2016
  • Adding Houston to Manchester to Singapore October 30

That means from October 30, 2016, the new routes will be:

  • San Francisco to Singapore on the A350-900
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Houston to Manchester to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt to Singapore on the A380

The new route map, from October 30, 2016 will look like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.55.04 PM

Singapore Business Class Product

Singapore Airlines Business Class is among the best in the world. The massively wide seats/beds are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration on the A350, 777, and A380.

The seats look almost exactly like the Singapore First Class seat and better than the First Class seat on many airlines. In addition, you will get top-notch service, delicious food, expensive alcohol, and lounge access during your journey.

Singapore Business Class is world-class.

Award Prices on New Route Network in Business Class

For Business Class Saver award space (after 15% discount for booking online):

  • San Francisco to Singapore: 68,000 Singapore miles + $253
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong: 63,750 Singapore miles + $23
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT): 65,785 Singapore miles + $23
  • Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN):  65,785 Singapore miles + $193
  • Houston to Manchester: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193

You’ll notice all of the awards are cheap. The awards to Europe being under 50,000 miles and the awards to Hong Kong and Tokyo without fuel surcharges are steals.

These awards can only be booked with Singapore miles, not partner miles like United miles, because Singapore only releases longhaul Business and First Class award space to its KrisFlyer program and not to partners.

You can easily get Singapore miles because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

Award Space on New Route Network in Business Class

For all six American routes, I took a look at Business Class award space for one and two people in the first week of November, February, April, and June. (I often uses this method because it should catch seasonal and day-of-the-week variations.)

San Francisco to Singapore: 68,000 Singapore miles + $253

SFO-SIN had award space on 13/28 days for one passenger and 8/28 for two passengers. All of the award space was February 3rd or later. There was award space every day I checked in April.

San Francisco to Hong Kong: 63,750 Singapore miles + $23

SFO-HKG had award space on 3/28 days for one passenger and 2/28 for two passengers, all of which was in April or June.

Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT): 65,785 Singapore miles + $23

LAX-NRT had award space on 9/28 days for one passenger and 8/28 for two passengers. All of the award space was February 4th or sooner.

Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN):  65,785 Singapore miles + $193

LAX-ICN had award space on 25/28 days for one passenger and 23/28 for two passengers. This new route is by far the most wide open in Business Class at the moment.

Houston to Manchester: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193

IAH-MAN will not operate on Mondays or Thursdays. The route had award space on 10/20 days for one passenger and all 10 of those days had space for two passengers. All of the award space was in November or February, nothing in April or June at the moment on the days I checked.

New York (JFK) to Frankfurt: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193

JFK-FRA had award space on 4/28 days for one passenger and 3/28 for two passengers.

Bottom Line

In October, Singapore is significantly altering its route network to the United States. I checked out Business Class award space on the new routes for November through June and found that it varied significantly by route though all routes have at least some days with award space for two passengers at Saver prices.

Singapore Business Class is worth considering because it is much cheaper than the devalued prices American airlines charge, and it is a world-class product.

To book Singapore Business Class, you need Singapore miles. You can easily get Singapore miles because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Let’s talk about transferring ThankYou Points to airline partners for redeeming on domestic awards. This is part one in a series that will allow you to master redeeming awards within the United States, no matter what kind of points or miles you might have.

“How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions” Series Index

  • How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions Series: ThankYou Points (this post)
  • How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions Series: Ultimate Rewards
  • How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions Series: Membership Rewards (future post)
  • How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions Series: SPG Points (future post)
  • How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions Series: Conclusions About Best Overall Miles for Domestic Awards (future post)

Citi ThankYou Points are transferable to one hotel and 12 airline programs. Folks who have a Citi ThankYou® Premier, Citi Prestige®, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to (click links for posts on basics and sweetspots of that program):

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You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points, and 1,000 ThankYou Points to 500 Virgin America Elevate points.

Redeeming ThankYou Points for a Fixed Value on Revenue Tickets

You can also redeem ThankYou Points on cash flights for a fixed value. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi ThankYou® Premier are worth 1.25 cents each on any airline. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi Prestige® can be redeemed on any airline for 1.33 cents.

ThankYou Points earned solely from the Citi ThankYou® Premier cannot be redeemed for 1.6 cents on American and codeshare partners, but if you also have the Citi Prestige® Card along with the Premier, you can pool the points and redeem them like you would ThankYou Points earned from the Prestige.

As you’ll see with some of the examples below (or the examples in any of the Citi ThankYou transfer partners’ sweetspot articles, linked above), it is possible to redeem your ThankYou Points for a higher value than 1.33 cents each. But 1.33 cents is decent, and it could be worth investigating if you can’t get more than 1.33 cents of value per mile transferring to an airline partner or using a different type of point or mile completely (not to mention you will also earn butt-in-seat miles redeeming ThankYou Points this way, which you wouldn’t by redeeming miles).

Redeeming ThankYou Points for fixed value is obviously going to be better in cases when you can book the flight with plenty of notice, there’s a fare sale, or any other factor that makes the cash price cheaper.

For example, take the flight below:
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This economy flight between Dallas and Philadelphia costs $130 to book out of pocket, which translates to 9,775 ThankYou Points if you redeem them for a fixed value of 1.33 cents each. I got that number by dividing the price (130) by .0133.

In the case of this example, it would cost less ThankYou Points to redeem them on this American Airlines flight for 1.33 cents each then it would transferring them to any of the airline transfer partners.

Now let’s get into some of the higher value redemption options on awards within the United States when transferring your ThankYou Points to one of their 12 partner loyalty programs.

Qantas Club

Qantas is a part of oneworld Alliance along with American Airlines. The strength in Qantas’ redemption charts is the price of short distance flights, since their award pricing is based on distance flown and not regions. For example, here is Qantas’ chart for flying American Airlines:

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You can fly American Airlines flights under 600 miles for only 8,000 Qantas miles. For perspective, American Airlines charges 7,500 American Airlines miles for direct flights of 500 miles or less, and United charges 10,000 United miles for flights of 700 miles or less.

Qantas is also partners with Alaska Airlines, so you can use Qantas miles on Alaska flights. Again, the strength in the chart is short distance flights.

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Flying Blue

Both Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) and Delta are part of the Skyteam Alliance. It costs 30,000 Flying Blue miles + standard taxes/fees (no fuel surcharges) to fly roundtrip in Delta economy between the mainland United States and Hawaii. You can also book one way Flying Blue Awards for half the price of a roundtrip (in this case, 15,000 Flying Blue miles).

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Delta charges 45,000 miles roundtrip between the mainland United States and Hawaii.

Stopovers are not allowed on one way Classic Flying Blue Awards. It is not clear how may stopovers you can have on a roundtrip, but definitely at least one. Travel is Free also reported that you have to call Flying Blue (1 800 375 8723) if you’d like to include stopovers as a part of your roundtrip award.

**BONUS** 

There is currently a glitch with Flying Blue’s award prices between the mainland United States and Kauai (LIH) specifically. While it should be priced at 15,000 Flying Blue miles, it’s actually priced at 12,500.

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Read Flying Blue Glitch: 12,500 Miles to Kauai to learn more.

Singapore Krisflyer

Singapore Airlines and United are fellow members of Star Alliance. You can redeem Singapore Krisflyer miles between the continental United States and Hawaii on United flights for 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles in First with no fuel surcharges. United charges 22,500 and 40,000 miles respectively for the same flights! (Get the flat bed in first!)

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(click to enlarge)

You can also fly within the United States on United Business Class for 20,000 Krisflyer miles each way.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have flights within the United States, but they are partners with Delta.

For 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles you can fly Delta One roundtrip within the United States, which is 5,000 miles less than what Delta charges for it. It must be booked as a roundtrip however, as Virgin Atlantic partner redemptions will cost the roundtrip price even if you book a one way.

You can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Hawaiian or Delta flights to Hawaii from the mainland as well, but you can find better deals (like those stated above) redeeming Krisflyer or Flying Blue miles.

Virgin America

Virgin America is also a Citi ThankYou Point transfer partner, but the transfer ratio is 2:1 which normally wipes out the value– unless there is a transfer bonus, in which it might behove you to take advantage.

Bottom Line

Just because Citi ThankYou Points don’t have any 1:1 transfer partners that are American loyalty programs does not box you out from using ThankYou Points on domestic awards. There are transfer partners that open you up to the majority of American award space (Singapore can book United flights, Qantas can book American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, and Flying Blue can book Delta). Singapore will probably provide you the highest value redemptions overall domestically (not to mention internationally), but there are handful of good options, especially to Hawaii.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Citi ThankYou Points are transferable to one hotel and 12 airline programs. Folks who have a Citi Prestige® Card, Citi ThankYou Premier, or Citi Chairman card can transfer Citi ThankYou Points at a 1:1 ratio to (click links for posts on basics and sweetspots of that program):

You can also transfer 1,000 ThankYou Points to 1,500 Hilton HHonors points, and 1,000 ThankYou Points to 500 Virgin America Elevate points.

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This incredible step forward for Citi ThankYou Points puts them in the ranks of the big four transferable points programs.

Certainly I would like to see more and better partners added to the transfer possibilities, specifically Citi’s partner American Airlines, but this is a great start and there is value with Citi’s current transfer partners.

  • What are the best Citi ThankYou Points transfer partners?
  • How can you get ThankYou Points?
  • How can you transfer ThankYou Points?
  • What are the other ThankYou Points redemption options?

Best Transfer Partners

Singapore KrisFlyer

The best Citi ThankYou points transfer partner is Singapore KrisFlyer. Singapore was already a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Now it is even easier to get the most useful Star Alliance miles for travel in the Western Hemisphere.

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so its miles can be used to book flights on any of the 28 member airlines. Singapore miles are also the only miles that can be used to book the ultra-luxurious Singapore Suites.

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Singapore Airlines collects fuel surcharges on most award flights, but not those flown by United, Taca, Avianca, and Copa. Here are some of my favorite Singapore Airlines awards (click the links for full posts on them):

  1. Between the continental United States and Hawaii on United flights for 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles in First with no fuel surcharges. United charges 22,500 and 40,000 miles respectively for the same flights! (Get the flat bed in first!)
  2. Two free one ways to Hawaii plus a roundtrip to South America for 50,000 miles total in economy and 80,000 miles in Business/First with no fuel surcharges. United would charge a ton more miles.
  3. Two free one ways to Hawaii plus a roundtrip to Central America or two free one ways to Central America plus a roundtrip to Hawaii for 35,000 miles total in economy and 60,000 miles in Business/First with no fuel surcharges. United would charge a ton more miles.
  4. Booking Singapore Suites, one of the world’s nicest First Class products on the A380. Singapore miles are the only way to book the award, which is pricey in miles and includes a fuel surcharge, but is worth it for lovers of luxury.

See “Sweet Spots on Singapore, Suites Class from 32,000 Miles” and “Awards on United and Partner Flights Booked with Singapore Miles.”

Air France Flying Blue

Flying Blue miles are the key to booking Promo awards: 12,500 mile awards to anywhere in Europe or Israel. Flying Blue miles can be used to book any SkyTeam award space, and Flying Blue has a very cheap award chart to many places including Hawaii (15,000 miles one way.)

Here is my full post on the best options to book with Flying Blue miles.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic miles can book super cheap one way awards to London:

  • 17,500 miles in economy
  • 27,500 miles in Premium Economy
  • 40,000 miles in Upper Class (flat bed Business Class)

These awards have fuel surcharges, but they are so much cheaper in miles than other airlines charge that fuel surcharges may be worth paying.

Virgin Atlantic miles can also be used to book awards on partners like Delta, Virgin America, Virgin Australia, and Hawaiian. You can book a roundtrip to Buenos Aires on Delta for only 45,000 miles and no fuel surcharges!

Here is my full post on the best options to book with Virgin Atlantic miles.

How to Get ThankYou Points

The easiest way to earn a bundle of ThankYou Points is with the Citi Prestige® Card, which has a huge sign up bonuses and big category bonuses. Like I mentioned in the update at the top of this post, this sign-up offer is scheduled to change very shortly (in five days), and while I don’t know exactly what those changes will be yet, the bonus most likely will drop like the Citi ThankYou Premier’s did in January of this year (hopefully not to zero, like the Premier).

Citi Prestige® Card:

  • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou Points after $4,000 in spending
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on air travel and hotels, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Air travel fee credit:  $250 annual credit ($500 first year of cardmembership)
  • Lounge access: Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Free hotel nights: Get your 4th night free on all paid hotel stays (no blackout dates)
  • Global Entry: $100 application fee credit
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450 not waived, well worth it

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

How to Transfer

You can read the step-by-step detailed instructions of how to transfer Citi ThankYou Points here.

From thankyou.com, look for the Points Transfer on the Do More tab.

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You’ll see the redemption options. I initiated a transfer to Singapore Airlines to see how the process works.

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As with Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards transfers, you must send increments of 1,000. Interestingly the name on the Singapore Airlines account is already pre-set to the cardholder’s name, so it doesn’t look like you can transfer to anyone else’s account. (Of course, I can book anyone an award from my Singapore Airlines account.)

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Other Redemption Options

Before the transfer option to airlines, the best redemption option for Citi ThankYou Points was to redeem for any flight on any airline for 1.25 cents of value per point. Most flights could be booked on thankyou.com and other flights by calling 800-THANKYOU.

You can still redeem ThankYou Points earned by the Citi ThankYou® Premier for 1.25 cents each on any airline. ThankYou Points earned by the Citi Prestige® Card can be redeemed on any airline for 1.33 cents each. I don’t plan on using ThankYou Points for 1.25 or 1.33 cents each because I know I can get far more than 1.25 cents of value from the points as Singapore miles.

For free economy flights, I’ll continue to use my Arrival miles, since the 40,000 bonus miles earned on the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® can also be used for free flights on any airline but cannot be transferred to any airlines.

While I can not directly link to Arrival Plus’ current offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

There are other redemption options for ThankYou Points, like merchandise. Avoid these options like the plague for their low return on ThankYou Points.

Two Final Thoughts

  1. This transferability is really nice if you ever want to close the ThankYou card.

With cards that earn bank points, those points disappear when you close the card. (Not so for cards that earn airline miles or points.)

It would have been tough to redeem your balance close to zero before closing the card with the prior redemption options. Now you can always transfer out points until your balance is under 1,000.

  1. I really, really hope Citi adds American Airlines as a transfer partner.

Citi has purchased billions of American Airlines miles as part of their partnership with the co-branded American Airlines cards, so it is strange that American Airlines isn’t on the transfer list. Making it stranger: it’s not as if the only way to earn American Airlines miles from a credit card is with the co-branded American Airlines cards. American Airlines miles are a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest points, which you can get from the SPG credit cards.

Bottom Line

Citi has 12 airlines to which you can transfer ThankYou points at a 1:1 rate.

You can get 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige® Card after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

The best transfer partner for those ThankYou points is Singapore KrisFlyer. The Singapore Airlines program allows redemption on all 28 Star Alliance airlines including United flights with no fuel surcharges.

There are some amazing gems on the Singapore Airlines award chart, and Singapore miles are the only way to book Singapore Suites, one of the world’s nicest First Class products.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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5

Update 6/26/16: Singapore is ending its Sao Paulo <-> Barcelona route, which is reviewed here in First Class. The last flight is October 20, 2016. Singapore will continue to fly Singapore <-> Barcelona, but that isn’t much consolation, since Sao Paulo <-> Barcelona is specifically such a great deal. Award space is great Barcelona <-> Sao Paulo through October 20.

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Singapore Airlines Flight 67
Sao Paulo (GRU) – Barcelona (BCN)
Depart: 5:50 PM on Monday May 16, 2016
Arrive: 9:25 AM next day
Duration: 10 hours, 35 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Seat: 1A (First Class)

A few weeks ago, I booked myself 10+ hours of Singapore First Class for 58,225 Singapore miles + $37 to get from Brazil, where I spent a week and a half to close out the South American summer, to Spain where I was kicking off the European summer.

The Anatomy of an Award post explains why the award was so cheap, so check that out now if you’re blown away by the price. The flight flew a Singapore 777, which features on several major Singapore routes including those to San Francisco and Houston.

I had an amazing flight!

I woke up the morning of my flight in Sao Paulo to an earlier alarm than I had been using. My plan was to get onboard a little sleep deprived because otherwise I would never sleep from 5:50 PM to 4:25 AM, the Brazil times of departure and arrival. I had to vacate my Airbnb by 1:45 PM, so I took an Uber to the airport, arriving at 2:30 PM, more than three hours before the flight.

Luckily check in was already available, and the dedicated line for First Class was empty.

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Fifteen minutes later I was through security and immigration and on my way to the Star Alliance lounge (separate trip report forthcoming.)

Before Take Off

I got to the gate at 5:30 PM when boarding was in full swing. There was a separate line for premium passengers, and First and Business Class even boarded through a separate door, so I was quickly onto the plane. At the front door, several flight attendants waited to greet us. Business Class passengers were greeted and pointed to their seat. First Class passengers were greeted and escorted to their seat, which is a nice touch.

First Class on the Singapore 777 is two rows of four seats each, arranged 1-2-1. I had seat 1A.

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The only other passengers in First Class for my flight were in the middle two seats of row 2.

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A window seat is the obvious choice if flying solo. The middle seats are the obvious choice if traveling with a companion, although unfortunately there is a barrier between the two middle seats, so they cannot be combined into a double bed like on the Singapore A380.

I seemed pretty intent on putting my bags away–there are no overhead bins, storage is under the ottoman in your suite–and taking pictures, so the flight attendant said he would give me a minute and return for my drink order.

A minute later he returned and I ordered water and champagne. I was informed with what I can only describe as a mixture of horror and contrition that the “only” champagne available on the ground was Dom Perignon, which retails for about $180 per bottle. Imagine my disappointment. 😉

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The bubbly was quickly brought to my seat and poured.

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And just as quickly drunk.

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Next I was brought a hot towel, the first of about 10 on the flight. A newspaper selection quickly followed, and I went with the New York Times and Financial Times.

While a few flight attendants kept very busy with pre-flight service, the inflight supervisor came by and personally introduced himself to the three First Class passengers.

Next came the magazine selection, and I snagged the Economist and National Geographic. At this point in the flight–negative 30 minutes in, since take off would be slightly delayed–I’d already gotten more than the $37 I paid for the ticket between the glass of wine, newspapers, and magazines.

Next I was brought pajamas (called a “sleeper suit” by the flight attendant) and my amenity kit. The pajamas were comfortable, and I wore them for most of the flight. You’ll see photographs of them throughout the trip report. The amenity kit was a little perplexing.

It was fancy enough–Salvatore Ferragamo branded.

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And it had nice travel sized bottles of lotion, cologne, and lip balm.Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.03.24 PMBut it didn’t have ear plugs, an eye mask, toothbrush, or toothpaste, which I think are essentials in an amenity kit. (I travel with all of them any way.) A flight attendant gave me an eye mask after take off; I am not sure if the rest were available upon request or not.

Finally before take off, menus were distributed. The menu books were huge, since they also contained the menu from Barcelona to Singapore.
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At this point, we should have been pushing back, but the captain came on to inform us that weather was delaying our departure, and that he’d have an update in 15 minutes. I was very happy to hear I’d get an extra 15 minutes in First Class since the flights never seem long enough in the front. I ordered another glass of Dom and was quite disappointed that we pushed back at 6:06 PM, just 15 minutes late.

Dinner

We took off at 6:32 PM, but turbulence delayed the start of the service.

When flight attendants could finally get up half an hour later, they distributed slippers, socks, and eye masks. Then the dinner service began.

I had ordered caviar, chicken broth, and beef fillet, which were served as part of an eight course meal.

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Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 10.57.10 PMFirst came a canape of two chicken satay skewers and one lamb satay skewers, served with a peanut sauce. Chicken satay is one of my favorite foods, and I thought this was star of the meal. I even ate the lamb, which I normally avoid. Maybe my palate is maturing…

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This was served with a glass of $200-a-bottle Krug.

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Next came the fancy place setting, the bread basket, and the caviar.

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The warm bread basket was incredible. You cannot mess up garlic bread, and the hot pretzel roll was incredible with butter.

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The caviar was, well, caviar. It was served with a shot of vodka.

As I finished each course, it was cleared quite quickly for the next one. With the same number of flight attendants and passengers up front, the service was very personalized.

The third course was soup.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.00.42 PMI ordered the chicken broth.
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The fourth course was a very simple salad. Freshly ground pepper was added at my seat.

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Finally it was time for the main course. I had a hard time deciding, but eventually went with the beef filet because I was intrigued by one side in particular: yukon gold potato blue cheese croquettes. That was probably a silly reason to decide, since I bet I could have had that side with any main course.

The steak was plated elegantly and was cooked medium as I had hoped–that’s usually a gamble on planes since the steak is cooked on the ground. I was offered two mustards for the steak. The croquettes were potatoey, cheesey, and gooey and met my expectations.

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After the main course, I was stuffed, so I skipped dessert, fruit, and pralines, instead opting just for a cheese plate. I wish I had snapped a photo of the cheese platter that was brought to my seat from which I could select cheeses. I asked a for a slice of each one, and it was served moments later with crackers, dried apricots, walnuts, and grapes.

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Although it was only about 8:20 PM in Brazil when I finished eating, I was exhausted, so I decided to try to sleep.

Seat/Bed

The seat is a throne. It is wide enough for two or three people to sit comfortably.

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It can recline to comfortable positions for working, reading, or watching TV and is controlled by an intuitive system of three buttons next to the seat.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 10.58.33 PMThere is a large ottoman in front of the seat to rest your feet and a large television above the ottoman.

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There are storage cabinets beside the seat for things you want at hand, though the main storage is under the ottoman.

A very large table slides out from under the television for meal services.Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.04.33 PMThe seat can fold into a fully flat bed. After dinner, I asked the flight attendant to make the middle seat next to me into a bed, so I could have a separate seat and bed. She happily obliged.

To make the seat into a bed, a mattress pad, blankets, and pillows are added.
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Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.05.16 PMThe bed is perfect if you are 6’2″ or shorter. It is very comfortable, very wide, has nice pillows, and–if you’re that height–is plenty long. Unfortunately I am 6’4″, and my feet were up against the wall under the television. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but two extra inches would have been nice.

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I was able, with the help of melatonin, to sleep about five hours. I woke up with a sore throat that had been lingering for a few days, feeling very hot. I am not sure if that was just being sick or whether the cabin/blanket/pajamas were hot.

I stumbled over to my seat and started watching TV.

Breakfast

A few minutes later, a flight attendant brought me a snack basket, but I declined. Beyond the chips and cookies, I could have also ordered from the snack menu.

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About 15 minutes later, at 2:15 AM in Brazil, the sun rose. During this period, I really got to see the service during non-meal periods. Every few minutes a flight attendant would walk down the aisle. She wouldn’t say anything, but she was ready to take any order. You could, of course, use the flight attendant call button, but Singapore is pro-active with service and is constantly in the cabin to be ready for your order. Some other airlines basically have the flight attendants hide in the galley and wait for your call. I don’t have a preference one way or the other.

At 2:42 AM Brazil/7:42 AM Spain, the flight attendant asked if I would like breakfast. She had asked me before I went to bed for my order and had asked whether I wanted to be woken for it (I didn’t) at the time.

For breakfast, I had ordered both the braised beef brisket with noodles and warm Belgian waffles.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 10.57.58 PMFirst I was served a fruit plate and my choice of beverage, water.
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Then I had my pick of a bakery basket, though it wasn’t as good as the dinner options.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.03.52 PMFinally I got both main courses simultaneously. The beef and noodles really hit the spot. I like my breakfasts with some protein instead of just carbs, carbs, carbs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.04.26 PMThe waffle looked amazing when it came out. I thought I had lucked into a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Then I took a bite and realized it was the far less delicious, mascarpone cream. Why anyone would want that much is beyond me. I ditched the cream and enjoyed the waffle, syrup, and strawberries.Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 11.04.06 PM

Entertainment

During the flight I watched The Big Short and several episodes of Modern Family. The large television had a standard selection of movies and television programs, which is more than enough for any flight. It was controlled by a remote next to the seat.

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 10.58.41 PMBose noise-canceling headphones were provided.
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If you bring your own entertainment, there is a universal outlet built into every First Class seat to charge your devices.

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Service

Service in Singapore First Class is amazing, and it is really the main thing that separates the product from Singapore Business Class, which is a nearly identical seat/bed.

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I’ve already mentioned being escorted to my seat, being personally greeted by the inflight supervisor, and the constant walking of the aisles.

Whether this is worth a premium over Business Class depends on your preferences. For me, it was worth the premium from Sao Paulo to Barcelona because that premium is only about 8,000 Singapore miles. On other routes, it may not be worth the premium.

Bottom Line

Bed

Very tall people will be cramped, but overall it is very comfortable and wide flat bed, unlike the coffins you often find in Business Classes.

Entertainment

Large selection of movies and TV shows on demand. Noise-canceling headphones.

Service

Friendly, service-oriented flight attendants who are almost always visible and take pride in delivering a great experience.

Food

Delicious, plentiful, on demand, and, dare I say, gourmet.

 

Overall

This flight is an amazing value for 58,225 Singapore miles + $37 in First Class. (Economy is 25k miles.)

How to Book Yourself Singapore First Class

Award space is WIDE OPEN and Singapore miles are the world’s easiest to get since they partner with every program. Here’s how I booked my ticket.

Getting Singapore Miles

You need Singapore miles to book Singapore First Class, Suites Class, and Business Class on longhaul flights. Singapore protects the cabins by not releasing award space in them to partners. Luckily Singapore miles are easy to get.

Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points. Plus 20,000 Starpoints transfer to 25,000 Singapore miles.

The best cards to get Singapore miles are the Citi Prestige® Card, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Plus.

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

My review of the Citi Prestige Card explains its many benefits like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Other Menus

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Singapore Airlines will begin operating a nonstop daily flight from San Francisco to Singapore on October 23, 2016, and there is award space in Business Class for two passengers that you can book for 68,000 miles per person.

That’s an insanely good deal for 17:45 minutes in one of the best flat bed Business Class products in the world. Plus the route will be flown by Singapore’s brand new A350, so you will get Singapore’s newest and best Business Class product on a plane with no First Class.

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Business Class on Singapore 777, not the A350 that will fly SFO-SIN

Singapore hasn’t flown directly to the United States since 2013–its routes to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and New York all stop in Europe or North Asia on the way to Singapore–because ultra-longhauls tend to be unprofitable. You have to carry so much fuel for the flight, and that fuel weighs so much that you have to carry more fuel just to carry that fuel. The A350 promises fuel economy that will allow the direct flight.

You can easily get the 68,000 Singapore miles needed to book San Francisco to Singapore in Business Class because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

The Route

Singapore Airlines starts flying San Francisco to Singapore on October 23, 2016.

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That’s over 8,400 miles long, and the third longest flight in the world behind only Dallas to Sydney and Dubai to Auckland. The eastbound flight is scheduled for 15hr45min, and the westbound an astounding 17hr45min.

The award prices in Business Class per person, after the automatic 15% discount explained below, are:

  • San Francisco to Singapore: 68,000 miles + $253.40
  • Singapore to San Francisco: 68,000 miles + 388.60 Singapore Dollars ($290)

Both include substantial fuel surcharges as the roundtrip taxes from the United States to Singapore are under $50.

You can add United flights onto the Singapore flights if you don’t live in San Francisco, but you should not. Mixing a partner in puts you on the more expensive Star Alliance award chart, which means you’d pay 97,500 miles one way. Far better to book to/from San Francisco on a separate award or cash ticket if you must position.

The Product

Singapore Business Class features beds wider than most airlines’ First Classes. I’ve only seen Singapore Business Class on the 777, and it looks nearly identical to First Class on the plane.

The A350 Business Class has the same 1-2-1 configuration in Business Class as the 777, and the A350 is only 10 inches narrower than the 777, so I imagine the seats are just as wide or at most 2-3″ narrower.

Here is a video trip report of Business Class on the Singapore A350.

You Can Only Book Singapore Business Class with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles

Singapore only releases award space in longhaul Business, First, and Suites Class to its own KrisFlyer program. You need Singapore miles if you want to book Singapore Business Class on the A350. Luckily Singapore miles are extremely easy to get because every transferable points program transfers 1:1 to Singapore miles.

  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • SPG Starpoints (with the customary 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred)

The first three take about 36 hours to transfer. SPG transfers take about a week or two and seem to post on Tuesdays in Singapore.

Right now, the Citi Prestige offers 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

The Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Searching and Booking Singapore First and Suites Class

Award booking at singaporeair.com is easy. After signing in, check “Redeem flights,” and type in your cities, dates, and cabins.

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I searched the 23rd-29th of October, January, March, and May in both directions for one and two passengers to get a sense of the award picture.

From San Francisco to Singapore, there was Saver Business Class award space on:

  • January 27-29
  • March 24-26
  • May 27-28

All those days had two Business Class Saver award seats except January 27, which had only one. All of those days are Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, which is convenient for leisure travelers.

From Singapore to San Francisco, I found zero Saver Business Class award space. There might be some on other days, but clearly there is very little heading east at the moment. I expect award space to appear on this route at some point.

On the results screen, Saver award space shows a price of 80,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 6.49.38 PMHowever, once selected, the automatic 15% discount shows up, bringing the price down to 68,000 miles per person per direction.Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 6.55.12 PMIf Saver award space is unavailable, you can book Standard space for 102,000 miles one way after 15% discount (not recommended), or you can waitlist Saver space.Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 7.14.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-23 at 7.15.25 PM

Here’s how to waitlist Singapore Airlines award space.

Selecting a flight takes one to the pricing screen. The out-of-pocket costs are broken down into taxes and carrier surcharges. The currency for awards originating in the USA is dollars. Originating in Singapore will price the taxes/surcharges in Singapore Dollars.

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Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Bottom Line

You can book two people in Singapore Business Class on the brand new A350 from San Francisco to Singapore. Singapore miles are a transfer partner of every major transferable points currency; I recommend the Citi Prestige to get the Singapore miles.

Right now there is no Business Class award space from Singapore to San Francisco on the new direct flight launching October 23, 2016, but I expect that to change.

Search for award space on singaporeair.com, transfer your points and wait about 36 hours for them to post, and book your award, paying the taxes and fuel surcharges with a Citi Prestige® Card to get an offsetting statement credit for the taxes and fuel surcharges.

Key Links:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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In light of the news that American Airlines is changing to a revenue-based award earning structure, and the fact that all three major US carriers now use a revenue-based award earning structure, I am writing a series of posts about when and where you should diversify the award miles you earn through paying for airfare. This post is Part 2, and discusses when and to where you should diversify your award earning when flying paid tickets on United flights. 

“When & Where You Should Diversify Revenue Ticket Miles” Series Index

In March of 2015, United switched to a revenue-based award earning structure that is much like the structure American Airlines’ is adopting come this August.  The amount of United miles you earn flying United flights is based on two things: the ticket price less any government imposed taxes or fees, and the elite status you have with the airline.

A revenue-based award earning structure is worse for folks who fly far, cheap tickets and better for people who fly short, expensive tickets. That is, at least, if we’re talking about crediting miles to United MileagePlus. But it is not obligatory to do that–you can enter your frequent flyer number with any United partner instead.

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In your mind, this fact should pose two questions.

  1. When should I choose to credit my award miles to United?
  2. If not United, then who?

I’m going to dive into both questions here to help equip you with the knowledge to make these decisions in the future.

Note that this post is specifically referencing the award miles earned from flying United flights. The amount of United miles you can earn flying a Star Alliance or other partner airline will be based on flight distance and the purchased fare class. See United’s Airline Partners and Global Alliances page for partner-specific information.

When Should I Choose to Credit my Award Miles to United?

The simple answer to this question: Not when you’re buying a cheap economy ticket, but maybe if you’re buying an expensive premium cabin ticket. United’s revenue-based award earning system rewards those who generate more revenue for United, point blank.

The more correct answer to this question is: when the math works out.

The Math

To figure out how many United miles you’ll earn flying their planes, use the following equation:

Status multiplier x (ticket price – government-imposed taxes/fees) = award miles earned

The status multiplier depends on what tier elite status you have with the airline:

  • 5x– MileagePlus member
  • 7x –Premier Silver
  • 8x – Premier Gold
  • 9x – Premier Platinum
  • 11x– Premier 1k

We know the ticket price is how much united.com tells us the flight costs.

But how can we isolate the government-imposed taxes and fees from that price? ITA Matrix. If you’re not familiar with ITA Matrix, here’s how to use it— it will show you the breakdown of a ticket by base fare, fuel surcharges, and government-imposed taxes and fees.

Look at this breakdown of a roundtrip United ticket between Dallas and Paris:

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This is a great example of the kind of cheap revenue ticket readers of this blog would buy, because it’s an example where you might be better off paying for the flight in cash rather than using miles that could be put towards higher value redemptions.

The dollar amounts outlined in the red rectangle are the government-imposed taxes and fees (sum = $129.86). Fuel surcharges are always labeled as either YR and YQ (in this case YQ). Fare 1 and 2 are the base fares in each direction on the roundtrip.

Now we can plug in our equation.

5 x (480.86 – 129.86) = 1,755

So, assuming you are just a normal Mileage Plus member without status, you would earn 1,755 United miles for flying about 9,900 miles on a United plane.

Even if you are a Premier 1k elite, you would only earn 3,861 United miles on this ticket.

But let’s say you purchased a Business Class ticket on the same flight, which costs $6,328.06 (oh yea, now I remember why I collect miles!). Your equation would look like this:

5 x (6,328.06 – 129.86) = 30,991

Then you would certainly want to credit those miles to United, because you cannot beat that crediting to any other partner. It is easy to see how this system rewards those that spend more. But I assume the majority of us will find ourselves with something closer to the first equation’s answer most of the time.

Conclusion

When it comes time for you to make this decision, plug your own numbers in.

When flying a discounted economy ticket:

If you get a number greater than 100% of the distance flown, then stick with collecting United miles. That is the maximum amount of miles you could get crediting to a partner (assuming you don’t have status with any of them.)

If flying a full fare ticket:

If you get a number greater than 150% of the distance flown (if flying economy), greater than 200% of the distance flown (if flying Business) or greater than 300% of the distance flown (flying First Class), than stick with United miles. If not, then credit them to Lufthansa.

Otherwise, read on to see your options for crediting to other partners.

If Not United, Then Who?

Listed below are the award earning structures for some of United’s partners. Loyalty programs that generally lack valuable award redemption opportunities have been left out. What you earn for crediting miles to these airlines is represented by the percentages in the tables below. To figure out the total, you multiply the percentage by the distance flown.

Members of Star Alliance

Copa Airlines

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to ConnectMiles here.

Asiana Airlines

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Asiana Club here.

Singapore Airlines

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Krisflyer here.

Avianca 

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to LifeMiles here.

Air Canada

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Aeroplan here.

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to Miles & More here.

All Nipon Airways (ANA)

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Read further detailed info about crediting miles to ANA Mileage Club here.

Conclusion

Not considering any other incentives you might have for wanting to collect a certain kind of mile (like a particular redemption you have in mind, chasing a status, etc.), the best alternative airline to credit miles to when flying United is Singapore. It offers the highest percentages of distance flown, ranging from 100% for even the low economy fares (which are the most common types people like you and I buy) to 150% for First Class. The next best options are Air Canada, Avianca, Asiana, and Copa. Out of those, it depends on whose miles you value more. Click here to read about the top 11 most valuable miles to me.

The other options listed above offer similar ranges of percentages for distance flown, but with lower tiers for discount economy tickets that range from 0 to 50%. So if you’re flying a discounted ticket, like the one from the example in this post that is categorized as fare class “K”, then definitely choose to credit those miles to Singapore.

If your fare class is not one associated with a discounted economy ticket, then credit your miles to Lufthansa. Any full price fare will earn something in the 150% to 300% of distance flown range depending on whether it is full fare economy or First Class– those percentages blow all other partner options out of the water.

Best Card to Buy Airfare With

Your top choice for buying United tickets with should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that applies to airfare. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy the fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases, which is a higher category bonus than what United’s co-branded cards offer for buying their own plane tickets (2x).

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many components like its annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 40,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

Bottom Line

If you’re like me and only spend cash on the cheapest of airfares, then it is very likely you will not want to credit the miles you earn from flying United flights to MileagePlus due to the program’s revenue-based award earning structure. If you haven’t started an account with Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer program Krisflyer, then do so today. Out of United’s partners, it is probably the most valuable program to funnel your miles into (unless you’re flying a full fare ticket, in which case definitely credit to Lufthansa!)

If you want to jumpstart that Krisflyer miles collection, sign up for cards that earn you Ultimate Rewards–they transfer to Krisflyer miles at a 1:1 rate.

  • Open an Ink Plus card and you can earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 within the first three months of opening the account.
    • While I can not directly link to the Ink Plus, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)
  • Open a Sapphire Preferred card and you can earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 within the first three months of opening the account.
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one the best travel cards on the market at the moment. It ranks #4 out my Top 10 Travel Credit Cards for May 2016.

Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: 55,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in spending in the first three months and adding an authorized user on the card
  • Category Bonuses: 2x on travel and restaurants
  • Value of Ultimate Rewards: Worth 1.25 cents toward the purchase of any cash ticket OR can be transferred to any of these six airlines and four hotels for higher value:
    • British Airways
    • Korean Air
    • Singapore Airlines
    • Southwest Airlines
    • United Airlines
    • Virgin Atlantic
    • Hyatt Gold Passport
    • IHG
    • Marriott Rewards
    • Ritz-Carlton Reward
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months, $95 per year afterwards

There are 10 reasons why I am a fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  

1. You will earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards for the sign-up bonus.

2. You will earn 5,000 Ultimate Rewards after adding an authorized user.

3. Ultimate Rewards transfer to a variety of airline frequent flyer programs that employ three different types miles.

4. You can get that sign-up bonus again after a little more than 24 months.*

5. It makes your Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited card MUCH more valuable

6. Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic to fly to Europe for only 17,500 miles!

7. The card is accepted globally with no foreign transaction fees.

8. No annual fee collected the first year.

9. Baggage delay insurance

10. A live human being picks up the phone when you call Sapphire Preferred’s customer service.

Top 10 Reasons to Get the Sapphire Preferred

1. You will earn at least 54,000 Ultimate Rewards with the sign-up bonus and the spending it takes to unlock it. 

I value Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each, so to me 54,000 Ultimate Rewards are worth $1,080.

You will more than likely earn even more than that if any of your spending is in restaurants or on travel, since those categories earn 2x for ever dollar spent.

2. You will earn 5,000 Ultimate Rewards after adding an authorized user. 

Definitely do this. The authorized user does NOT get a credit check. The authorized user is NOT disqualified from opening their own Sapphire Preferred and getting their own sign up bonus. The extra card is sent to you, and need not ever be used to earn you the 5,000 points. That brings the my sign-up bonus valuation to $1,180:

 $1,080 + (5000 x .02) = $1,180

Not to mention your authorized user can help you reach that minimum spending requirement much faster than you could on your own.

3. Ultimate Rewards transfer to a variety of airline frequent flyer programs that employ three different types miles.

Out of the airline transfer partners’ frequent flyer programs, four use region-based miles, one uses distance-based miles, and one uses airline points. You can read more about the different types of miles here.

It’s important to diversify across the types of miles because they all have different strengths. You want to have the best mile for the job, and you want to use the types of miles in concert.
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4. You can get that sign-up bonus again every 24 months.*

You can get the bonus on the same Chase card once every 24 months. This 24-month clock starts when you got the last bonus (which may be up to three months after you got the card).

5. It makes your Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited card MUCH more valuable.

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are marketed as cash back cards. The Freedom earns 5x spending on rotating category bonuses (as well as 1x on normal sepdning) and the Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5x on all spending. But in fact, the card earns points that can be converted to cash back or can be converted, through a process I call the Freedom Two Step, to much more valuable airline miles and hotel points.

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The basic idea is that while the Freedom’s Ultimate Rewards do not transfer to airline and hotel partners, if you have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, you can transfer the points to those cards’ accounts, and from there to airlines and hotels. Having a Sapphire Preferred turns the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited into the most valuable cards for non-bonused spending. No other cards come close to offering 1.5 United/Korean/Singapore/BA/Southwest/Hyatt miles or points per dollar (Freedom Unlimited) or definitely not 5 United/Korean/Singapore/BA/Southwest/Hyatt miles or points per dollar on non-bonused spending.

6. Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic to fly to Europe for only 17,500 miles

You can fly Virgin Atlantic economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London for 17,500 miles and $134.60 in taxes and fees (yes, there are fuel surcharges).

Using American Airlines miles, United miles, or Delta miles, the same flight would cost you 30,000 miles. I think it is worth saving 12,500 miles for $129 in fuel surcharges. That’s like buying miles for 1 cent each.

With the Ultimate Rewards you earn from the sign-up bonus + spending to get the sign-up bonus + adding an authorized user (59,000), you could fly to London three times and still have miles left over.

7. The card is accepted globally with no foreign transaction fees.

The Sapphire Preferred’s chip technology provides added security so you can feel safe trotting around the globe with it. And you won’t pay any pesky foreign transaction fees that can really kill the value of your awards (on many cards these fees amount to 3% of every transaction– yikes!).

When you travel as much as I do, cards with foreign transaction fees get very little to no love. And all those foreign frequent flyer programs you transfer your points to to book awards? You need a card like the Sapphire Preferred to put the taxes and fees on, unless you want to pay 3% on top.

8. No annual fee collected the first year.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year that your account is open. Most cards with as many perks as the Sapphire Preferred do not waive the annual fee.

9. Baggage delay insurance

This screenshot is from the Sapphire Preferred’s Featured Benefits page:
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That is stellar travel protection, offering a nice silver lining to an otherwise aggravating situation. I don’t have any personal experience with this but I did meet someone traveling in Argentina who held a Sapphire Preferred card. She was without her luggage for about a week, but an extra $100 in her budget every day made for some quality souvenirs and a good time shopping.

10. A live human being picks up the phone when you call Sapphire Preferred’s customer service.

Every Sapphire Preferred card has a customer service phone number on the back. When you call, you are not put through 19 prompts and transfers until you reach an actual (helpful) human being. A short recording plays that informs you the call will be recorded, and then a person that speaks English natively picks up. This is something that all companies–not just credit cards–could learn from in these days of never ending menus to get to a person who can solve your problem.

*Chase 5/24 Rule 

I put an asterisk by reason #4 because of a rule Chase enforces that must be considered before you apply for their cards, whether it’s for the first time or as a repeat. Make sure you haven’t opened five credit cards (any cards from any bank) within the last 24 months, or your application for the Sapphire Preferred will be denied. This is called the Chase 5/24 rule.  If you can’t remember if you’ve opened five cards in the last two years, check by requesting a credit report from one of the three national credit bureaus:

The dates in which you opened and closed accounts should be listed on all of them. You are entitled to one free credit report from each bureau per year.

Bottom Line

I am a big fan of the Chase Sapphire Preferred for numerous reasons–the high value and diversified reward earning potential, lack of foreign transaction fees and impressive customer service are just a few.

What do you love about your Chase Sapphire Preferred?

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Update 6/23/16: Singapore is ending its Sao Paulo <-> Barcelona route, which is reviewed here in First Class. The last flight is October 20, 2016. Singapore will continue to fly Singapore <-> Barcelona, but that isn’t much consolation, since Sao Paulo <-> Barcelona is specifically such a great deal. Award space is great Barcelona <-> Sao Paulo through October 20.

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I just booked myself an award from Sao Paulo to Barcelona: 10+ hours in Singapore First Class for 58,225 Singapore miles + $37, a route I’ve highlighted before as a sweet spot. I booked the award for several reasons:

  1. I need to get from South America to Europe because it is turning to winter here 🙁 and summer there. 🙂
  2. Ten hours of Singapore First Class for 58,225 miles is a ridiculous steal.
  3. This is the only route to book Singapore award space with no fuel surcharges, which are illegal departing Brazil.

The Route

Asia to South America is too far and has too few customers for nonstop flights. Airlines that offer service between the two continents always include a stop like Korean Air, which flies from Seoul to Los Angeles to Sao Paulo. Singapore flies from Singapore to Sao Paulo three times a week with a stop both directions in Barcelona. You can book any part of the trip individually.

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As you can imagine, an Asian airline flying between Europe and South America doesn’t fill the plane with paying customers, so award space is wide open between Sao Paulo and Barcelona in both directions in economy, Business, and First Class. And, for whatever reason, Singapore charges very few miles for Saver awards on the route.

Award Price

From Barcelona to Sao Paulo, an 11 hour, 10 minute flight, Singapore charges only:

  • 17,425 miles + $183 one way in Economy
  • 50,150 miles + $197 one way in Business Class
  • 58,225 miles + $207 one way in First Class

Economy and First Class are ludicrously cheap compared to other airlines’ award charts. For instance, American charges 50k/87.5k/120k each way in economy/Business/First which is 2-3x the price Singapore charges. United charges 47.5k/87.5k/125k, again 2-3x the price Singapore charges. And Singapore offers a superior product compared to United’s and American Airlines’ partners.

Unfortunately from Barcelona to Singapore, you pay pesky fuel surcharges of about $100-$150 one way. You must pay fuel surcharges on all Singapore awards that fly Singapore Airlines except on the Sao Paulo to Barcelona and Sao Paulo to Singapore flights. Brazil law prohibits fuel surcharges.

So from Sao Paulo to Barcelona, a 10 hour, 25 minute flight, Singapore charges only:

  • 17,425 miles + $37 one way in Economy
  • 50,150 miles + $37 one way in Business Class
  • 58,225 miles + $37 one way in First Class

The Product

This route is flown by a Singapore 777, which means it features “only” First Class instead of Suites Class, which is the name of First Class on the Singapore A380.

I have flown Singapore First Class on the 777 before, and it is awesome! Here’s my full trip report.

You basically get a throne…

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.30 AM

…that turns into a comfortable, large bed.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.28 AM

Plus you get some of the best service, food, and drink in the sky.

Singapore First Class is several steps above American and Latin American carriers, and solidly better than Lufthansa First Class, which would be the second best option between Europe and South America.

Getting Singapore Miles

You need Singapore miles to book Singapore First Class, Suites Class, and Business Class on longhaul flights. Singapore protects the cabins by not releasing award space in them to partners. Luckily Singapore miles are easy to get.

Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points. Plus 20,000 Starpoints transfer to 25,000 Singapore miles.

The best cards to get Singapore miles are the Citi Prestige® Card, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Plus.

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

My review of the Citi Prestige Card explains its many benefits like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Transferring

According to this FlyerTalk thread, which compiles transfer times, transfers from Chase, Citi, and Amex usually show up overnight within 1-2 days. Transfers from SPG can take up to two weeks.

Which transferable points to send to Singapore, if you have several options, depends on which type of points you’d like to save for future uses.

I had 125 Singapore miles. I decided to transfer 8,000 Ultimate Rewards and 40,100 SPG points to Singapore miles. With the 10,000 bonus Singapore miles for transferring 40,000 SPG points, that was a total of 58,100 new Singapore miles, bringing my total to 58,225 miles.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.46.25 AM

The Ultimate Rewards posted within 24 hours. The SPG points took three weeks to transfer. (More on that in a separate post.) Luckily, while I waited, the award space remained. If space had disappeared in First Class, my back up plan was to book economy, plan C was to book Business, and plans D through I were to book any cabin a few days earlier or later (the flight occurs three times per week.) If I had booked economy or Business, the extra miles would not have been orphaned; they would have been used to book a trip between the mainland United States and Hawaii on United in the future–another top use of Singapore miles.

Booking

Once I had my miles, the process was a snap. I searched right on the home page of singaporeair.com.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.47.10 AM

Award prices are initially displayed without the automatic 15% discount for booking online.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.47.34 AM

But once selected, the discounted price is displayed.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.47.41 AM

I paid for the award with my Citi Prestige® Card. If I hadn’t already used my $250 Air Travel Credit for 2016, I would have had the $37 in taxes refunded as a statement credit. Since I have, I will just earn 3x on this airline purchase.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.50.45 AM

Post Booking

Booking the ticket doesn’t end the fun. I also want to ensure the ideal seat, food, and lounge plan.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.52.42 AM

Singapore First Class is laid out 1-2-1 in two rows. I chose seat 1A to have my own space an a window.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 10.52.35 AM

Singapore premium-cabin passengers can select their exact meals in advance of the flight through the Book the Cook service. Unfortunately the service is not available for flights from Sao Paulo, only the following cities: (It would be available if flying Barcelona to Sao Paulo.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.37.06 PM

I could only select meal preferences/allergies. I just selected “Standard meal,” and I’ll have a chance onboard to choose from several options.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.37.46 PM

I looked up lounge access, and it looks like I’ll get to use the Star Alliance Lounge in Sao Paulo. I googled trip reports and found this review of the GRU Star Alliance loungeScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.39.24 PM
It looks solidly better than a United Club or equivalent, but well below what I would expect if Singapore had its own lounge like it does at Singapore’s airport.

Since the lounge isn’t that great, I won’t budget much time to explore it, and I won’t eat much food, preferring to gorge onboard!

Bottom Line

In a few weeks, I’ll fly Sao Paulo to Barcelona in Singapore First Class. It’s an awesome route between South America and Europe because it has a super product, a very low mileage price (especially in economy and First), no fuel surcharges, and great award space.

Singapore miles partner with every transferable points program.

Has anyone else flown this route? Trip report coming up in a few weeks.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

1

The Ink Plus currently offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

That means you’d have at least 65,000 Ultimate Rewards after meeting the minimum spending requirement (60,000 for the bonus, and 5,000 for 1x spending), enough to fly several Korean and Singapore First Class routes with no additional miles.

You might qualify for a business card and not realize it, so don’t write off the possibility just because you don’t have your own booming startup. Before applying though, remember to consider the 5/24 rule that Chase apparently began enforcing for the Ink cards in March of this year. In short, if you’ve opened any five credit cards in the last 24 months, an application for a new Chase card will be denied.

So just what kind of First Class awards can you book with your 65,000 Ultimate Rewards? 

  • Transfer them to Singapore KrisFlyer miles to book Singapore Suites, which is possibly the most luxurious First Class in the world. It is the only First Class that allows two suites to be combined into a flying double bed. Singapore KriFflyer miles are the only way to book Singapore Suites.
    • Singapore First Class is also a world class product with many of the same amenities as Suites Class. It is also only bookable with Singapore miles.
  • Transfer them to Korean Air’s SkyPass program to book Korean First Class. Delta miles cannot book their partners’ First Class, so Korean miles are the main way to fly Korean First Class.

And when considering that United devalued its First Class awards in 2014, and American Airlines devalued its chart on March 22,  now Singapore and Korean First Class awards are looking a lot more reasonable.

Book Singapore Suites and First Class

Singapore Suites Class

Singapore’s A380s feature one of the world’s best First Class products that it calls Suites Class, and it is only bookable with Singapore miles as the airline doesn’t release Suites Class space to partners.

It is a fully enclosed suite with over the top service, fancy alcohol, and delicious food.

The cabin is laid out 1-2-1 and is most famous because the two suites in the middle can be combined into one double bed. If the cabin isn’t full, sometimes they even offer the double bed to a solo traveler!

This is one of the best, if not the best, product in the world.

Only the A380 planes feature Suites Class. Here is a list of routes that feature Singapore A380s (and thus Suites Class.)

Here are some deals I particularly like (I’ve bolded the ones you can get with just the Ink Plus’ bonus):

  • Los Angeles to Tokyo: 74,375 miles in Suites Class + $113
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore: 91,375 miles in Suites Class + $276
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt: 57,375 miles in Suites Class + $203
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore: 93,500 miles in Suites Class + $286
  • Singapore to Hong Kong: 31,875 miles in Suites Class + $30
  • Singapore to Mumbai: 42,500 miles in Suites Class + $160
  • Singapore to Beijing: 42,500 miles in Suites Class + $160
  • Mumbai to Beijing: 61,625 miles in Suites Class + $322
  • Hong Kong to Sydney: 63,750 miles in Suites Class + $188

And here is Singapore’s award chart to fly its own flights and its subsidiary SilkAir.

An important factor to note is that Singapore awards include fuel surcharges when an identical cash ticket would have fuel surcharges, as you can see from this list. They are a necessary evil though if you want to fly Singapore’s premium products, with the exception of flights originating in Brazil as fuel surcharges are illegal there.

Singapore First Class

Singapore First Class is available on routes that fly the Boeing 777–300ER and refitted Boeing 777–300 aircraft. Click here to see where you can fly Singapore First Class. It is also only bookable with Singapore miles as Singapore releases no First Class space to partners.

The product has many of the same amenities as Suites Class, and the “New First Class” has an even wider seat which is, according to Singapore, “progressively more available on our Boeing 777–300ER aircrafts”.

First Class seats are arranged 1-2-1, so everyone has aisle access.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.37 AM

They also feature a lie-flat bed with plenty of room to stretch out.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.28 AM

You can also “Book the Cook” just like you can in Suites Class, e.g. reserve your choices online from an array of dishes like these King Prawns before your flight:

IMG_8590

Since it avoids fuel surcharges, I think one of the best deals flying Singapore First Class is from Sao Paulo to Barcelona for 58,225 miles and only $37 in taxes.

Read this post about sweetspots with Singapore Krisflyer miles to learn more about the award rules and process of redeeming Krisflyer miles.

Book Korean Air First Class

Korean Air flies to more American cities (11) than any other Asian airline. Korean flies a modern First Class, which gets good reviews. Korean releases more First Class award space than any airline I’ve ever seen, and there is almost no competition for those award seats because Delta SkyMiles can’t book them.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.36 PM

The best one, the Kosmo Suites 2.0 was introduced in May 2015, and this blogpost (Google Translate) says they will be on the 747-8i, 787-9, 777-300ER, and A330-300. It looks like they will only be on new planes delivered, and other planes will not be retrofitted. I do not think all 777-300ERs or A330s will have them.

Read a full trip report here from a FlyerTalk contributor who flew from Seoul to San Francisco on a 747-8i featuring the Kosmo Suite 2.0.

Here are some deals I particularly like (I’ve bolded the ones you can get with just the Ink Plus’ bonus):

  • Los Angeles to Sao Paulo: 70,000 miles in First Class
  • Seoul to Los Angeles, stop up to a year, Los Angeles to Sao Paulo: 110,000 miles in First Class
  • United States to China, Japan, Korea, Northeast Asia: 80,000 miles in First Class
  • Japan, Korea, or China to Southeast Asia: 45,000 miles in First Class
  • Japan, Korea, or China to Southwest Asia or Maldives: 57,500 miles in First Class

And here is Korean Air’s award chart for flying its own flights.

There are fuel surcharges on some Korean Air awards but thankfully they are minimal.

Prices are about 50% higher during the peak window, which only affects 60-70 days a year. If you want to fly Off Peak, it is very easy to do. Just avoid these peak dates:

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 4.10.14 PM

You can search and book Korean Air awards directly on koreanair.com. To search you’ll need to first sign-up as a member of Skypass. Read this post to learn more about sweetspots and award rules using Korean Air miles.

Bottom Line

Singapore Suites and First Class are impossible to book unless you have Singapore KrisFlyer miles, and Korean Air (member of SkyTeam alliance) First Class awards are not bookable with Delta miles. The Ink Plus Card has the ability to unlock fabulous First Class options because you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines and Korean Air.

Just getting the card and meeting its spending requirement earns enough points (65,000) for several long international routes in Korean or Singapore First Class.

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

9

Korean Airlines releases the most First Class award space of any airline for a fantastic First Class product. All five possibilities are fully flat beds. Korean miles are the main way to book Korean First Class. (Delta miles cannot book partner First Class.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 3.37.36 PM

Singapore Suites is even more luxurious, possibly the most luxurious First Class in the world, and the only one that allows two suites to be combined into a flying double bed. Singapore miles are the only way to book Singapore Suites.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

In my mind, the problem with Korean First Class and Singapore Suites is the cost. Singapore charges for First/Suites Class (one way):

  • San Francisco to Hong Kong: 70,125 miles + $49.60 (15 hours flying)
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore: 91,375 miles + $263.30 (17:45 flying)
  • San Francisco to Seoul: 74,375 miles + $203.30 (12:50 flying)
  • San Francisco to Seoul to Singapore: 91,375 miles + $263.30 (19:20 flying)
  • Houston to Moscow-Domodedovo: 57,375 miles + $211.70 (10 hours flying)
  • Houston to Moscow-Domodedovo to Singapore: 93,500 miles + $271.70 (21:15 flying)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita: 74,375 miles + $113.30 (11:45 flying)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita to Singapore: 91,375 miles + $275.97 (19:20 flying)
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt: 57,375 miles + $203.30 (7:35 flying)
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore: 93,500 miles + $285.85 (20:05 flying)

Korean charges in First Class (one way):

  • United States to China, Japan, Korea, Northeast Asia: 80,000 miles
  • United States to Southeast Asia: 95,000 miles
  • United States to the Indian Subcontinent: 105,000 miles.
  • Fuel surcharges vary by destination but from the United States to Korea are usually $80 or less each way. From the United States to Southeast Asia, they can hit about $180 one way.

While a few prices were pretty good, most of those prices seemed high to me because American Airlines and United awards were fewer miles and had no fuel surcharges. Well United devalued its First Class awards in 2014, and American Airlines devalued its chart on March 22.

Here’s what their charts look like now for First Class awards. Slashes indicate flying on that airline’s metal–cheaper–and flying a partner–more expensive.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 2.16.13 PM

Now, Korean and Singapore awards don’t look expensive; they look downright reasonable.

To Japan:

  • American charges 80k in First Class on American or Japan Airlines
  • United charges 80k in First Class on United
  • United charges 110k in First Class on ANA
  • Korean charges 80k and small fuel surcharges on Korean
  • Singapore charges 74.4k and tiny fuel surcharges on Singapore

At those prices, my top choices are Singapore, Japan Airlines with AA miles, and Korean in that order.

To Singapore:

  • American charges 110k in First Class on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines
  • United charges 80k in First Class on United
  • United charges 130k in First Class on ANA, Asiana, or Thai
  • Korean charges 95k and fuel surcharges on Korean
  • Singapore charges 91.4k or 93.5k and fuel surcharges on Singapore

At those prices, my top choices are Singapore and Korean in that order. Next is probably United First Class or Cathay Pacific, but they are way worse values.

You can find similar values to other places that show that Korean and Singapore awards are about to be as good or better value from the United States in First Class as American Airlines and United awards.

And for awards within Asia, Singapore (from 32,000 miles one way) and Korean (from 45,000 miles one way) offer some exceptional values.

Getting Korean and Singapore Miles

Getting Korean Miles

SPG points transfer 1:1 to Korean miles, and for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you get 5,000 extra Korean miles. So to get 80,000 Korean miles, you’d need to transfer 65,000 Starpoints. Starpoints transfers are not instant.

Ultimate Rewards also transfer 1:1 instantly to Korean miles. The best cards to get Ultimate Rewards are the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Getting Singapore Miles

Every transferable points program transfers 1:1 to Singapore miles.

  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • SPG Starpoints (with the customary 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred)

The first three take about 36 hours to transfer. SPG transfers take about a week or two and seem to post on Tuesdays in Singapore.

That means you can get the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus mentioned above.

Or you can get the Citi Prestige, which offers 40,000 ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months.

Bottom Line

Korean and Singapore haven’t made improvements to their award charts, but as competitors devalue their charts, Korean and Singapore First and Suites Class become a better value.

 

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

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It is cheaper to book the exact same United flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer miles than with United miles.

  • United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
  • Singapore charges 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles each way in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii

That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 90,000 United miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 70,000 Singapore miles. Instead of paying 160,000 United miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 120,000 Singapore miles–even occasionally for flat beds!

To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore has access to all the same Saver award space United releases to people with United miles (except for some space set aside only for United elites and credit card holders.)

For a very similar example, look at this post about booking Delta flights to Hawaii with Korean, not Delta miles.

What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one.

  • Singapore awards cost fewer miles than United awards
  • Singapore awards are way cheaper to change or cancel than United awards if your plans change
  • Singapore awards do not have a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like United awards do (though here is how to get out of that fee on United awards)
  • Singapore awards of United flights do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of around $11 roundtrip.
  • Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles, and even share a key transfer partner.

Getting Singapore Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of the four major transferable points program:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards, 1:1
  2. Citi ThankYou Points, 1:1
  3. American Express Membership Rewards, 1:1
  4. SPG Starpoints, 1:1 with a bonus. Every 20,000 Starpoints transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus, so the ideal transfers are in exact increments of 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Singapore miles.

Right now, the best cards to earn Singapore miles are:

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, 5,000 more bonus points for adding an authorized user.

To compare this to earning United miles, United has its own co-branded personal and business cards plus is a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards but not any of the other three transferable points programs.

Searching for Award Space, Transferring Miles, and Booking the Awards

You will have to search for award space on the United flights on united.com; then you will call Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 to book the awards.

Here’s how to search united.com. Make sure that you do NOT sign into united.com when searching for award space that you plan to book with another type of miles because signing in can cause award space set aside for elites or credit card holders to appear, and that space is not bookable with other types of miles like Singapore miles.

How to Interpret the Calendar

Update August 2016: This has changed slightly. Now a line represents Saver economy and dots represent Saver First Class.

The first thing you’ll notice when you search for award space to Hawaii on united.com is that it’s widely available for much of the year. Here’s a calendar from Houston to Honolulu. Yellow days have Saver economy award space; blue days have Saver First Class space; green days have Saver space in both cabins. Singapore miles can book all the Saver space that is depicted on these calendars.

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.08.25 PM

How to Interpret the Itineraries

Once you select a date, the itineraries will be displayed from fewest miles in economy to most miles in economy. Most results will have three columns of award space. You can ignore the First Standard Award column. Singapore miles cannot book that space.
Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.08.52 PM

We’re looking for award space in the Economy column that says “Saver Award 22.5k” and award space in the First Saver column. Singapore miles can book all such space.

For instance, Singapore miles can book this itinerary in economy and First Class because the economy column says “Saver Award 22.5k” and because there is space in the second column (First Saver.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.10.31 PMSingapore miles cannot book this award space because the economy column doesn’t say “Saver Award 22.5k.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.09.03 PM

Two vs. Three Cabin First Class

The vast majority of United’s domestic flights have two cabins that are sold as Economy and First. Internationally, United’s two cabin flights are sold as Economy and BusinessFirst. Whenever United operates a two-cabin plane, the premium cabin’s awards are priced at the Business Class award price by United and by Singapore. And in fact, you should call the award space “Business Class” when talking with a Singapore agent.

Extremely rarely, you will encounter a plane on a domestic route with three cabins: Economy, Business, and First. Whenever any itinerary is available with any flight with three cabins, the three columns you’re used to seeing on the search results turn into five columns.

United charges 50,000 miles if any of the segments is in First Class on a three cabin plane. Singapore would charge 40,000 miles. But again, these flights are rare, and you can get flat beds in two cabin planes for 30,000 Singapore miles.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.05.53 PM

Flat Beds

Both Business and First Class on three cabin planes have flat beds.

On two cabin planes, you can occasionally find flat beds in First Class. To find out if your plane has flat beds, click View Seats on the itinerary. Regular seats look like squares with rounded edges.
Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.01.21 PM

Beds look like little beds.Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 8.02.26 PM

Some 777-200s feature flat beds, and all 767-400ERs feature flat beds. Flights from Newark and Washington-Dulles to Honolulu all feature flat beds, and some San Francisco and Houston flights feature flat beds.

Mixed Cabin Awards

Many awards on united.com in the premium cabin columns say “Mixed cabin?”

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.09.13 PM

Holding your cursor over “Mixed cabin” launches a pop up that says which cabin is available on each flight.
Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.09.19 PM

You always have to pay the full price of the premium cabin award even though part of the award is an inferior cabin.

Singapore Airlines also lets you book mixed cabin awards for the full Business Class price.

In April, I booked myself a mixed cabin award to Hawaii because my first flight was about 2 hours in economy, and the next was 8.5 hours in a flat bed. That seemed worth paying 30,000 Singapore miles.

Transferring Miles

Transfers from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles all take about 19-48 hours. My most recent transfer in July, 2015 from Citi ThankYou Points to Singapore miles were in my Singapore account when I checked 19 hours after the transfer. SPG transfers take at least as long as the other three.

Once I find award space, I initiate the transfer.

Award space changes all the time, so in a worst case scenario, your award space could disappear before your miles posted. If you can’t handle this outcome, transfer Ultimate Rewards to United miles instantly instead, and pay the extra miles.

I can handle the small chance that my award space will disappear. Maybe it will reappear later. If not, I can always use Singapore miles in the future for a different high value award.

How to Book Singapore Awards

Once your miles post, you have to call Singapore Airlines to book the award. Call 213-404-0301 and be ready with your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account number and six digit PIN.

Feed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of each flight you want.

For cabin, call United First Class on its two cabin planes “Business Class” because that is what the agent needs to search for.

The agent will charge you taxes denominated in Singapore dollars. If you convert that price to US dollars, it should be about $5.60 per person per direction, the standard taxes on domestic awards.

Within a few minutes, you should get an email from Singapore Airlines with an attachment like this.

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Picking Seats

To pick your seats and confirm that your reservation was ticketed correctly, head to united.com and input the Singapore Airlines confirmation number on the home page where it says “My trips.” The Singapore Airlines confirmation number is the six letter/number code listed on your email attachment next to “Booking Reference.”

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United.com will recognize the Singapore Airlines confirmation number. You can select your seats and note your United confirmation number, which will be a different six letter/number code.

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You can also permanently add this reservation to your united.com account, which will be convenient for checking in without having to search for it again. To do that, click “Save to my Account” from the tiny links above “United Confirmation Number.”

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Other Benefits of Singapore Airlines Awards Over United Awards

  1. United charges $75 to book an award within 21 days of departure. Singapore charges no fee for such bookings.
  2. United charges $200 to cancel an award booking and get your miles back. Singapore charges $30.
  3. United charges $75 to $100 to change an award booking. Singapore charges $20.

My Experience Booking United to Hawaii with Singapore Miles

April 2015

In April 2015, I found out that my mainland plans had fallen through, so I could start my trip to Hawaii a few days later. Booking so late in the game is no problem because United offers excellent last minute award space to Hawaii.

I needed to book an award from Atlanta to Honolulu, so I searched united.com and found a mixed-cabin award with Atlanta to Houston in economy and Houston to Honolulu in a flat bed in United First Class on a two cabin plane.

A short hop in the back before a long flight in a bed
A short hop in the back before a long flight in a bed

The award would have cost 40,000 United miles and $80.60 to book including United’s $75 fee for booking within 21 days of departure. I noted the flight number, dates, and cabins plus my KrisFlyer number and PIN.

I already had 30,000 Singapore miles in my account because I transferred Citi ThankYou points and Chase Ultimate Rewards weeks earlier in anticipation of booking an award to Hawaii in First Class when I knew what date I wanted to fly.

I called Singapore Airlines and fed the agent the information and called the First Class cabin on my United flight “Business Class.”

He priced the award at 30,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles + 7.8 Singapore dollars ($5.66.) I booked the ticket with my Citi Prestige® Card because it has no foreign transaction fees and earns 3x points for airfare purchases and got an email confirmation a few minutes later. I input the Singapore confirmation code into the United app on my phone and selected my seat and bed.

July 2015

I had to book myself a one way award from Houston to Honolulu.

From Houston to Honolulu, there is usually a lot of First Class award space if you connect in Los Angeles or San Francisco and a lot of economy space on the direct flight. If you want First Class on the direct flight, which some days features flat beds, you normally have to book within a few days or weeks of departure.

But I got super lucky!

When I searched for award space, the monthly calendar of the direct flight looked like this. There was literally one day with First Class award space, and it was the exact date I wanted to fly.

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I transferred my 30,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles, and they posted within 19 hours. Within 20 hours, I had ticketed the award for 30,000 Singapore miles + $6.

Bottom Line

Use Singapore miles instead of United miles to book economy and First Class awards to Hawaii on United flights. You’ll pay fewer miles, lower fees, and be able to book the exact same seats. Plus Singapore miles are so easy to get as a transfer partner of pretty much everyone.

Right now, the best cards to earn Singapore miles are:

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, 5,000 more bonus points for adding an authorized user.
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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