I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Singapore Suites on the Singapore A380 is one of the nicest products in the world. You get a fully enclosed suite, a fully flat bed, great food, expensive wines and liquors, and top notch personalized service. Plus if you have a companion or fly a cabin with empty seats, you can snag a double bed in the air.

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You can get the miles to fly Singapore Suites from opening a single credit card!

The cheapest Singapore Suites route from New York to Frankfurt costs only 57,375 Singapore miles + $203.30.

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Interesting Singapore First Class (the slightly different product on Singapore 777s) routes/prices:

  • Houston to Moscow-Domodedovo: 57,375 miles + $211.70 (10 hours flying)
  • Sao Paulo to Barcelona: 58,225 Singapore miles + $37.24 (10.5 hours flying)

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program. The two quickest ways to earn Singapore miles are with the:

Getting the Miles with Premier

If you spend $3,000 on travel and gas in the first three months of getting the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, you’d have 59,000 ThankYou Points: 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points plus 9,000 for the spending ($3,000 times 3 points per dollar.)

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If you spend $4,000 on dining and entertainment on the card, at least $3,000 of which is in the first three months, you’d have 58,000 ThankYou Points: 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points plus 8,000 for the spending ($4,000 times 2 points per dollar.)

The most you’d need to spend on the card is $8,000, at least $3,000 of which was in the first three months, to get to 58,000 ThankYou Points. And I really can’t imagine anyone reading this blog doesn’t spend heavily on travel, gas, dining, and entertainment, which are the card’s bonus categories.

Since the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has no annual fee for the first year, and since you can get to 58,000 points with your normal spending, you’d have no out-of-pocket cost to fly Singapore Suites other than the ~$200 in taxes and fees on the award.

Getting the Miles with Prestige

The bonus, spending requirement, and category bonuses of the Citi Prestige® Card are identical except that the Prestige’s 3x category is narrower: just airlines and hotels instead of the Premier’s more expansive travel and gas.

Compared to the Premier, the Prestige has one other upside and downside when used to collect enough points to fly Singapore Suites.

  • Downside: The Citi Prestige® Card has a $450 annual fee the first year. I think the fee is worth it year after year because of benefits like free golf, free hotel nights, free lounge access, and a $250 Air Travel Credit per calendar year. Speaking of that $250 Air Travel Credit:
  • Upside: You can use the card’s $250 Air Travel Credit to pay the ~$200 in taxes and fees on your Singapore Suites award. That makes the out-of-pocket cost of the award zero. Plus you’d still have about $50 in free airfare or award taxes in 2015, and $250 in early 2016, before the next annual fee is due.

For a complete comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of the Prestige and Premier, see Comparison Table of Citi Preferred vs. Premier vs. Prestige.

Transfer

You can transfer ThankYou Points to Singapore Miles on thankyou.com. The transfer takes 24-48 hours in my experience and is free.

You must transfer in 1,000 point increments, so you need 58,000 ThankYou Points to fly from the United States to Europe in Singapore First or Suites Class and 59,000 ThankYou Points to fly Sao Paulo to Barcelona in Singapore First.

Booking

Once your Singapore miles post, book on singaporeair.com. Here’s how.

Bottom Line

Singapore Suites is one of the nicest products in the world. You can fly it by opening one credit card and meeting its minimum spending requirement while simultaneously maximizing its category bonuses.

For only 58,000 ThankYou Points transferred to Singapore miles, you can fly one way in Singapore Suites from New York to Frankfurt. Singapore First from Houston to Moscow or from Sao Paulo to Barcelona are also 58,000 or 59,000 ThankYou Points transferred to Singapore miles.

The two quickest ways to earn ThankYou Points are with the:

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

I tweeted this deal first from @MileValueAlerts. Follow @MileValueAlerts on Twitter andfollow these directions to get a text message every time I tweet from that account. I tweet from @MileValueAlerts only a few times a month because it is designed to be used only for the best and most limited-time deals–like mistake fares–so that you aren’t bombarded by text messages.

Travel from Houston (IAH) to Moscow (DME) nonstop for $399 roundtrip on Singapore Airlines. Book by August 10 and start travel by December 1. This is an advertised sale.

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Contents:

  1. When are the $399 fares?
  2. Visas?
  3. Mileage Earning
  4. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket
  5. Singapore Baggage Policy

$399 Roundtrip from Houston to Moscow

This is part of Singapore’s Houston to Moscow to Singapore service on a 777-300ER. First and Business Class awards on the route are a great value.

Here are all the fare rules. Note that the route only flies five days a week, so there are no real restrictions except that you must start travel between 9/1 and 12/1 and stay less than one month.

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 5.23.56 PM

I pieced together a Friday outbound and Sunday return for $399.Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 5.24.59 PM

To book, start on the fare’s promo page on singaporeair.com.

Visas

Americans traveling to Russia need a visa obtained in advance. Check out the State Department for more information.

Mileage Earning

These are K class fares from Singapore. If you want to credit miles to a partner, K fares earn zero miles with United and LifeMiles. With Singapore, they earn 10% of flown miles. That means you’ll earn about 1,187 Singapore miles from flying the trip.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

You should definitely purchase your Singapore ticket with a credit card that imposes no foreign transaction fees. Your top choice should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will apply to this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement for a net price of $149 for a roundtrip to Russia!

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like it annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 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.

My second choice would be the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which offers 3x on all travel and gas purchases and also has no foreign transaction fees. The card comes with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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Singapore Baggage Policy

You can take one carry on and one personal item for free. You can have two checked bags of up to 23 kg (50 pounds) each for free. (Full policy.)

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Hat Tip Secretly Flying

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

United flies daily flights from Newark and Washington to Honolulu and back with a plane with flat beds in First Class.

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The 767-400ERs plying the routes have five across First Class beds in a 2-1-2 pattern. I’ve flown both routes and recommend the middle seat for solo travelers and A & B for people traveling together.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.49.08 AM

These 10+ hour flights are a great candidate for award redemptions because the miles cost of First Class awards is lower than you’d expect.

  • United charges 40,000 miles + $5.60 each way in First Class
  • Singapore charges 30,000 miles + $5.60 each way for the same seats/beds

But what is the award space?

Award Space

The award prices quoted above are for United Saver award space, the only space that Singapore miles have access to. United Saver award space is almost completely absent between Washington and Honolulu, though it is much better between Newark and Honolulu.

Washington <-> Honolulu

I only see one day in either direction with First Class Saver award space between Washington and Honolulu: tomorrow.

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I’d hope for award space over the low season–winter–but there is barely any in economy and none in First Class in February and March 2016 at the moment.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.44.53 AM

Out of Honolulu, if anything, the space is worse!Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.45.34 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.46.10 AM

Newark <-> Honolulu

Space is quite a bit better from Newark. There are four days in the next two months with First Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.47.23 AM In 2016, the space really picks up. There are 13 days in January and Feburary and 17 in April and May with First Class award space.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.47.55 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.48.29 AM

All the above calendars are for one passenger, but many of the days also have award space for two passengers.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.48.47 AM

Award space is definitely worse from Honolulu to Newark, though, so you’ll want to return in economy or in First Class with a connection.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.50.01 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 6.50.21 AM

How and Why to Book with Singapore Miles

Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance partner with United, and it just happens to have a far cheaper award chart between the United States mainland and Hawaii than United does. Singapore charges:

  • 17,500 miles one way in United economy, United charges 22,500 miles
  • 30,000 miles one way in United First, United charges 40,000 miles

There is no way to transfer United miles to Singapore miles, but all transferable points (Chase, Citi, AMEX, and Starpoints) transfer to Singapore miles. Both of these 50,000 point offers can transfer to Singapore miles:

Search united.com for United award space to Hawaii. Singapore miles can only book space with a blue button in the Saver column, like this flight has in both cabins.

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Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you want to book, then call Singapore at 213-404-0301 and give the agent that information. (Call United First Class “Business Class” on the phone.)

The Singapore agent will charge you according the Singapore chart, which is way cheaper. For instance a couple who flew roundtrip from Newark to Honolulu with one direction in United First Class would pay 125,000 United miles + $22.40.

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The same flights are 95,000 Singapore miles + $22.40.

Bottom Line

United isn’t releasing much award space in flat beds between the East Coast and Hawaii, though Newark to Honolulu has decent space for two people in First Class.

If some of the space works for you, book with Singapore miles, not United miles.

Both of these 50,000 point offers can transfer to Singapore miles:

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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 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Singapore Airlines charges only 12,500 Singapore miles one way for awards within the Southwest Pacific, which includes Australia, New Zealand, and a bunch of island paradises.

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Singapore Airlines’, Star Alliance partner Air New Zealand, flies extensively in the region from its hub in Auckland. Here are its flights to tiny islands.

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Source: gcmap.com

And here is its route network from Australia.

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Source: gcmap.com

Air New Zealand also has an incredible route network within New Zealand. Any award that starts in Australia, New Zealand, or a Pacific Island, and ends in Australia, New Zealand, or a Pacific Island is only 12,500 Singapore miles. That’s a steal considering Fiji to Perth is nearly 11 hours of flying!

Singapore awards normally have fuel surcharges, but Air New Zealand flights do not have fuel surcharges, so you pay just the miles and the taxes on these Singapore awards.

  • What is the award space on Air New Zealand intra-South Pacific?
  • How do you search and book the award?
  • How do you get Singapore miles?
  • For people not in Australia or New Zealand, how do you combine these awards with other cheap awards as part of a big trip?

Award Space

Economy award space is fairly open on Air New Zealand flights throughout the South Pacific. Business Class award space is non-existent, which is a shame because some flights are long and Singapore charges only 17,500 miles one way intra-Southwest Pacific in Business Class. The following calendars come from united.com, and yellow dates have economy award space for one passenger.

Auckland to Perth

This is a nearly eight hour flight!

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Award space is fairly good in economy, even during peak summer season.

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Nadi to Perth

What about adding a connecting flight, so the award begins in Fiji? Award space on the two flights stays pretty good if you’re flexible.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 9.16.49 PMThat’s almost 11 hours of flying, and still for 12,500 Singapore miles.
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There are way too many routes to look at, so search the routes that interest you on your own. I think you’ll find intra-New Zealand space is excellent and New Zealand to Australia space and New Zealand to Pacific Island space are good if you have flexibility +/- a few days. All that’s in economy. If you find any Business Class space at all, post it in the comments.

How to Search and Book the Award

Search the award on united.com

Singaporeair.com only displays Singapore Airlines award space, so search united.com, which displays nearly all of the Star Alliance, including Air New Zealand. Here’s how to search united.com.

Any Air New Zealand award space on united.com is bookable with Singapore miles. Note the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space to later give to a Singapore agent. Ignore the miles price on united.com. United charges more miles for the exact same flights, which is exactly why we’ll use Singapore miles to book the space.

Book by calling Singapore Airlines

Once you find space, transfer your Chase, AMEX, Citi, or SPG points to Singapore miles. The credit card points take 24-48 hours to post. The SPG points take longer.

To book the award, call Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 and give the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space you found on united.com. There is no phone fee for booking Singapore Airlines partner awards.

Pay your award taxes 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.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of the major transferable points programs: Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG. Cards I like that earns points that transfer to Singapore miles:

After meeting the minimum spending requirement on one of those cards, you’ll have enough for four one-way tickets within the Southwest Pacific on the Singapore Airlines award chart.

Combing This Award Into a BIG Trip

In 2015, there are no good round-the-world awards. You construct your big trip from the cheapest awards on several award charts. Here are some cheap awards you can hook up to a Singapore intra-Southwest Pacific award (everything below comes from How to Book a RTW Trip in 2015. Use These Underpriced Awards):

From United States:

To Fiji

To Australia/New Zealand

From Southeast Asia

To Australia/New Zealand

  • with 17,500 United miles
  • in Business Class with 35,000 United miles
  • in First Class with 40,000 United miles, try for Thai First Class
From North Asia

To Oceania

Bottom Line

Singapore Airlines miles are the best miles to hop around between Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania at only 12,500 miles one way with no fuel surcharges and good award space in economy to many interesting places.

Search united.com and book the award space by calling Singapore.

Hook up the award space to other cheap awards from the region to Southeast Asia, North Asia, or the United States to form a big trip.

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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 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

 

 

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Fly between South America and Europe for 17,425 miles one way year round. Or for only 58,225, fly one of the world’s nicest First Classes. These are fantastic deals as part of your next BIG trip.

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Singapore Airlines flies from Singapore to Barcleona to Sao Paulo with one plane.

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Source: gcmap.com

You can book any part of the route separately, like just Sao Paulo to Barcelona.

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Source: gcmap.com

Singapore Airlines awards have fuel surcharges, but awards departing Brazil are legally forbidden from having fuel surcharges, so Singapore awards from Sao Paulo to Barcelona or Sao Paulo to Singapore have no fuel surcharges. Not only that, but Singapore way underprices its awards from Sao Paulo to Barcelona.

Check out the number of miles (in thousands) you’d need for a one way award from Sao Paulo to Barcelona with a few major mileage currencies:

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 7.09.39 PM

United awards could fly Lufthansa or TAP (or Singapore economy.) Those are fine products, especially Lufthansa First Class, but United miles are nearly triple the miles in economy and more than double the miles in First Class, so I’ll take a Singapore award every day.

American awards could fly British Airways, which has a very good Business and First Class product, but AA awards are nearly triple the miles in economy and 40% more miles in Business and First, so I’d much rather fly a Singapore award.

  • What is the Singapore First Class product?
  • What is the award space between Barcelona and Sao Paulo?
  • How much does the award cost?
  • How do you search and book the award?
  • How do you get Singapore miles?

Singapore First Class

I flew Singapore First Class on the 777-300ER, the exact plane that serves Sao Paulo to Barcelona, from Singapore to London last year. Here is my trip report.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.30 AMThe comfort of the seat and bed is world class, and you can select your meal in advance for maximum control.

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Singapore First Class is clearly a top ten and possibly a top five commercial flying experience.

Award Space

Award space is wide open between Sao Paulo and Barcelona in First Class. I didn’t check Business or economy as extensively, but it is wide open also on the searches I did make.

Methodology

I searched one week periods in July, September, November, January, March, and May for 1 and 2 First Class award seats. This allowed me to see seasonal and time-before-departure variations in award space. The flight operates three times a week (M, Th, Sa from GRU-BCN), so I searched 18 dates in total. I found:

  • 16/18 dates had Saver award space for two passengers in First Class between Sao Paulo and Barcelona
  • 17/18 dates had Saver award space for one passenger in First Class between Sao Paulo and Barcelona

The only real constraint is flying a Monday, Thursday, or Saturday. If that works for you, odds are you’ll find award space in First Class.

Since First Class is such a small premium over Business Class (8,075 extra miles), I wouldn’t bother to fly Business Class unless I had to fly on a rare date with no First Class award space, and even then I’d try to waitlist the First Class award space before booking Business Class. For that reason, I didn’t search Business Class. Economy Class award space was open on all of the handful of days I searched it.

How Much Does the Award Cost

Singapore awards booked on singaporeair.com receive a 15% miles discount. Prices below are after that discount.

Sao Paulo to Barcelona (10:25 flying time)

  • First Class: 58,225 Singapore miles + $37.24
  • Business Class: 50,150 Singapore miles + $37.24
  • Economy: 17,425 Singapore miles + $37.24

Sao Paulo to Barcelona to Singapore (23:15 travel time)

  • Sao Paulo to Barcelona to Singapore in First Class: 95,625 Singapore miles + $37.24

Barcelona to Singapore (11:10 travel time)

  • Barcelona to Singapore in First Class: 58,225 Singapore miles + $206.52 (including $180 in fuel surcharges)

How to Search and Book the Award

Search and book the award on singaporeair.com. Here’s how to use singaporeair.com. Everything is pretty intuitive except that you check “Redeem award flight(s)”, and not “Pay with KrisFlyer miles.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 7.33.08 PM

Make sure you search a Monday, Thursday, or Saturday if you originate in Sao Paulo, or you will get an error.

On the search results, the Saver awards will be listed without their 15% discount. Once you select the space you want, the 15% discount will appear on the next screen.

Pay your award taxes 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.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of the major transferable points programs: Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG. Cards I like that earns points that transfer to Singapore miles:

After meeting the minimum spending requirement on one of those cards, you’ll have enough for three one-way tickets from Sao Paulo to Barcelona in economy or one in First Class.

Bottom Line

Singapore Airlines First Class is widely available between Sao Paulo and Barcelona and Singapore. Book it between Brazil and Spain on your next triangle trip to South America and Europe or modern round-the-world award.

Book Singapore First Class for only 58,225 miles and $37. Or fly in the back of the plane for 17,425 mile and $37.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Singapore Airlines offers an efficient and convenient way to waitlist Saver award space on any flight in any cabin when Saver space is unavailable.

What is Waitlisting?

Singapore Airlines has three prices for award space in each cabin on each route: Saver, Standard, and Full.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.35.24 PM

Saver is the cheapest, around one-fifth to one-eighth of the price of Full. Saver is also the least likely level to have award space available, though there are some routes and times of year when Saver space in Singapore Suites Class is a gimme, even for two people.

When Saver space is not available, there will be an option to “Waitlist” it. If you waitlist the space, Singapore Airlines will give you priority in case they decide to open Saver award space.

Why Waitlist?

To get first crack at award space in one of the world’s nicest cabins: Singapore Suites.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

How To Waitlist Singapore Award Space

Perform an award search as usual.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.33.50 PM

If your preferred flight has Saver award space like this flight, book it.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.34.06 PM

On the payment page, you’ll get a 15% discount off the listed prices.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.34.44 PM

If your desired flight doesn’t have Saver award space, like this flight from Frankfurt to New York next Spring, select “Waitlist” in the Saver column.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.35.37 PM

If you have enough miles in your account to ticket a Saver award if one were available, you’ll be told what the price of the award will be and be given a Waitlist confirmation number. You will not have to enter your credit card information or have the miles debited from your account. For instance, to waitlist Frankfurt to New York in Suites Class, I’d need at least 57,375 miles in my account, but the miles wouldn’t be touched and I wouldn’t have to give a credit card for the 273 euros that the award costs.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.35.53 PM

Right now I only have 125 Singapore miles, so I can’t waitlist anything.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.32.53 PM

When I selected “Waitlist,” I got this error message.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.35.47 PM

The bottom line is that to waitlist Singapore Award space, you need to have enough miles in your account to ticket the award you’d like to ticket, but those miles are not deducted from your account, nor are you charged any taxes at the time of waitlisting.

If the waitlist clears, and award space is opened up, you will receive an email notifying you and asking you to complete the booking within 24 hours. If you do not complete the booking, nothing happens. You still have your miles and never paid a penny. If you complete the booking, you pay the Saver price plus taxes and fuel surcharges and fly your dream award.

I should note that there is no point in checking the seat map or the inventory of paid seats for sale in the days leading to the flight you’ve waitlisted. Just because a seat is unsold does NOT mean the waitlist will clear. Sometimes airlines just don’t open up award space.

Doubling and Quintupling or x100’ing Your Chances

If flying Singapore Suites is a dream of yours, and the dates don’t matter so much, you can waitlist as many dates and flights as you’d like. You just have to have the number of miles in your account to ticket one award if the space opens up, but since those miles are never debited, you can waitlist as many segments as you’d like.

How Do You Get the Singapore Miles?

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program, and points transfer in about 36 hours. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also earns 3x points on travel and gas and 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • Citi Prestige® Card: 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
  • Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. 2x on dining and travel.
  • Ink Plus (business card): 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. 5x on office supplies and telecom bills.
  • Whichever Membership Rewards card (Platinum or Gold, personal or business) is offering a big 50,000, 75,000, or 100,000 point sign up bonus

I have a lot of ThankYou Points from my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card, but I hold onto those as ThankYou Points instead of Singapore miles to maintain flexibility. Don’t transfer ThankYou Points until you are ready to book or waitlist an award.

What Is the Success Rate of Waitlisting?

Good, but not perfect, and sometimes the process doesn’t work as designed.

Here is an entire thread of FlyerTalkers reporting their successes and failures with waitlisting all cabins, but mainly First and Suites Class. There is no consensus time when award space is most likely to clear though it often happens in the month, week, or days before departure.

Be aware that sometimes Singapore messes up and opens award space on a flight without contacting people on the waitlist to give them first access. If you’ve got a lot of time or the waitlisted flight is especially important, you can search for award space every few days on your flight even after waitlisting it. If space opens, book it, and then if you’re ever contacted about the waitlist clearing in the future, ignore that email.

Also know that some people swear by calling Singapore every so often while on the waitlist to ask whether award space has opened, thinking that increases their chances of having the award space opened up. I’d say there’s insufficient data to prove the claim, but it can’t hurt if you’ve got the free time.

Because not all waitlists clear, I’d want to have a back up plan to get me from point A to point B. My back up plan would probably be United or American Airlines miles depending on the route because many of their partners, notable United, Lufthansa, and Cathay Pacific open up tons of award space right before departure if seats are unsold.

Bottom Line

If you have the Singapore miles in your account to book a Saver award on a route, but no Saver space is open, you can waitlist the award with no commitment. If space opens up, you’ll get an email to book the space if you’d like. This is a unique and awesome feature of Singapore KrisFlyer and increases our chances of Flying Singapore First Class or Suites Class.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Cash is great because it can buy everything from travel to your basic necessities. But sometimes miles are better. There are a lot of things I can easily do with miles that I would never do with cash (at least until my bank account had a few more zeroes.)

Dream big with your miles. Better yet, dream big before your miles. Then get the right miles to turn that dream into a reality. Here are five dreams, five things I can do with miles that I wouldn’t do with cash.

  1. Fly Singapore Suites, a double bed in the sky
  2. Fly Lufthansa First Class and access the First Class Terminal
  3. Fly Etihad First Class for its shower, couch, and bed
  4. Fly Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy to London for a big upgrade from economy
  5. Hop around South America to 11 cities on one award with Asia Miles

1. Singapore Suites Los Angeles to Singapore: $8,700 or 92,000 miles + $276

Singapore Suites is famous for its double bed. The two middle seats in the 1-2-1 configuration can have their divider lowered to form an enclosed double bed that no other First Class cabin matches.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

Singapore is also famous for its food and wine selections and service from the Singapore girls. I flew Singapore First Class and would love to fly Suites Class, but I wouldn’t pay $8,700 for the one way flight from Los Angeles to Singapore.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.13.23 PM Instead I’d pay 91,375 Singapore miles + $276 (or less to fly Los Angeles to Tokyo or New York to Frankfurt.)Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.14.22 PM

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi, Chase, AMEX, and SPG, so getting just two cards like the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier with 50,000 ThankYou Points each after spending $3,000 in the first three months is enough to fly one way anywhere that Singapore Suites flies.

2. Lufthansa First Frankfurt to Washington: $8,700 or 40,000 points + $300

Lufthansa First Class is the most widely available excellent product between the United States and Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.44.36 PM

Within two weeks of departure, Lufthansa releases a lot of First Class award space to partners. If you can only fly Lufthansa First Class one way, fly it home from Europe via Frankfurt, where Lufthansa has an entire First Class Terminal. Spend a few hours at the buffet, a la carte restaurant, cigar room, and in the bathtubs with your own Lufthansa rubber ducky.

I flew Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Washington DC once. I never would have done that if my only option were to pay $8,730 one way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.22.19 PM

Luckily you can book the same flight for 50,000 Asiana miles (40,000 SPG points transfer to 50,000 Asiana miles) + ~$300 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

3. Etihad A380 First Class New York to Abu Dhabi: $16,700 or 90,000 miles + $6

Etihad begins flying its A380 from New York to Abu Dhabi on December 1, 2015. Award space has been intermittently very good and completely non-existent on the route. (Right now, it is non-existent.)

When space was very good last month, I booked myself an award from India to Los Angeles with the longest part in First Class on the Etihad A380. I am eager to fly in am enclosed suite with a couch/bed and seat. The amount of space is unreal. Plus the cabin features a shower, only the second airline that offers that.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

I’m not an oil sheik, so I can’t pay the $16,653 one way fare from New York to Abu Dhabi.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.27.45 PM

But the same flight can be had for 90,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60, what you can get from two credit cards. Or you can connect anywhere in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent for zero extra miles.

4. Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Washington DC to London: $2,800 or 22,000 points + $235

Flying Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy from the United States to London is like flying domestic First Class within the United States. You get the bigger seat with more leg room and more recline, better food, free drinks, and better service.

Virgin Atlantic charges quite a premium, though, at $2,764 one way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.34.47 PM

Why pay that when the seat can be booked with 27,500 Virgin Atlantic miles + $234.60? Especially right now when Citi ThankYou Points have a 25% transfer bonus that makes the award cost 22,000 ThankYou Points + $234.60.

You can get enough points for two people by opening either the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier with 50,000 ThankYou Points each after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

5. 11 City Tour of South America: thousands of dollars or 85,000 miles + a few hundred dollars

Yesterday I broke down the Asia Miles award chart and rules. Asia Miles allows you to book 11 city awards. I recommend going to South America to avoid the fuel surcharges you’d normally pay on Asia Miles awards.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 6.56.24 PMWhile booking a trip like this with cash would cost thousands of dollars–I’d estimate around $5,000–the same trip would cost 85,000 Asia Miles + taxes–I’d estimate around $300.

Asia Miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi, AMEX, and SPG, so getting just two cards like the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier with 50,000 ThankYou Points each after spending $3,000 in the first three months is enough to fly an Asia Miles award with up to 20,000 miles of flying!

Bottom Line

Everything is bookable with cash, but sometimes the price is so outrageous that only multi-millionaires would consider the ticket a good value.

With miles, the premium cabins and the mega-awards are democratized. Open one or two credit cards and enjoy the nicest cabins in the world like Singapore Suites, Etihad First Class, and Lufthansa First Class; the biggest adventures in the world like an 11 city trip in South America; or the simple pleasure of a little more space and comfort in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy.

What’s an amazing thing you’ve done with miles that you wouldn’t have done with cash?

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Yesterday, I looked at How to Fly Singapore First Class and Suites Class from the United States to Europe or Asia. Today, I will look at the actual award space for 1-3 people in Suites Class. Here are the possible awards in First/Suites Class from the United States:

  • 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)

Singapore First Class on its 777-300ER is world class, but Suites Class on the A380 is a whole ‘nother level with enclosed suites and the possibility of combining two beds into one double bed. Above, the two A380 routes are in bold.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.41.28 PM
The two Suites Class routes to the United States. LAX-NRT-SIN and JFK-FRA-SIN. Source: gcmap.com

As I mentioned yesterday, Singapore flights to the United States all have an intermediate stop, and you can fly any single segment of the trip as an award. Today, I am mainly going to look at award space from Frankfurt to New York and from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

Frankfurt to New York

Award space is very rare on this route, and the only space I found is this week. Unfortunately Singapore Airlines doesn’t show a calendar of award space, so you have to manually search day-by-day. Because of that, I searched the following dates to give you a good idea of award space at different times of the year:

  • June 5-11 (this week)
  • September 11-17
  • December 19-25
  • February 1-7
  • May 13-23 (last day of schedule)

I only found award space on June 7 and June 10 at the Saver price. This is what that looks like online.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 11.50.22 AM

Days without award space say “Waitlist” instead of “Available.” More on waitlisting Singapore awards in a future post.
Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 11.51.52 AM

I searched for award space for only one passenger initially, but I went back and looked at June 7 and 10 to see if there was award space for more passengers those days. I found three award seats at the Saver level in Suites Class both days.
Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.00.35 PMAlthough the price on the search screen is 67,500 miles, there is a 15% discount for booking Singapore awards online. The total price for one passenger one way from Frankfurt to New York is 57,375 Singapore miles + $314, about 60% of which is fuel surcharges.
Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.01.48 PM

In my searches from New York to Frankfurt and continuing on to Singapore, I see similarly dismal award availability. I believe New York <-> Frankfurt <-> Singapore and each individual segment are the hardest Suites Class awards.

Tokyo to Los Angeles

Tokyo to Los Angeles, by contrast, has great award availability for parts of the year for two passengers in Suites Class at the Saver level. I searched the same dates:

  • June 4-11 (this week)
  • September 11-17
  • December 19-25
  • February 1-7
  • May 13-23 (last day of schedule)

I found award space at the Saver price for at least one person in Suites Class:

  • June 4, 6
  • February 3, 4, 7
  • May 13-15 and 17-23

On all of those days except February 7, there is award space for two passengers. Today, June 4, there is award space for three passengers.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.11.59 PM

I didn’t find award space the week I searched in September or the week before Christmas.

The price is listed at 87,500 miles per passenger on the search screen, but the payment screen incorporates a 15% miles discount, so the total award price is 74,375 Singapore miles + $129, which is a little more than half fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.14.35 PM

Many of the days with award space from Tokyo to Los Angeles have award space on the entire trip from Singapore to Los Angeles, but not all days. For instance, February 3 has award space at the Saver level for the whole trip as do a lot of the May dates.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.16.28 PM

The full journey from Singapore to Los Angeles in Suites Class costs 91,375 Singapore miles + $315, which is more than 75% fuel surcharges.
Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 12.16.40 PM

Getting the Miles & Booking the Awards

Right now, the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier have each increased their sign up bonuses to 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles (and 10 other miles.) You can get both cards as long as you apply 8+ days apart. I’d get one if you want to book Frankfurt to New York and both if you want to book Tokyo or Singapore to the United States.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.36.03 PM

Search for award space on singaporeair.com, transfer your points and wait about 36 hours for them to post, and book your award.

 

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

Award space is very tight on the New York <-> Frankfurt <-> Singapore route. The only award space I see on that route is within a week of departure.

Award space is much more open on the Los Angeles <-> Tokyo <-> Singapore route. There is award space this week but also in February and May. Almost every day with award space has space for two passengers.

You can search and book the award space on singaporeair.com. You can get the miles you need by transferring ThankYou Points from the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier. The Prestige is also valuable to pay the award taxes and fuel surcharges, since it has a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year to offset that stuff.

Key Links:

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

11

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Monday I wrote about my experience flying Singapore First Class, which is one of the nicest five or so First Classes in the world.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.02.44 AM

Some people even consider Suites Class on the Singapore A380 to be the nicest First Class in the world because of the available double bed that two people can share (or one person can get to himself if the flight isn’t totally full.)

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

Singapore First and Suites Class are very easy for an American to book from the United States to Europe or Asia. You just have to collect the right miles and pick the right route for your goal.

  • What miles do you need to book Singapore First and Suites Class?
  • What cards offer points that transfer to Singapore miles?
  • What routes does Singapore fly to the United States with First and Suites Class? Where in Europe and Asia can you go?
  • What are the fuel surcharges on each route?
  • How can you search and book Singapore Suites award space?

You Can Only Book Singapore First and Suites Class with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles

Singapore only releases award space in longhaul First and Suites Class to its own KrisFlyer program. You need Singapore miles if you want to book a double bed in the sky. 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 and Citi ThankYou Premier have each increased their sign up bonuses to 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You can get both as long as you apply 8+ days apart. The 106,000 ThankYou Points are more than enough to book any award in this post, and even getting one card and getting to 58,000 ThankYou Points is enough to book Singapore Suites.

The Chase Ink Plus (business) and Sapphire Preferred (personal) have a combined 95,000 point sign up bonus after spending $9,000 in the first three months. That is another path to any Singapore Suites flight.

The Membership Rewards bonuses offered on the Premier Rewards Gold, Platinum, and business cards reach up to 50,000 points per card.

The New, Lower $3,000 Spending Requirement on SPG Cards means you can get 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 on the SPG personal card and the identical bonus on the SPG business card.

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What Routes Does Singapore Fly to the United States

Singapore Airlines flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and New York. But Singapore is too far away to profitably fly directly, so each route has an intermediate stop in Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Frankfurt, or Moscow. Singapore has traffic rights on all individual segments, so you can fly from New York to Frankfurt, say, in Singapore Suites.

West Coast Routes

Singapore’s West Coast routes stop in Asia.

  • San Francisco to Seoul-Incheon to Singapore, 777-300ER
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore, 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita to Singapore, A380

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.28.44 AM

Other American Routes

Singapore’s other American routes fly east and stop in Europe.

  • Houston to Moscow-Domodedovo to Singapore, 777-300ER
  • New York-JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore, A380

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.29.03 AM

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, or New York or don’t want to go to Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Moscow, or Singapore, you can connect to United flights in the United States or other Star Alliance partner flights in Europe or Asia. If you do that, you will have to book by phone, and you pay full price of 67,500 to 110,000 miles one way for your First/Suites Class award.

If you can just fly the Singapore routes, you can book online at singaporeair.com with an automatic 15% discount on the miles needed for the award. Below are the prices for one way awards after the 15% discount. (A380 flights, ie Suites Class, awards are in bold.)

  • 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)

Four things that jump out at me:

  1. Singapore Suites and First Class are basically priced the same in miles and fuel surcharges, so book Suites Class all else equal.
  2. There are fuel surcharges on awards. ($23.30 of each award above is government taxes.) These vary greatly and seem to be a lot lower on routes with competition (SFO-HKG and LAX-NRT, though not SFO-ICN or JFK-FRA.)
  3. San Francisco to Hong Kong is fewer miles and lower fuel surcharges than San Francisco to Seoul despite giving you more time to enjoy First Class.
  4. 57,375 miles is a ridiculously low price to sample Singapore First or Suites Class from the United States to Europe. You might get more enjoyment flying Europe to the United States for the same price on a day time flight though.

Searching and Booking Singapore First and Suites Class

Award booking at singaporeair.com is easy. After signing in, check “Redeem award flight(s)”, type in your cities, dates, and cabins. Do not check “Pay with KrisFlyer miles” which is actually a scheme where you get a fixed value for your KrisFlyer miles that would never put a Suites Class award within reach.

Select the flight you want at the Saver level. Although the Saver level is listed as 107,500 miles, there is a 15% miles discount for booking online.

You can see the online price by clicking the “Display total cost” button below and to the right of the flights. In this case, the total cost is 91,375 miles for flights from Singapore to Europe in First or Suites Class.

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 somewhere else will price the taxes/surcharges in the local currency.

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 Singapore First Class and Singapore Suites with Singapore miles, a transfer partner of every major transferable points currency. I recommend the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, each with a 50,000 ThankYou Points sign up bonus. You can get both as long as you apply 8+ days apart. The 106,000 ThankYou Points are more than enough to book any award in this post.

You can fly Singapore Suites or First Class from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, or New York to Frankfurt, Moscow, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, or Singapore because all American routes have en intermediate stop in Europe or Asia. You can connect to other Star Alliance award flights, but doing so means having to pay the higher mileage prices on the Star Alliance award chart.

Award prices range from 57,375 to 93,500 miles for 7.5 to 21+ hours in Singapore First or Suites Class. Fuel surcharges range from $26 to $240 depending on the route.

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.

Then go fly in your enclosed double flat bed!

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

Key Links:

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

10

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

This is the ninth installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Singapore.

Full Trip Report

Singapore 306
Singapore (SIN) – London (LHR)
Depart: 1:30 AM on March 6, 2014
Arrive: 8:00 AM on March 6, 2014
Duration: 13.5 hours
Aircraft: Airbus A380 Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1A (First Class)

After several hours hanging out in the Singapore Changi Airport’s butterfly garden, free movie theater, Priority Pass lounges, and Singapore Private Room lounge, I headed to my flight. I was ecstatic to fly Suites Class on the Singapore A380.

Up until now, I had thought nothing of the fact that my boarding pass said First Class–the name used for the best cabin on the 777–instead of Suites Class–the best cabin on the A380.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.02.57 AM

Nor did I think anything of the gate’s First Class, not Suites Class sign, or the fact that there were no stairs to a second deck anywhere. It was dark, and I was tired, so the single decker sitting at the gate didn’t register.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.19 AM

I enjoyed a First Class boarding experience where I was met at the door by a flight attendant and taken to my seat.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.24 AM

And what a throne it was–about as wide as the Cathay Pacific First Class seats that could easily fit two. (Seat Guru has Singapore First Class at 35″ wide and Cathay First at 36″.) But why wasn’t the seat fully enclosed?

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.30 AM

Somehow I was flying Singapore First Class on a 777-300ER, not Suites Class on an A380. I had booked Suites Class, which features fully enclosed suites and flies some of the London frequencies.

Suites Class, A380

But there was a last minute airplane swap to a 777-300ER on my flight. If I had known, I would have switched flights because the exact time of my arrival into London wasn’t very important. But I hadn’t been informed by Singapore, and I hadn’t checked online the day before to reconfirm my plane.

In the end, it worked out fine for me. First Class is nearly as nice as Suites Class, and my email complaints about my downgrade to Singapore Airlines after the flight netted me 30,000 Singapore miles, which was enough for a First Class award on a flat bed between Hawaii and the mainland United States.

As I made piece with the fact that I was in Singapore First Class, not Suites Class, I took a look around the cabin, which has eight seats arranged 1-2-1.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.37 AM

The middle seats are ideal for a traveling pair. If you are not with the person sitting next to you, a privacy divider can be raised between the seats.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.43 AM

In front of the seat is a 23″ flat screen TV and an ottoman.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.57.58 AM

Again, everything is so spacious, that I only needed about 25% of the ottoman’s width. There are no overhead bins in First Class, so I had my favorite carry on and personal item under the seat in front of me.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.58.07 AM

Before departure, I was offered a pre-departure beverage. For champagne, Singapore offers both Dom Perignon and Krug. I went with a glass of Krug.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.58.36 AM

The Krug came with Macadamia nuts, my favorite.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.27 AM

Also before departure, I was given the menu, amenity kit, pajamas, and slippers.

The menu read as follows:
Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.58.57 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.04 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.12 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.19 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.28 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.33 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.43 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.50 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.59.57 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.02 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.08 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.14 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.20 AM

The amenity kit was Sothys branded and featured some high end lotions.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.25 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.33 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.44 AM

The pajamas were presented less than artfully, wrapped in plain white paper.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.40 AM

But they were very nice and comfortable. I immediately changed into them and wore them for most of the flight.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.51 AM

I changed in the bathrooms, which were more spacious than coach, but nothing special.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.19 AM

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.11 AM

After takeoff, I asked for a turndown service. Since the middle seat next to me was empty, the flight attendant suggested that she make that as a bed for me, so I could have separate seats and beds. That sounded great.

The bed was presented beautifully with a mattress pad, duvet, and two pillows.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.00.58 AM Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.06 AM

The bed was very comfortable, and I immediately slept for about eight hours.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.28 AM

When I awoke, I asked for my meal. I had Booked the Cook–pre-ordered my meal. The selections are extensive. Unfortunately the breakfast options aren’t as strong as the lunch and dinner options. I’m not a big breakfast person, so I went with the burger.

The tray table was very large, I was able to lounge and watch a movie during the service. First I was brought an orange juice.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.34 AM

Then the plates and silverware came out.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.40 AM

The meal started with a plate of delicious fresh fruit.
Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.48 AM

Next I selected a croissant from the bread basket.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.01.55 AM

Finally came the main course, which looks terrible in this photo, but was actually fine.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.02.00 AM

After the meal, I returned to my window seat. I used the pair of Bose noise canceling headphones to watch TV and movies the rest of the flight.
Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.58.51 AM

If you need to touch up makeup after the long sleep, the panels beside the TV open up into mirrors.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.02.31 AM

The rest of the flight passed uneventfully, and we landed in London on time and all smiles.Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 2.02.44 AM

Bottom Line

I got the least out of this First Class experience compared to First Class flights on Asiana, Cathay Pacific, EmiratesLufthansaThaiUnited, and Malaysia. Most of that was my fault. I slept for the majority of the flight instead of choosing a daytime flight.

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 6.13.54 PM
No need to sleep on the Singapore A380

I also skipped my first Book the Cook meal because I was stuffed from the lounges. I didn’t take advantage of the specialty cocktails or ask very much of the flight attendants.

Part of my lack of engagement was that I was just tired and full, and part of it was my disappointment that I thought I’d be flying Suites Class and only found out when I boarded that I wouldn’t be. A lot of it was that there are fewer fun things to do on the Singapore 777 than on, say, an Emirates A380, which features onboard showers and an onboard bar. That said:

  • The service was very good. In Singapore Airline First Class, you will be met at the door, constantly addressed by name, and proactively offered refills. If there are empty seats, you may be offered them as beds, so you can always have a bed and seat ready.
  • The food was fine for me. I think generally the food, especially when departing Singapore is considered excellent, and many people rave about the lobster thermidor. I liked all the options I had when I Booked the Cook, but I didn’t even eat the chicken curry I ordered.
  • The bed was extraordinary. It was very wide and very comfortable. I slept for about eight hours.
  • The seat was large, wide, and comfortable. It didn’t have the privacy that an enclosed suite would have had.
  • The entertainment was excellent. There were about 200 movies and dozens of TV shows.

Compare this trip report to a Trip Report of Suites Class on the Singapore A380.

Booking the Award

See: Anatomy of an Award: Booking Singapore Suites

Flying Singapore Suites costs between 57,375 Singapore miles–New York to Frankfurt–and 93,500 miles–New York to Singapore–one way. Singapore does not release its First Class or Suites Class award space to partners, so you need Singapore miles. That’s no problem because Citi ThankYou Points, AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and SPG Starpoints all transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles.

You can get over 106,000 ThankYou Points (Singapore miles) by opening the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, which each have increased their sign up bonuses to 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You have to apply for the cards at least eight days apart. Here’s more info.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

Waikiki Sunset

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

You can get both the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, each with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as long as you apply at least eight days apart.

Meet both minimum spending requirements, and you’ll have at least 106,000 ThankYou Points, in one account if you follow the simple steps to combine your accounts.

Here are the top eight ways I would use the 106,000 point sign up bonus for flights in Economy and First Class to Hawaii, Europe, South America, or anywhere else in the world.

1. ~$2,300 in American Airlines Flights

Each of the 106,000 points can be used like cash toward any American Airlines or US Airways flight at a rate of 1.6 cents per point. That’s ~$1,700 worth of American Airlines or US Airways flights.

And on every one of those flights, you’ll earn American Airlines miles because the airline sees your ticket as a cash ticket. The exact number of miles is determined by where you actually fly, but 25,000 American Airlines miles is a reasonable estimate. That’s enough miles to redeem for one way cross-country in American Airline’s new flat bed Business Class or one way in economy to Europe, Asia, or South America at off peak prices. Redeeming these 25,000 miles well should be worth around $600.

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American’s Flat Bed Cross-Country Business Class

That’s about $2,300 in American Airlines flights from the 106,000 original ThankYou Points. I covered this topic more thoroughly in Get $2,800 in American Airlines Flights in Five Steps from Only Two Cards. (The extra $500 in that title comes from the $250 Air Travel Credits on the Citi Prestige.)

2. Four Roundtrips to Europe or Israel

You can transfer 100,000 ThankYou Points to AirFrance Flying Blue miles and book four roundtrip Promo Awards to Europe.

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Head to Munich for Oktoberfest for 25,000 miles

Every month, Air France releases a list of American cities. You can fly from the listed cities to anywhere in Europe or Israel for as little as 12,500 Flying Blue miles + taxes + a $55 fuel surcharge each way. Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.

Right now, Promo Awards are bookable for summer travel, so the list isn’t as good as usual. But in June and July when Fall travel becomes bookable as Promo Awards, I’d expect to see more cities offered like New York, Dallas, Houston, Washington, Miami, and other places where Air France and KLM fly.

Award space is usually widely available during the Promo Awards dates, and because Flying Blue groups Israel with Europe, you can also fly to Israel for as little as 25,000 miles + taxes + $110 roundtrip.

If your city isn’t on the Promo Awards list, you still have great options to Europe with ThankYou Points. You can transfer 110,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles and book two roundtrips to Europe in United economy with NO fuel surcharges. Singapore has access to the United Saver award space on united.com, so I was easily able to book myself Washington DC to Madrid for 27,500 Singapore miles + $20 last month.

3. Two Roundtrips to Buenos Aires or Rio

You can transfer 90,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles and book two roundtrips in Delta economy to Southern South America including Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Delta would charge 120,000 miles for the same award space.

Virgin Atlantic will have access to any Delta award space to Southern South America that you can find for 30,000 miles one way on delta.com. Search from your home airport to South America or your home airport to Atlanta and Atlanta to South America separately if necessary.

I don’t want to over-sell or under-sell this award space. It isn’t available every day, but there is plenty even at great times to travel if you are flexible. For instance, here is the available space in orange to Rio de Janeiro in September and October.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.34 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.39 PM

Here is the space in orange to Buenos Aires in November and December.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.55 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.52.21 PM

To book the space you find on delta.com with Virgin Atlantic miles, call Virgin Atlantic. Expect to pay 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and about $80 in taxes per person for a roundtrip.

4. Four Roundtrips to Hawaii (120k)

You can transfer 120,000 ThankYou Points to Air France Flying Blue miles and book four roundtrip awards to Hawaii with Delta award space. Delta would charge 180,000 miles for the same award space.

Waikiki Sunset
Waikiki Sunset

You can initially search on delta.com or airfrance.us; the latter is where you’ll eventually book.

Award space is more available than you might think, especially if you search in winter. Even though I think winter is the best time to visit Hawaii for a contrast between 40 degrees at home and 80 degrees at the beach in Hawaii, it is the low season.

Here is award space from Los Angeles to Honolulu for four people in March. All the orange days that say 22,500 will have space that is bookable for 15,000 miles one way on airfrance.us. Search from your home airport to all four major Hawaiian islands to find your dream award space.

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5. Two Roundtrips in First Class (flat bed) to Hawaii (120k)

You can transfer 120,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles and book two roundtrips in United First Class to Hawaii. You would need 160,000 United miles to book the same award space.

All United First Class seats from Newark and Washington DC to Hawaii are flat beds and some flights from Houston and San Francisco also feature beds. I’ve flown all four routes on flat beds, and it’s very nice to be able to get some great sleep on flights that are often longer than flights from the East Coast to Europe.

To book United flat beds to Hawaii with Singapore miles, search united.com for Saver award space then call Singapore. In addition to the miles, you’ll just pay about $11 in taxes roundtrip per person.

If you’re not sure whether your flight will have seats or beds, click View Seats on united.com. These squares mean regular recliner seats.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.18.24 PM

These icons mean beds.

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Right now the flat bed award space isn’t fantastic to Hawaii, though there is some via San Francisco on the daily 767-400ER flight with flat beds in First Class. United tends to open up more award space in the last few weeks before departure, though, and Singapore doesn’t charge a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like some airlines. Waiting may be your best bet.

6. Six One Ways to London

7. Four One Ways to London in Premium Economy (110k)

Transfer 105,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles for six one ways to London in Virgin Atlantic economy or 110,000 ThankYou Points for four one ways in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy, which looks a lot like domestic First Class in the United States.

Award space is fairly good in both cabins and is searchable and bookable on virginatlantic.com.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.26.04 PM

Here is the award space for three people in October from Washington DC to London.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.26.43 PM

So why did I phrase this as six and four one ways instead of three and two roundtrips?

Not only do these awards have fuel surcharges, but there is a gigantic tax for departing London.

For economy, one way to London costs 17,500 miles + $134.60. That’s $129 in fuel surcharges, and $5.60 in taxes.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.25 PM

The return costs the same miles + $323. That represents a fuel surcharge plus almost $200 in taxes for departing London.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.29 PM

Three roundtrips would cost 105,000 miles + $1,373.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.42 PM

Six one ways to London would cost the same miles but only $808 in taxes and fuel surcharges. Then move onto somewhere else in Europe with the $570 in savings and return with a different type of miles to save on taxes and fuel surcharges.

We see the same story for Premium Economy redemptions. You pay 27,500 miles + $235 going east…
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.28.51 PM …but more than $300 extra heading west.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.28.55 PM

I can make a strong case for paying 27,500 miles + $235 one way in Premium Economy. Most airlines charge 27,500 miles or more in regular economy, and Premium Economy is a much bigger seat with more legroom, and more freebies. It’s worth paying an extra $200, I think.

But the return is too much. Fly back from the continent with miles that don’t collect a fuel surcharge.

8. Three Roundtrips to Peru

You can transfer 105,000 ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles to fly three roundtrips to Peru or anywhere else in Northern South America on Delta flights. Delta would charge 135,000 miles for the same award space.

Search on airfrance.us and book there with no fees or fuel surcharges.

Bottom Line

You can get both the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, each with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as long as you apply at least eight days apart. Meet both minimum spending requirements, and you’ll have at least 106,000 ThankYou Points, and probably more since both offer 3x and 2x category bonuses.

You have a ton of options with 106,000+ ThankYou Points. You can use them like cash toward American Airlines flights or transfer the points to Singapore, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles. Great awards are available to Hawaii, Europe, and South America; or when using the points like cash you can fly any flight to anywhere.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

This week I posted that it is cheaper to use Singapore Airlines miles to book United flights to Europe in economy than it is to book the same flights with United miles. Check out that full post.

Yesterday I booked myself an award from Washington DC to Madrid in May with Singapore miles on a United flight.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.06.58 PM
Source: gcmap.com

Questions this article will answer:

  • Why did I use Singapore miles?
  • Which points transfer to Singapore miles and how long does the transfer take?
  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I book award space?
  • How did I select seats?

Why Singapore Miles

As explained in “Using Singapore Miles to Europe in Economy is Better Than Using United Miles,” a United economy flight from the United States to Europe costs 30,000 United miles or 27,500 Singapore miles.

My most important priority was booking a direct flight, since they are so much more convenient than connecting itineraries. The only airline that flies from Washington DC to Madrid is United. I would have preferred to book this flight in Business Class on a flat bed, but Business Class award space is not available at the moment as a Saver award. It may open up in the future, but I just wanted to lock this award in, and I can handle seven-and-a-half hours in economy, especially since the flight takes off so early that I wouldn’t have slept any way.

I used Singapore miles to book the economy award because, first, I wanted to save 2,500 miles.

Second, I wanted to use Singapore miles instead of United miles because I have more “potential” Singapore miles (ie transferable points that transfer to Singapore miles) than potential United miles. I’ll discuss this point further in the section on transferring points to Singapore miles.

Searching for Award Space

I searched for award space on united.com before transferring points to Singapore because transfers are irreversible. The flight I wanted had Saver award space in economy. (Here’s how to search united.com.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.40.20 PM

Singapore Airlines only has access to the flights on united.com with a blue button in the Saver award column.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.40.27 PM

Which Points Transfer to Singapore Miles?

All major transferable points transfer to Singapore miles including Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints. It is all these partners that makes getting Singapore miles so easy, which allows things like: One Person Can Open Four Cards and Fly Six Roundtrips to Hawaii.

If you have all four types of transferable points, which should you transfer to ThankYou Points? The ones that you have the fewest other high value uses for.

For me, I’d transfer ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, Starpoints in that order because that is my order from least valuable (1.8 cents each for ThankYou Points) to most valuable (2.5 cents each for Starpoints.)

I already had 12,500 Singapore miles in my account, so I needed to transfer 15,000 points. I transferred 4,000 ThankYou Points to draw down that account (temporarily until I get the 50,000 bonus points on my Citi Prestige.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 4.54.07 PM

Then I transferred 11,000 Ultimate Rewards.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 4.53.36 PM

Both transfers are performed online inside your credit card account. Both transfers resulted in immediate confirmation emails, though it takes 24-48 hours for the Singapore miles to show up. In this case, I transferred on Thursday at 9:30 AM ET, and the points had arrived by Friday at 3:30 PM ET, or in 30 hours at most.

Re-Running the Search

Once my points posted, I re-ran my search, and my award space was still available.

There is a possibility that you transfer points to Singapore miles, and in the 24-48 hours that the transfer takes, the space disappears. In that case, you’re basically out of luck because transfers are irreversible.

I didn’t worry too much about that possibility because United award space tends to increase not decrease in the last month, and because if I were “stuck” with 27,500 Singapore miles, I’d find a quick use for them to Europe, Hawaii, or South America or booking Singapore Suites.

Booking Award Space

I called Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 to book the flight. To book all Singapore partners, you have to call Singapore, but luckily there is no phone fee.

I fed the agent my date, flight number, and cabin, and she quickly found and booked the award space for 27,500 Singapore miles + 31.60 SGD ($23.) The whole call took 13 minutes.
Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 4.58.30 PM

I paid with my Citi Prestige® Card because it has a $250 airfare credit per calendar year that includes airfare, award taxes, bag fees, upgrades, and more. That means that the $23 will be credited back to my account. This benefit is per calendar year, so in the first 12 months of holding this card, I will get $500 worth of free flights and award taxes. This more than offsets the $450 annual fee, and makes the 50,000 point sign up bonus and free lounge access worldwide even more valuable. All this is Why I Got the Citi Prestige.

How Did I Select Seats?

The general rule is that you must select seats with the operating carrier, in this case United. It is usually important to ask at the time of booking for the confirmation number for each operating carrier, so that you can contact them and quickly select seats.

In this case, the Singapore agent proactively offered me the United confirmation number.

That’s actually not necessary in this case because typing in either the Singapore or United confirmation number on united.com where it says “Change or View Reservations” will allow for seat selection.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.01.21 PM

I picked the window seat furthest to the front. I was offered the chance to buy an Economy Plus seat upgrade from $109. Anyone with a ticket, no matter how you got it, always has the chance to buy Economy Plus.Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.09.44 PM

Bottom Line

Singapore miles are cheaper than United miles for booking United economy awards to Europe. I used my Singapore miles to book myself a one way flight to Madrid next month to kick off four months in Europe. Transferring ThankYou Points and Ultimate Rewards to Singapore, searching for the space, and booking the award were all seamless.

Right now you can earn oodles of Singapore miles. Start with the Citi Prestige® Card, which 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. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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You wouldn’t like Hawaii… unless you like pristine beaches, beautiful hikes, and 80 degree weather. I just spent three weeks on Oahu and Maui, which confirmed that 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 230,000 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.

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Meeting the cards’ minimum spending requirements will earn a total of 230,000 points, all of which can be transferred to Singapore 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 $15,000 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 2015-04-16 at 8.59.32 AM

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!

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

18

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

It costs fewer Singapore miles to fly United economy flights to Europe than the same flight costs with United miles, and neither award has fuel surcharges.

Conclusion: book United economy awards to Europe with Singapore miles instead of United miles.

From Singapore’s award chart:

  • 27,500 miles one way in economy to Europe (United charges 30k)
  • 65,000 miles one way in Business Class (United charges 57.5k)
  • 80,000 miles one way in First Class (United charges the same)

Singapore does not collect fuel surcharges on awards of United flights, so those economy awards on United flights are just cheaper with Singapore miles, which are so easy to get because Singapore miles are a transfer partner of Chase, AMEX, Citi, and SPG points.

How to Book a Singapore Award on United Flights to Europe

I want to fly from Washington DC to Madrid in May, and though I’d prefer to fly Business Class or First Class, my top priority is getting on United’s direct flight on the route to save time.

I searched united.com for award space and found Saver award space for the day I want. Singapore Airlines will have access to all the Saver award space listed on united.com if you search without logging in. United charges 30,000 miles + $5.60 for the flight.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.53.11 AM

I called Singapore at 213-404-0301 and fed the agent the date, flight number, and cabin of the flight I wanted. She found space immediately and priced it at 27,500 Singapore miles + 32 SGD (~$23.50).

Why does Singapore charge about $18 extra in taxes on the one way flight? According to ITA Matrix, the flight I want has three taxes, fees, and charges. United only collects the September 11th Security Fee while Singapore collects that plus the US International Departure Tax. That accounts for the $18 difference, which is well worth paying to save 2,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.53.25 AM

Note that the United paid flight also has a stiff fuel surcharge of $248. Singapore does not collect fuel surcharges on awards on United flights.

I priced out other Singapore awards using direct United flights like Chicago to London and connecting flights like Tampa to Washington to Madrid.Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.55.18 AM

All these awards were the same 27,500 Singapore miles and $23.50.Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 10.56.18 AM

What I’m Not Saying

I’m not saying Singapore miles are better than United miles to Europe.

  • Singapore collects fuel surcharges on most other common partners, and United never collects fuel surcharges.
  • For United flights, Singapore charges more miles than United for Business Class awards and the same amount for First Class awards

But for United economy flights to Europe, Singapore miles offer a better deal than United miles.

This is compounded by the fact that Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

Transfers do take about 36 hours from these programs to Singapore miles.

Bottom Line

Pretty soon here I’ll probably book a United economy flight to Europe. Instead of spending 30,000 harder-to-get United miles, I’ll spend 27,500 transfer-partner-of-everyone Singapore miles on the exact same flight.

Both awards are fuel surcharges free, and the Singapore awards to Europe just have about $18 more in taxes. I’ll be flush with ThankYou Points soon to transfer to Singapore miles because I got the Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus points just a few weeks ago.

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

I just booked myself a trip to Cuba with miles. One direction I am flying on a single award from the United States to Cuba. On the return, I am flying two awards: Cuba to Colombia and Colombia to the United States.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 1.11.07 AM

I used American Airlines, Asiana, and Lufthansa miles, all of which are easily available to Americans.

Can Americans Travel to Cuba?

Here is the State Department’s page on visiting Cuba.

I am going to travel to Cuba on a general license as a journalist. A “general license” means that I do not have to contact any government agency in advance to receive permission. Here are the 12 categories of general licenses:

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I’ll need a valid passport and a tourist card to enter Cuba. I can buy the latter for $20 in Panama before boarding my flight to Havana.

It is still technically illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba for the purpose of tourism. Figure out for yourself whether you can fit one of the 12 general licenses, so you can legally travel to Cuba.

Awards

In a previous post, I ruled out charter flights to Cuba because they’re impossible for folks traveling to Cuba on a general license, and I ruled out paid flights via third countries as very expensive. I was determined to book my trip to Cuba with miles.

But booking a trip to Cuba with miles is not 100% straightforward.

If you go to united.com and type Havana into the search box, you get no results. The US-based airlines are not going to let you use their miles to fly to Cuba for the time being, even if you just want to use the miles to fly from Panama to Cuba.

Any awards you book to Cuba will have to be with foreign miles. There are a lot of options:

  • Avianca LifeMiles, Singapore KrisFlyer miles, Asiana Club miles, Lufthansa Miles & More miles on Avianca or Copa to Cuba
  • Air France Flying Blue miles from Mexico City to Havana, flying AeroMexico

I looked into using Singapore, Asiana, Lufthansa, and Avianca miles. Here was my experience.

Searching for Award Space

I tried to use the miles of four Star Alliance carriers, all of which have equal access to Saver award space released by Avianca and Copa on their flights to Cuba. As I mentioned, not all award search engines will display award space to Cuba, but lifemiles.com will. Search for Star Alliance award space to Cuba on lifemiles.com.

There are several routes to Havana from the Americas on Star Alliance carriers: Copa, Avianca, Air Canada, and Air China.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 1.59.25 AM

 

There are also routes to Cayo CocoCayo Largo del SurHolguínSanta Clara, and Varadero on Star Alliance carriers.

To search for any of these routes on lifemiles.com, click on Air Tickets under the Enjoy tab.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 1.51.59 AM

You may need to log in to a LifeMiles account to search. Sign up for a free account here.

On the search screen, next to “Preferred carrier,” select the carrier that serves the route you’re searching. Not specifying an airline will cause the search engine to miss results.

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My Searches

I was interested in combining Cuba with Colombia. I need to start and end my trip in Washington DC. I searched:

  • Washington-Dulles <-> Havana on Copa
  • Havana <-> Bogota on Avianca
  • Bogota <-> Washington-Dulles on American and Avianca

I searched all three itineraries in both directions because I was willing to visit Bogota and Havana in either order. I let my search results dictate my order.

In the end, I found much better award space on my dates from Havana to Bogota than vice versa, which sealed my plan to fly USA to Cuba to Colombia to USA.

Spending an Afternoon in Panama City

Here are sample results for economy awards from Washington to Havana.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.28.55 PM

All of the options go from Washington to Panama City to Havana on Copa with varying layovers in Panama City. I decided to choose a seven hour layover in Panama City. From a quick search, I learned that I can visit the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal with a five hour layover. That sounds fascinating, and I plan to save money by hiring taxis instead of a tour company.

American Airlines Space to the United States

I was hoping to book Avianca’s direct flight from Bogota to Washington-Dulles for my return. There is award space on the flight in economy on many dates (yellow on the calendar below), but I couldn’t make it work for my trip.

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My back up plan was American Airlines miles with one stop in Miami. The benefit is that American Airlines charges only 15,000 miles one way between the United States and Northern South America for much of the year. United would have charged me 20,000 miles one way for the Avianca flight.

American Airlines award space is wide open between Bogota and Miami, and from there to anywhere else in the United States or Canada for the same 15,000 mile price.

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I noted the date, cabin, and flight number of the award space to Cuba on Copa, to Colombia on Avianca, and to the United States on American Airlines. Now it was time to book.

Booking the Award

I wanted to get all three of my awards or zero. The first step was to put the American Airlines award on a free five day hold while I investigated my booking options with Star Alliance miles for the Star Alliance flights.

Avianca LifeMiles

Selecting the Copa award flights from Washington-Dulles to Havana brings up a price of 17,500 Lifemiles + $31.85. Or you can toggle the “More money” button to book the award for 7,500 Lifemiles and $181.85.Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.29.42 PM

The problem is that I don’t have LifeMiles. Getting LifeMiles is a bit of a challenge. You basically need to buy them. They are often on sale for 1.65 cents each, though not currently. Once you have 7,500 LifeMiles, you can book the award for another $181.85.

I would consider buying the 7,500 miles when they are on sale for 1.65 cents each which happens every few months, but right now they cost 3.3 cents each.

The Havana to Bogota award was only 10,000 LifeMiles, but that was 10,000 more than I had.

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I went looking for other foreign Star Alliance options to book the flights.

Lufthansa Miles & More

Lufthansa is also a member of the Star Alliance, so it partners with Copa and Avianca. The Miles & More award chart shows a great price of 17,000 miles one way from the United States to Cuba or Colombia to Cuba.

I called the Miles & More call center for the United States and tried to book Washington to Havana. The agent said he could not book flights to Cuba.

Next I called the British service center at  +44 371 – 945 97 37 for 1 cent per minute via gmail. I fed the agent the Copa flights from Washington to Havana and she priced them at 17,000 Miles & More miles and 4.5 GBP ($7.) These were the same flights that the agent at the US call center couldn’t price.

She priced Bogota to Havana at 17,000 miles + $15.

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Fantastic! I had 18,000 Lufthansa miles, so I could book one of the awards with Lufthansa miles.

I continued my research.

Singapore KrisFlyer

The Singapore award chart shows a price of 17,500 miles from the United States to the Caribbean. Havana to Bogota would be 25,000 miles.

I called KrisFlyer and tried to price my Copa award. Three different agents priced it at 35,000 miles one way. For whatever reason, the computer wanted to collect Washington to Panama and Panama to Havana as two separate awards.

I didn’t bother to price Havana to Bogota because I knew it would be cheaper with Lufthansa miles, but I am confident it would have cost 25,000 Singapore miles.

Asiana Club

The Asiana chart shows Colombia to Cuba costing 17,500 miles and the United States to the Caribbean at 17,500 miles also.

I priced out Havana to Bogota at 17,500 miles + $15.

I didn’t bother to price out Washington to Havana because I had all the information I needed.

How I Booked

I had the perfect amount of Lufthansa and Asiana miles to book the two Star Alliance awards. If I hadn’t had those perfect amounts, I would have transferred Starpoints to Lufthansa miles. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Singapore, Lufthansa, and Asiana miles. And every 20,000 points transferred earns a 5,000 mile bonus.

When the Asiana agent priced Havana to Bogota at 17,500 miles one way, I immediately booked. I got the following email a few minutes later with my confirmation number.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.02.29 AM Next I called Lufthansa back. Because of the time of day, I called the Australian Miles & More center at +61 1300 – 655 727 for 2 cents a minute through gmail. I booked Washington to Havana for 17,000 miles + $7. My confirmation came quickly via email.Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.02.42 AM

 

Last I signed into my American Airlines account and ticketed Bogota to Washington, which I had held earlier in the day. It cost 15,000 miles + $95 (though I’ll get about $35 back upon check in.)

Bottom Line

Lufthansa, Avianca, Singapore, and Asiana are all willing to ticket award tickets to Cuba, even if they begin in the United States. Copa has several destinations in America from which you can get to Cuba with only one connection in Panama. If you don’t live in one of those cities, you can connect on United and Copa flights to Panama and then to Havana on your Miles & More award.

Search for the award space on lifemiles.com and call the non-US call center of the airline whose miles you want to use. You can book a roundtrip for as little as 34,000 Lufthansa miles, which is 29,000 Starpoints.

To get Starpoints, open the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first six months. Just meeting the minimum spending requirement gives you more than enough points for a roundtrip award to Cuba.

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