Last month, I booked an award from Buenos Aires to Honolulu for 25,000 Singapore miles and about $100 in taxes. The booking illustrates a few topics:
- Sweet spots and how to find them
- Awards you should book speculatively
- Booking awards with foreign programs
I have to get to Hawaii for my brother’s wedding in February. The main problem is that I don’t know where I’ll be in February to book the ticket to Hawaii. The most likely scenario is that I’ll be in Buenos Aires, but I could imagine being in Colombia, Southeast Asia, or South Africa.
The Preliminary Search
Last month, I had a little extra time, so I searched award space from all possible starting points, just to see what was out there. I found wide open award space from Bogota, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. The problem was from Buenos Aires.
Award space was sparse.
And while some of those days have a perfect one stop itinerary in Houston…
…others require a second… …or even third stop en route.
In additional to the extra time involved in the itineraries with more stops, they also fly Air Canada on flights that have fuel surcharges. If I booked with United miles, that wouldn’t matter. United doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on any awards.
But I was planning on booking with Singapore miles because Singapore lumps Hawaii and Central America together on its award chart. Since Central America in close to South America, Singapore actually charges fewer miles from South America to Hawaii than from South America to the rest of the United States.
Specifically Singapore charges 30k/50k each way in economy/Business between the US and South America but only 25k/40k each way between Hawaii and South America.
Singapore awards do include fuel surcharges whenever the underlying flight has them, so when using Singapore miles, I’d really need to book the one-stop United itinerary and not the two- and three-stop Air Canada itineraries.
I was lucky, and there was award space on the United one-stop itinerary on a day that worked for me. But again, I wasn’t sure that I would be in Buenos Aires when it was time to go to Hawaii, and booking speculative awards and then canceling them later is a waste of money.
Singapore Miles Are Great for Speculative Awards
United charges $200 to cancel an award and get your miles back; American and Delta charge $150.
But Singapore charges only $30 to cancel an award and get your miles back. At that price, it was a no-brainer to speculatively book my award from Buenos Aires to Hawaii. If I am in Buenos Aires in February, I will fly a perfect award that cost me 25,000 Singapore miles and $100 in taxes. If I am somewhere else, I can get the miles and taxes back for only $30.
Searching for the Award, Booking the Award, Transferring Miles
I’ve glossed over the award search, award booking, and transferring of Citi ThankYou Points, Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or SPG Starpoints to Singapore miles.
If you already know all that, you might want to check out this other post: Roundtrip to South America, Two Free One Ways to Hawaii for 50,000 Miles.
I booked myself a one way award for February from Buenos Aires to Honolulu on United for only 25,000 Singapore miles and $100 in taxes. That’s cheaper than United or Singapore charge for just Buenos Aires to the continental United States.
I booked the award despite not being sure I can even fly it because there wasn’t much award space, I was afraid it would disappear, and the cancellation fee is only $30 if I find myself in a different part of the world in February.