Stretching your Miles with the Nifty KrisFlyer Stopover Trick

TRAVEL HACKING

Miles


Great experiences on the cheap

By adding stopovers to your flight redemption (for ‘free’ Business Class flights), you’re essentially taking advantage of one of the hidden secrets of the KrisFlyer program.

 The beautiful Singapore Airlines A350 (with some of the carrier's newest onboard products) landing for the first time in Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport,  photo from YMML Spotting Team on Youtube

The beautiful Singapore Airlines A350 (with some of the carrier's newest onboard products) landing for the first time in Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport, photo from YMML Spotting Team on Youtube

People often complain about having to endure a layover when flying to their destination as it means wasting time in a foreign airport in the middle of a tiring journey, perhaps even overnight. Thus, many are often confused as to why one would voluntarily take a stopover. 

What if we told you that for just a mere $167, you could get a free Business Class flight out of it?

Notice that we deliberately used two different words - layover and stopover. The difference? The latter is defined as a break in a flight itinerary of more than 24 hours while the former refers to that awkward, useless stretch of 1 -3 hours we’re all dying to get over and done with.

Yet, the magic of the stopover in the Singapore Airlines network lies not in the 24 hour duration but in its maximum length - KrisFlyer allows passengers to ‘stopover’ in a city for up to a year

 
 This is a layover

This is a layover

 These flights are separated by a stopover in Sydney lasting 5 days

These flights are separated by a stopover in Sydney lasting 5 days

Scenario 1: The Stopover in Singapore

Say you’re looking to have a holiday in Bangkok and London (separately of course) in the coming year. Instead of redeeming your KrisFlyer miles for two separate SIN - BKK and BKK - LHR redemptions, by using the stopover ‘trick’, it makes more sense to redeem a ticket from BKK - LHR with a stopover in Singapore. But why? 

Well, redeeming a business class ticket for SIN - BKK and SIN - LHR separately will cost you around 20k for the former and 85k for the latter, at a total of 105k KrisFlyer miles. In comparison, redeeming a unified BKK - LHR ticket would only cost you 85k (though this only includes BKK - SIN and SIN - LHR segments, i.e. one-way tickets for each leg). 

Next, by calling up KrisFlyer Membership Services and requesting for a stopover in Singapore, you’ll essentially be separating the BKK - SIN and SIN - LHR segments into two, which as we’ve already mentioned, can be flown at most a year apart from each other. This means that even though you booked your itinerary on 30 Mar but fly on 30 Dec 2017, your next flight segment does not have to occur by 30 Mar but by 30 Dec instead. 

You might ask, wouldn’t the SIN - LHR segment be fixed at a future date meaning that my plans would have to be ironed out way in advance? Well, although SQ used to allow free date changes in the past, it now levies a US$25 charge for date changes to award tickets. Upon paying this, you’ll be able to reschedule your SIN - LHR segment to whichever date you want within the 1-year window, though whether you are able to clear the waitlist would be a separate matter. Changes to the destination on the second flight will incur another US$25 charge.

This means that you’re saving 30,000 miles for about US$125. You’re also literally getting a ‘free’ Business Class flight out of this. A pretty good deal.

All in all, this trick essentially means that you’re allowed to pay US$125 for a business class flight between any city in Zone 2 and 3 (ASEAN) and Singapore as the redemption cost in miles between Zone 1 and out of ASEAN destinations and Zone 2/3 and out of ASEAN destinations are the same. You can even combine this trick with the monthly KrisFlyer promotion, KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes, for a 30% miles discount if you're looking to have two quick holidays within the same month. The caveat here is that you can only fly the return trip to Singapore from your first destination and not the other way around. 

 We know you'd like to fly in style - redeeming miles and utilising the KrisFlyer Stopover Trick is the best way to do this,  photo from Dexigner

We know you'd like to fly in style - redeeming miles and utilising the KrisFlyer Stopover Trick is the best way to do this, photo from Dexigner

We’ve also sourced out other examples if you’re looking to fly to other destinations. Remember that for the 'via Singapore' part, you're literally getting off the plane and living your daily routine for (up to) a year before your next flight:

If you’d like to do two quick regional hops:

Singapore to Bangkok: 20,000 miles and $36
Singapore to Jakarta: 17,500 miles and $36
Bangkok to Jakarta via Singapore: 20,000 miles and $204 in taxes

The tradeoff? You pay $168 to save 17,500 miles and you get a ‘free’ Business Class flight.

Perhaps you would like to take two separate trips to Jakarta and Johannesburg. 

By booking two separate one-way fares in Business Class, you’ll incur a charge of:
Singapore to Jakarta: 17,500 miles and $36 taxes
Singapore to Johannesburg: 45,000 miles and $34 taxes

Alternatively, with the stopover trick:
Jakarta to Johannesburg via Singapore: 45,000 miles and $207 (in taxes and stopover plus date change fees)

The tradeoff? You pay $137 to save 17,500 miles and you get a ‘free’ Business Class flight. 

Simply put, booking one consolidated saver award and paying US$125 on top of that means better value for your miles as compared to two separate saver awards. The only downside to this is that you have to ‘lock in’ the destination of your next trip - unless of course, you want to change the destination itself, which would incur a separate US$25.

As adding stopovers is considered convenient for travellers who want to avoid paying for two separate flights but still visit two cities, this obviously represents a loss of revenue for the airline. Consequently, adding a stopover in most scenarios is going to cost you. 

First, one should know that mileage awards on KrisFlyer can be split into two categories: Saver and Advantage. Singapore Airlines and its KrisFlyer program allows for stopovers on an award ticket for USD 100 per stopover or if an ‘advantage’ award is redeemed. Considering that the second option charges an exorbitant number of KrisFlyer miles to get a redemption, we’ll ignore it. Also, don't confuse the Singapore Stopover Holiday (a completely separate thing altogether) with this KrisFlyer stopover trick.

 Notice that redeeming Saver awards is at a considerable discount compared to an Advantage award

Notice that redeeming Saver awards is at a considerable discount compared to an Advantage award

You can refer to the KrisFlyer redemption chart for relevant fees that you will be liable for should you decide to change things like the dates/route of your flight (crucial to the stopover trick).

Furthermore, a few caveats (especially Singapore Airlines' stopover rules): 

  • First of all, note that in the SQ award chart, there are certain blanks in the numbers. For the most part, this means that award redemptions between the two zones are not permitted because that would mean that you are ‘backtracking’. 
  • For example, you cannot redeem MNL - HKG via SIN especially since the entire route would be much longer than a direct MNL - HKG.
  • Don’t redeem an advantage award for the ‘free stopover’ because advantage awards are ridiculously priced, thus making any savings redundant.
  • You also need to ring up KrisFlyer Membership Services to book stopovers that are longer than 30 days - no extra charges are levied.
  • Make sure you research the exact flights you want to book before calling them up, arming yourself with specific flight codes and dates.
  • Do not allow them to convince (read: strong-arm) you into booking an advantage award or two separate one-way redemptions. Make it clear that you are willing to part with USD 100 for the privilege of having a stopover.

However, not all stopovers are made equal. Hence, there are stopovers (other than Singapore) that you can take.

 

Scenario 2: Stopovers En Route

Since Singapore Airlines still doesn’t have planes (until 11 Oct) that can reach the United States within a single flight, it operates several one-stop services between Singapore and some American cities. 

These are:
San Francisco via HKG
Los Angeles via NRT
New York via FRA
Houston via MAN

Hence, as Singapore Airlines literally stops in these 'interim' cities, stopovers are available for booking en route in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Manchester. 

For illustration:

If you’d like to take a nice two one trip in Europe (Frankfurt) and the US East Coast (New York), conventional wisdom would be to redeem (in Business Class no less) two separate tickets - however, the following calculation shows that the stopover trick can be used once again for great value:

Singapore to Frankfurt - 85,000 miles and $34 in taxes
Frankfurt to New York City - 65,000 miles and $178 in taxes
Singapore to New York City with a stopover in Frankfurt - 92,000 miles and $281 (in taxes and stopover plus date change fees)

Your tradeoff? $69 for 58,000 miles - one of the best exchanges anywhere in the network.

It also has fifth freedom rights between selected cities namely:
Wellington via MEL
Stockholm via DME 

There are hence stopovers available for booking in Melbourne and Moscow. 

Whilst SQ also operates services to Cape Town via Johannesburg and Barcelona via Milan, the carrier does not have fifth freedom rights between those cities which means that you cannot fly Barcelona - Milan or Johannesburg - Cape Town (and vice versa) on a stopover ticket. 


 Singapore Airlines is one of the few carriers that operate A380s to New York's JFK,  photo from Flickr user Amiga-Commodore

Singapore Airlines is one of the few carriers that operate A380s to New York's JFK, photo from Flickr user Amiga-Commodore

Scenario 3: Stopovers for days

Since Singapore Airlines allows for redemptions between Australia and the United States, there is a conceivable opportunity to book 2 stopovers in Singapore and Frankfurt within one saver award with a route such as MEL - SIN - FRA - JFK.

This would cost you $200 USD for the benefit of having two holidays, with the former being a ‘normal’ one to Melbourne and the second one being a longer stint in both Germany and the United States. 

Individually, the flights would cost a total of 208k KrisFlyer miles:
Melbourne - Singapore for 58k
Singapore - Frankfurt for 85k
Frankfurt - New York City for 65k

However, a single flight (including stopovers) from Melbourne to New York in Business Class costs only 118k miles.

That’s almost 100k miles in savings. 

Similar options from most cities in Asia can be tacked on to the foreign stopover cities in the Singapore Airlines network which we covered in the previous section. As a point of trivia, the most daring use of stopovers would be a flight between Wellington and New York City via Melbourne, Singapore and Frankfurt. Or to Houston via Melbourne, Singapore and Manchester. This is because KrisFlyer allows for a maximum of 3 stopovers per itinerary.

Similarly, KrisFlyer does not allow for stopovers with redemptions that meet the following criteria:

  • Itineraries cannot be comprised of solely domestic flights
  • International itineraries cannot have stopovers within the country of origin
  • Stopovers on an itinerary with only European origins and destinations are disallowed
  • On any awards between the US and Canada or its associated overseas territories
  • Remember that you need to call up KrisFlyer Membership Services to book a stopover on a one-way award as the website will not allow you to do so directly

To book, simply head over to the Singapore Airlines booking website. 

TL;DR: The KrisFlyer Stopover Trick allows you to save on a significant number miles whenever you make a redemption by adding a stopover in Singapore (or elsewhere) for a low cost of S$167 (or less in some scenarios). That being said, caveat emptor.

If you’re still confused by the end of the article, feel free to drop us an email at travelcene@gmail.com and we’ll gladly help you out. Furthermore, if you haven't read our other articles on travel hacking and are (understandably) bewildered by all this talk of miles and redemptions, check out our introductory posts here to get a leg up on planning your next holiday. We also curate flight deals (cheap flights to great destinations) over at Travelcene Deals.

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