Singapore Airlines Starts To Unbundle Fares: Changes Fare Classes and Fees

It seems that every time I leave the U.S., Singapore Airlines makes some changes to their KrisFlyer program—the addition of the Alaska Air award chart and the devaluation of their Star Alliance award chart.

Today, Singapore Airlines (with Silk Air) announced changes to its fare classes, seat selection, award upgrades, and baggage allowances that will take place on January 20, 2018, as well as award fee changes that will be enacted on March 1, 2018.

Fare Class and Earn Rate Changes: Lite, Standard, Flexi

Economy class passengers on a Lite fare—which includes fare classes Q, N, V, and K—will be required to a pay for a seat if they want to choose in advance. These Lite fares will earn KrisFlyer miles at a 50% rate and are not cancelable.

Standard fares including M, H, and W fare classes will be able to select standard seats in advance at no extra cost and will earn KrisFlyer miles at 75% rate. Finally, Flexi fares—Y, B, and E—allow passengers to select standard seats as well as seats in the forward zone. These fares will earn KrisFlyer miles at 100%.

Singapore KrisFlyer members who hold elites status—Solitaire PPS Club, PPS Club, KrisFlyer Gold, or KrisFlyer Silver—will be allowed to choose seats regardless of fare class at no extra charge.

Cash bookings in premium cabins will see a bump in their earn rate or remain the same.

All premium economy, business class, and first/suites class passengers will be able to select their seat at no extra cost upon booking. The earn rates for each are as follows:

  • Premium Economy Lite (P) - 100%
  • Premium Economy Flexi (S, T) - 125%
  • Business Class Lite (D) - 125%
  • Business Class Standard (U) - 125%
  • Business Class Flexi (Z, C, J) - 150%
  • First Class/Suites Class (F, A) - 200%

Most of these earn rates are an improvement with the only decreases coming for P fare class (110% earn rate to 100%) and M, H, and W fare classes (100% to 75%). K and V fare classes will see a bump from 10% to 50% while first class tickets will be bumped up to 200% from 150%. Flexi business class and premium economy fares will also see a bump. 

Upgrade Rules By Fare Class

Lite fare economy tickets will not be upgradable with KrisFlyer miles, but all Standard and Flexi fares will be which means more fares will be upgradable going forward. Standard fare premium economy tickets will not be upgradable, but you will be able to upgrade Flexi fares.

Business class Lite fares will not be upgradable, but passengers will be able to upgrade Standard and Flexi fares with their KrisFlyer miles.

Award Redemption And Upgrade Changes

The KrisFlyer miles required for award redemptions won't be changing, rather Singapore Airlines has decided to rename Standard awards as Anytime awards. What is it with airlines and changing the names of standard level awards? United now has Everyday awards instead of standard awards. It's still the same terrible redemption rate, so why try to dress it up?

With award redemptions in economy class, Saver level redemptions will receive 30kg in checked baggage allowance while Anytime awards will receive 35k in checked baggage allowance. Both award types allow complimentary advanced seat selection but Anytime awards can also choose a seat in the Forward Zone—basically, a seat closer to the front of the cabin so you can hustle out of the plane quicker upon arrival.

On the upgrade front, you can bump up to the next class of service if you have purchased an Economy Standard or Flexi fare. However, there are different upgrade charts based on your fare type so make sure you confirm how many KrisFlyer miles will be required ahead of time.

I mentioned you can upgrade to the next class of service. This means that you will only be able to upgrade for economy class to premium economy if a flight has a premium economy cabin. Singapore Air will not allow you to upgrade to business class on these flights.

KrisFlyer Has Bumped Up The Fees

Now, this is what I expect from airlines. None of the changes to award fees can be classified as good news for travelers, especially if you're booking saver level awards—why would you do anything else?! Here's what's happening for saver level award fees:

If you change your flight date, route, cabin class, or award type on Singapore Air (or Silk Air) you will now owe $25 instead of $20. Not brutal, but not moving in a positive direction. If you change your flight date, route, flight, or carrier on partner redemptions you will owe $50 instead of the previous $20.

Here's a fun one. Singapore KrisFlyer had reasonable $30 redeposit fees if you had to cancel award tickets. Now, the redeposit fee will be $75. Finally, no-show fees if you want the miles redeposited saw a big increase if you are flying in premium economy, business class, or first class/Suites Class. It used to be $75 across the board. Now, a no-show with an economy award (Saver or Advantage) will cost $100 with Premium economy up to $200, business class and first class/Suites class up to $300.

Now, the no-show change fee doesn't bother me too much as these cases are rare. More often people will know ahead of time if they can't make a flight. In theory, this could nudge people away from purely speculative redemption that they then forget to cancel thus taking award space from someone who could use it. Hopefully, Singapore Airlines will release that space when people cancel so others can have a chance to book.

Bottom Line

None of this is very surprising.

The unbundling of services on airlines is all the rage these days with the Big 3 domestic carriers charging ahead with Basic Economy fares. Now, these things are always presented as a way for passengers to choose what they want and only pay for what they want. In reality, the old economy fares become the baseline for basic economy fares and you end up paying more for the same.

The increase in earn rates for business and first class cash tickets also seems to line up with what other carriers are doing. If you spend big, you'll earn big. I fully expect this trend to continue.

Finally, the award fees. These aren't outrageous but it's never fun to see airlines move in the direction of higher fees. While I recognize that I could come to regret this, I'm okay with the no-show fees being increased as they are. I'd rather people didn't hold onto award seats they are very unlikely to use so others can have a chance to book what might be the trip of a lifetime.

What do you think of the new changes from Singapore Airlines?

*Featured image courtesy of Singapore Airlines