Where Have the Singapore Airlines First Class Award Seats Gone?

Reader Alex R. writes to ask about the status of award space on Singapore Airlines.

Just wanted to see if you knew why all the saver inventory seems to be dropped from Singapore First, even a year out?

..[New York JFK-Frankfurt] I checked every day from May to January. I less comprehensively searched [Tokyo Narita to Los Angeles] and [Houston – Moscow].

Singapore Airlines has been offering truly phenomenal award availability to members of its own KrisFlyer frequent flyer program over the past couple of years.

Premium cabin seats aren’t generally available to Star Alliance partner airline programs, but for someone with KrisFlyer miles, awards have been easier to come by than on most other airlines. Although I’ve noticed them harder to get from the US over the past week or two.

At one point you could find 2 first class awards on the San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore flights (SQ15 and 16) literally almost every day of the year! This was for their 777-300ER.

For Suites Class awards, even, out of New York and Los Angeles weren’t unheard of booked far in advance either in recent months.

Now, Singapore Suites have been one of the holy grails of frequent flyer redemptions. There was a time that Singapore charged about a million miles for Singapore – Los Angeles roundtrip.

They started making seats available to their own members for the A380 suites class at the saver level a couple of years ago.

A handful of routes started making two seats available to Singapore members only a year ago.

There’s even been one route with the Suites cabin wide open to partner airline members.

Something seems to have changed.

  1. I still see plenty of seats for SQ15/16, the 777 route via Seoul that’s always had plenty of space (and more than the San Francisco – Hong Kong – Singapore route ever did).

  2. There are still routes offering A380 Suites for advance booking, you can’t book a whole cabin Singapore – Delhi using Aeroplan miles any longer but Suites awards on that route do exist.

  3. But JFK – Frankfurt – Singapore and Los Angeles – Tokyo – Singapore really do seem to have dried up. I’m searching for months at a time and not seeing a single seat bookable with Singapore miles. The space was never great, but it’s far worse than I’ve seen it since the space first was made available.

One hypothesis would be that Singapore miles have become much more accessible to US-based members, so it’s not surprising that the very limited handful of seats that were available have been taken. In addition to American Express and Starwood, which have long transferred to Singapore, both Chase and Citi points now transfer to Singapore directly as well.

There are still Suites Class seats available on other routes, even pairs of seats like on Sydney – Singapore and Singapore-London. That would seem to bolster the theory of US-based members taking the small allocation of seats.

Nonetheless, there does seem to be at least a modest tightening with European A380 routes as well… though I’m still able to find paris of A380 seats.

The US flights have always been the toughest, they were the last to come online, so it’s not surprising that they’re the scarcest. They’re just a little bit scarcer than they seemed to be just a week ago. And transfer partners don’t at all explain the timing of this. And it’s not as though Chase transfers did anything to dry up the amazing award space open on Korean.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m seeing some married segment behavior. For instance, I can find JFK-FRA-SIN-MEL in Suites/First (at saver) on a day when JFK-FRA-SIN shows no saver Suites inventory.

  2. Got JFK/SIN Suites six days out and two days out for a trip last week, and it wasn’t just available on the days I chose, I had my pick.

  3. @Kris yes, but I’m talking about advance bookings and that does seem to have changed. Suites availability ex-US booked in advance was never GREAT for Suites but it’s gotten tighter it seems.

  4. @Jay SQ15/16 is the Singapore Airlines flight San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore and reverse. And availability is using Singapore’s own Krisflyer miles.

  5. Obviously since you can transfer from AMEX, Chase, Starwood and Citi, that’s less space due to credit card bonuses. Add the fact that summer is coming, plus the fact that change fees are only $12 and to cancel it’s only $30 and it’s very attractive to book suites.

    I do see majority of flights being waitlisted, so if you’re looking during a particular week, then keep checking. I booked SIN-LAX in late Jun but SIN-JFK was also open last week when I looked.

  6. Any ideas about routes for their business class? I would be happy to find 4 biz seats on SQ going from somewhere in the US to any destination in Asia this summer, but judging by results from NH, AC, and UA, this is pretty much impossible.

  7. When that blog post “What It’s like to Fly the $23000 Singapore Airlines Suites Class” went viral 4 months ago, I wondered if there’d be a follow-on surge of interest in points redemption in Suites that would make it much more competitive.

  8. I flew LAX-NRT-SIN suites last December and when I was planning the the trip mid last year, there was not much award availability at that time. I ended up flying on Thanksgiving day. I would still fly the suites any day because the just a great combination of hardware/software.

  9. having done SQ F on the 777 and in suites, i would take… J for any future redemptions. honestly, the J product on SQ is just phenomenal and just as good as other top-tier F products in my book.

  10. Use the “waitlist” function via KrisFlyer. I have always had success. It usually takes two days to confirm, but it will….

    Just booked JFK-FRA in Feb

  11. Not only are awards getting tougher, so is getting the points. SQ phone reps are saying SPG transfers will not post to your account for 6-8 weeks.

  12. So just to confirm….it is possible to book JFK->SIN in suites at the last minute? If I have Chase UR points does it make sense to transfer them to KrisFlyer so they are there ready and waiting for a last minute award opening up?

  13. I was able to book NRT-LAX for 2 in Suites for this December a couple of weeks ago. It was very frustrating and I wrote about the married segment problems since I really wanted SYD-SIN-NRT-LAX all in suites (which was doable since they had space on all segments), but they had “quotas” for every segment/married segment.

  14. Tuesday morning I booked two JFK-FRA-SIN in Suites for Jan 2016. Got the two middle seats so hubby and I can have our double bed :-). Dream finally realized. Thanks for teaching me the game, Gary.

  15. @Dan- In the past, SPG points would post in a week to SQ, usually after the following Tuesday. That’s what happened with the 3-4 transfers I did in the last few years.

    Sounds like they are more delayed now, but Starwood says if they don’t post in 14 business days, they will chase. So it sounds like the new schedule should be 14 business days.

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