The Pluses and Minuses of Accruing Delta Miles for Singapore Redemptions

Regarding my post yesterday on the 20% bonus for transfers from American Express Membership Rewards to Delta (after my comment earlier in the day about using Delta miles for Singapore Airlines redemptions), lucky comments that the 20% bonus

makes an F award on SQ <120K miles, which is cheaper than UA. Also, it seems like DL has much better SQ availability…..

I do wonder what’s going on in reports of better Delta availability for Singapore redemptions compared to what’s offered to Star Alliance partners. I’m not entirely convinced yet that this is real, and I wouldn’t want to get stuck with Delta miles.

It seems to me there are (3) downsides to building up a Delta Skymiles account for Singapore redemption:

  • Taxes and fees are much higher using DL miles. Reports of as high as $750.

    I tend to think the Delta relationship is less stable than the relationship with Star Alliance partners, and it’s the only thing I’d want Delta miles for (it’s the one real international first class option and value in the Skymiles program), which suggests it can’t last. And the existence of the option is an historical anomaly, there was the old Delta-Singapore partnership that even involved a long-since divested equity stake in each carrier.

  • There’s a real problem with booking flights beyond Singapore, where Delta seems to put folks in economy even when on first class awards (though some have had luck getting upgraded at checkin with Singapore).

On the other hand, there’s:

  • Reports of better availability, which seems hard to understand, and hasn’t really been fleshed out or quantified

  • Reports of being able to book awards TO INDIA via Singapore at the same mileage price.

But on the whole if I were transferring Amex points with the intention of Singapore redemption — and if I weren’t just topping off an account but transferring the full number of miles needed — I’d tend to prefer an Air Canada transfer than Delta transfer, even with the 20% bonus (which will take a LONG time to post).

Still, Singapore Airlines first class is the best Delta award there is, even if fuel surcharges, booking fees, and taxes could set you back $750 on top of the miles.

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, 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 afraid that I fell for this scam once, and have had over 200K miles trapped at Delta for over two years now, which I initially transferred from Amex to get the 20% bonus when they started running that promotion that I expected to be able to use on SQ. In that time, I have been entirely unable to use them on either SQ — or even KE — despite repeated attempts and am begining to think that they will remain stranded there forever. During this time I have managed to snag several free J seats to Asia on both UA and AA. Delta seems to be of absolutely no use for premium class travel to Asia, unless you are willing to fly through Atlanta and fly on DL metal. They have the tightest availability, the least helpful agents, and the strictist booking rules.

    My advice is not to fall for it. I’m at the point where I might use my stranded skymiles for domestic travel just to get rid of them before they go belly-up.

  2. I am curious, though. Does DL redemption face the same issue as *A redemptions on SQ, w/r/t no F class awards on A380/77W flights? If this is the case, where would one be able to even get a 120k redemption out of the US except from JFK?

  3. Mark, your starting point should be the ANA frequent flyer website, search for Singapore availability in particular LAX-NRT-SIN. That route is the easiest for awards departing from the US. LAX-NRT can be harder than the full through flight to SIN with the stop in Tokyo.

  4. Foster, you cannot use DL miles for SQ flights in F on the A380 or 77W.

    You can fly JFK-FRA-SIN on the 747, LAX-NRT-SIN on the 747, or SFO-HKG-SIN on the 747 (although this last route is very difficult to redeem on, presumably because it is likely to switch to the A380).

    Alas, SFO-ICN-SIN is on the 77W. IAH–SIN is also out, so is EWR-SIN and LAX-SIN non-stops. And YVR-ICN is on a 2-class 777.

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