The Trick Singapore Airlines Killed When They Eliminated Last Minute Waitlisting for Awards

August 14 Singapore Airlines made a huge change to the ability to waitlist for award tickets. All wait list requests are cancelled 14 days prior to travel. There are no more last minute wait lists.

Singapore says the new rules ‘promote certainty’ and that’s certainly true. You know you cannot clear a wait list close to departure, because Singapore won’t allow it.

But why did they make this change? Perhaps it was to eliminate an award availability loophole that some were take advantage of.

When waitlisting for a flight ~3 days prior to departure, the system would rarely ‘decline’ your waitlist request.

Thus your waitlist was a BOOKING with no ticket and never cancelled.

Armed with your BOOKING and PNR, you could simply turn up to the airport and attempt check-in.

Check-in agents would see your booking isn’t ticketed – and, so long as there is availability in the cabin you waitlisted for – the airport had authority to liaise with Krisflyer directly, and have your waitlist request approved on the spot.

Fundamentally – you could waitlist at the Saver level, turn up to the airport, and so long as there was at least 1 available seat, you would get on the flight.

If there was no saver award availability you could waitlist for it and get it as long as seats were still open on the aircraft. That was especially useful on routes like Singapore – Frankfurt – New York JFK where nearly the entire first class cabin might be open, but saver awards not made available and waitlists not cleared.

With the change to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer waitlisting it is obviously no longer possible to do this.

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. In that scenario, it would seem that the airline is holding out filling that seat until the absolute last minute… why would an airline NOT want to do exactly that? Also, how many people, relative to common award booking passengers, would make regular use of this enough for it to feel like an exploit that negatively affected the airline. Seems unlikely.

  2. Combined with their expiring miles in their program I will likely never fly them again for revenue or reward miles again which I once did
    So hope it works for them !Done! Just fly Middle Eastern carriers and others which have much better allotment of award seats and policies
    To me they just shot themselves in the foot

  3. Crap award chart, crap business class seat, crap award availability. Plenty of other Asian carriers to choose from.

  4. I flew Singapore first last year SIN-SFO. It was nice, but getting space was tough. Now space seems even harder to find, particularly SIN-FRA and SIN-FRA-JFK. Award charts are nice, but people tend to feel tricked if there’s no saver space pretty much ever for two people.

  5. I accidentally found out about this recently, I had a J waitlist out of Denpasar but was checking in for my confirmed Y slightly later flight. The agent apologised as the early flight was fully booked so I would have to stick to my original. So I asked if there had been a seat could they have moved me and she said “of course” in a surprised way, as if I was dumb for thinking they wouldn’t!

    But you’d have had to have been pretty flexible/ brave, in my experience SQ runs high load factors on most interesting routes and flights can fill at the last minute

  6. Odd I have never seen this trick mentioned, until after it was taken away. Would have been useful to know about.

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