Before I started planning our trip to Germany, I didn’t pay much attention to Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. I knew the basics, such as they’re partners with all three major bank’s transferrable points programs so it’s relatively easy to earn points in their program. I was also aware that Singapore opens up many more award seats to their own loyalty program members than they do to partner airlines. If I wanted to try and book flights on Singapore from New York to Frankfurt, Germany, I’d need to learn more about KrisFlyer.
Thankfully there are numerous articles about how to transfer miles to KrisFlyer from your Citi ThankYou, AMEX Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards accounts. Once I moved enough points into my KrisFlyer account, I just had to wait for award space to open up on my desired flight.
At first, there were no award tickets available but I was given the option to waitlist the award. This is a unique feature of the KrisFlyer program. You can waitlist a reservation and if award space opens up, Singapore Airlines will alert you that your booking is available. You’ll have a limited amount of time to make the booking or your request will expire.
The catch is that you need to have enough miles in your account for the ticket when you apply for the waitlist. You can actually waitlist multiple flights as long as you have enough points in your account when making the request. This is useful if you have flexible travel dates.
So I put in my waitlist request for our tickets and I waited. My waitlist didn’t clear right away but the more expensive Advantage Award space became available. It cost more miles but I’d be guaranteed a ticket. This was the flight I really wanted, so I went ahead and booked it.
- Business Class Advantage Award – 85,000 KrisFlyer miles
- Business Class Saver Award – 72,000 KrisFlyer miles
It cost me 26,000 extra miles for the two Advantage tickets. I was thrilled that we’d finally get to see what all the hype is about flying on Singapore, even if it was a short flight. That was in February. Flash forward seven months to last week, when Sharon and I are sitting on the couch watching Stranger Things, and both of our phones lit up with text messages and emails from Singapore Airlines. Our waitlisted Saver Award space was now available.
So, how do you change an Advantage award to a Saver award with Singapore KrisFlyer? Not an easy thing to do, it turns out. I had to search several websites and boards to figure out there’s no way to rebook your ticket into the lower fare class and get a refund of your miles. When I asked on a Facebook group, the consensus was that I’d have to call Singapore Airlines and speak to a rep. As my waitlist was only on hold for 3 days, I gave them a call last Saturday (6 days ago)
My experience with Singapore Airlines phone center
My first call was to find out if I could rebook my flight from Advantage Award to a Saver Award. I provided the rep with both record locator numbers of my confirmed ticket and my waitlist reservation (waitlisted reservations each have a different number). She looked up the bookings and told me it would be possible for me to get a refund of the difference in miles for the awards but I’d have to do the following:
- Cancel the confirmed reservation and the miles would be redeposited in my account. I’d also receive a refund of the taxes I paid on the ticket.
- Once the miles were back in my account, I could confirm the waitlisted ticket.
To cancel the ticket, I’d have to pay a cancellation fee of 70 SGD (which came out to be $50.46).
I asked how long would it take for the miles to show up in my account once the Advantage award ticket was canceled. She said the miles would show up immediately but the taxes and fees from that ticket could take 3-4 weeks to be refunded to the same card I paid them with.
I agreed that this would be acceptable and could we start the process. It was then that the call rep informed me that my award ticket was issued by the New York office, which was currently closed. They would process the refund when the opened, on Monday (but I knew it might be Tuesday because Monday was Labor Day and they might be closed for the holiday).
My concern was that the waitlist reservation was only good for one more day. She said that she could extend the date of the waitlist until November, which I thought was a little excessive but I wasn’t going to argue. Once my points showed back in my account, I would just need to call back to finalize the waitlisted reservation.
I provided my credit card information to pay the fee to cancel the tickets and we were done. Note: The charge for the cancellation fee showed up in SGD so be sure to use a card that doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. I used my Citi Prestige, hoping I’d get 5x points for charges from airlines.
In all, between my wait to speak to a rep and the actual call, I was on the phone for 51 minutes.
I kept checking my Singapore KrisFlyer account waiting for the refund to process. And waiting. Waiting some more. Finally, my account balance was updated.
Now that the miles showed up in my account, I had to call to ticket the waitlisted confirmation. I kept checking to make sure it was on still on my account and didn’t disappear when the original date passed. Whatever extension the first rep applied seemed to be working.
Now, I might have been able to complete this part of the booking online but since I was told to call back, I followed the directions I was given.
This time, there was almost no hold time to talk to a rep. I explained that I wanted to ticket a waitlisted reservation and the rep confirmed which one I was calling about. On a side note, Singapore’s phone system is excellent where you put in all your info (account, password) and it pulls up your reservation and passes that info to the rep. I hate when I have to put in all the info and then need to repeat all of the same info when I get to talk to someone.
He confirmed the saver price of 72,000 miles and the taxes of 7.80 SGD. I provided my credit card, this time using the Sapphire Reserve for the travel coverage.
That was it. In all, the call lasted five minutes. Before I hung up the phone, the ticketed reservation showed up in my email.
While the process is more complicated and takes longer than it should, it was relatively painless. I can’t understand why they had to wait for the office that ticketed the original reservation to open to process a refund of miles and how that needed to take 6 days to complete. I’m glad to see that Singapore allows their reps to work with passengers, in this case extending the waitlist time on my reservation to wait for my miles to redeposit. I can picture a US airline telling me there’s nothing they could do to help me because that’s the company policy.
I now have 26,000 extra miles in my Singapore account. I had to pay $100 in fees to get those points but if you’d ask me if I would buy points at that price, I would. The bad thing is that they’ll expire 72 months after I earned them. I’ll have to find a use for them and right now I’m thinking about paying 12,000 miles to fly on Alaska Airlines to Hawaii. Getting two tickets to Hawaii for $100 would be worth it.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary