11.5K to Hawaii: Now use Singapore miles to fly on Alaska

Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines recently announced a partnership. Today, Singapore released its award chart for travel on Alaska, and it results in the new cheapest awards to Hawaii from the middle of the country westward, with travel as low as 11,500 miles one-way (which should include flights from places like Denver, Pheonix, Boise, Bozeman, Calgary, and more). While British Airways has long been a good redemption for Alaska flights departing the west coast at 12.5K one-way, this award chart opens even cheaper flights from a number of states — and there are some other good values as well. Here’s the new award chart and zone definitions:

Are transfers allowed?

There is a little confusion at this point over the wording of a couple of the rules. This clause can be found in the rules:

• Transfers and stopovers are not permitted.

While that makes the situation clear for stopovers, it’s less clear as to what constitutes a “transfer”. If it did not include layovers, much of the award chart wouldn’t make sense. Additionally, the rules state this about mixed-cabin awards:

• If an award itinerary includes different classes of service, the award
level corresponding to the highest class will apply

The only way for an award that includes different classes of service to exist would be one that includes a layover. I’m really not sure what they mean by “transfers” not being permitted, but I doubt that they aren’t allowing a layover. However, I would expect that you can not have a connection that lasts for more than 4 hours on a single award. This rule has tripped me up on Hawaii bookings in the past as our domestic airlines sell plenty of tickets with overnight layovers on the way to Hawaii, but Singapore won’t let you ticket a domestic award with a stopover of more than 4 hours.

What about east coast to Hawaii and Alaska?

Notably, awards from the east coast to Alaska and Hawaii are nonexistent. You’ll be better off using Singapore miles to fly on United than trying to piece together two awards to get to Hawaii. You’ll also be better off with United for first class as the pricing on Alaska first class awards is non-competitive to Alaska and Hawaii — though good on some of the shorter routes perhaps.

A few other sweet spots

Hops within and between Zones 1, 2, and 3 also look like some really good values. While Alaska also offers good pricing on some of its shortest routes already, flights from Minneapolis to the west coast for 9,500 miles one-way and from Canada or Montana to southern California for 7,500 miles one-way look like a steal.

A few other awards will become nice values once Virgin America flights become operated by Alaska. As an example, New York to Dallas for would ring it at 7,500 miles one-way.

Note that Singapore is known for enforcing a no-backtracking rule. While Alaska will sell you a ticket from New York to Chicago via LAX, I don’t imagine Singapore will allow you to book that award.

Bottom line

It’s great to see this partnership growing to include award bookings using Singapore miles on Alaska. Since Singapore is a transfer partner of all of the major transferable currencies, it’s really easy to build up a balance of miles. Unfortunately, Singapore miles expire after 3 years, regardless of activity. Due to that rule, I generally wait to transfer to Singapore until I am ready to ticket — though transfers to Singapore are not instant, so keep that in mind if you’re looking at tight availability.

H/T: View from the Wing

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Comments

    • Honestly, I’m not positive yet. They only announced the chart today. I plan to give them a call within the next few days to check on some dates and compare availability. I may have a post on it next week.

    • You need to look for the Saver award availability (A space for F, W space for “main cabin”)

      So continental US & Alaska from/to continental US & Alaska) – 12.5K or less each way.

      Continental US/Alaska to/from Hawaii saver is 17,500 on Alaska. Virgin is excluded as far as I can tell.

  1. How do you even book those? Singapore Airlines website seems to only allow searching the cities that Singapore Airlines itself flies to/from, when I choose “redeem flights”.

    • That’s correct. You have to call Singapore Krisflyer for all partner award bookings. In my experience, their agents are usually very competent (though, as in any customer service situation, YMMV).

      • Got it – thanks! Any idea how much of availability they release? Any reliable way to predict which routes are available before calling in?

      • I tried calling this morning, and the agent had no idea what I was talking about when I said I wanted to book Alaska Airlines – I will try again later in the day.

  2. Which parts of the award chart don’t make sense if transfers are not allowed? I was able to find AS metal routes that match up with all of the zones listed.

    Also, you can book New York to Dallas today – SkyWest currently operates that route for Alaska.

    • It’s not a matter of AS metal — it’s a matter of direct flights. Although, upon more careful consideration you may be right. My initial thought was that if “no transfers” means you can’t have a layover, Zone 3 to Zone 5 doesn’t make sense. Alaska has no direct flights from anywhere in Zone 3 to Hawaii. But they do fly Chicago to Anchorage, which is Zone 3 to Zone 5. If we’re to believe that no transfers means you can’t have a layover, then that would be the only flight in that category. I hope that doesn’t end up being the case.

  3. This is great news! I can fly round trip to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines for 25,000 miles roundtrip from Omaha, instead of searching for a needle in a haystack for 4 saver awards through Flying Blue for 30,000 points. Citi Thank You points just became much more valuable for me!

  4. Nick, one other sweet spot I see is Zone 3 to Zone 4 is 7500 miles round trip. Zone 4 includes Cuba, Costa Rica, and Mexico. So anywhere in the middle of the US to Costa Rica or Mexico for 15,000 miles round trip??? That’s crazy if its true!

    • As Ken pointed out, there aren’t any flights I’m aware of between Zone 3 and Costa Rica, Cuba, or Mexico. They operate all of those flights out of the west coast as far as I know, and Singapore has always been pretty tight on not allowing backtacking. I don’t know that it’s impossible, but I would hold off on transferring miles and call first.

  5. So, what do you suggest in terms of actually finding availability? Use the Alaska website to find a route and then call in, hoping they have it available for awards? Call in and find the route and price you want and then transfer the points to Singapore, hoping it’s still available when the points transfer and you can book for real?

  6. Singapore miles aren’t exactly easy to use for partner awards. When I tried to do a mixed-cabin 2 segment award between Hawaii and Denver on United with Singapore miles it wasn’t allowed by their reservation system. Searching by each segment results in having to pay for 2 awards.

    I’m skeptical these awards would always work in practice given their reservation system.

    • Singapore definitely does have its set of rules that they adhere to closely and you do have to call to book partner awards — though I don’t think most people find them particularly challenging to deal with (compared to awards that are notoriously challenging, like booking partner awards through Etihad).

      That said, I booked mixed cabin from Hawaii to New York last year for 4 people without a problem (single phone call). Later called in to upgrade 2 of those to be business/first all the way for a $20 change fee each. It shouldn’t have been an issue to book mixed cabin between Hawaii and Denver. Did you try to HUCA? Like I said, most of their agents are pretty competent in all of my experiences in dealing with them, but now and then you get unlucky and have to hang up and call back.

      What I suspect you may have run into is the layover rule. If you were on a mixed-cabin routing, I’m guessing you were flying Hawaii to California to Denver? Did you have a layover of more than 4 hours? That’s why it would price out as 2 separate awards. The agents might not immediately recognize that — the first time I ran into that issue, they quoted me taxes that were $100 higher than they should have been. When I questioned it, the agent first told me that taxes are different with them than United. I pushed back knowing it should have been something like 7 Singapore dollars. She realized it was because the system was charging me the $100 stopover fee (you can normally add stopovers to Singapore awards for $100, but not if it’s entirely domestic). She realized that was the cause of the charge, and immediately knew that I couldn’t do a stopover on a domestic award anyway and told me it was invalid and would have to be 2 separate awards. Once I found flights that fit within the time constraints, I had no problems.

      All that said, booking Alaska awards will certainly be more challenging than United due to Alaska’s much smaller network and the fact that Singapore is so strict on backtracking.

      • Thanks for sharing your experience Nick, that’s good to know mixed cabin Hawaii awards shouldn’t be a problem.

        I did HUCA and got the same result. There were a 2-3 flights with Y availability within the 4 hour layover rule. Ultimately, I booked the whole award in F the following morning when UA released F space on the SFO-DEN leg.

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