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How to book Singapore first class with miles and unlock better availbility

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A Singapore First Class suite on an A380 is considered one of the best First Class Products in the world, and it’s still priced cheaper than Fist Class on other airlines when you use KrisFlyer miles, making it especially attractive.

There are two kinds of Singapore First Class:

Suites, pictured above, which is only on A380 aircraft, and First Class, which is on other long haul aircraft like the 777.

Suites offers individual cabins that turn into a bed for two when you’re traveling as a couple. It’s about as close as you’ll get to flying a private jet, and maybe better, with a bigger bed and renowned Singapore Airlines hospitality.

Regular First Class sounds like a let down in comparison, but offers plenty of private space, and all the food and drinks of Suites. There’s just no door to block out the cabin entirely and the middle seats don’t join to form a double bed.

777-300ER aircraft are progressively getting the newest version of this First Class which offers updated finishes and seat designs.

The miles you need

You’ll need Singapore KrisFlyer miles to book Singapore First Class, and you can easily earn them since Singapore is a transfer partner of all the major transferable point programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards®American Membership Rewards®, and Citi ThankYou®.

The price in miles depends on where you start your trip.

Singapore doesn’t fly First Class nonstop to Singapore from the U.S. Instead, it flies from the U.S. to several cities in between, with a connection onward to Singapore for these prices with KrisFlyer miles (after a 15% discount for booking on the SingaporeAir.com website):

  • New York JFK – Frankfurt (57,375 miles / 93,500 miles to Singapore) – Singapore Suites
  • Los Angeles – Tokyo (74,375 miles / 91,375 miles to Singapore) – Singapore Suites – route ends October 23, 2016
  • Los Angeles – Seoul (74,375 miles / 91,375 miles to Singapore) – route begins October 23, 2016
  • San Francisco – Hong Kong (70,125 miles / 91,375 miles to Singapore)
  • San Francisco – Seoul (74,375 miles / 91,375 miles to Singapore) – route ends October 23, 2016
  • Houston – Manchester (57,375 miles / 93,500 miles to Singapore) – route begins October 30, 2016

On October 23, 2016, Singapore will add a nonstop flight between San Francisco and Singapore on an A350 (with no First Class cabin) and remove the A380 from the Los Angeles – Tokyo flight, replacing it with a non-Suites 777.

How to Check for Space

The Singapore website is easy to use and accurate but it’s terrible when you need to search multiple dates, as it makes you look at one date at a time.

Unfortunately, none of partners’ websites will work for you since Singapore doesn’t display first class seats inventory on partner websites like United’s, so if you don’t want to pay for premium options like ExpertFlyer, your options are limited.

One free and reliable option is Award Finder, a Google Chrome browser app we reviewed here.

It has an option for searching Singapore flights, and you can use the filters to search on your terms – in our cases only First Class seats on the routes that interest us. Keep in mind, however, that it’s a long process, so let the search run its course while you do other work.

How to Force Better First Class Availability

Since the A380 is not going to be available from the West Coast anymore, the pressure on the JFK-SIN First Suite space will increase even more, so it’s safe to presume that the Suite award availability situation might get even worse.

That doesn’t mean awards will be impossible to get, but it’s going to be more difficult and you might want to get creative if you want that coveted suite. One way to do that is to search for a destination beyond Singapore like Hong Kong.

Sometimes adding an extra segment to your itinerary like Singapore to Hong Kong appears to force Singapore to open availability.

It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens consistently enough to know we’re dealing with something called a ‘married segment’ rather than a glitch. A married segment is when an airline wants to sell you an A=>B=>C flight, but not individual A=>B or/and B=>C segments, so it allocates the inventory separately.

The whole idea of married segments is to maximize revenue for the airline, but fortunately we can, sometimes, use it to our advantage. Here’s an example from New York.

Even if you don’t find availability for a flight between New York and Singapore, try to search for New York – Hong Kong, which will route via Singapore, and see what happens. Sometimes (but not always) adding this segment seems to force Singapore to open availability.

Here, searching straight New York to Singapore only shows Waitlist availability at the Saver Suites price of 110,000 miles

But if you search New York to Hong Kong (which involves the very same flights from New York to Frankfurt and Singapore), Saver Suites is available for immediate confirmation at 122,500 miles (104,125 after the discount).

This award costs only 10,500 miles more than the flight that doesn’t include Hong Kong. So if your goal is to enjoy the Suites rather than make Singapore your final destination, this is a great compromise that also gives you time in the Singapore lounge and an extra, albeit short, segment in Suites.

Singapore also flies the A380 from Singapore to Sydney and Auckland, and you can book the whole flight from New York. That would add roughly eight or nine hours to your journey in the First Suite for a total of 116,875 miles and $449, or just over 10,000 miles more than the trip to Hong Kong.

You can also fly to Sydney from Houston via Manchester for the same mileage, although in this case only your last leg will be in Suites. Still, flights from Houston have generally better availability despite having only four seats in the First Class cabin.

Remember that you can add up to three stopovers for $100 each (or a free stopover for a round trip flight).

How to Upgrade

The only way to upgrade to the First Suite is from a Business Class fare.

The good news is that any discounted Business Class fare qualifies – that said, consider your options.

Upgrading a Singapore – Sydney Business Class seat would cost you 50,000 miles, while redeeming miles outright is 63,750 miles, less than 14,000 more, so it’s not a great deal unless someone else is paying for your ticket.

A much better deal for using miles to upgrade is to buy a cheap Premium Economy ticket and use it to upgrade to Business Class. You can do that for as few as 45,000 miles from the U.S.

Should you decide to go the upgrade route, try to send your request as far in advance as possible.

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