Singapore Airlines Tips

Tickets Types

Because Singapore is a pretty popular airline with those travelling from the UK to Oz, the cheapest tickets (that is the blocks of seats allocated as discounted economy tickets which don't allow you to just turn up and go) sell out on the Amadeus booking system (used by its internet booking systems) pretty quickly. Even Expedia's system of buying a percentage of the cheap tickets and selling them on later as "special deals" sells out pretty quickly.

However there is a way around this. It is worth noting that Singapore has very primative yeild management, and has just a few basic ticket prices for economy. Full fare economy and Cheap Economy, depending on the time of year, NOT on how many seats are left - therefore if you miss out on the cheap seats, the price curve is like falling off a cliff. Full fare means you can turn up for any flight, and are guaranteed an economy seat. Cheap economy means you'll have to notify Singapore of changes in advance. However if you book through the SIA website (not via a travel agent) most cheap economy tickets are fully flexible tickets, with nothing extra to pay never mind how often you change your journey, so long as there is space left on the plane! Its a bit of a bargain - and very useful.

The website has recently been updated, and it now allows you to select various different ticket classes, on the tab across the top, for economy fares:

Singapore 747 loading at LHR May 2002 Singapore 747 loading at LHR

Promo Fares (V, Q, G, N and T) do not allow you to accumulate Krisflyer miles, nor to upgrade. You cannot change the date. With some codes, you can collect miles on a United card.
Flexi-Saver (W, H) means you can collect Krisflyer miles, but not upgrade.
Flexi (E,M,B,S) mean you can collect Krisflyer miles, and also upgrade. You can change the date & time of your ticket if you need to, so long as you do so 24 hours in advance.
Fully-Flexi (Y) mean you can collect Krisflyer miles, upgrade, and also change your flight or get a refund on your ticket if you cancel, as long as it is 24 hours in advance of your flight.
Full Fare (Y) is just that. You can collect Krisflyer miles, upgrade, get a full refund at any time, or turn up for any flight at any time, and get a seat. It is very expensive.

Clicking on the fare rules when you make a booking is rather pointless, as it will not show you the booking class. However if you click on the fare rules link after entering your name, on the payment & ticketing page will tell you the booking class letter.

Singapore 777-300 at Singapore Jan 2004 Singapore 777-300 at Singapore

Sometimes the Singapore website will indicate that no cheap economy fares are available, and just price up a full economy fare - as an example that can be £4750 from LHR to Sydney, in economy. However the website will only check on flights which offer an easy connection at Singapore if you select the book "From and To" option. In this case you'll have to be a bit crafty to fly cheaply. To get the best fares (which may involve some hanging around for your connection) choose the Multi-City option and put down all stops on your journey. Of course this means a lot of work testing each leg to see which flights have cheap seats on them - one neat trick is to test each leg in turn, say trying LHR to SIN as a return, and then SIN to SYD as a return, until you can see which flights have sold out of bargain seats, and only have falling-off-a-cliff economy seats.

Prices rise considerably over Christmas. It is worth knowing that extreme high tariff is 1st-15th Jan (lowest LHR-SYD £910) then 4th-31st Dec (LHR-SYD £815), then Nov-4th Dec & 16th Jan-1st April (£765). All other times are base fare (£683).

Singapore review their plane loading capacity 21 days before the plane takes off, and if there are still a lot of unsold high priced economy seats on the plane, but no low priced economy seats, it will release a further block at midnight Singapore time, and price these seats at the base fare - ie: lowest for the sector anytime. So for example if you want to fly LHR-SYD out on the 9th Jan, and book on the 18th Dec you can find the price is £4750 (economy, Y). However if you book on the 19th Dec, and a block is released, the price drops sharply. It's worth waiting an extra day, however when these seats appear, book them immediately - all tickets normally disappear within 24 hours.

Singapore 747 upper deck Sept 2005 Singapore 747 Raffles class upper deck

If you try these methods, quite often the Singapore Airlines UK version of the website will always sell you tickets at the cheapest price, even a couple of days before the plane takes off, if you select the "Multi-City - build your journey one flight at a time" option. So typically you can fly at peak times UK-OZ-UK cheaply, booking just days ahead.

Buying upgrades at checkin

Singapore will never upgrade passengers for free. However sometimes it can be possible to buy an upgrade at or after checkin if you are Krisflyer Gold. Either at checkin or the lounge ask if there are any upgrades available - of course they will say no. However they will offer to let you use points for a one-way upgrade, or pay for it. As you are paying to upgrade to a discounted space-available business class fare, this can work out to as low as £250 for LHR to SIN (but be prepared to pay a lot more). These fares have full mileage and PPS credits.

This is similar to standby in the sense that this fare bucket (if that's really what it is) is only ever available at the airport on the day of departure and only if there is space available (indeed, abundant space available, such that there are still seats if two passengers turn up at the last minute and offer to buy a full priced ticket) and only if the lower class is at risk of overselling. It doesn't seem to be available very often. There is a certain language that should be used when asking for these upgrades, since you want to avoid directly using the "upgrade" word, given Singapore's sensitivity to the issue. Instead the question is "what would be the cost to reissue of this segment as a C class".

Singapore Airlines Singapore Stopovers

Singapore 777-200 at Singapore Jan 2004 Singapore 777-200 at Singapore
Booking a stopover in Singapore is free! Even better if you pay £20 when you buy your ticket direct with Singapore over the phone, Singapore will book you a nights accommodation, give you a free ride on the SIA bus, and throw in free access to a dozen or so attractions, like the zoo, river boat trip, and Sentosa island. All of which cost more individually.

Singapore Airlines Writing set

If you ask the crew nicely, they'll bring you a writing set, with headed paper, a set of postcards, and nice envelopes. The crew will even post letters for you. Very few people ask for this, and it's not advertised, so you may get some head scratching, but details are in the SilverKris inflight magazine, in the back pages.

Singapore Airlines Book the Cook

For Raffles (Business) class customers, Singapore allow you to book the meal you want onboard before departure. You just have to call the Reservations office or Krisflyer line 24 hours before departure, or when you book tickets. The meal choices vary - from London there are only 8 choices, whereas from Singapore you get 17 meals. The lobster thermidor is Singapore's signature dish, and very popular, however if you chosen dish arrives and you don't like it you can instead take something off the main inflight menu. You cannot book anything special for breakfast.

Renewing Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Gold

It's quite hard to keep at Krisflyer Gold level unless you fly from the UK to OZ at least 3 times a year. Recognising this, if in December if you are at Gold level, but don't even have enough points for Silver level in April, Singapore will send you an offer that if you take two return flights (of any length except from SIN to KUL or Penang) you will still stay at Gold level.

The Sydney to LHR problem on Singapore Airlines

Getting from LHR to Sydney isn't too much of a problem, however getting back, there is only one flight which makes a decent connection, the 1550, arriving in LHR at 0530. Because of this, the flights will often become fully booked months in advance, and Singapore's website will say that no economy fares are available at any price. To get around this, book out of Sydney on the 0820 or 1145, and kill time in Singapore. A lot of time. A night stopover may be needed. To book choose the "Multi-City" option on the website booking page, and build your flights up one at a time.
SIA's special £555 offer
SIA's special £555 offer

Bargain UK to Australia fares

Each November Singapore Airlines has a special deal to fly from the UK to Australia for about 20% less than normal. This can sometimes be as low as £555 in bad years. Tickets for this go quickly.

Naturally you get the normal KrisFlyer miles for this, and this will give you enough KrisFlyer frequent Flyer miles for a free return journey from the UK to Europe on a Star Alliance airline.

A 747, and two 777s at Singapore Changi
A Singapore Airlines 747, and two 777s at Singapore Changi

Operational Upgrades

One of the common questions is "How do I get an upgrade on Singapore to Business or First class?". Alas Singapore Airlines are notorious for never, ever, upgrading anyone. Ever. Even if your paid for class is full. The airline would rather make you wait for the next plane. Having said that, it does happen, very occasionally. For a start you'll only get an upgrade if your paid for class is full, and then upgrades are processed accordingly to a pecking order of elite frequent flyer status. You are very unlikely to ever get an upgrade on Singapore Airlines to Club Class unless you are at least a Gold Krisflyer member.

To start with, make sure you are a frequent flyer, and you do fly frequently: after all, if Singapore are going to upgrade anyone, they will upgrade those passengers who fly with them pretty regularly, and hence will enjoy the upgrade enough to put more business Singapore's way. Then if the flight is full in economy, and someone needs to be moved up, the check in staff will first look at Gold members, and then Silver level, and then at other Star Alliance members at the equivalent levels (Gold, and then Silver). Another thing that Singapore look at is how much you paid for your ticket: it's much more likely to happen with a full fare ticket (although occasionally you can get lucky with a discounted economy ticket). On Singapore the airline has heard - probably hundreds of times a day - requests for an upgrade: the general consensus seems to be that if you ask for an upgrade, you're less likely to get it, although opinions differ on an upgrade strategy for Singapore. The generally idea though is "good luck". It really is far rarer on Singapore Airlines than on any other airline (except, perhaps, Qantas).

As always, my advice on dressing properly in the pages on how to get an upgrade applies.

Singapore Airlines website

The Singapore Airlines website is a delight. Helpful, really easy to use, and updated with the latest films and even food for each flight.

The website also offers a discount of about £40 compared to calling up the Singapore Airlines UK ticket desk.

Note however that if you buy tickets through the website, you'll only be able to buy an E ticket - you have to go through a travel agent to get a real ticket. With an Eticket you must remember to bring the credit card you booked it with to the airport, or you won't get on the plane - and you'll lose your ticket.

Main Site:
KrisFlyer club:
Online checkin
Inflight movie guide
Singapore stopover holidays
Krisflyer miles recemption charts
Upgrading from economy to business with Kris Miles
How Krisflyer works
Fly to Oz from UK for £555
Raffles: Book the Cook

Next page: Singapore Airlines inflight meals & food >>>
Singapore Airlines Tips
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