So Long to ‘A United Mile Flown is a Singapore Mile Earned’

When United MileagePlus went revenue-based mileage earning, frequent travelers scoured Star Alliance partners for a United backup plan to credit mileage on low cost tickets.

I have ruminated over switching my Star Alliance primary frequent flyer program to one of the candidate airlines and have never convinced myself to jump from United MileagePlus.

I value Star Gold travel benefits. Every other airline’s Star Gold is more valuable in the US because they grant United Club access while United’s does not. United Clubs are no thrill, though better than not having them. They stock the NYT, FT, and WSJ.

Asiana has reasonable qualification and lifetime status requirements, but pricey award surcharges. Others like Aegean, Avianca, Copa, SAS, and Turkish all have enough failings for me to hesitate. European airlines always seem to stick it to their customers even more than US airlines to theirs.

I value:

  1. Robust online partner airline award booking (which eliminates almost all candidate airlines)
  2. Low award surcharges
  3. Reasonable mileage earning
  4. No forced mileage expiration (such as Singapore expire 3 years from earned, regardless of subsequent activity)
  5. A track to lifetime status

Singapore KrisFlyer has been popular for awarding minimum 100% mileage flown on United fares. Sadly, as Gary reports, that is now gone.

The new chart is effective October 1, 2017:

United KrisFlyer Earn 01 October 2017

First:
150% – A, F
125% – C, D, J

Business:
100% – P, Z

Economy:
100% – B, E, H, M, U, Y
75% – Q, V, W
50% – L,S,T
25% – G, K

I didn’t credit to Singapore KrisFlyer because they fail my 1, 2, 4, and 5 requirements. And I didn’t want to build a time-expiring stake in an airline on mileage earning that was not going to last. It is surprising 100% lasted as long as it did.

The awards I have tried to book with KrisFlyer on their partner Virgin Australia have never been a success (admittedly the obscure Perth-Cocos Island-Christmas Island hopper route).

I have flown Silk Air and no burning desire to go out of my way to fly mainline Singapore.

Something about Singapore, both the state and the airport, is depressing to me. When I think of that airport I don’t think of the ‘world’s greatest airport’ I think of bleak nighttime shuffling along those casino-esque carpets and that they are probably the chief impetus for the spread of loathsome security screening at gates. I do like their line of teas.

My wife and I had our worst-ever argument the time we spent New Year’s in Singapore, both realizing too late the affect of the oppressive climate and dreary expressions on the people around us.

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  • KanExplore

    You’re much more of a constant flyer around Asia than I, but I’m wondering about your negative comment about the screening at the gates. I’ve never waited in line more than a minute or so for screening at Singapore. Maybe I’m just lucky? Or maybe you’re talking about it spreading to other places that aren’t as good at it? I could see where TSA would find a way to screw up something like that, but I’ve found the system at SIN to be really efficient.

  • Kumar

    I would be interested to know which star alliance program or programs are good for accumulating the miles as per the above 5 point criterea you mentioned. Thank you

  • Yuanxi Brandon Zhang

    Ouch!

  • Both points, when you go someplace like Colombo in Sri Lanka that has it, last time I was there they stuck two flights departing within 5 minutes of each other at the same gate, security line was still down the hall during posted departure time, last calls for which flight people can’t hear and are confused.

    In principal I dislike like screening at gates because (1) you lose the bottle of water you just prepared, (2) you need to go the gate earlier to buffer, reducing time somewhere else more comfortable, (3) you are made to wait in a place generally less comfortable and more crowded than the rest of the airport, often without bathroom facilities, and it is a hassle to go out and come back, (4) with delays and cancels you start the whole thing over. It seems an unjustified imposition on travelers, and (5) dubious, if any security benefit. A (Russia, China, in particular) using bus gates when real gates stand empty, in China at least it is airlines saving money on fees to use the gates, and it says that airlines are happy to waste 15-30 minutes of every passengers’ time when a better option is readily available.

  • If I found one I would not still be with United MileagePlus!

    The online booking you are not likely to get with most of these.

    The candidates I hear about and look at I listed, the strongest to me on the other criteria seems to be Asiana as a rare one that has a lifetime status.

    Partner earning varies so much that you should look at the airlines you regularly fly and fare codes of your regular tickets. From the US to Southeast Asia, ANA keeps having $400-$500 deals that earn 50% on United, but much less on some others, including Asiana. Those are flights I actually take so partly why I have not moved to United. If I flew Air China more, I would drop United for its poor earn and I think Asiana comes out better there.