Last week, I shared that I hit the #AvGeek jackpot after coming across a hidden (or mistake) option to fly Singapore Airlines First Class from Hong Kong – Los Angeles via Singapore and Tokyo for just 92,000 KrisFlyer Miles. I could not contain my excitement. You see, a similar First Class option on Singapore Airlines begins at 115,000 KrisFlyer Miles, while other airlines can reach up to 160,000 Miles per trip, which is a hefty difference. This discovery gives the opportunity to fly Singapore Airlines for over 30 hours for the same cost as a Business Class award ticket. However, as I went to issue my ticket, the Agent over the phone informed me the cost was a mistake and should be charged as 115,000 KrisFlyer Miles instead of the published 92,000, which I decided to challenge.
In this two-part series, I wanted to share my experience going from finding this hidden gem to award booking completion. The punchline is: I confirmed the booking after 4 consecutive days trying to convince Singapore Airlines to honor this rate.
Preface to Part 1: How It All Began
I am in the early stages of planning an around-the-world trip this Labor Day (September) to fly from Los Angeles – Amsterdam – Hong Kong – Singapore over the course of 7 days. The idea of this trip started soon after I booked a fantastic Business Class roundtrip flight from Dusseldorf – Los Angeles with KLM and Air France for $1,300 + taxes. I booked the first segment from Dusseldorf – Los Angeles for June and the return segment from Los Angeles – Dusseldorf for September. With a one-way ticket back to Dusseldorf, the question was, where would I go next?
Singapore Airlines Route Network
My closest friends will tell you, during my down time, I enjoy hunting for bargain award options and I’ve recently become affixed to finding hidden sweet spots within Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program.
Singapore Airlines is the national flag carrier of Singapore who’s known globally for delivering a world-class service and, in my humble opinion, the best airline for service innovation and prestige. I consider Singapore Airlines to be the modern day PanAm.
With how far Singapore is located, the airline must operate an interesting and unique route network through government-approved sanctions called Fifth Freedom Routes, which in turn offers great award redemption opportunities. Below is a round-up of the airline’s nonstop US route network as of May 2018, each with continuing service to Singapore:
San Francisco – Hong Kong
San Francisco – Singapore
Los Angeles – Tokyo
Los Angeles – Seoul
Houston – Manchester
New York – Frankfurt
In theory, one could fly Singapore Airlines around the world. The itinerary heading East could be: Houston – Manchester – Singapore – Tokyo – Los Angeles. And, that’s what I decided to pursue. With my flight from Los Angeles – Dusseldorf covered, I explored options of flying from Amsterdam – Singapore – Los Angeles and came across the topic for this post: Singapore Airlines First Class from Hong Kong – Los Angeles for 92,000 KrisFlyer Miles.
4 Days To Resolve
After placing the seats on hold, I turned to Chase to transfer my points into my KrisFlyer account. The 92,000 Ultimate Rewards points hit my KrisFlyer account after 48 hours. You’ll recall from Part 1 I first called to confirm the published rate online was in fact correct before transferring the miles. Well, this time around, the Agent over the phone was told the rate was incorrect and would not be able to honor it despite what was published on their website.
The next few conversations went something like this:
Me: I have a First Class seat on hold from Hong Kong – Los Angeles for 92,000 KrisFlyer Miles. My account balance is now updated and I’m ready for ticketing.
SQ Agent 1, Day 1: Unfortunately, the previous agent may have misinformed you, the cost is 115,000 KrisFlyer Miles. However, we will honor the fare as our website shows 92,000 KrisFlyer Miles. I will escalate the request to my International Ticketing Desk for review and ticketing. Please do not worry, can we call you back in 24 hours?
SQ Agent 2, Day 2: The routing is not allowed as it is considered backtracking per our International Ticketing Desk and small print. We will need to cancel this booking and search for other options. Would you like to fly Air China? (That was a hard “No” and requested a call back from a Manager)
SQ Agent 3, Day 3: We understand your frustration. As it shows on our website, we will honor the fare. However, we need another 24 hours to resolve. May we call you back?
SQ Agent 3, Day 4: The ticket has been issued, thank you for flying Singapore Airlines.
Generally speaking, working with Singapore Airlines call center is an enjoyable experience. Their agents are quite knowledgeable and consistent in their responses. However, my frustration began to escalate between Days 2 and 3 over the 4-day exchange. Each Agent I spoke with believed the airline would honor it, except for Agent 2, who believed it was my responsibility to read the fine print. This response obviously concerned me since I completed the miles transfer. Thankfully, the next few agents were kind enough to escalate the issue and eventually honor the rate.
For starters, I am thrilled to be confirmed on my first-ever Singapore Airlines First Class experience. Flying Singapore Airlines First Class has been very high on my bucket list and, later this year, I will finally have the chance to cross it off my list with 3 flights totaling 20+ hours of flying time. I will definitely plan to write a detailed Trip Report of each flight upon my return.
Now, this itinerary as you've read came with its fair share of issues. I wanted to write about my experience as an example of a possible mistake fare or error on the airline's part and how I navigated the conversation to ensure the airline honored the error. I believe in good will gestures, particularly if 1. The airline’s website has published the fare, and 2. Your customer has transferred the miles after confirming the fare with an Agent. Now, did I pursue this booking because it was a good deal? Yes. Did I know this may have been a mistake fare? Yes, as an expert flyer, I took the risk knowing this may have not gone as planned, however, the general traveling public may not know otherwise and may have likely conceded to the mistake. The takeaway is to screenshot any First Class option under 100,000 Miles, phone up the airline call center to confirm the online rate, and escalate as needed. In my experience, the airline will typically honor the mistake as long as you can verify the information.