My First Experience Booking an Award Ticket with Singapore Airlines Miles (Flying on United Airlines)

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Good morning everyone, a few weeks ago, I wrote Transfer Times to Singapore Airlines from Chase Ultimate Rewards, AMEX Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You Points, and SPG Starpoints.  In that post, I learned that transfers to Singapore Airlines were not instant and vary by transferable points program.  Nothing is worse that transferring points to miles and waiting for the miles to post.  It can be extremely nerve racking and frustrating to keep refreshing your Singapore Airlines account and seeing no change.

Long story short, I needed to book a very short notice award ticket for my friend from Germany back to the US.  And by short notice, I mean less than 24 hours between request and flight departure.  I did not have enough Singapore Airlines miles to book a one way from Europe to the US (which costs 27,500 Singapore Airlines miles), so I initiated a transfer from Citi Thank You Points around 8am PT.  I was hoping the Singapore Airlines miles would post within a few hours, but that did not happen.  I checked every few hours after that, but still no luck.  Right before I went to bed (around 11pm PT), I checked one more time, but still no luck.  I went to bed and set my alarm for 5:30am PT.  Luckily I heard my alarm go off and saw that the miles posted to my account (almost 24 hours after after initiating the transfer).

27,500 Singapore Airlines Miles

Since the miles did not post in time for the flight my friend wanted, I asked him for the next preferable routing – he wanted a flight with a long layover (7+ hours in Washington, DC).  I called the Singapore Airlines US reservation number (1-800-742-3333).  There was a long wait time, almost 35 minutes, before I spoke with a friendly representative.  His English was very good, but his accent was sometimes difficult to understand.  I fed the agent the flight details and mentioned that I wanted to book a flight with a long layover in Washington, DC.  He could not see that routing on his screen, even though I was able to see the routing on United Airlines website.

I told him to look for the routing from Germany to Washington, DC.  He was able to find the exact flight I wanted.  I then had him search for Washington, DC to California.  He was also able to find the exact flight I wanted.  He pieced the flights together and told me he could book the award.  He asked if the flight was for me, but I told him it was for my friend.  He said he could not book the flight for my friend because he was not a redemption nominee.  I had never heard of that phrase and asked him what it was and how I could add my friend.  He told me to go to my Singapore Airlines profile, go to My Redemption Nominees and click Add Nominee.

Singapore Airlines Add Redemption Nominee

Adding my friend as a redemption nominee was pretty easy, since I had his full name, date of birth, and passport information.

Singapore Airlines Add Redemption Nominee Form

Side note: I actually like this process since it is much faster to add my friend’s information online and double check the spelling, than to read off every letter and number to the Singapore Airlines rep.  It might seem stupid when you set it up, but I think it saves a lot of time.

After adding my friend as a redemption nominee, the Singapore Airlines rep was able to view his information.  He confirmed the flight details one more time and then put me on hold to calculate the taxes and fees for the award ticket.  The rep quoted the price in Singapore Airlines dollars and I told him I would like to pay for that with my credit card (Citi Premier Credit Card).  After reading off the card details, he processed the charge and told me that I should be receiving an email with the confirmation details.  Seconds later, I had the email along with the United Airlines reservation number.  I thank the rep for all his help and hung up.  The entire call last around 46 minutes (including the 35 minute hold).

Singapore Airlines Confirmation Email

Side note: 142.60 Singapore Dollars shows up as pending charge of $100.11 on my Citi online account.  According to XE.com, the charge should have been $99.54.  Oh well, life goes on.

SGD to USD Conversion

Update 10/2/2015 at 8am PT: The charge actually posted as $99.72, not $100.11.  I realize that 39 cents is not a lot, but I’m glad the exchange rate is closer to actual spot rate.

Citi Premier Singapore Taxes Fees Charge

Since the flight was departing within 24 hours, I attempted to check my friend in with United Airlines.  I was able to select his seat and go through the entire process, but United Airlines requires that you upload your passport, which can only be done using the United Airlines mobile app.  If you do not have the app, you can check in at the airport.  I forwarded the Singapore Airlines confirmation email along with a few screenshots from the United Airlines check in process to my friend.  He was able to check in for his flight using the United Airlines app on his iPhone and the rest is history.

Here are a few lessons I learned from this experience:

  • Expect all points transfers to Singapore Airlines to take around 24 hours (with SPG taking a few days longer).
  • If booking an award for someone else, get their information and add them as a redemption nominee.
  • Flight the exact flight you want before you call Singapore Airlines
  • Be prepared for a long wait time, but hope for a short wait time
  • Speak slowly and clearly to the Singapore Airlines rep and confirm the dates, times, info along the way
  • Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees to pay for the taxes and fees

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

34 thoughts on “My First Experience Booking an Award Ticket with Singapore Airlines Miles (Flying on United Airlines)

  1. Karen

    It’s worth noting that you’re only allowed five redemption nominees and if you want to make replacements later, there’s a fee. I believe it’s around $30 for those without status.

    Reply
      1. e*

        Google Voice is really cheap – like 2 cents a minute or something? My friend told me to call the Singapore number for British Airways if ever necessary too.

        Reply
  2. Katye

    Thanks for the great post. I haven’t thought about using Krisflyer miles on United flights. But it could come in handy for those who has a ton of Thankyou and AMEX points!

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Yes, it is definitely a good deal. There are some sweet spot redemptions that require less SQ miles than UA miles, but you have to consider fuel surcharges too. Chase UR and SPG also transfer to SQ.

      Reply
        1. Grant

          As far as I know, there are no fuel surcharges flying UA using SQ miles. I still paid $100 for taxes/feed, but I think that would have been the same if I used UA miles. I’m not sure about booking SQ with SQ miles, never done it myself.

          Reply
          1. Kalvan

            The reason you paid more is because of the extended layover in the destination country. If it had been under 4 or 6 hours, i forget exactly, it would have been nominal 911 fees/airport charges.

  3. Elliot

    A bit of a weird question: any idea if the nominee can call themselves to book the award flight? I’m the nominee on someone else’s account and would love to be able to save them the hassle.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      That’s a great question, I have no idea. I’m sure the phone rep would want to verify with the account owner first before booking an award ticket in your name.

      Reply
  4. AbFabSkyLife

    Credit card currency exchange transactions are always a few pennies off from the Bank Selling Rate. I believe most credit card companies use a daily average of the BSR instead of the exact rate at the time of the transaction.

    Reply
  5. Paul

    I agree that calling the Singapore Krisfler number (+65 6789 8188) is likely to get you a much shorter wait time than the US number. Probably more CSRs there. Make sure you have your 10-digit Krisflyer membership number on hand and key it in when the system asks you for it.

    Reply
  6. Chuck

    When I called Singapore Krysflyer number here in the US I got an agent in Singapore. He said that all calls in the US get forwarded to Singaport anyway and said that calling Singaport directly would not speed up the answering of the call. FYI. YMMV

    Reply
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  8. Harlan

    This is really great! I’ve been thinking about snagging the Citi TY Premier or Citi Prestige for a while now… I already have plenty of UR points… Waiting for Citi to add *1* more solid transfer partner.

    Anyway, great post!

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Thanks Harlan, feel free to get the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige. They go great together, plus you can redeem Citi TYPs for 1.6 CPP on AA/US/OneWorld partners.

      Reply
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