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