moving to Singapore - need strategy for business travel

Moving to Singapore? Ask our regular expats in Singapore questions on relocation and their experience here. Ask about banking, employment pass, insurance, visa, work permit, citizenship or immigration issues.
Post Reply
itamo
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 5:03 pm

moving to Singapore - need strategy for business travel

Post by itamo » Sun, 13 Feb 2011 5:36 pm

Greetings all,

I'll be moving to Singapore in a couple of months and need some advice regarding business travel for my job (starting with my relocation flight!) and the consequent accumulation of frequent flyer miles.

I will take fairly regular trips to all parts of the world (but mostly US and Europe), and I will typically travel on a discount economy airfare. Given the distance from Singapore to the US and Europe, I would expect to fly over 100K miles per year.

So should I expect Singapore Airlines to be the most convenient airline in terms of airfares, schedule, routes, connections, etc., or are there other airlines that are equally competitive on these criteria?

If Singapore Airlines is typically the most convenient choice, then which Star Alliance frequent flyer programs are good choices for accumulating miles and cashing them in for upgrades and rewards? I'm a long-time member of United's Mileage Plus program, but I'm completely fed up with them, and I understand that Singapore's program doesn't award mileage credit for discount economy. Thai's program looks like a good option.

If Singapore Airlines is not necessarily the most convenient option, then what other airlines and frequent flyer programs do people favor?

(Sorry if all of this has been covered in other threads, but I didn't find anything relevant when I did a search.)

Thanks in advance,

itamo

beppi
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1767
Joined: Thu, 07 Sep 2006 11:15 am
Location: Ahlongistan (O$P$)

Post by beppi » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 10:31 am

Singapore airlines and "discount economy airfare" does not usually come together. But if you care more about accumulating miles than saving dollars (as it appears from your post), then it's probably the right choice.

User avatar
ScoobyDoes
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1667
Joined: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 6:42 pm
Location: A More Lucky Spot

Post by ScoobyDoes » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 10:51 am

Being based in Singapore edges the frequent flyer program to KrisFlyer even though the program itself sucks. It is likely, however, more likely to be easier to use the miles for redemptions.

Flying 100k a year on discounted Y tickets might be enough for you to qualify as a Gold member in KF if we assume some flights with 50% earning, some with 100% and some with zero. You need to check into this one in more detail depending what booking class you will likely book.

If you hit Gold then at least you have lounge access and priority baggage, both of which are helpful during frequent travels.

The Asiana and Thai programs are both quite good, but using and redeeming miles might be more troublesome.

To the US and Europe you have the option of opting out of Star Alliance completely and signing up for OneWorld. The Cathay Pacific program is pretty good and can be used on Qantas/BA flights from Singapore to Europe and Cathay/JAL to the US. With Cathay you get a Silver Card after 25,000 miles and this gives you lounge access and priority baggage already.

You might be able to get non-discounted tickets on Cathay for a similar price as 'cheap' tickets on Singapore Airlines. SQ is typically the most expensive departing Singapore.

In Singapore you can generally assign Credit Card points to KrisFlyer, Cathay and some to Thai.
'When Lewis Hamilton wins a race he has to thank Vodafone whereas in my day I used to chase the crumpet. I know which era I'd rather race in.'

SIR Stirling Moss OBE

beppi
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1767
Joined: Thu, 07 Sep 2006 11:15 am
Location: Ahlongistan (O$P$)

Post by beppi » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 11:17 am

Thanks, ScoobyDoes, for repeating my post in a lot more words.
Being less eloquent than you, I wouldn't have been able to.

User avatar
Mary Hatch Bailey
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1511
Joined: Thu, 06 Oct 2005 7:38 am
Location: Bedford Falls

Post by Mary Hatch Bailey » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:04 pm

SQ is (arguably) the best airline with (arguably) the best airport as its hub. You don't need a strategy,you just need to be able to afford SQ.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 39870
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 1:26 pm
Answers: 11
Location: Retired on the Little Red Dot

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:25 pm

^^^^^

Nailed that one! Good 'n' proper! :cool:
SOME PEOPLE TRY TO TURN BACK THEIR ODOMETERS. NOT ME. I WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW WHY I LOOK THIS WAY. I'VE TRAVELED A LONG WAY, AND SOME OF THE ROADS WEREN'T PAVED. ~ Will Rogers

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 11504
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004 12:13 am
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Post by Strong Eagle » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 2:01 pm

I have also been happy with the service on Thai and EVA. MAS... not quite as good but way in front of any American airline. ANA... no thanks... nice staff but not enough of them and not a very good reservations system.

SQ? For business it is great. For economy, you still get the long check in lines at airports.

User avatar
ScoobyDoes
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1667
Joined: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 6:42 pm
Location: A More Lucky Spot

Post by ScoobyDoes » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 2:18 pm

beppi wrote:Thanks, ScoobyDoes, for repeating my post in a lot more words.
Being less eloquent than you, I wouldn't have been able to.
Even if i had just said 'butter' it would have been a repeat.

SQ? For business it is great. For economy, you still get the long check in lines at airports.
This all depends as well if any status can be gained via KrisFlyer in the first year.
'When Lewis Hamilton wins a race he has to thank Vodafone whereas in my day I used to chase the crumpet. I know which era I'd rather race in.'

SIR Stirling Moss OBE

User avatar
aster
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 12:15 pm

Post by aster » Mon, 14 Feb 2011 2:36 pm

Itamo, which countries in Europe will you be flying to?

Where in the US will you be flying to, and would United continue to be your first choice to/in the US?

How important is price - will it always be the deciding factor in which airline you take?

How important is it to be able to change dates without additional fees?

What about family travel? How often, how many people, where to?

Will you be using a Singapore-based credit card to earn air miles?

I can help you choose the best FFP out there for someone in your position, and it's important to get everything sorted at the start rather than keep shuffling programs and spreading your miles around (so they don't end up being of much use).

Right now I'd say KrisFlyer, but I need more info like the questions above. Maybe Miles&More coupled with Diamond Club would be better, but I'll wait for your answers before going into details.

itamo
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 5:03 pm

Post by itamo » Tue, 15 Feb 2011 5:47 pm

Dear all,

Thank you for all the advice so far--it is very helpful.

I actually have been giving my business to oneworld for the last few years and had been curious about oneworld as a possibility for Singapore. It's good to know that it would be reasonable to continue with them.

To answer aster's questions ...
aster wrote:Itamo, which countries in Europe will you be flying to?

Where in the US will you be flying to, and would United continue to be your first choice to/in the US?

How important is price - will it always be the deciding factor in which airline you take?

How important is it to be able to change dates without additional fees?

What about family travel? How often, how many people, where to?

Will you be using a Singapore-based credit card to earn air miles?

I can help you choose the best FFP out there for someone in your position, and it's important to get everything sorted at the start rather than keep shuffling programs and spreading your miles around (so they don't end up being of much use).

Right now I'd say KrisFlyer, but I need more info like the questions above. Maybe Miles&More coupled with Diamond Club would be better, but I'll wait for your answers before going into details.
Destinations in Europe would be mostly academic conferences, whose location changes from year to year, so it really could be anywhere--Barcelona or Budapest, Torino or Tallinn, etc. This makes Lufthansa and British Airways attractive. For US travel, I'm happy to continue with American and avoid United.

Price typically is a primary consideration, although I'm willing to spend, say, 20% more in order to stay within my preferred alliance. I never purchase and almost never need the use of flexible tickets.

I do travel sometimes with my wife and small son, sometimes on business trips and sometimes for pleasure, which could be resort holidays or family visits to the US and Brazil.

I will make heavy use of Singapore credit cards but haven't looked into this much yet. If it matters, I'll be banking with HSBC, since I bank with them in several countries. For my current credit cards I accumulate points with Hilton rather than miles.


itamo

User avatar
aster
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 12:15 pm

Post by aster » Tue, 15 Feb 2011 8:09 pm

Itamo,

For starters you need to decide whether you'll be sticking to One World (OW) or building/keeping status with Star Alliance (*A).

My first assumption is that *A will be better in this case for a number of reasons:

- you live in Singapore so most non-stop flights will be available on Singapore Airlines
- Lufthansa is an ok back-up airline that can get you almost anywhere in Europe
- Thai often has some great prices, for example BKK-CPH
- since you'll be flying in economy, status on *A is much easier to achieve than OW
- if you'll be using credit cards in Singapore to accumulate miles, then KrisFlyer is your best bet

In terms of *A FFPs you have a number of interesting ones to choose from, but Krisflyer seems like the obvious one if you'll be based here and racking in miles from CC spend. You need 50,000 miles within 12 mths to achieve gold and the same amount each year after that to maintain status. Remember that only miles earned via actual flying are treated as status miles - no other miles, on any airline, gained in any other way, will count for status. Even the 25% miles bonus once you are Silver doesn't count towards status (Lufthansa's 25% bonus does though - something of an exception it seems).

There are other FFPs where gaining *A Gold status might be easier, but you'll have trouble spending the miles in any sensible way on them. Do check out United one last time before quitting them, they might not be as bad as they seem.

Another alternative is Miles & More which belongs to the Lufthansa group and associated airlines. You'll need 100,000 miles in a calendar year (so now might be a good time to start) to become SEN (*A Gold status). The good thing is that once you gain status, you get it for 2 years. And you only need to re-qualify in one of them to extend your status, which is good if you'll be flying a lot in one year but might not be as busy the next.

In fact once you break the 100k barrier with M&M, your Gold status is valid for the remainder of the current year, the following two years, and Jan+Feb of the following year after that. So if you were to become SEN this year then you would stay Gold until March 2014.

100k is a lot of miles though, so M&M is not an easy FFP to gain status on when flying economy. You get a lot more miles when flying business though, 200% of the base value (where Singapore Airlines only gives 125%), so one business class trip a year can really boost your status miles balance.

It's also worth signing up for Diamond Club while it lasts:
http://www.flybmi.com/bmi/en-gb/loyalty ... -club.aspx

It will be taken over by M&M sooner or later as LH owns BMI, but in the meantime you can sign up for family membership to get all your family miles transferred to your account. Sooner or later they'll send you an M&M card and welcome letter, or if you are already with M&M then they should put all accumulated miles into your M&M account.

At the end of the day you have to check the booking class of the tickets you're about to purchase, because each airline's FFP will have different rules as to the number of miles they will credit. KrisFlyer publishes theirs online, as do M&M and DC.

Going back to One World, the only FFPs worth considering there are BA's Executive Club and AA'a AAdvantage. I don't know much about the latter, but I have read that along with status you get some upgrades that might come in handy in the US. As for BA, gaining status while flying in econ is next to impossible. Another drawback is that thresholds for status for continental Europe are much lower than for the UK or rest of the world, so it only makes sense if you have a European address. And even then you can only make calls through the call centre staff dedicated to that particular country apparently.

Assuming that you can hmmm... ahem... "move" to Europe for the purposes of being in BA's EC, you'll need 300 tier points for Silver and 600 for Gold (otherwise it's 600 for Silver and 1,500 for Gold). The good thing is that Silver gives you the most important benefits, so unlike *A you get priority check-in, extra luggage and access to lounges even at BA's Silver level (this might not be the case with other OW members, as their Silver might be a lower OW status level than BA's Silver).

Cheap economy fares generate 30 tier points between SIN and LHR, and more expensive flexible tickets give 60 points, so it's usually going to be the former I assume. That's 10 flights (5 return tickets) between SIN and the likes of LHR to get Silver. With KrisFlyer, 7-8 flights and you hit Gold.

I'd give AA a look and see if there's anything there you like as I haven't dealt with this FFP nor have I researched it completely. But if there's nothing there and BA's EC doesn't appeal to you then I'd ditch OW altogether. Especially since you won't have any non-stop flights from SIN unless you are going to London, and your credit card spend generated in Singapore won't earn you miles in either BA's or AA's ffp (Cathay might be possible, but it's not an FFP I'd consider).

beppi
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1767
Joined: Thu, 07 Sep 2006 11:15 am
Location: Ahlongistan (O$P$)

Post by beppi » Tue, 15 Feb 2011 9:56 pm

^^^ Somebody has waaay too much time on her hands!
I wouldn't even write such a long sermon (or do the underlying online research) when I'm stranded in an airport lounge for hours ...

User avatar
ScoobyDoes
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1667
Joined: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 6:42 pm
Location: A More Lucky Spot

Post by ScoobyDoes » Wed, 16 Feb 2011 10:57 am

aster wrote: 100k is a lot of miles though, so M&M is not an easy FFP to gain status on when flying economy. You get a lot more miles when flying business though, 200% of the base value (where Singapore Airlines only gives 125%), so one business class trip a year can really boost your status miles balance.
He's already told you that most of his travel will be discounted economy and you come up with a FFP that benefits only business and first class fliers? I've looked into M&M a couple of times and whilst it is great that qualification is for two years, getting the 100k in a year is next to impossible without multiple J or C travel.
It's also worth signing up for Diamond Club while it lasts:
http://www.flybmi.com/bmi/en-gb/loyalty ... -club.aspx

It will be taken over by M&M sooner or later as LH owns BMI, but in the meantime you can sign up for family membership to get all your family miles transferred to your account. Sooner or later they'll send you an M&M card and welcome letter, or if you are already with M&M then they should put all accumulated miles into your M&M account.
Word is that DC could be swallowed up in 2012. BMI are re-looking at their set-up in light of recent changes to the BA program.
Assuming that you can hmmm... ahem... "move" to Europe for the purposes of being in BA's EC, you'll need 300 tier points for Silver and 600 for Gold (otherwise it's 600 for Silver and 1,500 for Gold). The good thing is that Silver gives you the most important benefits, so unlike *A you get priority check-in, extra luggage and access to lounges even at BA's Silver level (this might not be the case with other OW members, as their Silver might be a lower OW status level than BA's Silver).
Cathay gives Silver after 30,000 miles. This comes with priority check-in, priority baggage, priority boarding and lounge access.
Cheap economy fares generate 30 tier points between SIN and LHR, and more expensive flexible tickets give 60 points, so it's usually going to be the former I assume. That's 10 flights (5 return tickets) between SIN and the likes of LHR to get Silver. With KrisFlyer, 7-8 flights and you hit Gold.
Reaching Silver on Cathay takes 5-flights (2.5-return) from Singapore to London and 9-flights to get Gold. On OneWolrd, however, there isn't a huge difference between Silver and Gold status unlike major differences in *A. On the OW alliance the only extra benefit i ever used between Silver and Gold was the 1-Guest that was allowed to come into the lounge with me and the little extra baggage allowance.

In all things, basically Silver on OW is the same as Gold on *A.
I'd give AA a look and see if there's anything there you like as I haven't dealt with this FFP nor have I researched it completely. But if there's nothing there and BA's EC doesn't appeal to you then I'd ditch OW altogether. Especially since you won't have any non-stop flights from SIN unless you are going to London, and your credit card spend generated in Singapore won't earn you miles in either BA's or AA's ffp (Cathay might be possible, but it's not an FFP I'd consider).
My parents are BA members and the program isn't so useful, certainly in comparison to my ex-CX program (not a member anymore). The benefit with CX in Singapore is that credit card points here can be sent to AsiaMiles as well/easily as KF.

Whilst SQ will have the most non-stop European destination, that usually comes at a significant price over other carriers. You brought up Thai so that involves a stop-over in which case from Singapore OW flies directly to London, Frankfurt, Paris (Qantas Codeshare) and Helsinki which then is the stop-over point.
'When Lewis Hamilton wins a race he has to thank Vodafone whereas in my day I used to chase the crumpet. I know which era I'd rather race in.'

SIR Stirling Moss OBE

User avatar
aster
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 12:15 pm

Post by aster » Thu, 17 Feb 2011 1:44 am

ScoobyDoes wrote:He's already told you that most of his travel will be discounted economy and you come up with a FFP that benefits only business and first class fliers? I've looked into M&M a couple of times and whilst it is great that qualification is for two years, getting the 100k in a year is next to impossible without multiple J or C travel.
Re-read the OP's initial post. He expects to fly over 100k miles a year, and you don't need full-fare economy to collect full miles on LH's Miles&More. It's only the mega cheap deals they do that give 1/2 miles for instance, but then Singapore Airlines also has deals which don't credit any miles at all...
ScoobyDoes wrote:Word is that DC could be swallowed up in 2012. BMI are re-looking at their set-up in light of recent changes to the BA program.
This isn't BMI's decision but rather LH's. I wouldn't be surprised for BMI to maintain its FFP only in the UK and a handful of other countries, while switching everyone else to M&M. But it's still the only way to pool your family miles together on *A, unless you happen to be a resident of the Middle East:
http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/ ... 05951&l=en
ScoobyDoes wrote:Cathay gives Silver after 30,000 miles. This comes with priority check-in, priority baggage, priority boarding and lounge access.
Incorrect as Cathay's Silver is rather devalued.

Cathay Silver is NOT at all equal to BA Silver. Cathay Gold = BA Silver. :)

Status levels in OW from the highest to lowest are Emerald, followed by Saphire, then Ruby.

BA Gold is OW Emerald. BA Silver is OW Saphire.
Cathay Gold is OW Saphire, Cathay Silver is OW Ruby.

BA Silver gets you into lounges when flying on any OW flight.
Cathay Silver won't get you into any lounge unless you're flying Cathay.
ScoobyDoes wrote:On OneWolrd, however, there isn't a huge difference between Silver and Gold status unlike major differences in *A. On the OW alliance the only extra benefit i ever used between Silver and Gold was the 1-Guest that was allowed to come into the lounge with me and the little extra baggage allowance.
Both Silver and Gold on BA allow you to bring a guest into the lounge, except for the arrivals lounge. You also get access to First Class lounges with Gold status regardless of class of travel, and what's even better is that you can always access the BAEC lounge even when flying... a non-alliance carrier (cardholder only). :)

Plus you get access to seats that Silver members cannot book, and if anything goes wrong in terms of flight disruptions then you get treated better.
ScoobyDoes wrote:Whilst SQ will have the most non-stop European destination, that usually comes at a significant price over other carriers. You brought up Thai so that involves a stop-over in which case from Singapore OW flies directly to London, Frankfurt, Paris (Qantas Codeshare) and Helsinki which then is the stop-over point.
SQ isn't the cheapest of airlines, though they usually have good deals for journeys originating from LHR. And it's good to have the option of non-stop travel to so many European destinations. Plus depending on where you need to go, LH might prove useful as you don't have to fly all the way to the UK to then piggy-back to continental Europe. I mean if you were flying to Warsaw or Prague you'd probably prefer to switch planes in FRA over LHR.
Last edited by aster on Thu, 17 Feb 2011 1:50 am, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
aster
Manager
Manager
Posts: 1599
Joined: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 12:15 pm

Post by aster » Thu, 17 Feb 2011 1:46 am

I forgot to mention, LH's Miles and More is the only *A FFP where the 25% bonus once you reach Silver status actually counts towards status miles. So to progress from Silver to Gold you need 80k miles with the bonus doing the rest.

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Relocating, Moving to Singapore”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest