Use Velocity points for Star Alliance reward flights

This article was published some time ago and content may be out-of-date.  Airlines are continually changing their loyalty programs. Always double-check with the airline. 

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Overview

In our previous guide we showed you how to transfer your Velocity points to KrisFlyer to redeem Singapore Airlines’ reward seats. This enables you to book rewards direct from the source, offering much better availability than Virgin’s own loyalty program.

But, that’s not the only benefit of transferring your Velocity points to KrisFlyer. You can also redeem Star Alliance reward seats across the world’s largest airline network! Indirectly, this allows you to cash-in your Velocity points with over 25 additional airlines!

Star Alliance rewards to, from and within the United States and Canada offer some of the best Velocity point redemption value we’ve seen. So if you’re travelling to the States, this article is must read!

There best local opportunities include flights from Perth and Adelaide to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Other international-to-international sweet-spots include the ‘South Asia/ Central’ region to anywhere in Europe, where you can redeem a $5,000+ one-way Business Class flight from, say, the Maldives to Iceland for just 47,500 miles (64,125 Velocity points)!

Unlike Singapore Airlines redemptions, some Star Alliance rewards attract fuel surcharges as well as taxes. You can reduce these, however, by choosing low surcharge airlines.

Guide contents

Velocity – Krisflyer Transfer

Transfer your Velocity points to Krisflyer and redeem Singapore Airlines’ reward seats direct from the source for great availability and value.

Velocity Reward Seats

Reward seats allow you to apply for a seat on Virgin Australia, or one of Virgin’s international partner airlines, with your Velocity points. However, there are only a set amount of reward seats allocated for any particular flight, so availability is limited.

Velocity Seat Upgrades

Upgrade your existing, fully-paid Virgin Australia seat to a higher cabin-class.

Star Alliance partner airlines

Singapore Airlines allows you to transfer your Velocity points to KrisFlyer and redeem across 27 Star Alliance airlines. Redemption highlights include Air Canada, All Nippon Airways (ANA), United, SAS and Swiss.

It’s important to mention that KrisFlyer passes on both a) government taxes and b) airline-imposed surcharges for Star Alliance reward seats. To clarify, KrisFlyer only passes on taxes, which are typically less damaging, for Singapore Airlines flight rewards.

With this in mind, you should try to choose low surcharge airlines. These include Air New Zealand, ANA, United Airlines, Air Canada and Avianca. Also, avoid European based carriers for long-haul travel. Alternatively, travel to/from Europe via a recommended low surcharge Asian carrier, or a US Star Alliance partner. Intra-Europe travel is OK, as surcharges are more reasonable.

Find out more about KrisFlyer’s Star Alliance redemption rates here, or view our favourite ways to redeem Velocity points for Star Alliance seats.

Transfer your Velocity points for Star Alliance flights

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account. You can register for free via their website.

Once your KrisFlyer account is active, you can transfer your Velocity points online. Simply log into your account on the Velocity website and click on the ‘Points Transfer – Airlines‘ item in the side menu. First, you’ll have to ‘Link‘ your Velocity account with KrisFlyer by adding your account number. You must transfer a minimum of 5,000 Velocity points.

You’ll now be able to transfer Velocity points to KrisFlyer at a rate of 1.35:1. Multiply your Velocity points by 0.74 to calculate the conversion (e.g 100,000 Velocity points equals 74,000 KrisFlyer miles). Don’t let the ratio put you off, there are some amazing Star Alliance redemption opportunities!

Redeem a 6-hour direct flight from NYC to Vancouver in an Air Canada’s Business Suite for just 27,000 Velocity Points!

We strongly recommend joining Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program anyway. It offers a great network for Australians and features a growing number of membership partners down-under.

Star Alliance – Velocity points cost

Star Alliance rewards are determined by each flight’s departure and arrival region. The below chart displays return (’round-trip’) flights. Halve the number required for one-way redemptions.

The regional rate structure presents some great ‘sweet spot’ redemptions, as well as cost-effective opportunities for building long, multi stopover itineraries on the cheap!

We’ve outlined some of our favourite Velocity – Star Alliance redemption examples here.

Remember, simply multiply the number of Krisflyer miles by 1.35 to determine how many Velocity points you’ll need.

Click on the chart below for a larger view.

Velocity points – Star Alliance availability

Like all airline loyalty programs, it can be difficult to find Star Alliance rewards in premium cabins, especially on high demand routes. Business rewards are always going to be in greater demand, so if you’re looking for a trade at the pointy end, you must be flexible.

Most Star Alliance partners release their reward seats from 330 to 350 days prior to a flight’s departure date. Therefore, the closer you search to this date, the more chance you’ll have.

For example, Star Alliance reward seats on flights to/from/within the United States are notoriously limited, especially around US holiday and Christmas periods. Follow our tips section for more information.

Searching for Star Alliance reward seats

Unfortunately Singapore Airlines’ own site can sometimes serve limited Star Alliance partner rewards, however, it is improving. It’s a good idea to try the Singapore Airlines website first, as the results are always going to be bookable straight off the bat. If the Singapore Airlines website returns no availability (or you’re not happy with the options) use the United Airlines method.

Before you begin, consider the KrisFlyer’s Star Alliance routing rules. A few main takeaways:

  • You must book the most direct route (the term ‘direct’ is not clarified, so you’re best to try and book what you can and if you get knocked back simply phone KrisFlyer. If you still get knocked back, many members have success with phoning KrisFlyer again and talking to a different agent)
  • Your reward itinerary can have a maximum of 6 flight segments and may include Singapore Airlines operated flights

Singapore Airlines method

As we mentioned above, try to check the Singapore Airlines website first (or in parallel with the United search). If you find a nice result here, it’ll save you a lot of time. The Singapore Airlines search also returns the complete cash co-payment (albeit in local currencies, however, you can simply convert to AUD). This results in a much quicker booking process.

To begin, make sure you select ‘Redeem Flights’ before adding your flight information, dates and cabin class.

Your search results will be displayed on the next screen. Click on the ‘Star Alliance’ tab to return partner airline flights.

The miles requirement is displayed with the required cash co-payment. You can now book online.

United Airlines method

The United Airlines method is a great availability gauge for when the Singapore Airlines website comes up blank. However, it should only be used as a guide. If you do find a result, you’ll need to contact the KrisFlyer call centre to check that the itinerary is available and book over the phone.

To get started, simply launch the United Advanced Search and enter your flight’s details. Be sure to check ‘MileagePlus award ticket’, ‘One-way Trip‘ and ‘My dates are flexible‘. You do not require United’s MileagePlus membership to search for prospective Star Alliance rewards.

The Advanced Search, with ‘Flexible dates’ checked, is probably one of the best reward search engines out there. We recommend using it for all Star Alliance searches, except for Singapore Airlines rewards, where you’re better off using their own website.

Before we begin, a cautionary warning. You should always double check Star Alliance availability with KrisFlyer’s call centre before transferring your Velocity points. Unfortunately, the United website sometimes shows phantom availability.

To begin, simply add your destination, dates and cabin class. The ‘Connections‘ option can also be handy if you know your flight has a transit stop. Check ‘Australia‘ as your billing address to return tax co-payments in AUD (note, these are taxes only – read on for more information on gauging fuel surcharges).

In this example, we’re searching for a direct flight from New York to Honolulu in Business, which features in our US ‘sweet-spot’ examples.

Because we’ve selected ‘My dates are flexible’, the United search returns helpful month-long availability. Click on a specific date to view available reward space. Only the Economy and Business ‘Saver’ seats can be booked through KrisFlyer. Ignore any of United’s own MillagePlus requirements as you’ll be booking off KrisFlyer’s chart.

In our example below, we’ve located a United Airlines reward. Required taxes (government and airport fees) are listed in the results. This should only be used as a guide, however. It’s important to mention that United only passes on government taxes for Star Alliance reward seats booked through their own MileagePlus program. As we mentioned earlier, this is not the case for KrisFlyer. Therefore, we must pay airline-imposed surcharges (if present) on top of any government taxes.

Read on to learn more about calculating the total cash co-payment required for each non-Singapore Airlines Star Alliance flight (which we also explore in detail here).

Once you’ve located a reward, be sure to record all the details (date/ time and flight number). You’ll need to quote this information when booking with KirsFlyer. These can be found by clicking on the ‘Details‘ link.

To avoid any nasty surprises when booking your itinerary, you can track airline surcharges via Google’s ITA Matrix, which provides a very accurate estimated break-down of the total taxes and airline-imposed fees.

United is one of the many Star Alliance partners that don’t apply fuel surcharges, so in this case, we’ll only be up for government taxes (for a surcharge-imposing airline example, click here). Regardless, let’s double check, as sometimes the quoted taxes can differ slightly between United (less accurate) and the ITA software (more accurate).

Search for your flight (any dates will do) and select AUD as the currency. Any surcharges are coded as ‘YQ’ or ‘YQ surcharge’ in ITA Matrix results – as you can see below, there are none present with our United flight. For our New York (EWR) to Honolulu flight, the break-down is: Taxes = $135 + Surcharge = $0. This will result in KrisFlyer charging an estimated $135 cash co-payment for this reward flight.

Booking Star Alliance flights with Velocity points

Although you can book some Star Alliance rewards via the Singapore Airlines website, their search engine is problematic. Many Star Alliance seats simply don’t show.

It doesn’t hurt to try, though, as you may be able to avoid a phone call. Go to the search page and be sure to click on the ‘Redeem Flights’ box. Read our full guide on using your Velocity points for Singapore Airlines rewards.

If a reward seat that you had previously located doesn’t display, you’ll need to contact KrisFlyer’s Australian call centre to book (02 8228 1188). And a big tip. If you’re not happy with the service ‘hang up and try again later’. Unfortunately, like many airline reward contact centres, the level of service is inconsistent (e.g. some reps are simply unwilling to search for space, or are unaware of their own rules and requirements). Similarly, there also seems to be a fair bit of subjective interpretation around Star Alliance reward routing rules (like what constitutes the ‘most direct route).

KrisFlyer charges an ‘Additional Service Fee’ for any Call Centre bookings ($25 USD), however, if you’ve checked that the Star Alliance reward does not appear on the Singapore Airlines website, the fee will be waived (as you cannot book it online in the first place). Learn more here.

Changes

Star Alliance reward bookings are in-built with decent change flexibility. Changes made 24 hours prior to departure attract a $25 US fee (date/time/destination). This is charged each time you call to make a change. If you would like to cancel (at least 24 hours before departure), and have your KrisFlyer miles redeposited into your account, you’re up for $75 US.

Routing rules & features

Main rules

KrisFlyer’s Star Alliance rewards may include Singapore Airlines flights. However, they’ll be rung up at the Star Alliance rate. Search for these directly on the Singapore Airlines website as you’ll be able to locate more reward inventory.

You must book the most direct route available (e.g. you can’t manufacture a blatantly indirect itinerary) and it can’t backtrack. However, there are exceptions if the only reward flight available heads in a backwards direction within. Contact the KrisFlyer Call Centre, as they will most likely be able to waive the requirement.

Book one-way or round-trip

You can book both return or one-way Star Alliance trips. One-way trips cost half the round-trip rate.

Transit-flights incur no additional cost so long as you use the most direct route (most United Airlines reward search results are eligible). A maximum of six travel segments are allowed per itinerary

Considering the stopover and open-jaw features below, this allows you to build cheap, semi-round the world itineraries (learn more about that here)!

Book an ‘open jaw’ round-trip

KrisFlyer allows you to book ‘open jaw’ itineraries for round-trips. This means that either your departure or arrival port can be different (as long as they’re both within the same ‘region‘). Note that ‘open-jaw’ trips cannot be booked online, you’ll have to contact the KrisFlyer call centre.

For example, an open jaw booking could be: FLIGHT OUT: Perth – Auckland (layover) – Tahiti [Air New Zealand]; FLIGHT BACK: Tahiti – Auckland (layover) – Adelaide [Air New Zealand].

1 x free additional stopover + 2 x paid stopovers

If you book a round-trip reward, you can redeem a free stopover at one connection point. Stopovers are not possible for one-way trips (if you book them separately, the KrisFlyer system will price each flight as a separate award).

You can also purchase two additional stopovers at transit stops for just $100 USD each on round-trip rewards. These are great features, which allow you to build cheap, multi-stop ’round-a-region’ trips.

But remember, you must take the most direct route, so your stopover opportunities are exclusively available at your itinerary’s layover points.

Stopovers can be booked online if your itinerary appears on the Singapore Airlines website. However, if it’s a complex trip, you’ll most likely have to contact the KrisFlyer call centre.

Example itinerary utilising the above features

For example, a booking utilising the above features could be: FLIGHT OUT: Perth- Auckland (Free stopover) – Tahiti [Air New Zealand]; FLIGHT BACK: Tahiti – Auckland (layover) – Adelaide [Air New Zealand]. Note, these flights don’t feature online in the Singapore Airlines website, you’ll have to search via the United search method to gauge availability.

The above round-trip Star Alliance itinerary with a free stopover in Auckland would cost just 12,500 Krisflyer miles in Economy (16,875 transferred-in Velocity points), plus a cash co-payment of around $180 (mainly taxes). With the huge 12,000-mile trip averaging around $1,600 the GRV for this itinerary is 4.2c/pt, which is astonishing for an Economy reward! In this case, the GRV probably underestimates the value, as it doesn’t factor in the free stopovers! Learn more about Star Alliance airline fuel surcharges.

Find out about more complex (and valuable) multi-stopover trips within sweet-spot regions here.

Cash co-payment (taxes + airline imposed surcharges)

Using your Velocity points for a Star Alliance Round The World redemption requires a cash co-payment, of which there are two components, government/ airport taxes and airline-imposed surcharges. Airline-imposed surcharges, which are usually fuel based, are only applicable to Star Alliance partners. Singapore Airlines’ own reward seats only require taxes.

Government and airport taxes
Airline imposed fees
Government and airport taxes

Governments and airports charge carriers taxes and fees, which find their way onto your ticket. We’ve provided some comments on high tax countries and airports here.

Airline imposed fees

Airline imposed taxes include fees like fuel surcharges (surcharges are coded as ‘YQ’ or ‘YQ surcharge’ in airline ticketing).

 

Google’s ITA Matrix (see more above) is the best way to find an estimated break-down of the total taxes and airline-imposed fees for each flight in your itinerary, which are pretty accurate. Simply search for your flight (any dates will do) and select AUD as the currency.

We’ve provided a example break-down below of a flight that features in our example itinerary. Simply sum the surcharges (coded as ‘YQ’ or ‘YQ surcharge’ in ITA Matrix results) with all tax items. In our example below, this equals $137 AUD.

Choose low surcharge Star Alliance airlines

Although, Singapore Airlines don’t add airline-imposed surcharges to their own rewards (only government/ airport taxes), they do for Star Alliance partner seats. However, there are many Star Alliance carriers that don’t apply surcharges. Google’s ITA Matrix (see more above) is the best way to find an estimated break-down of the total taxes and airline-imposed fees for each flight in your itinerary, which are pretty accurate. Simply search for your flight (any dates will do).

Some Star Alliance airlines charge high airline-imposed surcharges, which are applied on top of government/airport taxes. Below we’ve provided a list of some of the most reasonable carriers that you should try to stick with in order to reduce your final cash co-payment. You should also try to route your itinerary low taxing transit hubs in order to reduce government taxes and airport charges.

Some of the main take-aways:

  1. Always try to use Singapore Airlines where available (a great option when either departing or returning to Australia to Asia and on to Europe or the US).
  2. Choose low surcharge partner airlines (when you’re not flying with Singapore). These include Air New Zealand, ANA, United Airlines, Air Canada and Avianca.
  3. Avoid European based carriers for long-haul travel (instead, travel to/from Europe via Singapore Airlines or a recommended low surcharge Asian or US partner. Intra-Europe travel is OK as surcharges are more reasonable.

We’ve provided some recommendations on the best Star Alliance carriers to build in to your itinerary below.

Asia/Pacific/Australia
Americas/ Canada
UK/Europe
Asia/Pacific/Australia

When flying to/from/within the Asia/Pacific region including Australia.

Note, these surcharge examples are all for Business seats. Economy surcharges will typically be a lot lower.

No Surcharge (govt. taxes only)

Partner Example Surcharge
Sing. Air

(SING)

Syd-Sing

Sing-Lon

$0

$0

Air NZ

(NZ)

Syd-Akl

Akl-LAX

$0

$0

Low Surcharge

Partner Example Surcharge
ANA

(JAP)

Tok-Beij

Van-Tok

$30

$90

Asiana

(KOR)

Syd-Seo

Seo-NYC

$51

$60

THAI

(THA)

Syd-Bgk

Syd-Lon

$0

$0

Americas/ Canada

When flying to/from (mostly Europe) and within North and South America and Canada

Note, these surcharge examples are all for Business seats. Economy surcharges will typically be significantly lower.

No/Low Surcharge

Partner Example Surcharge
United

(USA)

LAX-NYC

Syd-LAX

$0

$0

Air Can

(CA)

NYC-Van

Van-Tok

$0

$90

Avianca

(S/Am)

San-Lim

Sao-NYC

$0

$0

UK/Europe

When flying to/from and within continental Europe.

Unfortunately most European based Star Alliance carriers charge moderate to high fuel surcharges, especially long-haul flights that arrive or depart continental Europe. We strongly recommend making your way to Europe with one of the low-surcharge Asian and American carriers mentioned above.

Continental European travel is more affordable on-board European based Star Alliance partners. Polish carrier LOT is good option for short flights to/from Warsaw, SAS for Scandinavia, and Turkish also reasonable for short trips. Swiss, Lufthansa and TAP Portugal are all pretty high, so avoid these if at all possible.

Note, these surcharge examples are all for Business seats. Economy surcharges will typically be significantly lower.

Low Surcharge (intra-Europe flights)

Partner Example Surcharge
LOT

(POL)

War-Lon $30
SAS

(SWE)

Sto-Rom $50
Turkish

(TKY)

Ist-Lon $75

Avoid high-tax transit hubs

Try to avoid flying into high-taxing airports. The main region to to note is the UK, whose government charge an Air Passenger Duty on every ticket. This is the major contributor to airlines’ tax co-payments for flights departing the UK. The tax is significant if you’re flying in a premium cabin like Business Class.

Even if you need to stop in a UK airport, there is a workaround that almost avoids the duty. If your itinerary permits, try to plan your UK departing flight at a distance of under 2,000 miles. The duty is negligible within the 0-2,000 miles band (approximately $30 in Economy or $50 for Business/ First Class). We’ve used this tip when flying out of London in our example Velocity Round The Wold itinerary, where we saved over $300 in taxes!

The higher taxes are not charged for connecting flights stopping under 24 hours with a single carrier and on the same booking.

Asia
UK
Europe
US/Canada
South America
Asia

Singapore and Japan are great Asian hubs with low government and airport charges. Singapore Airlines (Singapore hub) and Nippon ANA (Tokyo) are great Velocity – Star Alliance Round The World redemption options.

UK

All departures from UK based airports are charged an Air Passenger Duty. This is a significant part each airline’s co-payment that you’ll pay when flying out of UK airports. The tax is obscenely large if you’re in a premium cabin, like Business. The higher taxes is significantly smaller for short flights (0-2,000 miles), and they are not charged for transit flights (flights with a connection in London).

Europe

Ireland, Poland and to a lesser extent Scandinavia and Italy are low-taxing hubs. These can be great options as European entry/ exit points. German and French airports can be expensive options.

US/Canada

Flying in, within, and out of the US is generally cost effective. You won’t experience too much damage here.

South America

South American airports generally attract very low government fees and charges. Brazil is a great hub for departing long-haul flights as the nation prohibits carriers from applying surcharges. Be careful of flights departing, Panama, however, as there’s VAT, along with departure taxes to contend with.

‘Sweet-spot’ Star Alliance examples

We’ve published some of the most valuable ‘sweet-spot’ Star Alliance rewards that you can redeem with your Velocity points.

Australia, NZ and Pacific (one-way)

In this category we break-down the best local Star Alliance redemption options for Aussie travellers. The beauty of the ‘Southwest Pacific’ zone is that it features Australia, New Zealand and The Pacific. A reward within the region will set you back just 12,500 Krisflyer miles in Economy (16,875 transferred-in Velocity points) or 28,000 in Business (37,800). This opens the door to some very cheap flights aboard Air New Zealand from Perth and Adelaide to New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Note that like searching for most Star Alliance rewards, the Singapore Airlines website’s reward search feature doesn’t play nice. Be sure to check availability via the United Advance Search method and contact the Krisflyer call centre to check availability and book.

Australian capitals to the Pacific Islands

With the Krisflyer reward chart you can fly from all major Australian capitals on Air New Zealand (excluding Hobart and Darwin) to Fiji, the Cook Islands or Tahiti (all via Auckland) for just 12,500 Krisflyer miles in Economy (16,875 transferred-in Velocity points).

For example, a flight from Perth to Tahiti (Papette) is almost 6,000 miles! With this flight priced at an average of $800 you’re looking at a GRV of over 4c/pt! Unfortunately Business Class availability for most of these treks is pretty average, however you may find ‘mixed-cabin’ seats for the Australia – Auckland leg.

But the value just keeps coming with these flights thanks to Krisflyers’ generous routing rules. If you book a round-trip (return) reward, you can turn one of your Auckland connections into a free stopover! You can also position your return flight as an ‘Open Jaw’, which allows you to depart one Australian capital and return to another. For example, your itinerary could be: Perth – Auckland (stopover) – Papeete – Auckland (layover) – Adelaide.

Australian capitals to New Zealand

Flights from all major Australian capitals (excluding Hobart and Darwin) to Air New Zealand-serviced Kiwi destinations also represent great value, especially if you’re departing from Perth or Adelaide. You’ll also squeeze more out of the redemption if you fly-on to a smaller city, like Queenstown.

For example, a Perth to Queenstown cash ticket in Economy will set you back around $600, so you’re looking at a very healthy GRV (just under 3/pt)! Book at the pointy end of the plane and this jumps to 3.7c/pt!

Although Trans-Tasman Business Class availability can be poor, you should definitely check before booking as these seats represent great value. In our experiences, your best bet is searching as soon as the seats are released to Star Alliance (around 350 days from scheduled departure). With lie-flat Business rewards departing Perth and Adelaide on-board Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliner, there are some amazing opportunities to be had!

The following table is taken from the REWARD RANKER, which provides a consolidated summary of the best value Australian Velocity point redemptions. Note, the Star Alliance redemptions relevant to this guide are those with the black Star Alliance logo.

Click on each row (+) to more details, including example flights, details on the seat/ cabin class, availability, and a note on how to locate each reward seat. Example flights are one-way trips.

To/from/within the US (one-way)

In this category we break-down the best Star Alliance redemption options for flights to/from/within/ the United States. This is probably our ‘best-use’ category for redeeming Velocity points indirectly via Krisflyer with Star Alliance Carriers.

US to Hawaii

US – Hawaii has been a known KrisFlyer sweet-spot for some time, redeeming at a rate only marginally above Domestic US flights. The flights, on-board United, offer some serious value to Velocity members as a stopover point on the way to/from NYC, as all flights sit within the same region (e.g. Honolulu-NYC will cost you the same as a much shorter Honolulu-LAX flight).

With United offering both two and three-cabin class aircraft on this route, you’ll even be able to locate lie-flat seats for the journey. It’s important to understand the cabin class arrangements on these flights, as they do differ from what Aussies are used to (e.g. United’s ‘First’ in two-cabin aircraft = Krisflyer’s Business; United’s ‘Business’ in three-cabin aircraft = Krisflyer Business; ).

Flat beds aren’t always available, so ensure you check prospective flights via the ‘Seats’ link in United’s search results. In the flight below, ‘First’ lie-flat seats (shown as longer beds vs standard ‘square’ seat) are available on United’s two-class Boeing 767 (at the KrisFlyer ‘Business’ rate).

For example a 10-hour flight from New York (EWR) asks just 30,000 KrisFlyer miles in Business Class (or 40,500 transferred-in Velocity points). With a return flight setting you back over $3,000, this offers a very healthy 3.5c/pt GRV! Economy (17,000 KrisFlyer miles, or 26,625 Velocity points) is also competitive at 2.5c/pt.

US to Canada

Canada being clumped within the ‘North America’ region presents plenty of opportunities. For example, fly from New York to Vancouver with Air Canada in Business for just 20,000 Krisflyer miles (or 27,000 transferred-in Velocity points). Air Canada operates their Dreamliner fleet on these 6 hour flights, which house an outstanding lie-flat Business suite. A cash ticket for this particular journey would set you back a whopping $5,000 return (even more if you just want a one-way cash ticket).

Economy is also good value, offering a GRV of of over 2c/pt.

US Domestic

Another handy use-case for Aussie travellers is US Domestic, especially in premium cabins. For example, secure a US ‘First’ seat on-board United Airlines for just 20,000 Krisflyer miles (or 27,000 transferred-in Velocity points). Economy comes in at 12,500 Krisflyer miles (or 16,875 transferred-in Velocity points). This pricing is much better than United’s own program!

Note that in the US, carriers generally operate two-cabin class aircraft. These are ‘Coach’ (Krisflyer Economy) and ‘First’ (Krisflyer Business). Sometimes three-cabin aircraft are operated, which start at ‘Coach’ (Krisflyer Economy), ‘Business’ (Krisflyer Business) and ‘First’ (Krisflyer First). The real value here comes with long US coast-to-coast flights, which sometimes serve-up lie-flat seats in ‘First’ (for two-cabin aircraft = Krisflyer Business) or in ‘Business’ (three-cabin aircraft = Krisflyer Business). This is not always the case, however, so be sure to check.

Notable redemptions opportunities are United Airlines routes known to operate lie-flat aircraft. These include flights between New York (EWR), Los Angeles, Sat Francisco, Las Vegas, San Diego and Seattle. You can secure GRV‘s up to 4.5c/pt for some of these redemptions.

Availability in premium cabins on US Domestic flights can be difficult, so as always, be flexible!

The following table is taken from our REWARD RANKER, which provides a consolidated summary of the best value US Velocity Point redemptions. Note, the Star Alliance redemptions relevant to this guide are those with the black Star Alliance logo. Click on each row (+) to more details, including example flights, details on the seat/ cabin class, availability, and a note on how to locate each reward seat. Example flights are one-way trips.

To/from Europe (one-way)

In this category we break-down the best Star Alliance redemption options for flights between Europe and each of the Middle East, South Africa and South Asia.

The following table is taken from our REWARD RANKER, which provides a consolidated summary of the best value European Velocity Point redemptions. Note, the Star Alliance redemptions relevant to this guide are those with the black Star Alliance logo. Click on each row (+) to more details, including example flights, details on the seat/ cabin class, availability, and a note on how to locate each reward seat. Example flights are one-way trips.

Cheap round-a-region itineraries

As KrisFlyer operates a region-to-region Star Alliance chart, it means you can build long, multi-transit flights between zones. This isn’t for everyone, however it may suit less-serviced destinations where awkward routing is required.

It’s also great for value hunters aiming to build cheap round-region flights with stopovers! The key here is to find complex flights with as many connections as possible. We reiterate, you can not simply add in connections, you have to leverage a naturally indirect flights.

There are a couple of main zones to target:

  • ‘Central/ South Asia’ to Europe (see an example from this region below)
  • Southeast Asia to South Africa
  • Australia or Asia to remote Asian destinations that require multiple connections (e.g. Guam, Chiang Mai, Koror, Okinawa Island, North China cities)

As the Singapore Airlines’ website returns limited Star Alliance partner availability, especially for complex trips, these bookings are most likely going to require a United Airlines advanced search to gauge reward space. You can then phone KrisFlyer to confirm routing and book. That said, it’s still a good idea to try the Singapore Airlines website to see if you get any results. If you’re happy with these results it will save you also of time. If you’re not, you can still search via the United Airlines method and contact KrisFlyer over the phone. Find out more in the search section.

Example: ‘Central/ South Asia’ to Europe 

For example, let’s build a Business Class trip from Male, Maldives (‘Central/ South Asia’ zone) to Stavanger, Norway (Europe), and finish with an ‘open-jaw’ in Kathmandu, Nepal (back to the ‘Central/ South Asia’ zone). The default routing for this trip requires several connections, where we’ll aim to build in our 1 free stopover, plus up to 2 additional paid stopovers.

We start by searching for the route via the Singapore Airlines method. Remember, you’re required to book the most direct route. We got lucky with this search, with the Singapore Airlines website returning the following itineraries. If your search comes up blank, check via the United search method before contacting KrisFlyer to check availability.

Here’s our flight out. Note the cash co-payment (which is in USD = $388 AUD). We’ll also plan our free stopover in Istanbul. We’re flying mostly with Turkish Airlines, who offer a great lie-flat Business product on these routes. You really can’t escape fuel surcharges with Star Alliance carriers for long haul travel between the Europe, Central and South Asia regions, however Turkish Airlines are one of the most reasonable.

And here’s our round-trip ‘open-jaw’ mapped out.  FLIGHT OUT: Male – Istanbul (free stopover) – Oslo (layover) [all Turkish Airlines] – Stavanger (arrival stopover) [Scandanavian Airlines}

And our flight back. Note the miles and cash co-payment (which is in NOK = $325 AUD). We’ll plan another paid stopover ($100) in Oslo on the way back.

So after our flight back, here’s our round-trip ‘open-jaw’ itinerary and map:  FLIGHT OUT: Male – Istanbul (free stopover) – Oslo (layover) [all Turkish Airlines] – Stavanger (arrival stopover) [Scandinavian Airlines] FLIGHT BACK: Stavanger – Oslo (paid stopover) [Scandinavian Airlines] – Istanbul (layover) – Kathmandu [all Turkish Airlines].

As you can see, the 10,500 mile trek features 6 flight segments (the maximum allowed in any Star Alliance booking) and 3 stopovers (1x free, 1x arrival, 1x paid). However, because our itinerary is departing from the ‘Central/ South Asia’ region and arriving in the ‘Europe’ region, our Business Itinerary will max out at just 95,000 Krisflyer miles (128,250 Velocity points), plus stopover fees ($100) and the cash co-payment ($713). Amazing value! In Economy, you’re looking at 55,000 miles (or 74,250 Velocity points) and around $450.

This is an obscure itinerary, so its naturally pricey, you can see potential with this type of routing. Although the value of this flight is heavily subjective, at the time of publication it was ticketed at over $9,000 in Business and $2,500 in Economy (and these don’t include stopovers)!

Turkish Airlines produces a very competitive lie-flat Business offering, having won several awards for their catering.

Another great region-to-region multiple stopover opportunity is anywhere in Europe to anywhere in Africa (mostly serviced by Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines). However, you’ll probably have to search for availability via the United search method as in our experiences, we haven’t found that many attractive routings in the Singapore Airlines search.

Tips for booking Star Alliance flights with Velocity points

In the next section, we’ll look at our tips for securing Star Alliance reward seats with your Velocity points via KirsFlyer.

Be flexible

Naturally, you’ll improve your chances of securing Star Alliance rewards if you’re flexible.

Travel times, days & dates
Book ahead
Keep Searching
Travel times, days & dates

If you’re flexible with travel times, dates and days, you’ll be more likely to secure a redemption. Try non-peak times. We’ve also found connecting flight itineraries with a longer layover to be more widely available. For example, Singapore Airlines offer a wide-range of layover options in Singapore on their popular London route – a day-trip or longer layover may suit you.

Book ahead

Most Star Alliance reward seats come online between 330-350 days before scheduled departure. Search early and then often (see below)

Keep Searching

Reward seats don’t all become online at the same time, with many appearing as more capacity becomes available.

Consider KrisFlyer’s great reward seat flexibility

Although most frequent flyer program’s reward seats come with good change/ cancellation flexibility, Singapore Airlines redemptions are a stand-out. Changes and cancellations made 24 hours prior to departure attract a $25US/$75US charge.

Flight time & date changes
Route changes
Cancellations
Flight time & date changes

Allowed. Must be requested at least 24 hours prior to scheduled departure. $25US per guest per booking. Fare differences payable.

Route changes

Allowed. Must be requested at least 24 hours prior to scheduled departure. $25US per guest per booking. Fare differences payable.

Cancellations

Allowed up until 24 hours prior to scheduled departure of each. A $75US fee is payable for redepositing of KrisFlyer miles into your account.

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