How I flew Business Class for free!

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We had posted about Understanding loyalty programs and its benefits some time back and an article reviewing the Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program. It’s time we got into a little more detail of the Airlines Loyalty Programs or Frequent Flyer Programs as they are called globally.

Frequent Flyer Programs in simple terms as the name suggests are loyalty programs of airlines rewarding their frequent flying customers. This is essentially what confuses people and keeps most of them away from these programs. Frequent Flyer Programs award its members in terms of Air Miles. The most popular way of earning Air Miles is by flying the parent or affiliated airlines linked with that frequent flyer program. Every Airline, Every Frequent Flyer program has their own set of rules in determining the amount miles earned by a customer per flight. The number of airmiles earned by a member per flight vary upon multiple factors such as type of ticket, fare class, Frequent Flyer Elite Status etc. Do not confuse the word Miles with the actual distance Miles flown by the flight. The two almost never have any correlation. Miles are just a fancy Airline term for Reward Points. There are many other ways to earn Airline Miles than just frequent flying. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Credit Card Reward Points
  • Hiring Cabs / Self-Drive Rentals through Airline Websites / Portals
  • Hotel Partners
Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class

Let start with how many miles (KrisFlyer Miles as per the Frequent Flyer Program of Singapore Airlines) are required to redeem for an award ticket (Free Ticket).

Revenue Business Class Ticket Fares are approx. three times that of corresponding Economy Class Ticket Fares. As you can see, when you try to redeem miles for award tickets, the number of Miles required for Business Class Ticket is just a little over double of that of Economy class ticket.

Now coming to the point of how to earn these miles. For this, one needs to go into the details of credit card rewards. Almost all credit cards have some Airline Miles Redemption option as part of their rewards catalogue. You will need to put in some effort to understand which credit cards have a reward points redemption option towards a certain common Frequent Flyer Program. Here is a list of credit cards which I used to convert reward points to KrisFlyer Miles:

  • HDFC Diners Club Black – 1.5 Lakh Points
  • American Express (Membership Reward Credit Card & Gold Charge Card) – 32,000 Points
  • Citi Premier Miles – 16,500 Points

HDFC DCB has a Reward Point to KrisFlyer Miles conversion rate of 1:1 and the Amex and Citi PM Credit Cards have a conversion rate of 2:1. This conversion rate got me 1.74 Lakh Kris Flyer Miles. I could have got similar number of British Airways Executive Club Avios too, but I decided to plunge into KrisFlyer based on the travel destination.

Here is how much I spent approximately through these credit cards to achieve this:

  • HDFC Diners Club Black Card – Rs. 8 Lakhs
  • American Express Cards – Rs. 1 Lakh (Both Cards combined)
  • Citi Premier Miles Card – Rs. 1 Lakh

So, a spends of approx. 10 Lakhs over a span of 16-18 months got me a business class ticket worth Approx. Rs. 2 Lakhs.

There are few other cards too which would allow you to convert your Reward Points to KrisFlyer Miles.

Put up redemption requests across credit cards to convert all these reward points to KrisFlyer Miles. These Redemption requests can take anywhere between 7 to 15 working days and the KrisFlyer Miles will get posted to your KrisFlyer Account accordingly.

Please note that before putting up these redemption requests, you must register for the KrisFlyer Program on Singapore Airlines website and the KrisFlyer number will be needed during redemption requests.

After receiving the KrisFlyer Miles in the account, it was time to book tickets. Headed to Singapore Airlines website and started searching for flights. Do not forget to tick the Redeem Flights tick box while looking for award flights. All flight tickets will be shown in terms of KrisFlyer Miles instead of monetary value. Proceed with the ticket booking & Voila! A Business Class Ticket for free.

Pro Tip: When selecting Economy Class Ticket, Revenue ticket via Credit Card Reward Points gives better value than Award Ticket via Miles Redemption. When selecting Business Class Ticket, Award ticket via Miles Redemption gives better value than Revenue Ticket via Credit Card Reward Points

Some T&Cs to be aware when playing the Air Miles game:

  • Taxes & Surcharges are always to be paid extra. Miles are only adjusted against the Base Fare of the ticket
  • Award Tickets get booked very quickly. Keep your dates flexible. Try booking award tickets first and then planning out all other bookings like Hotel, Sightseeing, Pick-ups etc.

I will leave you with some more photos of the Singapore Airline A380 Business Class to drool over

5 thoughts on “How I flew Business Class for free!”

  1. A good read.. and eagerly awaiting more hacks like these. Maybe an article on maximising points for a luxury stay for family (based on last years offers) would give a very good insight.

  2. You could have booked a flight through diners points from smartbuy portal. why did you go through the trouble of converting points?
    Else book an economy ticket through diners points and upgrade via miles . Would have been cheaper

    1. Two aspects:

      1. I wanted to book a business class ticket. So going through Diners Portal, I would have paid about 50-55K Rs. from my wallet since I had only 1.5 Lac Points.

      2. Contrary to the belief, upgrade via miles is not always cheap. Upgrade via miles needs an economy ticket with certain fare classes. These economy tickets are not generally the cheapest ones. Singapore Airlines upgrade from Economy Flexi to Business needs 1.26 Lakh KrisFlyer miles. A business class ticket via miles needed 1.68 Lakh miles. Economy Flexi Ticket for Mumbai-Sydney-Mumbai return was around 80K. So in total, I would have spent 80K Rs. + 1.26 Lakh Miles which is way higher than the 1.68 Lakhs miles I used in this case.

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