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KF vs VA points

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VAG newbie

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I have received almost 100 of PM's requesting the best way to earn KF miles other than paying ATO. Since this is SQ forum, I guess I will post my view so we can think more laterally!

As we all know that Westpac altitude's earn rate was slashed by 1/2 as of yesterday, and they have closed KF platinum card for new applicants. Originally I have thought of converting to KF platinum card as well, but decided not to mainly because of the flexibility to transfer points to other programs.

But is KF the only currency that is worth while earning when paying ATO? What will be my post-Westpac strategy when it comes to paying ATO? I think I will use my other cards that will earn VA or QF points, CBA, NAB, WWEDR....etc. As VA points can be coverted to KF points soon, I guess I will just compare VA to KF and not mention anything about QF.

It’s almost unilateral comment that KF points are more valuable than velocity, and almost everyone’s opinion is that the ratio will be more velocity to KF. Some even predicted 3:1 ratio. However, my view is different. I don’t think velocity points are as useless as we think. I used to think the same way and have unilaterally collect KF points as much as I can. But recently I have changed my view. The main advantages of velocity over KF are:


1. Better availability, especially AUS-US flights.
2. No or much lower fuel surcharges, which may outweigh the difference in points.


Let’s take BNE to LAX in business class for example. Velocity requires 94000 points plus $103.70 in tax, (or 110000 with no tax! ie. real free flight!) compare to KF which requires 85000 points plus $733.16 in tax and surcharges! A whopping $629.46 difference for a saving of 9000 miles! That is about $0.07/mile!
For the same route, VA has availability almost everyday if you book well in advance, where as SQ is still wait listed most of the time on saver award, and it is a lot more convenient to fly VA directly rather than via SIN and NRT! Also with the new VA business class coming up, it is arguably better product than SQ’s regional business class which is configured at 2-2-2 and with angled lie-flat.

And for USA route, you can combine DL flights in the same award booking, which gives you more flexibility than KF, which you will need to fly SQ metal, that limits you to only a handful of US cities. (Forget using KF points to redeem Star Alliance to USA, they won’t allow back tracking. The only *A airline that won’t be back tracking is Air NZ, and we all know how generous they are in releasing award seats!)


Next, we can compare BNE to LHR. VA requires 120000 points. I’m not sure about the taxes as I can’t obtain that online, but given that BNE to AUH is only $84.50, I don’t think it will be much more than $100 (it will be on EY, and EY is well known for not collecting fuel surcharges. Please correct me if I am wrong). SQ will charge 80750 miles plus $495.16 in tax. So the difference in 39250 miles will cost you almost $400, which at the end, the differences is probably not that much. Again, EY new business class “Studio” is at least as good as SQ’s business class, and definitely better than their regional business class, which SQ serves all other Australian cities other than SYD/MEL. (Also you get free chauffeur service with EY/VA, which will save you some transport/parking costs)
The value of KF miles really comes down to the ability to redeem first class suites. Unfortunately for poor unfortunate souls like me that lives outside of Sydney and Melbourne, which makes about 15 million of us, we don’t have first class service with SQ! Which means unless we fly to SYD/MEL (with the added costs of connecting flights +/- accommodation, and the risk of missing the award flight if the connecting flight is delayed/cancelled), we can never enjoy the benefits of first class suites as SQ don’t allow mixed cabin online.


EY on the other hand, do look after people outside of SYD/MEL, and they will offer first class suites to BNE/PER on their new B787. So in this regard. VA is still more useful. Of course, some may argue the onboard service with EY is not as good as SQ. I guess that will be a first world problem.

But VA is not without it's own problem. Their coverage to Asia is terrible. Mainly because their partner that covers Asia is SQ, and redemption with SQ premium cabin using VA (and any other *A partner) outside of T-14 is zero, not to mention the rate is ridiculously high! Currently the destination you can go outside of T-14 is SIN with EY (which will disappear in Jun 2015), and a handful of destinations in Indonesia and Thailand that are serviced by 737! ie. no proper business class! Let's see what VA will come up with their new Asian destination. In the mean time, for Asian cities, stick to KF. (If you have altitude, consider CX or MH as the alternative. They are cheaper than SQ)

At the end of the day, if other major banks that can convert points to VA still earn full rates with ATO, we will earn VA points twice as much as KF. So while the redemption with VA might be 30-40% more than KF, because you earn 100% as much, it is definitely worth considering earning VA points with ATO. Of course that doesn't mean I've given up on KF. I still love it and I will continue to abuse my altitude card as much as possible for other spending.

These are just my thoughts. I posted in SQ forum instead of VA forum because we are KF all fans here, and many of us (including myself before) would simply ignore VA and focus on KF.
 

Jack3193

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And for USA route, you can combine DL flights in the same award booking, which gives you more flexibility than KF, which you will need to fly SQ metal, that limits you to only a handful of US cities. (Forget using KF points to redeem Star Alliance to USA, they won’t allow back tracking. The only *A airline that won’t be back tracking is Air NZ, and we all know how generous they are in releasing award seats!)
I don't follow what you mean here by "back tracking" - can you clarify?
 

VAG newbie

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I don't follow what you mean here by "back tracking" - can you clarify?
Back tracking means the two connecting flights are in opposite direction. My most recent example was, I was planning an itinerary from Brisbane (BNE) to Tel Aviv (TLV). Due to political reasons there are no direct flights between the Arab peninsula to Israel, so I must transit in Europe. Istanbul (IST) is the closest one.

So I asked KF for BNE-SIN-IST-TLV on SQ and TK, both *A. Unfortunately, I was asked to ticket separately between IST to TLV because that sector is back tracking. Due to the different zones (IST in Europe, and TLV in Middle East), despite the distance is about BNE to MEL, the points needed is quite high, same as AMS to DXB!

The other example would be if you try to travel to US, TG will route you through BKK and OZ will route you through ICN, both considered back tracking, so you literally can't use KF to fly to US via Asia. The exception is only if you fly with SQ metal and not other *A partners.
 

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Back tracking means the two connecting flights are in opposite direction. My most recent example was, I was planning an itinerary from Brisbane (BNE) to Tel Aviv (TLV). Due to political reasons there are no direct flights between the Arab peninsula to Israel, so I must transit in Europe. Istanbul (IST) is the closest one.

So I asked KF for BNE-SIN-IST-TLV on SQ and TK, both *A. Unfortunately, I was asked to ticket separately between IST to TLV because that sector is back tracking. Due to the different zones (IST in Europe, and TLV in Middle East), despite the distance is about BNE to MEL, the points needed is quite high, same as AMS to DXB!

The other example would be if you try to travel to US, TG will route you through BKK and OZ will route you through ICN, both considered back tracking, so you literally can't use KF to fly to US via Asia. The exception is only if you fly with SQ metal and not other *A partners.
Ok, thanks, wasn't aware of that. What about using KF miles to fly United from here to the US?
 

VAG newbie

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Ok, thanks, wasn't aware of that. What about using KF miles to fly United from here to the US?
That would be ok. But are you serious? What a waste of KF points on UA!
1. You probably won't find a seat
2. Even if you do find a seat, United has some of the worst cabin. Their business is 2-4-2 on a 777! VA is 2-3-2 (soon to be 1-2-1) on 777.
3. It costs more KF points than VA for flights to US. KF charges 97.5k one way + surcharges (maybe not with UA), yet VA charges only 94k without fuel surcharge. VA clearly wins here!
 

Jack3193

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I've flown with UA several times, most recently MEL-SYD-SFO in J a couple of months ago. It was fine. The seats were fully lie flat and spacious. Not the same standard as SQ but few airlines can claim that. It was better than J with TG, and considering you'd have to go via BKK with TG, I have trouble understanding why you'd see that as a better option. Now of course UA have launched the Dreamliner direct from MEL-LAX, while VA have dropped that route.

Didn't realise it was hard to get award seats with UA though - do you know that for sure?

As for points cost, yes VA is great value, but as I said for those of us in MEL it has just got a whole lot less convenient.

One other thing - my understanding is you can get to anywhere in N America with UA for that number of points, rather than just to LA. Is that not the case?
 

VAG newbie

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I've flown with UA several times, most recently MEL-SYD-SFO in J a couple of months ago. It was fine. The seats were fully lie flat and spacious. Not the same standard as SQ but few airlines can claim that. It was better than J with TG, and considering you'd have to go via BKK with TG, I have trouble understanding why you'd see that as a better option. Now of course UA have launched the Dreamliner direct from MEL-LAX, while VA have dropped that route.

Didn't realise it was hard to get award seats with UA though - do you know that for sure?

As for points cost, yes VA is great value, but as I said for those of us in MEL it has just got a whole lot less convenient.

One other thing - my understanding is you can get to anywhere in N America with UA for that number of points, rather than just to LA. Is that not the case?
I know TG is not good especially the ones servicing US. I just used TG as an example to show you can't back track.

I must admit I haven't been on UA J class myself, I just read it on reviews. But for me, if I want to redeem UA flights, I would use Lifemiles instead of KF consider that you can redeem MEL-LAX or SFO on SQ relatively easily with one of the world's best J product that you can't do with any other FFPs (now maybe except VA) for only 85000 KF miles.

With regard to UA availability, don't take my word for it, listen to the experts. This article summarizes how "easy" it is to redeem MEL-LAX on Dreamliner:

Award Space on United 787-9 Dreamliner to Melbourne Australia | milevalue.com

basically you only get sporadic J spaces @ t-14, and nothing for the next 11 months. To me that's almost useless. A bit more (still rare) with the SYD-LAX route, but if you have to transit, I guess not much different transiting in BNE/SYD with VA (in fact it's better as you can book all as one award). Of course if you are talking about Y redemption, that's a different story.

With connecting UA to other US cities, again KF's stupid back tracking rule might apply again. Eg, day if you are heading to IAD or DFW or any other city that is south of LAX, you are stuck. Because of this reason, even tho AC has better J product and YVR is a better place to transit than LAX, you can't use KF.

That's why I say KF for *A redemption is close to useless. Lifemile is better in this regard.
 

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I must admit I haven't been on UA J class myself, I just read it on reviews.
UA certainly has a very bad reputation, but to be honest, I think that's based on their Y cabin, and in my experience you should never judge an airline's J product on the basis of their Y product, or vice versa. I didn't have high hopes for their J cabin as a result of what I'd heard, but as I said, it's perfectly fine, and certainly not the worst J cabin I've experienced.

But for me, if I want to redeem UA flights, I would use Lifemiles instead of KF consider that you can redeem MEL-LAX or SFO on SQ relatively easily with one of the world's best J product that you can't do with any other FFPs (now maybe except VA) for only 85000 KF miles.
It's not that I want to redeem UA flights per se, I just want to get to the US in J, and I have KF miles! I love SQ in J, but when you go SQ from MEL to LAX or SFO, the total travel time is 30-40 hrs, no? That's just ridiculous in my view, regardless of how good the product is.

With regard to UA availability, don't take my word for it, listen to the experts. This article summarizes how "easy" it is to redeem MEL-LAX on Dreamliner:

Award Space on United 787-9 Dreamliner to Melbourne Australia | milevalue.com

basically you only get sporadic J spaces @ t-14, and nothing for the next 11 months. To me that's almost useless. A bit more (still rare) with the SYD-LAX route, but if you have to transit, I guess not much different transiting in BNE/SYD with VA (in fact it's better as you can book all as one award). Of course if you are talking about Y redemption, that's a different story.

With connecting UA to other US cities, again KF's stupid back tracking rule might apply again. Eg, day if you are heading to IAD or DFW or any other city that is south of LAX, you are stuck. Because of this reason, even tho AC has better J product and YVR is a better place to transit than LAX, you can't use KF.

That's why I say KF for *A redemption is close to useless. Lifemile is better in this regard.
Thanks, this is very helpful info that I was not aware of before now. Looks like I might end up converting my KF miles to Velocity then! One other question on this - do you know if it's generally possible to book multiple J reward seats on the same flights with VA? E.g. 3-4 seats? I started a new thread earlier today with some background if you're interested. http://www.australianfrequentflyer....s-krisflyer/rtw-j-award-series-one-64380.html
 

VAG newbie

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UA certainly has a very bad reputation, but to be honest, I think that's based on their Y cabin, and in my experience you should never judge an airline's J product on the basis of their Y product, or vice versa. I didn't have high hopes for their J cabin as a result of what I'd heard, but as I said, it's perfectly fine, and certainly not the worst J cabin I've experienced.



It's not that I want to redeem UA flights per se, I just want to get to the US in J, and I have KF miles! I love SQ in J, but when you go SQ from MEL to LAX or SFO, the total travel time is 30-40 hrs, no? That's just ridiculous in my view, regardless of how good the product is.



Thanks, this is very helpful info that I was not aware of before now. Looks like I might end up converting my KF miles to Velocity then! One other question on this - do you know if it's generally possible to book multiple J reward seats on the same flights with VA? E.g. 3-4 seats? I started a new thread earlier today with some background if you're interested. http://www.australianfrequentflyer....s-krisflyer/rtw-j-award-series-one-64380.html
I can't be exactly sure but I suspect what VA is doing is same as TG by releasing 2 seats at a time, release more until the inventory is finished. If you go to their search engine, they always say "2 seats left". Last time after I grabbed a BNE-LAX seat, and it still says "2 seats left". So I guess that's what they do. But call VA first and see if you can book 3-4.
 

JohnK

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I learned something new today.

I can fly BNE-SIN-CNX combination SQ and MI for 46,750 KrisFlyer miles and ~AUD350 taxes for a one-way in business. Depart BNE at 23:55 and arrive CNX at 10:45am just in time for golf. ;)

Not daily but suits me perfectly.
 

VAG newbie

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I learned something new today.

I can fly BNE-SIN-CNX combination SQ and MI for 46,750 KrisFlyer miles and ~AUD350 taxes for a one-way in business. Depart BNE at 23:55 and arrive CNX at 10:45am just in time for golf. ;)

Not daily but suits me perfectly.
good on you! As I said, VA's weakness is in Asia and I think they know that. To compete with QFF, who flies to HKG, SIN, BKK, PVG and NRT itself, with the support of its OW partner CX/KA and MH, whose network in Asia is excellent, VA had to come up with something. With the ability to convert VA to KF, that problem is solved. 46750 KF = 63112.5 VA miles, which is roughly the same as QFF on its own metal, and cheaper than redeeming CX! Now VA has Asia covered with SQ/MI/TG/NH/OZ/BR/CA!
 

Jeffrey O'Neill

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The NAB Premium velocity card seems not a bad deal now. 1.5 points / $ for VA and a tad over 1:1 with krisflyer via transfer

Seems a good deal for just $150 a year
 

lovetravellingoz

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I have received almost 100 of PM's requesting the best way to earn KF miles other than paying ATO. Since this is SQ forum, I guess I will post my view so we can think more laterally!

As we all know that Westpac altitude's earn rate was slashed by 1/2 as of yesterday, and they have closed KF platinum card for new applicants. Originally I have thought of converting to KF platinum card as well, but decided not to mainly because of the flexibility to transfer points to other programs.

.
I have the Westpac Black. That I assume still earns on the Amex 1.5 KF points per $ after transfer?

For VISA/MC spend I use my Citibank Signature. The likely home is to KF.
 

VAG newbie

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I have the Westpac Black. That I assume still earns on the Amex 1.5 KF points per $ after transfer?

For VISA/MC spend I use my Citibank Signature. The likely home is to KF.
we are talking about ATO earns. Other than that, nothing beats Westpac black AMEX. For Visa/MC, citi signature is the best, but they don't give points for ATO payments. That was why it was such a disaster in AFF world after Westpac slashed the ATO earn and everyone is looking into the alternatives.
 

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UA certainly has a very bad reputation, but to be honest, I think that's based on their Y cabin, and in my experience you should never judge an airline's J product on the basis of their Y product, or vice versa. I didn't have high hopes for their J cabin as a result of what I'd heard, but as I said, it's perfectly fine, and certainly not the worst J cabin I've experienced.
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Perfectly fine is hardly an enthusiastic recommendation for what is supposed to be a premium product.

Any airline where in J you ask for something on the wine list and you get "oh sorry, we don't actually have what's on the wine list, you'll just have to have whatever gets loaded" doesn't do that for me and the "anti-service", we just want to be your mate got after my nose given I'd just taken a flight on an Asian airline that offered better service in Y.

Then let's add in, they cancelled my flight without telling us until we arrived at the airport, kept us in the dark for 24 hours about when the replacement would take (oh, and their rep told us "this happens all the time"), downgraded us on the cross US flight, then cancelled the rest of our tickets, and finally lost our bags (and didn't really seem to give a ****). So that's just one itinerary, thanks but not really interested in trying again!
 

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Perfectly fine is hardly an enthusiastic recommendation for what is supposed to be a premium product.
I meant perfectly fine relative to other J products that I've experienced. As I said, they have proper lie flat beds, which is the most important thing IMHO.

It sounds like you had a very bad experience with UA, so I understand your negative view of them. However, things go wrong sometimes with all airlines. For example, I was once booked on SQ's A380 in J on an overnight flight from SIN-MEL, when they had to replace the aircraft with an old plane kitted out for short haul regional flights - the J seats were just recliners like QF domestic J. I may as well have been flying JetStar! And just recently I was delayed by 24 hours on the way back from the US because of Delta, while I've had baggage lost by VA, BA, MH and EY (in the latter case, my bag didn't turn up until the very end of a 3 day business trip). If I wrote airlines off every time I had a bad experience, I'd struggle to go anywhere!
 

VAG newbie

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I meant perfectly fine relative to other J products that I've experienced. As I said, they have proper lie flat beds, which is the most important thing IMHO.

It sounds like you had a very bad experience with UA, so I understand your negative view of them. However, things go wrong sometimes with all airlines. For example, I was once booked on SQ's A380 in J on an overnight flight from SIN-MEL, when they had to replace the aircraft with an old plane kitted out for short haul regional flights - the J seats were just recliners like QF domestic J. I may as well have been flying JetStar! And just recently I was delayed by 24 hours on the way back from the US because of Delta, while I've had baggage lost by VA, BA, MH and EY (in the latter case, my bag didn't turn up until the very end of a 3 day business trip). If I wrote airlines off every time I had a bad experience, I'd struggle to go anywhere!
Wow! Either you fly a lot or you are really unlucky. Lost luggage happen but certainly not common.

I agree s**t happens. I guess what matters is how each airline compensate you.
 
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Jack3193

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Wow! Either you fly a lot or you are really unlucky. Lost luggage happen but certainly not common.
Bit of both maybe. The 4 incidents happened over a period of about 18 years. It's happened to me only once in the last 6 years, during which time I've taken at least 200 flights.

I agree s**t happens. I guess what matters is how each airline compensate you.
Luckily, on all but one of my lost luggage incidents I was on my way home, so it didn't really matter - they just delivered the bag to me when it showed up, and that was fine. Etihad (eventually) reimbursed me for the stuff I had to buy while away, but I had to push for that. I wrote to SQ to complain about the poor quality J cabin and they replied to basically say "these things happen", and gave me 5,000 KF points as compensation. Wasn't overly impressed with that, TBH!
 

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I meant perfectly fine relative to other J products that I've experienced. As I said, they have proper lie flat beds, which is the most important thing IMHO.

It sounds like you had a very bad experience with UA, so I understand your negative view of them. However, things go wrong sometimes with all airlines. For example, I was once booked on SQ's A380 in J on an overnight flight from SIN-MEL, when they had to replace the aircraft with an old plane kitted out for short haul regional flights - the J seats were just recliners like QF domestic J. I may as well have been flying JetStar! And just recently I was delayed by 24 hours on the way back from the US because of Delta, while I've had baggage lost by VA, BA, MH and EY (in the latter case, my bag didn't turn up until the very end of a 3 day business trip). If I wrote airlines off every time I had a bad experience, I'd struggle to go anywhere!
I appreciate that things go wrong but not all airlines exhibit such a we don't give a ****e attitude to J customers when it happens and try to set things right. And the customer service guy telling me "this happens all the time" (shrug) suggests pretty strongly my experience is far from isolated.

Yes, I have had bad experiences with other airlines but in all cases customer service in dealing with the same has been exemplary!
 

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Luckily, on all but one of my lost luggage incidents I was on my way home, so it didn't really matter - they just delivered the bag to me when it showed up, and that was fine. Etihad (eventually) reimbursed me for the stuff I had to buy while away, but I had to push for that. I wrote to SQ to complain about the poor quality J cabin and they replied to basically say "these things happen", and gave me 5,000 KF points as compensation. Wasn't overly impressed with that, TBH!
Think that's about as good as any airlines can reimburse you. If you are famous like Ben from One Mile at a Time, they might compensate you more. I was once on a UA flight that was overbooked, so I was forced to go on the next flight. They offered $300 UA credit as a compensation. For me it was useless as the voucher expires in 1 year and I had no plan to fly UA within the next year. I tried to ask for a meal voucher instead of the $300 credit so at least I can have some coffee or food while I wait. No luck. They say either take it or shove it.

SQ's biggest problem is their inconsistency of their J product. Either very good or really crap. At least they are not like TG who changes their aircraft all the time, but if needed, they reserve every right to swap the aircraft on the last minute. That is why I said VA is actually more valuable than we think. At least for VA 777, you are only getting one product (Although things may change during their refitting of business class. They can't substitute their 777 with 737 or A330.) Also EY's long haul J product is quite consistent irrespective of aircraft type (again, subject to change when A380 and 787 enters service, but the difference is not that bad, at least not a recliner.)

CX probably has most consistent J product (Are you listening, SQ?). But their FFP Asia Miles is terrible with the worst service and misleading redemption chart. For anyone interested in my bad experience with Asia Miles, please read:

http://www.australianfrequentflyer....iles/beware-asia-miles-check-miles-58924.html

No compensation whatsoever!
 
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