Over the past few years, many frequent flyer programs have moved away from the customer-unfriendly policy of points expiring after fixed amounts of time. In late 2019, for example, both Etihad Guest and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles removed the expiration of miles after a fixed 2-3 year term in favour of activity-based expiration policies. Miles in these programs no longer expire at all if you earn or redeem at least one mile every 18 months. United MileagePlus recently went a step further, ending the expiration of miles altogether.
But Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, which is otherwise a very good frequent flyer program, persists with an outdated mileage expiration policy that’s rather unfair to members. With the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer program, miles expire 3 years after they are earned. Regardless of your account activity or engagement with the KrisFlyer program, you’ll lose any miles that are not redeemed within 3 years.
A small number of other international frequent flyer programs still have similar policies. Malaysia Airlines Enrich miles and Emirates Skywards miles also expire after 3 years. And Air New Zealand Airpoints expire after 4-5 years. But these programs are now very much in the minority, and the short expiration period is a key complaint of many of these programs’ members.
The problem with KrisFlyer’s outdated mileage expiration policy
With international borders now closed for an extended period, many Australian members fear their KrisFlyer miles will expire before they’re able to redeem them for international flights again.
Many Australians transferred large quantities of Velocity points to KrisFlyer in late 2018 before the conversion rate between the two programs was devalued. Similarly, many Australians transferred Amex points to KrisFlyer in early 2019 prior to the major American Express Membership Rewards devaluation. Those KrisFlyer miles are all due to expire in late 2021 or early 2022.
Even in normal times, the fixed expiration of miles is unfair because it makes it impossible for everyday members to save up for meaningful rewards, such as Business or First class award tickets to Europe. If you’re just earning miles here and there from Singapore Airlines flights, for example, your miles will expire well before you’ve earned the 326,000 KrisFlyer miles needed for a return First class award ticket to Europe!
Extending the validity of KrisFlyer miles
Due to COVID-19, Singapore Airlines has extended the validity of KrisFlyer miles due to expire between April and December 2020 by six months. Additionally, KrisFlyer miles due to extend between January-June 2021 will be extended by six months.
This is welcomed, but may not be enough to help Australians that remain unable to travel overseas indefinitely. Multiple concerned AFF members have posted recently on AFF to ask what to do about their expiring KrisFlyer miles.
During normal times, it is possible to extend the validity of KrisFlyer miles for six months by paying a fee of USD12 or 1,200 miles per 10,000 KrisFlyer miles. If you have KrisFlyer Elite Silver or Elite Gold status, you can extend your miles for 12 months for the same fee.
The only other way to extend the validity of your miles is to become a PPS Club member. The KrisFlyer miles of PPS Club members don’t expire, but to join you’d need to spend SGD25,000 on Singapore Airlines flights in Business or First class within 12 months. That’s a tall order.
Previously you could at least also transfer your KrisFlyer miles to Velocity Frequent Flyer before they expired. You’d lose some value during the conversion, but at least your points would be safe. This program feature was eliminated in April 2020.
The fixed 3-year expiration of miles has long been a fundamental drawback of the KrisFlyer program. But as the COVID-19 pandemic crisis drags on for an extended period, it makes the program almost unusable for Australians. This policy may increase the rate of breakage (miles that expire unredeemed), which is good for Singapore Airlines’ profits. But it’s inherently unfair to KrisFlyer members.
What does Singapore Airlines say?
Approached by Australian Frequent Flyer, a spokesperon for Singapore Airlines pointed out that KrisFlyer has extended the validity of KrisFlyer miles due to expire imminently due to COVID-19.
“We have also announced a six-month extension to KrisFlyer miles that were due to expire between April 2020 and June 2021. This extension also covered miles that had been previously extended and were due to expire between April 2020 and June 2021,” the Singapore Airlines spokesperson said.
“We will continue to monitor the Covid-19 pandemic closely and will make further announcements about miles expiry beyond June 2021 at an appropriate time.
“With regards to the removal of miles expiry, we continue to review all aspects of our KrisFlyer programme, to ensure it is providing our customers with value,” the spokesperson said.
Singapore Airlines also pointed to their recent extensions of PPS Club membership and elite status as evidence that it’s responding to the needs of KrisFlyer members during the COVID-19 crisis.
“The impact of Covid-19 brought about some changes to our Membership Renewal policy. KrisFlyer will automatically renew all PPS Club and KrisFlyer Elite membership statuses for another 12 months at the end of their membership year. This applies to all memberships expiring from March 2020 to February 2021. PPS and Elite Gold Rewards that will expire between July and October 2021, as well as new rewards issued in 2020, will also have their validity extended through until 31 December 2021,” the Singapore Airlines spokesperson said.
Such measures are helpful to some members in the short term. But they don’t address the fundamental issue. In our view, it’s time KrisFlyer changed its policy so that miles don’t expire if you remain actively engaged with the program.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: KrisFlyer Points expiry extension