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My friend just booked a Singapore Airlines award with two stopovers, one destination, and one open jaw. He’ll be hopping through the Americas for six weeks for 60,000 miles and $123.

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I’m especially keen to highlight this award because:

  • it’s interesting
  • easy to copy
  • similar to awards I’ve written about theoretically
  • Singapore miles are the easiest to amass. Singapore KrisFlyer is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citi points. SPG points transfer 20,000 points to 25,000 Singapore miles.

Singapore Routing Rules

The type of miles you use determine the rules your award has to follow. He chose to use Singapore miles because of their great stopover rules. Unfortunately, it meant he was limited to six segments total.

Full Singapore Award Routing Rules

Relevant rules:

  • Singapore Airlines allows six segments per award.
  • Singapore allows one free stopover per roundtrip award and up to three additional stopovers for $100 each.
  • Singapore does not allow a stopover on one way awards.
  • Singapore allows one open jaw per roundtrip award.
  • Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance with access to Saver award space on all 27 airlines.

The Plan

My friend spends the South American summers in Buenos Aires. He wanted to visit family in Los Angeles over Christmas. He briefly toyed with heading to Hawaii, which is very possible on an award like this, and it even drops the price, but decided instead to focus on breaking up his journey with a stopover in each direction.

Since you probably don’t live in Buenos Aires, just imagine he lives in Los Angeles and wants to go to Buenos Aires with a stopover in each direction to make this more analogous to an award most Americans would want to book.

This award between the United States and South America costs 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 100,000 in business according to the Singapore award chart. United charges the same 60,000 miles roundtrip in economy, but 110,000 roundtrip in business.

In addition to the destination Los Angeles, my friend wanted a stopover in each direction. The first one is free, the second is $100 on a Singapore award. United would just allow one stopover.

Singapore awards usually include fuel surcharges, but none of Singapore’s partners to South America–United, TACA, Avianca, or Copa–have fuel surcharges on their award flights booked with Singapore miles.

Routing

Copa Airlines offers a ton of award space from its hub in Panama City to 10 American cities and throughout Central and South America.

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My friend decided to stopover in Panama City in one direction.

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For the other direction, he got even more creative, checking all the direct flights out of Los Angeles on Star Alliance carriers on Wikipedia.

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One that caught his eye was United’s flight to Cancun.

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Unfortunately because of the six-segment limit on roundtrip Singapore awards, he’d probably need a direct flight on Copa from Cancun to Panama City to keep his segments total low. Wikipedia confirms there is such a flight.

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Finally, he decided to return to Montevideo instead of Buenos Aires. Montevideo is just a short ferry ride away from Buenos Aires.

That left his routing like this with the minimum segments possible in parentheses:

  • Buenos Aires to Panama City (1 segment) stopover 1
  • Panama City to Los Angeles (1 segment) destination
  • Los Angeles to Cancun (1 segment) stopover 2
  • Cancun to Montevideo (2 segments) open jaw between origin and destination

This award is valid with one segment to spare (that he’d end up using because of less than ideal search results.) It should cost 60,000 Singapore miles total in economy plus government taxes plus $100 for the second stopover in Cancun.

The Execution

All the Star Alliance partners that fly in the Americas are searchable on united.com. Here’s how to search united.com.

The idea is to search all four “parts” of the award–separated by bullet points above–separately. If he found Saver economy award space, he would note the date and flight number, and later feed that to a Singapore phone agent. Singapore Airlines can book all the Saver award space of Star Alliance carriers found on united.com.

I’d strongly recommend performing these searches one way at a time instead of trying to save time by cramming them into a multi-city award search on united.com. You will just get error messages at worst and see fewer search results at best.

Searching one way at a time several months ago, he had success finding economy award space on all legs. His only hiccup was that he didn’t find direct award space from Panama City to Los Angeles, instead he’s connecting in Las Vegas on a combination of Copa and United flights.

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I just did a quick award search of the four parts of his award, and you can see there is excellent Business Class award space and good economy award space.

Buenos Aires to Panama

I limited the search to direct flights. Business Class award space (blue days) is widely available, while only February 23 has economy award space. My friend found economy award space when he searched, so the pattern of availability may have changed, or he may have been lucky.

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Panama to Los Angeles

This is the calendar for Copa’s three direct flights only. There is plenty of space in both cabins. Possibly because this leg is on Christmas Eve, he didn’t find economy award space on the direct flight. There are connections available in El Salvador and Guatemala plus the one he chose in Las Vegas.Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.53.01 AM

Los Angeles to Cancun

Los Angeles to Cancun has a lot of award space in both cabins on the direct United flight if you fly Friday to Monday.

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Cancun to Montevideo

These results are mostly with one stop in Panama. For whatever reason, February only has Business Class award space, while March has plenty Business and economy. He booked economy.Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.54.27 AM

After finding the award space, he called Singapore Airlines at (213) 404-0301. He fed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each segment he had noted from united.com. The agent quickly pieced together the award.

This is the confirmation email that Singapore sent him.

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He is spending:

  • 6 days in Panama
  • a month in Los Angeles including Christmas and New Year
  • 9 days in Cancun
  • returning to Montevideo instead of Buenos Aires

The award priced at 60,000 miles + 154 Singapore dollars ($123).

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That is all taxes. He was not charged $100 for his second stopover in accordance with the written rules of the KrisFlyer program. Sweet! Maybe you’ll get lucky too.

I’m not sure which points he transferred to his Singapore account, but in my experience Ultimate Rewards and ThankYou Points both post in 24-48 hours.

Getting the Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program. Cards I like that earns points that transfer to Singapore:

  • Citi ThankYou® Premier Card: 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also earns 3x on gas and travel and 2x points on dining and entertainment
  • Citi Prestige® Card: 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.
  • Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. 2x on dining and travel.
  • Ink Plus (business card): 50,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. 5x on office supplies and telecom bills.
  • Whichever Membership Rewards card (Platinum or Gold, personal or business) is offering a big 50,000, 75,000, or 100,000 point sign up bonus

Bottom Line

My friend booked an incredible award with two stopovers, an open jaw, and a destination for only 60,000 miles and $123 in taxes. He’ll get to spend Christmas with his family, explore Panama and Cancun en route, and end up in a different city than where he started.

Singapore miles’ fantastic stopover rules and access to award space on all 27 Star Alliance carriers make this award possible. The best place to book an award like this is to South America because Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on Copa, TACA, Avianca, or United award space, and the carriers have great award space throughout the Americas.

Singapore miles are easy to get because they are a transfer partner of every transferable points program!

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