Great seats, but not with your points

There has been plenty of hype about the quality of the premium cabin in-flight product that Asian and Middle-East carriers are bringing to the skies. Singapore Air and Emirates have invested significantly in their A380 First Class experience. Singapore offers a double bed option for couples traveling together and Emirates offers a shower, among other benefits. But getting in to those seats is going to cost you a lot of cash; they cannot be booked using all those points you’ve been saving.

Singapore Air started limiting seats in their Suites by designating them a different booking class, and therefore making them ineligible for reward bookings, even for their own KrisFlyer members. Things got worse when they changed the rules on their new business class product, allowing redemption only using KrisFlyer points and then only at the unrestricted/double points level. Among other things this took the NYC and Los Angeles to Singapore non-stop flights away from partner award bookings, as they are configured in an all business class setup using the new product.

Emirates was actually letting folks still redeem for their premium cabin seats following the launch of their A380s earlier this year, but that well seems to have dried up, too. As of December 1, however, they apparently are no longer permitting any redemptions in either the business or first class cabins on those planes.

Qantas is in a similar position, blocking out their A380 first class cabin from reward redemption. A number of enterprising folks booked reward seats on flights that were operated by the 747-400 when the reward was booked, expecting that the aircraft would be swapped to the A380. As far as I know they have been successful in keeping their reward seats, but no new reward bookings are being taken on those flights.

Ten years ago the most luxurious way to travel was arguably the Concorde. Sure, the seats were small, as was the fuselage itself, but you were wined and dined and among the elite of air travel. And all the while it was bookable with reward points. I’m not saying that there were free seats out there every day for anyone who wanted one, but at least the option (or the dream) was there.

And then, just like that, poof. The option is gone.

Premium cabin long haul flights are still, by far, the best value for redeeming points, but it certainly is disheartening to see the greatest of the options disappearing. Hopefully the allure of the A380 will wear off and those seats will come back into reward inventory, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.