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A lot of people love Singapore Airlines, myself included.

It’s a prestigious brand with solid hard-products (their business class seats are comparable to some first class seats on other airlines), the awesome Book The Chef service, and not to mention the pretty air stewardess with their friendly service (although many other airlines have caught up with that as well).

However, since the beginning of the new year, Singapore Airlines has been in bad press with regards to their new sales tactics – auto-inclusion of travel insurance, and implementation of credit card charges. Both of these ended up with people flaming our national airline in the press, and SQ finally retracted these new policies “following a further review”.

The new fare structure

With their revamp of the new fare structure, I find their new website more difficult to navigate than the previous version, especially when it comes to finding fares one day before or one day after – too many steps are required now! Not only that, I had first hand experience of a new sneaky sales tactic – something that has not been highlighted in the press as yet.

When one searches for a flight, now there are 3 difference options for Economy & Business – Lite, Standard & Flexi. For premium economy, there are 2 options – Standard and Flexi. The table above offers a very easy comparison of the 3 different options available, where one does not have the option of seat selection and upgrade with the Lite option as compared to the Standard and Flexi option. The difference in terms of fares are also clearly highlighted for the 3 different types. And of course, during the course of booking, one can choose to book an outbound Lite fare and return on a Flexi fare for instance – this is termed “Mixed fare”.

Since I was planning to fly Premium Economy, and the fare difference was quite substantial for a return Flexi package, I opted for an outbound Premium Economy Standard and a return Premium Economy Flexi fare, since it was substantially cheaper.


As you have guessed, the reason why anyone would bother paying a higher price for the Flexi fare would be to obtain an upgrade using their airmiles. However, there was an error message when I tried to make the upgrade online. Thinking it was because of this mixed fare issue (since the Standard fare was not eligible for an upgrade), I called the customer service helpdesk to see if the upgrade could be processed manually.

That was when they told me there was a small fine print at the bottom which stated that “When you mix fare types, whether within the same cabin class or across cabin classes, fare conditions for cancellation, booking change and no show will follow the more restrictive fare type.” 

I actually saw that line before I proceeded with my booking, but I thought nothing about it, since there was no mention about the conditions for upgrade having to follow the more restrictive fare type. It was obviously no fault of the poor customer service officer, but he had to deal with a terribly upset customer who felt so cheated. Eventually, he sought the advice of someone higher up, and finally agreed to grant me the opportunity for an upgrade out of goodwill (using my points of course), which was much appreciated.


Another example of mixed fare type – Economy & Premium Economy

Singapore Airlines has been very transparent with their fare structure no doubt, but their summary table is obviously misleading. The above is another example of a mixed fare type – this time with a Standard (“restricted”) Premium Economy fare with a Flexi Economy fare. This combination would suit someone who may want to use their miles to upgrade the return flight from CDG-SIN to Premium Economy since it is a flexi economy fare. However, similar to the first example given above, this would not be allowed following the fine print.

There needs to be better clarity possibly with an asterisk next to the “Upgrade with miles” for people to notice the difference and decide if this mixed fare is suitable for them. Otherwise, do not offer this option at all if there’s no intention of honouring it.







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10 Responses to Be aware of this hidden clause from Singapore Airlines when you book your SQ airticket

  1. Wayne says:

    So can we get around this restriction by making 2 bookings, one to the destination and one for the return trip?

    By making 2 bookings, SIA cannot say we mix fare types right?

    • Cheaponana says:

      Dear Wayne,

      I believe you are thinking of booking 2 one-way tickets? Unfortunately for most airlines (SQ included), it is more expensive to book 2 one-way tickets as compared to a return ticket, so I won’t advise that.

      • Michaela says:

        So the answer to Wayne’s question is yes?

        • Cheaponana says:

          Technically yes they are 2 separate bookings, so it won’t be a mixed fare type. But would you mind the much higher charges? You may be better off buying a flexible return ticket, which may be cheaper.

    • Lorenz says:

      Wayne, a one way ticket is at least 75% to 90% of return tkt.

  2. M. Rahman says:

    Very correct write up. I feel exactly the same. Online booking with SIA is the most complex among any other airlines. There are hidden catch. Sorry to say, now a days I rather prefer to book through other airlines only due to Hidden clauses in SIA. My other friends also bear the same opinion. Thanks for bringing up this truth to the public.

  3. Widjaja says:

    Good on you for posting this article.
    It happened to me, only last week. Sq gave an option of standard and flexi fare choices for both sectors jakarta singapore jakarta. I knew i wouldnt change my flight for jkt spore so chose the standard fare. But chose the flexi (which was $200 more expensive) for the spore jkt sector as I wanted the ‘free change of flight’ ability. What do you know….tbey pointed out that the rules of the lower ciosting flight will prevail over the higher flexi fare.
    Then why would anyone pay the 200 bucks.isnt it smarter to pay the 30 bucks?
    Oh….you will get priority seats plus more mileage,madam……
    For me, tbats cheating…😏

  4. Robin Beckett says:

    I’v Got to say that their website is one of the trickiest airline booking websites I’ve come across.

  5. PC Wong says:

    I don’t like the way SQ is charging for seats when I made my bookings to Perth Australia. Furthermore, when I was looking at their website, it says, 2 seats left, so I made the booking in case I missed out… Then after I made my booking, the very next day, I check again, and it shows 4 seats left and at a cheaper price (about $100.00 less). I called them and their call centre in India said they cannot do anything to help. Totally, felt cheated.

  6. Unhappy SQ gold member since 1998 says:

    Try UA, I don’t bother about their service, I enjoyed reading and relax which is good enough for the good price they offer and lots if difference. Their website is easier and intuitive and flight connectivity is better throughout US. SQ for unexplainable reason will connect you with non Star Alliance fleet like Virgin Atlantic etc… I am not flying SQ anymore to US, SQ charge exorbitantly high and take advantage on Singapore departing flight.

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