a bed and chair in a plane

Perhaps the most confusing part about actually using points, is that each airline has a different system for cashing them in. Singapore Airlines has a very unique feature for redeeming points with the airline in any cabin, where you can add yourself to a waitlist. How, why and when to do this confuses even seasoned travelers, so here’s a handy guide explaining how it all works.

a large white airplane in the skyWhat Is Waitlisting?

It’s exactly how it sounds, pretty much. On many flights, you won’t be able to redeem your points for a confirmed seat straight away. But the airline will offer you the opportunity to join the waitlist for the seat you’d like. If the airline decides to make it bookable using points, you’ll be first in line to snag it. But fear not, you have no obligation or financial loss if you decide not to take it.

Singapore Miles

To waitlist you’ll need Singapore KrisFlyer miles in your Singapore account, ready to go. You can instantly create Singapore miles using Chase, Amex, Citi or Starwood Points. And of course, you can earn them for Star Alliance flights too. That’s crucial step part one. You’ll need at least as many miles as the most expensive (using points) seat you’d like to waitlist for. So for example, if the seat requires 115,000 points one way, you’d need 115,000 points in your account to waitlist.

Unlimited Waitlisting

The cool thing is that you can waitlist for a virtually unlimited amount of flights and dates. You ONLY need enough points for one flight, to waitlist for an unlimited amount of flights. So if you have 115,000 miles in your account, you can waitlist for an unlimited number of flights and routes under 115,000 points – even though you only have enough points for one of them. Totally fine. So if you’re eager to try the new Singapore Suite, like we are – you can waitlist every day available! In practice, most seats begin to clear within two weeks, and around the five day mark.

a bed and chair in a planeWaiting, Waiting…

Now – waitlisting does not mean you’ll actually get on a flight. You’ll get a confirmation that looks just like you have a flight, but you don’t. Singapore could open up a seat for you hours later, the next day or anytime up to just 24 hours before the flight. You have no obligation to book and your points or money are not taken. If lucky, you’ll get an email (so use a valid email address) stating your request has cleared and how to get in touch (ASAP) to complete your booking. Again, if you no longer have use for it, just don’t get in touch (or rather do, and politely decline) so someone else can take it.

Finesse The Situation

You can finesse a waitlist situation with “chasers”. Things like frequent flyer status with Singapore Airlines or perhaps even one of their partners can be a bargaining chip. You can politely request for someone to take a look at your waitlisted seat, and see if it was possible to clear the seat for booking. You can state why the seat matters to you, your relevant loyalty to the airline and if you’re really clever, can even quote ExpertFlyer yields (empty seats) to make your case! Feel free to call and keep requesting. It’s possible someone will be on your side and make the request.

But Set Alerts

Sometimes airlines tech systems are a little funky. It’s entirely possible to be waitlisted, but not actually be notified that a seat has opened up for booking. Annoying, we know. But if you set alerts using ExpertFlyer or AwardNexus, you’ll be first in line to jump on the instantly bookable seat, if it becomes available. For best practices: always have both in play. Don’t be afraid to call in and ask for help clearing an award. All they can say is no!

Does this answer all your waitlisting questions?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Hi I have a question, when you waitlist with Krisflyer can you waitlist for saver awards or does it have to be at the advantage(standard) level?

  2. Hi. That’s a very useful post.

    Brings me to a question…
    I want to redeem Krisflyer miles for a sector for which my first preference is an SQ flight shown as waitlisted. Second preference is on a TG flight as Star Alliance partner which is available confirmed.

    Can I make this booking or does the second option has to be a waitlisted flight as well? Basically want to keep TG as a fall back option in case SQ doesn’t get confirmed.

    Will appreciate your response.

    1. You can waitlist as many SQ seats as you wish, and if you have enough miles, you could book TG as a back up. But if booking TG took your miles needed, you wouldn’t be able to waitlist anymore SQ flights.

  3. SIA,

    Why is certain flights available on advantage standard points but not available on saver? This applies to both waitlist and regular availability?

    Ie I wanted a sector, to Asia from Australia which it was available standard points and also purchase available in all classes (in abundance) but strictly unavailable saver. Othertimes it’s waitlisted saver and standard for the same sector. I understand flights have “peak periods” but this was not a peak time nor was the flight even remotely full? Just so I can understand for future reference bookings.

  4. what if I want to book flights for two people – on the same flight. I assume then I can only try one wait-list at a time. Otherwise – my wife my get confirmed for one flight, while I get confirmed for a different flight.

    Also – isn’t it possible that one flight will be confirmed – but the other flight not-confirmed?

    Any advice would be helpful.

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