Reader Success Story: How this reader booked himself up a Round-The-World award trip using Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and got himself Star Alliance Gold in the process

We love to hear stories from our readers about how a passion for collecting miles and points and sharing all sorts of do-it-yourself information on our site has affected their lives. Status via work tripsHoneymoon plans in the works, celebrating an anniversary in the Maldives, a gift to their parents, a vacation to Srinagar or Singapore or just that premium airline seat they secured on redemption. We’ve heard many such stories, and this year we are trying to share more of these stories with you. Book Krisflyer Award

Reader and fellow aviation geek Deovrat Khandshe, who I first met in 2015 onboard the first commercial flight for Vistara, recently wrote in about his experience booking a round-the-world trip using his miles. I requested him to write up his story for the Live From A Lounge community. Read on.


I got married amid the pandemic, and like most of us here, I wanted to celebrate it by going to an overseas destination with my partner. However, most of the world still has closed borders at the time of writing, and hence we’ve had to postpone our grand trip for the time being.

While we wait for the borders to largely reopen, we put our minds on trying to book something in Summer 2022, hoping that situation improves by then.

And while most people would consider such booking as a risk given greater chances of cancellation or two, this is precisely when miles come in handy.

Coming to the destinations we wanted to go to, we had an open map of the world. While I favoured Japan personally, my partner wanted to visit France. So of course, we had to do both countries!

The geographically curious of us will realise that these two countries are nearly on the opposite ends of the globe. So, if we were to traverse those destinations in any case, why not go a step further & make a round-the-world (RTW) trip out of it? An RTW award redemption in the premium cabins had been my holy grail ever since I wet my toes in the miles & points ocean about ten years or so back, and this was a golden opportunity to make it into a reality.

Booking Krisflyer RTW Award Trip: Process & Constraints

As outlined above, Japan & France were the only countries set in stone when we started our search. We wanted to make the complete trip in business class by redeeming miles as far as practically possible.

I had about 150,000 Singapore Krisflyer miles sitting in my account from an earlier transfer promo. While airlines are generous throughout the pandemic, those miles would expire as soon as that generosity ends (Krisflyer miles expire after 36 months of accrual!). Furthermore, I could easily top off Krisflyer miles from a variety of sources. So that became our primary source of miles for this redemption.

Current travel restrictions posed more constraints than we would have liked. For one, most countries in the world are still not open to Indian citizens. While some of them do accept vaccinated travellers, the situation is highly fluid.

In addition, my US B2 visa had expired, and my partner did not have one. We were reluctant to go through the hoops of getting ourselves to an embassy and dealing with a Covid-appropriate yet tedious procedure. Third, given Canada’s severe restrictions, it was not feasible as a destination/transit either.

This posed quite a problem since there are very few ways to cross the Pacific Ocean on Star Alliance carriers without touching the US or Canada.

I could think of Air New Zealand from Auckland to Buenos Aires and All Nippon Airways (ANA) from Tokyo to Mexico City (Editors Note: Readers, please let our Deovrat know if he missed out on anything else!). New Zealand is another destination taking an extreme stance on closed borders, so we quickly ruled that option out. In any case, you will find unicorns easily than long haul business class award space on Air New Zealand!

That left the ANA flight from Tokyo to Mexico City as our sole option for a Pacific crossing. So, we started planning our RTW around business class award availability of that leg.

Once that was secured, we could easily find a way to get to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines’ metal. Singapore makes most of their premium award space available only to Krisflyer members. So, Tokyo became our first port of call and stopover. I will be returning to one of my favourite cities in the world.

Singapore Airlines Business Class (on the 777ER & the A350 Aircraft)

Once Mexico was pencilled in as a destination, we decided to fly across the country to Cabos and Cancun to catch some sun & waves. Those flights will be booked using cash since Mexico does not have any Star Alliance carrier to redeem on.

From Cancun, we found availability on TAP Portugal to Lisbon and on a connecting flight to Paris. The transatlantic leg will be flown by an A330-900neo, with TAP’s new business class seat. That will be a nice bonus to cross off a new aircraft type for my diary.

After enjoying our time in France, the return is scheduled to be again on Singapore Airlines.

If you have been keeping track so far, the booked itinerary looks like the following (all sectors in business class):

And for the aviation geeks, here are all the planes I would be flying:

The cost of the above itinerary came out to be 240,000 miles + ~ INR 40000 in taxes & fuel surcharges per person. If one were to redeem for each sector separately, the cost would be 322,000 miles per person. So, the RTW has effectively saved us ~25% in miles here.

Getting Star Alliance Gold in the process

Not just that, in the process of making the points transfer, I also managed to cash in on the current ongoing promotion where Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is offering an upgrade to Gold tier (and in the process, to Star Alliance Gold) to anyone transferring 250,000 miles into Krisflyer.

So, here was my account before I had made any transfers,

And here we go after I had transferred in the required number of miles.

Of course, once the trip was booked up, all I had was 847 KF miles left in my account after I had booked this Krisflyer Award.

Bottom line

The hassles Live From A Lounge community goes through every day, choosing which card to spend on, which promotion to maximise, etc., become worth it when you get rewarded with something invaluable like this. Putting every little spend on the right credit cards takes some discipline, but the rewards are oh-so-worth-it.

We can’t wait to explore more of the world, create many memories, and of course, start replenishing our points balance so that this trip isn’t a one-off. We hope and know that more of us could replicate this, and if we have missed out on a trick (or a destination or two), do let us know!


Tell us about your success stories with scoring a great redemption, a fantastic hotel deal and everything in between. Please share it with us on ajay@livefromalounge.com and shipra@livefromalounge.com, and we will pick the best stories and publish them for everyone to be inspired.


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Comments

  1. Since you mentioned cost was 240k miles plus 40k cash PER PERSON, I am keen to understand how did the mile top up for your partner work out? Is she also a miles accumulator or did you have to create new account for her?
    Could you use your hdfc points to send miles to her?
    My problem is that unlike hotel miles, air miles are individual specific.

  2. How did SQ allow you to backtrack from Paris to Mumbai via Singapore?

    I’m going to be booking RTW myself by the end of the year so wondering, since their rules specifically say no backtracking.

  3. ANA round the world redemption chart is unbeatable. For reference, Bom-sin-nrt-mex-cun-lis-ory-cdg-bom is 23514 miles (of course some of these don’t have star alliance flights). On ANA that can be booked with 145k miles for business and 220k miles for first class. You won’t be able to travel by SIA though.

    • You mean, for booking directly with ANA miles, or through KF miles?

      Also, interested to know, how to go about making the booking via above route especially coz some flights will be non- star alliance.

      • ANA miles, to be used for star alliance flights. You’ll need to find places that have star alliance flights. you can do open jaws with ana though. The route is mentioned just for comparison between sia and ana charts. As deo has mentioned below, ana miles aren’t easy to find(always travel by star alliance accumulating ana points, and Amex/Marriott transfer are the only ways I can think of).

    • True that, though ANA miles were a hard to find commodity for me. And my Krisflyer miles were due an expiry any day after their generous extension ended. So it was an easy decision for me.

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