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Paid seat selection is here for Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights: What you need to know

Our guide to the new paid seat selection options on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights.

United Seats

Back in December, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir announced a range of new fare categories, harmonising their economy and business class airfare pricing structures, and introducing new booking classes, each with different perks attached.

Those changes came into effect yesterday, so if you were looking to enjoy the perks of the previous ticket types, sorry to say but it’s too late to book now.

One of the major, and more controversial changes announced was that many passengers, mostly those booking the cheapest ‘Economy Lite’ fares, would now have to pay a fee to select their seat in advance on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flights.

Depending on the ticket type purchased, and your KrisFlyer status, fees could apply for ‘Standard’ seats, ‘Forward Zone’ seats or ‘Extra Legroom’ seats.

Although extra legroom seats in economy class were already chargeable to most, and therefore well defined, neither airline revealed exactly which seats would be classified as ‘Forward Zone’ and ‘Standard’, nor what the exact seat selection costs would be by route, until today.

The new booking engine at clearly shows the advance seat selection options by fare type.

Paid Seat Assignment

Who will pay?

Advance seat selection fees will predominantly affect those booking the cheapest economy class fares (‘Economy Lite’), though Forward Zone seats will still be charged for ‘Economy Standard’ fares, and the charge to sit in an ‘Extra Legroom’ seat applies to all economy fares.

In premium economy, all passengers will have to pay for an ‘Extra Legroom’ seat. KrisFlyer and PPS Club members will have some of the fees waived based on their status level. Remember, at 48 hours prior to departure, seat selection becomes complimentary for all passengers.


What’s the charge?

If your booking is affected by the new seat selection fees, these are the charges you’ll have to pay to assign your seat more than 48 hours in advance of your flight departure. The fee is per passenger, per flight segment. Once check-in for your flight is open (at STD minus 48h), or if you book your flight less than 48 hours before departure, seat choice is complimentary for all passengers.

SQ 772 Row 51-52 (Chris Finney)
An Extra Legroom economy seat like these ones at row 51 on a 777-200 will set you back between US$25 and US$120 per flight, depending on your routing. No discount for the lacking window. (Photo: Chris Finney)

Note that the fees are quoted in USD and will be converted into your ticketing payment currency (normally SGD) during the booking process. At 21 January 2018, the SIA website was converting at approximately 1.33 SGD/USD. The charge itself is levied in your ticketing payment currency.


Once you progress to the seat selection page, it will reflect the actual cost in your local currency for each sector of the flight, as shown here:

Advance seat selection costs on a Singapore to Jakarta ‘Economy Lite’ booking.

The full terms and conditions for paid advance seat selection can be found on the Singapore Airlines website – see here.

The new seating zones, by aircraft type

The seat maps in our SIA Fleet section will be updated in due course to reflect the new defined zones, with our tips on the best seats to choose in each zone, for each aircraft configuration in the fleet.

How the new seat types and zones are shown on the Singapore Airlines seat maps.

In the meantime here’s how Singapore Airlines and SilkAir have designated Extra Legroom Seats, Forward Zone Seats and Standard Seats in economy class by aircraft type (Extra Legroom Seats in premium economy are self-explanatory, but will feature in the dedicated fleet guide once updated).

Airbus A319 (SilkAir)

Airbus A319 (SilkAir). All seats further back are Standard Zone

Airbus A320 (SilkAir)

Airbus A320 (SilkAir). All seats further back are Standard Zone

Airbus A330

Airbus A330 (all seats further back are Standard Zone)

Airbus A350

Airbus A350 (all seats further back are Standard Zone)

Airbus A380 Versions 1 & 2

Airbus A380 Versions 1 & 2 Main Deck (all seats further back are Standard Zone)

Airbus A380 Version 1 Upper Deck

Airbus A380 Version 3

Airbus A380 Version 3 Main Deck (all seats further back are Standard Zone)

Boeing 737-800 (SilkAir)

Boeing 737-800 (SilkAir). All seats further back are Standard Zone

Boeing 737 MAX 8 (SilkAir)

Boeing 737 MAX 8 (SilkAir). All seats further back are Standard Zone

Boeing 777-200 Version 1

Boeing 777-200 Version 1 (all seats further back are Standard Zone)

Boeing 777-200 Versions 2 & 3

Boeing 777-200 Versions 2 & 3 (all seats further back are Standard Zone)

Boeing 777-200ER Version 1

Boeing 777-200ER Version 1 (all seats further back are Standard Zone. Note that 777-200ER Version 2 aircraft is no longer in service)

Boeing 777-300

Boeing 777-300 (all seats further back are Standard Zone. Only applies to non-ER version)

Boeing 777-300ER Version 1

Boeing 777-300ER Version 1 (all seats further back are Standard Zone. Note that most 777-300ER aircraft are now Version 2)

Boeing 777-300ER Version 2

Boeing 777-300ER Version 2 (all seats further back are Standard Zone)


Singapore Airlines are obviously seeking to generate easy revenue with paid advance seat selection, and no doubt many passengers will play along to remove the anxiety of being separated from travelling companions or being stuck in that dreaded middle seat.

It’s a strategy that already works well for some other ‘full-service’ carriers, like British Airways, Emirates and Qantas, so it’s unlikely to go away. Remember the golden rule – if paid seat selection affects your booking you don’t have to take the plunge and pay up as soon as you book.

Keep an eye on the seat map to get an idea of what seats are likely to still be available when online check-in opens 48 hours before departure time (e.g. if you’re travelling alone and all you care about is an aisle seat, you’re likely to be ok holding off).

Remember if you’re travelling as a family with infants or children, or you’re KrisFlyer Elite Silver or above, you’ll always be entitled to ‘Standard’ seat selection regardless of the fare you paid.

ExpertFlyer also works well here, its searchable seat maps for specific flights can sometimes help you determine whether the bassinet rows, for example, are actually occupied or not (the SIA seat map will show them occupied and unavailable for selection until 48 hours before departure, regardless).

Bottom line if you choose not to pay for advance seat selection – complete online check-in exactly 48 hours before departure if you can, as it’ll likely be the best choice of what remains. You may even be pleasantly surprised.


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