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Revealed: Singapore Airlines’ New Regional Business Class Seats

Nine years ago almost to the day Singapore Airlines introduced the current 'sloped bed' regional business class seat, this morning they revealed their new staggered 1-2-1 flat-bed product with direct aisle access

Business Class 2

Just over an hour ago the first Boeing 787-10 for Singapore Airlines and for that matter the first in the world to be delivered to an airline customer, touched down at Changi Airport following a nearly day-long delivery flight from the USA. Inside – the long awaited and highly anticipated replacement for the Singapore Airlines regional business class product.

78X MM
9V-SCA parked at Changi this morning. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Arrival of the new jet has triggered the big reveal, and as predicted the airline has opted for a fully flat-bed seat in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access for all passengers, to replace the ageing 2-2-2 sloped-bed seats currently used on the regional fleet.

2018RJ-5 (Shutterwhale)
Five couple middle pairs feature at alternating rows in the 787-10 business cabin, as we predicted last month. (Photo: The Shutterwhale)

It’s Not STELIA Opal

As you may have already noticed from the product images – the first leak, by Australian Business Traveller back in January 2017, proved incorrect as Singapore Airlines have not opted for the STELIA Aerospace ‘Opal’ business class seat. Instead they have gone with the superior ‘Solstys III’ product by the same company as a starting point, customised and enhanced for Singapore Airlines as the ‘Symphony’.

It’s one of the more spacious seats on the market in the ‘staggered 1-2-1’ flat-bed business class category. The same basic product, albeit with different customisation, is already used by Alitalia and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

Stelia Solstys (Alitalia)
STELIA ‘Solstys’ in the Alitalia configuration. (Image: Alitalia)

STELIA is an Airbus subsidiary, manufacturing a wide range of premium aircraft passenger seats in the first class, business class and premium economy categories – and yes, they’ll happily install their product in a Boeing aircraft for you.

Stelia Solstys (Azul)
STELIA ‘Solstys’ in the Azul configuration. (Image: Azul)

As you can see, significant customisation has been applied to adapt the product to the Singapore Airlines customer standard.

2018RJ-6 (AusBT).jpg
Solo window seats alternate between window-side and aisle-exposed. (Photo: Australian Business Traveller)

The finish is in soft brown leather, with the light orange accents as seen in the new A380 products in the storage areas and cushions. At the headrest side, a sizeable ‘wing’ provides additional privacy, even for aisle-exposed seats.

We plan to fly on the 787-10 soon, so stay tuned to the blog for our full review of this new regional business class product.

Fast Facts

  • Fully flat bed (180 degree recline)
  • Direct aisle access for all passengers
  • To be installed on all Boeing 787-10 aircraft (eight to be delivered this year) and the ‘Regional’ Airbus A350 planes arriving in 2019
Window Pair J.jpg 2018RJ-4 (AusBT)
2009 RJ 2018 RJ
Seats
Config 2-2-2 1-2-1
Legroom 60″
Bed Length 76″
Width 24.5″ 26″
Recline 172o 180o
IFE
Screen Size 15.4″ SD 18″ HD
Power Source UNI Socket UNI + USB Sockets
Wi-Fi No Yes

Photos: MainlyMiles (2009 RJ) / Australian Business Traveller (2018 RJ)

Seating Layout

The new regional business class seats are configured in a space-efficient ‘staggered 1-2-1’ configuration, where in bed mode your feet go partly underneath the console of the seat in front. That means the seat rows can be closer together, allowing the airline to increase capacity.

It also means the lateral position of the seats alternates at each row. That makes the ‘simplistic’ seat map on the Singapore Airlines website of very limited use (Edit: They have seen sense, scroll down…) when choosing a seat on aircraft fitted with these new seats, like the 787-10.

SeatMapJ
The Singapore Airlines 787-10 business class seat map

We took the liberty a month ago of predicting the likely layout, based on seats marked for disabled access (which we figured would be the ones closest to the aisle), and used it to correctly predict the actual seating layout, which looks very close to this much more useful seat plan:

78J seat map
The layout we predicted – came true. (Image: MainlyMiles)

Edit: Someone at SIA is listening, and reading! The online seat map has just been amended.

B78X-J.jpg
Where they got the inspiration, I’ll never know…

‘Love Seats’ or Solo Seats

One advantage of the chosen layout is that couples aren’t left out, with five of the middle pair rows configured as ‘love seats’ situated directly alongside one another.

2018RJ-7 (TPG)
Alternating couple pairs and solo seats in the middle section. (Photo: The Points Guy)

You’ll still have to lean forwards past the privacy ‘wing’ at headrest height to have a good conversation though, by the look of it.

Business Class 1
No double bed on the regional aircraft, but the ‘love seats’ benefit from close proximity and good privacy from the rest of the cabin. (Image: Singapore Airlines)

For individual seats, business class passengers will have the choice of aisle-exposed seats – where the side console is located either against the window or the middle section, or the more private ‘cocoon’ arrangement directly against the window with the side console between the seat and the aisle, though in fact both appear to have good privacy.

2018RJ-8 (AusBT)
Choices for the A or K window seats. Note that row 16 has a missing window. (Photo: Australian Business Traveller)

Another option on quieter flights may be to take the risk of booking into an empty middle ‘couple’ pair when flying solo – in the hope that the seat next to you remains vacant. You could then retract the privacy divider potentially giving you a large private space to yourself, if the gamble pays off.

More Seat Details

We’ll save a full rundown covering each aspect of the new regional business class for our own review of the product next month, and there are already some reviews you can read in full from the delivery flight (see links below in ‘What the Bloggers are Saying’).

A few features from these reviews do look quite neat though, so here’s a sample of what piqued our attention.

2018RJ-10 (AusBT)
The side storage compartment and table, which also houses a multi-standard (UNI) power socket and two USB ports, a headphones hook to the side, and an extendable vanity mirror. (Photo: Australian Business Traveller)
2018RJ-11 (AusBT).jpg
Three lights each with three different brightness settings inside the privacy ‘wing’ of each seat. (Photo: Australian Business Traveller)
2018RJ-13 (Shutterwhale).jpg
A nifty touchscreen along the edge of the side table controls the seat, lighting, ‘do not disturb’ function and cabin attendant call. It fades when not in use before going completely blank shortly afterwards. (Photo: The Shutterwhale)
2018RJ-12 (AusBT).jpg
Lots of additional storage space including a bassinet position which doubles as a large shelf at seats 11A and 11K, despite being ‘aisle exposed’ and close to the toilets and galley. (Photo: Australian Business Traveller)

Regional Wi-Fi has Arrived

Based on the large hump about a third of the way down the fuselage of the Singapore Airlines 787-10s, we stated that Wi-Fi was an inevitability on this new jet – and indeed it was confirmed this morning that Panasonic’s Ku-band ‘Aeromobile’ Wi-Fi is fitted.

sq78710a
The ‘hump’ on the top of the fuselage gave it away – Wi-Fi has finally arrived on the regional fleet. (Photo: Boeing)

This system is already in use on the Scoot Boeing 787 fleet, but those used to Wi-Fi on the Singapore Airlines long-haul aircraft will be familiar with one thing – it’s a mishmash!

Currently, depending on the aircraft you are flying on, some Singapore Airlines planes have time-based packages, others have volume-based packages and some have ‘whichever occurs first’ packages. The Panasonic system used on the 787-10 is volume-based, which is quite unlike the A350, or T-Mobile equipped 777-300ERs both of which use time-based packages.

787-10 Wi-Fi Pricing Schedule (updated)
30MB 60MB 100MB
US$8.00 US$15.00 US$23.00

The prices are steep – and higher than Scoot are charging per megabyte on their 787s, which use an identical system. We can’t see a big take-up for this service especially on the shorter regional flights this aircraft will also be operating.

Singapore Airlines confirmed to us that those with a Boingo account, like the unlimited one which comes with the Citi Prestige card, will have complimentary access on this plane in accordance with their Boingo plan.

We also covered it in our recent article about the new free Wi-Fi allowance, and it was confirmed to us at the time by Singapore Airlines that the 30MB complimentary allowance for business class and PPS Club passengers will also be available on the 787-10.

Edit: There were conflicting reports between the Australian Business Traveller review and The Shutterwhale review on the Wi-Fi pricing plans. We reached out to Singapore Airlines who clarified that the above volume-based package will apply as shown in the table on the 787-10.

In-flight Entertainment

As expected, the 787-10 is equipped with the latest IFE system as installed on the new Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 aircraft, meaning you’ve got all the benefits of myKrisWorld where you can pair your individual device to the IFE system, making relevant media selections in advance of your flight using the Singapore Airlines app if you wish.

2018RJ-9 (AusBT)
18″ HD IFE pictured at seat 15A. (Photo: Australian Business Traveller)

The screen size is common to the latest A350, A380 and refitted 777-300ER aircraft – 18 inches and, of course, high definition.

Toilets and Galleys

Two toilets are located at the front of the business class cabin on the 787-10, just aft of the forward doors ahead of row 11. That’s a passenger to toilet ratio of 18:1, not quite as good as the regional business on the A330 (15:1), but still acceptable.

You may wish to pick a seat towards the middle of the business cabin on an overnight fight on this aircraft, as the noise and foot traffic from the toilets could cause disturbance.

There’s also a galley at both the front and back of the business section, so mid-cabin wins on a night flight. Just be aware of the missing window at row 16.

So far we haven’t seen any photos of the toilets themselves, but expect them to be pretty standard.

What Singapore Airlines are Saying

Let’s take a look at what Singapore Airlines have said in their press release for this new product. First, a short promotional video for the new seat.

  • Investment of US$350 million to equip the initial 20 787-10s with the new products
  • New regional Business Class seat reclines directly into a 76″ fully-flat bed with direct aisle access for all business class customers
  • Personalised in-flight entertainment experience for all customers through myKrisWorld
  • Each seat measures up to 26” in width with retractable armrests that can be raised and lowered. Whether travelling alone or with a partner, adjustable dividers at the centre seats provide for a customised level of privacy to suit individual preferences.
  • Seats feature a ‘business panel’ with in-seat power supply and USB ports, and integrated reading light unit with adjustable lighting intensity
  • Redefining travel on flights up to eight hours
Business Class 3
(Photo: Singapore Airlines)

What the Bloggers are Saying

A few lucky travel bloggers and aviation journalists joined the delivery flight, and it seems many were furiously typing for much of the journey. Here’s a run down of their thoughts published so far on the new regional business product.

Cutaway Drawing

The latest edition of Flight International features the following cutaway drawing of the Singapore Airlines 787-10. It shows the seats and some more technical aspects of the aircraft, for those interested (click to enlarge).

When You Can Fly It

Starting on 3rd April 2018 only one Boeing 787-10 (the one delivered this morning) will fly four flights per day for Singapore Airlines (Singapore to Bangkok and back, and Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and back), meaning your chances of seeing the new regional business class product on your next flight are very slim indeed.

As the fleet ramps up there should be eight aircraft in service with the new seats by October 2018, and in 2019 the ‘Regional A350’ aircraft will also be delivered with this product installed.

For full details of the routes and dates we know about so far with this new product, check our Singapore 787-10 schedules info here.

What are we Losing?

The 2009 regional business class seat (2009 RJ), but not anytime soon. As of today – 36 Singapore Airlines aircraft are still fitted with this seat, in a 2-2-2 configuration:

2009 RJ
The 2009 regional business class seat isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The seat was designed by Weber Aircraft LLC (now Zodiac Seats U.S.), and was first introduced on the Airbus A330 (9V-STA) delivered in January 2009.

By February 2009 the aircraft was regularly flying to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta as crews gained experience of the new aircraft type, but the first ‘official’ launch was on 30th March 2009 from Singapore to Brisbane – almost exactly nine years ago today.

Summary

The new 2018 regional business class looks like a great product, and it’s exciting to have a private, direct aisle access fully flat-bed seat for flights as short as Kuala Lumpur and up to eight hours from Singapore.

We’re looking forward to trying out the new seats for ourselves next month, so as always stay tuned to the blog for our comprehensive review of this new product.

(Cover Image: Singapore Airlines)

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4 comments

  1. Hi Andrew. Nice and informative report.
    How come some bloggers had some Incorrect info. While you go all the to contact someone in SQ. Smart and genius. Well written and i enjoyed reading it. Hope they will deploy this B787-10 as further as Istanbul :).

    Like

    1. Hi Franklin, thanks for the kind words I’m glad you enjoyed the article. We don’t always get everything right first time but we do make best efforts to try, and we will always correct the information through the right sources if necessary.

      For now SIA are sticking with routes within the 8 hour window of Singapore for the 787-10, but Istanbul is within range of the aircraft so a future deployment there is possible as the current 777-200ER fleet which operates to IST will be retired over the next few years.

      Like

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