News Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines enhances Premium Economy seats on A350ULR, reveals ‘solo seats’

A few tweaks on the whole to the SIA Premium Economy seat, with the new 'solo seat' concept revealed.

New PE 1

One of the more unusual things we noticed about the A350ULR seat map when it was released on Thursday this week was the arrangement of the last three or four rows in the Premium Economy cabin, right at the back of the plane.

Here the seating arrangement changed from the standard 2-4-2 layout to a rather unusual (and possibly unique) 1-4-1 layout. It means passengers flying solo in this cabin should choose one of these window seats in the rearmost rows to enjoy their own dedicated single seat with both a window and direct aisle access to boot, usually the preserve of business class.

Well aside from confirming how these single seats will look, The Points Guy yesterday joined a media tour arranged by Singapore Airlines of the Zodiac facility in Texas where these seats are manufactured. There they revealed a few other enhancements for the A350ULR Premium Economy seats we didn’t previously know about.

You can take a look at the full article written by The Points Guy here.

The Seat

Though it’s heavily based on the existing A350 Premium Economy seat, according to The Points Guy the seat enhancements include:

  • A higher seat back pocket
  • A redesigned armrest cup holder
  • A solid armrest on both sides of each seat
  • A non-airbag (therefore smaller, less bulky) seatbelt
Before After
Before and after, the current Premium Economy seat is very similar to the enhanced one. (Photo left: MainlyMiles. Photo right: The Points Guy)

The tray table is the only other major change, now a single piece rather than a bi-folding one to save weight. Potentially that will make it more difficult to get in and out of your seat during meal times.

New PE 2
Seat pitch remains at 38in with 19in seat width on the A350, slightly narrower than on the A380 and 777. (Photo: The Points Guy)

The Single Seat

The obvious choice for solo travellers will be difficult to secure on the A350ULR with just six of these individual seats at the back of the plane. Not only do you get a more private seat to yourself here but there is a large storage compartment to your side (a huge one in fact, though it’s not clear how much of the space will be available).

You should also get a decent amount of floor space to the side, ahead of the storage compartment itself.

New PE Single.jpg
Will choosing this seat in Premium Economy soon cost you more money? (Photo: The Points Guy)

It looks to us as though this is destined to be a ‘C’ seat on the left side of the aircraft and therefore the storage compartment is located between your seat and the window. That’s how it’s effectively depicted on the Singapore Airlines seat map, as an aisle seat. Equally though it could be an ‘H’ seat on the right side which would put the storage console between the aisle and the seat, with the seat itself directly alongside the window.

We can’t find anywhere that’s been confirmed yet.

Seat Map Rear.jpg
Here’s where you’ll find the six solo seats

We took a look on ExpertFlyer and found these seats are already becoming pretty popular on the initial Newark services. Unsurprising as the airline is not currently charging extra for these, nor are they blocked for PPS members.

Expert Flyer SQ21
Good luck securing one of the six solo seats once the benefits become more widely known

Why?

A serious question is why have they done this to the seats at the back? Unlike many other wide-body aircraft the A350 fuselage only begins narrow at the back just before the rear toilets ahead of the rearmost passenger exits. Indeed Singapore Airlines’ current A350s feature a 3-3-3 layout in economy right to the last row.

Even if fuselage narrowing did require this in Premium Economy it would only affect the last row in our view, and a 2-3-2 configuration there would have easily been sufficient. Here two seats have been removed at each of the last three rows, which seems like serious overkill.

A350 rear cabin.jpg
The A350-900 rear cabin only begins to narrow at the pink arrow on this scale drawing, affecting only one seat row at most. (Image: Airbus)

This set of six solo seats therefore seems to be a quite deliberate effort on the part of Singapore Airlines to add an additional comfort and storage option for solo travellers. We think they may therefore try to monetise these seats at a later date like they do with extra legroom seats in Premium Economy.

Note: We now understand this relates to the additional cabin crew rest area in the ceiling at the middle of the rear cabin section, meaning there are no overhead lockers in the middle section of the last few rows of the A350-900ULR.

The solution to this lack of storage space appears to be the large storage bin for the window passengers, where a seat would normally be located. Those seated in the middle seats at these rows will therefore use the overhead lockers at the side of the cabin, while passengers in the solo seats will be directed to use their own stowage compartment at seat / floor level.

Summary

Some subtle changes here and the proof will be in the experience of sitting in this seat for 19 hours, a prospect we certainly wouldn’t relish ourselves.

The solo seats look great with ample side storage. They also seem completely unnecessary which leads us to conclude that Singapore Airlines will be charging extra for them before long, so pick them while you can if you’re flying in this cabin on the Newark route.

Hat-tip to The Points Guy for the information and the photos.

(Cover Photo: The Points Guy)

6 comments

  1. It’s probably due to the fact that they had to reduce seats to comply with weight restrictions.
    They cannot change to a 2-3-2 just for the last few rows as then the aisle Will not be a straight line and crew will find it difficult to manoeuvre.

    1. Doesn’t seem like weight – they’ve basically added weight per seat with those storage bins for no net capacity gain. If weight was an issue just a single seat with empty floor space next to it would suffice.

      Also many aircraft change to from 2-4-2 to 2-3-2 as the fuselage narrows (or 3-4-3 to 3-3-3). It’s no issue for crew that aisles sometimes curve slightly at the back.

      Every other A350 operator (with the exception of Air Caraïbes who use 3-4-3 on the A350) keeps 3-3-3 in economy all the way to the last row in front of the toilet. If you don’t need to remove even one Economy seat per row at the very back due to fuselage curvature, there’s no way you need to remove two (wider) Premium Economy seats per row.

  2. Wondering if those 6 seats in the back have usable overhead compartments.

    Perhaps they do not, and that space is used for extra crew rest areas (due to long flight) as we see on some a350s, and therefore put the luggage compartment on the floor as this is pretty long flight.

  3. Tail section of planes tend to ‘wiggle’ a bit, no..? amd assuming given this aircraft is even longer than norm.. would mean those single seats (and the rest there) would ‘wiggle’ even more..?

    Cool, and maybe even ‘fun’, if you’re a young-ish passenger, I guess.. but old farts like me may not like ‘em so much.. and to me, prolly also reason why SQ doesn’t ‘tag’ them as being special and reserve them for PPS..?

    I could be wrong.. but loooong time ago.. when I did try sitting behind a coupl a times.. I did feel the wiggle.. almost like going through an minor earthquake.. maybe things are different now.. and I haven’t been at the tail for literally decades..

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