When Singapore Airlines first revealed their new cabin products for the Boeing 777-300ER in 2013 they also quickly followed up with an announcement regarding an ambitious refit schedule for existing aircraft, forecasting the whole fleet of these planes would be refitted by September 2016.
It’s not uncommon for such projects to slip and SIA certainly had their fair share of upsets along the way, not least a 777-300ER wing fire in June 2016 which grounded a plane (9V-SWB) for 5 months and then a tow truck fire in November 2017 which wrote off a 777-200 (9V-SQK).
These events won’t have helped overall fleet availability and go some way to explaining the delays in completing refits on the older 19 of these 777-300ER aircraft that required it from the outset.
A little over two years late isn’t very impressive of course, but finally the end is in sight as the last two aircraft with the older 2006 seat products will be leaving service on 28th October 2018 to receive the newer seats.
What many won’t miss about these aircraft is the older 2006 First and Business Class seats. Here’s a reminder of what we’re losing on the older 777-300ERs:
And here’s why people are generally much happier with the refitted 777-300ER Version 2 aircraft:
Regulars on the Singapore to Beijing and Singapore to Tokyo Haneda routes will probably be no strangers to the 3-class 777-300ER Version 1 aircraft, as these are the only routes now being flown by the two remaining planes in this old configuration 9V-SWI and 9V-SWT.
If (like us) you thought there were three Version 1 aircraft still out there fear not – last week 9V-SWS went in for its refit, leaving only SWI and SWT to be completed.
Those two aircraft are still rostered to fly daily services to and from Beijing (SQ800/805) and Tokyo Haneda (SQ634/635) right through to the end of October, though do be aware they are occasionally substituted onto other routes as required for operational reasons.
GDS timetable data confirms this last pair of Singapore Airlines 777-300ER planes in 8F 42J 228Y configuration (Version 1) are now time-limited as they soon disappear from the schedules completely.
The first of this aircraft pair will depart for a Beijing rotation as SQ800 on 27th October 2018, landing back into Changi as SQ805 the same afternoon. Just before that plane finishes its work, on the same day the second aircraft has one last ‘hurrah’ to Tokyo Haneda and back (SQ634/635), touching down back in Singapore in the early hours of 28th October 2018, then it’s off to the hangar for both planes to have the refit work.
Beijing loses out
The unfortunate news for Beijing passengers is that following the withdrawal of the 777-300ER Version 1 aircraft at the end of October that particular flight pairing (SQ800/805) will revert to 2-class 777-200 operation with 2009 RJ seats in Business Class. That situation continues through the northern winter 2018/19 season, only returning to 777-300ER Version 2 operation at the start of the summer 2019 season.
There of course continue to be two other flights to and from Beijing to choose from – SQ802/807, an A380 Version 2, and SQ806/801, a 777-300ER Version 2. Those would certainly be the ones to pick from a seat comfort perspective.
Tokyo Haneda loses out temporarily
It’s a short-term loss for the Tokyo Haneda SQ634/635 flight pairing which will also revert to older cabin products for around 1 month from 28th October 2018. This time it’s a 3-class Boeing 777-300 with 2006 F seats in First Class and 2009 RJ seats in Business Class.
Don’t worry too much here though – a refitted 4-class 777-300ER Version 2 with the 2013 cabin products is ‘back in business’ on these flights from 1st December 2018. You also have the choice of an A350 with 2013 Business Class seats (SQ632/633) and a 777-300ER Version 2 (SQ636/631) in the meantime – if you’re flying this route in November those are the ones to pick.
Finally a consistent 777-300ER cabin product is coming for Singapore Airlines. Arguably the backbone of the SIA long-haul operation, completed refits will mean no risk of older products on this plane (often appearing as ’77W’ in official timetables).
It will also mean a Premium Economy cabin is offered on all 777-300ER routes from 28th October this year.
Sure – it’s late. ‘Plan A’ was for this process to be finished almost two years ago, but these things happen and SIA are far from the only airline promising much quicker ‘theoretical’ aircraft refit turnarounds than turn out to be possible.
While the 2006 products continue to feature on some other aircraft in the fleet, this transition on the 777-300ER fleet follows the demise of SIA’s ‘Spacebed’ seats in February and the ‘Ultimo’ blue recliners in March this year.
A final note
The summer 2019 schedules are being loaded already and to some extent it’s a ‘copy – paste’ scenario as Singapore Airlines build the initial timetables often based on the previous summer season. The 3-class 777-300ER Version 1 configuration re-appears on the Beijing and Tokyo Haneda routes from April 2019, however this is inaccurate as all 777-300ERs will have been refitted to the 4-class Version 2 configuration by then.
We expect the GDS (and the seat maps on the SIA website) to correctly reflect the new configuration for those flights in due course, so you can safely disregard those layouts for now.
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)