Last week Singapore Airlines announced non-stop flights to and from Seattle from September 2019. This morning flight schedules were loaded and tickets went on sale for the 15-hour flight, the fifth US city to be served by the airline.
We’ve examined the schedules, checked award availability and deciphered the Alaska Airlines connection options to help you plan your trip on this brand new route next year.
A quick recap on the schedule for these new flights, originally announced last week. While the original route announcement did not state which date in October 2019 the service would increase from three to four times weekly, schedule data confirms the additional Sunday flight will take effect from 6th October 2019 onwards.
3rd September 2019 – 5th October 2019
|Flight||From / To||Aircraft||Days|
|SQ28||SIN0925 – SEA0905||359||·2·4·6·|
|SQ27||SEA1040 – SIN1730*||359||·2·4·6·|
* Next day
From 6th October 2019
|Flight||From / To||Aircraft||Days|
|SQ28||SIN0925 – SEA0905||359||·2·4·67|
|SQ27||SEA1040 – SIN1730*||359||·2·4·67|
* Next day
We checked Business Class saver award space and found the following currently loaded for redemption in the first two months of operation.
Singapore to Seattle
|September 2019 (SQ28 SIN-SEA)|
|October 2019 (SQ28 SIN-SEA)|
Seattle to Singapore
|September 2019 (SQ27 SEA-SIN)|
|October 2019 (SQ27 SEA-SIN)|
As you can see a pair of Business Class saver award seats has been loaded on almost every Tuesday and Thursday flight in both directions from late September.
The Saturday (and from October, Sunday) flights aren’t even available to waitlist at this stage. We saw a similar pattern when the A350ULR routes first opened up, however the situation later improved and we expect that to happen on this route too.
We didn’t take a detailed look at Economy and Premium Economy Class redemptions at this stage, however on a few dates we checked there were at least two seats available for saver award, including the weekend flights.
Singapore Airlines is offering the following fares for these non-stop flights in the first two months of operation (booking is only possible until 27th October 2018, due to the 355-day rule).
Singapore to Seattle
- Business Class from S$6,098 one-way / S$6,137 return
- Premium Economy from S$2,558 one-way / S$1,497 return
- Economy Class from S$1,232 one-way / S$987 return
Seattle to Singapore
- Business Class from US$2,802 one-way / US$4,240 return
- Premium Economy from US$933 one-way / US$1,192 return
- Economy Class from US$483 one-way / US$592 return
It’s worth recalling the redemption rates here – at 130,000 miles for a return Premium Economy saver award it’s a terrible waste of your miles – with cash fares of S$1,497 available, which would also earn you over 16,000 miles.
Without accounting for the miles earned, it’s a terrible 1.15 cents per mile valuation.
|KrisFlyer Redemption Singapore – Seattle|
|First / Suites||118,000||210,000|
Business Class of course is a different proposition, with introductory return cash fares exceeding S$6,000 you are getting much better value for the 176,000 KrisFlyer miles a saver return award ticket will set you back on this route.
It is possible however to get a 1-stop Business Class return from Singapore to Seattle in September next year on Asiana for around S$5,000. This still values the miles option well, but is perhaps a more sensible benchmark to use.
Currently Singapore Airlines is not offering connecting flights through its non-stop Seattle services, either with Star Alliance carrier United or its partner Alaska Airlines.
The few Alaska Airlines flights SIA do codeshare on to and from Seattle are actually designed to link to the carrier’s other US flights – at San Francisco, Houston and Los Angeles. In other words these are a way for Singapore Airlines to sell tickets to and from Seattle without flying there themselves.
Now that these new services have been announced we expect a significant codeshare arrangement with SQ adding flight numbers to a range of Alaska’s flights. As we mentioned last week Cathay Pacific has already done this in anticipation of its Seattle flights starting next year.
Singapore Airlines also codeshares extensively with Alaska at San Francisco and Los Angeles, on around 30 daily flights at each of those airports.
It’s clearly a no-brainer for SIA to tap into the Alaska network at the home base for the US carrier, and indeed probably also determines the very viability of the Singapore – Seattle route.
While we can’t be sure exactly which cities Singapore Airlines will codeshare on, we can get a good idea by looking at the flight schedules.
The published Minimum Connection Time (MCT) at Seattle between International Arrivals and Domestic Departures is 1 hour 30 minutes.
In the other direction if you’re heading to Singapore, the MCT between Domestic Arrivals and International Departures is 1 hour 10 minutes.
Let’s start with the easy one. As we mentioned in our article last week, United doesn’t have a hub at Seattle. Rather, it links Seattle with each of its hub cities. That means slim pickings for connections to and from this new flight with the only major US Star Alliance carrier.
- 11:00 / UA278 / Chicago
- 11:05 / UA331 / Denver
- 11:15 / UA1402 / Newark
- 11:20 / UA2236 / San Francisco
- 12:07 / UA1833 / Los Angeles
- 12:30 / UA1867 / Houston
In the other direction, connecting to meet the Singapore Airlines flight back to Singapore from other US cities, the United options are limited to a single flight from San Francisco to meet the Minimum Connection Time, owing to the early morning departure of SQ27. From other cities an overnight stop in Seattle will be required.
If you connect onto a United flight in a single itinerary to or from Singapore using KrisFlyer miles you’ll pay the Star Alliance award chart rate for the whole journey – 55,000 miles one-way in Economy Class and 97,500 miles in Business Class.
There is no combined award chart for mixing a Singapore Airlines redemption with an Alaska redemption using KrisFlyer miles, so here you’ll pay the relevant miles needed for the Alaska flight on top of the KrisFlyer rate to or from Seattle shown above.
This does give you the added advantage of creating a mixed-class itinerary if you wish (e.g. Business Class Singapore to Seattle, Economy Class Seattle to Denver). You can also create a pseudo-stopover by booking your Alaska redemption independently on different dates with no impact on the number of miles needed.
KrisFlyer redemptions are relatively good value on Alaska Airlines, especially in Economy Class, as shown in the table below.
|KrisFlyer Redemption from Seattle on Alaska Airlines|
If you want to continue your journey to Mexico for example (a week on the beach in Cancun anyone?), it’s really cheap in Economy Class at 12,000 KrisFlyer miles. This flight takes 6 hours (nearly 7 hours on the return sector), so that’s an amazing miles rate based on flight duration alone.
In Business rates start to rise quite steeply as you move into the longer zones – it’ll set you back 44,500 KrisFlyer miles to Cancun for example, not a great deal for a ‘recliner’ Business Class seat.
Here are some likely codeshare routes for Singapore Airlines on Alaska flights from Seattle next year:
- 10:40 / AS91 / Anchorage
- 10:48 / AS716 / Omaha
- 11:03 / AS586 / Seattle
- 11:20 / AS1076 / San Francisco
- 11:30 / AS59 / Juneau
- 11:30 / AS159 / Anchorage
- 11:35 / AS496 / Los Angeles
- 11:35 / AS788 / New Orleans
- 11:40 / AS374 / Sacramento
- 11:40 / AS662 / San Jose
- 11:40 / AS1066 / Albuquerque
- 11:40 / AS494 / San Antonio
- 11:45 / AS780 / Spokane
- 11:45 / AS1148 / Burbank
- 11:55 / AS861 / Kahului
- 12:00 / AS1228 / Santa Ana
- 12:00 / AS650 / Phoenix
- 12:00 / AS350 / Houston
- 12:05 / AS700 / Portland
- 12:05 / AS901 / Boise
- 12:05 / AS1224 / San Diego
- 12:05 / AS1144 / Austin
- 12:15 / AS170 / Milwaukee
- 12:15 / AS748 / Saint Louis
- 12:15 / AS22 / Chicago
Unlike United flights, where only one flight into Seattle meets the SIA departure to Singapore, with Alaska there are several options arriving in the morning in excess of the Minimum Connection Time, including Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin, Los Angeles, San Jose, Houston and Las Vegas.
Singapore Airlines will definitely want to be codesharing on some of these city pairs, allowing seamless round-trip itineraries.
Using Mileage Plan instead
We write a lot about Alaska Miles as there are some great options for Asia-based travellers to get good value Business and First Class redemptions using them.
If you have a decent balance of Alaska miles however, you might consider how these could be used to fly on the airline’s own US, Canada and Mexico / Caribbean network from the Seattle hub, as an alternative way to connect to this new non-stop Singapore Airlines flight.
Alaska awards on their own ‘metal’ work on a distance-based principle, however it’s slightly complicated by the fact you can redeem a non-refundable award ticket for a lower miles rate and a refundable one for a higher rate.
Hop (< 700mi), Skip (701-1,400mi), Jump (1,401-2,100mi) and Leap (2,101+mi) are the four distance categories.
The best way to determine the number of Alaska miles you’ll need is to do an award search for the routing and date of your choice on the Alaska site.
Notice how two different rates apply in each cabin class for this Seattle to Chicago route using Alaska Miles. Provided there is partner award availability this route is 9,500 KrisFlyer miles in Economy and 34,000 KrisFlyer miles in First.
You will still need to call KrisFlyer to check availability and book in the latter case, though hopefully that will change soon.
The Seattle – Asia boom
The news here is all about Singapore Airlines, but more than that is happening when it comes to non-stop Seattle – Asia connections. Just two days after Singapore Airlines announced its Seattle route, Star Alliance carrier EVA Air revealed it would add three more flights per week to its daily schedule from Taipei to Seattle, for a total of 10 flights weekly.
That doesn’t sound ‘big news’ but in fact it’s an additional 1,059 seats per week on the much larger Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Once they ramp up to four services per week, Singapore Airlines is offering 1,012 seats on this route in total, less than EVA’s increase alone.
That’s right – EVA Air’s practically unpublicised increase alone on this route offers more weekly capacity than SIA is announcing in total here – and it starts 2 months earlier in July 2019.
Those 11 to 13 hour flights use the 777-300ER and are also available for redemption by KrisFlyer members.
Here’s how Seattle – Asia capacity looks in October 2019 compared to October 2018.
|Non-stop Seattle – Asia Weekly Seat Capacity|
|Oct 2018||Oct 2019||Change|
|Oct 2018||Oct 2019||Change|
That means once the SIA schedule ramps up to 4 non-stop flights per week in October 2019 there will be over 80 weekly flights between Seattle and Asian cities, with a total weekly capacity of 21,355 seats, 20% more than there were during the same month this year.
These will be across flights operated by ANA, Asiana, Cathay Pacific, Delta, EVA Air, Hainan, JAL, Korean Air and SIA.
As if that wasn’t enough, on Monday this week Norwegian Air UK announced it will start flying from London Gatwick non-stop to Seattle with the Boeing 787 in summer 2019, adding to existing London connections with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
This is fast becoming one well-connected city.
Will Delta continue to shun Seattle – Singapore?
Delta Air Lines has a large hub at Seattle Tacoma, flying to 50 year-round destinations (including those offered solely by regional partner Delta Connection), plus a further 15 cities seasonally. The carrier recently stopped its direct Hong Kong connection from Seattle.
Currently Delta flies its ageing 767-300s from Seattle to Singapore via Tokyo Narita, however we see a possibility here for them to go head-to-head with SIA on the route with a non-stop service instead, using the A350-900.
This would have the added benefit of featuring the new Delta One Suites in Business Class, with passengers able to take advantage of extensive connections across North America from the Seattle hub.
SkyTeam connections at the Singapore end of the route would be sparse, which may be a stumbling block for Delta, however we wouldn’t rule it out and the airline could even beat SIA to the route by starting first – in the peak summer months.
It would be great to have the option of the Delta One Suite on a non-stop transpacific route from Singapore, let’s see if they make it a ‘battle for Seattle’.
If Singapore Airlines’ new Seattle route is anything – it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Asia-Pacific connections to this booming northwest US city, which will see an overall 20% capacity increase a year from now on these routes.
SIA has started off cautiously with award availability in Business Class, and has yet to formally announce codeshare routes with partner Alaska Airlines, let alone add online award booking functionality to its site for AS flights. On both counts, we expect some improvement soon.
In common with other non-stop USA routes the price point for Premium Economy seats is competitive for such a long flight at less than S$1,500 return, certainly making it a poor deal to use miles in this cabin if you can secure such a fare.
Singapore Airlines will no doubt be closely monitoring sales and trends on this new route over the next few months, especially once formal codesharing is up and running. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the service hiked up to daily by 2020 if it’s a success. The question is – will Delta take it lying down?
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)