Analysis KrisFlyer Singapore Airlines

Avoiding older Regional Business Class on long Singapore Airlines routes in 2019

Singapore Airlines is still flying its older 2009 Regional Business Class seats on a range of longer flights. On the whole though, they're now easy to avoid.

2009 RJ (Matt@PEK)

Last month we updated our Business Class seats by Route analysis all the way through to the end of the northern winter schedule in late March 2020, showing you route by route and flight number by flight number which seat type to expect on your next Singapore Airlines flight.

Better still, the permanent guide is continually updated, at least once per month and more often if necessary, so you always have the latest information at your fingertips before having to do dummy bookings or examine seat maps on the painfully slow Singapore Airlines website.

A couple of weeks ago we looked at where you’ll find the airline’s long-haul Business Class seats flying on short Singapore Airlines routes, of 6 hours duration or less.

This analysis is almost the exact opposite; where you’ll still find the older 2009 Regional Business Class seats on longer routes.

We think it’s probably still reasonable to ‘slum it’ in the 2009 RJ seat on flights up to 4 hours 55 minutes, but over that 5 hour mark it starts to become a drag, especially if you’re flying solo in a full cabin or the flight is overnight and you were hoping to sleep.

We’ve therefore looked in this case at where those seats are found on flights of 5 hours or more.

Other seats you’re much better sat in (in our opinion) include the latest 2018 Regional Business Class, and long-haul 2013 / 2017 Business Class. Even the older 2006 long-haul Business Class is probably preferable, despite its age.

SIA’s old Regional Business Class

Singapore Airlines flies two different types of Regional Business Class seat in its fleet, but the one we’re trying to avoid here on these longer flights is the decade-old 2009 version.

2009 Regional Business Class

Window Pair J.jpg
2009 RJ
Seat
Config 2-2-2
Width 20″
Recline 172o
IFE
Screen Size 15.4″ SD
Power Source 1 UNI + 2 USB Sockets
Wi-Fi No

(Photo: MainlyMiles)

Which aircraft have 2009 RJ seats?

  • All Airbus A330-300s
  • All Boeing 777-200s (note: not 777-200ERs)
  • All Boeing 777-300s (note: not 777-300ERs)

Why is it important?

With 2018 seeing us wave goodbye to the old Spacebed Business Class, shortly followed by the Ultimo Blue Recliner seats, there was a small sigh of relief as the 2009 Regional Business Class product became the oldest in the fleet – the worst you could get.

Less than a month later though, and Singapore Airlines soon piqued some new-found excitement over Regional Business Class when it revealed its 2018 version on the brand new Boeing 787-10.

2018RJ-2.jpg
Singapore Airlines revealed its 2018 Regional Business Class seats in March 2018. (Image: Singapore Airlines)

Direct aisle access for all, enhanced privacy and fully flat beds were now going to become the norm in this cabin.

18RJvs09RJ (MM).jpg
Most people now prefer the 2018 seat (left) to the older 2009 one (right). (Photos: MainlyMiles)

Time flies and already, 15 months later, 45% of Regional Business Class seats installed on the Singapore Airlines fleet are now the new 2018 version. That figure is set to rise to over 66% by March 2020 as older aircraft make way for new A350s and 787s.

It’s quickly made the now decade-old 2009 version, a more dated 2-2-2 layout seat that converts into an angled bed, look long in the tooth.

SQ-777-200-Regional-Biz-2-Edwin-Leong.jpg
Singapore Airlines 2009 Regional Business Class on the 777-200. (Photo: Edwin Leong)
2009 RJ (Chris Hoare).jpg
Privacy is an issue in the 2009 Regional Business Class, pictured here on an A330. (Photo: Chris Hoare)

We have a full review of the seat on a Airbus A330 from a Bangkok to Singapore flight here.

Where do they fly?

Still a number of places within 5 hours of Singapore, but there are nine routes you need to watch out for where you can potentially be stuck in the Singapore Airlines 2009 Regional Business Class seat for more than five hours.

In one example, to or from Wellington, you’ll have to tolerate 11 hours of flying time in the seat, so it’s vital to know what the alternatives are.

!Map LH.jpg

Here are the longer routes where you’ll see these older Regional Business Class seats flying for the rest of 2019. Where possible, we’ve listed the better alternatives too, to help you choose better when you come to book or redeem.

AMD Feature

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 39,000 miles
Advantage: 65,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ530 SIN > AMD 1835 2135 333 All
SQ531 AMD > SIN 2250 0710 (+1) 333 All

The Singapore to Ahmedabad route flight is a 5 hr 30 min stretch, but still uses the A330 with 2009 RJ seats.

Alternatives: None here unfortunately, SIA’s four times weekly service to and from Ahmedabad is exclusively flown using the A330-300, so you’d probably have to fly to Delhi or Mumbai on a plane with newer seats then take a domestic flight to avoid the 2009 RJ on this route.

PEK Feature.jpg

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 39,000 miles
Advantage: 65,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ800 SIN > PEK 0110 0715 772 From 1 Feb
SQ805 PEK > SIN 0845 1520 772 From 1 Feb

Not technically until 2020, the SQ800/805 Beijing flights actually switch to the 777-200 with 2009 RJ seats from February next year, but we thought we’d include this one as it’s a long route and currently you’re guaranteed a long-haul seat type whichever service you take on it each day.

Currently the SQ800/805 flight pair is flown with the 777-300ER with 2013 Business Class seats, so it’s quite a come down, especially as SQ800 is SIA’s sole overnight service from Changi to Beijing.

Four of the five remaining 777-200s are leaving the fleet through the next year and so we can only hope this change doesn’t actually happen, but for now avoid the SQ800/805 after 1st February 2020 until we’re sure.

Alternatives: After 1st February 2020, you can still take SQ802/807 (A380, 2006 J seats) or SQ801/806 (777-300ER, 2013 J seats) on daily Beijing flights to avoid the old regional product.

MEL Feature.jpg

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 62,000 miles
Advantage: 90,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ247 SIN > MEL 1945 0510 (+1) 772 All
SQ248 MEL > SIN 1645 2240 772 All

Operating four days per week, the SQ247/248 to and from Melbourne is still flown on the 777-200 with 2009 RJ seats. The service continues to Wellington, as you’ll see later in the article.

This one will have to change equipment type eventually, with only one 777-200 in the fleet by 31st March 2020 which would be unable to support the schedule on its own, though there’s nothing to stop SIA switching it to an A330. We’re expecting and hoping for an A350 Regional though.

Until we know, avoid this one.

Alternatives: All four daily alternatives to and from Melbourne feature the 2013 J or 2006 J seats in Business Class, so just avoid SQ247/248.

KIX Feature.jpg

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 47,000 miles
Advantage: 70,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ618 SIN > KIX 0125 0905 333 Until 26 Jul
SQ619 KIX > SIN 1055 1640 333 Until 26 Jul
SQ620 SIN > KIX 0830 1610 333 All
SQ621 KIX > SIN 1725 2305 333 All

On the Osaka route there are still old 2009 RJ seats on the daily SQ620/621 daytime flight as always.

Also beware flying the SQ618/619 pairing between now and 26th July 2019 when the usual 787-10 with new Regional Business Class seats is replaced with an A330, which, yes you guessed it, means more 2009 RJ seats!

Alternatives: SQ622/623 on the 787-10 with 2018 RJ seats is your go-to flight on the Osaka route for a new Business Class seat, with SQ618/619 also featuring that product from 27th July 2019 onwards.

CTS Feature.jpg

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 47,000 miles
Advantage: 70,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ660 SIN > CTS 2300 0730 (+1) 333 30 Nov to 6 Jan
SQ661 CTS > SIN 0855 1640 333 1 Dec to 7 Jan

It’s a short stint as always for Singapore Airlines’ seasonal Sapporo route this year, serving the ski and festive season on a daily basis predominantly during December and into early January.

As it stands the airline has rostered the A330-300 to operate this route, which means the 2009 RJ seats in Business Class.

Alternatives: SIA’s Sapporo route is seasonal and only flies on the A330, so there’s no good alternative non-stop option if you want to avoid these older seats. Flying to another Japanese city with the airline then taking a domestic flight to Sapporo is one alternative.

PVG Feature

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 39,000 miles
Advantage: 65,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ826 SIN > PVG 0115 0635 773 Until 31 Jul
SQ827 PVG > SIN 0805 1325 773 Until 31 Jul
SQ832 SIN > PVG 1245 1805 773 1 Aug to 26 Oct
SQ835 PVG > SIN 1910 0030 (+1) 773 1 Aug to 26 Oct

Until the end of July 2019, SQ826/827 is the only flight to and from Shanghai with 2009 RJ seats. It flies overnight from Singapore to Shanghai (SQ862), so is best avoided.

That service is replaced by a 787-10 with new Regional Business Class seats from 1st August, as we reported last week, but unfortunately the bad news is another flight then picks up the older seats the same day for three more months – SQ832/835.

Alternatives: With up to five other options through the day on the Singapore – Shanghai route with SIA, including the new 2017 J seat on the A380, it’s easy to avoid these older seats.

TYO Feature.jpg

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 47,000 miles
Advantage: 70,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ630 SIN > HND 1725 0100 (+1) 773 From 27 Oct
SQ639 HND > SIN 0230 0915 773 From 27 Oct

Currently all Singapore Airlines flights to and from Tokyo have long-haul Business Class seats. You’ll get the 2006 J and 2013 J on the Narita route, and exclusively the 2013 J on the Haneda route.

For the northern winter season however, SQ630/639 to and from Haneda (currently a 777-300ER) is set to be flown by the 777-300 (non-ER) with 2006 F and 2009 RJ seats.

Not a big deal in First Class but one to avoid in Business Class, especially on the overnight SQ639 HND-SIN flight.

Alternatives: Almost every Tokyo service has newer Business Class seats, so provided you avoid the SQ630/639 Haneda flight this winter you’ll be good.

WLG Feature.jpg

KrisFlyer rates
(Business Class)
KF Logo trans.png
Saver: 62,000 miles
Advantage: 90,000 miles
Flight schedules
(2009 RJ seats)
Window Pair J.jpg
Flt No. Route Dep Arr A/c Dates
SQ247 SIN > WLG 1945 1210 (+1) 772 All
SQ248 WLG > SIN 1330 2240 772 All

The SQ247/248 to and from Melbourne we referred to earlier in the article, flown on the 777-200 with 2009 RJ seats, actually continues to Wellington on all four days of operation per week.

While the 2009 RJ seat is no hardship for a Trans-Tasman hop, if you’re flying all the way to New Zealand from Singapore or vice-versa it’s a long slog. You’ll be on the plane for 13 hours whichever way you take this routing, 11 hours of which is flying time.

As we mentioned when we discussed the flight earlier in relation to the Melbourne route, this one has to get an equipment swap by March 2020 when the 777-200 fleet will dwindle to one aircraft, but we’re not sure what SIA will choose to deploy instead at this stage.

Alternatives: As the sole Singapore Airlines option to Wellington there’s not much avoiding this one, short of taking a better seat to Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne then booking a connecting flight. That might not be a bad idea on this route, since it involves a stop anyway.

Changes and substitutions can occur

The data for this information is based on GDS timetables and programmed seat layouts and is correct at 8th July 2019.

No change to our usual caveat, changes will happen and some of these flights are indeed likely to switch to the new 2018 Regional Business Class seats as more 777-200s and A330s leave the fleet over the rest of this year.

For these routes though, that’s almost always a good thing as opposed to a negative one, so think of the above list as a ‘worst case’ scenario.

In terms of substitutions, as always Singapore Airlines reserves the right to substitute a different aircraft type last minute on any flight due to operational requirements. This can occur even on the day of your flight, so you’re never guaranteed a particular seat type until you get on board.

If you were hoping to avoid an old 2009 RJ seat, you might still end up in one if you’re unlucky, for this very reason.

Summary

Singapore Airlines is still flying its old Regional Business Class seats, which don’t all have direct aisle access and don’t convert into flat beds, on several routes we would certainly say are “a bit too far for comfort” in 2019.

2009 RJ 2 (Matt@PEK).jpg
Much more than 5 hours in these seats, especially an overnight flight, is no longer an industry-leading experience. (Photo: Matt@PEK via Flickr)

The good news is in most of these examples you can easily avoid them, with several better alternatives running throughout the day on flights like Beijing, Shanghai and Melbourne.

Though some find the new 2018 RJ seats too narrow, reception has mostly been positive and news of them replacing the older product is generally welcomed. Better still, avoiding the 2009 RJ seats on many of the routes above means a long-haul grade seat, not the newer regional one.

Finally we don’t just have full details of these flights, our Business Class Seats by Route page shows you the aircraft and seat type scheduled on all Singapore Airlines routes between now and March 2020, and is continually updated with any changes. Check it out before planning your next trip.

(Cover Photo: Matt@PEK via Flickr)

2 comments

  1. Thanks for this Andrew!

    I fly Tokyo-Singapore several times a year and sometimes end up on the poorly timed (for me at least) SQ639 flight as it is usually the cheapest/most available – not happy that it only gets worse with the older seats. All the more reason to avoid this flight pair

  2. Well if Wellington Airport -finally- decides to extend their very short runway, you might get better options of aircraft and maybe even a non-stop service!

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