In a press event hosted at the Crowne Plaza Hotel yesterday, Singapore Airlines Regional Vice President for Europe Lee Sek Eng and the CEO of Brussels Airport Arnaud Feist, announced that the airline would launch non-stop services between Singapore and the Belgian capital from 25th October 2020.
Flights will be operated four times weekly, offering Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class, non-stop to the ‘EU capital’.
Despite the press hype of a ‘launch’, in fact this is a service resumption for the carrier, with the Belgian capital falling by the wayside in April 2003 as one of the airline’s many route cuts during the 2003/04 SARS outbreak, along with destinations like Berlin, Vienna, Chicago and Madrid.
Served by the airline since 1979, back in the early 2000s Boeing 747-400s (yes, passenger ones!) would ply the Brussels route, continuing to Manchester. Today that same aircraft type is still occasionally seen in Brussels, with the SIA Cargo fleet passing through on a regular basis.
Nonetheless this new announcement sees Singapore Airlines secure its 14th European destination, and Brussels Airport add its 5th direct Asia-Pacific connection.
Singapore Airlines will operate its 253-seat 3-class Airbus A350-900 on the new route, featuring 42 of the 2013 Business Class seats and 24 Premium Economy seats, with the balance of capacity served by a 187-seat Economy Class cabin.
We flew the same A350 Business Class product from Singapore to Cape Town and back last year, a total of four flights including a stop in Johannesburg in both directions.
We have a comprehensive review of the experience you can expect when flying Business Class on this route.
Unfortunately, Premium Economy features the poorest seat in that category across the SIA fleet – at 19 inches wide it’s half an inch narrower than those fitted by Singapore Airlines on the Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A380 in this cabin class.
This new service will commence on 25th October 2020, departing Singapore just before midnight on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, touching down in Brussels just before 7am the next day. That’s a generous 13 hour 55 minute scheduled flight time, ample for getting some overnight rest on the way to Europe.
From 25th October 2020
|Flight||From / To||Aircraft||Days|
|SQ304||SIN2355 – BRU0650*||359||··345·7|
|SQ303||BRU1120 – SIN0655*||359||1··456·|
* Next day
It’s also perfect timing for a full working day in Brussels, with the Sunday flight landing on Monday morning sure to be a popular option for those starting a working week in the ‘EU capital’.
Those with onward connections aren’t forgotten – as this SQ304 flight meets a large bank of Brussels Airlines (a fellow Star Alliance carrier) departures across Europe and beyond.
On the Brussels – Singapore sector departure is at 11.20am on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, landing in Singapore at 6.55am the following calendar day in each case.
Thanks to prevailing winds, it’s a slightly shorter and 12 hours 35 minutes on the eastbound flight, with arrival also well timed for the start of a full working day in the Lion City, or to connect with a host of departing flights out of Changi to other Asia-Pacific hubs and several Australian cities.
Details are available in the full Singapore Airlines press release here.
City of Brussels
Once a small rural settlement, Brussels has grown to be a wealthy and powerful political city of Europe. It’s the de facto capital of the European Union, thanks to hosting a number of principal EU institutions. This could be an especially important connection for travellers now that it looks likely the United Kingdom will leave the EU on the 31st January 2020.
For tourists, Brussels also has much to offer. There are numerous UNESCO world heritage sites to visit, fantastic local beers, not to mention plenty of Michelin starred culinary experiences.
The airport itself, sometimes referred to as Brussel-Nationaal (Brussels-National) or Zaventem, is sleepier than SIA’s other ports of call in Europe, but by no means small. It has three runways and a “one terminal concept”. That sounds like a recipe for a long walk to your gate to us!
Last year it saw just under 26 million passengers (by comparison, Changi managed nearly 65 million) but with a healthy year-on-year passenger growth figure and big terminal expansion plans, the future looks bright.
Despite this being a reinstated passenger route following a 17-year gap, SIA is no stranger to Brussels and has been operating regular cargo services on the Boeing 747-400 Freighter for many years.
Brussels is home to one of the less well known but still substantial Star Alliance carriers – Brussels Airlines. Having launched in 1997 and been members of Star Alliance since 2009, they have grown their fleet to around 60 aircraft including 14 wide-body Airbus A330s, some of which saw service with SIA in the past.
The airline rose from the ashes of the once-successful flag carrier, Sabena, merging with Virgin Express to become Brussels Airlines. Lufthansa initially acquired a 45% stake in 2009, facilitating their entry to Star Alliance before going on to purchase the remaining shares in 2017.
As a wholly owned subsidiary, Brussels Airlines is a member of Lufthansa’s frequent flyer programme Miles & More. Despite challenging economic operating conditions in Europe they have been managing to eke out a small annual operating profit for the group over the last five years or so.
Brussels Airlines flies to over 80 destinations, including plenty of European cities, some North African cities and the USA.
Singapore Airlines signed its first codeshare agreement with Brussels Airlines back in 2011, adding SQ-coded flights to Belgium’s capital city from London, Barcelona and Milan to connect with its own Singapore services.
We expect to see Singapore Airlines extending their existing code-sharing agreements on a range of Brussels routes prior to the launch of these direct flights.
The 6:50am arrival into the Belgian capital on SQ304 connects you comfortably to a myriad of potential options in Europe including at 9.40am to London (assuming you missed out on securing a direct flight), at 9.30am to Malaga and at 9.50am to Venice.
Other morning connection options include Rome, Paris, Madrid and Tel Aviv.
Later in the morning you can also take one of Brussels Airlines’ long-haul flights to the USA, such as to Washington D.C. and New York, while their extensive Africa network also kicks off at around 11am to destinations including Kinshasa, Accra, Freetown, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Inbound connections from European cities plus these long-haul USA and Africa flights also time nicely with a connection back to Singapore on SQ303 at 11.20am. For example you can arrive back into Brussels at around 7.30am from New York or Washington, 8.55am from London and between 5am and 7am from most of the Africa network.
These new flights will therefore add some useful connection options, especially in Europe, even to cities Singapore Airlines already operates to directly but which can be difficult to secure saver award seats on, like London.
If you’ve had enough of flying after being on a plane for 13 hours, another benefit of Brussels is its fantastic rail network, with connecting train services across western Europe.
Direct trains from the airport railway station itself link several cities in Belgium, while at least four trains an hour head to Brussels South for international connections, including to London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Zurich.
Brussels (rather obviously) falls in the Europe zone under the KrisFlyer award chart, meaning redemptions don’t come cheap. The same rate applies for flights from Singapore to Brussels as for slightly longer services to and from London and Manchester.
These are the one-way KrisFlyer redemption rates you’ll pay by cabin on the Singapore – Brussels route:
|KrisFlyer Redemption Singapore ⇄ Brussels|
We will be taking a close look at redemption availability and regular fares once this new route opens to commercial sale, so stay tuned for an update on that.
If you already hold or intend to book a firm ticket in an eligible booking class, here’s how many miles it will then cost you to upgrade, assuming saver upgrade award availability in your proposed cabin class.
|Upgrade using KrisFlyer miles
Singapore ⇄ Brussels
|Upgrading to →||
|Existing booking ↓|
(Class: M, H, W)
(Class: Y, B, E)
|Premium Economy Standard
|Premium Economy Flexi
(Class: S, T)
These rates are probably only of interest if your company is paying for your Economy or Premium Economy ticket, otherwise they don’t usually represent good value.
It will cost the following number of miles or points to redeem to Brussels from Singapore (or vice-versa) using miles from another Star Alliance or partner programme:
|Star Alliance redemption rates Singapore ⇄ Brussels|
Note that only Lufthansa Miles & More and Alaska Mileage Plan allow redemptions in Singapore Airlines long-haul Business Class cabins.
Turkish Miles&Smiles is offering a competitive rate on this route at 30,000 miles each way, though other FFPs are priced higher than a saver award using KrisFlyer miles. Do bear in mind though that award availability for Star Alliance partners can sometimes be better than saver award space for KrisFlyer members, so these slightly more expensive options can sometimes be considered.
In Business Class, Miles & More members get a significantly better rate than KrisFlyer at just 56,000 miles one-way to or from Europe, though most of our readers don’t have these miles and only one credit card in Singapore (Standard Chartered) converts into them, at a fairly unattractive rate.
Finally if you want to use KrisFlyer miles to fly on Brussels Airlines flights intra-Europe, you’re looking at 12,500 miles in Economy Class or 30,500 miles in Business Class. Our advice? Don’t bother with Business Class (an empty middle seat at best), and only consider the Economy rate if the fare justifies it.
Depending on the cash fare and length of flight, it may be worth saving the miles and spending the money. Alternatively, if you have miles stored away in a Miles & More, they can offer comparatively better value.
Remember if you redeem a combined Singapore Airlines / Brussels Airlines ticket at the Star Alliance award rate, your onward flight within Europe is included in the redemption rate.
Our regular readers will know that Singapore Airlines has a monthly Spontaneous Escapes promotion, offering seats it doesn’t think it will sell for a discounted miles rate if you have the flexibility to book around one month before your travel date.
While there are no guarantees the Brussels route will feature – other Europe routes, most commonly Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, do come up occasionally in the monthly KrisFlyer Spontaneous Escapes deal. This month Business Class saver awards to and from Dusseldorf are included, for example.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on whether the Brussels route starts to be included from October 2020 onwards, though of course this will depend on how popular it is in terms of forward bookings. If it does feature at the typical 30% discount levels, expect last-minute one-way saver awards for:
- 26,600 miles in Economy Class
- 45,150 miles in Premium Economy
- 64,400 miles in Business Class
These new flights will operate from Terminal 3 at Singapore Changi Airport, so it’s the SilverKris lounge complex for those eligible through status or travel class prior to departure on the new Brussels flight.
These lounges are currently undergoing a complete renovation, slated for completion in mid-2021.
In Brussels, Star Alliance Gold (including KrisFlyer Gold and PPS Club members) and Business Class passengers will be able to access the lounges prior to departure.
Brussels Airlines operates three lounges at the airport; The Loft, The Suite and The Sunrise Lounge.
Singapore Airlines flights will depart from Terminal B (non-Schengen), and so eligible passengers will be directed to use The Suite.
This lounge is located on level 4 of the terminal after security control, near gate B1.
The lounge reportedly gets very busy and doesn’t have showers, with The Loft in Terminal A getting better reviews.
Singapore Airlines passengers are entitled to use The Loft lounge as well. This would be our recommendation, with the recently extended and award-winning alternative designed by Lexus including nap rooms and shower facilities.
There is a central security area at Brussels Airport, so you can pass between the airside area in both Terminal A and Terminal B without having to re-clear security. If you do head to The Loft, in Terminal A near gate A42, bear in mind it’s a good 10-minute walk back to Terminal B for your flight.
You will also have to go through a passport check before you leave the Schengen zone and enter Terminal B. This is quite easy, but do allow a further 5 minutes for that.
More 3-class A350s
This announcement cements our theory that not all of Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 deliveries in the financial year 2020/21 will be assigned to the Regional variant.
The airline will take delivery of approximately 11 brand new A350s between April 2020 and March 2021, and it’s looking like perhaps half of these will be the 3-class long-haul version.
A new European route, Singapore Airlines’ 14th, is a welcome addition to the network and should provide increased award availability among the newly added 336 Business Class seats per week in both directions.
There will also be a range of connection options through Star Alliance carrier Brussels Airlines throughout Europe and to and from Africa and the USA.
Singapore Airlines will be hoping to kick start the route and re-establish a name for itself in the Belgian market after 17 years without a passenger service. Another of the more recent European routes, Dusseldorf, has struggled to keep up the load factor often resulting in seats being sold off cheaply or for discounted miles rates, so it will be interesting to watch the trends with this one.
The risk for SIA may of course be more calculated given the number of Star Alliance connections available and the political importance of the Belgian capital.
A Brussels route had long been rumoured to be on the horizon for Scoot, not Singapore Airlines, but with the ongoing issues associated with the Boeing 787 Trent 1000 engines, and no real stability in sight until 2021, they probably aren’t able to support another long haul destination at this stage.
Given the profile of the location, with strong political and business links plus high-end tourism – Singapore Airlines does seem like a better fit anyway.
The Singapore – Brussels route will be made progressively available for booking and redemption from 17th December 2019.