Changi Airport News

Emirates extends new First Class on Singapore route

Emirates' newest First Class Suites are now rolled out on the Singapore route until the end of July. Are they here to stay?

EK New Suite Overhead (Dmitry Birin SS)

Note: Emirates has extended use of its Boeing 777-300ER on Singapore – Dubai flights with new First Class Suites installed until the end of August 2020.

Last week we reported how Emirates was introducing its brand new First Class Suites product to Singapore for the first time from 18th June 2020, in the form of a three times weekly service through to the end of the month. This early resumption of services was designed to add capacity after the UAE government unlocked its transit passenger restrictions through Dubai.

At the time the airline was provisionally planning daily Airbus A380 operation to and from Singapore from 1st July 2020, however Emirates has now formalised its July schedule and confirmed a (not unexpected) extension to Boeing 777-300ER operation on the route.

The good news is that Emirates is sticking with its latest Boeing 777-300ERs, fitted out with six of the airline’s newest fully enclosed First Class Suites and the newer Business Class product on the Singapore route throughout July, with up to 14 weekly services sporting the new cabins.

The schedule

In total Emirates will operate 49 flights from Singapore to Dubai in July 2020, all of which are scheduled to be operated by the Boeing 777-300ER with the latest First Class Suites and Business Class product.

Initially the airline will reintroduce regular service on 17th June 2020 (ex-Dubai), with the first Singapore-Dubai service departing in the early hours of 18th June 2020.

17th June – 30th June 2020
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
EK353 SIN0050 – DXB0415 77W ···4·67
EK352 DXB1025 – SIN2200 77W ··3·56·

For the first two weeks of July 2020 we see a return of the EK354/355 flight pairing, with total service increasing to 8 times per week across the two services.

Note also that EK352 also gets a timing change in July, operating an hour earlier.

1st July – 14th July 2020
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
EK353 SIN0050 – DXB0415 77W 1·3··67
EK355 SIN2140 – DXB0050* 77W 1·34·6·
EK354 DXB0305 – SIN1500 77W 1·34·6·
EK352 DXB0920 – SIN2055 77W ·2··567

* Next day

From 15th July 2020 it’s an increase to twice daily to and from Dubai.

15th July – 31st July 2020
Flight From / To Aircraft Days
EK353 SIN0050 – DXB0415 77W Daily
EK355 SIN2140 – DXB0050* 77W Daily
EK354 DXB0305 – SIN1500 77W Daily
EK352 DXB0920 – SIN2055 77W Daily

* Next day

Again to reiterate, all of these flights are programmed to use the new Boeing 777-300ERs with the latest First Class and Business Class products.

August onwards

From 1st August 2020 Emirates is scheduling the same twice daily Singapore – Dubai service but using Airbus A380s instead of Boeing 777-300ERs, however this remains subject to change closer to the time.

We’ll probably get a better idea around a month from now whether the airline will be bringing the superjumbo back to Singapore so soon.

Given current demand levels, it’s possible that Boeing 777 service might be extended until later in the year, or even into 2021, in which case we’re keeping our fingers crossed that these newer models with the latest cabin products are retained on the route.

EK 777 New First (Emirates)
The latest Emirates First Class Suites will hopefully stick around on the Singapore route for some time to come. (Photo: Emirates)

Sadly of course it means if you’re booked to fly Emirates First Class on an Airbus A380 flight from Singapore this year, there looks to be an increasing likelihood that you may miss out on the in-flight shower experience, since these are not fitted to the Boeing 777s.

The Suite

Emirates’ latest First Class Suite needs few introductions.

The first fully enclosed (yes, floor-to-ceiling enclosed) product on the market, incorporating individual suite temperature control, a ‘serving hatch’ for increased privacy, an array of lighting options including embedded carpet lights, oodles of space, and of course a flat-bed once the free-pour S$1,000-a-bottle Hennessy Paradis has gone to your head!

Mezze Screen

Click here to read our full review of Emirates’ New First Class

Our full review should give you a good idea of what to expect on what we consider the best First Class product we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

There are even ‘virtual windows’ in the middle suites, which we thought would be a gimmick but are in fact nothing short of excellent.

Where Emirates’ new Suites are flying

Only Emirates’ nine newest Boeing 777-300ERs have the new First Class Suites installed, so this is a rare product and can be difficult to track down on the network.

Here’s where they are flying in July 2020, based on schedules published as of 8th June 2020.

  • Brussels (EK183)
  • Frankfurt (EK45)
  • Geneva (EK89)
  • Seychelles (EK705)
  • Singapore (EK352)
  • Singapore (EK354)
  • London Heathrow (EK1, until 14 Jul)
  • London Heathrow (EK3, until 14 Jul)
  • New York JFK (EK201, until 14 Jul)

Some of these flights offer a connecting itinerary from Singapore. For example in July you can fly on EK353 from Singapore to Dubai and connect onto EK1 to London Heathrow, giving you the new cabin products for the entire trip.

Business Class

These newer Boeing 777-300ERs in the Emirates fleet also benefit from the airline’s latest Business Class product, though this retains its unpopular 2-3-2 layout.

The seat itself is an improvement, with new upholstery, increased privacy with larger retractable dividers between seats, and an in-built mini-bar.

EK 77W New Business 2 (Emirates)
Emirates new Business Class. (Photo: Emirates)

The seats also convert into a fully-flat bed, rather than the previous generation angle-flat version, where slowly sliding into the footwell while sleeping was a real possibility!

If you’re a couple and can secure one of the window pairs you’ll probably be very happy with these seats, which have also been rolled out to some of the airline’s other Boeing 777s even though those don’t have the new First Class Suites installed.

Pro Tip: Try to secure a seat in rows 6 or 7, the two-row mini-cabin directly behind the First Class section, for a quieter more intimate atmosphere.

EK 77W New J Mini-Cabin (The Luxury Travel Expert)
The two-row mini-cabin at the front of the Business Class section on Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ERs. (Photo: The Luxury Travel Expert)

Previously you had to fly on EK404/405 between Singapore and Dubai or Melbourne to secure these new Business Class seats, however until at least 31st July 2020 they will be the standard fit on every flight.

Award rates

There’s been a fair bit of Emirates news recently which changes the equation for award bookings. Firstly the airline significantly cut its fuel surcharge, making the cash component paid on top of your miles far less. On some routes, like Singapore to Melbourne, the fuel surcharge has been completely removed.

Secondly Emirates’ main alliance partner Qantas announced that it would be increasing the number of points needed to redeem Emirates flights booked on or after 1st September 2020. That’s an important change as many of our readers can only redeem Emirates flights by converting credit card points into Qantas Frequent Flyer.

EKtrans

Emirates loads two types of Business Class and First Class awards on its flights:

  • Business Class: Saver and Flex
  • First Class: Flex and Flex Plus

If you’re booking a one-way award using Skywards miles, you’ll always pay the more expensive rate (Flex in Business Class or Flex Plus in First Class).

If you’re booking a round-trip award using Skywards miles, you’ll pay the cheaper Saver rate in Business Class or the Flex rate in First Class if there is availability, otherwise you’ll pay the more expensive rates for one or both of the sectors.

There must be availability in the Saver award bucket in Business Class or the Flex bucket in First Class for award space to be available through partner airlines, like Qantas.

You can redeem Emirates First and Business Class award seats using Emirates Skywards miles and the following partner airline frequent flyer programmes:

FFP Restrictions
QFF
AStrans To/from USA only
JALMBtrans
KEskypasstrans Round-trip awards only
MHtrans Excluding First Class. Round-trip awards cheaper than 2 x one-way.

You can transfer Singapore credit card points into miles with some of these partners:

  • Emirates Skywards: Amex, Standard Chartered
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer: Citi, DBS, Standard Chartered
  • Malaysia Enrich: Amex, Citi, Maybank

For the other schemes you’ll have to earn miles through alternative means, such as revenue flying, hotel loyalty points transfers or non-Singapore credit card points.

Here’s how much a First Class award from Singapore will set you back with the various programmes on three example routes to Melbourne, Dubai and London (via Dubai).

First Class (one-way)
FFP Melbourne Dubai London
EKtrans 85,000
+S$62
98,750
+S$149
141,250
+S$276
QFF(booked by 31 Aug) 102,600
+S$62
102,600
+S$149
162,800
+S$276
QFF(booked fm. 1 Sep) 107,700
+S$62
107,700
+S$149
170,800
+S$276
JALMBtrans 65,000
+S$62
65,000
+S$149
120,000
+S$276
First Class (round-trip)
FFP Melbourne Dubai London
EKtrans 135,000
+S$147
157,500
+S$300
225,000
+S$885
QFF(booked by 31 Aug) 205,200
+S$147
205,200
+S$300
325,600
+S$885
QFF(booked fm. 1 Sep) 215,400
+S$147
215,400
+S$300
341,600
+S$885
JALMBtrans 130,000
+S$147
130,000
+S$300
240,000
+S$885
KEskypasstrans 135,000
+S$147
150,000
+S$300
270,000
+S$885

Note: Emirates Skywards rates assume Flex award availability for round-trip.

As you can see JAL Mileage Bank is a great programme to use for many Emirates redemptions, though unfortunately it is not possible to transfer any points from Singapore credit cards into the scheme.

Here’s how much awards cost in Business Class.

Business Class (one-way)
FFP Melbourne Dubai London
EKtrans 62,500
+S$62
72,500
+S$149
103,750
+S$276
QFF(booked by 31 Aug) 68,400
+S$62
68,400
+S$149
108,400
+S$276
QFF(booked fm. 1 Sep) 75,000
+S$62
75,000
+S$149
119,200
+S$276
JALMBtrans 42,000
+S$62
42,000
+S$149
80,000
+S$276
MHtrans 82,000
+S$147
82,000
+S$300
131,000
+S$885
Business Class (round-trip)
FFP Melbourne Dubai London
EKtrans 90,000
+S$147
105,000
+S$300
150,000
+S$885
QFF(booked by 31 Aug) 136,800
+S$147
136,800
+S$300
216,800
+S$885
QFF(booked fm. 1 Sep) 150,000
+S$147
150,000
+S$300
238,400
+S$885
JALMBtrans 84,000
+S$147
84,000
+S$300
160,000
+S$885
KEskypasstrans 90,000
+S$147
100,000
+S$300
180,000
+S$885
MHtrans 125,000
+S$147
125,000
+S$300
202,000
+S$885

Note: Emirates Skywards rates assume Flex award availability for round-trip.

Interesting fact: Award pricing isn’t necessarily strictly dictated by distance for every scheme. For example, Singapore to Melbourne is further than Singapore to Dubai but is priced at lower rates in both the Emirates Skywards and Korean Air SKYPASS programmes.

How’s award space?

Emirates is loading Business Class Flex awards from the outset of its Singapore service restart. Business Saver awards don’t currently reappear on the Singapore – Dubai and Singapore – Melbourne routes until mid-October.

SIN DXB Saver J
Emirates Business Saver award rates to and from Dubai and Melbourne are loaded from October 2020

First Class Flex awards (the cheaper ones, for round-trip travel) are loaded from mid-September 2020, though we can’t guarantee the aircraft type(s) will be swapped to 777-300ERs with new First Class Suites this far in advance.

SIN DXB Saver F
Emirates First Flex award rates to and from Dubai and Melbourne are loaded from September 2020

Don’t forget – Flex awards in First Class (like Savers in Business Class) means partner awards are available too.

SIN DXB Saver F QF
Qantas Frequent Flyer has access to Emirates award space if a Saver (Business) or Flex (First) redemption is available to Skywards members

We’ll keep a close eye on whether First Class award seats pop up in the new cabin in the days leading up to departure.

Emirates New First Class isn’t restricted anymore

One of the most difficult aspects of redeeming Emirates’ new First Class Suites has always been that the airline held award space back for the small six-seat cabin typically until 48-72 hours before departure time, assuming there were sufficient empty seats remaining at that stage.

EK New F Dining (Emirates)
Redeeming Emirates’ new First Class used to be a case of jumping on a redemption in the days leading up to departure. (Photo: Emirates)

It appears Emirates has had a change of heart on this policy – we found plenty of dates for example in September 2020 and March 2021 where Flex First awards are available on the airline’s Dubai – London Stansted route, operated exclusively by the new Boeing 777-300ERs twice per day (unless they are secretly keeping an equipment swap to themselves).

DXB STN Saver F
Wide open First Class Flex award space in Emirates’ newest Suites

AED 1,575 in this example is around S$600, largely because of the UK’s extortionate APD which is applied to the STN-DXB sector.

That doesn’t have to be the case though. We also found First Flex award space on Emirates’ new Boeing 777-300ERs next year to and from the like of the Seychelles (SEZ) and Geneva (GVA).

If you’re making plans for 2021, this new product could be one to lock in now in case the availability is only temporary.

Summary

Emirates has extended the deployment of its new First Class Suites on the Singapore route from a handful of flights in June 2020 to an additional 49 departures through the whole of July 2020.

This is a promising sign, potentially leading towards a permanent allocation of the sought-after cabin to and from Changi. That would be an excellent development for many of our readers, eager to try out this new suites experience.

Tree v2
Emirates’ new First Class Suites. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

With Emirates regaining its transit rights through Dubai, these services will be a useful option for those still travelling or returning home during the strict global travel restrictions.

In an apparently new policy, while there are no First Class award seats currently available on these upcoming Singapore flights, Emirates has started allowing redemptions into its latest Suites on many other routes. This was previously only an option for last-minute redemptions.

We’ll keep an eye on what opens up on the award side to and from Singapore as services restart – and of course on any continued (hopefully permanent) rollout of this new product to our part of the world.

(Cover Photo: Dmitry Birin / Shutterstock)

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