Update 23rd August: Singapore Airlines has now further extended its withdrawal of First Class and Suites product inventory to April 2021.
Back in June we revealed the sad news that Singapore Airlines had removed its First Class and Suites products from the planned schedules until September 2020 at the earliest, wiping out availability in their most prestigious cabins both for sale and for KrisFlyer award bookings.
Inventory was subsequently removed through 30th November 2020, however today it’s more bad news for First Class lovers, with confirmation that the airline has extended this block on First and Suites Class cabin space by a further two months until at least 1st February 2021.
This strongly suggests SIA will continue expanding its passenger flight schedule using only Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft for at least the rest of 2020.
Boeing 777-300 and -300ER aircraft are already operating only minimal cargo-only flights, confirmed in published schedules until at least 24th October 2020, while the fleet of Airbus A380s remains mothballed either at Changi or Alice Springs.
This withdrawal also likely means that only two of the airline’s five Business Class cabins will be seen in service until at least February 2021 – though that’s good news for those of you keen to see the back of the older 2006 and 2009 seats.
SIA has wiped out First Class until February 2021
We know that there are no planned First Class cabins in the schedule through to 24th October 2020, however we also noticed today that Singapore Airlines has pulled all First Class and Suites inventory (F/A class) through to 1st February 2021, well into next year.
This applies equally to redemption availability and cash fares.
The change is regardless of aircraft type currently programmed, and reflects on both the airline’s website and GDS systems like ExpertFlyer.
In essence – First Class is not available on any route until 1st February 2021 at the earliest.
Which Singapore Airlines aircraft have First Class?
Only 50 of SIA’s 120+ strong fleet has a First Class or Suites cabin installed. None of them are programmed to fly passenger services until at least the start of the northern winter season – effectively in November 2020, however this latest development suggests they will be missing from the schedules for far longer than that.
They comprise four Boeing 777-300s and 27 Boeing 777-300ERs with a First Class cabin, while all 19 Airbus A380s have either the old Suites cabin or the latest 2017 Suites.
The final Singapore Airlines flights carrying passengers in First Class were operated by Boeing 777-300ERs on 8th June 2020.
Singapore Airlines stopped operating its Suites cabin in late March 2020, when its fleet of 19 Airbus A380s were moved into storage in Singapore.
Seven of these aircraft have since been moved to long-term storage in Alice Springs, Australia, with the remaining 12 at Changi.
The final passenger flight with ‘old Suites’ was SQ321 from London to Singapore, landing at 6.54pm on 28th March 2020.
The final passenger flight with ‘new Suites’ was SQ317 from London to Singapore, landing at 6.59am on 31st March 2020.
Despite flight schedules including the Airbus A380 from 25th October 2020, there appear to be no plans to reintroduce the type to service during this period of little or no demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This ties in with the information we received a couple of months ago from friends who are working as Singapore Airlines cabin crew, who said they had already been informed that the Airbus A380 will not fly passenger services for at least the rest of 2020.
Which aircraft are operating?
SIA continues to dedicate its passenger flights across three aircraft variants, the Airbus A350 (3-class), Airbus A350 Regional and Boeing 787-10.
That means no First Class or Suites product is currently available, with only limited scope for Premium Economy. You can expect to see flights operated by these three types as updated schedules are released over the coming months.
Boeing 777-300s and Boeing 777-300ERs are not scheduled to fly passenger services until at least the end of October 2020, while the Airbus A380s are all in storage and will not be making an appearance on passenger routes for some time.
Similarly, any return for the A330s to passenger service seems unlikely, given their planned progressive return to leasing companies over the next year.
Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s look set to take care of the airline’s schedule for the foreseeable future, perhaps well into next year, especially given the airline’s public statement that it forecasts no more than 50% of usual capacity by the end of March 2021.
Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s make up over half the airline’s fleet, even without counting the (currently stored) Airbus A350 ULRs.
Which routes had First Class?
First Class or Suites cabins were originally planned by Singapore Airlines on the following routes during the northern winter 2020/21 season (21 cities):
Not all of these routes are even operating at the moment, though if and when they do it seems like all will continue to be flown with Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s until at least February 2021, given this fresh removal of First Class inventory.
What if you have a booking?
If like us you have a First Class or Suites booking on or after 25th October 2020, there’s no apparent change yet. Around 95%+ of usual aircraft types are still loaded into the schedule as normal (e.g. our Auckland – Singapore flight in the last week of October is still programmed as an A380v3, though the likelihood of that is about as close to 0% as you can get).
Seat maps also reflect the originally planned aircraft type, so logging on to your booking will only show what you previously expected.
Singapore Airlines will only notify you of a change once the aircraft type is updated in the system.
This usually happens around the time the monthly schedule is released (sometimes a day or two after).
Until then, sit tight with the booking you have, however if you are travelling on or before 30th November 2020 you can refund your ticket or KrisFlyer redemption for no fee under the airline’s Travel Waiver policy.
The travel waiver is almost certain to be extended over the coming months, so don’t rush to cancel your First Class or Suites booking beyond 30th November 2020 at this stage, since a fee would then be payable.
What it means for Business Class
That means we’re down to two Business Class cabin types until at least 24th October 2020, and in all likelihood well into 2021.
Here’s which aircraft types (and therefore Business Class cabin types) are being flown on SIA’s passenger routes between now and the end of the northern winter season in late October 2020.
|SIA Business Class Seat Types
|Adelaide||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Hanoi||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Ho Chi Minh||787-10||2018 RJ|
|Hong Kong||787-10||2018 RJ|
|Kuala Lumpur||A350||2013 J|
|Los Angeles||A350||2013 J|
|Manila||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Osaka||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
It’s farewell, at least temporarily, to the 2009 Regional Business Class seats and the 2006 Business Class seats.
There are sadly also no new 2017 Business Class seats in service for the time being, with the Airbus A380s all grounded.
It will take the return of older A380s to see the 2006 Business Class seats make an appearance again (the Boeing 777-200ERs with 2006 J seats have now been retired).
Meanwhile the 2009 Regional Business Class isn’t likely to see the light of day on the remaining Airbus A330s, an aircraft type confirmed to be leaving the fleet over the next 12 months, however they may reappear on Boeing 777-300s (non-ERs) if SIA reintroduces those (owned) aircraft to passenger service.
Having said that the 777-300 fleet has already dwindled to four recently, with only one of those occasionally active on cargo-only flights, so we may have unknowingly said goodbye to the older Regional Business Class product already.
Based on schedules loaded in GDS, we already know Singapore Airlines is only flying its Airbus A350, A350 Regional and Boeing 787-10 aircraft on passenger flights until at least 24th October 2020.
Further exclusions of the First Class and Suites cabins from sale and award inventory, regardless of the ‘programmed’ aircraft type, were initially in force until September 2020, then December 2020 but have now been extended by two months until February 2021.
That strongly suggests Singapore Airlines is not planning to deploy any of its aircraft with a First Class or Suites cabin on passenger services for at least the remainder of 2020.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop SIA re-adding this availability later if a sudden upturn occurs, however this seems unlikely given the passenger demand outlook, especially for the Airbus A380s which are ill-suited to cargo operations.
One positive aside is that those flying Business Class should have the new 2018 Regional product on shorter flights to destinations including Adelaide, Hong Kong and Shanghai, while some other short-haul and all long-haul routes will have the popular 2013 long-haul Business Class seats for some time to come.
The latest Singapore Airlines schedules for the 1st August to 24th October 2020 period are available here.
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)