With Singapore Airlines continuing to operate its passenger services with Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s for the foreseeable future, an arrangement that’s now been in place since June 2020, there’s been a progressive removal of future First Class and Suites availability on the network, either for revenue sale or award redemption.
In August the inventory for the airline’s two most prestigious cabins was pushed out to April 2021 at the earliest, meaning it looked like the airline was expecting the entire northern winter season passenger network would continue to use aircraft with Business Class as the highest available cabin.
No First Class until October 2021
Recently the airline has completed loading its regular summer 2021 season schedule, with the usual aircraft types indicated, including for example Airbus A380 services to London and New York via Frankfurt.
As we’ve seen before however, SIA has withdrawn First Class and Suites inventory (F/A class) from all these flights, regardless of scheduled aircraft type, for the entire season through to the end of October next year, effectively close to 12 months from now.
First Class and Suites are now not available on any route until 31st October 2021 at the earliest.
First Class / Suites seats and routes
Here are the aircraft types with First Class or Suites cabins fitted, including the date they last flew revenue passengers.
|Aircraft||Seat Type||Last Operated|
|2007 Suites||20 Mar 2020|
|2017 Suites||31 Mar 2020|
|Boeing 777-300||2006 First||1 Apr 2020|
|Boeing 777-300ER||2013 First||9 Jun 2020|
While some Boeing 777-300s and 777-300ERs have recently been deployed on limited passenger routes, including Surabaya and Bangkok, the First Class cabin has not been sold on these services.
Assuming the airline does not restore First Class or Suites operation earlier than currently programmed, this will mean 19 months without any Suites cabins being available and around 17 months without First Class.
The following table shows the originally planned First and Suites cabin deployment by route for the summer 2021 season.
|New York JFK|
All First Class and Suites availability has been removed from these routes until the end of October 2021.
Based on the latest schedule, First Class and Suites bookings are only being taken on 20 of these regular routes from 31st October 2021 or 1st November 2021, when the winter season schedule commences. There is no plan for the cabins to be reintroduced to the following cities:
Amsterdam isn’t too surprising, this had been an Airbus A350 route for some years and was only due to receive Boeing 777-300ER service from October 2020 (which didn’t happen). Planned aircraft type on this route reverts to the A350 for next winter season effective from 31st October 2021, with no First Class cabin installed.
Canberra is self-explanatory, with SIA announcing in September that this city was being permanently axed from the route network alongside Dusseldorf, Stockholm and Wellington.
Last week Singapore Airlines announced that it was retiring 26 of its older aircraft, which it will not need in its fleet even after the COVID-19 recovery.
Many of these aircraft have scheduled heavy maintenance checks coming up, which are very costly, and therefore are being logically withdrawn to avoid this large expense.
“In respect of the A380s, the seven that we have impaired, they have reached basically certain maintenance windows, heavy maintenance windows, that it would make sense for us to ground them and take them out service rather than spend more money on them because we also do not see them taking to the skies again.”Tan Kai Ping, EVP Finance and Strategy, Singapore Airlines
This will likely affect many of the airline’s older Airbus A380s with the older Suites product, significantly restricting the potential to secure those seats even assuming they do return to service without a cabin refit.
Another casualty of the latest fleet review is the four remaining Boeing 777-300s, which have the 2006 First Class seat fitted in a 1-2-1 configuration. These are no longer in passenger service and will not be returning to the lineup post-COVID.
What does it mean for lounges?
With no Singapore Airlines First or Suites Class passengers passing through Changi each day, and a prolonged COVID-19 recovery in sight, there seems little incentive for Singapore Airlines to reopen its SilverKris First Class lounge or The Private Room in Changi’s Terminal 3.
These facilities are all due for a S$50 million makeover between now and mid-2021, so it’s possible that SIA may choose to re-order the revamp schedule slightly and could now take the opportunity to complete work on these two lounges while they are closed anyway.
For now, expect the SilverKris Business Class lounge at Changi Terminal 3 to remain the only available facility for premium passengers and status holders.
What if you have a booking?
If you have a First Class or Suites booking on or after 1st February 2021, there’s no apparent change yet. Around 95%+ of usual aircraft types are still loaded into the schedule as normal.
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 (or sometimes a day or two later).
Until then, sit tight with the booking you have, however if you are travelling on or before 31st January 2021 you can refund your ticket or KrisFlyer redemption for no fee under the airline’s Travel Waiver policy.
What it means for Business Class
That means we’re down to two Business Class cabin types until at least 31st October 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 January 2021.
|SIA Business Class Seat Types
(Nov 2020 – Jan 2021)
|Adelaide||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Brisbane||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Dhaka||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Hanoi||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Ho Chi Minh||787-10||2018 RJ|
|Hong Kong||A350||2013 J|
|Kuala Lumpur||A350||2013 J|
|Los Angeles||A350||2013 J|
|Manila||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Melbourne||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|New York||A350||2013 J|
|Osaka||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
|Shenzhen||A350 Regional||2018 RJ|
The recent confirmation that Boeing 777-300s will be leaving the fleet alongside the Airbus A330s returning to their leasing companies means we’ve already bid farewell to the older 2009 Regional Business Class seats, which will not return to service, to the delight of many!
There are sadly also no new 2017 Business Class seats in service for the time being, with the Airbus A380s all grounded, and it will take the return of older A380s to see the 2006 Business Class seats make an appearance again, now that the Boeing 777-200ERs have also been retired).
With seven older A380s not returning to the fleet post-COVID, this will become a rare seat on the network and it’s possible that it may even be eliminated if Singapore Airlines continues with its refit programme until the full proposed A380 fleet of 12 aircraft is completed.
Here are our reviews of the two Business Class products still in service with the airline, and likely the only two we’ll be seeing on the network for much of next year.
If like us you’re a big fan of Singapore Airlines First Class and Suites products, it’s more disappointing news with the carrier removing the option from the booking system through to late October 2021, practically a year from now.
We expect as services are slowly reinstated on many routes including those like San Francisco and Los Angeles via Tokyo, three-class Airbus A350s will be used to better match capacity to demand. These aircraft also have the benefit of being more fuel efficient than the older ones with First Class and Suites cabins installed.
On the positive side though, a dozen of the airline’s Airbus A380s and all its Boeing 777-300ERs survived the latest fleet review, so First Class will be back – eventually.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop SIA re-adding this availability later if a sufficient upturn occurs. The removal of these cabin classes from sale may be designed to give the airline flexibility to deploy its aircraft of choice on each route during the recovery, not necessarily because they definitely won’t reintroduce A380s or 777s into passenger service next summer.
For example, if the airline decides the London route can sustain a Boeing 777-300ER or Airbus A380 service next summer, it will almost certainly start to sell the First Class / Suites cabins on those flights.
Those flying Business Class will now have the new 2018 Regional product or the ever-popular 2013 long-haul Business Class seats for some time to come, including those flying on the new Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble services.
The latest Singapore Airlines schedules from now until to 31st January 2021 are available here.
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)