Last week Singapore Airlines revealed that its first Boeing 737-800 aircraft transferred from SilkAir would be joining the mainline operation in the coming weeks, with services to Phuket and Brunei kicking off from March 2021.
This new era for the airline will see it operate narrow-body passenger aircraft for the first time in over 30 years, as it folds its ‘regional wing’ into full SIA operations.
With initial schedules and seat maps now revealed, here’s all you need to know about this latest addition to the SIA fleet next time you’re booking and see the following in the search results:
In total, nine ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800s will be joining the Singapore Airlines fleet over the coming weeks and months.
While SIA has not stated which specific nine (out of 17) Boeing 737-800 aircraft are moving across, we already know that six of them have now been repainted in SIA colours and will definitely be part of the new fleet.
We have also listed below the additional two
three rumoured to be joining them, for a total of nine, though this remains subject to confirmation.
Edit: Thanks to the SQTalk gurus, there are now seven confirmed repaints completed (9V-MGD added).
SilkAir Boeing 737-800 aircraft moving to SIA
|9V-MGA||7.0||Transfer to SIA|
|9V-MGB||6.9||Transfer to SIA|
|9V-MGC||6.8||Transfer to SIA (TBC)|
|9V-MGD||6.7||Transfer to SIA|
|9V-MGE||6.5||Transfer to SIA (TBC)|
|9V-MGK||5.7||Transfer to SIA|
|9V-MGL||5.5||Transfer to SIA|
|9V-MGM||5.4||Transfer to SIA|
|9V-MGN||5.4||Transfer to SIA|
Nine of SilkAir’s Boeing 737-800s are on operating leases, though we don’t know exactly how this relates to those being transferred to SIA or disposed of. It’s likely that SIA’s fleet will be a mixture of owned and leased aircraft.
These aircraft will launch their Singapore Airlines service with flights to Phuket and Brunei in March 2021, before being progressively rolled out on additional routes.
Here’s how the confirmed schedules look, up to 30th April 2021.
From 4th March 2021
Some minor timing changes take effect from the switch to the northern summer timetable on 28th March 2021, with the same days of operation.
From 15th March 2021
Flights are already bookable via the Singapore Airlines website or mobile app.
All current SilkAir routes will eventually shift across to Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 operation, so in addition to Phuket we can expect the following:
- Kuala Lumpur
Singapore Airlines has also confirmed that we’ll be seeing these nine Boeing 737-800s operating not only former SilkAir routes, but also to and from points on its own current network.
With a range of around 6 hours, that includes options across much of the airline’s current Asia-Pacific network, potentially as far afield as Perth and Shanghai.
Deploying these narrow-body aircraft on many cargo-light routes while passenger demand remains low, as opposed to using Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s for example, will help the airline better manage costs potentially for years to come as demand gradually returns post-COVID.
Customers will benefit from a step up to the Singapore Airlines inflight experience as we transition the SilkAir narrow-body operations to SIA, starting with the 737-800 aircraft, in Q4 FY20/21. The integration of SilkAir into SIA will also deliver greater economies of scale for the Group, and allow it to deploy the right aircraft to meet the demand for air travel as it returns.Singapore Airlines
This wasn’t supposed to be happening
Singapore Airlines only intended to bring SilkAir’s brand new Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft into its own operation as part of the merger between the two carriers.
That proposal ensured a more seamless cabin standard across the board, with brand new flat-bed seats in Business Class, Wi-Fi connectivity, and seat-back in-flight entertainment from tip-to-tail.
Unfortunately the grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft globally put a huge spanner in the works, with five of six SilkAir MAX aircraft still in desert storage to this day as a result.
In order to proceed with the SilkAir integration to the proposed timescale, SIA has been forced to instead take these older Boeing 737-800s, though with the MAX variant being gradually approved to return to the skies this situation is set to be a temporary one.
Seat numbering on the 737-800
Singapore Airlines follows a standard seat row numbering system on all its aircraft, so both the seat row number and letter assignment has been changed from the old SilkAir system on these 737-800 jets.
In common with other Singapore Airlines aircraft, Business Class starts at Row 11, with Economy Class starting at Row 41.
To match aisle and window seat letter assignments with the wide-body fleet, seats on the right hand side of the aircraft will change from D/F or D/E/F under the SilkAir system to H/K or H/J/K.
There aren’t many narrow-body operators operating this system, so don’t let a seat assignment fool you. If you’re checked in for an SIA flight in seat 65K and think to yourself “well, that can’t be a 737…” actually it can!
Singapore Airlines has retained the original 12 SilkAir Boeing 737-800 recliner Business Class seats, in a 2-2 configuration across three rows.
Newly upholstered seats are promised, though no internal photos have been shared at this stage. Here’s how the seats looked in the SilkAir fit.
In common with other Singapore Airlines aircraft (but not Scoot aircraft), row 13 is skipped.
You’ll get more legroom choosing a seat in Row 11, also allowing easier access to the aisle for solo travellers who prefer a window seat (A or K in this case).
A power socket is available at each seat.
Seat controls, while basic and ‘mechanical’, allow you to adjust the recline, leg/foot rest and lumbar support.
At some stage, it’s inevitable that Singapore Airlines will be operating these Boeing 737-800 aircraft on routes alongside wide-body jets like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787.
It will then be essential to be careful which aircraft type you book or redeem on for routes with both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft in use, especially in the Business Class cabin.
For example, between Singapore and Bali it always cost 19,000 KrisFlyer miles for a saver Business Class award whether you flew on a SilkAir Boeing 737 or a Singapore Airlines Boeing 787, though the difference in cabin product plus the food and beverage selection was significant.
In these cases, the Boeing 737-800 will clearly be one to avoid.
The Economy Class cabin continues to feature 150 of the former SilkAir seats in a 3-3 layout, though again SIA has reupholstered these seats to better match its own aircraft.
In-flight entertainment will be “via a web-based platform” according to SIA, with the carrier confirming that it is using a wireless streaming setup to your personal device.
To enjoy KrisWorld entertainment on board the Boeing 737-800, you should bring along your personal mobile or tablet device.Singapore Airlines
That’s the same setup SilkAir was previously using to offer the service on board its aircraft as ‘SilkAir Studio’.
Previously tablets were provided for Business Class passengers on SilkAir, however it’s not clear if this will still be the case as the aircraft operate under the SIA banner.
Unfortunately, the Boeing 737-800s will not be Wi-Fi enabled.
If you’re not a fan of arriving at your ‘window seat’ to find there’s no window at all, there are a few seats in Economy Class to avoid on the Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft:
You can see from an external photo where the windows are missing on this side of the aircraft.
Airlines don’t deliberately exclude windows to annoy us, air conditioning ducts run in these areas behind the cabin wall – so a window cannot be placed there.
Forward Zone seats
SIA’s ‘Forward Zone’ seats in Economy Class promise a quicker boarding and disembarkation experience, and also benefit from being in front of the wing ahead of the engines which makes them quieter.
On the Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800s this section spans five rows (30 seats), from Row 41 to Row 45 inclusive.
There are no charges for selecting a Forward Zone seat if you’re booked on an Economy Flexi fare or an Economy Advantage Award ticket, otherwise applicable costs per sector in USD are as follows, based on your frequent flyer status.
Charges for Forward Zone Seats
|Forward Zone Seats
(US$ per sector)
|Band 1||Band 2|
|KF Elite Silver||$7.20||$13.50|
|KF Elite Gold|