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Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800: Everything you need to know

From schedules and seat maps to Champagne, satay, and even free extra legroom seats! Here's everything we know so far about SIA's Boeing 737-800s.

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.

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800

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:

Which aircraft?

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

Registration Age
(years)
Current
Livery
Fate
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-MGF 6.4 For disposal
9V-MGG 6.3 For disposal
9V-MGH 6.3 For disposal
9V-MGI 6.0 For disposal
9V-MGJ 5.8 For disposal
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
9V-MGO 4.8 For disposal
9V-MGP 4.7 For disposal
9V-MGQ 4.3 For disposal

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.

9V-MGA was the first Boeing 737-800 to be repainted in Singapore Airlines colours. (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

Which routes?

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.

Phuket
From 4th March 2021

  Days
M T W T F S S
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kris-Yellow-Small.png SQ726
737-800
SIN
08:40
HKT
09:30
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kris-Yellow-Small.png SQ736
737-800
SIN
16:20
HKT
17:15
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kris-Yellow-Small.png SQ725
737-800
HKT
10:15
SIN
13:15
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kris-Yellow-Small.png SQ735
737-800
HKT
18:00
SIN
21:00

Some minor timing changes take effect from the switch to the northern summer timetable on 28th March 2021, with the same days of operation.

Brunei
From 15th March 2021

  Days
M T W T F S S
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kris-Yellow-Small.png SQ148
737-800
SIN
09:05
BWN
11:15
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kris-Yellow-Small.png SQ147
737-800
BWN
12:05
SIN
14:15

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:

  • Cebu
  • Chongqing
  • Kathmandu
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Malé
  • Medan

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.

(Source: SIA February 2021 Business Update)

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.

Thompson Vantage Business Class seats like these will make their way to SIA’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, but it made little sense to put them on Boeing 737-800s temporarily. (Photo: flydubai)

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!

Business Class

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.

Business Class seats are identical to those installed on SilkAir’s Boeing 737-800s. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In common with other Singapore Airlines aircraft (but not Scoot aircraft), row 13 is skipped.

(click to enlarge)

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.

Seat controls on the SilkAirBoeing 737-800 Business Class seats. (Photo: The Shutterwhale)

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.

Same redemption rate from Singapore to Bali… seriously! (Photos: MainlyMiles)

In these cases, the Boeing 737-800 will clearly be one to avoid.

Economy Class

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.

(click to enlarge)

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’.

The former SilkAir studio system seems likely to be used for in-flight entertainment to your personal device on these Boeing 737-800 aircraft. (Photo: SilkAir)

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.

Windowless seats

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:

  • 45A
  • 46A
  • 46K
A windowless seat on a Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800. (Photo: Virgin Australia)

You can see from an external photo where the windows are missing on this side of the aircraft.

Missing windows. (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

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
Economy Class
(US$ per sector)
  Band 1 Band 2
Non-KF $8.00 $15.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Blue-Card.pngKF Basic $7.60 $14.25
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Silver-Card.pngKF Elite Silver $7.20 $13.50
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Gold-Card-2.pngKF Elite Gold Free Free
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is PPS-Both-Cards.pngPPS Club Free Free
  • Band 1: SIN to/from Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam.
  • Band 2: SIN to/from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, U.A.E.
  • Bands 3/4: Not applicable for the Boeing 737-800

Extra Legroom seats

There are six seats on SIA’s Boeing 737-800 sold as ‘Extra Legroom’:

  • 50 A/B/C
  • 50 H/J/K

These benefit from the mandatory additional space airlines must provide between the seat rows for access to and from the over-wing emergency exits.

One downside is that all your personal belongings must be stored in the overhead compartment for takeoff and landing when sat in these seats, to ensure unobstructed access to these exits.

Here’s how much you’ll pay per sector in USD to select one of these extra legroom seats, based on your KrisFlyer or PPS Club status tier.

Charges for Extra Legroom Seats

Extra Legroom Seats
Economy Class
(US$ per sector)
  Band 1 Band 2
Non-KF $25.00 $60.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Blue-Card.pngKF Basic $23.75 $57.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Silver-Card.pngKF Elite Silver $22.50 $54.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Gold-Card-2.pngKF Elite Gold $21.25 $51.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is PPS-Both-Cards.pngPPS Club Free Free
  • Band 1: SIN to/from Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam.
  • Band 2: SIN to/from Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Korea, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, U.A.E.
  • Bands 3/4: Not applicable for the Boeing 737-800

Non-reclining seats

Non-reclining seats are not a concern on any of Singapore Airlines’ current fleet of wide-body aircraft, but they are an issue on many smaller planes like this fitted with over-wing emergency exits.

In order to ensure the exit path is not obstructed in an emergency evacuation, seats in rows immediately in front of these exits do not recline.

For the Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800, that’s all seats in the following rows:

  • Row 48 (seats A, B, C, H, J, K)
  • Row 49 (seats A, B, C, H, J, K)

This is why Singapore Airlines (and SilkAir before it) does not sell seats in Row 49 as extra legroom, even though they share the same additional legroom as Row 50. Since the seats do not recline, they do not want passengers to be disappointed having paid extra for them.

If you want ‘free’ extra legroom and are happy with a seat that doesn’t recline, you should therefore opt for a seat in Row 49.

Fun fact: There’s no such consideration when flying low-cost airlines like Scoot, AirAsia or Jetstar. These carriers sell both their over-wing emergency exit rows as extra legroom, even though the forward row (Row 12 on all these carriers’ Airbus A320s) does not recline.

Pick Row 13 on Scoot or Jetstar and Row 14 on AirAsia when paying for extra legroom on an A320 to also have a seat that reclines!

Cabin crew will don the Kebaya

For a seamless experience when it comes to cabin crew, you’ll be welcomed on board these Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-800s by those in full SIA uniform, though in all likelihood the crew will be former SilkAir!

Farewell SilkAir uniforms. (Photo: SilkAir)

Mainly Miles understands the Boeing 737-800 flights will be staffed by:

  • One Leading Steward / Stewardess in a green kebaya / tie (for former SilkAir senior crew members)
  • Three Flight Stewards / Stewardesses in a blue kebaya / tie (for former SilkAir cabin crew)
Cabin crew will be wearing the regular Singapore Airlines uniform. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Food and beverages

In Business Class, SIA’s ‘Book the Cook’ option will be offered for advance selection, plus you can look forward to the airline’s premium wine selection on board including Champagne.

Singapore Airlines is currently serving Laurent-Perrier Champagne in Business Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

That will be a refreshing change from SilkAir’s miniature wine bottles.

Boeing 737-800 flights of over 3.5 hours duration will also feature fruits and cheese after the main meal service, while on flights of more than 5 hours you’ll get the airline’s signature satay canapé during the lunch and dinner service.

Satay service will be included in Business Class on Boeing 737-800 flights of over 5 hours. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Down the back, Singapore Airlines has confirmed that its new Economy Class meal concept, revealed in November 2020, will be rolled out on these Boeing 737-800 flights of up to 3.5 hours duration.

That means meals on these shorter flights “in an all new sustainable paper box that is deep enough for gravy dishes and comforting congee”.

Longer flights will receive a regular Singapore Airlines Economy Class meal.

Summary

It will feel strange to have a fleet of narrow-body aircraft in the Singapore Airlines fleet, which hasn’t featured anything but twin-aisle jets since 1990.

While these ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800s are getting only a minor cabin spruce up, there are other ways the airline is making the experience as closely aligned as possible with wide-body operations.

It’s good to see the food and beverage service will be brought up to par with the usual Singapore Airlines experience, including Champagne in Business Class, but for many of the other “consistency” enhancements, like flat-bed seats and seat-back IFE systems, we’ll have to wait for the Boeing 737 MAX to take over from these older planes.

Singapore Airlines has provided further details of the SilkAir – SIA merger and its narrow-body operations at this dedicated page on its website.

(Cover Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

3 comments

  1. Why don’t Singapore Airlines have all 17 B737-800 aircrafts in their fleet including the newer ones too.

    1. Those aircraft will be sold and eventually SIA will take SilkAir’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft plus remaining orders, even replacing these nine ‘interim’ 737-800s.

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