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Singapore Airlines 737-8 MAX Economy Class: All you need to know

Narrow-body Economy Class gets an upgrade to wide-body standards on SIA's Boeing 737-8 MAX jets.

Well... almost!

Yesterday Singapore Airlines revealed new cabin products for its latest aircraft type, the narrow-body Boeing 737-8 MAX, which is set to become one of the largest fleets in the airline in the years ahead with a total of 37 of the efficient narrow-body jets due to be delivered to the carrier.

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While the primary focus has been on the 10 Thompson Vantage flat-bed Business Class seats in the first three rows of these aircraft, there are big improvements to look forward to in Economy Class too, compared to the relatively basic ex-SilkAir version retained on the airline’s nine older Boeing 737-800s.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

While the Boeing 737-8 MAX can operate on flights of up to seven hours, potentially including routes like Singapore – Fukuoka and Singapore – Adelaide in future, the type will also be used on some of SIA’s shortest sectors.

SIA Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Many of our readers flying point-to-point on these quicker regional routes don’t feel the need to fly in Business Class, so an upgraded Economy Class experience on these aircraft is very welcome.

Collins, not Recaro

The first news we weren’t expecting when the Economy Class seat type was announced is its manufacturer.

While the Thompson Vantage seat was already long confirmed in Business Class, we had all but assumed that the Recaro CL3710 would be selected for the Economy Class cabin.

That is SIA’s ‘2017 Y’ seat, currently installed on the airline’s new and refitted A380s, all 787-10s, all A350 Regionals and six newer A350 Long Haul aircraft.

We expected SIA to use its 2017 Y seat on the Boeing 737 MAX. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Not only would this have provided more seamless commonality, there would surely have been benefits for maintenance and spare parts inventory.

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We were therefore surprised to learn that Singapore Airlines had opted for a Collins Aerospace Economy Class seat, which doesn’t quite come with all the “bells and whistles” found on the latest long-haul aircraft.

Key features

SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class features:

  • 144 Collins Aerospace seats in a 3-3 layout
  • Seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems including a 10-inch personal entertainment screen
  • A USB charging port at every seat
  • Adjustable headrests
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
The last few rows of SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class cabin. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Window and aisle seats have aqua fabric, while middle seats are in grey upholstery. That’s a little different to the airline’s wide-body aircraft, where only the aisle seats are aqua and all others are grey, but that may have looked a little strange in a 3-3 layout.

Alternating seat fabric colours. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The all-important seat pitch is 30 inches, which is two inches less than you’ll find on some of the airline’s wide-body aircraft like the A380, but that’s not quite where the differences end.



 


 

Comparison

Here’s how the new Economy Class seats on the Boeing 737 MAX compare to the latest 2017 Economy Class product on SIA’s newest wide-body aircraft.

  This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2017-Y-A380-Small-MM.jpg This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is MAX-Y-Meal-Singapore-Airlines.jpg
2017 Y MAX Y
Seat    
Model Recaro CL3710 Collins
Config 3-3-3
or
3-4-3
3-3
Width 18.5″ 18″
Pitch 32″ 30″
Recline 6″ 5″
IFE    
Screen Size 11″ HD 10″ HD
Power Sockets 1 USB
+
1 UNI
(shared)
1 USB
Wi-Fi Yes Yes

As you can see the main differences are:

  • Seat width is 0.5 inches less on the MAX
  • Seat pitch* is 2 inches less on the MAX
  • Seat recline is 1 inch less on the MAX
  • The IFE screen is 1 inch smaller on the MAX
  • There is no UNI (AC power) socket on the MAX

* Seat pitch is not a perfect measure of legroom, simply representing the distance from any point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front of (or behind) it.

USB device charging is available on SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX in Economy Class, but there are no AC power outlets. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

As Singapore Airlines highlighted in its press release, the cabin enhancements on the MAX “[elevate] the customer experience on board the Airline’s narrowbody aircraft fleet to a level similar to its widebody aircraft” (our emphasis).

This won’t make the passenger experience absolutely seamless for those transiting through Changi on Singapore Airlines from a wide-body aircraft, but there will still be “more or less” the same seat features on their short-haul MAX flight compared to those they found on the long-haul sector.

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Another feature we are sad to see not included on the Collins seat compared to the Recaro model is the handy mobile device stowage in the seat back below the IFE screen, plus the integrated cupholder.

The handy mobile device holder in the Recaro seat, sadly not duplicated in the Collins model. (Photos: Singapore Airlines)

Nonetheless we found the Collins seats comfortable with good cushioning, back and lumbar support during our tour on the launch day – perhaps even a little more so than the Recaro version, which we find starts to feel a bit firm after 2-3 hours.

Food and beverages

Singapore Airlines has confirmed that its new Economy Class meal concept, revealed in November 2020, will be rolled out on Boeing 737-8 MAX flights of up to 3.5 hours duration.

On most short-haul flights under 3.5 hours, you can look forward to our Economy Class dining concept, featuring an enhanced regional menu with over 40 newly-created dishes, including our comforting congee and gravy-rich mee siam, served in sustainable tableware.

Singapore Airlines

SIA treated us to one of these meals for breakfast on board the aircraft at the product launch, and we opted for the Fried Carrot Cake with Prawn.

Before that though, a welcome cocktail called “Tropical Sunrise” was served, a strawberry puree concoction specially developed by Singapore Airlines for Business Class, designed “to delight and refresh”.

Tropical Sunrise – a little ‘kick’ at 11am! (Photos: MainlyMiles)

It was a lovely refreshing welcome drink, and a mocktail version is also available according to your preference (and perhaps the time of day!).

Sustainable packaging for Economy Class meals. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The meal was tasty, piping hot, and served with a Pulut Hitam Cake for dessert. We paired with a glass of 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, which was delicious and served at the appropriate temperature.

Fried Carrot Cake with Prawn. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

For a short flight up to 3.5 hours a meal like this this would be perfectly adequate, and with the sustainable packaging and cutlery this will certainly be good for the environmental impact and reduce waste.

On flights longer than 3.5 hours, a more typical meal will be served on Singapore Airlines-branded tableware, from a range of cuisines.

A more conventional meal service is offered in Economy Class on longer flights. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

You can view the inflight menu for your upcoming Singapore Airlines flight within approximately eight days of your departure at the airline’s inflight menu portal.

  SIA Digital Menu

In-flight entertainment

Despite a slightly smaller seat-back IFE screen in the MAX Economy cabin compared to the latest wide-body versions, a full KrisWorld system by Panasonic has been installed.

Inaugural MAX route hint? (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A companion app allows you to pair your mobile phone to control the system, which is also touchscreen, negating the need for a separate physical controller.

A new moving map is also part of the upgrade.

Amongst the various features, a new state-of-the-art 3D flight map will be rolled out. This includes over 20 distinct map views for various flight phases, such as 3D satellite imagery, local and global views, as well as a personalised feature that enables customers to see the aircraft’s relative position to their selected map location throughout their flight.

Singapore Airlines
Playing with the new map feature on board. (Video: MainlyMiles)

The fleet is also fitted with Panasonic’s in-flight Wi-Fi service, as well as mobile data connectivity, with a complimentary 100MB data allowance for Business Class passengers and PPS Club members travelling in Economy Class, in common with SIA’s wide-body offering.

Seat map

The Economy Class section on the new Boeing 737-8 MAX spans 24 rows, numbered 41 to 64.

SIA Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class seat map
(click to enlarge)

Two bassinet positions are available at seats 41B and 41J.

At full capacity, 144 passengers will share two toilets located at the rear of the cabin.



 


 

Where to sit

Here are our tips on which seats you may want to select when flying in Economy Class on this aircraft.

SIA Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Forward Zone seats

SIA’s ‘Forward Zone’ seats in Economy Class promise a quicker boarding and disembarkation experience, being closer to the doors, and also benefit from being in front of the wing ahead of the engines, which makes them quieter.

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On the Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAXs this section spans five rows (30 seats), from Row 41 to Row 45 inclusive.

‘Forward Zone’ bulkhead seats 41A/B/C, directly behind the Business Class cabin . (Photo: MainlyMiles)
Pro Tip: Row 41 in the Forward Zone enjoys extra legroom, despite not being sold as such, though be aware of the bassinet position.

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 KrisFlyer frequent flyer status (free for PPS Club).

Charges for Forward Zone Seats
Forward Zone Seats
Economy Class
(US$ per sector)
  Band 1 Band 2 Band 3
Non-KF $15.00 $20.00 $25.00
KF Member $14.25 $19.00 $23.75
KF Elite Silver $13.50 $18.00 $22.50
KF Elite Gold Free Free Free
PPS Club Free Free Free
  • Band 1: SIN to/from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam
  • Band 2: SIN to/from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, China, India. Japan, Korea, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and U.A.E
  • Band 3: SIN to/from Australia
  • Bands 4/5: Not applicable for the Boeing 737-8 MAX

Extra Legroom seats

There are six seats on SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX sold as ‘Extra Legroom’ options:

  • 49 A/B/C
  • 49 H/J/K

These benefit from the 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 occupying these seats.

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

Charges for Extra Legroom Seats
Extra Legroom Seats
Economy Class
(US$ per sector)
  Band 1 Band 2 Band 3
Non-KF $25.00 $60.00 $80.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Blue-Card.pngKF Basic $23.75 $57.00 $76.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Silver-Card.pngKF Elite Silver $22.50 $54.00 $72.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is KF-Gold-Card-2.pngKF Elite Gold $21.25 $51.00 $68.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is PPS-Both-Cards.pngPPS Club Free Free Free
  • Band 1: SIN to/from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam
  • Band 2: SIN to/from Bangladesh, Hong Kong, China, India. Japan, Korea, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and U.A.E
  • Band 3: SIN to/from Australia
  • Bands 4/5: Not applicable for the Boeing 737-8 MAX

Non-reclining seats

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

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

For the Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, that’s all seats in the following rows:

  • Row 47 (seats A, B, C, H, J, K)
  • Row 48 (seats A, B, C, H, J, K)

Extra legroom for free

As you may notice from the seat map, there’s also an over-wing emergency exit at Row 48 on the MAX, but since those seats don’t recline Singapore Airlines will not sell seats in that row as extra legroom, even though they share the same additional legroom as you’ll find in Row 49.

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 48.

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 737-8 MAX aircraft:

  • 44A
  • 45A
  • 45K
Rows 44 and 45 on the Boeing 737-8 MAX are “windowless”. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

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.

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


 


 

Summary

It’s great that Singapore Airlines has upgraded features and amenities in the Economy Class cabin of its Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft, 37 of which will make their way into the fleet in the coming years and seven of which will be in service by the end of March 2022.

Unfortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, the airline did not simply install the latest Recaro seats it uses on its newer wide-body aircraft like the Boeing 787-10, instead favouring a Collins product that doesn’t quite match up in a few key areas.

SIA chose a Collins Aerospace seat for its Boeing 737-8 MAX fleet. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

While seat pitch is always typically less on narrow-body aircraft, and would likely have been set at 30″ even with the Recaro product, the other downsides include a smaller IFE screen, no integrated mobile device storage slot or cupholder, and no AC power supply option.

These are unfortunate disparities passengers may notice when transiting from a wide-body flight through Changi onto a 737 MAX for the next leg of their journey.

Importantly though we did find the seat comfortable, and SIA will be offering its latest dining concepts for shorter and longer flights in line with Economy Class service on the wide-body fleet.

There’s also a touchscreen KrisWorld system and Wi-Fi connectivity throughout, which will be important aspects as the MAX is rolled out on longer flights right up to the 7-hour mark in future.

What do you think of SIA’s latest narrow-body Economy Class cabin? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)

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10 comments

    1. Well I have no idea about that but I suppose with each Y seat coming in at around US$5,000 then even a 1-2% saving between models is big money when you’re buying 5,300 of them!

  1. I may be wrong but I think they have simply repurposed the original Y seats from the SilkAir 737-8 cabin – and in doing so, reupholstered the seats, installed a new seatback, along with the Panasonic IFE screen.

    It probably didn’t make good economic sense, especially in times like these, to discard fairly new (and relatively unused) Collins seats and spend extra money on Recaro ones.

  2. Some minute details of economy class seats on the widebody planes are also missing in these Max:
    1. No SQ signature’s vanity mirror in the tray table
    2. The tray tables are not bi-fold
    3. The seat pockets consists of one compartment only, without the segregated pockets.
    4. No coat hook 😂

  3. Good articles, Andrew. Just want to check with you. In the section “Collins, Not Recaro”, you wrote:

    While the Thompson Vantage seat was already long confirmed in Business Class, we had all but assumed that the Recaro CL3710 would be selected for the Business Class cabin.

    The last line should be “… Recaro CL3710 would be selected for the Economy Class cabin.” 🙂

  4. Thanks Andrew Nice write up
    ”Importantly though we did find the seat comfortable”. Do you think sitting in the economy seats for 7 hrs would be comfortable ?
    I hope to fly on one next year.

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