As we recently reported, Singapore Airlines introduced its Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft to passenger service on 23rd November 2021 between Changi Airport and the Thai holiday resort island of Phuket twice per day, including the latest flat-bed Regional Business Class and Economy Class seats for the narrow-body fleet.
With six ex-SilkAir aircraft already decked out with the latest cabin products and the Singapore Airlines paint job, additional MAX flights have already been added to and from Phnom Penh, since 28th November 2021.
More routes are coming
SIA is introducing more 737 MAX routes this month, with the aircraft being deployed on the following regular services:
- Kuala Lumpur – 11 x weekly from 10th December 2021
- Siem Reap – 7 x weekly from 17th December 2021
- Brunei – 3 x weekly from 24th December 2021
On the Brunei and Kuala Lumpur routes the MAX is replacing the airline’s older Boeing 737-800s, which retained the former SilkAir recliner seats in Business Class.
Siem Reap is a post-COVID reinstatement, due to a new Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) opening between Cambodia and Singapore from 16th December 2021. The SIA Group last operated services there using SilkAir Boeing 737-800s.
Here’s how SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX route network will look by 24th December 2021, shown alongside the Boeing 737-800 routes.
Boeing 737-800s will also continue to operate selected flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, as will three-class Airbus A350s. Phuket also sees Airbus A350 Regional operation on selected flights through to the end of January 2022.
Interestingly the Boeing 737-800s are still focused on the longer narrow-body flights with the MAXs being used on shorter services, the opposite of what SIA’s EVP commercial Lee Lik Hsin told us at the product launch last month, where it was stated that the -800s would be put on shorter routes where the newer cabin products were less important.
Route deployment, however, still has to take into account regulatory permissions, since not all countries have approved Boeing 737 MAX operations yet.
It therefore sounds like this ‘ideal split’ between 737-8 MAX and 737-800 routes is a longer-term goal.
You can expand the schedule boxes below for each of SIA’s confirmed 737-8 MAX destinations to see which flights the new aircraft is operating on, including timings and days of operation, through to the end of the northern winter schedule on 26th March 2022.
How to tell if your flight is on the MAX
Aside from the schedule tables above, Singapore Airlines identifies the Boeing 737-8 MAX in its booking engine when you search for a flight or award redemption, either through the website or mobile app.
Note that a different identification is given for the older Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which are labelled “Boeing 737-800 NG” by SIA.
If you’re using a search tool like ExpertFlyer, you can identify the Boeing 737-8 MAX in the search results by its IATA aircraft type designator “7M8”.
If you’re checking for the Boeing 737-8 MAX on a flight tracking site like FlightRadar24, you may see it referred to by its ICAO aircraft type designator “B38M”.
Most third-party booking sites like Kayak will also clearly show if your flight is operated by the MAX.
The MAX on VTL flights
While the round-trip Siem Reap service will be daily, only four of the inbound flights to Singapore each week will be designated VTL services, allowing quarantine-free entry.
Similarly on the Brunei – Singapore route, while all three weekly services will switch to the MAX from late December, only the Sunday flight is part of the VTL scheme.
You can see a full list of all designated VTL flights into Singapore, operated by both SIA and over 20 other airlines, at our dedicated page here.
The current SIA MAX fleet
The current Singapore Airlines fleet of six Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft is as shown in the table below.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Fleet
|Current MAX Fleet|
|Reg.||Age||SIA First Service||Livery||Location|
|9V-MBA||4.2 yrs||28 Nov 2021
||6 Dec 2021
||23 Nov 2021
||4 Dec 2021
||24 Nov 2021
All six of these aircraft have had their modifications and retrofits completed, and with the exception of 9V-MBD have all entered revenue passenger service with the airline.
Two more MAXs have arrived
Two new Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft have been delivered to Singapore Airlines just in the last couple of weeks, with 9V-MBG touching down on 25th November 2021 and 9V-MBH on 4th December 2021.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Recent Deliveries
|MAXs Under Refit|
||25 Nov 2021
||4 Dec 2021
Both aircraft flew a Seattle – Honolulu – Guam – Singapore routing in their SilkAir livery, because they were originally destined for SIA’s regional division, just as the MAX was grounded globally in April 2019 following the second fatal accident with the type due to a design flaw.
These aircraft are now undergoing the necessary refit work to bring them from SilkAir standard to the new Singapore Airlines configuration, including new cabin products, Wi-Fi installation and repainting.
In case you missed the news, SilkAir’s last passenger flight was on 6th May 2021, from Kathmandu to Singapore. Don’t miss our tribute to the regional subsidiary’s rich 29-year history.
Speaking of repainting the MAXs, we’ll be interested to see how long before one of these aircraft appears in the Star Alliance colour scheme. With an ultimate total of 37 in the fleet in the years to come, we’d expect at least one or two to be in the alliance livery.
New cabin products
This big advantage when you fly on SIA’s 737 MAX rather than the 737-800 is the latest cabin products, including a flat-bed seat in Business Class, two “throne” seat options, and an upgraded experience in Economy Class including seat-back in-flight entertainment.
Wi-Fi is also available in both cabins.
Here are our dedicated articles covering the new cabins, to help you know what to expect on board.
Do bear in mind though on routes with both MAXs and wide-body aircraft operating, like the Airbus A350s on Kuala Lumpur and Phuket, you’ll get a better experience in both cabins on the larger aircraft compared to the 737 MAX.
The differences here include direct aisle access in Business Class with a wider seat, while in Economy Class there’s more legroom and recline, plus AC charging sockets, on the wide-body jets.
This may not make a huge difference on shorter routes, but as the MAXs will no doubt stretch their legs to the likes of Male, India, North Asia and Australia in the coming months, the differences will certainly be worth noting where you have a choice on your route.
Don’t confuse the 737 MAX with the 737-800
Singapore Airlines has decided against any further cabin upgrades on its fleet of nine Boeing 737-800s inherited from SilkAir, which will remain in the fleet until leases on those aircraft expire in 2024/25.
Where you only have a choice between the MAX and the -800 on a route, it will therefore be preferable to go for the MAX where possible, especially on longer flights.
That’s because the 737-800s retain 12 recliner seats in Business Class, with little privacy between them, and a more basic Economy Class cabin with no built-in IFE system or Wi-Fi.
Passengers can stream entertainment content onto their personal device from an onboard server, but it’s no match for the full KrisWorld system on the MAXs.
More MAXs are coming
Six more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (9V-MBI to -MBN) will make the journey from the USA to Changi between now and the end of March 2022, having had safety modifications completed, though all will need to be refitted with the new cabin products.
One of those, 9V-MBI, has already set off on the first leg of its delivery at the time of writing. It is due to arrive in Singapore from Guam on 14th December 2021.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Future Deliveries
|Future MAX Fleet|
||14 Dec 2021
||By March 2022||BFI|
||By March 2022||MWH|
||By March 2022||MWH|
||By March 2022||MWH|
||By March 2022||MWH|
BFI Seattle, WA, USA
MWH Moses Lake, WA, USA
The length of the modification process means only one of the recently delivered aircraft (probably 9V-MBG) will join passenger service by 31st March 2022, according to the airline’s most recent fleet update, simply due to the time these refits take.
Even though these aircraft are “new” deliveries directly from Boeing, the extended grounding of the MAX means that even the newest, 9V-MBN, first flew two years ago, while 9V-MBG first flew 2.7 years ago.
The jets have been in storage ever since.
23 more MAXs
Even after 14 Boeing 737-8 MAXs have been delivered to SIA, there are still plenty more to come.
Over the next few years an additional 23 aircraft will be joining the fleet, for a total of 37. That will make it the second largest fleet in the airline, after the Airbus A350.
Singapore Airlines will certainly be playing to the versatility of the 737-8 MAX, with its 6,500km range allowing it to comfortably serve thinner routes of up to 7 hours, or be deployed seasonally on less busy city pairs in place of wide-body aircraft.
We wouldn’t be surprised to see cities as far afield as Adelaide and Fukuoka join the roster for the 737 MAX as the fleet continues to grow, so watch this space for future route announcements.
In mid-November Singapore Airlines told us it would launch passenger flights with the Boeing 737 MAX “before the end of the year”, and that’s certainly the case with five cities on the roster by then.
By early 2022, the aircraft will be operating over 50 services a week from Changi.
With seven aircraft planned to be in service by March 2022 and another seven coming online in the next financial year from April 2022 onwards, we can expect many more routes to feature the MAX, potentially including cities that formerly saw only wide-body operation, as far afield as Adelaide.
(Cover Image: Singapore Airlines)