Singapore Airlines has been finalising its flight schedule for the upcoming northern winter season in the last week or two, and it’s good news for the carrier’s Auckland route, which will see not only a frequency hike to 11 times weekly operation, but also a reintroduction of the First Class cabin.
This will restore a First Class option to New Zealand’s largest city for the first time since March 2020, when schedules were cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Singapore Airlines temporarily shifted to using its more efficient Airbus A350 on Auckland flights.
Auckland will become the 15th route to have its SIA First Class option restored. Before COVID-19, 22 of the airline’s cities were regularly served by First Class or Suites products.
Meanwhile SIA’s Singapore – Melbourne route will see twice daily Boeing 777-300ER flights with a First Class cabin from 30th October 2022, up from once daily currently, in addition to some A350 services.
Singapore Airlines currently operates a single daily service to and from Auckland:
- SQ285/286 (A350 Long Haul)
From 30th October 2022 the route will be served 11 times weekly, with the daily SQ285/286 service upgauging to a four-class Boeing 777-300ER, supplemented by four times weekly SQ281/282 flights using the Airbus A350 Long Haul.
Here’s how the schedule looks for the upcoming winter season, with the 2013 First Class cabin operating on highlighted flights.
30th October 2022
to 25th March 2023
A350 Long Haul
* Next day
30th October 2022
to 25th March 2023
A350 Long Haul
With the above schedule Singapore Airlines will have restored 58% of its pre-COVID passenger capacity to and from Auckland by late October 2022 (5,720 weekly seats), based on the carrier previously operating daily Boeing 777-300ER and daily Airbus A380 Version 1 flights before the pandemic (9,870 weekly seats).More to come? 58% is still a surprisingly low capacity compared to pre-COVID, with similar cities in the region like Sydney and Melbourne already back to 79% and 85% of original weekly seat volumes respectively.
Auckland could easily pick up some additional flights this winter, in our opinion, so watch this space.
Elsewhere in New Zealand, SIA will also continue to operate daily between Singapore and Christchurch (SQ297/298), with three-class Airbus A350 Long Haul aircraft.
However, the airline’s services to Wellington via Melbourne were permanently cut during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air New Zealand also offers daily Boeing 787 flights between Singapore and Auckland, but the carrier’s five times weekly flights from Singapore to Christchurch remain suspended.
Singapore Airlines recently hiked KrisFlyer redemption rates across its network, including for travel to and from New Zealand.
Here are the latest KrisFlyer award rates for the Singapore – Auckland route, including for the First Class cabin.
Singapore ⇄ Auckland
In common with many of the carrier’s other reinstated First Class routes, Singapore Airlines is only offering redemptions at the Advantage rate on SQ285/286 services for the time being, though hopefully some Saver options will become available again in due course.
For the time being it means you’ll have to part with a painfully large quantity of miles to enjoy the First Class experience on these Auckland flights.
Travel to New Zealand
If you’re heading to New Zealand as a fully vaccinated traveller, you are no longer subject to any pre-departure testing requirement.
However, reportable post-arrival antigen testing is still imposed for those touching down in “The Land Of The Long White Cloud”, as is the pre-departure traveller declaration form, so we’re not quite at the full pre-COVID experience yet.
Here’s the latest process for Singapore Citizens and those from one of 60 visa waiver countries travelling to New Zealand, as of July 2022.
Travel to New Zealand
- Have a COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing that you were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before departure (see here for the latest approved vaccines / combinations); and
- Obtain an Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA); and
- Complete a Health Declaration before check-in; and
- Take a self-swab rapid antigen test (ART / RAT) on the day of arrival or the following day (Day 0/1) and report the result; and
- Take a self-swab rapid antigen test (ART / RAT) on Day 5/6 and report the result.
Requesting an NZeTA will cost you NZ$9 via the mobile app or NZ$12 via the online form, and is valid for multiple entries over a two-year period. You’ll also have to have to pay for an IVL, which funds tourism infrastructure, at NZ$35, on top of the NZeTA cost.
If you are not a citizen of a visa-waiver country, you will have to apply for a visitor visa to enter New Zealand, though do note that this service is not available until 31st July 2022, as part of the country’s phased border reopening plan.
SIA’s 2013 First Class seat may not live up to ‘Suite standards’, but it remains one of our favourite products and we’ve always really enjoyed our trips in this cabin.
The intimate single-row section has only four seats in a 1-2-1 layout, including a large void behind the middle pair for the cabin crew to pass between the two aisles while remaining out of sight.
In mid-2018 we concluded our round-the-world trip in First Class on SQ1 from San Francisco to Singapore via Hong Kong in this excellent cabin, and had the chance to thoroughly review it including both a long-haul and short-haul experience across the two stages of the journey.
If you haven’t tried the product, while we can’t recommend parting with Advantage award rates, we don’t think you’d be disappointed.
Here’s a more recent review of what you can expect in First Class post-pandemic, though some of the COVID restrictions in effect on this Frankfurt to Singapore flight in September 2021 have already been relaxed.
Aside from Suites on the A380, this First Class product is now the only one fitted to Singapore Airlines aircraft, following the retirement of older 2006 First Class seats on the Boeing 777-300 (non-ERs).
It’s also worth bearing in mind that SIA’s Boeing 777-300ERs have slightly roomier versions of the popular 2013 Business Class seats, meaning some passengers prefer the 777 over the A350, even when travelling in the ‘second best’ cabin!
Where else is First Class available?
Since Singapore adopted its new Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF) concept on 1st April 2022, SIA has expanded its First Class and Suites offering across a total of 14 cities on the network, with this Auckland addition marking the 15th option.
Here’s a list of where the products will be seen during the winter season this year.
First Class and Suites Routes
(November 2022 – March 2023)
2013 First Class
|Hong Kong|| SQ894/895
|Los Angeles|| SQ12/11
As we previously reported, London will also receive double daily Airbus A380 flights with the latest Suites cabin from 30th October 2022.
The following ten airports, which had an SIA First Class or Suites option prior to COVID-19, are still not scheduled to receive these cabins through to late March 2023:
- Canberra (discontinued)
- San Francisco
- Tokyo Haneda
Melbourne gets First Class twice daily
Aside from the addition of Auckland to the First Class roster in the winter season, you may also notice from the table above that SIA’s four times daily Melbourne route also picks up an additional First Class option in the form of SQ217/218 from 30th October 2022.
This will increase First Class capacity on this route from four seats to eight seats daily in each direction, though again only Advantage awards are currently loaded.
Singapore Airlines is boosting its Auckland flights to 11 times weekly this winter, with a reintroduction of daily Boeing 777-300ER service, meaning four First Class seats in each direction on the route from 30th October 2022.
You’ll need a large stash of KrisFlyer miles saved up to redeem at the latest 155,000-mile Advantage rate, but hopefully Saver will make a comeback at some stage.
A four times weekly Airbus A350 Long Haul service will also offer a daytime Singapore – Auckland and overnight Auckland – Singapore flight for the first time since the pandemic.
With New Zealand now quarantine-free, and no pre-departure testing imposed for fully vaccinated travellers, we wouldn’t be surprised to see even more capacity added to this route for the winter season in due course.
Aside from a previously-reported increase to double daily for the A380 Suites cabin to and from London this winter, SIA will also be operating twice per day with the 2013 First Class cabin to and from Melbourne.
(Cover Photo: Agent Wolf / Shutterstock)