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Singapore Airlines downgrades all Phuket flights to Boeing 737-800s

Singapore Airlines has downgraded all its Phuket flights to Boeing 737-800 aircraft between now and the end of March 2023, meaning its most inferior cabin products are in store on this popular route.

Last month we reported how Singapore Airlines had made the surprise move of downgrading its inaugural Boeing 737-8 MAX route to the inferior ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800 model, which lacks Wi-Fi, built-in IFE, and has recliner seats in Business Class, for the month of September.

Unfortunately the airline has now extended this arrangement by a full six months, with the route now stuck with these inferior cabin products through to at least the end of March 2023.

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While the more basic Economy and Business Class seats may seem a relatively inconsequential aspect on a short flight like this, a large proportion of SIA passengers on the Phuket route are connecting to or from long-haul destinations such as Europe, Australia or the USA, and therefore prefer product consistency between their flights.

Indeed that’s exactly the benefit SIA was touting when it first promoted its new narrow-body fleet (originally, only the MAX was supposed to fly for the airline), with the same product standards and service intended regardless of whether you’re flying on a long-haul or regional service.

Phuket downgrades through to March 2023

While the Singapore – Phuket route represented SIA’s first introduction of the MAX to its network, and the type was largely used exclusively on the city pair over the last few months, older ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800s started creeping back in on selected days since late August.

The news got worse for those travelling in September 2022, with Boeing 737-800s back on nearly all Phuket flights.

Unfortunately the airline has now confirmed a switch of all its Phuket flights to the Boeing 737-800 for the next six months, right through to at least the end of the northern winter season on 25th March 2023.

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That means if you’re booked in Business Class it’s a significant downgrade from flat-bed seats with enhanced privacy, like this:

SIA Boeing 737-8 MAX Business Class. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

to side-by-side recliners with little privacy (and a recline of just 8 inches), like this:

SIA Boeing 737-800 Business Class. (Photo: Martin Memo / Executive Traveller)

For most of our readers, these are certainly not seats to waste your KrisFlyer miles on.

If you’re connecting from a long-haul flight, from Europe for example, don’t count on getting an extra hour’s sleep on the Singapore – Phuket sector with a seat like this in store.

In Economy Class there will be no device charging option, while both cabins lack a built-in entertainment system and Wi-Fi connectivity.

SIA Boeing 737-800 Economy Class. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

You can stream entertainment content onto your personal device from an onboard server on the 737-800, but it’s no match for the full KrisWorld system on the MAXs.

The lack of Wi-Fi is certainly a shame, with Singapore Airlines currently trialling an unlimited connection for Business Class and a complimentary 2-hour surf package for KrisFlyer members until further notice, though sadly neither of those perks will be of any use on these Phuket flights.

Before you ask, unfortunately there is no ‘downgrade’ compensation due from the airline, either in the form of cash or miles.

Like most other airlines, in SIA’s eyes, Business Class is Business Class.

The schedule (from October 2022)

Since 1st October Singapore Airlines is flying the Phuket route four times daily, with all services scheduled to be flown by the Boeing 737-800, as shown in the following schedule.

Note that timings change slightly (+/- 15 mins.) from the start of the northern winter season on 30th October 2022, but the same flight numbers and aircraft type are used.

Singapore    Phuket

From 1st October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ726
737-8 MAX
737-800

SIN
08:30
HKT
09:35
SQ728
737-8 MAX
737-800

SIN
10:00
HKT
10:50
SQ736
737-8 MAX
737-800

SIN
16:20
HKT
17:10
SQ740
737-8 MAX
737-800

SIN
18:30
HKT
19:20

Phuket    Singapore

From 1st October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
SQ725
737-8 MAX
737-800

HKT
10:25
SIN
13:25
SQ727
737-8 MAX
737-800

HKT
11:40
SIN
14:40
SQ735
737-8 MAX
737-800

HKT
18:10
SIN
21:00
SQ739
737-8 MAX
737-800

HKT
20:10
SIN
22:55

How was the MAX better?

The Singapore Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX cabins feature a big improvement over those found on the refurbished ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800s.

Here are our dedicated articles covering both of the new MAX cabins, to show what to get on board when flying on the MAX, but sadly not on these Phuket routes for the foreseeable future.

Singapore Airlines was even operating its Airbus A350 Medium Haul and Airbus A350 Long Haul aircraft on the Phuket route over the peak December 2021 and January 2022 period, to take advantage of demand for the “Phuket Sandbox” programme at the time.

However, with much wider border reopening globally since then, these aircraft are now busily deployed elsewhere on the network, and unfortunately we wouldn’t expect a repeat of that this winter.

Where else are the 737-800s flying?

Back in May 2022, Singapore Airlines announced it was reducing its inherited ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800 fleet from nine to seven aircraft, though these jets will remain with the airline until their leases expire between September 2024 and January 2026.

That means