Singapore Airlines Schedule Change: A380 Downgrade

While each airline releases award space at different times, in general you’re best off planning award travel either far in advance or very close to departure. This is because airlines tend to release some award space when they open their schedule, and then release lots more space as the departure date approaches when they know those seats will otherwise go unsold.

Of course there are some exceptions. For example, Austrian Airlines consistently releases business class award space 90 days out, while they only rarely release space closer in than that.

Anyway, as some of you may remember, my dad has a “round” birthday later this year, so I planned a massive birthday trip for him, and it’s totally a surprise. He doesn’t know anything, other than that we’ll be gone for two weeks, and for him the element of surprise is half the fun.

I planned this trip as soon as the schedule opened, with all longhaul flights operated by A380s, so that we’re literally flying A380 first class around the world. This includes Emirates first class from Los Angeles to Dubai to Singapore, Singapore first class from Singapore to Melbourne, and Qantas first class from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Dad-Birthday-Trip

The trip is already planned to a “T,” so the only thing standing between us and a perfect trip are schedule changes. And unfortunately that’s what happened today.

I woke up to an email from Singapore Airlines with an e-ticket receipt for our Singapore to Melbourne flight. I assumed maybe the times changed by a few minutes, but they hadn’t — they were exactly the same. And then I looked at the aircraft type, and the flight was downgraded from an A380 to a 777-300ER.

Now I’ve flown Singapore Airlines first class on the 777-300ER and also Singapore Airlines Suites Class on the A380, and they’re both solid products. And for a seven hour redeye it’s really not a big deal.


Singapore Airlines 777-300ER first class


Singapore Airlines A380 first class

But I wanted to make this really special for my dad, so the change does make me sadder than it would if I were traveling alone. He loved his first A380 flight last year, and I’m not sure if he can go back to any other plane.

Of course he knows nothing about the trip yet so this isn’t a “downgrade” for him, but after flying the Emirates A380 from Los Angeles to Dubai to Singapore I can picture us in the gate area for the Singapore to Melbourne flight and him saying “Benni, vhere iz zha zecond deck? Zhis plane doesn’t look big enough to vly to Australia.”

So I guess there’s probably not much I can do, other than share my sadness in feeling like I’m letting down my dad here.

Should I just stick to the flight we have, or should I see if I can switch to a Singapore to Sydney A380 flight, and then book a separate Avios ticket to Melbourne? What would you do?

Comments

  1. Make the change – SIN to SYD then separate tickets to Melbourne. Think in the long-run you and your dad will be happier with an all-A380 First Class journey.

  2. Switch to thw Sydney flight. Go for a J with QF. At least you’ll get in the lounge in SYD

  3. switch to SIN-SYD, but nowadays, very rare to see 2 Suites Saver space on SIN-SYD route….
    good luck Ben.

  4. Stick with what you have. What if you go to all the trouble to make two separate itineraries, SIN-SYD and SYD-MEL (and not even accounting for the fact your SIN-SYD flight could be delayed and you’d be SOL on your SYD-MEL leg) and then Singapore Airlines changes the SIN-SYD equipment, too?

    Life’s full of uncertainty, but I’d take a nonstop in First on a 777 for a 7 hour flight anyday over a connecting flight.

  5. Not sure it really matters, this will allow him to make a comparison a380 vs other first…

  6. I think an all A380 around the world trip makes a good story to tell. This is a once in a lifetime opp so I think you should go all the way and switch to A380.

  7. Ahhh…this is what I like to refer to as a “Champagne problem”. 🙂
    Seriously though, I think you should thoroughly investigate your options – why cheat yourself or your Dad?

  8. I guess if your dad wouldn’t mind traveling a bit longer, you can find two suites on SIN-SYD, go for it although 773-300ER would be just fine (now, if they downgrade you to a regional 777-300, you’d definitely want to change!).

    P.S. Just checked Australian Business Traveler – this change must’ve just happened as they don’t have a post about it yet.

  9. Is it really worth the hassle of adding an extra flight? It’s not like SQ F is Spirit Y or anything.

  10. Best gift you’re giving your dad is the two weeks you’re spending with him and the effort you’re going through in trying to make this special. I agree an all A380 trip would be fabulous, but don’t lose sight about what really matters here. Happy travels,Ben.

  11. Lucky, as good as you on getting the flights I would do the SYD, it gives you a little more time on the ground and one less airplane change. I would say make the change?
    Chris

  12. I would also say, try to change your schedule to include an A380 flight.

    It is a once in a lifetime experience…and your dad will always be able to say he flew 1st class around the world on A380’s

    You guys … might… be the first people ever to achieve that in one planned trip. Noteworthy indeed.

  13. Oh puh-lease. He’ll barely know the difference. It’s like when people buy fancy stuff for their dogs…the dog doesn’t care. Just stick with the itinerary. And sorry for comparing your dad to a dog.

  14. I had a similar issue with an EK award I’m flying in August — DXB-KUL was downgraded. My feeling is that I want to change to a different destination because that was the primary reason for flying to KUL (that is, flying the EK A380).

    For you though, I’d ask – if MEL is your primary goal, is it worth it to add an additional hour flight from SYD to MEL? Will that domestic leg take away the enjoyment of your trip? Is SYD-MEL operated by an A380? If not, then I wouldn’t bother because regardless you have a incomplete A380 trip..

  15. Up to you, but if it were me, I would be frustrated at first but then just glad I could spend time with my dad. Spending an extra $500-$1000 worth of points to fix it doesn’t seem worthwhile. $250, maybe.

  16. I agree with Trevor. If MEL is the main goal, then stick with the schedule. None of us can foretell the future and who knows? EK or QF might have plane changes later this year or worse — perhaps all A380s may be grounded due to some defect or what not (doubtful this would happen but who knows?) Either way, at least you know you’ll be spending 2 weeks with your dad to celebrate his big bday!

  17. @ Dax — They run a couple of small businesses, so they can’t both realistically travel together for longer periods of time.

  18. Honestly, I don’t think there’s any way it’s worth it.

    I would probably go via MEL if *no* F was available to SYD and it was either J direct or F connecting, but in this case it’s still F. No, it’s not their flagship product, but only you know what you’re missing. Your father has no idea, and he’ll be thrilled either way.

  19. Switch…
    You’ll never forgive yourself afterwards that you didn’t do everything you could to make it as special as it could be.

  20. Just being curious, but how are you financing this journey – can this realistically be done with just miles?

  21. Between this post and the “4 days of living in a hotel” post, I see that you have been resorting to “posts about nothing” lately. Sad.

  22. Remembering that in her excellent report on her trip with you to Asia, one of your mom’s suggestions was that she would prefer direct routes rather than having too many connections, so, if her advice would also apply to your dad, I’d keep the existing reservation on the 777.

  23. I agree with Stuart, always take the nonstop over connections, especially with kids or old folks. Unless you can build in a 23 hr layover in Sydney in which case it could be worth it.

  24. While my immediate reaction was “Make the switch!!!!!” Stuart Falk (comment 31) has a much better point. As one with aging parents (though they’re older than your mom and dad, certainly), I would have to agree with his reminder to you.

    Let us know what you decide.

  25. I recently flew both SQ’s A380 and 77W from Zurich-Singapore-Auckland. I must say, the suite is a lot better than the first class. You just get a whole lot more privacy with suites.

  26. Apologies as I got an email indicating my flight to Mumbai in Nov had been upgrades to an A 380! I might have stolen your plane….

  27. I’d probably switch if I could. I wonder if they would open up award space for you on the SYD flight as compensation for the downgrade.

  28. Also, while on the subject of A380 downgrades, any idea if Singapore ever plans to bring back the A380 on the HKG-SFO route? I know it was originally seasonal, but now seems to just be the 777 year round.

  29. Any chance your dad reads your blog? Come over for a home cooked dinner next time your back in Seattle.

  30. @ Mark — Fortunately he doesn’t know how to use a computer. So he only gets to read it when my mom “sets it up” for him, and I tell her not to do that when I have a post about him. 😉

  31. With SQ and Virgin tie up in Australia (including Virgin – SQ domestic codeshares), ask to be routed via Sydney, to Melbourne, so at least you get the A380 experience all the way! Good luck

  32. As a Sydneysider, I must tell you that you would be either best to change three of your flights (SIN-MEL, MEL-SYD and SYD-LAX) to SIN-SYD, SYD-MEL and MEL-LAX so that you get the a380 on both of the long flights. This would mean that you would have to swap your stays in Sydney and Melbourne around. This is because transitting in SYD from international to domestic is literal hell (you have to do a loop of the airport in a bus). Or just take the SQ 777-300ER on the 7 hour flight. However, it has not yet been confirmed if the new sq product will be offered on the route.

  33. Hi Ben – if you are thinking about making the change, note that SQ is also converting one of its 2 daily A380 SIN/SYD rotations (SQ231/222) to a 777-300ER. SQ 221/232 remain A380 flights. Good luck, I’m sure your father will be very happy with whatever you decide.

  34. @ Laurence — Wish I could, though there’s no way I’ll find MEL-LAX space on Qantas now. Agree though, may not be worth it with the terminal transfer at SYD. Hmmm…

  35. @ Lucky — if you forgo SQ suites now it just means you have to do one more trip with your dad. Perhaps New York – Frankfurt?

    @ Paul — any ideas what SQ is going to do with a few extra A380s? Or are they sending them off to be updated with new product? Personally, I’d vote in favor of using A380 on IAH-DME-SIN. It’s a long, long flight and suites would be nice 😀

  36. @Ivan I would imagine they are downgrading the Australian sectors to send these planes to BOM and DEL respectively which start A380 services from 30 May 2014 onwards

  37. I know that your dad was with you on one of your first few flights on CX first class, so this certainly isn’t something that deserves a change to your other planned itinerary. So it’s LAX – DXB – SIN – ??? (incl. MEL) – LAX for you now…

    I suggest you do an A380 hop down to New Zealand. LAX – DXB – SIN – SYD – AKL – MEL – LAX is definitely a great way to travel, if you can cram that into two weeks.

    There isn’t that much to do in Auckland, but it’s worth a short stay, if you don’t have time to hop down to Rotorua or up to Paihia (as you mentioned in one of the posts you made before). Try, it might work for you (although that might be too much of an EK overload, doing LAX – DXB – SIN and again SYD – AKL – MEL).

  38. @ Jamie – We’re waiting for the new product to be served on our route. I would choose the new 777-300ER business or economy over the A380’s. (Well, first is a different story, but also in a different revenue price league…)

  39. @ Ivan Y – I don’t know. I suspect as @ Marcus (comment #35) implies and per Ben’s recent post (http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/04/07/singapore-airlines-a380-service-to-india/) that one SIN/SYD A380 is transferring to the Indian market. This Australian Business Traveller article (http://www.ausbt.com.au/singapore-airlines-cuts-back-on-a380-flights-to-sydney-melbourne) has some more information, although it doesn’t answer your question. Definitely agree with your vote !

  40. I just did the terminal transfer at SYD (KE to VA). @Laurence is right about what an awful experience that is. Coming from the A380 to a bus to get a 737 (presumably) would be a much worse deal than just doing the 77W nonstop. Just thinking about that transfer is making me sad this trip ends on Tuesday and I have to do the SYD terminal change again.

  41. @ Paul – thank you for linking to the article. Sounds like SQ needs A380s more on routes to India and China. Honestly, it’s hard to complain because SQ long-haul 773 is perfectly fine for most of us 🙂

  42. Stay in F. If you can’t get a 380F flight (unlikely) stay in F on the 777. Why would you want to drop down to J just for a 380?

  43. Hi Lucky,

    Just curious if you got on the SIN-SYD A380?

    Also, do you know if the SIN-SYD route in the 777-300ER is a new first product? Not as good as the Suites but still new first right?

    Thanks!!

    Stacey

  44. @ stacey – the B77W that flies SIN-SYD does not have the new product. The B77WN currently serves the SQ318/319 service to LHR.

  45. Your imitation of your father’s accent is HILARIOUS. I spent a couple of months in Germany with a family in college; it was a great experience and I had a lovely time.

  46. I was just wondering; the difference between first class and business class is about 50k miles for two people between PVG and SFO, ~200k and 150k. Is it worth the difference with both on the 777-300er?

  47. @ Zach — I think so, personally, but I guess it depends how many miles you have otherwise and what you would use them for.

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