Singapore Airlines Cutting Size Of First Class Cabins In Half

As I wrote about last May, Singapore Airlines will be introducing a premium economy product throughout much of their longhaul fleet.

Singapore-Airlines-Private-Room-47

Premium economy will gradually be introduced throughout their longhaul fleet starting with their Airbus A380s and Boeing 777-300ERs (eventually it will also be introduced on their A350s, once they start taking delivery of those).

Singapore-Airlines-777-First-Class-01
Singapore Airlines’ current 777-300ER first class seat

While airlineroute.net has all the details of the flights scheduled to have premium economy, the most concerning news is regarding the implications of premium economy on cabin layouts.

Singapore-Airlines-777-First-Class-44
Singapore Airlines’ current 777-300ER business class cabin

Singapore 777-300ER configuration with premium economy

Here’s a chart with the change in capacity on the 777-300ERs with premium economy:

Current 777-300ERNew 777-300ERChange In Capacity
First Class84-4
Business Class4248+6
Premium Economy Classn/a28+28
Economy Class228184-44

So while business class capacity is going up by six, first class capacity is going down by four. That’s right, Singapore Airlines is cutting the size of their 777 first class cabins in half. That’s huge, especially given that it’s the backbone of their fleet.

Singapore-777-First-Class
Singapore Airlines’ current 777-300ER first class cabin

Singapore has long been generous with releasing first class award space at the saver level to members of their own KrisFlyer program. However, as of late they’ve been suite stingy with releasing A380 Suites Class availability.

So first class on the 777-300ER has been a fairly safe bet, though it looks like that will soon change. I’m guessing long term that for the most part first class awards on the 777 won’t be bookable at the saver level far in advance.

For all the dates and routes I checked, I don’t see a single date that has first class available at the saver level on one of the new 777s with just four first class seats. They all “waitlist.”

KrisFlyer-Waitlist

From Singapore’s perspective I totally get it. On the 777-300ER business class is so good that it almost cannibalizes their first class. In terms of the hard product it’s not that different.

Singapore-Business-Class-777
Singapore Airlines’ 777-300ER business class seat

So presumably not only is the demand for their 777-300ER first class not there, but beyond that they can make the product more exclusive by making it just one row.

TAM-First-Class
TAM’s old first class had just one row with four seats

Singapore A380 configuration with premium economy

Singapore has two A380 configurations. One exclusively has business class on the upper deck, with a total of 86 business class seats:

Current A380New A380Change In Capacity
First Class12120
Business Class86860
Premium Economy Classn/a36+36
Economy Class311245-66

Meanwhile the other configuration has some economy class seats at the back of the upper deck, as it only has 60 business class seats:

Current A380New A380Change In Capacity
First Class12120
Business Class60600
Premium Economy Classn/a36+36
Economy Class399333-66

Fortunately on the A380 we’re not seeing a reduction in premium cabin capacity, but rather are seeing 66 economy class seats being removed in favor of 36 premium economy seats.

Singapore-Suites-Class-2
Singapore Airlines’ A380 Suites Class

Bottom line

Will this have huge long term implications for those looking to redeem KrisFlyer miles? Yes.

But at the same time I’d probably do the same if I were Singapore Airlines. They have a darn good business class product on their 777-300ERs, and the difference between the hard product in the two cabins is marginal. Clearly the (paid) demand for first class wasn’t there, so they’re able to get rid of the seats that weren’t profitably being filled, while still maintaining the product for those that are willing to pay cash.

On the plus side, I’m happy to see that premium cabin capacity hasn’t changed on the A380. And beyond that, it will likely be several years before Singapore’s entire longhaul fleet features premium economy, so first class capacity won’t be changing systemwide overnight.

What do you make of Singapore Airlines adding premium economy and cutting the size of their first class cabins in half?

Comments

  1. If their Premimum Economy product is an actual PE product, and since their Biz Class is quite solid offering – I think customers will survive this change… Not like Lufthansa’s PE offering which is nothing like what a PE offering should be and certainly not worth the money they charge.

  2. Cant wait to see the PE offering they have – downside is they will be pushing for over double an Economy fare given they are taking out near enough double the seats.

  3. Well if you take out 66 seats of 3-4-3 economy that is rows 31 to 37, you could fit in 4 rows of 2-4-2 and 4 bulkhead seats (AC HK) you get 36 seats. Expect 44 inches of pitch.

  4. Sad to give this post a big thumbs down for the deceptive title. SQ are not cutting the size of First class cabins in half. They are cutting 77W first cabins in half. BIG difference!!!

  5. Lucky, how does waitlisting work for SQ flights? If i transfer miles to SQ and waitlist for a flight (without any status) do I have a decent chance? I don’t want those miles to just languish there forever if it doesn’t clear… Any days of the week that would be better than others?

  6. SQ’s business class product is so amazing that, in my opinion, it’s better than some other airlines’ first class offerings! I’m quite ok with this change since I understand SQ still needs to bring in a profit.

  7. Not as scary as the title suggests. However, with changes like this I worry about ripple effects. Does it create more demand for Suites, thus reducing availability (which is already not that great)?

  8. Is it too much wishful thinking to believe that 4 F seats on the 77W will be two rows in a 1-1 configuration, ala EY First Apartments, rather than a single row of 1-2-1? 🙂

  9. This is pretty bad though, because at least in my experience, First/Suites was always easier to book on SQ than Business. Their business class is great, but if this means its going to be impossible to book on any premium SQ cabin except for A380’s I’m going to be pretty sad.

  10. @ augias — All depends on the route, seems to be all over the place if you clear or not, unfortunately. Typically when waitlists do clear it’s within two or so weeks of departure.

  11. Hmm interesting. On the A380, they are removing 66 EY seats. I originally expected that the PE would be put in the upper deck section of the A380 that currently has Economy, but that area has 88 economy seats… Sooooo, I guess that the PE will be located on the main deck? Probably just behind the Suites.

    Also, the GDS shows the first flight will be SQ221 on 09 August.

  12. @ Ashan — Yep, guessing it will be on the main deck on both planes. That way they can keep a consistent configuration due to the cabin width difference between the lower and uppper deck.

  13. Is F over J on SQ even worth it when you compare F on the 777 and J on the A380? The only main difference to me is Private Room access. The food looks essentially the same to me? What insight do you have on the differences are?

  14. @ Daniel — For miles I do think it’s worth the premium, since the incremental cost difference is small. The service, amenities, food, champagne, etc., are all better.

  15. Lucky, do you have any idea if these 777s that will only have 4 first class seats will have the new first class seats put in while being changed up?

  16. Does anybody know if Singapore Airlines are flying PE from Barcelona to Singapore next March 2016 please. Unable to get anything specific from them.

  17. Hi lucky – thanks. No, nothing is coming up for PE on that route yet so seems I’ll have to wait a bit.

  18. Hey Ben,

    I have an existing SQ first booking for two people between HKG and SFO for next April. Since SQ is cutting their 777ER first cabin by half, is there any risk of losing our booking due to a cabin downsize? How will SQ be integrating these new configurations into existing operations where bookings already exist?

    Thanks!

  19. @ Tyler — Your ticket should be honored in the event that your flight is downgraded. I wouldn’t be worried.

  20. Has anybody actually flown First on the 4-class 777-300ER? I have a SIN->NRT rewards ticket on a December 2016 flight that was an A380 when I booked it but has now been changed to the 4-class 777. Obviously disappointed to lose my Suites flight but, since I’m a Suites veteran, equally curious to try the 4-class 1 row First cabin. Fortunately this is a day flight but I suspect the usual Suites/First perk of the crew making up a second seat as a bed so you effectively have a 2-room apartment is going to be rarer with the single row. That said, more than once I’ve been the only passenger in the 8-seat cabin and there are seldom more than 2 (so I too can quite see why SQ has done what it has done – you’d only take this First over Business for the much better wine list and/or if you like caviar).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *