Singapore Airlines has modified their US route network quite a bit this year, and most recently announced changes to their flight between Houston and Singapore. For years the flight operated via Moscow, which made sense at the time, since it linked two oil cities.
Of course as activity in the oil industry has declined, so have Singapore Airlines’ premium cabin yields on the route. Ford and I flew from Moscow to Houston in Singapore Airlines first class over the summer, and we were the only passengers in first class. Based on monitoring seatmaps, it seems such low loads were the norm rather than the exception.
So Singapore Airlines has modified this particular route, and now operates their Houston to Singapore flight via Manchester instead of Moscow. That seems like a pretty smart move, as Houston is a United hub, and Manchester is a pretty big destination that United doesn’t fly to nonstop out of Houston, so they can codeshare with Singapore on it.
However, several readers have pointed out something odd about this flight.
For whatever reason, Singapore Airlines isn’t selling first class between Houston and Singapore (or on the individual sectors) as of January 1, 2017. If you search through December 31 you’ll see first class for sale, while for subsequent dates you won’t see first class anymore.
Oddly the aircraft type still shows as a 777-300ER (and all of those planes have a first class cabin), and the seatmap for first class is even still there. But they’re not selling those seats.
That’s a real shame, given that the Houston to Singapore route was the US route with the most readily available first class award availability.
So, what gives? I haven’t been able to get a direct answer, though my guess is that Singapore Airlines is seriously considering swapping the aircraft on the route next year, and they wanted to block off first class sales so that they could make that change without any complications.
The route still seems to have too much capacity, as it’s rarely sold out. So realistically Singapore Airlines could swap in either an A350 or a 777-200ER, both of which they have in their fleet, and both of which don’t have a first class cabin. That’s just speculation on my part, though that’s the only answer I can come up with.
I wouldn’t assume this change is necessarily happening on exactly January 1, but rather that they’re just giving themselves some flexibility.
Anyway, if you’ve been looking for first class on this route for next year and have been getting frustrated, at least now you know you’re not alone.