What seats will I get on my upcoming SQ flight?

For many people, flying First or Business Class could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the type of seat you get can make or break it.

Why does this matter? Well, there’s nothing more sian than splurging your hard-earned miles on a business class seat only to find out you didn’t get what you bargained for.

Consider Singapore to Seoul, a 6.5 hour flight. It costs the same number of miles to redeem a business class seat on SQ8 and SQ608. The difference? SQ8 is a 777-300ER with SQ’s newest business class seat that goes full flat and is 1-2-1 configured for direct aisle access.

Image result for sq new business class

SQ 608 is an A330-300. Its business class seats only go angled flat, and the cabin is 2-2-2 configured with no direct aisle access for some seats.

Image result for sq regional business class

So I imagine if you were a newbie and assumed all the seats from SIN-ICN would be the same, you’d be pretty steamed for paying the same number of miles for an inferior product.

Although more seasoned travelers will know SQ’s fleet at the back of their hands, first-timers to the miles game may be unfamiliar with the seven types of planes SQ operates.

Therefore, I wanted to create a guide to SQ’s fleet, showcasing the different First and Business Class seats available and how you can figure out which ones your flight has.

First Class- Suites

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Let’s start with the easiest of all. It’s a no brainer to figure out if your first class seat is a suite. I mean, the SQ website calls your ticket class Suites, not First Class. And there’s the pretty obvious fact that they’re only on SQ’s A380. This topic will get much more interesting once SQ introduces its new suites cabin and we have a mix of new and old suites…

You can read reviews of the SQ Suites product here, here, here and here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on an A380, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

First Class- 2006 Version

Image result for sq old first class
photo credit: SFO777

This seat was introduced in 2006 along with SQ’s first-ever lie flat business class seat (I’ve written a piece about the history of SQ’s premium cabin seat design here, it’s well worth a read in my humble opinion).

It’s now passing the 11 year mark and the seat has obviously seen quite a bit of wear and tear. First Class seats tend to go out empty more often than Business Class seats, so the wear won’t be as bad as on the 2006 business class seats, but something to note nonetheless.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-300, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 22% (6/27) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Look at your seatmap- if you’re flying on a 777-300ER and see 8 seats in the F cabin, you have a 67% (9/12) chance of getting the 2006 First Class seat. If you see 4 seats in the F cabin, you know for sure you have the 2013 First Class seat (see next section)

First Class- 2013 Version

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Way more chio than the 2006 version, the 2013 First Class seat incorporates sophisticated dark leather tones and a little set of orange lines near the headrest that for whatever reason I find super classy. It’s also 7 years newer than the 2006 version and is less likely to be worn. Other great features include a lot more privacy from the aisle and a bigger, crisper TV screen.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 78% (21/27) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Check the seatmap. If you see a 4 seat First Class cabin, you definitely have the 2013 First Class seat (if you see 8 seats, you may have the 2006 seat, see above)

 Business Class- 2006 Version

This old girl was revolutionary when she came out, but time has taken its toll and she’s ready to be put to pasture. Although these seats are still wider and more private than what a lot of airlines have in first class, 11 years of service mean you’ll find discolored upholstery, chipped panels, the odd sticky controller and other deficiencies. It’s not a seat you should actively avoid, but it still pays to be informed.

You can read a review of the 2006 business class seat here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re flying on an A380, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 22% (6/27) chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on a 777-200ER, you have a 90% (9/10) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

If you’re on a 77W, a quick check you can do is to look at the seatmap. If you see a forward J cabin of 8 seats, you have a 67% chance (6/9) of having the 2006 J seat. (If you see 12, you have a 100% chance of the 2013 J seat, see below)

If you do see a 8 seat forward mini-J cabin, you can’t tell for sure whether you have the 2006 or 2013 seat because there are 9 such 77Ws in service, 6 with the 2006 version and 3 with the 2013 version. Read to the end for another way of verifying.

Business Class- 2013 Version

This is the refreshed version of the 2006 seat that SQ launched in 2013. I love the design philosophy behind this seat- it’s sleek, gorgeous and on some newly-refitted aircraft still has that new seat smell. Look forward to a touch screen controller, bigger screen and more lounging positions over the 2006 seat.

You can read a review of the 2013 business class seat here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on an A350, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re on a 777-300ER (aka 77W), you have a 78% (21/27) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Check your seatmap. If you see 12 seats in the forward J cabin, you know for sure you have the 2013 business class seat.

If you see 8 seats, you may have either the 2006 version or the 2013 version. At the end of this post I’ll teach you another way of figuring out what seat you have.

Business Class- Regional

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This is easily my least favourite SQ business class seat- it doesn’t go full flat, and it’s simply uncompetitive for some of the longer flights SQ deploys it on (destinations as far as ICN/BNE) or routes where there’s a clearly superior competing product, like Eva Air).

These seats most often make an appearance on regional flights to Bangkok, HCMC, Perth etc. They’re ok for daytime flights (in fact, some weirdos even prefer them because they’re better for work), but good luck if you get one of these babies on a red-eye. And if you burn your miles on this, well, do your homework next time.

You can read a review of the regional business class seat here and here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re flying on an A330, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on 777-200, you have a 82% (9/11) chance of this seat
  • If you’re flying on a 777-300, you have a 100% chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

Business Class- Ultimo

A rare pokemon is the Ultimo business class seat. The DNA of this seat harkens back to 1998, so count yourself lucky it’s only on two of SQ’s oldest aircraft. You can sometimes see it on runs to Bangkok. I remember it has in-seat power, but it requires a special adapter/converter that only the crew has. Ah, the 90s.

You can read a review of the Ultimo business class seat here.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-200, you have a 18% (2/11) chance of this seat
  • All other aircraft have a 0% chance of this seat

If your seatmap looks like this 2-3-2 configuration-

Then congrats, you have the Ultimo seat. Send me a postcard.

Business Class- Spacebed

Image result for spacebed singapore airlines
this seat is so old I don’t even have a photo of it. Credit to A Shutterbug’s Life

A rarer rarer pokemon still is the Spacebed. We are really digging the bottom of the barrel here. I thought all Spacebed aircraft had long since flown into the sunset, but apparently there is still one aircraft with the Spacebed seat.

9V-SVF is its registration, and it’s sometimes seen plying routes to Manila and occaionally Hanoi. It’s also sometimes activated to operate Scoot routes.  I don’t know why people would get excited about this though, because the IFE won’t work, there’ll be no hot towels, extra amenities, extra refreshments or anything of the sort. If you’re in economy anyway, I’d much prefer to fly on a brand new 787 than one of these.

How to know if I’ve got it?

  • If you’re on a 777-200ER, there’s a 10% chance (1/10) you’ll get this seat

An alternative way

Knowing the SQ fleet is half the battle, and I believe with the guide above most people should be well-equipped to know what they’re getting themselves into.

Just looking at the seatmap and following the heuristics above should be enough to figure out what seat you have. You can even check the seat map before you book- just do a dummy revenue booking and look at the seat selection map before you make payment.

this could either be the 2006 J or the 2013 J configuration

There are of course situations where the seatmap can’t tell you everything, especially in the case of the 77Ws where some of them have 2006 premium cabin products and others 2013, all arranged in the same layout.

In this case you can try the following

Step 1: Look for SQ’s fleet list 

Here’s SQ’s latest fleetlist, courtesy of the folks over at SQTalk. These guys update the list ever so often to reflect new aircraft fitouts and new deliveries.

Step 2: Find the operating history of your flight on FlightRadar24

Google your flight number and look for the FlightRadar24 link. You’ll see something like this

Step 3: Cross refer the operating history and fleet list

Look at the operating history of SQ635. You’ll see on some days it has the 2006 business class seats (SWS, SWI, SWT ) and on others the 2013 (SWV, SWZ, SWD). This isn’t foolproof, but you may be able to work out certain days when the new product operates and certain days when it does not.

Final Caveats

Airlines reserve the right to swap equipment for “operational reasons”, i.e. as and when they please. I remember being at the airport a year or so back and seeing that SIN-IST had an equipment swap where a 777-200ER with the 2006 J seat was swapped for 9V-SVF with the Spacebed. Man, I thought, are they going to get some angry letters.

Airlines don’t owe you anything if they do this, insofar as they promised you a business class seat and they’re giving you one, but if you make noise SQ will often give you some miles or a Krisshop voucher as compensation.

Hope this helps!

Edit: Here’s a useful chart created by Rajv that summarizes your options. Thanks!

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30 thoughts on “What seats will I get on my upcoming SQ flight?”

  1. Was preparing for the worst before I started checking. Thank god, almost all flights to LHR on 777-300 ER have been upgraded to 2013 version. Now the only thing that can spoil it is a last minute equipment swap.

    1. unlikely they’ll swap on an important business route like that. even if one bird goes down, they’ll find another 2013 equipped one to take its place.

  2. Thanks to this post, I just changed my SQ972 flight to a different time (don’t want to get the Ultimo).. You’re a lifesaver Aaron!

    I am well informed now 🙂

  3. Another way to check is to see if the 77W you’re flying on has PY seats. If it has, then the J seats are the 2013 version.

    1. true, but any 77W with PY seats will also have the 12 seat forward mini J cabin, so you can tell by seatmap already. What would be useful is a way of figuring out how to differentiate between the two types below, both without PY.

      Seating 1: 8F/42J/228Y (2006 F, 2006 J, 2006 Y)

      – 9V-SWG
      – 9V-SWI
      – 9V-SWQ
      – 9V-SWR
      – 9V-SWS
      – 9V-SWT

      Seating 2: 8F/42J/228Y (2013 F, 2013 J, 2013 Y)

      – 9V-SWV
      – 9V-SWW
      – 9V-SWY

  4. I’m on SQ297 : 777-200ER to CHC, it has 26 seats in a single cabin and it says “Boeing 777-200ER (Refitted) – Business Class” is this this Regional product being used for a 10~ hour flight 😱?

  5. Above the seat map sq specifies the size of the tv screen – that may help you tell which J seat you are getting but don’t rely on that as I’ve seen them say 15.4/18″ which doesn’t help at all

  6. Hi Aaron,

    How to check seat map before buy or redeem ticket ? I only know to check ticket after booking in manage my booking, is there another way ?

  7. SQ was out of action in fleet refresh after the decision to refurbish the 773ERs. Thus aging of the a330s and 772s eventually caught up when regional carriers like those in China is chasing fast and furious. This has led to a ‘panick’ purchase of a350s, b787s and recent 779s.

    It would be another 2 years before the a350s are fully deployed to replace the older birds. So pick carefully.

    1. We have no idea why SQ has been slow in updating the seats on its fleet (less spare craft maybe?). But I don’t think that caused them to order a350s and 787s. Why would they spend billions on new craft when refurbishing old ones will cost a fraction of it?

      These new aircraft were ordered for their ultra long range and fuel efficiency. The business model of airlines is changing. More airlines are moving towards non-stop long hauls instead of hub and spoke model. Thats one of the main reasons Chinese airlines are able to grow fast recently. Long range aircraft are a boon to them and bane of CX and SQ.

  8. Hi Aaron

    First world problem. I have a confirmed Suites ticket from London to Singapore but my waitlist First Class seat (new 2013 seats) came thru.

    My considerations are:-

    A. Suites is nice but it is a 11am flight from London. That means I have to reach airport by say 7am to ensure I have sufficient time for tax refunds, clear immigration and a short stay at United First Class lounge.

    B. I am travelling with a baby so I need more time buffer just in case.

    C. The First Class ticket is on a 8.50pm flight. This means I have more time to wake up at say 9am, enjoy the hotel lounge breakfast, last min shopping and make my way to airport at 3pm and yet still have a lot of time for tax refunds, immigration and enjoying the airport lounge.

    I am inclined to keep my Suite ticket but would appreciate your thoughts. Would you trade the Suite for a normal First Class? Or are my worries over the time needed for tax refunds / immigration unfounded?

    I am on a Suites ticket from Singapore to London so I would have already tried the Suites experience. Suites will also allow my baby to have a better rest due to the bed?

    Thanks!

    1. so let me say for the record that regardless of whether you pick suites or first class, you’re going to have a great trip. i can’t imagine anyone walking away from an SQ F flight and saying “man, i wish I had flown on suites instead”. I do prefer the SQ suites bed, i think it is one of the best beds i’ve ever slept in on a plane (because it’s an actual bed, not a seat converted into a bed), but you’re going to be fine comfort wise either way. if i were you, i’d solve for maximizing vacation time- you’re already all the way there, why not stay a bit longer? Your fears over time needed for immigration are unfounded. i can’t speak about tax refunds, but Star Alliance F passengers get a special fast track lane which means you will be through very, very fast. you have special security as well. i don’t have kids so i can’t speak to how much of a time buffer it takes to travel with one, but i can’t imagine it being so qua zhang. if it makes you feel better, the first class seat will be much newer as well, given its 2013 or later vintage. btw- is the united F lounge in LHR any good? i’ve only ever visited the silverkris one (renovated) and it’s really sweet.

        1. i beg to differ.. I’d definitely keep the R tickets. refer to my review of SQ F at http://milelion.com/2017/08/09/first-class-for-the-family-sin-mel-777-300er-first-class-review/ .

          since you’re flying R on the outbound ex-SIN, I think there’s a high chance you’d walk away thinking you’d have rather flown on suites again.

          If I were in your shoes, my considerations would be;
          1) how old is your child? will he/she be difficult to deal with on a daytime flight? If you’d rather your kid be sleeping and take the red eye, then consider bulkhead J seats on the 850pm flight. you’d save some miles that way as well. the space in the a380 R cabin is much bigger than in the 77W F cabin, where immediately aft is the J cabin and the forward galley is relatively small.. A380 got alot of space to walk around and entertain the kid.
          2) a late check in may not necessarily be that good an idea. if your hotel forces you to check out in the early afternoon, you’re basically stranded until 4 hours before departure time when check in opens.. 450pm is not that bad, but if you have alot of luggage and a kid to handle… need to think about the plans for that afternoon carefully.

          Of course, if you just wanna try SQ F just for the heck of it, then I say go for it, in the name of aviation geekiness.

  9. Wish I’d seen this yesterday! Booking Melbourne flight for Christmas I had a choice of A330, A350, A380 and 777-300ER. 4 different plane types to one destination, how is that efficient?

    1. It is highly annoying because Australia straddles the fleet separation, given they can operate the crappy regional jets there but it is also a long enough flight with a premium enough status to justify their most premium products. It puzzles me a bit with their regional product given their competitors on these routes to east coast Australia (excl LCCs like Jetstar and Scoot whose Business offerings are more premium economy) are Qantas, British Airways and Emirates who (I think) all offer lie flat and 1-2-1 direct aisle access in Business.

      SYD at one stage had on days when it has 5 services an A380, A330, B772, B773 and B77W (-300ER). SYD standardised a little now with 2x A380, 2x B77W and B772 (ie 4 long haul products and 1 regional), looks like it is MEL’s turn to play aircraft musical chairs.

  10. I think SVF’s days are numbered. The aircraft type on my flight to Sapporo got changed from a 777-200 to an A330. The 777 in question had the same number of J seats as the A330 so it was definitely SVF.

  11. Got an email today saying my seat numbers were changed (SIN to LHR – end Aug). Knew instantly that equipment was swapped and was worried about a downgrade as it was already a 777-300ER with 2013 version of J. Looks like they swapped from a 8 seat forward J to a 12 seat one. This essentially guarantees 2013 version. Hoping it’s a plane that’s newly refurbished rather than just a swap with another route.

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