Category Archives: Airlines

Airlines

What Singapore-based flyers need to know about the SQ-Alaska Airlines partnership

This really came out of nowhere, but Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines have announced a new frequent flyer partnership that provides for codeshares plus reciprocal frequent flyer mile accruals and redemptions between Krisflyer and Mileageplan (Alaska’s frequent flyer program).

A reader actually tipped me off on this about a week ago. He said he called up Alaska Airlines and an agent just let it slip, but of course we had no way of verifying it then so didn’t write anything.

But it’s now official, and from 27th September you’ll be able to start reciprocal mileage earning, with reciprocal mileage redemption starting at a later date.

Here’s what’s relevant to those of us in Singapore.

SQ passengers can now earn valuable Alaska Mileageplan miles

This is one of the biggest pluses for me because it represents an opportunity for those of us based in Singapore to earn one of the most useful points currencies out there.

Here’s how many miles you get when you credit SQ revenue tickets to Mileageplan:

Crediting SQ revenue tickets to Mileageplan. Remember to add up all 3 columns for the total

Mark over at The Shutterwhale has produced a useful comparison chart of how crediting to Krisflyer differs from Mileageplan, but to summarise, with the exception of

  • Premium Economy (110% KF vs 100% MP)
  • Economy E & M (100% KF vs 75% MP)
  • Economy H&W (100% KF vs 50% MP)
  • Economy N, Q, K&V (10-50% KF vs 0% for MP- these are SQ’s Super Saver and Sweet Deal fare buckets)

So there are some gaps in economy coverage, but otherwise you always come out equal or better in terms of absolute number of miles when crediting SQ flights to Mileageplan. (this is obviously not an apples to apples comparison insofar as 1 Krisflyer mile will not be worth the same as a 1 Mileageplan mile, but given how common Krisflyer miles are in Singapore I’d value 1 Mileageplan mile higher than a Krisflyer mile)

Don’t feel bad about not crediting your SQ flights to Krisflyer. In Singapore, we can easily earn Krisflyer miles from credit cards, Kaligo, Mileslife, petrol stations, telcos, fashion, airport loyalty programs, even your PAssion card…the list goes on and on. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that 80% of my miles are earned from non-flying means.

Remember that you can choose to credit your miles to Alaska Airlines but still earn PPS Value on Singapore Airlines for the purposes of renewing PPS membership.

Alaska Mileageplan has awesome partner awards on Cathay and JAL

Once upon a time, Alaska’s Mileageplan was the best way to redeem Emirates First Class awards.  For only 100,000 miles, you could fly one way First Class on Emirates from SIN-DXB-JFK where you’d get not one, but two showers in the sky on their A380. Alaska sells their miles as low as 2.11 US cents each, meaning you could buy this experience for US$2,110. Not cheap, but a heck of a lot better than paying revenue rates.

emirates

But like all good things that went away with a massive unannounced devaluation (plus, the most ridiculous explanation ever).  A First Class award ticket to the USA from Singapore now costs 180,000 miles. Similarly, Business Class awards went up from 75,000 to 105,000.

Image result for cathay pacific first class
CX First Class

The good news is that Mileageplan still has some spectacular value partner awards on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.

  • One way business and first class awards from SIN to the USA on CX cost a mere 50,000 and 70,000 miles respectively
  • One way business and first class awards within Asia on JAL cost 25,000 and 30,000 miles respectively (you won’t really find F award space intra-Asia on JAL, but you could fly SIN-HND/NRT for 25,000 miles on business class. Or better yet, fly DEL-SIN-NRT for the same price. The engine allows it!)
  • One way business and first class awards within Asia on CX cost 22,500 and 27,500 miles respectively
  • If you don’t mind taking a very roundabout way to New Zealand or Australia, you can fly from Hong Kong on CX business for 30,000 miles one way. You’d need to plan your own way to HKG though

It won’t really mean less award space for you

If you’re worried that SQ adding another American partner means less award space for you in Singapore, don’t be. This is not like what happened back in 2014 when SQ added Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citibank in the USA to its transfer partner list. When that happened, yanks were able to transfer their steroid-enhanced credit card bonuses into Krisflyer miles and start competing with the rest of us for award space.

Image result for sq new business class
SQ’s 2013 J seat- not available to partner airlines

We all know that SQ is notoriously tightfisted about releasing its award inventory to partners, and long haul J/F awards are only available to Krisflyer members with Krisflyer miles. Therefore, if a US-based flyer wants to redeem SQ long haul J/F awards, he or she will need to convert credit card points into Krisflyer miles then book. They won’t be able to access these awards through Alaska Mileageplan.

Image result for sq regional business class
SQ’s regional business class seat- available to partner airlines (snicker)

At most, Alaska Mileageplan members will be able to access SQ’s economy space + regional business class routes served by the A330s/772s, however. So from that point of view there might be more competition, but it’s really on routes that we don’t care so much about.

It means better award connectivity in the USA when redeeming Krisflyer miles

We have yet to see Krisflyer’s award chart for Alaska airlines awards, but there is the potential for greater connectivity for those of us in Singapore trying to get to destinations in the US that SQ does not serve (and who don’t want to rely on United)

If you’re flying into SFO, for example, you can connect on an Alaska one-stop flight to Seattle, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St Paul, Albuquerque, even Mexico City. Alaska is historically mostly a west coast airline, but their acquisition of Virgin America will open up more routes on the east coast to them.

I will be interested to see how SQ implements this, although my sense is that they will have a separate award chart for Alaska that features only domestic US routes. In other words, you won’t be able to save miles by redeeming a SIN-HKG-SFO-SEA ticket, you’ll have to redeem one with SQ for SIN-HKG-SFO and another with Alaska for SFO-SEA.

Conclusion

Although this partnership was unexpected, it’s certainly great news for those of us in Singapore. From a miles redemption and accrual point of view, we certainly have more to gain than flyers based in the US.

I’d certainly start paying a lot more attention to Mileageplan sales, and try to supplement that balance whenever I fly on SQ.

How do I search for Star Alliance and One World award space?

Everyone reading this should know how to search for Singapore Airlines/Silk Air award space. But even among those who know they can redeem their Krisflyer miles for Star Alliance partner flights (and believe me, there’s a shocking number who don’t), few know how to go about searching for availability apart from giving random dates and routes to the CSO over the phone and hoping for the best.

SQ’s website has historically never allowed Krisflyer members to search for partner award space online. I’m not sure whether this is just sheer IT incompetence or a more deliberate move to limit partner redemptions (and therefore reimbursement payments to partner airlines), but whatever the case it leads to a lot of inefficiency when you want to redeem your miles.

Asia Miles website showing both BA and CX availability

Cathay is a bit better in this respect in that you can look for OneWorld award space through its online booking engine, but it’s notoriously buggy and does not display all OneWorld carriers. You’ll have to call in if you want to book MAS/AA space for example.

Given the vagaries of communication over the phone, it helps to call up prepared, knowing what is and isn’t available. Feeding flights and segments to the CSO can save you much hair pulling and it’s so much easier to put together a plan and then call rather than having to make decisions on the phone.

Here’s how I search for award space for Star Alliance and One World. Sorry, no SkyTeam guide.

Star Alliance

United Airlines

Image result for mileageplus

Don’t roll your eyes, but one of the worst airlines in the world has one of the easiest to use search engines for Star Alliance award space.

The best thing is that you don’t even need to create a MileagePlus account to use the search engine. Here’s the search box that appears on United.com’s homepage. Just enter your destinations and dates, click “Search for award travel” and search.

Here’s the second thing I like about this engine. Unlike SQ’s annoying website that will only display one day at a time, United.com shows you an award calendar with dates when saver award economy and saver award premium seats (i.e first and business class) is available. This makes searching for alternate dates easy.

Dots= Premium cabin space available Line= Economy space available

Scrolling down shows me the options for a particular date

click to enlarge

You should be looking for “Saver” award space. This is the space that is available to Star Alliance partner carriers. “Standard” awards cost more, and are only available to members of United’s MileagePlus program. Think about it like Cathay’s Standard/Tier 1/Tier 2 awards system, which I explained here.

Don’t get confused by the prices displayed on United.com- the prices shown here are what Mileageplus members will be paying to redeem these saver awards. For example, a one way SIN-SFO award in Business Class costs a United Mileageplus member 80,000 miles + S$158.80 in taxes.

The same award would cost a Krisflyer member 97,500 miles + taxes (taxes is always a tricky one to guess because some airlines will pass on fuel surcharges and others don’t. You can confirm this when you talk to the CSO).  Always refer to the Krisflyer partner award chart to know how many miles an award costs.

One limitation (and it’s rather significant): United.com does not display Singapore Airlines award space. Yes, the two airlines had a falling out a few years ago and like a mature adult, United decided to block all SQ award space from its website.

Why does this matter, you think. Doesn’t SQ block its award space from most Star Alliance partners anyway? Yes and no. SQ blocks long haul F and J partner award space on their A350, A380 and 77W aircraft (basically, the good stuff)*. However, SQ’s regional business class on its A330s and 772s is available for partners to book.

*For the record, Miles and More (Lufthansa) members can book SQ premium cabin awards. But that’s not so relevant to us in Singapore because we can easily book such seats with Krisflyer miles anyway

So imagine I wanted to go from SIN-SFO. Two potential options are:

  • SIN-TPE-SFO (SIN-TPE on SQ and TPE-SFO on EVA) or
  • SIN-ICN-SFO (SIN-ICN on SQ and ICN-SFO on Asiana).

SIN-TPE and SIN-ICN are operated by SQ’s A330s that have the regional business class seat and hence are open for Star Alliance partner redemptions. But because United.com’s website will not show SQ award space, neither option will appear! Therefore, even though it would be possible to get a Krisflyer agent to book such an award, you won’t know it exists by looking at United.com.

Which brings me to the other option for Star Alliance award searching:

Air Canda (Aeroplan)

Image result for aeroplan

You do need to create an Aeroplan account to search Star Alliance award space via aeroplan.com, but it’s a five minute exercise. Once your account is created, feed your dates and routes into the engine

And get the results:

You’ll note on the top right hand corner the availability calendar

Click on this and you can see award space for other dates as well. Unlike United, it only shows you one week of award availability versus one month, but it’s still better than SQ…

More importantly, Aeroplan is able to see SQ award space and use that to knit together otherwise unavailable itineraries, as you can see in this SIN-ICN-SFO example below that uses SQ and Asiana.

SIN-ICN-SFO via SQ and OZ. Hey, I didn’t say the connections would be the best…

Once you’ve identified the dates you want, take down the flight numbers and timings. Then call up Krisflyer membership services and feed them the dates, flight number and flight timing. 99% of the time, they’ll be able to see the same things you see on the Aeroplan website. Trust me, you’ll be making their lives a lot easier. They’ll inform you the taxes applicable and issue the ticket over the phone. Congrats, you just booked an SQ partner award!

I know other people prefer using ANA’s search engine to look for Star Alliance award space, and it’s also possible (though less reliable) to use Lifemiles too. I’m not going to cover those here because I think Aeroplan should suffice for most regular users, but you can have a read on the ANA engine here.

OneWorld

So that covers Star Alliance redemptions, but you’re letting yourself down if you stop there. In Singapore you can also easily earn Asiamiles, and those Asiamiles can be used to redeem OneWorld award flights.

British Airways

Image result for british airways avios

You need to create an Avios account to search OneWorld space via BA.com. Again, it’s a fast and painless process.

Once you plug in your dates and routes, you should be able to see results on different Oneworld carriers- see the example of flying QR to HEL and AY back.

SIN-DOH-HEL
HEL-SIN

I’m less of a fan of BA’s way of showing award availability over a range of dates- they only show 7 days and you need to click on an individual date to see what’s available.

On the plus side, you’ll see all relevant OW carriers here- including Malaysia Airlines. That should open up quite a few more routing possibilities for someone departing from SIN (in that it makes a lot more sense to fly SIN-KUL-SYD with MAS than SIN-HKG-SYD with CX)

Qantas

Image result for qantas frequent flyer

Once you’ve created a Qantas account, you’ll be able to search for award space. Be sure to click the “Use points- Classic Flight Rewards only” button or you may not be able to enter certain cities.

Qantas has a much better availability calendar than BA. You can see, for a whole month, which days have economy/premium economy/business/first class partner awards with just a single click!

Here I’m looking for award space on Singapore to Rome. One important thing to note is that Qantas also partners with EK, which may result in some false positives for Oneworld award space (that is, Qantas shows availability but you won’t be able to use your Asia Miles to book EK space)

One limitation of the Qantas engine, as TPG points out, is that you’re not able to search for all Oneworld routes.

You can easily tell if the Qantas engine will work for your itinerary. If you input the airport codes of your desired itinerary, have the Classic Flight Reward option selected and you still can’t see your destination city as an option, Qantas does not have the capability to show you award seats. You need to use BA.com to look for award seats on that itinerary.

The same rules for Krisflyer apply here- once you know what dates and flights you want, give Asiamiles membership services a call to lock in your itinerary.

Conclusion

I understand booking partner award flights may seem daunting for some people, but it’s worth spending a couple of hours playing around with each of the award engines above to familiarize yourself with how they work, and (more importantly) how they don’t work. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll have much smoother calls with the CSOs when the time comes to book.

Krisflyer Monthly Redemption Deals- 30% off SQ Y and J awards

(Edit: Jimmy on the comments spotted something different between this promotion and the previous ones we’ve seen. Previous promotions allowed you to cancel completely unused tickets for a miles refund. The T&C of this promotion do not. Something to be aware of)

Krisflyer has been offering various discounted award redemptions on SQ and MI flights recently. Here are the recent promotions that we’ve had

May 2015: 50% off SQ and MI economy awards
Feb 2016: 30% off SQ and MI economy awards
July 2016: 50% off MI economy awards
October 2016: 50% off MI economy awards
November 2016:  30% off SQ premium economy and economy awards 
June 2017: 50% off MI business and economy awards

Although these promotions were certainly welcome, they never covered SQ Business Class. At most they’d cover MI J, and there was one promotion for SQ PY, but SQ J was never discounted.

Till now.

SQ has started offering “Krisflyer Monthly Redemption Deals”. The name of the promotion gets me excited because it implies we’ll see new deals every month.

The catch is that you have to travel within the next month- so for the current promotion you have to book between now and 31 August and travel between 1-30 Sept (both dates included). I imagine the same convention will be followed on subsequent deals.

If you have that kind of flexibility, then there are some interesting deals to be had. You can by all means go and look for economy deals, but I wanted to focus on the business class deals on offer this time round.

Here’s the list:

list of discounted Business Class awards. Note that SQ has made a typo- SIN-BNE is not SQ494/495, that belongs to Dubai

Of all these flights, I’d encourage you to look at the following if you wanted to try SQ‘s newest business class. These routes reliably have SQ’s 2013 Business Class seat.

  • SQ494/495 to Dubai (77W)
  • SQ422/423 to Mumbai (A350)
  • SQ828/827 to Shanghai (77W)
  • SQ806/801 to Beijing (77W)

Image result for sq new business class

The other catch is that you need to get your award ticketed before 31 August. Therefore, if you see that saver awards are on waitlist, you’ll need to either find a new date or waitlist yourself and bug them like crazy to clear the waitlist. To be absolutely clear, if your award waitlist clears after 31 August, notwithstanding the fact you’re travelling between 1-30 Sept, you will be paying the non-discounted rate.

So kudos to SQ for starting these promotions, and let’s hope we see other long haul destinations added for subsequent promotions.

Edit: And, of course, thanks to Chelsea who pointed this sale out to me. I’d better add myself back to SQ’s mailing list

A look at SQ’s 70th Anniversary amenity kit (and will this become a fixture?)

I love amenities kits. I can’t say I’ve ever used any of the products inside (what with my flawless skin and lack of upper body strength to open some of those tight containers) but they make great souvenirs of a journey. Here’s my pickings from a few years of travel…

Gotta catch ’em all. Thanks to Louis and Julia for the TK and KLM ones respectively. You know which ones those are, right?

Anyone who’s flown in SQ’s premium cabins recently will know that the airline has partnered with fancypants brand The Laundress to offer a special limited edition amenities kit to mark SQ’s 70th anniversary. I’m not quite sure what to make of the fact that The Laundress’ press release has a file photo of one of SQ’s 747s but anyway…

I received my kit on a recent SIN-DXB flight, handed out straight after takeoff. (I did not get a kit on my return leg from DXB-SIN, for reasons I can’t quite explain. I’m pretty sure they’re distributed both on inbound and outbound legs- maybe someone forgot to load them)

The kit is wrapped in protective plastic. I got the grey version, but there’s a black version floating out there too with separate contents.

Inside you’ll find hand sanitizer, fabric deodorizer (didn’t know that was a thing) and crease release spray, a thoughtful clear ziplock bag in case you need to bring these through security (in all my journeys no one has really cared I never put my liquids into a clear ziplock bag) and a loofah. At least I think it’s a loofah.

I later took a more glam shot at home.

At least I think it’s more glam. Try to ignore the chair legs on the LHS.

I mentioned that there are two types of kits and they have separate contents. Mark over at The Shutterwhale flew SIN-PEK a while back and here’s what he got-

Singapore Airlines' 70th Anniversary Amenity Kit Singapore Airlines SQ802 Business - SIN to PEK
Photo Credit: Mark Chua @ The Shutterwhale

I have to say I prefer the black kit, both from an aesthetics point of view and contents. Or maybe it’s just because he photographed it better.

In typical Singaporean fashion, these kits are already selling on Carousell. I suppose that’s one way of picking them up if you’re a collector.

Could this be the start of something grand?

SQ’s historical disdain for amenities kits is well documented, as this article by AusBT shows-

“I ask myself, ‘Do I want to spend $6-8 million just on an amenity kit?”‘ poses Mr Tan Pee Teck, Singapore Airlines’ Senior Vice President for Product & Services

“At last count, I think there were 38 airlines with business class that gave amenity kits (but) you can’t really differentiate yourself through an amenity kit” Tan explains to Australian Business Traveller.

“And if you travel very often, this thing is just left behind. So we decided to pump the money into other things for business class, and just make sure that our bathroom is stocked properly.”

Amenities kits are only given out in First Class and Suites on SQ, with business class passengers having to settle for toothbrushes and eye masks cobbled together from the trolley and loo.

But Loyalty Lobby reports that SQ has been circulating surveys to Krisflyer members asking them what they think of the kits.

photo credit: Loyalty Lobby
photo credit: Loyalty Lobby
photo credit: Loyalty Lobby

Man, whoever answers “not necessary at all” to question 5…

This leaves me hopeful that SQ is smelling the coffee and seriously contemplating adding an amenities kit as a regular fixture in their J cabin. I’m not privy to the financial details, but I always assumed many cosmetics companies would kill to be able to market their products to a well-heeled audience like those who travel in SQ’s premium cabins. Surely the cost of sourcing sample sized products plus a fancy bag wouldn’t be too much?

There are limited supplies of this 70th anniversary kit and the airline didn’t announce when it will be on offer till. In fact, what I find interesting is that Singapore Airlines didn’t announce anything at all (or if they did, I missed it). All the PR on this has come from The Laundress’ side, all the coverage is quoting The Laundress. The only mention I can find from SQ is this small notice on their PPS club newsletter.

It’s almost as if SQ doesn’t want people getting their hopes up…

SQ’s new A380 cabin products not coming until 2018?

So much for playing A380 roulette. As per AusBT, Singapore Airline’s launch of its new A380 cabin products may be delayed until the start of next year.

With every day that passes I’ve grown more and more skeptical that we’d see a product launch this year. At first I thought they’d announce the products in the run up to NDP to capitalize on the nationalistic fervor, Then I thought they’d at least launch it by the end of 2017 as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations. But the fact is, we’ve heard absolutely nothing up to now. Apart from some vague confirmation that the new A380s will launch on the SIN-SYD route, it’s been radio silence on all fronts. We only have one photo of the new A380, and that’s an exterior shot on its ferry flight from Toulouse to Hamburg back in March 2017.

BP_11_New SQ Suites Class_Image 1
Credit: Eurospot (17 March 2017)

I’m currently holding three confirmed Suites award tickets that I booked speculatively a few months ago-

  • SQ221, 1 Dec SIN-SYD
  • SQ231, 2 Dec SIN-SYD
  • SQ308, 2 Dec SIN-LHR (booked when I was trying to hedge between LHR and SYD as launch locations)

The more I think about it, the more I feel time is running out for a product launch this year. All major media outlets (The Milelion notwithstanding) will presumably be invited to the media event, and they haven’t announced anything yet in the way of dates. I’m assuming that one month’s notice is the general standard in the aviation industry for media invites. Based on what’s happened in the past, here’s the gap between product announcement and first flight

So  let’s take the average of 2.5 months minimum for that. This gives us 3.5 months of buffer, meaning that we’re looking at best at a around Christmas/after Christmas launch. At best.

If we haven’t heard anything by the end of the month, I’ll begin moving some of these bookings to Feb/March of next year. If you, like me, hold speculative bookings, you might want to consider your options too.

Singapore Airlines unveils revolutionary, game-changing new website feature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Singapore Airlines changes the game once again with revolutionary new website feature

Singapore, August 12, 2017- Singapore Airlines (SGX:C6L) has shaken up the aviation world once more with a new website feature that allows passengers to make changes to partially-flown itineraries online.

Effective immediately, passengers who have flown the first leg of an itinerary booked through Singaporeair.com or SQ’s mobile app will be able to make changes to the second and subsequent legs online.

This is in contrast to the previous situation where regardless of ticket flexibility, once the first leg of an itinerary had been flown the rest of the journey could not be modified online. Customers who attempted to do so would receive an error message which led some to mistakenly believe their fare was indeed not flexible instead of calling up customer support to get it resolved.

In addition to being totally badass and maximum IT powerful, this upgrade also fulfills the wishes of terminal male pattern baldness sufferer The Milelion, who in a 2015 Christmas wish ceremony asked for “a proper functioning SQ site that, you know, lets you do useful stuff.”

Singapore Airline’s award-winning website has undergone several major enhancements in recent years, the most notable in May 2011 when it introduced frequently-requested features such as extensive use of future-proof Adobe Flash, regular timeouts for security, frequent server errors and requiring calls to customer service for the most basic of tasks like bookings and seat selection so passengers could experience first-hand SIA’s best-in-class customer service. In response to some (75. Pfffft.) underhappy passengers who launched an online petition (because online petitions are, like, totally the way to make things happen!) to get back the old site, CEO Goh Choon Phong issued an apology even though he totally didn’t need to and you should all be thankful Singapore Airlines lets you fly on their planes. The apology did not address observations that Facebook’s algorithm was recommending “R.M.S Titanic” as a similar page.

“This revolutionary new website feature will allow us to better compete with state-subsidized carriers like the ME3. Moreover, we have listened to our customers and most of them do not value website features like online redemption of mixed class award bookings or Star Alliance partner awards, adding a stopover on a one-way saver award, waitlisting for sold-out revenue flights or waitlisting for award upgrades. Therefore there is no pressing need to add these features,” said a Singapore Airlines spokesperson.

When asked why it took the airline so long to implement such a basic feature that many other airlines have had for years, the Chief Information Officer began to answer but got distracted after seeing a passing butterfly and spotting a shiny object in the distance.

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

IMG_20150801_002332

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

IMG_4680.JPG

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!