Air Premia launches Singapore-Seoul flights (and it’s anything but budget)

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With free inflight entertainment, meals, a checked bag and 35 inches of legroom, Air Premia is unlike any budget carrier you've flown.

Singaporeans heading to South Korea will now have an additional option with the launch of Air Premia’s Singapore-Seoul Incheon service. It joins Singapore Airlines, Asiana, Korean Air and T’way Air on an increasingly crowded route, with a combined total of more than 30 flights weekly.

Photo: Air Premia

While Air Premia may be referred to as a “budget carrier” in some quarters, on closer inspection it’s anything but. All passengers receive lounge access in Singapore (to the marhaba Lounge, till 29 Sept) a free checked bag and complimentary hot meals, there’s seatback IFE screens and in-seat power, and with seat pitch starting from a whopping 35 inches, it’d put many legacy full service carriers to shame.

The main question is: will their business model work?

Who is Air Premia?

Photo: Air Premia

Air Premia was founded by a former president of Jeju Air, and operates a single-type fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. “Single-type” in more ways than one, because Air Premia has only one aircraft at the time of writing. A further two are slated for delivery as part of a lease agreement with Air Lease Corporation, and five more are on order from Boeing. Air Premia eventually plans have a total fleet of 10 aircraft.

The airline received its air carrier license in March 2019, but due to pandemic-related delays, only made its first commercial flight in August 2021.

Air Premia markets themselves as a “hybrid service carrier”, which “fills the gap in the market by fulfilling routes which low-cost carriers are not able to fly, and full-service carriers cannot provide attractive prices for.” It claims its Economy Class and Premium Economy Class fares are 80% and 140% of Korean Air’s Economy Class fares respectively.

Unlike most budget carriers, Air Premia isn’t focusing on short-haul routes. Rather, it’s setting its sights further afield, with plans to serve Los Angeles, Honolulu, Vancouver, Munich/Berlin and Cairns in the future.

Very few airlines have managed to make long-haul budget flights work (see Air Asia X, Norwegian Air, Wow Air, XL Airlines and Zoom Airlines), but Air Premia believes it can break the jinx thanks to lower operating costs arising from a single aircraft type (where have we heard that before). I wish them all the best with that, but I’m skeptical to say the least.

As an aside, you should absolutely make time to read Air Premia’s unintentionally hilarious FAQs section, which includes curt responses to questions like “Aren’t there too many players?”/ “No there aren’t. Air Premia set its business model developing untapped market” and “Is there any safety concern?”/ “The safety of an airline is not determined by its size”.

Air Premia’s Singapore to Seoul route

Air Premia has commenced four times a week service between Singapore Changi Terminal 3 and Seoul Incheon from 16 July 2022, with departures from Singapore on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

 Days*
YP632
B787-9
SMTWTFS
SIN

ICN

Dep: 0320
Arr: 1050
   
YP631
B787-9
SMTWTFS
ICN

SIN

Dep: 2030
Arr: 0200 (+1)
   
*Tue (ex-SIN) and Mon (ex-ICN) flight from 25 July 2022 onwards

YP632 will operate the flight from Singapore to Incheon, departing at 3.20 a.m and arriving at 10.50 a.m. The return flight will be operated by YP631, departing at 8.30 p.m and arriving at 2.00 a.m the following day.

The outbound flight timing from Singapore is far from ideal (even a bustling hub like Changi becomes a ghost town at 3 in the morning), but I suppose the upside is the return flight from Seoul lets you enjoy a full day of activities.

Round-trip Economy and Premium Economy fares start from S$402 and S$1,052 respectively, including all taxes and surcharges.

All fares come with at least 15kg of checked baggage.

What is the Air Premia experience like?

Air Premia’s Boeing 787-9 aircraft have a total of 309 seats, a very low density for a budget carrier (for comparison, Scoot squeezes 375 seats on its B787-9).

That’s because passengers are given an extremely generous amount of legroom . The 253 seats in Economy Class are configured in a 3-3-3 layout, each with 35 inches of seat pitch (Singapore Airlines only offers 32 inches!).

Air Premia Economy Class

In fact, Air Premia is using the exact same Recaro CL3710 seat that Singapore Airlines has on its B787-10s, with seatback 12-inch HD IFE screens, USB charging and in-seat power.

Air Premia Economy Class

The 56 Premium Economy Class seats are configured in a 2-3-2 arrangement, with 42 inches of seat pitch per passenger.

Air Premia Premium Economy Class

The Recaro PL3530 has been installed here; the same model that Emirates and Vistara are using. IFE screens get an upgrade to 13 inches, with the same USB charging and in-seat power outlets you’ll find in Economy.

Air Premia Premium Economy Class

Air Premia aircraft have inflight Wi-Fi, with plans starting from US$2.95. All plans are valid till data is fully consumed or the time limit expires, whichever comes first.

HoursDataFee
10MBUS$2.95
1h50MBUS$11.95
3h150MBUS$26.95
24h250MBUS$35.95

All passengers will receive an inflight hot meal, with premium teas, alcohol and selected beverages available for purchase in Economy Class (all beverages are complimentary in Premium Economy Class).

Premium Economy Class passengers receive an amenities kit, dedicated check-in counter and priority baggage handling.

Conclusion

Air Premia has commenced flights between Singapore and Seoul Incheon, offering a very competitively-priced option (at least in Economy Class) that doesn’t cut back on frills either. In fact, if you showed me the list of amenities without mentioning the airline, I’d be hard-pressed to tell it wasn’t a full service carrier!

While I love the sound of the Air Premia passenger experience, I do have concerns about the viability of the business model. The market for long-haul budget flights is something of a poisoned chalice, and I’m not sure the cost savings from operating a single aircraft type (no matter how fuel efficient it is) will offset the low density layout, or the relatively low turns a medium-haul route like Singapore-Seoul affords.

Besides, they won’t be able to match the frequency or connectivity of competitors in the region, and it’s not like they’re part of any alliance that can bring connecting traffic.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of reviews of the Air Premia experience, though I did manage to find a couple on YouTube. If you’re booking a flight, do let us know how it goes!

Would you fly with Air Premia?

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Masked rider

89cm seat pitch? I’d book that in a heartbeat for $400 round trip even without the meal and checked baggage.

D K

It’s targeting budget travellers. Hence, a 3am departure means that these travellers can save a day (for whatever activities) and a hotel night stay. Ideal in my opinion.

Tai

fully agree with you Aaron.

Looks interesting but the flight times are a deal breaker for me (even in PE I won’t be able to sleep much).

Jeremy

Definitely worth it, SQ has no saver available. The economy ticket cheapest is 700+ but not as good in pitch. Other budget flight to seoul also have past midnight flight and less pitch. there is a Korean video (no Eng subs) that tours the plane. Since you said they only have one then there’s no mistaking what you will get lol https://youtu.be/_GVkzinVOeE

Alian

A bit more space has been the cry century but airlines seems to keep taking that away the more we cry. Scream, shout whatever

I really hope they succeed and prove to the world that sacrificing two or three rows of seat if viable and that consumers will reward this airline in kind

Good luck and all the best to YP

anon

more seats = can fit more = can sell each seat for less.

give me that anytime

anon

3am departure is good tho.

Take off, sleep onboard, wake up enjoy your FULL day at the destination..

anon

Past 30

Maybe its just me but i can sleep anywhere

asprino

10:50am arrival is not a very full day though, especially as ICN is so far from town

Diplomacy Watcher

@Aaron

You forgot to mention that Air Premia offers all of its passengers, regardless of class or ticket type, free access to the Marhaba Lounge at Changi Airport Terminal 3.

Woshiprodevils

https://youtu.be/RZdQCA5CoCg

Found this review on the inaugural flight. At sgd$400+ definitely worth it.

Amos

The 3am departure won’t kill me. My kids will. HAHAHAHA! I booked Korean for a more humane flight time for the sake of our sanity.

Min

Hi, thank you for the helpful article with so many pics and details! Just wondering, would you know if the lounge access available for tickets booked by 29sept but flying in October?

Last edited 1 month ago by Min
Renn

do they not have a website? Can’t seem to find tickets for Nov!

Twx

Same here – no tickets for anything past October?

C M

I’m able to see them. https://www.airpremia.com/?locale=en

$350 for a return flight with a simple meal and IFE and longer seat sounds really good, that’s if timing is not an issue.. sadly I think the free lounge access is going to end soon…

Reina

Same here! I don’t see any tickets past October 🙁

Jackie

Same here unable to see tickets for November… any idea when i’ll be available? 🙁

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