Singapore Airlines is rolling out their new inflight product across their fleet of 777-300ERs.
Singapore Airlines is to invest US$325 million to upgrade 19 Boeing 777-300ERs with the latest generation of cabin products, featuring new seats in all classes of travel and the world’s most advanced in-flight entertainment system.
The significant investment programme will provide consistency across the Airline’s entire B777-300ER fleet, with next-generation cabin products that are the new industry benchmark for premium air travel.
Singapore Airlines introduced the new cabin products in September 2013 after taking delivery of the first of eight additional B777-300ERs ordered from Boeing. The upgrade programme announced today will see the same products fitted to 19 existing B777-300ERs. Installation work is expected to begin early in 2015, with all aircraft completed by September 2016.
I attended the delivery of Singapore’s first newly configured 777-300ER at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center this past September.
I saw first-hand that the new inflight product is very much an evolution rather than something new out of whole cloth.
This new product was originally slated only for the 777-300ERs on order, and for Singapore’s A350s awaiting delivery. But now Singapore has announced that they will reconfigure their existing 777-300ER fleet as well.
Singapore’s flagship first class is ‘suites class’ and that remains onboard only their A380 aircraft. The 777-300ER seat, while large and luxurious, does not have doors.
My complaint about the current generation of seat is that it is not very comfortable sitting upright. They actually flip over the seat to give you a mattress to lie down on. This is not a seat that ‘adjusts’ into a bed. It’s a very comfortable bed, but you can’t lounge slightly upright in bed mode. You are either fully flat, or upright with limited adjustability.
And the seat itself is pretty hard. Now, it’s very wide which is why they added a bolster pillow in the same color as the seat design — so there would be something to lean against. But sitting in the seat is akin to a bench.
They haven’t fundamentally changed the concept — the flight attendant still flips the seat to create a fully flat bed which is very comfortable. It’s great for sleeping, but doesn’t have the flexibility to adjust a bit upright for reading or watching movies in bed.
Fortunately with this evolution they’ve improved the seat’s comfort when upright. The material of the seat itself has a lot more ‘give’. It isn’t nearly as firm, so the seat cushions you softly. The seat adjusts more than the earlier version did, so you no longer have to remain quite as upright when the seat is not a bed.
I highly recommend the 2-row mini-cabin behind first class, which is separated from the rest of business by a galley.
These seats, combined with Singapore’s service, make this business class superior to many airlines’ first class offerings (United, American, at least and there’s a reasonable argument some will make that it’s better than British Airways first class as well).
The ‘shell’ of the seat is the same size as in the earlier version of business class, the seat itself lost two inches of width. In exchange for width there’s additional storage space. One of the common complaints about the old seat was that it was too wide (!).
The seat even has a small foot rest underneath the seat in front of you.
This reconfiguration will also be the time that Singapore installs a premium economy cabin into their 777-300ERs. They’re going to change up the cabins of the 777s, as the launch aircraft for premium economy, so that becomes the impetus to change the full aircraft to their new product.
There are two very best things about Singapore Airlines in my view.
- Award availability for Singapore’s own Krisflyer members is fantastic. They do add fuel surcharges to awards, but I find I can usually find premium cabin seats using their miles. American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints transfer one-to-one into Krisflyer miles.
- Main meal food is fantastic. They offer pre-order meals on many routes, including all premium cabin departures from Singapore. They could upgrade midflight snacks on long haul flights, and ‘supper’ service on midnight departures. But they have the absolute best meal I’ve ever eaten on a plane which I haven’t been able to even come close to in the United States.
It’s always fantastic to see product investment and improvement, especially when that product is accessible with miles. For now the new 777-300ER flights predominantly to London and Tokyo. It will be good to see it spread — although it’s unclear what the introduction of premium economy will mean for the overall layout of the aircraft and that can have numerous repercussions for how I’ll view the changes overall.