Singapore Airlines Expected to Announce San Francisco – Singapore Non-stop Service This Week!

United has started to fly San Francisco – Singapore non-stop with a Boeing 787-9.

It was a direct blow at erstwhile Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines which offers one-stop San Francisco – Hong Kong – Singapore and San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore.

Singapore Airlines and United have been frenemies at best for awhile. United proactively removed Singapore Airlines award space from its website (and falsely blamed Singapore for it) and Singapore went looking for another US domestic partner first in Virgin America and then with JetBlue.

Clearly Singapore has felt United isn’t getting the job done for them. Now United is doing the job to them.

Singapore announced that they would re-launch non-stop Singapore – US service at Los Angeles and New York in 2018 when they receive the Airbus A350ULR.

Singapore Airlines used to operate the longest flights in the world, Singapore – Los Angeles and Singapore – Newark non-stops, operated with a flying gas can an Airbus A340-500. Flights operated between 2004 and 2013, originally with extra legroom economy seating and business class and from 2008 onward all business class seating.

Singapore no longer operates non-stop service to the US, instead flying:

  • San Francisco – Hong Kong – Singapore
  • San Francisco – Seoul – Singapore
  • Los Angeles – Tokyo – Singapore
  • Houston – Moscow – Singapore
  • New York JFK – Frankfurt – Singapore

But they’re apparently going to announce a return to the U.S. two years early with San Francisco – Singapore non-stop service.

Singapore Airlines will this week announce non-stop flights between Singapore and San Francisco.

The new direct route will see the airline’s factory-fresh Airbus A350 jet pressed into service on a flight estimated to take some 16 hours, although there’s currently no start date for the inaugural non-stop service.

…Airbus has confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that there’ll be only around 170 seats, compared to some 300 in SQ’s standard mid-range A350.

It’s a shorter flight than Los Angeles and New York are.

At 8446 miles it’s the third longest flight in the world behind Dubai – Auckland and Dallas – Sydney.

Flying great distances is especially costly when oil prices are high, since they have to carry extra fuel just to fly all the fuel needed for such a long journey. Non-stop flights make sense thanks to both more fuel efficient aircraft capable of flying long distances and lower fuel costs.

Without non-stop flights Singapore Airlines is at a severe disadvantage in the US market — not just against United’s non-stop from San Francisco which Singapore will compete against directly but also against Cathay Pacific.

Currently it takes a stop to get to Singapore, and then from Singapore to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. In contrast, competitor Cathay Pacific – which serves more US cities than Singapore as well — can get US passengers to their destinations in Asia in a minimum of one fewer stop. From cities like Chicago and Boston (which Cathay serves but Singapore does not) it’s two fewer stops.

A non-stop from the US to their Singapore hub erases the airline’s geographic disadvantage for Southeast Asia traffic. And who wouldn’t rather connect in Singapore’s Changi airport, anyway?

And fly on one of the world’s best business class products as well.

Singapore Airlines Business Class Boeing 777-300ER

Singapore does a really spectacular job with onboard meals as well. They offer ‘book the cook’ which allows you to pick from an extensive menu and they’ll have your selection onboard for you.

If there’s a knock on Singapore it’s that they don’t provide amenity kits (though there are amenities in the lavatories), or pajamas. And their midflight snacks lag competitors in my opinion.

I love Singapore and better US connectivity is fantastic.

I also love that most US transferable points currencies can be moved into the Singapore Airlines Krisflyer frequent flyer program.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “Without non-stop flights Singapore Airlines is at a severe disadvantage in the US market — not just against United”

    Honestly, unless somebody calls me and says I need you in Singapore an hour ago (and pays accordingly), I’d MUCH rather fly SFO-ICN/HKG-SIN on SQ — regardless of cabin — compared to a direct flight on United. This seems like an overreaction by SQ and/or potentially SQ deciding to hold onto 772’s a little longer with fuel prices what they are. At over $100/barrel oil, I’m sure there was great urgency to replace 772’s with 359’s, but at sub-50…

  2. Only 170 seats.

    Sounds like an all biz class plane.

    So UA gets the high yield economy, and its corporate contract fliers, plus the connections.

    SQ gets the point to point.

  3. It’ll be interesting to see how SQ prices this. UA’s nonstop ex-SFO is fairly reasonable in Biz (+/- $4,400 RT). If SQ’s Biz fares land in that range it’ll be a no-brainer to opt for the SQ flight. Even better, maybe a fare war.

  4. Who wouldn’t rather connect in Changi?

    Um, HKG ain’t half bad.

    Plus travel times to many Asian destinations will be longer than on CX, so I think there is still a geographic disadvantage.

  5. I know a lot of people who booked the UA flight this summer, going back to the States, to save one stop.

    UA has configured their nonstop 787 with over 50% business class- 78 seats out of 145. I’d expect SQ to do the same or more, but still have 50 or so premium economy seats as well- it’s their new product and they want to feature it (plus capture business travelers who have to fly economy)

    I’d expect SQ to price at a premium over UA- probably $5K or more for C on the non-stop, vs $4,400 right now via Inchon.

  6. @George-I don’t see how a business could justify paying an SQ premium price over that of UA just so employees could “experience” SQ. Both flights would have Business Class, same O/D, both non stops.

  7. It is a little misleading to assert that a SIN and SFO flight, 8,446 miles, is farther than a ATL-JNB flight, 8,439 miles, because both distances are based on a great-circle measurement. Great circle routes are the shortest possible distance between two points on a sphere. Earth is an oblate spheroid. It bulges at the equator and flattens at the poles.

    Of course flights never exactly follow great-circle routes anyway. Due to air-traffic control, weather, and winds aloft, actual flights are always longer by varying amounts than the published distance.

  8. How do the SQ stopover on awards work?

    It seemed like if I booked SFO-HKG and added SIN stopover, it would still be lower than an SFO-HKG-SIN award?

  9. @George – no UA plane has (or ever will have) over half it’s plane as business class. Try 20% max.

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