Singapore Airlines “very excited” on new Boeing 777-9 first, business

Over-sized first class suites? Sliding doors in business class? Everything is on the table as SQ prepares for its next-gen jet.

By David Flynn, May 31 2022
Singapore Airlines “very excited” on new Boeing 777-9 first, business

Singapore Airlines is facing an even longer wait for its Boeing 777-9 jetliners, with Boeing earlier this year pushing out the first airline deliveries to 2025, with Emirates and Lufthansa at the front of the queue.

The airline remains “in discussions” with Boeing over the latest timetable, but its range of all-new suites and seats for the 777-9 is ready to go, says Executive Vice President Commercial, Lee Lik Hsin.

“We have to wait to see what happens with Boeing, but we are very excited and waiting to unveil those brand new products to the world,” Lee told Executive Traveller during a visit to SQ’s also-new First Class and The Private Room lounges at Changi T3.

“Of course, that aircraft is not yet coming into service,” Lee reflected, adding that “we are in discussions with Boeing” – along with many other airlines – on when its first 777-9 jets would fly in from Seattle.

However, Executive Traveller understands that Singapore Airlines is now taking advantage of the delay to revisit its designs for its next-gen first and business class, premium economy and even economy seats and see if there’s room for further improvement and refinement, based on still-emerging trends and technologies.

The Boeing 777-9 is significant for Singapore Airlines as the big twin-jet will become the eventual flagship of the Star Alliance member’s post-A380 fleet.

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-9 orders, delivery

Singapore Airlines has placed a total of 31 orders for the Boeing 777-9, beginning with 20 in February 2017 and then adding 11 more to the tally in February 2021.

Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-9 delivery was initially scheduled for 2021, but after a series of production setbacks, Boeing now expects it won’t hand over the keys to 777-9 launch customer Emirates until 2025, which means Singapore Airlines’ Boeing 777-9 delivery date is likely to be no earlier than 2026.

(Other airlines waiting in the Boeing 777-9 queue include Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways, all of which will use the jet to launch new business class and in some cases first class seats.)

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong is bullish on the Boeing 777-9.
Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong is bullish on the Boeing 777-9.

In 2018 the carrier had “already begun to conceptualise on what product we should introduce in the 777-9, what they should be like,” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong told Executive Traveller on the delivery flight of the airline's first Boeing 787-10.

Goh said first class flyers should expect a “quantum leap” from today's Boeing 777 premium cabins, with “a first class that we believe when we launch it will again set industry standards.” 

Singapore Airlines signs off on Boeing 777-9 first class 

Singapore Airlines has built a solid reputation for first class, although more so on the Airbus A380, which launched in 2007 with cosy private suites that were in 2017 upsized into more spacious rooms.

Singapore Airlines is known for setting the standard in first class: its latest A380s feature six of these spacious suites.
Singapore Airlines is known for setting the standard in first class: its latest A380s feature six of these spacious suites.

As befits the arrival of a new jet, SQ will adorn its Boeing 777-9s with new first class suites.

Speaking with Executive Traveller in November 2021, a senior Singapore Airlines executive confirmed the carrier has now “signed off” on the design of these next-generation suites, along with their business class counterparts. 

“We have signed off the basic design,” said Betty Wong, Singapore Airlines’ Divisional Vice President of Inflight Services and Design, who at the time had recently flown to Seattle to meet with Boeing “and see some real products that we’ve designed (so it’s) finally coming together.”

Wong said “the next step (is) to manufacture them”, barring any finesses from a final round of revisions.

“There is always that little bit of a change when you come up to a critical design phase and you look at something and it's not fitting or not right, so there’s always opportunity to make that little tweak.”

Of course, she wasn’t giving away anything on what travellers will see in either first class or business class, deflecting our questions on sliding privacy doors and other areas of improvement with a teasing “watch this space.”

That said, some of Singapore Airlines’ most frequent flyers will know what to expect, having been privy to – and signed non-disclosure agreements on – a series of invitation-only focus groups to trial and give their feedback on different evolutions of the seats.

These have given Wong the confidence to predict “we are developing a product that will meet the expectation of our clients, of our customers.”

Two views of Singapore Airlines' current Boeing 777 first class, which debuted in 2013.
Two views of Singapore Airlines' current Boeing 777 first class, which debuted in 2013.

While SQ is giving away no hints as to what’s in store for the pointy end of its 777-9 jets, the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ERs sports four high-partition first class suites developed in collaboration with BMW Designworks.

It’s difficult to imagine that their Boeing 777-9 equivalents – which will come more than a decade after the 777-300ER models debuted in 2013 – won’t add a sliding privacy door.

Executive Traveller understands that flying with a partner, and companion dining, will also be part of the first class mix.

We’re also expecting mod-cons such as wireless charging, using the Qi standard adopted by both Apple iPhones and Google Android phones, as well as Bluetooth streaming of audio from the inflight entertainment system to the passenger’s own wireless headphones or earbuds. 

Singapore Airlines’ new Boeing 777-9 business class

Likewise, Singapore Airlines says its new Boeing 777-9 business class seats are all but locked and loaded.

Wong told Executive Traveller the delay to Singapore Airlines’ own delivery timeline meant “we bought some time to review some designs, re-look at and double-check some things like technologies (and) to look at different materials before the final selection.”

"But basically, we're on track,” says Wong, who also remains excited about how the jet “gives us the possibility of lifting the next travel experience.”

While each generation of SQ’s business class has evolved the premium offering, the circa 2013 business class seats of the Boeing 777-300ER – created by feted London design firm James Park Associates – also made its way with revisions and refinements onto the long-range Airbus A350s.

Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350 business class remains one of the best.
Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350 business class remains one of the best.

In truth, the gap between the 777-300ER’s first class and business class suites is not as tremendous as many first class flyers might expect. 

A class of their own? Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-300ER first (left) and business (right).
A class of their own? Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-300ER first (left) and business (right).

And as more airlines add sliding privacy doors to business class, Singapore Airlines surely cannot escape the pressure to do likewise, which in turn will fuel the push to make first class even more special again.

Ditto the drive to deliver business class travellers those high-tech conveniences of wireless charging and Bluetooth streaming.

While Singapore Airlines has always been able to rely on food, drinks and service to crown its inflight first class expedience, there are also limits on how far that can go, and how much more travellers are prepared to pay for that difference. 

Singapore Airlines’ new Boeing 777-9 premium economy, economy 

Despite all this attention on the Boeing 777-9’s most expensive real estate, Wong tells Executive Traveller that there’ll also be new premium economy and economy class seats.

“Everything is new,” she beams. In fact, from the 777-9’s tip to tail, Singapore Airlines has decided upon “the number of seats, the configuration of the seats, and how they look like in terms of footprint,” Wong explains.

Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-9 will also usher in a second-gen premium economy seat.
Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-9 will also usher in a second-gen premium economy seat.

This will include a second iteration of Singapore Airlines’ premium economy seat (above), which launched in 2015 and now appears across the Airbus A380, Boeing 777 and long-range Airbus A350 fleets.

It’s becoming increasingly hard to make premium economy or economy class significantly different, or significantly better, from one airline to the next, although there are some innovative premium economy designs which could help a bold airline break out from the largely look-alike pack.

Also read: Flight of fancy? Here are Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 first class concepts

Wonder what is Airbus's answer to this aeroplane 

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1438

Albinoni the A350-1000 is a good answer to it. Not quite as long but very capable and possibly expandable if necessary.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 339

That’s even if the B777-9 flies.. which looks less and less likely

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 786

I'm amazed at the aircraft with the engines size especially when you compare it to the older aircraft like a 737-100. Lucky I trust the GE family to deliver a reliable product. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 92

It will be great to have more consistency with the F/suites product, but the long wait means that most customers will be deprived the Suites and stuck with the sub-standard F (again, only by comparison with the Suites).

Possible improvements to the Suites would include:

1. Proper companion dining (the footstools are present but not comfortable)

2. More privacy with respect to seeing directly into the suite opposite (particularly for 1A/F), despite laudable crew efforts to close doors frequently

3. Sightly increased distance between the seat and bed and more reline in the seat when being used to lounge

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 333

Good luck witht the 7779x  After the exploding  cargo doors under testing which made big news in USA when i was in NYC  Aug-Sept 2019, and after Boeing in March this year said deliveries wouldn't be at least until 2025 as US FAA sees certification in the near future as unlikely.  And goodluck with certification for flying in other jurisdictions eg Europe

In a March 2022 letter, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned that Boeing’s timelines were “outdated and no longer reflect the program activities.”

Because of this further delay, Boeing is also temporarily pausing Boeing 777-9 production through 2023. This is being done in order to minimize inventory and the number of airplanes requiring change incorporation.

https://onemileatatime.com/news/boeing-777x-delay

https://simpleflying.com/777-9-flight-testing-april-2022/    So if an aircraft can't last more than 90 minutes of flight, thats pretty scary.  After the MAXX failure and rebranding as simply 738 and 739  to disguise the MAXX aircraft, it its Boeing, We Are still not Going

17 Apr 2020

Total posts 17

I have just flown the A350 business class. I was underwhelmed by the comfort of the lie-flat bed and found it very claustrophobic. It must have been designed for Asians and not plus-sized Caucasians. I have found the beds on Virgin Australia, Garuda and Vietnam Airlines to give a much better sleep.

02 Jun 2022

Total posts 1

B777 is one of my least favorite airplanes! Flew Paris-HK business class and it's just so noisy - both engine noise and wind noise. Cabin layout not great. Not sure if the 777-9 has improved on that.

For me, nothing beats the A350 (the "Rolls Royce of the air), followed by the A380 and the A330.

As far as I know, most passengers favor Airbus over Boeing (with the exception of the 747 - the last good Boeing). I guess airlines still buy Boeings in order to diversify and for political reasons (Singapore needs the US for security reasons).


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