Executive Traveller exclusive
Singapore Airlines’ next generation of first class suites and business class seats is a step closer to take-off, with the carrier revealing it has finalised the designs which travellers will see across the forthcoming Boeing 777-9 fleet.
And it’s not the seats at the pointy end of the big twin-engine jet – there’ll also be fresh takes on premium economy and economy.
“Everything is new,” beams Betty Wong, Singapore Airlines’ Divisional Vice President of Inflight Services and Design, who recently flew to Seattle to meet with Boeing “ and see some real products that we’ve designed (so it’s) finally coming together.”
Wong confirmed to Executive Traveller this week that the design for all of the Boeing 777-9 seats has now been signed off, barring any small finesses before “the next step, to manufacture them.”
“We have signed off the basic design, but 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.”
This also means that Singapore Airlines has locked down “the number of seats, the configuration of the seats, and how they look like in terms of footprint,” Wong explains.
But she’s not 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.”
The Star Alliance member’s current Boeing 777 first and business class seats launched in 2013, respectively shaped by BMW Group Designworks and James Park Associates, while their more contemporary Airbus A380 equivalents arrived in November 2017.
In early 2018, Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong promised the Boeing 777-9 would result in “the next quantum leap of service and product.”
Singapore Airlines has inked an order for 30 Boeing 777-9s, which will make its public debut at next week’s Dubai Air Show.
However, a series of delays has pushed back Boeing’s delivery schedule from 2021 to at least 2024, according to the projections of launch customer Emirates.
Other airlines who are early 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.
Wong says 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.”