Singapore Airlines: new first class, business class for Boeing 777X

The debut of Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-9 will be accompanied by all-new first class suites and business class seats.

By David Flynn, February 3 2020
Singapore Airlines: new first class, business class for Boeing 777X

With the first flight of the Boeing 777X family now done, the countdown clock continues to tick towards delivery of the jet to the first tranche of carriers and, in many cases, the rollout of all-new first class suites and business class seats.

Singapore Airlines is a case in point, with the globe-striding Star Alliance member readying a new generation of premium pews almost a decade after the launch of its current Boeing 777 first class and business class.

Those seats won't take wing until 2022, when Singapore Airlines picks up the keys to the first of 20 long-range Boeing 777-9 jets, but CEO Goh Choon Phong has already promised a "quantum leap" is in store.

Speaking to Executive Traveller ahead of the delivery flight of the airline's first Boeing 787-10 in 2018, Goh said the airline's "product innovation team has already begun to conceptualise on what product we should introduce in the 777-9, what they should be like. We will of course be going out to our customers to get better ideas about what they really want in the next quantum leap of our product."

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 which were upsized into more spacious rooms in 2017.

Singapore Airlines' impressive Airbus A380 first class.
Singapore Airlines' impressive Airbus A380 first class.

Its latest Boeing 777 first class suites, designed in conjunction with BMW Group DesignWorksUSA and built around a fixed-back shell with curved side panels, will be almost a decade old by the time Singapore Airlines begins flying the 777-9.

Singapore Airlines' current Boeing 777-300ER first class.
Singapore Airlines' current Boeing 777-300ER first class.

But Goh wants to raise the bar, saying "It will be a first class that we believe when we launch (it) will again set industry standards."

The business class seats of the Boeing 777 have since been revised and refined for the Star Alliance member's long-range Airbus A350 fleet, and it remains to be seen what direction Singapore Airlines moves in for the 777-9 – and if some form of privacy doors might be part of the design.

Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-9 fleet will primarily serve as replacements for the 777-300ERs.

Cathay Pacific also plans new Boeing 777X suites and seats

Cathay Pacific will likewise use the arrival of the Boeing 777-9 – the first delivery is now slated for 2021 – to roll out new first class and business class. When Executive Traveller last reported on Cathay's plans for its new flagship, then-CEO Rupert Hogg confirmed that high-walled cribs and the more open design of the current Boeing 777 first class suites were both under consideration.

“That’s the debate right now," Hogg said. “We’re building models and testing different concepts... we spend a lot of time on product design and testing.”

The size of the first class cabin was also being considered. Cathay's Boeing 777-300ERs have just six suites, but the changing travel market could see this stay the same, reduced to four or expanded to as many as eight – decisions which rest on projected demand for the primo cabin through until the end of the decade, and then some.

Cathay Pacific's current Boeing 777-300ER first class debuted in 2007 and has since undergone two updates of the physical or 'hard' product– once in 2013, another in 2017 – with a 'soft product' refresh from late 2019.

Sweet dreams in Cathay Pacific's current Boeing 777-300ER first class suite.
Sweet dreams in Cathay Pacific's current Boeing 777-300ER first class suite.

Similarly, the Boeing 777-9 affords Cathay Pacific the opportunity to roll out a completely new business class seat or further evolve its latest seat, which arrived in 2011 and has since been refined for the Airbus A350-900 and A350-1000 – although the airline may think twice about abandoning the familiar angled layout which has become so popular with its travellers.

Lufthansa's new Boeing 777X business class

Lufthansa is perhaps most eager for the delivery of its Boeing 777-9s, as the delay has pushed back the launch of a long-awaited business class which will finally provide direct aisle access for every passenger: no more awkwardly stepping over your sleeping seatmate – or having them clamber across you, if you're next to the aisle.

Lufthansa's Boeing 777-9 business class.
Lufthansa's Boeing 777-9 business class.

The layout alternates between rows of 1-2-1 and 1-1-1, so that every second row provides a centre 'throne' seat.

Read more: Here are Lufthansa's new Boeing 777X business class seats

For Lufthansa, however, the 777-9 is about more than just new seats – it will also represent a new way to sell those seats, adopting what the German carrier terms "tailored needs-based airfare bundles" and a bespoke 'Business Class Plus' offering.

“It's not just one business class anymore," Lufthansa exec Harry Hohmeister told Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM in Seoul in mid-2019.

“Within the (Boeing 777X) business class cabin, you can upgrade yourself to an even better product than just standard business class… it’s a real jump forward in terms of convenience, and in terms of product selection.”

This approach would see an extra charge levied on seats that have more favourable aspects such as added privacy, longer beds – being up to 220cm (7’ 3”) at some prized locations – or extra working and bench space, such as those ‘throne’ seats.

Emirates' Boeing 777X first, business class

But not all airlines which will fly the Boeing 777X have all-new seats in their sights.

Launch customer Emirates will standardise its new Boeing 777-9 and 777-8 business class around that of its flagship Airbus A380s,

That seat adopts a now-standard 1-2-1 layout to ensure that every passenger has direct access to the aisle, compared to the 2-2-2 and often 2-3-2 configuration in Emirates' current Boeing 777 business class fleet.

Emirates' Airbus A380 business class will migrate to the Boeing 777X.
Emirates' Airbus A380 business class will migrate to the Boeing 777X.

As expected, the pointy end of Emirates' Boeing 777-9s will have six "fully-enclosed" first class suites, using the same design as on the latest Boeing 777-300ERs – including two suites in the middle of the floor boasting 'virtual windows' with signals fed by video cameras showing an external view from the aircraft.

There'll also be a social zone – albeit not an A380-style cocktail bar – "for people to stand and have a chat,” Emirates President Sir Tim Clark tells Executive Traveller. "There will be sort of convivial areas where people can go and gather, and pick up whatever they want to eat or drink."

“Social areas have now become a bit of a signature for us. We're trying to continue what we've always done (on the A380), albeit with smaller real estate to work with. But there'll be something.”

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 442

What a waste. All that research and innovation in a new concept seat design...all on an ancient design 777, which may well have a few pieces of new moulded plastic on the inside, but will still be loud and not have the atmospherics of an A380 or A350 due to the prehistoric aluminium body. Boy can Boeing tart them up for sale or what?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

The difference is ambient noise compared to an A380 is ridiculous. Sitting in a 77W wearing noise cancelling headphones is probably the best way to imagine what the normal noise level is like on a A380.

As for myself I've never been in a 777 but had always wanted to, the latest I've travelled in has been the Dreamliner on both Scoot and SIA yes nice plane but I'd really like to compare it to the A350. For those who have travelled on a 777 here is the noise level that bad or bearable. Hopefully with the new GE Gen X engines it will be much quieter.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 44

Let's just say you wouldn't want to fly a 777 from Sydney to London. Might just be OK for short, maybe medium haul. It's grossly louder than an A380.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

I've done the MEL-LHR return in 77Ws and whilst I didn't go deaf, I still wished I was on the A380

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 43

With respect to SQ's design has Goh been asked or specifically commented on the footwell? No amount of ancillary cosmetic surgery is likely to truly compensate for this fundamental design flaw (I understand this view is not shared by everyone), with the exception of the small number of PPS passengers who may get the prized rows with the larger footwell.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

I've been lucky to avoid this cubby hole so far with SQ. Out of my 11 SQ J flights since they started blocking the seats i've managed to end up in a bulkhead seat 9 times with no status or PPS to speak of. They open them up a couple weeks before the flight to everyone. The other 2 times were on their old regional seats.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2015

Total posts 42

Agree. I love traveling with SQ bit that footwell arrangement seems like a serious oversight. Surely it will be addressed in future iterations?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

@BJ01 people have said that previously then they released the new A380 J in 2017 with the corner hole still included

It's a pity Airbus is going to stop production of the A380

I was just on Brisbane to Singapore SQ236 A350 brand new plane with the new shell pod seats and it was terrible the seating area is so small and the design of the back of the seat in front of me makes it even smaller.The round cube shell protrudes right in the middle between my seat and my friend sitting next to me.Terrible design.

The plane itself was very noisy i think SQ have made a big mistake on the new seating designs here.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

Are you talking about the regional configured A350 or the long haul version?

sorry business class SQ236.

Are you talking about the regional configured A350 or the long haul version?

My apologies it was the regional configured A 350 .

30 Aug 2017

Total posts 36

My family is waiting to try 777x as its going to have the same technology as Dreamliners. We feel less ashmatic when we fly on Dreamliners as we do not breath bleed air blown out from engines. This new giant 777x has also got the same tech.


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