Singapore Airlines transitions to all-flatbed business class from 2020

By Chris Chamberlin , June 2 2019
Singapore Airlines transitions to all-flatbed business class from 2020

Singapore Airlines is going big on business class, with the Star Alliance member planning to roll out lie-flat beds across its entire aircraft fleet: not only for business travellers taking longer and perhaps overnight journeys, but even those venturing on short hops like Singapore-Kuala Lumpur.

Centred around the integration of SilkAir into the Singapore Airlines brand – SilkAir currently being the regional arm of Singapore Airlines, operated as a separate carrier – the move aims to provide consistency in business class, wherever each passenger is headed.

“We’ll have lie-fiat business class even on the shortest flights, even on the narrow-bodies!” Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong proudly shares with Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) AGM in Seoul.

“We’re investing quite a bit on this – SG$100 million at least – but one of the considerations is when that flatbed becomes available for the Boeing 737,” which makes up the majority of the current SilkAir fleet, “and that’s not until 2020,” Goh continues.

Once that prized seat can start to make its way onto the airline’s fleet next year, Singapore Airlines plans to transfer some of its existing SilkAir Boeing 737s over to low-cost arm Scoot, “to expedite our upgrade of the narrow-body fleet… so that SilkAir – Singapore Airlines – can simply take new Boeing 737 deliveries” with flatbeds already installed.

The forward-facing regional business class seats, supplied by Thompson Aero, will follow an alternating layout which will provide direct aisle access for most passengers plus a handful of 'throne' seats for solo flyers.

Read more: SilkAir scores Vantage lie-flat business class beds

While the airline plans to begin that transition process in 2020 when the first lie-flat bed is scheduled to take flight aboard a SilkAir Boeing 737 jet, the current grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX could delay the airline’s planned roll-out of its flatbed fleet.

Goh shares that as airlines don’t yet know when the Boeing 737 MAX can safely resume flying – SilkAir having six of these jets in its current fleet, with more on order – any delay to its cabin upgrade program is too early to establish.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines continues to upgrade its own fleet with jets toting fully-flat beds taking over from previous-generation seats on a variety of routes, including between Australia and Singapore.

Following the introduction of Airbus A350s (with flatbeds) on flights from Brisbane and Adelaide to Singapore, Perth is next in line for a flatbed reform with its daily SQ226/SQ213 flight pair switching from an older Boeing 777-200 to a factory-fresh A350 from June 3 2019, as the airline moves towards its goal of having lie-flat beds on every flight, however long – or short.

Chris Chamberlin is attending the IATA AGM in Seoul as a guest of IATA.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 591

And yet SQ continue to fly their old regional config all the way to WLG

For now...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 591

Obviously for now... But my point is it shouldnt be at all. They could at least use one of their old 77Es with the 2006J

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2014

Total posts 101

I hope your "for now..." comment means there is news afoot!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2016

Total posts 26

Seats on flights SQ247/248 (to/from WLG) are very spacious and when fully reclined are more than sleepable. WLG has one short runway and it cannot be extended (for now) due to political, environmental and economical reasons - SIA's load reduced 777 serves the purpose perfectly since inception and no other airlines are willing to deploy wide-body aircraft on routes to/from the capital city of New Zealand. Personally I don't mind the nostalgic 2-2-2 layout on SIA's 772, its sheer space somehow feels more like a competitive advantage.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 132

I agree, with the caveat that those planes are actually very noisy compared to the new ones. Vibration through the bed is so great as to be basically unusable in the back of the business section.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 525

Which has a flat (but slipped) bed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 591

AJW - Those SQ sloping seats are a lie-flat seats and not flat beds. There is a difference and AusBT even wrote an article about it.


"a lie-flat seat might extend to be flat rather than just reclined, it won't be parallel to the floor"

"flat bed reclines all the way down so that it's horizontal rather than angled"

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 525

Semantics at the end of the day.

I've been on the regional SQ product and their (various) long haul products many many times, both seats turn into a bed and both are 100% flat.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

This is all well and good having flat beds on the shortest flights however most of the "shortest flights" (less than 2 hours from Singapore) are slated to be moved to Scoot over the next 24 months. This is already making it harder to book flights and has resulted in a loss of status benefits on some routes.


Sure... I see why they've done it (to compete with Jetstar) but they should have at least thought it through first (and looked at what Qantas do).

From Australia it's no longer possible to book a Virgin Australia ticket to many destinations as Virgin doesn't codeshare with Scoot. If you do want a single ticket it's now got to be on a Singapore Airlines ticket stock with the Scoot flights not earning on any frequent flyer program except Krisflyer (albeit only "miles" not "elite miles" for status).

Scoot also lacks award space meaning a single connecting award tickets is no longer possible as is lounge access even when booked on an SQ code as a PPS cardholder (let alone Elite Gold or VA Gold/Platinum).

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

25 Jul 2013

Total posts 52

I agree. It’s a real pain. A number of Silkair’s India services are transitioning to Scoot, making Velocity status all but redundant.

05 Jun 2015

Total posts 4

I can see some changes regarding this. Till a month back, Singapore air website was only showing SQ flights from AKL to connect to Scoot India flights (changing from SilkAir), now even AirNZ flights connect with Scoot. So hopefully they might do the same for Virgin as well.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 132

This. I've started booking on Qantas again, as a result of SIA's scheduling changes.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

The diagram for the new narrowbody J layout only shows the initial three rows. The commentary claims that there'll be 'direct aisle access for most passengers' but of the first 10 seats shown, really only five have access to the aisle without having to disturb another passenger.


5/10 is not a majority.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2011

Total posts 83

It's 6/10... have another look :)

27 Aug 2017

Total posts 20

Cathay type herring-bone bed/seating every time. To hell with this stepping over people or being stepped over.


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