Singapore Airlines brings first class to Canberra on daily flights

By Chris Chamberlin, January 24 2018

Singapore Airlines is shaking up its Canberra flights, adding a via-Sydney leg on the way from Singapore and upgrading the aircraft to a Boeing 777-300ER to include first class, lie-flat business class and premium economy from May 1.

Canberra flights will also step up to a daily frequency, but lose the dogleg to Wellington – effectively putting an end to the Capital Express flight launched with great fanfare in September 2016.

In its place comes a new Melbourne-Wellington service, attached to the existing Melbourne SQ247/SQ248 flights, which will be retimed and run four times a week from May 3.

Here's how the schedule shuffle shakes out:

SQ's Singapore-Sydney-Canberra flights

In response to continued low passenger levels on the Wellington-Canberra-Singapore 'Capital Express', Singapore Airlines has refined the route.

Beginning May 3, the new daily SQ288 flight will be a non-stop service from Canberra to Singapore, leaving the Australian capital at 11.15pm to reach Singapore at 5.15am the next day.

The return service, however, adds a one-hour stopover in Sydney – giving Singapore Airlines a fifth daily Singapore-Sydney service, with passengers able to book the Singapore-Sydney leg of the journey without continuing onward to Canberra, if they desire.

They can, of course, also book the entire Sydney-Canberra-Singapore flight if the notion of a late-night departure from Sydney outweighs a much longer journey to Singapore.

While Singapore Airlines isn't permitted to sell the Sydney-Canberra leg as a domestic leg of its own, travellers from Singapore to Canberra can book a stop-over in Sydney as part of their international journey; likewise, passengers headed from Sydney to Singapore can break their journey in Canberra.

SQ288's Boeing 777-300ER will allow travellers to unwind in one of four private first class suites...

... or their choice of 48 business class seats in a passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 layout with direct aisle access for all:

There's also a 28-seat premium economy cabin in a 2-4-2 layout, spread across four rows:

However, passengers travelling from Sydney to Singapore via Canberra will have to make do without a lounge in transit.

There's no lounge at Canberra Airport's international zone, and they won't have access to the Virgin Australia lounge in Canberra Airport's domestic zone, although this will be available to SQ passengers beginning their journey in Canberra.

SQ's Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington flights

With the New Zealand connection shifting to Melbourne, the Victorian capital will gain another direct link to Wellington in competition with Qantas and Air New Zealand.

Running as SQ247/248, the flight changes from the current Airbus A330 – which jets from Singapore to Melbourne and then straight back to Singapore – to a Boeing 777-200 when the service expands to Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington return, but with the same angled-flat 'regional business class' seats in a 2-2-2 layout.

Eligible travellers from Wellington will have access to Singapore Airlines' SilverKris business class lounge while in transit at Melbourne's T2 international terminal.

Additional writing by David Flynn

ChrisCh
ChrisCh

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!

CityRail

CityRail

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 92

Finally Singapore Airlines is listening to the demands of Sydney passengers of an overnight service ex-Sydney to Singapore, allowing morning arrival into Singapore.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 249

I’m with you CR. QF used to have (in the good old days) QF31 SYD-SIN with ETA into SG at about 5am and the return QF32 was a day flight back to SYD, ETD ex SG was about 9am-ish from memory. It was a 744 in the day, would also do SIN-LHR.

henrus

henrus

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2013

Total posts 714

I didn't see this coming but I'm honestly not surprised. The Wellington flights need to stay in place for a certain number of years (that was the deal when the route launched) and obviously SQ have done the numbers and figured out they can get more traffic on a MEL-WLG then a CBR-WLG.

tommygun

tommygun

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 82

Increases the options for *A pax originating or transiting (e.g. ex TG) Melbourne to N.Z., with huge J comfort improvement over QF/VA/NZ despite angled lie flat. PE available as well. NZ doesn't even do J direct MEL-WLG..

ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2925

There's no premium economy on the Melbourne-Wellington flights (only business class, as pictured). PE will be available on the Canberra-Singapore-Sydney-Canberra flights, though.

Sialia

Sialia

13 Jun 2017

Total posts 2

I wonder if SQ plans on more changes to SYD flights such as SQ211/212 as the outbound from SIN would run at a near identical time to the new flight

aniljak

aniljak

15 Sep 2012

Total posts 84

Interesting to see if air nz or virgin start Canberra - NZ services now. Singapore airlines have shown there is a market for them if use a smaller aircraft

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

So now they will have 3 flights mel-sin 15:40, 16:50, 18:25 and similar in the opposite direction with a massive gap either side. Such a shame they couldn't use one of their 772s with the 1-2-1 J cos those angled flat seats are extremely uncomfortable in any position.

LP

LP

30 Jun 2016

Total posts 44

angled flats are certainly dated and below the standard of the rest of the fleet, but extremely uncomfortable in any position is extreme. Perfectly OK for a short day flight.

asw

asw

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 34

Fantastic news for us in CBR. Avoids routing via SYD/MEL for lie-flat Biz, and now a chance to upgrade to F.

14AspenDrive

14AspenDrive

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 11

With all the competition from storming Emirates and Etihad, Singapore Airlines is still a 'Great way to fly'. All this from a tiny island nation. Brilliant!

canberraflyer

canberraflyer

17 Oct 2017

Total posts 2

It means you can book SIN-SYD alone, not that you can only book SIN-SYD

rob01

rob01

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 121

This is good news, although I hope they don't make changes to SQ211 which is my preferred flight back from Singapore.

JBL

JBL

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

Should be interesting to see how much F demand exists out of CBR

Flavio

Flavio

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jul 2013

Total posts 7

The politicians will be rubbing their hands with glee as to being able to fly F. They are entitled to it arent they

xtfer

xtfer

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 123

While I am annoyed about the loss of the Wellington flight, it makes sense that a smaller plane should run that route... and no doubt we'll hear about that soon.

The changes for CBR/SIN, however, are welcome. The main complaint from people in CBR on this route was the late run in both directions, and the crappy old 777-200 that they put on it. We'll be flying out of CBR now, instead of catching the A350 from Melbourne.


reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 521

Are VA codesharing on any of these new SQ services? My guess would be yes.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1374

With QF shifting A380s onto the SIN route and these changes, one would think yields are going to suffer somewhere

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

This avoids a plane in Sydney overnight as the curfew at 11pm prevents a late departure and suits Canberrans for connections to almost anywhere on the morning SQ flights. Running a plane empty-ish to Canberra seems odd though. Maybe it avoids having immigration staff at Canberra at that hour. The bean counters would have worked it out.

mcglynp

mcglynp

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Jan 2016

Total posts 61

The empty plane to CBR is the cynical price SQ pay to get another slot at Sydney. On the plus side, Passengers starting and finishing in CBR clear immigration in CBR not Syd.

hutch

hutch

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1218

Not sure why you think plane will be empty SYD-CBR.

There will be some passengers flying to CBR and new pax picked up in SYD heading to SIN.

Merry

Merry

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 28

Wonderful news! Thank you Chris and SQ! Till now have avoided the direct Changi- Canberra flight because of the timing and 2-2-2 J configuration. a much needed upgrade for a vital route. Just wish it were earlier than May.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

A tiny bit of confusion according to Goh head of SQ

Goh said SIA’s one-stop option via Sydney was still a better proposition than other alternatives in the market.

“The alternative is that they fly into Sydney internationally and then they change to the domestic terminal and fly out from the domestic terminal to Canberra and I don’t think that is a very good experience for most people,” Goh said.

“So that little technical stop shouldn’t pose so much of a difficulty for people who understand how it works, it should be a good alternative to the other option.

BUT

according to Chris

'giving Singapore Airlines a fifth daily Singapore-Sydney service, with passengers permitted to book only that leg of the flight rather than continuing through to Canberra'.

It may well be that Canberra people can use the flight coming back rather than the bus to the domestic terminal and miss the last flight.


ChrisCh

ChrisCh

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2925

Patrick: Passengers can fly from Singapore to Canberra via Sydney, or can fly solely from Singapore to Sydney and end their journey there. The point being that you don't have to fly to Canberra to get on that same flight out of Singapore.

aturnbull

aturnbull

16 Feb 2016

Total posts 30

This is a very smart move by SQ, and strong in response to QR's entry to the route. They can use SYD traffic to help fill up the plane and provide that overnight service, with better Asian connections, and the CBR pax will get a massive product/frequency upgrade.

CBR-LON continues 1-stop and is faster than QR's option and on-par with QF's 2-stop option (25.5hrs)

Inbound from CDG/FRA/MUC/AMS connect well, so you will see a great open-jaw into LHR and out of these places ( avoiding the UK-APD too!)

I am hoping this paves the way for a 3-4pw CBR-AKL, demand is there for NZ travel and NZ can pickup onward Americas traffic.

evilbrian

evilbrian

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

07 Sep 2012

Total posts 151

Thank God someone has stepped up to the plate to give us decent J service between Melbourne and NZ after EK stop doing it on March 25. I haven't been looking forward to trans tasman travel in a 737.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 578

air NZ already operate their proper J service to AKL

sgb

sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

my sentiments exactly.

karks

karks

QF

21 Aug 2012

Total posts 14

Poor effort by Canberra Airport, less than 2 years in and job losses already, International travel to and from Canberra only a short term venture.

patrickk

patrickk

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 395

Karks there’s now two operators with daily flights to and from Canberra so hard to see where the job losses you refer to are.

AJW

AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 501

What’s it got to do with the airport? They don’t fly planes.

Felipe

Felipe

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2017

Total posts 16

I do hope that Air New Zealand take up the route from CBR to AKL, allowing the way for much easier "seamless" access to Air New Zealand's network to the Americas. It is a hassle having to go via a domestic connection in Sydney, to fly on to the Americas, sometimes having to overnight at a Sydney airport hotel. Also will allow Canberrans easier access to some of Air New Zealand's Pacific destinations, such as Rarotonga... not lost when dealing with a Canberra winter in July.

Rufus1

Rufus1

04 Dec 2013

Total posts 122

This is a shame. I've taken this flight several times now, specifically to avoid having to stop in Sydney or Melbourne - and I know plenty who have used it to Wellington. Having to stop in Sydney is a real downer.

The current timing is terrible for Europe connections - perhaps shifting it slightly to reduce connection times to Europe would have helped it? That said, I was still happy to put up with the long waits in Singapore, simply to avoid connecting in Sydney or Melbourne.

JeCCo87

JeCCo87

14 Aug 2014

Total posts 16

I thought SQ already has 5 flights daily SIN SYD..

SQ231, SQ241, SQ211, SQ221, SQ251..

Adding SQ288 would be it's sixth daily.

ErinB

ErinB

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

30 May 2016

Total posts 11

Upgrading the plane will be a good way to get people to actually use this flight.

Canberrans are used to transiting in melb/syd/bris, so when the cost is the same flying direct as it is with a stop the older planes start to look a lot less appealing.

SKAirbus

SKAirbus

Lufthansa - Miles & More

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 1

Crap! I'm booked on the Canberra-Wellington leg in August. I guess I have to be rerouted via Melbourne now? I reckon it will almost be impossible to connect from CBR-MEL-WLG on the same day so will probably mean going the night before. Grrr.

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 150

Pity the WLG-CBR leg is being dropped, I've used it twice in the past year. However, the numbers getting off at CBR have always been few (and the market for people doing business in both cities is small, especially with a service that is not daily). No doubt the 777-300ER will significant enhance the attractiveness of the CBR-SIN service notwithstanding the SYD stop (which the alternatives have anyway). The WLG-MEL service seems suspiciously like a way for SQ to keep milking the subsidy from Wellington City Council for that service, but I would have thought NZ and QF will not be amused. NZ might codeshare on the SQ service, as it doesn't have an AM departure MEL-WLG or a PM one WLG-MEL.

DomorKrug

DomorKrug

06 Nov 2017

Total posts 9

and yet Adelaide still have that dog of a plane a330 with the angled seats in business....thanks for nothing SIngapore

mo

mo

22 Dec 2012

Total posts 37

Having caught the Canberra - Wellington leg a few times I'm sorely lamenting the loss of our capital express. As I usually fly economy, the newer aircraft and four class layout means nothing to me. The 777-200 seating was fantastic compared to the squeezy 737's that are flown across the ditch.

MelbFlyer

MelbFlyer

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 38

I can see SQ’s forthcoming 787-10 being used on the SIN-MEL-WLG flights pretty quickly

Taylor

Taylor

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

19 Mar 2016

Total posts 29

Mel - WLG - ho hum, SQ's First and Business catering etc out of Melbourne is at best average and SQ are known to block out entire sections whilst they decide plane types etc for months on end. A good product going very average and the WLG is just adding a complexity to an existing product that they don't manage well or simply don't care.

krisdude

krisdude

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 159

I have recently flown WLG/CBR in J class and it was a great experience compared to the very basic J class experience MEL/AKL flight on Emirates. SQ J class crew where friendly and professional. Australian Border Force at CBR where more relaxed and friendly compared to SYD and MEL. I can see why SQ has refined their WLG service, as the B772 is being phased out and being replaced by the A350's. Apparently, the A350 wings are to long for the international terminal at WLG. With Air NZ introducing the A320/A321neo's this year, there is a possibly of a Air NZ 321 AKl/CBR/WLG/CBR/AKL operating under NZ/VA/SQ flight numbers or a VA B738 WLG/CBR/WLG with business/premium economy/economy seats operating under VA/NZ/SQ flight number. Virgin has a crew base in Wellington. I thing it might be more like that VA will do, as they can do check in and lounge access using VA facilities at CBR and VA check in at WLG. At least a NZ or VA services can operate daily. At least SQ has established there is a demand on the CBR/WLG/CBR, as my flight WLG/CBR on 26 Jan 18, Y class was almost full and there where 12 in J class. There where a large number from J and Y leaving the flight at CBR.

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