Singapore Airlines is one of my favorite carriers, offering outstanding service and attention to detail in its product — even in economy, where the seat has a foot rest and cup holder and you can actually imagine their flight attendants traveling to Bollywood film festivals to pick out the right inflight entertainment choices or making treks to discover the best tea to serve onboard.
They’ve faced many challenges. Southeast Asia is a hotbed of ultra low cost carrier operations. They’re hamstrung in the US market because of geography and aircraft — they haven’t been able to economically fly non-stop to the US (though they’re now flying the ‘short’ San Francisco route, launched after United began its own service) and this means there’s little advantage to flying them even to their home market of Singapore — let alone beyond which requires an extra connection compared to Cathay Pacific or Korean Air. Not to mention that for many destinations you’d be overflying and have to backtrack.
Singapore Airlines US Routes
Nonetheless they continue to invest aggressively in their product and technology, their niche in the market is as a preferred carrier while also offering differentiated products under different brands.
Singapore Airlines just placed an order for 20 Boeing 777-9s and 19 Boeing 787-10s. The order is valued “at $13.8 billion based on published list prices” so something like half that amount.
The order “includes flexibility for the SIA group to substitute the 787-10 orders for other variants of the 787 family.” The 777-9s will begin delivery in 2021-22 and the 787-10s in 2020-21.
Singapore is already the launch customer for the 787-10, so these 19 planes add to 30 already on order that begin delivering in 2018-19. And they operate more than 50 Boeing 777s already.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-300ER
Jon Ostrower writes, “Subtext: 777-10X is dead.” The ’10X’ is a hypothetical stretch version of the 777-9 meant to accommodate 450 passengers. If Singapore didn’t order it, and they don’t have another launch customer, that’s a good indication that the market isn’t there.
These new Boeings add to 57 Airbus A350-900s on order plus 5 Airbus A380s. Their short haul subsidiary SilkAir has 37 Boeing 737 MAX 8s entering the fleet, and low cost carriers Scoot and Tigerair which have merged have 8 Boeing 787s and 39 Airbus A320neos coming on. (I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these new 787 orders ultimately go to Scoot.)
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class
The new Airbus A350ULR (Ultra Long Range) will come into the fleet next year allowing the airline to re-start non-stop Singapore – Los Angeles and Singapore – New York service.
In general, and there certainly is variation across their crews, but I find that Singapore Airlines has the best food and I love their ‘Book the Cook’ feature. I love their business class product and I think their first class seat is phenomenal (albeit not quite an Etihad ‘First Apartment’ and no showers). I’m looking forward to the new first class suites onboard the brand new A380s they bring into the fleet starting this year. And service — I love many of the Singapore Airlines crews though I can understand those who might prefer a more formal (ANA, Japan Airlines) or a more understated and less obtrusive (Cathay) experience.
Prawn and Chicken Laksa, Business Class Singapore – Bali
The point though of the piece is that we can have these discussions of whether or not Singapore is the best in any given area. That’s hard to imagine for most airlines in the world.