Singapore Airlines Just Ordered 39 Boeing Widebodies to Refresh Its Fleet

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.)

They fly the A350 non-stop San Francisco to Singapore and on the Houston – Manchester, UK – Singapore route.

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. SQ is my favorite airline because they provide exceptional in flight service.
    I believe their Economy Class is the best in the world, second to none.

    Their Business Class is also exceptional and they are also my favorite business class. I love the privacy of the Asian Carriers and do not understand why many of the European carriers have so little privacy in their cabins (what’s with is this open layout configuration where everyone can easily see everyone else?).

    The First Class in-flight service is exceptional and I love it. But other airlines have surpassed them in the hard product, lounges, and ground service. SQ needs to do better in those areas or else they are in danger of falling out of the elite FC group. Garuda already blows them out. Heck, even in Singapore, SQ’s home court, the Garuda ground service is far superior. How can SQ provide less service than Garuda in their own home base???

    I also love the food and book the cook.

  2. I flew First Class to Singapore and into Hong Kong a few years ago. I had two cancellations, a seat in First Class that was broken, a Pajama that was two sizes small and I am not a big guy, they only had a small, and a screw up on their behalf with a schedule change.
    The on another Business class trip, there was a schedule change out of Istanbul, but they booked me for an earlier date and they would not want to change it, they would have left me only 1 day in Istanbul after flying on Turkish from Capetown, then a Purser who wanted me to stop taking my own pictures and not to film myself, instead of a lieflat bed I got an angled bed and I told the agents I wanted to travel the next day on a flatbed they would not let me change unless I paid $$$$ on change fees.
    I wrote millions of back and forth letters to their customer relations and absolutely nothing. Singapore Airlines has the worse customer relations of any airline on this Universe. Needless to say that my First Class flight was cancelled and they did not rebook me on time and if I was not proactive I would have left behind at LAX. I told them that they could fly me from SFO to HKG in first but they wanted me to downgrade to business with no compensation, miles, upgrade certificate or a refund in $$$. They were very unreasonable. I like their Flight Attendants, although little too animated and robotic and I do not think they listen, they just keep going like a duracell battery. They are polite and nice for the most part however only in First and Business. I flew them for the first time in Economy a few months ago to Thailand, the Economy senior older girls did not really care whatsoever, they were just in the galley doing their thing and they did not even respond to my one comment, even the arrogant Air France at least reply back or the Rude AA fat waitresses will have something to say. In Economy forget Singapore. Only if you fly First or Business. I was suppose to get upgraded to premium economy because of all my past problems that is why I paid nearly a $1000 dollars for a one way in Y to Thailand, via NRT and SIN, however after so many discussions did not happen. They are tight asses. I do not think a nickle would come out of them. They just know how to take, take, take. This is the story of SQ.
    Then our luggage went missing for days. Out of 4 of them, we got two in Phuket. The Pursers were superficial, the old Chinese men, who can care less, they kept talking to us and taking reports and more reports saying that they were going to report all my dissatisfaction to their superior in their home office and blah blah blah and our luggage would be forwarded to Maldives so we do not have to pay the extra luggage fee. Well, we flew on Tiger which is owned by SQ and had to pay a hefty fee. So, all those emails did not help. Our second sets of luggage never showed up and I still have not heard anything back from SQ. So, please do not misguide people to get those credit cards in hopes of getting a “Free” seat on SQ. It is next to impossible. Plus, all miles on SQ’s program expire. All my miles expired withing 3 years. SQ never release any premium cabins with United miles or anyone else that I know of except their own. Their customer relations is the worse on this planet. We were suppose to get some duty free vouchers at Singapore Changi because of a promo that if you connected there they were going to give us a $50 duty free voucher but did not happen. We waited in line and then we were told that I had to pay SQ directly on their website and I bought it from another OTA. We have not gotten a single mile from SQ, a Single apology letter and nothing. In NRT, I asked the agents to get me the operations manager after finding out that our luggage was left behind in LAX and I showed them the letters confirming all my problems and the back and forth emails with their customer relations. They would not even upgrade us to their shitty Economy plus. I could not believe it for the life of it. How a company can be so stingy! I hope that people stop flying them and they go out of business. I would never give a dime to fly on this airline that call themselves the premium airline because they have certainly treated us badly. If anyone knows of an attorney that I can hire and go after SQ please contact me. Thank you,

  3. Hi Alan,
    This is your psychiatrist. You medication is ready for pickup. Please pick up and get back on your meds right away.

  4. While I never had anything remotely as bad happen as Alan, I do think SQ has a little Jekyll and Hyde going on. I used to live in Singapore and flew them a lot. Flight attendants are lovely, attentive, going out of their way to help you – world class, second to none in my experience.
    Ground service is a whole other matter. The staff has a very thick rule book and will enforce it to the letter, no common sense or customer service orientation ever getting into the way of the rules. If anything out of the ordinary happens, you are in trouble and can’t expect any exceptions, even as a PPS customer spending a lot of money in their Business & First Class. Even United in its darkest days treated me better as Global Service than SQ as PPS!
    Unless SQ can extend the world-class onboard experience to an equally good end-to-end experience, they will have a hard time to compete with other premium carriers going forward.

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