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First look: Singapore Airlines' new premium economy seat

21 May 2015 by GrahamSmith
Singapore Airines showed off its forthcoming premium economy seat at a media event in Singapore today. The new travel class, first announced earlier this year (see news, February 3), will debut on August 9 on the carrier's Sydney route, followed by its London route on August 28 and its Manchester route on September 22. It will then be added to other destinations — including Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo and Zurich — served by SIA's A380, B777-300ER and upcoming A350 aircraft. THE SEAT Developed at a cost of US$80 million, the premium economy seat is fully-clad in leather and has an 18.5-inch width on the B777-300ER and a 19.5-inch width on the A380. It also offers a recline of eight inches and pitch of 38 inches. Other features include a 13.3-inch HD monitor that will be touch-enabled on A350 and B777-300ER aircraft, a calf and footrest, in-seat power, personal reading light, cocktail table, and stowage areas. For mobile charging, there are two USB ports at every seat. SIA spokesperson Harry Chu told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific that one of these ports is capable of charging larger devices such as tablets or laptops, while the other is reserved for smaller devices like phones. The central console will house a cocktail table similar to those seen in the earlier generation business class. Another noticeable difference between premium economy and standard economy is the addition of noise cancelling headphones. SIA's premium economy seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 layout, the same configuration as adopted by Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa. The new design was overseen by long-time SIA collaborator JPA Design, while manufacturing was split between ZIM Flugsitz GmbH for the A380 and B777-300ER, and Zodiac Sears for the A350. SERVICE Speaking at the media launch, SIA executive vice president of commercial Mak Swee Wah revealed that development for premium economy began two years ago. The carrier deliberately delayed entering the market segment so it could study competitor products, he added. SIA executive vice president commercial Mak Swee Wah Mak said: "Many of our customers have been asking for a premium economy offering and we are confident that what we are delivering will exceed their expectations. "The new cabin product is the culmination of two years of work, which included extensive research and focus group studies involving customers and our design partners." The product will include an upgraded meal service, increasing the selection of main dish choices from two options in economy, to three in premium economy. SIA's "Book the Cook" service — currently reserved for Suites, first and business class — will also be available in premium economy. Menus have already been announced (see news, May 8) and can be viewed on the airline's website. Another perk is free-flowing Champagne, which according to Harry Chu is still a concept fairly new to premium economy, with most carriers only offering a single glass as a welcome drink. The airline's wine panel has chosen Ernest Rapeneau Champagne for premium economy, while Dom Perignon and Krug is served exclusively to Suites and first class customers, with Taittinger in business class. For medium to long-haul flights, bottled water and amenity kits will be offered. The kits will contain a toothbrush, toothpaste and socks with anti-slip grip. To celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday, all amenity kits will have an "SG50" print. Operationally, SIA public affairs supervisor CH Heng revealed flight attendants serving the economy cabins will also serve premium economy: "The ratio of passengers to flight attendants in economy class is currently 37:1. The addition of premium economy will be no different." Premium economy passengers will also have priority check-in and luggage handling. The baggage allowance has been set at 35kg — midway between the 30kg offered in economy and 40kg in business. Krisflyer members travelling in premium economy will earn miles faster, as the accrual rate will be 110 per cent — behind the 125 per cent offered in business under the fare classes C, D, J, U and Z. Redemption and upgrade options have yet to be decided. Mak also confirmed that SIA will be developing a brand new Suites product in anticipation of the carrier's new A380s, due to be delivered in 2017. singaporeair.com Clement Huang
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