A new seat design, free flow champagne, and higher Krisflyer accrual rates await Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) premium economy customers.
The new travel class, first announced in February (see here), will launch on August 9 on the Singapore–Sydney route, followed by the Singapore–Hong Kong and Singapore–London routes.
It will be progressively rolled out onto 19 A380s, 19 B777-300ERs and the airline’s first 20 A350s.
SIA unveiled the new premium economy seat today at a media event in Singapore. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific attended the launch.
Developed at a cost of US$80 million, the new premium economy seat is fully-clad in leather, giving it a more premium feel over the carrier’s economy seats. The seat’s width is 18.5 inches on the B777-300ER and 19.5 inches on the A380, while also offering 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 the A350 and B777-300ER, a calf and footrest, in-seat power, personal reading light, cocktail table, and stowage areas.
For mobile charging, there are two USB ports in every seat. SIA spokesperson Harry Chu told us 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.
Meanwhile, 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 regular coach is the addition of noise-cancelling headphones – the same model offered in business class.
SIA’s premium economy seats are arranged in a 2-4-2 layout, the same as 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.
Speaking at the media launch, SIA’s executive vice president commercial, Mak Swee Wah revealed that development for premium economy began two years ago, but the carrier deliberately delayed entering the market segment so it could study competitor products.
“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,” said Mak.
“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 offering will include an upgraded meal service, increasing the selection of main dish choices from two options in economy, to three in premium economy.
Meanwhile, 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 here) and can be viewed on the airline’s website.
Another perk is the free flow champagne, which according to Harry Chu, is still a concept fairly new to premium economy, with most carriers only offering a single glass of champagne 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, and Taittinger is seen 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 distributed this year will have an “SG50” print.
Operationally, SIA public affairs supervisor C H Heng revealed flight attendants serving the economy cabins would also serve premium economy. This makes sense given the cut back in economy seats to accommodate the new cabin class.
“The ratio of passengers to flight attendants in economy class is currently 37:1. The addition of premium economy will be no different”, he said.
Premium economy customers will also enjoy 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 also earn miles faster, as the accrual rate will be 110 per cent – just behind the 125 per cent offered in business under the fare classes C, D, J, U and Z, however 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.
For more information, visit singaporeair.com