Singapore Airlines (SIA) wants you to enjoy a new way to fly.
At a recent event held in Marina Bay Sands, the Economy class—a service that falls between the luxury of business class and the simplicity of economy.
“It has been an exciting project for us, as teams across the airline have worked to make this new cabin class a reality,” said SIA executive vice president Mak Swee Wah.
The airline began conceptualizing the Premium Economy service in November 2013 after studying trends in customer demands, the changing product landscape, route economics and observing the growing popularity of the new travel class in different parts of the world.
“That is not to say we decided on Premium Economy only two years ago. We studied the market… Following the last review, it was determined that the time was right for us to introduce it,” Mak said. “We roll out things at the right time. The time is right now.”
SIA worked with award-winning firm JPA Design and seat manufacturers ZIM Flugsitz and Zodiac Seats US.
“We paid special attention to space, ergonomics and ambiance,” Mak pointed out.
The SIA team lets customer feedback guide it. “Three key messages were made clear to us: Our customers wanted extra comfort in the new cabin class, along with extra choices and extra privileges. And they wanted it to be complemented by the signature SIA service that we are so well known for,” Mak said.
SIA feels there is a market for the new cabin class among corporate and leisure travelers.
“There are those who travel business class and there are some who say, ‘I want more comfort but not the full works.’ Even the leisure category is segmented. Not everybody travels economy, some want real budget but some also say, ‘I don’t mind a bit more, I’ll pay a bit more for better product, for more comfort,’” explained Mak.
‘A whole new cabin’
The Premium Economy service begins even before the flight takes off. “What we’re doing is a whole new cabin, a whole new product, a whole new experience. It’s about the seat, the food, the service on the ground, the small little touches,” said Mak.
Premium Economy will have its own counters offering passengers access to priority check-in and boarding, priority baggage handling, which includes a 35-kilogram baggage allowance. A Premium Economy booking will also give passengers 10 percent more KrisFlyer miles.
Inside the plane, a new cabin with a 2-4-2 layout fulfills the promise of more legroom and extra comfort. Depending on the kind of aircraft, the Premium Economy seats have a width of either 18.5 or 19.5 inches with an 8-inch recline. Each seat comes with a calf rest and foot bar, a cocktail bar and an in-seat reading light.
At the launch, members of media from various countries were able to try just how comfortable the seats are.
Carrying a multitude of gadgets onboard? No problem, the seats are equipped with an in-seat power supply, two USB ports and additional stowage space.
The HD touch-screen monitors are 13.3 inches—the largest in its class—and there are noise-canceling headphones so travelers can enjoy more of KrisWorld, SIA’s award-winning in-flight entertainment system.
Those planning to sleep during the flight can enjoy a bigger, plumper pillow and a softer blanket.
SIA is celebrating the launch of its Premium Economy service with limited edition collectible amenity kits, featuring two designs to commemorate Singapore’s 50th independence anniversary this August.
Each kit, which can be clipped together, includes a toothbrush, toothpaste and socks with antislip grip. It will be given out on medium to long-haul flights.
‘Book the Cook’
Premium Economy passengers will also enjoy delightful food choices via SIA’s Book the Cook service, a pre-ordering privilege previously reserved only for business and first-class flyers.
Recently we got the chance to try it in business class. The extensive menu made our head spin—rib eye steaks, Chilean sea bass, assorted sushi, Singapore chicken rice, king prawns and more.
For our morning flight from Singapore to Yangon in Myanmar (Burma), we had Grilled Angus Beef Burger; the tasty, pure meat patty was so hefty that we could finish only half of it.
On our evening flight from Singapore to Manila, we had the Classic Lobster Thermidor, a cheesy, creamy, buttery delight.
Premium Economy has different Book the Cook menus, depending on where you’re flying from. A sample of the meals you can enjoy: Beef Fillet with Potatoes, Seafood Thermidor Pasta, Bourguignon Beef with Potatoes, Chicken Kiev, Beef Rendang with Rice, Salmon Fillet in Dill Bechamel Sauce, Masala Shrimp, Rosemary Beef Brisket. For those who don’t feel like ordering in advance, there will also be three main courses to choose from.
Champagne Ernest Rapeneau Brut Prestige will be served throughout Premium Economy flights. A curated selection of wines will be available, too.
Passengers can book Premium Economy seats now, with the service beginning in August with flights to Sydney. “We start with Sydney, then London will come next and then the other cities will follow,” said Mak.
The service will also be introduced to other destinations including Tokyo, Shanghai, New York, Beijing, Delhi, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Zurich and Mumbai.
Premium Economy class will be introduced on 19 Airbus A380s, 19 Boeing 777-300ERs, and 20 new Airbus A350s.
Asked how much the flights will cost for travelers, Mak said: “The pricing is dynamic but we think our customers will find value in the product.”
SIA has a special round trip Premium Economy Class all-in-fares promotion ongoing until June 30, with tickets valid for travel from Aug. 28 to Dec. 31. Tickets to Delhi/Mumbai start at US$1,250; Sydney from $1,350; Auckland, Paris, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Manchester, Munich, and Zurich from $1,800. Bookings can be made through the SIA reservations hotline at 7568888, Mondays to Fridays except holidays.
Travelers who book Singapore Airlines will also be pleased to know that transit passengers holding SIA boarding passes are entitled to redeem Changi Dollars worth 20 Singapore dollars at the Changi Airport which they can use in participating duty-free shops, restaurants and lounges.
Singapore Airlines invested US$80 million in making Premium Economy happen. Mak said, “It demonstrates the long-term approach that we take to our business… The airline business is a competitive one. In order to stay at the forefront, it is vital that we keep on top of new trends and changing customer needs, so that we can continue to innovate and provide offerings that will not only meet, but exceed, expectations. And that is what we did.”