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Although both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have operated premium economy cabins on long-haul aircraft for over 15 years, carriers outside the UK have been slow to follow suit.
Lufthansa and Cathay Pacific have recently joined the relatively small number of airlines such as Qantas, Air New Zealand, Japan Airlines and ANA to offer premium economy.
The principal reason for this is a concern that some passengers (or rather, their cost conscious employers) may choose to downgrade from business class, whereas airlines want passengers to upgrade from economy class.
The latest airline to introduce premium economy is Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airlines will introduce a premium economy cabin on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777-300 aircraft, both of which are operated on the London – Singapore route.
It’s an entirely new seat in a 2-4-2 configuration, as opposed to 3-4-3 for economy.
Singapore Airlines is also promising WiFi connectivity, priority check-in and baggage handling and dedicated catering, including access to the “Book The Cook” service.
On the Airbus A380 premium economy will be located on the lower deck. There will be 36 premium economy seats on the Airbus A380 (Singapore Airlines Seat Map) and 28 premium economy seats on the Boeing 777 (Singapore Airlines Seat Map).
It is expected that premium economy will be progressively rolled out to selected London Heathrow – Singapore flights from late August/September 2015. We’ll update with flight numbers and times when we have firm confirmation – we’re seeing conflicting information at the moment. It will also be available on onward routes such as Auckland and Sydney.
We should sound a note of caution when booking flights to Singapore with onward connections. The Singapore Airlines will quote economy and premium economy fares together. Premium economy is not being rolled out to Boeing 777-200 aircraft so check carefully whether the cabin is available on the onward flight from Singapore.
Strictly speaking, this is not the first time Singapore Airlines has offered a premium economy product. Singapore used to offer “Executive Economy” on its A340 aircraft which used to fly non-stop from Singapore Airlines to New York and Los Angeles. However, this was never extended to any other routes.
From a London perspective, this is a welcome development. With four flights a day, Singapore Airlines has a good range of departure times from Heathrow to choose from and lots of onward connections on to Asia-Pacific. So the option of premium economy, even if it may only be on the London – Singapore flights, is very welcome.