USingapore Airlines announced yesterday morning that it is to launch Premium Economy Seats on long haul flights from the second half of 2015. This is despite Singapore Airlines repeatedly saying that they would continue to offer premium products only in the past (they did of course have premium economy previously on the long-haul A340’s).
Update 3rd February – check out the latest here: Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Seats, Configuration and Launch – Updated
Singapore Airlines disclosed to Australian Business traveller that it would launch these new seats on the A380, B777 and their new A350s when they come into service. I suspect that as business demand is suppressed that those aircraft will lose business seats as a result (or for the A380 space to do other things!).
What is Premium Economy?
Premium Economy is not a new product for airlines as its been around for 10 years and is operated by around 40 or so airlines. It’s designed for those that want a bit more comfort but don’t want to pay for the expense of a business class seat. Premium Economy has become more popular as businesses have cut back on costs as well as they change travel policies to fly Premium Economy instead of Business.
Why Would you Buy a Premium Economy Seat?
Premium Economy seats on other airlines usually cost around 1.5-2.5 times the cost of a regular economy seat (business being 3-5 times), so they will be cheaper than a business class seat. Personally I don’t buy premium economy seats outright they are just too expensive, I am small enough not to need the extra comfort on a long haul flight – but I could see it being worthwhile if you are a tall or really don’t enjoy economy! I tend to fly premium economy for long flights with work (my company changed its policy last year), or when there is a cheap upgrade offer – I have done exactly this for my next British Airways flight from London to Singapore.
What will the Singapore Airlines Premium Economy be Like?
Well we can only speculate at this point – tell me what you think and leave a comment below! However during the press discussions Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong stated that “when we set our mind to do something, it will be done well.” (courtesy of AusBT). I think that this can go two ways, either you end up with a premium economy that is like a regional business class from other airlines (e.g. Cathay Pacific) or it’ll be more like what British Airways and Qantas offers. If Singapore Airlines is going to stay premium then it has to go for the first option, or find some way to differentiate with food, beverage or service.
What this will do to KrisFlyer and PPS Club?
The introduction of premium economy could have significant negative effects for the KrisFlyer programme. If Singapore Airlines decides that it is going to limit the ability of KrisFlyer members to upgrade from Economy to Business class by using premium economy as a stop gap then this is going to be a big devaluation of the programme. In addition to that we may see economy class earning rates drop as a result of the introduction of a new mid tier earning level.
For those that are in the lofty heights of PPS what does this mean for you? Well probably not much really, if you are there then you are flying in business and first anyway. However Singapore Airlines has been resisting the urge to use a premium economy class in the past and to protect its premium product (business) I expect that Singapore Airlines will not offer any PPS accrual for flying premium economy.
In addition to both of these points it is likely that the number of business class seats (and perhaps first/suites) will be reduced on the A380, 777 and A350 which will therefore mean that fewer seats will be available for saver awards in business class which will affect all – in my opinion one of the better features of KrisFlyer is the availability of award seats, it’s much better than say British Airways.
A lot of this is speculation, but I have to say that unless you regularly want to fly premium economy rather than economy I see this in general as being negative news. I can envisage that availability will be reduced, a new tier will be put in meaning no more economy to business upgrades as well as perhaps a change in earning rates of economy flights. I’m really interested to know what you think, leave a comment below!