SIA relaunching premium economy class

From ‘SIA to offer premium economy class’, 10 May 2014, article by Karamjit Kaur, ST

TRAVELLERS who want extra comfort but do not want to pay business-class fares will soon get a compromise option on some Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights. After years of deliberation, the airline has confirmed it will offer a premium economy class from the second half of next year, joining a long list of carriers such as Cathay Pacific, Air France and Qantas.

As the name suggests, premium economy is better than economy class and typically offers more legroom, wider seats and better amenities, such as access to airport lounges in some cases. Fares can range from about 30 to 40 per cent more to as much as double what economy class costs.

The product has proven to be especially popular for mid- and long-haul flights, which is the sector SIA is targeting, chief executive officer Goh Choon Phong told reporters and analysts yesterday.

…The last time SIA had a premium economy class was six years ago on its non-stop flights to the United States. Flying high on strong demand for high-end travel then, SIA decided in 2008 to strip out the premium economy seats and have business class-only flights. But the timing was poor as the global financial crisis hit a few months later, dampening demand for premium long-haul travel. SIA eventually terminated the non-stop flights last year.

…The airline will introduce its premium economy product first on its Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus 380 aircraft that operate mid- to long-haul routes, he said. No other details were given.

This announcement came right after news that SIA suffered an operating loss of $60 million over the last quarter. Last month, the airlines were declared as the title sponsor for the F1 race, with hopes of ‘reinforcing the brand’ in the face of stiff competition in the region. It wasn’t too long ago that even the Singapore Girl had to be subject to makeover, with the famous blue eyeshadow getting the boot. Things are still looking blue at the moment, with Singapore Air shares slumping in 2013, and pilots asked to ‘volunteer’ for unpaid leave that same year as a cost-cutting exercise amid a global economic slowdown. I wonder if management even considered the MERS situation before pushing for premium economy.

In 2004, SIA already had a version of premium economy known then as ‘executive economy’. For a non-stop flight to New York, your $2050 ticket includes a personal 23 cm screen, 94 cm legroom and ‘passenger areas to socialise’. Forget about the 350 movies, songs and video games, just head over to the self-service snack bar and NETWORK dammit. Because that’s what people do on long flights; getting to know total STRANGERS over  a glass of champagne, in an area that could easily fit another 2 economy class seats. More like Business Class Lite, really.

A great way to fly. And make friends.

A great way to fly. And make friends.

When SIA dropped their premium economy in 2008 on long-haul flights to US, converting to all business class flights, it drew the wrath of economy travellers who had to take the alternative indirect routes, Sumiko Tan included.  It took another 5 years for SIA to realise it’s time to make a comeback, but now have to lag behind the pioneers of premium economy, in addition to competing for the budget service market while rescuing the flailing Tigerair, which just lost their CEO. During that time, we launched the SUITE CLASS, where you can enjoy the privacy of a personal cabin, a side desk and have CANAPES for lunch. Business travellers’ needs are top on the list of SIA’s priorities of course, making up 40% of SIA’s revenue as of 2008, which explains why they have white tablecloths while we economy folks struggle with a flipboard everytime we want to take a piss after meals.

Business chopsticks.

Non-disposable chopsticks

In an industry where travelers are constantly on the lookout for ‘no-frills’, SIA has decided to go the other way and ‘frill-ise’ their carriers. Some aviation experts contend that creating a ‘sandwich class’ between business and economy would mean more business folks downgrading instead, if they’re willing to give up their ‘exquisitively upholstered’ leather seats and fully flat beds. There appears to be a demand, however, for such upgrades from ‘cattle class’ among other airlines. EVA air’s Elite Class (formerly Evergreen Deluxe) serves your food on PORCELAIN plates. Turkish Airlines’ Comfort Class once promised 116 cm of seat pitch (the best indicator for leg room), but had to abandon the idea as it turned out to be unprofitable. British Airways provides the same food as Business Class, plus a ‘amenities kit’ containing a toothbrush, eyemask and flight socks. It looks like it’s up to our Singapore Girl to make our premium economy a class apart from the rest, blue eyeshadow or no.

Maybe the new service would need to give you not just a hot towel to freshen up, but a pot of herbal tea and a footrub service, in order to stay competitive. Meanwhile, the rest of us galley slaves, I mean, economy class passengers, continue to settle for mixed nuts and the baby that just won’t shut up for the entirety of our odyssey.




2 Responses

  1. It’s the prices lah! How to compete with Middle Eastern airlines that subsidize the flights? No way.

    What Singapore girl? More like 1 Singaporean swamped by foreign girls on SIA. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: