Singapore Airlines Officially Cuts First Class to Houston

Singapore Airlines serves a few gateway cities in the US, but with the exception of San Francisco, all routes operate with one stop.

Singapore Airlines Routes To/From the US

They currently operate the following routes; ones with asterisk (*) denote First Class availability.

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Singapore (SIN)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Singapore (SIN) *
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul (ICN) – Singapore (SIN) *
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Tokyo (NRT) – Singapore (SIN) *
  • New York (JFK) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Singapore (SIN) *
  • Houston (IAH) – Manchester (MAN) – Singapore (SIN) * – until 1/15/2017
Singapore Airlines routes to/from the US.

Singapore Airlines routes to/from the US.

While there used to be a few routes with the A380, which features their signature Singapore Suites, Singapore Airlines has made some substitutions over the years. Nowadays only the flight out of New York (JFK) uses the A380, which continues to have 12 First Class Suites.

Singapore Suites onboard the A380. Photo by the author.

Singapore Suites onboard the A380. Photo by the author.

Singapore Will Eliminate First Class from the Houston Route

Starting January 17, 2017, Singapore Airlines will replace the Boeing 777-300ER currently operating the Singapore – Houston route with the Airbus A350. This will effectively eliminate First Class from that route.

Singapore will begin flying the A350 to/from Houston, effectively eliminating First Class on that route by replacing the Boeing 777-300ER.

Singapore will begin flying the A350 to/from Houston, effectively eliminating First Class on that route by replacing the Boeing 777-300ER.

This is a disappointing, though not totally surprisingly, development. The Houston route consistently has some of the best First Class award availability, at least as far as routes to/from the US go. Perhaps the good award availability is because not a lot of people are paying for First Class, so making the change probably makes more financial sense for the airline. But deploying the A350 on that route means those who want to use their miles for Singapore First will have fewer routes to choose from.

It has already been increasingly difficult to redeem miles for Singapore First Class over the past few years, since the routes to/from Los Angeles now utilize a Boeing 777-300ER that only has 4 First Class seats. For those who are traveling with a companion, getting Singapore to release 2 award seats means getting them to release half the cabin, which is understandably rare.

Additionally, since Singapore KrisFlyer is now a transfer partner with all major flexible currencies (AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and SPG), the population that can redeem miles is larger than ever before.

Redemption Strategies Going Forward

Meanwhile, you can of course still redeem miles for Business Class on the Houston – Singapore route, which will be operated by the A350. In my experience, though, Singapore doesn’t actually release a whole lot of Business Class award seats far in advance. As a result, you might have to play the waitlist game, but View from the Wing has an article about how you might be able to maximize your chances.

The A350 features Singapore’s new Business Class product, which can be converted to fully flat beds, and grants every passenger direct aisle access. However, while the seats are wide, the beds are actually pretty short, and taller folks might find it hard to get comfortable.

Singapore Airlines' New Business Class onbaord the A350. Source: Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines’ New Business Class onbaord the A350. Source: Singapore Airlines

To be honest, I’d argue that you derive some of the better values from KrisFlyer miles when you redeem for First Class, since the marginal cost is really not too high, considering the jump in service and seat quality. (72,250 vs. in 93,500 First, for New York – Singapore). For long haul flights, you can usually get a seat if you book far in advance, but you’d have to start monitoring the availability as soon as schedule opens. For regional flights, you should have much better luck at scoring a First Class award seat, even a months before departure.

Takeaway

The elimination of a First Class cabin from the Houston – Singapore route is a disappointing development, for sure. This is one of the routes with the best award availability, and we will soon be limited to finding First Class on the flights to the US coastal cities.

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