Creature Comforts At 30,000 Feet
Cramming passengers into every inch of useable space while cutting back on meals and other perks has become standard operating procedure for many carriers. Singapore Airlines is clearly flying a different route.
On Nov. 29, the carrier took delivery of the first of 18 Boeing 777-300 ERs (extended range planes) tricked out with interiors that set a new standard for creature comforts at 30,000 feet. The first-class cabin is divided into eight private mini-rooms, each with a 35-inch-wide leather seat that folds down into a full flat bed. The space, with an adjustable table and 23-in. LCD TV screen that can double as a computer monitor, is easily reconfigured for working, sleeping, or lounging. It all has a private jet feel.
Business class has more compact versions of this arrangement, with 15-in. LCD screens and slightly narrower seats that also convert to flat beds. In economy class, seats are 19 in.—vs. the industry-standard of 14 to 16 in.—and have AC power supplies and USB ports.
Passengers traveling between Paris and Singapore were the first to test the new amenities when Singapore introduced its new 777 service on that route on Dec. 5. U.S. travelers to Asia will get their first opportunity on Jan. 15, when Singapore adds another new 777 on its San Francisco-Seoul-Singapore flights. Eventually, the carrier plans to install these Givenchy-designed interiors—the haute-couture house did the pajamas and slippers, too—on all of its 48 new widebodies, including the Airbus A380 super-jumbos that are expected to take off for the first time in 2007.
Singapore Airlines executives believe business travelers will pay nearly $14,000 for a roundtrip first class Paris-Singapore ticket, or almost $9,000 for business class, to obtain such amenities. Says CEO Chew Choon Seng: "This will be a game-changer."
By Stanley Holmes