Singapore Airlines (SIA) yesterday unveiled a new premium economy cabin, saying that it believes this is the right time to launch the product which has been in the market on other carriers for about two decades.
Close to 30 airlines, including Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Air France, already offer the option, targeted mainly at economy-class travellers willing to pay a higher fare for more space and comfort.
SIA offered a similar class of seats in 2004 on its non-stop flights to the United States, but these were removed in 2008.
The airline's executive vice-president (commercial) Mak Swee Wah said at the launch event at Marina Bay Sands that the time was right to enter the premium economy market, as the gap between products and services offered on business and economy class has become wider.
This has created a new demand segment from travellers not willing to pay for business-class fares, but happy to fork out a higher-than-economy fare for more comfort and services.
Actual fares will depend on the route and time of travel, but travellers can expect to pay about 20 per cent more than what they pay to fly in economy class.
Compared with discounted rates that usually come with conditions, these fares could cost more than twice as much.
The higher fare comes with a seat that is either 18.5 or 19.5 inches wide and can recline eight inches, compared with 18-inch-wide seats with a six-inch recline in economy class.
There is also a 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment monitor with noise-cancelling headphones, individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports and additional stowage space.
On the ground, travellers are given priority check-in and baggage handling.
SIA customers flying to Sydney on selected flights will be the first to experience the new premium economy class from Aug 9.
It will be rolled out progressively to flights to other destinations including London, New York, Frankfurt, Zurich, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, New Delhi and Mumbai.
The product will be progressively introduced on 19 A-380s, 19 Boeing 777-300ERs and SIA's first 20 Airbus 350s, which start arriving from early next year.
Get MyPaper for more stories.