Yesterday Singapore Airlines revealed new cabin products for its latest aircraft type, the narrow-body Boeing 737-8 MAX, which is set to become one of the largest fleets in the airline in the years ahead with a total of 37 of the efficient narrow-body jets due to be delivered to the carrier.
While the primary focus has been on the 10 Thompson Vantage flat-bed Business Class seats in the first three rows of these aircraft, there are big improvements to look forward to in Economy Class too, compared to the relatively basic ex-SilkAir version retained on the airline’s nine older Boeing 737-800s.
While the Boeing 737-8 MAX can operate on flights of up to seven hours, potentially including routes like Singapore – Fukuoka and Singapore – Adelaide in future, the type will also be used on some of SIA’s shortest sectors.
Many of our readers flying point-to-point on these quicker regional routes don’t feel the need to fly in Business Class, so an upgraded Economy Class experience on these aircraft is very welcome.
Collins, not Recaro
The first news we weren’t expecting when the Economy Class seat type was announced is its manufacturer.
While the Thompson Vantage seat was already long confirmed in Business Class, we had all but assumed that the Recaro CL3710 would be selected for the Economy Class cabin.
That is SIA’s ‘2017 Y’ seat, currently installed on the airline’s new and refitted A380s, all 787-10s, all A350 Regionals and six newer A350 Long Haul aircraft.
Not only would this have provided more seamless commonality, there would surely have been benefits for maintenance and spare parts inventory.
We were therefore surprised to learn that Singapore Airlines had opted for a Collins Aerospace Economy Class seat, which doesn’t quite come with all the “bells and whistles” found on the latest long-haul aircraft.
SIA’s Boeing 737-8 MAX Economy Class features:
- 144 Collins Aerospace seats in a 3-3 layout
- Seat-back in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems including a 10-inch personal entertainment screen
- A USB charging port at every seat
- Adjustable headrests
- Wi-Fi connectivity
Window and aisle seats have aqua fabric, while middle seats are in grey upholstery. That’s a little different to the airline’s wide-body aircraft, where only the aisle seats are aqua and all others are grey, but that may have looked a little strange in a 3-3 layout.
The all-important seat pitch is 30 inches, which is two inches less than you’ll find on some of the airline’s wide-body aircraft like the A380, but that’s not quite where the differences end.
Here’s how the new Economy Class seats on the Boeing 737 MAX compare to the latest 2017 Economy Class product on SIA’s newest wide-body aircraft.
|2017 Y||MAX Y|
|Screen Size||11″ HD||10″ HD|
|Power Sockets||1 USB
1 UNI (shared)
As you can see the main differences are:
- Seat width is 0.5 inches less on the MAX
- Seat pitch* is 2 inches less on the MAX
- Seat recline is 1 inch less on the MAX
- The IFE screen is 1 inch smaller on the MAX
- There is no UNI (AC power) socket on the MAX
* Seat pitch is not a perfect measure of legroom, simply representing the distance from any point on one seat to the same point on the seat in front of (or behind) it.
As Singapore Airlines highlighted in its press release, the cabin enhancements on the MAX “[elevate] the customer experience on board the Airline’s narrowbody aircraft fleet to a level similar to its widebody aircraft” (our emphasis).
This won’t make the passenger experience absolutely seamless for those transiting through Changi on Singapore Airlines from a wide-body aircraft, but there will still be “more or less” the same seat features on their short-haul MAX flight compared to those they found on the long-haul sector.
Another feature we are sad to see not included on the Collins seat compared to the Recaro model is the handy mobile device stowage in the seat back below the IFE screen, plus the integrated cupholder.
Nonetheless we found the Collins seats comfortable with good cushioning, back and lumbar support during our tour on the launch day – perhaps even a little more so than the Recaro version, which we find starts to feel a bit firm after 2-3 hours.
Food and beverages
Singapore Airlines has confirmed that its new Economy Class meal concept, revealed in November 2020, will be rolled out on Boeing 737-8 MAX flights of up to 3.5 hours duration.
On most short-haul flights under 3.5 hours, you can look forward to our Economy Class dining concept, featuring an enhanced regional menu with over 40 newly-created dishes, including our comforting congee and gravy-rich mee siam, served in sustainable tableware.Singapore Airlines
SIA treated us to one of these meals for breakfast on board the aircraft at the product launch, and we opted for the Fried Carrot Cake with Prawn.
Before that though, a welcome cocktail called “Tropical Sunrise” was served, a strawberry puree concoction specially developed by Singapore Airlines for Business Class, designed “to delight and refresh”.
It was a lovely refreshing welcome drink, and a mocktail version is also available according to your preference (and perhaps the time of day!).
The meal was tasty, piping hot, and served with a Pulut Hitam Cake for dessert. We paired with a glass of 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, which was delicious and served at the appropriate temperature.
For a short flight up to 3.5 hours a meal like this this would be perfectly adequate, and with the sustainable packaging and cutlery this will certainly be good for the environmental impact and reduce waste.
On flights longer than 3.5 hours, a more typical meal will be served on Singapore Airlines-branded tableware, from a range of cuisines.
You can view the inflight menu for your upcoming Singapore Airlines flight within approximately eight days of your departure at the airline’s inflight menu portal.
Despite a slightly smaller seat-back IFE screen in the MAX Economy cabin compared to the latest wide-body versions, a full KrisWorld system by Panasonic has been installed.
A companion app allows you to pair your mobile phone to control the system, which is also touchscreen, negating the need for a separate physical controller.
A new moving map is also part of the upgrade.
Amongst the various features, a new state-of-the-art 3D flight map will be rolled out. This includes over 20 distinct map views for various flight phases, such as 3D satellite imagery, local and global views, as well as a personalised feature that enables customers to see the aircraft’s relative position to their selected map location throughout their flight.Singapore Airlines
The fleet is also fitted with Panasonic’s in-flight Wi-Fi service, as well as mobile data connectivity, with a complimentary 100MB data allowance for Business Class passengers and PPS Club members travelling in Economy Class, in common with SIA’s wide-body offering.
The Economy Class section on the new Boeing 737-8 MAX spans 24 rows, numbered 41 to 64.
Two bassinet positions are available at seats 41B and 41J.
At full capacity, 144 passengers will share two toilets located at the rear of the cabin.