Singapore Airlines has now confirmed a new series of Airbus A380s with business class cabin running the entire length of the upper deck, and airline booking systems are showing this will make its debut on the Sydney-Singapore SQ221/212 service on June 20th. Read our updated report on the new aircraft and configuration for full details.
In another sign of growth for the business travel market, Singapore Airlines is said to be extending the business class cabin on its Airbus A380 fleet to run the entire length of the upper deck.
A revised floorplan for all of Singapore Airlines' new A380 deliveries – beginning with the May 2011 arrival of SQ’s 12th superjumbo and followed by the other eight on firm order – is believed to sport the new configuration, which increases the business class seating on its Airbus A380 fleet by 40%.
The current layout splits the upper deck between 16 rows of business class and 11 rows of economy at the rear.
If rumours of the new configuration are correct, the new A380 seating chart will see the economy seating removed in favour of six more rows of lie-flat business class seating. This would deliver around 24 of Singapore's generous business class seats, which have 55 inches of legroom and a 34 inch seat width, representing a 40% boost to the current 60 premium seats.
Economy would be pared back to the downstairs-only allocation of 31 rows (although even these have a decent 32 inches of legroom).
Of course, the front of the lower deck would still house the twelve luxurious first suites, the middle four of which can be converted into a pair of double suites.
Singapore Airlines is playing coy on the rumours but pointedly did not refute the plans when approached by Australian Business Traveller, and admitted "it is possible that we may have a different configuration for some of the aircraft."
"But as of now we don't have any specific detail" a spokesperson for the carrier told Australian Business Traveller. "We don't comment on speculation, and specifically with regards to aircraft configuration, for reasons of confidentiality."
Should the new seating plan prove correct it will be a win for SQ in terms of revenue and putting business class bums on seats, but a loss for savvy economy class passengers who know the upstairs section has a quieter and more cosy feel than the packed lower deck, as well as that great double-decker view.
The upper-deck economy cabin also permits easier aisle access due to the use of a 2-4-2 seating configuration, whereas downstairs it’s a 3-4-3 rack.