I was pretty excited to hear about the new Singapore Airlines route from Houston to Manchester when it was announced some months ago. But now I’m really excited to hear about the route being serviced by a brand new A350-900XWB! Per Routes Online, this new service is replacing the 777-300ER and its inaugural flight is set to take off January 17th, 2016.
Like the SIN-FRA-JFK route with the A380, the total flight path is also three segments total: Singapore – Manchester – Houston. The flights have the following flight numbers:
- SQ52 SIN to MAN
- SQ52 MAN to IAH
- SQ51 IAH to MAN
- SQ51 MAN to SIN
Business class on the A350
I’m excited about this because I recently flew business class (which is the highest class on this aircraft) on a brand new Singapore A350 from SIN to JNB, and I absolutely loved it. It’s one of the top business class cabins and arguably on par with several of the first class products on some airlines. So now Houstonians and others have an additional solid product for getting to Europe, and it’s on one of the best airlines on the planet.
What I really loved about the A350 was the freshly designed business class seats and even preferred those over the business class seats on the A380. To me, the business class on the A380 appear much more dated and definitely not at stylish as the newer business class.
Although I found the business class seats on the A350 to be much more sleek, I believe they may be just a tad bit more narrow. But if you know how oversized these seats are to begin with, the difference is negligible. Also, I recommend sitting in one of the bulkhead rows for maximum leg room.
Definitely my favorite business class experience thus far.
While the hard product is a little different on these aircrafts, I found the soft product (dining, drinks, bedding, etc.) to be superb all around. If it’s your first time on Singapore Airlines, don’t forget to try out the Singapore Slinger!
You can take a virtual tour of the aircraft here.
When you book online, you’re offered a 15% discount on Singapore Airlines flights. This makes the miles required for this amazing product a true bargain. Below are the mileage requirements for round trips from Houston to Manchester with the discounts factored in:
- Economy: 34,000
- Business Class: 97,750
When you consider that Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Citi, and SPG, you see how easy it is to accumulate enough points to take advantage of these flights. With just one card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’d have enough miles to take a round trip to Europe in Singapore business class.
Booking with partners?
Singapore Airlines is one of those oddball airlines that limits partner booking abilities. Not only will you struggle to find their seats on many other websites, but Singapore Airlines limits premium seats to partners when it comes to certain aircrafts. While a route serviced by an A350 should be an aircraft where premium award seats can be made available, it’s likely that availability for business class seats will be scarce so I wouldn’t rely on booking these seats with partners like United.
- Economy: $630 (Economy super saver)
- Business Class: $3,842
- One-way from IAH:$2,390
- One-way from MAN: $3,040
The major problem with Singapore Airlines is that sometimes you have to deal with hefty fees and this is one route where the fees can really cut into your savings.
Here are the total fees for economy:
Those fees are almost half the entire fees for the ticket! Factoring in the fees, this redemption of 34,000 miles comes out to just under 1 cent per point (.95 cent). Thus, I probably would just save my points rather than using them for an economy ticket for this route.
Here are the total fees for business class:
This redemption is much more valuable as your value comes out to about 3.4 cents per point. It’s worth noting that the total fees are higher for the return flight from the UK. If you’re just booking a one way to get to Europe from Houston, then fees aren’t very bad at all (only $128 as seen below). And that redemption is even more valuable coming out at 4.6 cents per point.
Again, considering the product level with Singapore Airlines business class, the fees aren’t horrible but they are still high enough that you’d want to consider your other options for getting across the pond.
If you don’t care too much about the airline you’re flying on and just want to get to Europe and want to avoid fees, you should definitely consider other options for a cheaper solution. For example, while Aeroplan requires more miles for a roundtrip business class fare at 110,000 miles you can use Aeroplan miles to book a round trip with a partner airline like SAS or United and avoid high fees. If you can snag an all United itinerary with ANA miles, business class will only run you 88,000 miles total and fees should be more than reasonable. For more alternatives, check out my article on getting to Paris with miles and points.
Aside from the fees, the other issue is that Singapore Airlines will require you to book an additional partner booking if you wanted to connect from Manchester to another city in Europe like Paris or wherever. Roundtrip award flights within Europe start as 50,000 Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles, so that’s a lot of additional mileage required. And while budget flights from various cities in Europe are easy to come by, it does add some extra cost and hassle to your travels to jump on them. For this reason, the excitement for this route is curtailed just a bit.
It’s great to see such a superb product now available for getting to Europe from Houston. I think what while the economy award redemptions aren’t the most valuable, the business class awards still offer great value despite the fees on a round trip award. If you really just want to experience Singapore’s great business class product, I think this is a great opportunity to do so, especially if you were just looking for a one way award to Europe or were already planning a trip to the UK.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.