Singapore Airlines joins the seat fee club

Singapore Airlines, long seen as a holdout in the airline ancillary fee craze, is ceding that position. The carrier will introduce advance seat assignment fees for the lower economy class fare buckets (Q, N, V & K) effective with tickets purchased 20 January 2018 and beyond. The changes also affect tickets flown on subsidiary carrier SilkAir.

The Economy Flexi fare allows passengers to have access to Standard and Forward Zone seats for free in advance from time of booking.  The Economy Standard fare allows passengers to select in advance Standard Seats for free and pay a small fee for Forward Zone Seats, while passengers who choose the Economy Lite fare can select Standard or Forward Zone Seats in advance for a small fee. Extra Legroom Seats are chargeable for all passengers across all these fare types, starting at USD25.

For KrisFlyer award travel seat selection will remain complimentary, but not in the “Forward Zone” seating area on board. That will only be included for passengers who redeem for Advantage awards (the highest of the three tiers awards price at).

Elite members in the KrisFlyer or PPS Club program will also get free seat assignments, even on the cheaper fares. Silver elites get standard seats, Gold get Forward Zone and PPS get extra legroom.

Passengers who do not want to pay can choose seat assignments for free within 48 hours of departure.

A sample seat map from Singapore Airlines showing the zones on board and what a passenger can choose for their new advance seat assignment fee.
A sample seat map from Singapore Airlines showing the zones on board and what a passenger can choose for their new advance seat assignment fee.

Pricing for the seat selection will vary by market and stage length. A basic seat assignment starts at $5 per segment while forward zone seats start at $8. The extra legroom seats start at $25. The numbers are more or less in line with what the LCC competition in Asia charges for advance seat assignments, though in many markets the LCCs also start with lower base fares than Singapore or SilkAir charge.

Read More: Basic Economy goes global on Delta

Ultimately this shift is unlikely to alter purchase patterns too much among customers in the short term. The big risk is in what the change may mean to market positioning across a longer horizon. Given the shift towards such unbundling of products and addition of fees on a global basis, however, any loss on that front is likely to be minimal. And in the end consumers will pay just a little more.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.