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Nordics A350 Competition Heats up as Singapore Airlines Adds Stockholm SAS Codeshare

Singapore Airlines has announced the launch of a new route to Stockholm, via Moscow, served by the airline’s A350-900 aircraft. These flights will operate as codeshare with SAS Scandinavian Airlines.

The new service will complement the airline’s existing flights to Copenhagen Airport. The airline’s four weekly flights to Moscow will increase to five weekly and continue on to Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport starting on May 30, 2017.

SIA A350 Economy screens © FCMedia/FlightChic

“We have been evaluating services to Stockholm for several years and are pleased that we can now introduce services to the Swedish capital using the newest aircraft in our fleet, the Airbus A350-900. It is encouraging that our partnership with Scandinavian Airlines is going from strength to strength,” said SIA’s CEO, Mr Go Choon Phong.

The new code-share agreement between Singapore Airlines and Scandinavian allows both airlines to riase the competitive stakes for services between the Nordics, Southeast Asia and beyond.

“We look forward to develop our collaboration further with Singapore Airlines and thereby be able to offer our customers a new route to Singapore from Stockholm, and also from there onwards into Asia, Australia and New Zealand,” said Scandinavian Airlines CEO, Mr Rickard Gustafson.

“This is another example of how together with partners we can jointly offer more travel options for our customers, bringing Southeast Asia and Scandinavia closer in addition to meeting increasing demand for travel between Southwest Pacific and Northern Europe. With the new services to Stockholm complementing existing flights to Copenhagen, customers will soon have the choice of two convenient gateways to explore the increasingly popular Nordic countries,” Mr Go Choon Phong concluded.

The A350 Experience to Singapore

The airline’s A350-900 aircraft is comfortably fitted with 253 seats, including 42 in Business Class, 24 in the airline’s new Premium Economy Class and 187 in Economy Class.

I have recently toured the Singapore Airlines A350 aircraft cabin during the celebrations of Airbus’ 10,000 aircraft delivery in Toulouse. There are many passenger friendly features onboard, in all cabin classes, ranging from comfortable seat designs to state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment.

SIA A350 Economy details matter © FCMedia/FlightChic

There are also many little details which make long-haul flight better such as power ports for electronic devices, twice-folding meal trays with external cup holders, coat hooks, and footrests in Economy.

Singapore Airlines’ true Premium Economy cabin is a smart choice for those who can pay a little more and want to have a comfortable enjoyable long-haul flight.

SIA A350 Premium Economy © FCMedia/FlightChic

Singapore is a competitive A350XWB route in the Nordics, with Finnair also offering A350 flights to Singapore through Helsinki.

I have recently flown to Singapore with Finnair on the A350 and found the long-haul experience much improved, compared to my previous trip to Singapore on the Finnair A330. In both cases, I flew Economy, though I did spend a little more for the Economy Plus service on my Finnair A350 flights. I also bid to upgrade for a very reasonable price differential on my return flight from Singapore on the Finnair A330 (which was a relief after the outbound Economy on this trip).

Flying Business class is always preferable, if you have the budget for it, but I don’t. I didn’t miss Business too much while flying on the Finnair A350 in Economy Plus.

Finnair’s Economy Plus is not a truly differentiated Premium Economy cabin, as Singapore Airlines offers. But it does offer comfort perks, including a nice personal care kit. If you buy the bulk-head seats, as I did, you will find that you get a lot of room and freedom of movement.

In my experience, the A350 aircraft itself can make a difference. On a separate long-haul trip to Singapore the best flight options for my schedule and budget were with Air France/KLM.

On the outbound flight I flew Economy on a KLM 777 with new interiors, and in Economy on an Air France 777 with new interiors on the return. Both flights were very good. Service was excellent. The cabin product update improves the long-haul experience considerably over my last long-haul flight with these carriers. I picked a bulk-head seat on my outbound with KLM, which let me get around easier, though it was a triple seat. On the return flight I used my ‘crowded aircraft strategy’ which was too book one of the double seats at the very back near the galley and lavatory, and was fortunate that the seat next to me remained empty.

Both flights were comfortable, but I do notice an improvement onboard the A350 aircraft. The A350 cabin is quieter and more restful, but I also felt better, physically, during and after the journey.

I tend to suffer from edema after sitting for prolonged periods on the plane. This can result in very painful leg cramps on longer flights. I’m not sure how much of it is attributable to relative cabin pressure, or humidity levels, or just sitting in place for too long, but on both my Finnair A350 flights I had no trouble with this. My legs still swelled somewhat, but there was no sharp muscle pain and I landed at the other end feeling much better than I normally do on this route.

Picking the Finnair A350 experience over Singapore Airlines’ A350 (or vice versa) is a difficult choice to make, if you’re flying Economy. If you have the budget for Singapore’s true Premium Economy it’s a no-brainer. This is a superior product. The same holds for Business class: Singapore is the winner.

But both airlines offer excellent service and Finnair’s cabin product in all classes is more than satisfactory. Finnair also offers inexpensive Wi-Fi onboard. I bought a flight-long pass for 15 Euros (which seemed ridiculously cheap) and was able to stay in touch with home (via chat on Skype) throughout the journey.

I’ve tested the Panasonic Wi-Fi before on a previous Finnair A350 flight and it handled images shared on social media very quickly. On this last trip, I didn’t do anything which required high band-width, like surfing the net or streaming content. I just didn’t want to. The In-Flight Entertainment onboard had my full attention when I wasn’t sleeping. But I was able to stay in touch with my husband all the way there and back which was delightful.

SAS also has eight A350XWB aircraft on order which are currently scheduled for delivery in 2018. This aircraft, fitted with SAS new cabin product, would be a very comfortable long-haul option too.

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