Singapore Airlines announced plans today to replace their aging 747-400 now serving the Singapore - Frankfurt - New York Kennedy route with an A380-800. Starting on January 15, 2012, the new aircraft will take over the route as Frankfurt and New York will become the ninth and tenth Singapore A380 destinations. The 747-400 will go the Singapore - Melbourne route, currently served by an A380. The equipment upgrade will result in a 25% increase in seats on the route.
Sadly, the 25% increase in seats will likely not result in more premium award space for Star Alliance flyers, unless you are a member of Singapore's Kris Flyer program. Singapore is notorious for blocking space on its 777-300ER and A380 routes that feature its latest business and first class ("Suites" class) product. While award availability was not great on the 747-400, featuring Singapore's older angled lie-flat business class seats, it was decent enough (I recently booked my brother on a Singapore Airlines FRA-JFK flight), especially closer to travel.
I took a quick look today at award space from January into May on the New York - Frankfurt route and found zero award seats in business class. As you can see in sample below, there was no space--even though the 744 is still listed as the aircraft type. Sadly, it looks like for the time being we are going to have to stick to Lufthansa and Continental when flying between Frankfurt and New York City.
But there is a glimmer of home that Singapore might eventually realize that it is not necessary to hold back every award seat. I recently booked a client two round-trip seats in business class from Singapore to Sydney on a SQ A380 using United miles. That is a step in the right direction.
For the business traveler and revenue customer, today's move should be celebrated--the aircraft upgrade will lead to a much more comfortable and enjoyable in-flight experience and maybe even cut down on ticket prices, as more seats chasing the same number of customers may spur deals to fill up the aircraft.