On the heels of new award pricing, Singapore Airlines is also introducing new fare types for its paying passengers. These will take effect on January 20, 2018. So-called Lite, Standard, and Flexi fares will be available in economy and business class. (Never mind how much it hurts my brain to see “lite” misspelled.) Suites and First Class will only have Standard fares, and premium economy will only have Standard and Flexi fares.
These new fare types aren’t an attempt to take away your free baggage allowance. Even the cheapest Lite economy fare will still have the same 30 kg allowance as other economy fares. However, you will see differences in how many award miles are earned and the ability to select an advance seat assignment. Lite fares will also be completely uncancellable — not even for a fee. Changes are still permitted. And finally, some fares will be ineligible for upgrades.
Unlike the basic economy issued by some other carriers, these descriptions are more closely tied to the booking class you purchase. (In contrast, United will provide a basic economy option for almost any booking class, even expensive last-minute fares, so the same booking class could have both basic and non-basic flavors.)
It’s more accurate to say that Singapore is grouping the traditional booking class letters into distinct buckets, and making it more clear what benefits each bucket receives. In the process, it’s also removing and adding some benefits to each booking class.
For Economy Class:
- Lite fares include Q, N, V, and X
- Standard fares include M, H, and W
- Flexi fares include Y, B, and E
For Premium Economy Class:
- Standard fares include P
- Flexi fares include S and T
For Business Class:
- Lite fares include D
- Standard fares include U
- Flexi fares include Z, C, and J
A 50% earn rate based on distance is still not so bad compared to what the U.S. carriers have done and higher than the old floor of 10%. However, you may be better off splurging on a Standard premium economy fare rather than a Flexi economy fare. My guess is you’ll pay less and get more benefits.
Ultimately this news will have limited relevance to those who travel primarily in the U.S. But as someone who flies often to Asia — and because Singapore Airlines is expanding its service to the U.S. with a couple nonstop routes — I can see myself buying a ticket sometime in the future. It’s unfortunate to see more airlines adopting these policies even in regions that are typically known for more customer friendly practices.