However there is a way around this. It is worth noting that Singapore has very primative yeild management, and has just a few basic ticket prices for economy. Full fare economy and Cheap Economy, depending on the time of year, NOT on how many seats are left - therefore if you miss out on the cheap seats, the price curve is like falling off a cliff. Full fare means you can turn up for any flight, and are guaranteed an economy seat. Cheap economy means you'll have to notify Singapore of changes in advance. However if you book through the SIA website (not via a travel agent) most cheap economy tickets are fully flexible tickets, with nothing extra to pay never mind how often you change your journey, so long as there is space left on the plane! Its a bit of a bargain - and very useful.
The website has recently been updated, and it now allows you to select various different ticket classes, on the tab across the top, for economy fares:
Singapore 747 loading at LHR|
Clicking on the fare rules when you make a booking is rather pointless, as it will not show you the booking class. However if you click on the fare rules link after entering your name, on the payment & ticketing page will tell you the booking class letter.
Singapore 777-300 at Singapore|
Sometimes the Singapore website will indicate that no cheap economy fares are available, and just price up a full economy fare - as an example that can be £4750 from LHR to Sydney, in economy. However the website will only check on flights which offer an easy connection at Singapore if you select the book "From and To" option. In this case you'll have to be a bit crafty to fly cheaply. To get the best fares (which may involve some hanging around for your connection) choose the Multi-City option and put down all stops on your journey. Of course this means a lot of work testing each leg to see which flights have cheap seats on them - one neat trick is to test each leg in turn, say trying LHR to SIN as a return, and then SIN to SYD as a return, until you can see which flights have sold out of bargain seats, and only have falling-off-a-cliff economy seats.
Prices rise considerably over Christmas. It is worth knowing that extreme high tariff is 1st-15th Jan (lowest LHR-SYD £910) then 4th-31st Dec (LHR-SYD £815), then Nov-4th Dec & 16th Jan-1st April (£765). All other times are base fare (£683).
Singapore review their plane loading capacity 21 days before the plane takes off, and if there are still a lot of unsold high priced economy seats on the plane, but no low priced economy seats, it will release a further block at midnight Singapore time, and price these seats at the base fare - ie: lowest for the sector anytime. So for example if you want to fly LHR-SYD out on the 9th Jan, and book on the 18th Dec you can find the price is £4750 (economy, Y). However if you book on the 19th Dec, and a block is released, the price drops sharply. It's worth waiting an extra day, however when these seats appear, book them immediately - all tickets normally disappear within 24 hours.
Singapore 747 Raffles class upper deck|
If you try these methods, quite often the Singapore Airlines UK version of the website will always sell you tickets at the cheapest price, even a couple of days before the plane takes off, if you select the "Multi-City - build your journey one flight at a time" option. So typically you can fly at peak times UK-OZ-UK cheaply, booking just days ahead.
This is similar to standby in the sense that this fare bucket (if that's really what it is) is only ever available at the airport on the day of departure and only if there is space available (indeed, abundant space available, such that there are still seats if two passengers turn up at the last minute and offer to buy a full priced ticket) and only if the lower class is at risk of overselling. It doesn't seem to be available very often. There is a certain language that should be used when asking for these upgrades, since you want to avoid directly using the "upgrade" word, given Singapore's sensitivity to the issue. Instead the question is "what would be the cost to reissue of this segment as a C class".
Singapore 777-200 at Singapore|
SIA's special £555 offer
Naturally you get the normal KrisFlyer miles for this, and this will give you enough KrisFlyer frequent Flyer miles for a free return journey from the UK to Europe on a Star Alliance airline.
To start with, make sure you are a frequent flyer, and you do fly frequently: after all, if Singapore are going to upgrade anyone, they will upgrade those passengers who fly with them pretty regularly, and hence will enjoy the upgrade enough to put more business Singapore's way. Then if the flight is full in economy, and someone needs to be moved up, the check in staff will first look at Gold members, and then Silver level, and then at other Star Alliance members at the equivalent levels (Gold, and then Silver). Another thing that Singapore look at is how much you paid for your ticket: it's much more likely to happen with a full fare ticket (although occasionally you can get lucky with a discounted economy ticket). On Singapore the airline has heard - probably hundreds of times a day - requests for an upgrade: the general consensus seems to be that if you ask for an upgrade, you're less likely to get it, although opinions differ on an upgrade strategy for Singapore. The generally idea though is "good luck". It really is far rarer on Singapore Airlines than on any other airline (except, perhaps, Qantas).
As always, my advice on dressing properly in the pages on how to get an upgrade applies.
The website also offers a discount of about £40 compared to calling up the Singapore Airlines UK ticket desk.
Note however that if you buy tickets through the website, you'll only be able to buy an E ticket - you have to go through a travel agent to get a real ticket. With an Eticket you must remember to bring the credit card you booked it with to the airport, or you won't get on the plane - and you'll lose your ticket.
Main Site: www.singaporeair.com
KrisFlyer club: www.krisflyer.com
Inflight movie guide
Singapore stopover holidays
Krisflyer miles recemption charts
Upgrading from economy to business with Kris Miles
How Krisflyer works
Fly to Oz from UK for £555
Raffles: Book the Cook