Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Have 19 hours? World’s longest commercial flight takes off

A Singapore Airlines plane in the air A Singapore Airlines plane in the air
Jean Garcia | 13 October, 2018, 12:39

Singapore Airlines has officially re-launched the world's longest flight from Singapore's Changi Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. The extreme ultra long-haul flights to and from the island nation are scheduled for 17 hours 50 minutes on the outbound and 18-hours and 30-minutes on the return to Singapore with the route replacing Doha to Auckland, now operated by Qatar Airways, as the world's longest.

Flight SQ22 departed at 15:37GMT (11.35pm local time) with 150 passengers and 17 crew members on board.

According to Airbus, the twin-engine A350-900ULR burns 25 per cent less fuel compared to other aircraft of a similar size. "For flights from the U.S., Singapore is located just outside the service range of planes like the Boeing 747 and 777 and the Airbus A380, all of which require an intermediate stop".

A business class ticket will entitle passengers to two meals, and the choice of when they are served, plus refreshments in between.

The route, combined with the airline's plans to restart non-stop services to Los Angeles and add more non-stop flights to San Francisco next month, will give the premium Asian carrier its biggest-ever USA presence. Mood lighting will also be used throughout the flight to help encourage sleep when needed and adjusting to new time zones, helping to combat jet lag. Economy was phased out on the aircraft since the duration of the flight was too long for standard economy conditions.

Premium-economy tickets envisage three meals at fixed times, with refreshments in between.

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The Singapore Airlines flight had been specially configured to seat 161 passengers for the service between the two global financial hubs.

The aircraft and flight is a testament to the great strides made by the aviation industry that allows a flight of this distance to be operated nonstop while maintaining a degree of fuel efficiency and maximizing passenger comfort throughout. The flight is expected to travel approximately 8,285 NM and be in the air for an estimated 18 hours and 25 minutes, making it the longest nonstop commercial flight now available. That's right: Flight SQ22 isn't a new route but an exhumed old one, which the carrier launched in 2004 only to axe it in 2013 when it its fleet of Airbus A340-500s were retired.

Speaking of time, those aboard the plane will have a lot of it on their hands.

The cabin has higher-than-normal ceilings, larger windows and lighting created to reduce jet lag - all part of an effort to lessen the stresses that can accompany nearly a day on a plane.

But the ultra-long-range version that SIA has bought from Airbus has the longest capability of any aircraft flying today, thanks in part to a slightly modified fuel system.

Mr Thomas says it's been proven over and over again that people want to fly non-stop, "so these sorts of aeroplanes are set to gain terrific momentum". Bathrooms in the premium economy section are fitted with a spray for hydration. "We expect Singapore Airlines to regain market share, especially in the premium travel market".

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