- Singapore Airlines launched a new world’s longest flight by distance on Monday, flying non-stop between Singapore and New York.
- The route has a great circle distance of 8,287 nautical miles with the longest segment scheduled for 18 hours and 40 minutes
- An Airbus A350-900 XWB is used for the flights offering 253 seats in a three-class configuration consisting of business, premium economy, and economy classes.
- We hopped onboard the aircraft being used on the route before the first return flight from New York to Singapore on Wednesday.
Singapore Airlines just launched its newest route on Monday between Singapore and New York City, offering the only non-stop flights directly between the two cities.
With a great circle distance of 8,287 nautical miles, the route is the longest in the world by mileage. It overtakes the recently relaunched Singapore Airlines’ non-stop route to nearby Newark, New Jersey by a mere two nautical miles, although the airline doesn’t see it that way.
Flight times for the route are scheduled at a whopping 18 hours and five minutes on the New York-bound leg, flight SQ24, and 18 hours and 40 minutes for the flight back to Singapore, flight SQ23. For this route, the airline chose the Airbus A350-900 XWB with three cabins including business, premium economy, and economy classes.
So yes, it’s possible to fly nearly 19 hours in economy and in a middle seat, though most flying in the cabin will likely have entire rows to themselves.
The route comes at a peculiar time for international travel as Americans can’t enter Singapore for tourism or business so carrying cargo will help the airline pay the bills for this flight. As soon as the world opens up again, however, the flights should be filled with eager passengers looking to explore the world again.
We toured the aircraft before its inaugural flight back to Singapore. Here’s what it’s like aboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB flying on the world’s longest flight.
The new flights utilise Terminal 4 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where Singapore Airlines has a cargo facility to process the freight also being carried onboard.
Flights to Singapore on the airline from JFK were previously operated with an Airbus A380 and required a stop in Frankfurt, Germany but the Airbus A350-900 XWB can fly the route non-stop, especially with fewer than normal passengers.
The non-stop flight is a huge achievement for the airline but because of the circumstance under which it was operating, there’d be no traditional inaugural celebrations, speeches by ambassadors about the importance of the route, or festivities at the departure gate.
Face masks must be worn for the entire flight, upwards of 18 hours, and passengers must have their temperature taken and submit a health declaration to the airline at check-in.
Once onboard, the 253-seat jet has three cabins including a 42-seat business class cabin…
A 24-seat premium economy class cabin…
And 187-seat economy class cabin.
The business class cabins occupy the first 11 rows, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration.
It’s split between two cabins, with this larger space between the two boarding doors housing seven rows.
There’s also a four-row section just behind the second boarding door. The seats are the same in both cabins but this smaller section has a more exclusive feel.
All seats are forward-facing with direct aisle access, perfect for getting up to stretch out during an ultra-long-haul flight.
Along the cabin wall in business class are singular seats with unobstructed access to the window and ideal for solo travellers.
But if travelling with a companion, the centre aisle seats offer the ideal shared experience for the journey.
All seats on the aircraft feature personal in-flight entertainment and the largest screens, of course, are in business class.
The 18-inch high-definition screens offer access to movies, television shows, games, and music, everything that one needs to pass the time on the world’s longest flight.
Source: Business Insider
The system is actually not touch-screen in business class but can be controlled via this remote or by pairing a mobile device. Flyers can also browse the system pre-flight and create a playlist before stepping onboard.
Source: The Points Guy
A veritable throne, the seats are oversized and offer more space and cushioning than the traditional business class seats.
Offering 28 inches of width, they’re ideal for stretching out on the near-19-hour journey to Singapore.
Source: Seat Guru
The seat’s functionality is controlled via these buttons with options to recline, turn on the personal reading lamp, and even let flight attendants know that you don’t want to be disturbed during meal times, among others.
When it’s time to go to bed, the seat goes fully flat and flight attendants will assemble the bed. As any seasoned business travellers will tell you, sleep is key on these long journeys.
The shell-like walls with head-level dividers offer additional privacy from the aisle in lieu of closable doors.
And if travelling alone in one of the centre aisle seats, a small partition can be separate the pair. It’s also useful if a couple is using the seats and each partner needs some alone time.
In-seat power is available through a 110v AC power outlet and USB charging port. WiFi is available so flyers can also get work done on this flight, the duration of which is longer than two eight-hour workdays.
The tray table is solid and moves forward and backward based on preference. Two full meals are served on this flight and as part of the airline’s pandemic related safety measures, business class meals are served on a single tray instead of a more elaborate service.
Source: Google Flights
There’s also no shortage of storage space at these seats with a seemingly endless number of nooks and compartments.
Whether it be a passport, mobile phone, or tablet, there’s enough room to store it all during the flight.
Underneath the seat, there’s a place to store your shoes so they don’t get caught up in the seat when converting to the lie-flat position.
Seats even have a small mirror so flyers can assemble themselves before landing.
Ultimately, this is the cabin in which you’d want to fly 8,287 nautical miles as it offers the most personal space, gourmet meals, and a full entertainment suite.
Seats in this cabin start at over $US3,500 one-way.
Directly behind business class is the premium economy class, the smallest on the aircraft with only three rows.
Only 28 seats can be found in this cabin, arranged in a standard 2-4-2 configuration.
Paired seats can be found along the cabin wall, ideal for couples or solo travellers, while the centre aisle is better for larger groups.
These seats boast a width of 19 inches, one more than regular economy, but a 38-inch pitch that makes the journey more bearable.
And down below, there’s even a footrest.
Amenities at each seat include a personal in-flight entertainment screen, personal reading lamp, 110v AC power outlet, USB charging port, coat hangar, water bottle holder, adjustable headrest, and pillow and blanket kit.
One of the major selling points for these seats is the 13.3-inch high-definition in-flight entertainment screen. These are touch-screen and can also be controlled by a remote.
Source: Business Insider
The tray table is housed in the armrest. It’s a solid piece and adjustable.
And finally, the economy cabin takes up the last 21 rows with 187 seats.
It starts with a small six-seat cabin housing 51 seats, bordered by the premium economy section and a row of lavatories.
The larger rear cabin houses the final 16 rows with 136 seats in total.
Seats in economy are configured in the standard 3-3-3 configuration for the A350, which means that a passenger could get stuck in a middle seat.
But the flight won’t be filling up too much in its early days for that to be a problem.
Each seat offers 32 inches of pitch and 18 inches of width.
There are also touch-screen in-flight entertainment systems with 11-inch screens. There are no remotes at these seats but the system does have device pairing capabilities.
Source: The Points Guy
The tray table is foldable and even comes with a mirror. This setting would be ideal for enjoying a beverage, for example.
And then when it’s time to eat or do work on a laptop, it can extend fully.
For small cups, there’s even a standalone cup holder.
In-seat power is offered through a passenger-facing 110v AC power outlet and USB charging port.
The multi-layer seat-back pocket offers seat storage and is also contoured for additional shin space.
And headrests are adjustable to get the best fit for each passenger.
The economy class cabin is what separates this flight from the Singapore-Newark flight, which only had business class and premium economy class.
But offering economy will open this flight to more passengers who rely on it to get home or for essential travel, offering the convenience of a non-stop flight without the high prices of a business class or premium economy class ticket.
And if the flights do remain empty, an economy flyer could find themselves with an entire row to themselves.
This is the business end of the aircraft, the cockpit.
As one of Airbus’ newest jets, the A350 has an advanced cockpit setup with no shortage of high-definition screens to replace traditional gauges.
Everything the pilot needs is at the click of a mouse, including aeronautical and airport charts.
Two sets of crew take turns flying the aircraft, swapping multiple times during the fleet due to its extended length.
And in between shifts, they will retire to a crew rest area for some much-needed sleep.
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