- Singapore Airlines is upping its three US routes to daily service, including the world’s longest flight.
- New York and San Francisco flights are being upgraded to an all-premium Airbus A350-900ULR aircraft.
- The two-cabin aircraft consists solely of premium economy class and business class cabins.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Singapore Airlines is pressing forward to build back up its US route network despite a lull in international travel due to the pandemic.
January 18 saw the start of daily flights to Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco from Singapore after only offering a skeleton service of three weekly flights to Los Angeles during the pandemic’s peak. Flyers can now catch a non-stop flight to Singapore from the US any day of the week, something that wasn’t possible for most of the last year.
And though Singapore Airlines is a passenger airline, it’s not passengers that are driving the airline’s resurgence. Rather, increased cargo demand has made this growth viable despite a drop in passengers.
The loss of international passenger flights during the pandemic has shot up demand for cargo space, and Singapore Airlines now has the only three non-stop cargo routes between the two countries.
What’s good for cargo is also proving to be great for passengers as two of the three US routes now see Singapore Airlines’ flagship premium plane, the Airbus A350-900ULR. The exclusive plane has fewer seats in an all-premium configuration, solely consisting of premium economy and business classes.
Take a look inside.
The Airbus A350 is Singapore Airlines’ long-haul leader, flying the airline’s longest routes and becoming the platform for its all-premium offering, known as the A350-900ULR.
The A350-900ULR made its East Coast debut in 2018 on the relaunched Newark-Singapore route, which was then the world’s longest flight.
And as of January 18, it now flies daily on the New York City-Singapore non-stop route that launched in November.
The low-density 161-seat passenger cabin is ideal for the near-19-hour journey times that the flights between New York City and Singapore require.
It’s split between this 67-seat business class cabin…
And this 94-seat premium economy class cabin for an all-premium offering no matter where you sit.
Most importantly, there’s no economy section and no middle seat.
“We are, first of all, a premium carrier and we believe in offering the best in class products to our customers,” Joey Seow, Singapore Airlines’ regional vice president for the Americas, told Insider. “Hence, we have got our newest and latest products flying into the United States.”
Business class is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering all passengers direct aisle access and exclusivity.
Each seat comes with a fully lie-flat bed as well as an 18-inch high-definition entertainment screen and no shortage of storage space.
Couples might be more inclined to sit in the centre aisle pairs, aptly nicknamed “honeymoon” seats.
While solo travellers, alternatively, might opt for the seats along the cabin wall to maximum privacy.
But rest assured, there’s no bad seat in the luxurious cabin.
Opulence is just one reason to book this flight, however, as the real value is in the time savings a non-stop flight provides for business travellers. Around three hours and all the hassle of a stopover is saved by flying non-stop.
And the difference between choosing this flight over a competing option is that passengers are also paying for an education in ultra-long-haul wellness.
Singapore Airlines teamed up with Canyon Ranch and its experts to analyse the best practices for sleep on extended journeys, depending on what the traveller’s needs are once they land in Singapore or the US.
Lighting is also a key feature as Singapore Airlines worked to sync the aircraft’s lighting system with a passenger’s circadian rhythms. For example, mirroring the colours of sunrise helps inspire relaxation and sleep while the colours of a cool morning can make a passenger more alert before landing.
For those who can’t afford business class or are travelling for leisure, the aircraft also features a premium economy class cabin.
The cabin is arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, a standard setup on the Airbus A350.
These recliner seats are comparable to first class seats on a domestic flight, in size and pitch.
Made by Safran in a factory just north of Dallas, the seats feature 19.5 inches of width and 38 inches of pitch.
Their amenities include a 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen…
Personal reading lamp…
Tethered remote and game controller…
Water bottle holder…
USB charging port, and 110v AC power outlet.
While they don’t have a lie-flat function, the deep recline and addition of a leg rest help passengers achieve better sleep than in a standard economy seat.
A pillow and blanket kit is also left at each seat for maximum comfort.
And while some flyers may want to sit closer to the front, those in the know head straight to the back.
That’s where the six seats in this cabin that don’t have any neighbours can be found.
Perfect for a solo journey, occupants in these seats have their own storage compartment, large enough to fit a roller bag.
Those seats currently fetch an extra $US120 premium due to their exclusivity.
The Newark-Singapore flights were once all-business class but the addition of premium economy helped maintain the premium service while opening up the flight to more travellers, especially during the pandemic.
Business travel is at an all-time low and flyers taking this flight might just be trying to find the quickest way home as the pandemic has severed countless intercontinental air links.
Singapore Airlines still offers a standard economy section on flights from Los Angeles, as well.
And premium trimmings aside, another important revenue driver is under the main cabin floor in the cargo cabin.
Having an all-premium plane with fewer seats frees up weight to carry more freight.
“The cargo component is very encouraging for us, and we’re very happy to see how cargo is filling up in the bellies, particularly in JFK and also on the West Coast,” Seow said. Singapore Airlines also has a large cargo facility at JFK Airport, which aided the decision to fly to New York City first instead of Newark.
Having fewer seats also means less fuel burn and lower emissions.
For now, this aircraft will fly from Singapore to New York and San Francisco. Eventually, it will return to Newark to resume Singapore Airlines’ flagship flight.
But in yet another pandemic twist, its addition on the New York and San Francisco routes is a win for passengers and cargo alike.
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