Since the dawn of time, human beings have watched the birds go by overhead and wondered what it would be like to see the world from their vantage point. The myth of Icarus, who fell to earth after the sun melted the wax of his makeshift wings, warned the ancient Greeks against rising above their proper place in the universe. Undaunted, inventors kept dreaming up ways to overcome gravity, from Leonardo da Vinci to the Wright Brothers, who finally got it right.
For just over a century, airplanes have allowed human beings to realize that dream of flying, more or less, like a bird. Commercial aviation has brought the dream alive for millions, providing a speed of travel unthinkable to our earth-bound ancestors. There are few sights as exhilarating as watching the ground slip away from underneath your plane seat.
The exhilaration ends the moment someone puts their seat back into your knees. For the next eight, ten, or twelve hours, you are pinned to your tiny economy seat. You might find yourself wishing you had taken the layover.
Long-haul flights test the limits of passengers’ physical endurance and sanity. With a new route set to become the world’s longest flight at the end of 2018, smart passengers are undoubtedly curious to find out the flight’s specs. A long flight might be technically impressive, but discerning travellers are also looking for convenience and, above all, comfort. Prepare yourself for this travel adventure by reading our twenty must-know facts about the world’s longest flight in 2018.
20 Operated By Singapore Airlines
The world’s new longest flight is operated by Singapore Airlines. Beginning as a regional airline for Southeast Asia, Singapore Airlines was formed out of the old, British-colonial-era Malayan Airways Limited (MAL). The other part of MAL became Malaysian Airlines, which has not fared as well in terms of reputation as its former corporate conjoined twin. See: the still-missing MH370.
Since the 1960s, Singapore Airlines has striven to be a premier intercontinental carrier. The uniforms of its female attendants, who embody a so-called “Singapore Girl” look in company mythology, were designed by Frenchman Pierre Balmain and inspired by the traditional sarong kebaya. This represents Singapore Airlines’ position as an Asia-based carrier with international ambitions.
19 Leaves From Singapore's Changi Airport
Operated by Singapore Airlines, it is natural that their new pride-and-joy flight originates in the company’s hub. Singapore is a tiny island nation at the tip of the Malay Peninsula, separated from the nation of Malaysia by the narrow Straits of Johor. Nearly six million people live in an area of less than 300 square miles. To accommodate its incredibly dense population, the island is almost entirely urbanized. If you watched news reports of the recent U.S.-North Korea summit, you may have had a chance to admire the city-state’s many futuristic skyscrapers. Singapore is certainly a lively and intriguing destination or stopover.
18 Arrives At New York's Newark Airport
Departing from the bustling Southeast Asian island powerhouse, Singapore Airlines’ forthcoming route ends in another great city: New York. More exactly, it lands in New Jersey, at Newark Airport, one of the three that services the city. Unfortunately, based on the pictures, Newark Airport is considerably less sleek and modern than Singapore’s Changi Airport.
New York City itself is a well-known and (sometimes begrudgingly) beloved destination. Like Singapore, “the Big Apple” has an ultra-dense urban island core: Manhattan. New York City, for all its mythology, may not be your final destination. With its airports and extensive train connections, New York can be the international traveler’s gateway to the American East Coast and beyond.
17 The Flight Will Not Have An Economy Class
Every traveler’s nightmare of being stuck between the obnoxious guy who puts his seat all the way back and the little kid kicking the back of your seat has less of a chance to become reality on Singapore Airlines’ new Singapore-New York route. The ultra-long-haul flight will not have any economy-class seats. Instead, the planes will be outfitted with 94 premium economy seats and 67 business-class spots. This is in part a concession to how trying international travel can be without many creature comforts. On the other hand, industry experts like Brendan Sobie think the exclusion of economy seats is part of Singapore Airlines’ brand image of luxury.
Looking at that economy lunch, though, Singapore economy doesn’t seem too bad.
16 Service Begins In October
Singapore Airlines’ ultra-long-haul flight between Singapore and New York City will keep passengers waiting just a few months longer. Service will begin on October 11, meaning the longest flight of 2018 will not be a reality until near the end of 2018. Tickets only just went on sale, on June 1.
In the meantime, passengers eager to test their mental and physical endurance, or passengers who just want the convenience of a direct flight halfway around the world, will have to satisfy their curiosity by browsing pictures of Singapore Airlines’ world-renowned service. That beef-noodle soup, part of a business-class lunch, looks darn good.
15 Route Had Been Canceled In 2013
The new route between New York City and Singapore is not really “new.” Singapore Airlines flew the same route in the past. On previous flights along the route, Singapore Airlines had used an Airbus A340. Like the flights scheduled to begin in October, these A340 aircraft also lacked economy-class seats.
The original Singapore-Newark route ended in 2013. Singapore Airlines canceled the route because of the increasing cost of jet fuel. In deciding to make a triumphant, non-stop return to New York, Singapore Airlines relied on one critical factor to counter the price of fuel: a new addition to its fleet.
14 New Aircraft Make The Journey Possible
The previous incarnation of Singapore Airlines’ nonstop service from the island nation to the Big Apple relied on the Airbus A340. However, a new Airbus model, the A350-900 ULR, will carry passengers on the revitalized Singapore-Newark.
The Airbus A350-900 ULR solves the problem of high fuel costs that ended the original Singapore-Newark route in 2013. Like the Airbus A380, the newer A350-900 ULR is much more fuel efficient than older planes in the fleet. The “ULR” of the model designation stands for “ultra-long-range.” Singapore Airlines has ordered seven A350-900 ULRs. The first will be delivered in September, with service on the world’s new longest flight beginning a few weeks later.
13 The Flight Will Operate Three Times A Week
As currently scheduled, Singapore Airlines has announced, the new world’s longest flight will operate three times a week. Browsing the official Singapore Airlines website, one can already see a flexible schedule of direct flights from Newark to Singapore or Singapore to Newark.
Singapore crews have about twenty-four hours to recuperate from the flight and get the plane turned around. Flights depart from Singapore’s Changi Airport on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. Flights depart Newark on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
The regularity of the route is designed to attract a certain type of traveler. Hint: this is not intended primarily for tourists.
12 Aimed At Business Travellers
Everything about the revitalized Singapore-Newark route, like its defunct predecessor, is designed to attract business travellers. The flight’s lack of economy class seats is not just to prevent discomfort on this marathon flight. The primary reason is much closer to the aforementioned goal of maintaining Singapore Airlines’ image as a luxury carrier.
No economy seats, in addition to being the world’s new longest flight, gives the Singapore-Newark route a feeling of exclusivity. For seasoned business travellers, a lack of economy passengers also means that cabin crew can better focus their service efforts. The flight’s length, along with its focus on adult business travellers, also reduces the likelihood of sharing the flight with boisterous children.
11 Premium Economy Is Still Pretty Great
Seats in Singapore Airlines’ premium economy class are designed to bring up the baseline of passenger comfort on long-haul flights. Arranged 2-4-2 across the body of the plane, the seats feature leg rests and padded headrests. Premium economy seats may be up to twenty inches wide.
Passengers may “Book the Chef” ahead of time or otherwise choose their meal from the menu’s selections. In premium economy, wine and champagne are also available. To keep passengers entertained, not only is there the standard back-of-seat in-flight entertainment system, but each premium economy seat is equipped with a reading lamp, two USB ports, and an electrical outlet.
10 Business Class Is Even Better
While flying premium economy does not sound like a bad time, business class on Singapore Airlines takes comfort to a new level. The airline’s website promises to get business travellers to their big meeting or conference with a good night’s sleep. Business class seats are sectioned off for privacy, and seats extend to form a 78-inch bed when it is time to turn in. Business class customers “Book the Cook” ahead of time to choose their meal options and enjoy a selection of wines.
Of course, if you need to get some work done while on your way to the next merger, there are plenty of ports and and electrical outlet built into each business-class seat.
9 Flight Is 19 Hours Long
Just how long will passengers be in the air on the Singapore-Newark flight? A long, long time, no matter how you measure it.
In press releases, Singapore Airlines gives the flight’s duration as eighteen hours and forty-five minutes. Searching for tickets on the airline’s official site, it seems this might be an average of the two legs of the journey, which differ due to headwinds. Traveling from Changi Airport in Singapore to Newark Airport outside of New York, the trip is projected to take nineteen hours and twenty-five minutes. Departing from Newark, the trip should take a “mere” seventeen hours and forty-five minutes.
8 Flight Covers Over 10,000 Miles
Flying Singapore to New York takes passengers halfway around the world. In the course of the flight, taking around nineteen hours, the Airbus A350-900 ULR covers 10, 378 miles (16, 700 kilometers). For comparison, the earth, at its widest point, has a circumference of 24, 901 miles (40, 075 kilometers).
Luckily for passengers, it seems that the creature comforts provided by Singapore Airlines’ premium economy and business classes should keep them happy on this journey that covers nearly half the earth’s circumference. This incredible journey is made possible not only by the airline’s attention to detail, but by the technical abilities of Airbus engineers.
7 Airbus A380 ULR Has An Unbelievable Range
Singapore Airlines’ decision to cancel the original Singapore-Newark flight was motivated by the rising cost of jet fuel. With the advent of higher-performance long-range planes, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350-900 ULR, the route again had the potential to be profitable.
On top of its fuel efficiency, the A350-900 ULR has in its advantage an incredible flying range of 11, 150 miles (17, 944 kilometers). This exceeds the standard A350 range by 1,800 miles (2897 kilometers). Given that the Singapore-Newark route covers over 10,000 miles, these flights will push the A350-900 ULR to the limits of its capabilities.
6 The Current World's Longest Flight
As impressive as the stats of Singapore Airlines’ forthcoming route are, the world’s current longest flight is nothing to sneeze at. Qatar Airways operates a route from Doha, the capital of Qatar, to Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. This route covers 9, 032 miles, just a tad shorter than the new Singapore Airlines route. The flight time of the Doha-Auckland route is also comparable to the forthcoming Singapore Airlines service, clocking in at about eighteen hours.
Until October, Qatar Airways can enjoy its status as operator of the world’s longest flight, when it will fall to second place. The current second-place flight, which will soon be knocked down to third, is similarly impressive.
5 The Current Second-Longest Is No Joke
The flight that currently holds the honor of being the world’s second-longest is operated by Qantas Airways. The Australian carrier almost specializes in long-haul flights: when your home country and base of operations is its own continent, international flights are always transcontinental. The longest flight in the Qantas route network, which comes in as the world’s second longest, runs from London to Perth. This flight is one leg of an even longer flight. The Qantas Airways London-Perth flight covers 9, 009 miles (14, 499 kilometers), making it barely shorter than the Qatar Airways Doha-Auckland route. Flying from London to Perth takes seventeen hours.
4 A Singapore-L.A. Route Is Coming In 2019
With its purchase of seven Airbus A350-900 ULRs, Singapore Airlines intends to expand its ultra-long-haul flight network. The Singapore-Newark route scheduled to begin in October is just the first step in the airline’s new campaign. According to official Singapore Airlines statements, the company intends to begin a non-stop flight using the A350-900 ULR from Singapore to Los Angeles beginning in 2019.
Like the Singapore-Newark route, the Los Angeles flight will feature a mix of premium economy and business seats. Without having to cross the North American continent, the Los Angeles-Singapore route will last about fifteen hours, as opposed to the record-setting nineteen hours of the Singapore-Newark trip.
3 Long-Haul Flights Is Not The Best On One's Body
Along with dehydration and jet lag that you can expect on any flight of more than a few hours. Long-haul and ultra-long-haul flights pose a whole new level of risks to your health. Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which blood clots form in the major veins of the leg. If one of these clots were to come loose and travel to the lungs, it could cause a potential pulmonary embolism.
Smokers, those with mobility issues, and people taking estrogen for birth control of hormone therapy are especially at risk.
The easiest ways to prevent DVT are to walk the aisle once every hour, stay hydrated, and wear compression stockings to promote circulation.
2 Singapore Airlines Has A Plan to Protect Passenger Health
While passengers can take steps to protect themselves from deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), the only way to avoid jet lag is to stay off an airplane. With the introduction of the Airbus A350-900 ULR, Singapore Airlines promises unparalleled passenger comfort and safety.
The company’s press release touts how the new model’s “higher ceilings, larger windows, [and] extra wide body” gives passengers more space to stretch out. Additionally, the carbon composite frame of the new planes supposedly makes climate control much easier. The circulatory systems will refresh the air supply every two minutes. Singapore Airways also has designed lighting systems to mitigate jet lag.
1 How Much It Costs
With a flight so long, one would expect a significant price tag. Additionally, with no economy class and a business-traveler clientele, it seems that the world’s longest flight will be even more exclusively priced than other ultra-long-haul flights.
However, by eliminating stopovers, the non-stop flight between Singapore and Newark is projected to cost significantly less than current flights. While a mid-October nonstop flight from Newark to Singapore in premium economy is projected to cost a minimum of $1,296.72, a flight with two stops costs at least $1, 891.22. For business class, the nonstop flight will cost a significant $3,411.72.
Will the price tag be worth it? The world will have to wait until October to find out.