Singapore Airlines now offers the world's longest flight, with the launch of a new direct service from Singapore's Changi Airport to New York's Newark Liberty International. The distance of 16,700 kilometres and flight time of around 18 hours eclipses the world's previous longest flight, a direct Qatar Airways service from Doha to Auckland. The Singapore to New York leg, which takes off on Oct 11, is expected to take 17 hours and 50 minutes, and the return trip is 18 hours and 30 minutes.
The time passengers spend on board will be mitigated by the fact that they will be travelling in relative comfort - only business class or premium economy seats are available. Tickets are a relative bargain, costing from Dh7,000 return including taxes.
Singapore Airlines had previously operated the route until 2013 using Airbus 340-500s, which only carried 100 customers. The airline is now using the an Airbus A350-900 aircraft with 161 seats, 92 fewer than the company's usual seat count on the same aircraft. This means more space for passengers and a cabin divided into business class and premium economy only. In the business class section, there are 67 flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration at the front. At the back are 94 premium economy seats, with an eight-inch recline and a seat pitch of 38 inches.
Airbus has gained the ability to fly the extra distance by using lightweight carbon composites and re-arranging the fuel system on board the aircraft, pumping more jet fuel into the tanks in the wings. Increased efficiency means it can operate the route on 270 gallons of fuel per passenger, around half the previous amount.
The airline says the aircraft offers increased cabin pressure to offer passengers more oxygen on board, less noise and LED lighting to help combat jet lag. It is offering several service enhancements to offset the time on board, including a "wellness menu" of healthy food and more than 200 hours of on-board entertainment.