The world’s longest non-stop commercial flight by Singapore Airlines’ new Airbus A350-900 ULR (ultra-long range) aircraft has landed in New York after covering more than 15,000 km in 17 hours and 52 minutes. The flight, with 161 passengers on board, began its journey from Singapore’s Changi Airport and landed at the Newark Liberty Airport at 0529 US Eastern time.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has re-launched the service for the first time in five years after it was abandoned due to rising fuel prices. The airline flew the 16,700-km route earlier, but ended it in 2013.
“The time passed swiftly and had not seen like a 17 and a half hour flight. The flight was effortless and very smooth. On board the consensus was that the time passed very quickly and didn’t seem like 17.5 hours,” Geoffrey Thomas, editor-in-chief of Airlineratings.com, was quoted as saying in a BBC report.
Since 2003, the longest flight was Qatar Airways’ Auckland-Doha on a Boeing 777-200LR (long range) at 17 hours, 40 minutes and 14,535 km, which the Singapore Airlines flight has upstaged.
While reviving the flight, the airline took a number of measures to make it operationally efficient and comfortable. The new configuration has 67 business class and 94 premium economy seats which means more space, with 67 flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration for business class and 94 premium economy places in a mostly 2-4-2 arrangement at the rear.
But at the same time, this is less than the usual configuration the airline has on its other A350 aircrafts.
There are also various passenger comforts, and provision to carry 24,000 litres more fuel than the standard A350-900 aircraft. The additional weight due to the higher fuel carriage is offset by carrying fewer passengers than other aircraft. The fuselage is made of light composite materials and the aircraft consumes 25 per cent less fuel.
For the Internet-addicted traveller worried about being incommunicado for almost a whole day, the flight offers wi-fi, but at a price. A business-class ticket gets 30 megabytes of data for free. An additional 20MB, just enough for an hour on Facebook, costs $6, with bigger packages offering up to 200MB for $28.
For film-lovers, the airline has added 200 hours of movies and television shows to the 1,000 already available, with everything from new releases like ‘Ocean’s 8’ to art-house and international movies.