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What it's really like to fly on the world's longest flight

Jessicha Valentina
Jessicha Valentina

The Jakarta Post

New York, United States | Fri, October 26, 2018 | 05:56 pm

A group of Indonesian journalists, including from The Jakarta Post, was invited by Singapore Airlines to join the inaugural flight of the Singapore-New York route. A number of international journalist also boarded the flight SQ 22.

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Oct. 11 was an important day for Singapore Airlines, as the flag carrier of Singapore officially relaunched its non-stop Singapore-New York route.

The flight covers a distance of approximately 16,700 kilometers, making it the world’s longest commercial flight.

I was among the journalists who boarded the new A350-900 ULR (ultra-long-range) aircraft, flight SQ22, departing from Changi International Airport in Singapore and arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, United States, on Oct. 12. I returned to Singapore from New York on flight SQ21 on Oct. 16, giving me more opportunity to observe the aircraft.  

Prior to boarding the SQ22, I sent my cousin, who happens to be an aviation geek, a photo of the A350-900 ULR aircraft. He expressed his admiration for the aircraft’s wingtips, saying how pretty the curve was. For aviation geeks, the new aircraft is seen as revolutionary. Designed for long haul flights, the plane comes with new features, such as quieter cabins, larger windows and more, offering extra comfort for passengers.

But what is it really like to spend almost a day in the air? Here are the things you need to know about the world's longest nonstop flight.

Fly in comfort

Since the service connects two financial hubs, the airline largely caters to corporate clients. With that in mind, Singapore Airlines decided to configure the A350-900 ULR in a two-class layout, featuring 67 Business Class and 94 Premium Economy Class seats.

The plane itself boasts higher ceilings, larger windows, an extra wide body, a lighting system designed to reduce jet lag and a quieter cabin.

Among all these features, I noticed that the quieter cabin helped make the long flight more bearable. I sat in the Business Class and once I put in the earplugs, I could barely hear anything, allowing me to sleep soundly on the flight.

I also interviewed the airlines’ senior vice president of marketing Campbell Wilson during the maiden flight, and the quieter cabin allowed us to converse comfortably.

Sleep and work in the sky

Although I cannot share much about the Premium Economy Class seats, I am glad to report that they are wider than the usual Economy Class seats. Prior to departure, I tried the 19-inch wide seat and discovered it to be more comfortable than usual Economy Class seats.

Business Class seats can be turned into beds. Business Class seats can be turned into beds. (JP/Jessicha Valentina)

Meanwhile, in Business Class, the taupe color leather seats can be turned into beds. The airlines also adds extra padding on the flat bed, a blanket and one firm and one soft pillow.

Being five-feet tall, I did not have any issues sleeping on the flight. During the Singapore-New York route, I slept for around six hours straight, while on the return flight, the cabin crew had to wake me up for a midflight meal.

However, those taller than me may find it harder to sleep straight on the bed. You may need to put your feet on the side ottoman or sleep on a side.

Read also: Singapore Airlines officially relaunches Singapore-New York direct flight

Sleeping was not the only thing I could do on the flight. Since the Business Class seats are equipped with an in-seat laptop power supply, USB and HDMI ports, I managed to finish an article and sent emails. This was also thanks to the fact the flight comes with Wi-Fi.

During the inaugural flight, we received 200MB of complimentary Wi-Fi. But, fret not, for normal occasions, Business Class passengers are entitled to 30MB of complimentary Wi-Fi and you can purchase extra internet quota afterwards.

Time for some fun

During the interview, Campbell said that they had increased the number of movies and television programs by 20 percent. As I browsed through the entertainment system, I discovered that they basically have something for everyone. Fans of television series can catch Westworld Season 2, Brooklyn Nine Nine Season 4 or The Big Bang Theory. Children can watch Incredibles 2, Hotel Transylvania 3 or Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer.

Moreover, movie buffs can also watch Hollywood, Asian or European films, such as Ocean’s 8, There Is No Place Like Home and The Unity of Heroes.  

Make yourself ready

The amenities kit offered on Singapore Airlines' New York-Singapore route. The amenities kit offered on Singapore Airlines' New York-Singapore route. (JP/Jessicha Valentina)

Luxury amenities kits can be expected in Business Class. During the roundtrip, I found eyeshades, socks and slippers placed on my seat. After taking off, the cabin crew asked me to pick from amenities on a tray, comprising Crease Release and Fabric Fresh by The Laundress New York, dental kits, hand sanitizers, earplugs and lip balms.

However, Singapore Airlines does not provide pajamas for Business Class passengers, hence, it’s recommended to bring your own sleepwear for the long flight.

Happy tummy, happy passengers

The journey from Singapore to New York takes around 18 hours and 45 minutes. However, thanks to the wind, the inaugural flight took just 17 hours and 52 minutes.

Singapore Airlines serves after take-off and midflight meals as well as refreshments for passengers on the Singapore-New York route. Singapore Airlines serves after take-off and midflight meals as well as refreshments for passengers on the Singapore-New York route. (JP/Jessicha Valentina)

As you spend almost an entire day in the sky, the airlines prepares after take-off and midflight meals as well as refreshments. Business Class passengers departing from Singapore can pre-book their meals via the Book the Cook feature on Singapore Airlines’ website. The menu features a plethora of dishes, varying from Western to Asian to wellness food prepared by Canyon Ranch.

After the midflight meal, the cabin crew also served desserts, ice cream and cheeses; more than enough to keep you full during the flight. (kes)

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