Jetliner lands in US after world's longest flight

2018-10-13 07:33
Passengers of flight SQ22, Singapore Airlines' inaugural non-stop flight to New York check-in at Changi International Airport in Singapore. (Roslan Rahman, AFP)

Passengers of flight SQ22, Singapore Airlines' inaugural non-stop flight to New York check-in at Changi International Airport in Singapore. (Roslan Rahman, AFP)

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An Airbus jetliner arrived in Newark on Friday after a nearly 18-hour trip from Singapore, completing the world's longest commercial flight.

It marked the revival of a route that had been eliminated in 2013.

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ22 arrived at 05:29 (09:29 GMT), having left Singapore's Changi airport at 23:23, the Newark Liberty International Airport website said. That made for a flight of 17 hours and 52 minutes.

The flight had been scheduled to take 18 hours and 25 minutes.

The plane was carrying 150 passengers and 17 crew members as it travelled 16 500km.

"I feel perfectly well rested," said Kristopher Alladin, a 37-year-old Canadian. "I'm lucky because I'm able to sleep on the plane."

Flying from New York to Singapore would be a longer journey, lasting an estimated 18 hours and 45 minutes. The first flight in that direction took off from Newark at 11:10 on Friday.

Singapore Airlines only offers premium economy and business seats on the flight – no regular economy seats.

"Although you're in premium eco, you feel like you're in first class," said Alladin, adding that he had taken the same flight in 2008. "The flight was very smooth, very quiet."

'Ended too fast!'

"The flight was great, smooth, enjoyable and ended too fast!" said Danny Ong, an engineer and flight enthusiast from Singapore, after landing in Newark.

"We were served a supper of three choices after takeoff. I slept soundly, woke up and realized [there were] around eight hours left," said Ong, who took the first flight back to Singapore, straight after landing in Newark.

"The crews were attentive, professional and responded promptly. Highly recommended if you are flying from Singapore to NYC in future."

A one-way ticket from Singapore to New York on this flight costs about $2 150 in premium economy and $3 500 for a roundtrip itinerary, according to the Singapore Airlines website.

Singapore Airlines originally flew the route for nine years using the gas-guzzling, four-engine A340-500 plane before abandoning it in 2013 because high oil prices made the service unprofitable.

This trip was made with the new, more fuel efficient Airbus A350-900ULR, which consumes 25% less fuel than its predecessor.

It topped the previous longest direct air link between cities – Qatar Airways Flight 921 from Auckland to Doha, which takes 17 hours 40 minutes.

The A350 is these days considered the go-to plane for long-haul flights, nudging out the A380, which was previously the flagship for such long distance journeys, and which carries up to 850 passengers, more than twice the number of the A350.

The Singapore Airlines flight had been specially configured to seat 161 passengers for the service between the two global financial hubs.

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