Now boarding: Passengers ready for take off on the world's longest flight from Singapore to New York

Passengers are gearing up for the world's longest flight between Singapore and New York. (Photo: AFP)
Passengers are gearing up for the world's longest flight between Singapore and New York. (Photo: AFP)

Passengers were getting ready to board the world's longest flight on Thursday, October 11 - a marathon 19 hours in the air between Singapore and New York.

Two pilots, a special "wellness" menu and more than seven weeks' worth of film and television entertainment were expected to accompany travellers on the 16 700-kilometre journey to the Big Apple.

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ22 will use the long-range Airbus A350-900ULR, configured to carry 161 passengers - 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy.

For the flight crew - which also includes two first officers and a 13-strong cabin contingent - the work load will be broken up, the airline said, with every person getting a mandatory minimum four hours' rest.

WATCH: How seats are made for the longest flight in the world 

But for passengers, the challenge will be what to do with all that down time up in the air.

For those not packing a weighty novel (or two), there will be 1 200 hours of audio-visual entertainment to choose from.

Dining options will include dishes the airline says have been selected to promote well-being in the skies, with organic dishes on the menu.

The cabin has higher-than-normal ceilings, larger windows and lighting designed to reduce jet lag - all part of an effort to lessen the stresses that can accompany almost a day on a plane.

"Research has shown that hydration and food intake are important factors (to consider), such as avoiding foods that cause gas or bloating as well as excessive alcohol," Rhenu Bhuller, a healthcare expert at consultancy Frost & Sullivan, told AFP.

"The biggest concern is Deep Vein Thrombosis from a combination of sitting for too long and also from dehydration," said Gail Cross, an associate consultant at the National University Hospital in Singapore.

CHECK OUT THIS Quick Guide to Singapore: Visa-free travel for South Africans

'Race between airlines'

The twin-engine plane that will make the journey uses a modified system that burns 25% less fuel compared to other aircraft of a similar size, Airbus said.

The flight from the city-state to Newark Airport can take up to 18 hours and 45 minutes under normal weather conditions, but the pilots will have something in reserve in an aircraft capable of flying more than 20 hours non-stop.

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

But the carrier is hoping that the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes will set cash registers ringing even as crude prices soar above $80.

Thursday's flight will top the current longest direct link between cities - Qatar Airways Flight 921 from Auckland to Doha, which takes 17 hours 40 minutes.

ICYMI: What does a smart city look like?

"It's turning out to be a race between a few airlines eyeing the longest routes inter-continentally," said Shukor Yusof of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.

"They are hoping to capitalise and exploit a very niche market," he told AFP.

Facing increasingly strong competition in recent years, Singapore Airlines has consolidated its low-fare subsidiaries and is strengthening its premium segment.

"Ultra-long haul services comprise an important component of that strategy," an airline spokesman told AFP.

The company is the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR plane. It received the first aircraft in September. Six more are due for delivery by the end of the year.

"We are optimistic about the demand for non-stop services to the US," the spokesman said.

Find Your Escape by searching and comparing flight prices here. You can also sign-up for the Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel ideas and deals directly to your mobile. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
14% - 418 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
24% - 721 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1909 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.20
(-0.25)
ZAR/GBP
20.40
(-0.01)
ZAR/EUR
18.42
(-0.06)
ZAR/AUD
11.29
(-0.13)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.06)
Gold
1835.48
(-0.24)
Silver
24.14
(+0.55)
Platinum
1061.00
(+3.78)
Brent Crude
48.78
(+0.95)
Palladium
2336.01
(+1.71)
All Share
59419.37
(+0.80)
Top 40
54500.04
(+0.61)
Financial 15
11646.83
(+2.17)
Industrial 25
79758.36
(+0.10)
Resource 10
57015.33
(+0.70)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo