Singapore Airlines doesn't want to dethrone its original world's longest flight even though the new one is 3 miles longer – here's how the two will differ
Singapore Airlinesis launching a non-stop flight between Singapore and New York City in November, its first flight to the region since March.
- The route will be the longest in the world at 8,287 nautical miles – two nautical miles longer than the Singapore-Newark route – but that's not how the airline sees it.
- Flights will operate using a similar aircraft type, with seats available in business class, premium economy class, and economy class.
The first flight bound for the Big Apple will depart from Singapore on November 9, marking the official return of the city-state's flag carrier to New York since March 22 when its last flight departed John F. Kennedy International Airport before services were suspended. The airline had suspended services to all US cities except Los Angeles from April.
It will also mark the first non-stop flight between Singapore and New York City, as the airline's other non-stop route to the region utilizes Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
The 8,287-nautical-mile length of the new route technically earns it the title of "world's longest flight," by distance, but that's now how the airline sees it. A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told Business Insider that SQ21/22, the non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark, will still hold the title in the airline's book despite being shorter than the New York route by a mere two nautical miles.
Singapore Airlines is holding firm that the launch of New York flights isn't a resumption of the famed Singapore-Newark flights, — which will return as demand and restrictions dictate — nor will they replace the New York-Frankfurt-Singapore route, which was also suspended earlier this year. These flights are entirely new and even have new flight numbers, SQ23 and SQ24, to match.
Here's how big of a difference two nautical miles can actually be.
What's in a title?
Singapore Airlines resumed its place at the top of the world's longest flight list in 2018 when the Singapore-Newark route was relaunched. Armed with a new aircraft capable of performing the job more efficiently, the route resumed after a five-year hiatus, according to Cirium data. Non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark initially launched in 2004 using four-engine Airbus A340-500 aircraft.
The 2018 relaunch was celebrated as an aviation milestone and a feather in the cap of Singapore Airlines, as the distant island-nation was now just a non-stop flight away from New York. The airline's travelers were saving a few hours and a stopover in Frankfurt, Germany.
Now, even with the resumption of flights to the New York area and a longer route, the airline isn't breaking out the confetti to celebrate a new world's longest flight. A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told Business Insider that the official reason for that is because the airline measures a flight's length by block time, or the duration for which flight is scheduled, and not by distance.
By the numbers
The Newark to Singapore flight is scheduled for 18 hours and 45 minutes, five minutes longer than the planned New York to Singapore flights. Despite aircraft having to fly a longer route by mileage, the return flight from New York is only scheduled at 18 hours and 40 minutes.
A flight's scheduled time, however, can change based on a variety of factors. Headwinds and weather re-routes, for example, can increase flight times, while tailwinds can bring them down.
In terms of mileage, however, the Singapore-Newark route is 8,285 nautical miles, while Singapore-New York is 8,287. That number also varies based on actual routings, but the ultimate destination is further away, even if only by a few miles.
So, according to Singapore Airlines, the route to New York will be the second-longest in the airline's network, and Singapore-Newark will remain the crown jewel with the title of the world's longest flight, based on flight time.
Why doesn't the airline want to celebrate its new route? In simple terms, because of the pandemic.
Though flying non-stop between Singapore and New York is still a monumental achievement, the flight won't be available for just anybody to take, yet. When more countries — including Singapore — welcome Americans again, and international tourism and business
Location, location, location
Singapore is a major regional transit hub for cargo in Southeast Asia, and the new route will be among the fastest options for shippers looking to get goods to the Northeast or vice versa. The reason New York was chosen over Newark for non-stop flights is that John F. Kennedy International Airport has a Singapore Airlines cargo facility on its grounds that can better handle the cargo being shipped on the flights.
For passengers, Singapore Airlines flights utilize Terminal 4, the largest at the airport. Lounge access is limited during the pandemic and while the airline does not have its own lounge, business class and select frequent flyer elites can use the newly-renovated Swiss International Air Lines lounge, which Business Insider toured in February, according to Singapore Airlines' website.
American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders can also use the newly-opened Centurion Lounge, which Business Insider visited on its opening day earlier this month. Solitaire PPS Club members will also be able to utilize the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse when the lounge reopens.
Onboard the new world's longest flight
Operating the New York route will be the Airbus A350-900 XWB, a long-haul leader that's well-represented on the list of the world's longest flights. A modified variant, The A350-900 ULR, or ultra-long-range, served the Newark route before its suspension.
The most notable difference between the two aircraft from a passenger perspective is the cabin configuration. The Newark-bound aircraft are configured in a two-class configuration with only business and premium economy class seating.
On this new route to New York, however, the standard A350 configuration is 42 business class seats, 24 premium economy class seats, and 187 economy class seats. That means some flyers will be spending nearly 19 hours in economy.
Business class is configured in the same 1-2-1 configuration with lie-flat seats, according to SeatGuru. All seats in the 11-row cabin also offer direct aisle access so passengers can get out of their seats as many times as they please, which can come in handy to stretch out on the extended flights.
In premium economy class, the three-row cabin features 24 recliner seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. Each seat has 38 inches of pitch and 19 inches of width.
The largest cabin, economy class, has 187 seats across 21 rows in the standard 3-3-3 configuration. Seats offer 32 inches of pitch and 18 inches of width.
Seat-back in-flight entertainment is offered at all seats, as well as in-flight power in the form of a 110v AC outlet and USB charging port. In-flight WiFi is also available for a fee.
For whom the flight departs
International travel has never been more restrictive in the modern era, and Singapore is not open to tourism for Americans.
US citizens can enter Singapore but under very strict conditions. The US Embassy in Singapore says that US citizens that are also permanent residents of Singapore will be granted entry but will still have to quarantine for 14 days at their expense under a "Stay-Home Notice."
Long-term pass holders and those seeking to visit Singapore for a short-term visit will need permission to enter before departing for the country. Even if permission is granted, they'll still be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Travelers looking to transit through Singapore en route to a third-country destination will also be permitted to take the flight. An airline spokesperson confirmed that transit passengers can embark in New York.
In the opposite direction, however, flyers can transit through Singapore as long as they depart from an approved city.
Singaporean passport holders can also board the flight.
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