BusinessClass reviews the longest airline route in the world. The mammoth 19-hour flight that is all-premium.
In October, Singapore Airlines resumed the route between Singapore and New York. BusinessClass.co.uk has tested this flight that can take close to 18 hours over 12 time zones. Read on to discover what it’s like.
Singapore Airlines offered this same route between 2004 and 2013. But the product disappeared due to high oil prices and low demand.
With the new Airbus A350URL (ultra long range), the benefits are significant. The plane is very fuel efficient and offers better passenger comfort, partly thanks to the higher cabin pressure. The result is less exhaustion and less jet lag after such a long trip. SQ22 departs from Changi Airport at. 00:40 every day, and the trip to New York City’s Newark Airport takes 18 hours and 25 minutes and 18 hours and 45 minutes going back. Interestingly, there are no economy seats at all, only premium economy and business class. Sorry, first class fans…
After check-in, we went through the automated immigration, where you scan your passport and one of the thumbs.
An hour before departure, it is time for the security check, taking place by the gate. This evening it went smooth. But there is no “fast track”. On this flight, everyone is flying premium. In the waiting area there were around 150 passengers, eager to fly long and well.
All of the 67 business class seats were occupied this evening. In premium economy (94 seats) there were some available seats. The aircraft has a total of only 161 seats.
The business class travelers are a mix of families and business people, and we noticed that suits mostly were replaced with comfortable clothing.
We wish Singapore Airlines had offered pajamas. We observed at least two passengers wearing Qantas and British Airways branded pajamas.
The seat itself is wide and there is plenty of room for small items in different storage rooms. The noise-reducing headphones are located in a separate compartment and the table is folded from the side. At head height, there are reading lamps – in fact 3 different LED lights that shine at different angles that can be adjusted in strength. This allows you to tailor the light to you personal preference. In addition, there is light from the cabin ceiling, if you want “floodlighting”.
There are two outlets for the headphones, so you can choose the one that best fits your position in the seat. The entertainment system is operated from a remote control that can be detached from the wall. This has both buttons and touch function on the small screen.
When you enjoy this long flight, you cannot see your fellow travelers, unless you lean forward. This is in our view perfect, and the 1-2-1 configuration is very successful. The middle seats are best suited for those traveling together, but you can of course also bring up a divider for more privacy. It will still be a 25 cm wide opening, but it’s unproblematic since the backrests are so far behind in the “cocoon” you are in. In all, privacy is very well taken care of. The cabin itself feels airy.
After take-off and the climb to the march hight, we are quickly offered a refill of the tasty Champagne, a Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve, and a bowl of hot nuts that tasted good. I had pre-ordered Lobster Thermidor from Book-the-cook, that tasted delicious. The dessert was fresh fruit cuts, a nice final.
I asked for the bed to be made. My seat 23F was unfortunately in the middle section, but since it was a full flight, it was not possible to switch to a window seat. The seats are similar, but it is more difficult to find a good sleeping position when your feet enter the “well”. The best seats are definitely the bulkhead seats (the ones along the walls); where you have much better space to move your legs around. We recommend rows 11 and 19. Avoid the seat 10a, by some called the “kitchen seat”.
After a nap it was time for streaming a movie, using the wifi on board. The 30MB that business passengers get for free is quickly spent. 200MB was priced at USD28. Should be unnecessary to charge this on such a pricey flight. On the bright side, the WiFi worked satisfactory in regards to speed.
Approximately 8 hours into the flight, lighting is turned on and it’s time for another serving. It feels a little odd since we had already had 2 dinners earlier that day. The crew offered some sliced fruit, that was followed by the main course, Singapore Chicken Rice, which regrettably was slightly dry and not too tasty. But their Mango Cheesecake with Ginger Cookie Crumb was yummy. As was the cheese at the end.. All accompanied by a nice, red 2015 Arrowood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon, what better when USA is the destination? Finished it all with cup of tasty Lemon Ginger Tea. All in all a good meal.
Still more hours of listening to music and watching movies.
The journey is truly relaxing. The cabin is quite dark all the way and it’s easy to enjoy time in the comfortable bed. No proper excuse, not to feel well rested and fresh upon arriving in New York.
No amenity kit
Singapore Airlines does not provide a complete amenity kit in the business class, but in the seat there are socks, slippers and eye mask as well as a good selection of useful things you need in the restro, such as moisturizer, shaving set and a toothbrush.
The Kris World entertainment system is wonderful. The 18-inch display is bright and a joy to watch movies with. If you sit on one of the bulkhead seats, the screen might be a bit far away, in the other seats it comes closer and gives a great movie experience. A cool touch is that you can pair your mobile phone with the seat so you can easily navigate the Kris World system with your own phone. This worked great.
Torture for body and soul?
In advance of the flight, we were a bit worried about staying on board for this many hours. The aircraft in itself is comfortable. No noisy engines, combined with the typical Singapore Airlines lighting in a calm color palette, creates a nice and calm atmosphere. The cabin pressure on these A350 ULRs is typically equivalent to a height of around 1700 meters, which is very good. This makes a big difference for comfort on a long flight and also helps to avoid jet lag upon arrival.
On the A350 ULR flights there is also a new pillow that makes wonders for comfort. Hoping this will be standard on other Singapore Airlines flights as well.
A few hours before arrival in New York, there is yet more food on the menu. We chose a Foccacia with oriental BBQ pork and roasted vegetables as well as some juice and coffee. A good meal before facing a full day in New York.
This is a long journey, yet a very attractive one, since you save a lot of time traveling between these cities. Singapore Airlines has another route between Singapore and New York (JFK) operated by an Airbus A380 with a stop in Frankfurt. We would not hesitate to choose this direct route again, considering the time saved and all the new upgrades in comfort.
Here are the world’s longest routes:
- Singapore-New York, Singapore Airlines – 16,700km
- Doha-Auckland, Qatar Airways – 14,529km
- London-Perth, Qantas – 14,496km
- Dubai-Auckland, Emirates – 14,200km
- Los Angeles-Singapore, United Airlines – 14,113 km
- Sydney-Houston, United Airlines – 13,833km
- Sydney-Dallas, Qantas – 13,837km
- San Francisco-Singapore, United Airlines / Singapore Airlines – 13,592km
- Atlanta-Johannesburg, Delta – 13,581km
- Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles, Etihad – 13,502km