Longest long-haul flight to NY draws curious flyers

In September the first Ultra Long Range A350 XWB aircraft was delivered to Singapore Airlines

AIRBUSIn September the first Ultra Long Range A350 XWB aircraft was delivered to Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is set to launch a new non-stop service between Singapore and NY on Thursday, with a flight time of 18 hours and 45 minutes - and they'll be farewelling squishy economy seats for the plush new service.

The route was later abandoned due to rising fuel costs - an issue the airline has countered this time around with their fancy new fuel-efficient A350-900 ULR plane.

Compared to most worldwide long haul flights, which can accommodate up to 544 people (based on an Airbus A380), the A350-900 will accommodate just 161 passengers, made up of 94 seats in premium economy and 67 business class. A business-class ticket gets 30 megabytes of data for free. Singapore Airlines' Mumbai-Singapore-Newark was priced at Rs 1.41 lakh for a 28-hour or 40-hour flight, depending on whether you booked the morning or evening arrival into Singapore.

The airline has also made available streaming of 200 hours of movies and television shows with new additions as films release.

The four Singapore Airlines pilots (two captains and two first officers) on each ultralong-range A350-900 aren't allowed to fly to NY unless they haven't flown for 48 hours prior to take-off. They get extra down time on board, with at least eight hours of rest, compared with 5 1/2 hours on a typical long-haul service, according to Singapore Air. "We always thought in India we would be able to sell flights to the US West Coast, but the interest for NY surprised us".

The flight will have a 13-member cabin crew and each of the members will get a 4-hour rest period during the flight.

The route, combined with the airline's plans to restart non-stop services to Los Angeles and add more non-stop flights to San Francisco next month, will give the premium Asian carrier its biggest-ever USA presence.

The airline is banking on the use of technology to control its fuel bill, as oil hovers around $80 per barrel.

That means keeping the plane as light as possible. This model consumes 25 percent less fuel than another aircraft of similar size.

Long flights can be a drag when you're cooped up in cattle class, so perhaps it's a blessing in disguise that the soon-to-be record-holder for world's longest flight route has forgone economy cabins altogether.

The plane has a higher ceiling, bigger windows and a wider body, with less noise in the cabin and LED lighting that is created to reduce jet lag. Come end of the year, we will be growing from seven flights to 23 nonstop flights a week, and this includes flights from Singapore to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Newark, " he said, adding that between October and March 2020, they would be adding one plane every two weeks. Airbus rejigged the fuel system on a standard A350-900 and pumped 17 per cent more jet kerosene into the tanks in the wings. Increased efficiency means it can operate the route on 270 gallons of fuel per passenger, around half the previous amount.

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