Before today, the longest commercial airline flight in the world, measured in great circle miles and time in the air, was Qatar Airways Flight 921, with service between Doha, Qatar and Auckland, New Zealand. QR 921 covers 9,033 statute miles (14,538 kilometers) and has a scheduled flight time of approximately 17 hours and 30 minutes. But a new contender has arisen and knocked QR 921 off the top step of the podium.
The honor now goes to Singapore Airlines, who have started flying an Airbus A350-900ULR between Singapore’s Changi International Airport (SIN) and Newark International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey. Flight SQ21/SQ322 (depending on which way you are going) will take passengers over the top of the world on a journey of 9,540 statute miles (15,353 kilometers) with a scheduled flight time of 18 hours and 25 minutes. Singapore Airlines was the launch customer for the new ultra long range variant of Airbus’s A350 XWB, the ULR, which has the capacity for 37,000 to 44,000 US gallons of fuel. Still, this flight will push the aircraft just about to its limit.
Though Singapore returns to the top of the list with this flight, it’s not the first time they’ve flown nonstop between SIN and EWR. From 2004-2013 they flew the route using an Airbus A340-500. But even when the plane was filled with nothing but pricier business class seats, it was hard for the airline to make money on the route with the less fuel efficient four-engine airliner. Now, with the much more economical A350-900 twin-jet, the airline looks to return the route to profitability. As with the original A340 flight, there will be no economy class seats, only business class. And a quick search of the Singapore Airlines website shows that the cheapest business class ticket available for a one-way trip will set you back 6,695.90 SGD, or 4,856.84 USD.
If you don’t want to spend 19 hours in the air, you can still fly a Singapore Airlines A380 from Singapore to New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, but you’ll have to stop in Frankfurt for an hour-and-a-half. As we push the boundaries of aircraft capability, and human endurance, perhaps that 90 minutes of leg-stretching may be more important.
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