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Inside world's longest flight – journey which takes over 18 hours and spans 9,500 miles

Launched in 2020, this flight is currently the longest nonstop service in the world, with each flight requiring four pilots. 

Cutting-edge aviation technology has made long-haul travel easier and faster. This allows for state-of-the-art planes and optimises travel itineraries. 

Singapore Airlines flies a specialist aircraft on these flights – the Airbus A350-900ULR jet – which houses two classes, premium economy and business class. This means that all passengers experience the elevated inflight service.

The flight covers a distance of 9,537 miles in the space of 18 hours and 40 minutes. 

The A380 is capable of flying 9,400 miles with 544 passengers. Many long-haul, non-stop routes that used to be uneconomical to operate are being made viable by the Airbus A330neo, the Airbus A350 XWB, and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The flight from JFK airport departs around 11.30pm daily and arrives in Singapore two days later at around 6am. The reverse flight takes off at 12.30pm and arrives in New York around 6pm the next day.

Since November 2020, these flights follow the geometrically optimal great-circle route near the north pole. This route yields the shortest distance between two points on the globe. A flight may also choose to take the longer route (by ground distance) known as the jetstream route, which saves time and fuel. 

The importance of meal timing and composition have been taken into deep consideration on such a flight, to avoid passengers feeling bloated, said Antony McNeil, Singapore Airlines’ food and beverage director, to USA Today Travel.

 “The intention is that within three hours of departing, you’ve already started your first meal service,” he said. “Then six, seven hours (later), the crew will come back, so midflight you’re eating quite a large meal. If you want to sleep on departure, you know you’re not going to miss out.

“The meals that we offer at those times of the flight allow you to rest more comfortably,” he continued. “They’re really designed to help you feel fuller for longer, so you’re not looking for snacks.”

Meals are included in the price of the Singapore Airlines ticket. Food served on medium to ultra-long haul flights includes a bread roll, a main course, cheese and crackers and a desert. Examples of the latest economy dishes include friend beef in oyster sauce with egg noodles, choi sum and carrots and paneer korma with eggplant masala and basmati rice. 

During the long flights, the self-service items include fresh fruits, an assortment of buns and muffins and onion focaccia with turkey pastrami. The airline also offers complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Singapore Airlines do not, however, hold the world record for the longest continuous flight. This was achieved by a Cessna 172 – a tiny fixed-wing aircraft – which achieved the world’s longest continuous flight in the late 1950s, lasting 64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes. 

The longest ever scheduled passenger flight was Air Tahiti Nui’s flight on a Boeing 787-9, which flew non-stop from Faa’a International Airport in Tahiti to Paris Charles de Gaulle. This covered a distance of 9,765 miles in a scheduled duration of 16 hours and 20 minutes. This route, however, only operated from March to April 2020. 

Due to the pandemic, which would require all passengers to disembark and pass through US customs in LAX, the service opted not to stop during that month. This was made possible by the fact that they operated a reduced passenger load of about 150 people, eliminating the need to refuel. The route also set the record for the world’s longest domestic flight, as it flew between French territories. 

The Australian airline – Qantas – is expected to steal the title of the world’s longest flight from Singapore Airlines in 2026. This comes with the hotly anticipated nonstop round-trip flights from Sydney to New York and London. These flights are expected to take up to 20 hours each way. 


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