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World's longest flight departs Singapore for New York

AFP  |  Singapore 

The world's longest commercial flight took off from on Thursday, with excited and apprehensive passengers on board settling in for a marathon 19 hours in the air to

A for Airlines told AFP that Flight SQ22 departed at approximately 11:35pm (1535 GMT) with 150 passengers and 17 crew on board.

Two pilots, a special "wellness" menu and more than seven weeks' worth of film and television entertainment accompany the travellers on the 16,700-kilometre (10,400-mile) journey to the Big Apple.

The long-range A350-900ULR is configured to carry up to 161 passengers -- 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy, with no regular economy seats available.

For the flight crew -- which also includes two first officers and a 13-strong cabin contingent -- the workload will be broken up, the said, with each pilot having a minimum eight hours' rest during the flight.

But for passengers, the challenge will be what to do with all that down time when they're up in the air.

For those not packing a weighty novel (or two), there will be 1,200 hours of audio-visual entertainment to choose from.

Dining options will include dishes the says have been selected to promote well-being in the skies, with organic offerings on the menu.

Passenger Peggy Ang, 52, said before the flight that she felt "apprehensive because I'm not sure what would I do in 18.5 hours" inside the plane.

"Now that you asked me, I'm a little bit worried. I'm thinking of sleeping, watching TV, doing my work," she told reporters after checking in at for the flight. "I have a lot of notes to read, hopefully I can sleep well," said Ang, a of an IT services firm.

Some of the passengers were flight enthusiasts, like Singaporean Danny Ong, 50, who bought a return ticket.

"I'm coming back on the next flight. I enjoy the passion of flying," he told AFP, adding he would binge on the in-flight entertainment.

Pier Messaggio, 41, an Italian designer based in Singapore, said he is part of a group called "First to Fly" whose members have been on board all of Airlines' inaugural flights.

He and his group met during the world's first commercial flight of the A380 double-decker plane operated by the in 2007 and discovered that everyone had a passion for flying.

"I fly for fun... I'm an enthusiast," Messaggio told AFP. said the A350-900URL plane's cabin has higher-than-normal ceilings, larger windows and lighting designed to reduce jet lag -- all part of an effort to lessen the stresses that can accompany almost a day on a plane.

"Research has shown that hydration and are important factors (to consider), such as avoiding foods that cause gas or bloating as well as excessive alcohol," Rhenu Bhuller, a at consultancy Frost & Sullivan, told AFP.

"The biggest concern is Deep Vein Thrombosis from a combination of sitting for too long and also from dehydration," said Gail Cross, an at the in Singapore.

The twin-engine plane uses a modified system that burns 25 percent less fuel than other of a similar size, Airbus said.

The flight from the city-state to can take up to 18 hours and 45 minutes under normal weather conditions, but the pilots will have something in reserve in an capable of flying more than 20 hours non-stop.

originally flew the route for nine years using the gas-guzzling, four-engine before abandoning it in 2013 because made the service unprofitable.

But the carrier is hoping that the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes will set cash registers ringing even as crude prices soar above $80.

Thursday's flight will top the current longest direct air link between cities -- Flight 921 from to Doha, which takes 17 hours 40 minutes. "It's turning out to be a race between a few airlines eyeing the longest routes inter-continentally," said of consultancy Endau Analytics. "They are hoping to capitalise and exploit a very niche market," he told AFP.

Facing increasingly strong competition in recent years, has consolidated its low-fare subsidiaries and is strengthening its premium segment. "Ultra-long comprise an important component of that strategy," an told AFP.

The company is the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR plane. It received the first in September. Six more are due for delivery by the end of the year.

"We are optimistic about the demand for to the US," the said.

Shukor, however, said it remained to be seen whether the airline and other operators of marathon flights can withstand the pressure from rising

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, October 12 2018. 01:11 IST
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