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Can 18 hours in air be bearable? Airlines bet on ultra long-haul flights

The Airbus models and Boeing's Dreamliner - make flying for nearly a day economically viable as the number of ultra-long-haul flights increases

Elaine Glusac | NYT 

aircraft
Carriers are experimenting with everything from healthy menus to onboard gyms to make 20 hours in the air more bearable

Last Thursday, the world’s longest nonstop flight — a 9,534-mile, 18-and-a-half-hour journey from Singapore to Newark on Singapore Airlines’ new Airbus A350-900 Ultra Long Range aircraft — touched down, raising the bar for super-long-haul travel, which most industry experts define as any flight over 8,000 miles one way.

New, lighter and more fuel efficient, dual-engine aircraft — including the Airbus models and Boeing’s Dreamliner — make flying for nearly a day economically viable as the number of ultra-long-haul flights increases.

Singapore’s new route, which takes 18 hours and 45 minutes , isn’t the only rear-numbing new itinerary. In March, launched a It is the third longest flight at about 9,000 miles, according to the aviation industry consultancy OAG, after Qatar Airways’s Doha-Auckland route. In September, began flying 8,153 miles, its longest route, between its base in Hong Kong and Washington. In late November, Air New Zealand plans to add service between Auckland and Chicago, its longest at a distance of about 8,200 miles.

As flight times grow, carriers are experimenting with everything from healthy menus to onboard gyms to make almost 20 hours in the air more bearable. Business classes are the beneficiaries of most of the new investment. Some airplanes, like Singapore Airlines’ new craft, contain only business (a recent round-trip fare was $5,000) and what are called premium economy seats ($1,498 round-trip ), which are more spacious than standard coach. But across the industry, even regular economy passengers will find extra perks. Business-class fliers on from Newark can still get dishes by its partner chef, Alfred Portale, of Gotham Bar and Grill, but with its new Newark-Singapore route, the airline is introducing meal options created by the spa Canyon Ranch.


©2018 The New York Times News Service

First Published: Mon, October 15 2018. 21:41 IST
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