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Live Blog from Inaugural of World’s Longest Flight: Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines

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Live Blog from Inaugural of World’s Longest Flight: Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines

Live Blog from Inaugural of World’s Longest Flight: Newark to Singapore on Singapore Airlines
October 13
15:39 2018

NEWARK — You’re flying the world’s longest flight? I envy you. You couldn’t pay me. That’s sounds sublime. You’re a masochist. Why would you do that? I say, why not?

Friends, family, and social media pundits all have their opinions on me willingly electing to fly and live blog the re-inauguration of the world’s longest nonstop flight: Singapore Airlines SQ21 Newark – Singapore.

Even as an avowed AvGeek and someone who relishes nothing more than to be ensconced in an aluminum tube hurtling through the stratosphere at 500 miles per hour, five miles in the sky, for as long as possible; I have to agree with both points of view.

I face this historic sortie with equal amounts of excitement and dread.

In 2007, I flew the same city-pairing of SIN-EWR returning from the A380 inaugural flight. It was fulfilling a bucket list ambition: flying the uber-rare and ultimately doomed A340-500 and of course suspending myself 38,000 above terra firma for the longest possible time available to a civilian.

I don’t have the resources to be a space tourist or ability to be an astronaut. Though hardly, ISS or Neil Armstrong territory, 19 hours in the air was no small notch in my log book.

Thanks to Singapore’s copiously stocked Kris World IFE, I binged watched TV series after series, movie after movie (before the binge-watching termwas even coined). I ate. I imbibed. I ate. I slept. I imbibed. Rinse. Repeat.

I also confess that at 15 hours into the flight somewhere over Manitoba Canada, I nearly went mad. The flight was interminable.

#TBT 2007: About three-quarters through the SIN-EWR flight, I was looking for the looking for the nearest available exit.
Images from the now retired Singapore A340-500 taken in 2007 by Chris Sloan

My friend, Oscar Garcia – a Cathay 777 pilot who joined me on the A380 inaugural, chose to return home from Singapore via Frankfurt. I thought he made the right decision and vowed that if I ever flew to Singapore again, I would follow in his wake turbulence rather than subject myself to a 19-hour flight again.

Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

By booking myself willingly on the same world’s longest flight 11 years later would suggest that:

A) Perhaps, I am insane.

B) I have a short memory.

C) Things are different now.

D) All of the above.

The correct answer is “D”. Flash forward to 2018, and the world has changed and commensurate with that, so has the re-inauguration of SQ21/22 – The world’s longest flights.

As has been well documented including in Ben Bearup’s Airways article’s “Everything you need to know about the World’s Longest Flight”, everything is different this time around.

There’s a renewed emphasis on in-flight wellness and combatting jet lag: Singapore’s Canyon Ranch partnership, the A350ULR’s higher cabin humidification, lower cabin pressurization, diminished noise footprint, smoother ride, and much-improved business class and premium class hard product.

And there’s no doubt from an economic and environmental standpoint, the new Airbus A350-900ULR twin-engine platform is a much more fuel efficient and atmosphere friendly conveyance than its A340-500 “4 Engines For More Fuel Fuel Burn” predecessor.

So perhaps maybe I’m not really insane because the result is different, because the product is different? Oh hell, who am I kidding!?

Business Class on the Singapore A350
Premium Economy on the Singapore A350

I have become much more of a flyer of long-haul and first flights, so I was intrigued enough to give it another go – for science! For history! For a glorified mileage run! And I want to share it with you.

As the old adage goes “Imitation is the sincerest form of aviation”. So I am imitating David Parker Brown, founder of Airline Reporter who live-blogged the original A340-500 flight between Singapore to Newark flight in its twilight, just weeks before it was discontinued in October 2013.

AirlineReporter: Longest Flight in the World on the Singapore A340-500

Just like the new NBC series “Manifest”, five years later partially as a homage to David, I am endeavoring to live blogging the relaunch of the world’s longest flight between Newark and Singapore.

OK, it’s a technicality, as the inbound flight SQ22 is just as long in terms of the 9,000 miles or so covered but routing and headwinds typically make the outbound EWR-SIN SQ21 a bit longer in terms of time aloft. It varies depending on the flight plan.

These polar route have the option to operate in either direction. We’ll find out for sure which truly holds the longest duration in this Singapore Sibling Rivalry.

In the annals of commercial aviation, October is an important month: Pan Am’s first 707 and BOAC’s first Comet 4 crossed the Atlantic in October 1958, and of course, the Airbus A380 entered service in October 2008 as well.

In October of 2018, history will record that Singapore’s world’s longest flight (for now until Qantas ‘Project Sunrise’ in the early 2020s), pushed the frontiers of ultra long-haul flights and relaunched to break the surly bonds of earth.

BONUS: Onboard the Singapore Airlines A380 Inaugural Flight

Instead of limiting the real-time action to 288 Twitter condensed words, I am going to attempt to Live Blog this sortie.

Given my inexperience in Live Blogging, possibly spotty WiFi (pray to the Panasonic connectivity Gods), exhaustion, and measures of delirium no doubt induced by a Singapore Sling or three; I apologize in advance for any grammar or mistakes.

This is real-time, folks. We’ll do our best to update continuously throughout the flight except when there’s WiFi blackout – expected to begin five hours into the flight for two-three hours.

There will be times of tedium, KrisWorld binge viewing, mingling with other co-conspirators, and maybe a few ZZZ’s, but we’ll do our best to capture the high (and low points).

Join me beginning Friday morning around 6:30 AM EDT US (10:30 AM Zulu) for the pre-flight briefing and festivities before the 10:45 AM EDT (2:45 PM Zulu) scheduled departure. 

My informal Live Blog definitely won’t be a Pulitzer Price, Bill Gunston, or US Air & Space Aviation Writers award-winning piece, but it will be an experience. I look forward to you joining me on SQ21 from seat 12A as myself and 160 other passengers plus crew are “Singapore Slinged” halfway around the world and into history.

Check-In, Preflight Briefings and Festivities Friday Oct 12 – 6:00AM EDT – NewarkGood morning from a blustery Newark Liberty Airport! It’s wheels up for our SQ21 return flight to Singapore in about 5 hours from now. Inbound SQ22 has arrived at 5:23am EDT after 17:22 aloft… shorter than projected due to more favorable winds aloft and a more southerly route. We’re up to bat next. You know it’s a new service when balloons are festooning the gate and the terminal staff are installing signage as Check-In begins.

Some SQ staff who arrived on the inbound are returning back to Singapore on the outbound SQ21. All checked in and ready to ride… in style!No premium cabin security fast track coupled with long lines are dampening the mood here at Newark. This wouldn’t happen at Changi. It’s dang early and people are cranky. Get me a coffee and a Singapore Sling, stat!

On to the morning briefing at the Virgin Clubhouse. Singapore VP of Sales Campbell Wilson says Newark nonstop service is targeted to more of a corporate traveler with Business Class and Premium Economy, where time is of the essence.

Existing Singapore service via Frankfurt offers Suites and Economy and airline says it hasn’t been cannibalized.Newark was chose over JFK for a combination of flavors including slots, catchment area, and Star Alliance connectivity.Another difference in this flight, is that is provisioned with 20% more content than the typical 1,000 hours on KrisWorld.

Susan Docherty, CEO of Canyon Ranch says the Singapore Airlines chefs came to Tucson and worked with Canyon Ranch chefs and co-developed the dishes. Dry, arid Tucson is an idea climate to test meals as they would taste inflight. The concept is that you have big, bold dishes without sodium and sugar and limiting calories to 600-700 calories per a 3 course meal.The menu is designed to make you feel very healthy while you’re digesting the meal. We’ll see about that.Canyon Ranch has had chefs overseeing assembly of meals in Newark and Singapore to ensure quality control.
90 Minutes Before Departure

A little doo wap, ribbon cutting, models galore, Singapore Girls, and more!Isabelle Chu, a founding member of the First to Fly Club is doing both SQ21 and SQ22. Check out her custom t-shirt! And she’s not alone!

One Hour Before Departure: Quick Aircraft Tour

Oooooh’s and Ahhhh’s with no small measure of media scrum chaos as we inspect the two Business cabins. 67 lie-flat seats with 28″ width and 78″ when folded out into a bed. Introduced in 2016, this bespoke Singapore Airlines hard product was designed by James Park and Associates. At $3,800 per ticket for introductory pricing, this is a relative bargain and cheaper than the one-stop route via Frankfurt. More on the seat later when I slide into my throne at 12A.The back of the bus isn’t too shabby either, especially at $1,800 and lower fare. The 94 Rockwell Collins (née B/E Aerospace Seats) in the single Premium Economy Cabin boast a 38″ pitch and 19.5″ width with six degrees recline and a foot rest. Most of the cabin is 2-4-2 but the rear tapers to single seats along the window. This allows for a handy storage cubby like the 747 upper deck. The cabin feels quite dense – much more in the vein of an Economy Cabin due to its large capacity. Premium Economy is returning to the route after it went all Business in 2008 with the former A340-500 service.Do you recognize these airline Illuminati? Now you know it’s going to be a party!10:15AM – Boarding Time

Looks like we are running behind a bit with boarding delayed. Every passenger is being presented with a commemorative purple handmade flower and rumor has it, a model A350 at every seat. Zach Honig of The Points Guy as usual is first to board. But everyone is being held at the gate before being allowed onto the aircraft. The musical entertainment has stopped so perhaps that will finally be our cue for our show to begin.10:30AM – Finally On BoardWe have around 17 1/2 hours and 13 hours of time zones of globe-hopping ahead of us so we’re not too concerned about having a few more minutes on our feet. It’s festive for the inaugural. As we board, Airbus’ Airspace cabin, the A350s flat side walls and Singapore’s lack of center overhead bins create an impression of space – a far departure from the submarine tube like contours of many other airliners. This will visibly be very welcome on this ultra long haul flight. We have been told flight time will be a “quick” 17 hours and 20 minutes.A quick visit to the flight deck. No, these aren’t our pilots. Our 4 pilots and 13 cabin crew have 13 hour layovers on the World’s Longest Flights.The lovely cabin crew of 13’s hospitality is already evident with the offering of hydrating beverages and magazines.First flight certificates, a A350 model, and Canyon Ranch goodies are in the swag bags placed at each seat.10:50AM and we are pushing back only five minutes late. I am sure over the next 17:22 en route over the North Pole we will make up the difference. In fact our NOPAC routing combined with favorable winds will make this a flight nearly 90 minutes shorter than scheduled. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is bathing us in the obligatory water cannon salute.11:10am and we are off to Singapore to join the history books. A whisper quiet Rolls Royce Trent takeoff roll of 48 seconds with a full load of 161 passengers, 17 flight crew and 165,000 litres of fuel propels is skyward. At this point, the flight has become a “normal” flight – Well as normal as the world’s longest flight can be. No events, special announcements, or applause. The mood is subdued, quiet, and relaxing. The A350 is noticeably quieter than its 4 engined predecessor on takeoff and in the cruise.Shortly after takeoff we are experiencing very rough air due to crosswinds and flight crew were dispatched back to their seats. I guess the champagne will have to wait.

90 minutes into the flight

Apologies for the early blackout period. The Panasonic WiFi is as expected very slow. It’s compromising what I can upload even as I compress the photos.We have a long journey ahead of us but favorable winds mean it will be shorter than 18:45.. much shorter. The Captain reports around 17:23 aloft.After our bout with turbulence, we have received our first drink service. I have chosen the signature Singapore Sling (when in Rome, right)?Next, we have been presented with an unusual DIY amenity kit. Rather than waste unused items, Singapore gives passengers an environmentally friendly choice of what they will actually use.2 Hours In: Lunch fit for a Launch

Am army travels on its stomach and so does a Singapore Airlines long haul flight. The Canyon Ranch special wellness catering is not offered for the first meal which surprised me. This then gives me permission to skid off my healthyish diet and savor some famed Singapore cuisine.Singapore has developed a special menu with for these ultra-long flights with their internal chefs and also partners like involving Canyon Ranch and the International Culinary Panel. The menu recipes have been designed to allow for the 787 and A350s increased cabin humidity and lower cabin altitude which affects the sinuses and taste buds in a positive way. It’s well known that food and beverages taste different on the ground than in the air, so additional spices and acidity are introduced into typical airline fare to enhance the taste but at the expense of wellness and hydration.The inflight menu displays the meal plan for the flight with this chart: Three squares in the air..and then some when the a la carte options are factored in.Singapore has provisioned the flight with 483 meals (not a typo), 30 meal items in Business, 18 in Premium Economy, 133 bottles of wine and champagne equaling 4,800 pounds of catering. Need proof? Here’s but a small sample.We begin our culinary adventures with a sautéed prawn on Quinoa Salad. The presentation is appealing and delicate, the taste is quite big.Singapore’s Book The Cook program isn’t yet available on this routing. International Culinary Panel Michelin Star rated meals are on the second and third of our meal services. So we will have to “settle” for Singapore’s in house chef choices which include cheese baked halibut, fried pork, oriental chicken noodle soup, and Sous-Vide Cooked Beef Fillet with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce. The herb roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables accompany the main nicely. As airline steaks go, it was OK. Kind’ve lukewarm. At the risk of being a glutton and on the stern advice of my dietician, I am passing on the desert course. But it is Instagram worthy: Cherry Ice Cream, Salted Butter Caramel Cake, an abundant assortment of cheeses, and assorted fruit. We are just barely through the first meal service and I am absolutely convinced that my MTOW (maximum takeoff weight) will have increased by a good 5 pounds.

4 Hours into SQ21

A rather macabre feature of the original Singapore A340-500 was a special compartment used for storage of a deceased passenger. Located near the rear galley, It was never was used.

However, Singapore still makes allowances should such an unfortunate situation happen with this body bag. It’s the only pajamas offered on this flight. Sorry for my gallows humor.

With media, enthusiasts, and passengers we are 100 percent full with press and staff numbering around 30 people. Singapore won’t quote load factors of forward bookings but says they are exceeding expectations and not cannibalizing existing routings to SIN via FRA, HKG, and NRT which are successful O&D Fifth Freedom routes of their own. Only LAX-ICN is being discontinued as Singapore goes from seven to 27 US-SIN nonstop routes by the end of the year as full fleet of seven A350-900 ULRs come online. Three have been delivered thus far. 

A quick visit to the rear crew duty rest cabin. The 13 cabin crew alternate with 2.5 hours on and off duty (six and seven crew members) with all working meal services. The four pilots have varying breaks of five and three hours depending on their arrangements. Pilots have a forward crew rest and a business class seat reserved for the two that are off duty at any given time.

We are heading into our WiFi blackout as we approach our northernmost latitudes near the North Pole. These mostly daylight flights aren’t as conducive to sleeping but who wants to sleep through these views? Our flight never encountered total darkness but did traverse through a few hours of twilight.

Many passengers miss out on these astonishing views as most window shades are closed. The views are just awe inspiring! It’s dusk in the early afternoon so early in October. Though aviation only accounts for 3% of carbon emissions, I confess some guilt knowing that the carbon emissions from air travel are contributing to the melting of sea ice and climate change. The A350 and aircraft of its ilk are a giant step further in reducing emissions but we have so long to go before it’s too late.

All premium passengers are given 30 megabytes of Panasonic WiFi complimentary. The service unsurprisingly is very slow but then again many passengers on this business-oriented flight are splitting the bandwidth. If you think about it, it’s still miraculous that only 10 years after in-flight WiFi began to become the norm (excluding Connexion which was discontinued in 2006), that this is possible, right?! We take being connected almost anywhere on earth almost for granted… though my mobile service at home in Miami still leaves something to be desired. Yes, I’m talking to you, AT&T!

6 Hours In: Are We There Yet?

Ummmm, no. But that’s a good thing. The A350s quiet cabin, higher level of oxygen, increased humidity, cleaner air, LED mood lighting, and feeling of space are leaving their mark even with 12(!) hours remaining. And on Singapore Airlines, empty glasses are strictly forbidden. The in-flight service is sublime. I am feeling no pain.

7 Hours In: KrisWorld Takes the Stage

I am hoping to catch a few ZZZ’s auditioning the lie-flat seats and binge-watching my small share of 1,200 available hours of content on SQ’s KrisWorld Panasonic eX3 IFE. This is a 20% additional library of content over standard KrisWorld because 1,000 hours isn’t enough! You’d have to fly this route 63 times to see the same piece of content twice!

The interface is silky smooth and responsive with a swiping action on the remote making it very easy to peruse the copious amounts of music, movies, TV series, games, and of course the moving map. The 18″ screen isn’t touchscreen but the tethered remote does the trick, allowing accessibility in the full lie-flat seat position. The true die-hard Kris World users can upload a playlist from the ground or create one in the air. The system is so intuitive that it remembers where you were last viewing a specific episode so you can pick up where you left off. The headphones aren’t quite Bose Noise Cancellation quality but sonically suffice.

And hey, as I guy named Chris, I appreciate any brand that has uses a derivation of my name. The word “Kris” predominates Singapore branding from the in-flight entertainment system to the frequent flyer loyalty program. So what is a “Kris” anyway? As it turns out, in Malay Culture, a Kris is a dagger that has certain powers to defeat its opponent and brings prosperity to its owner. It creates a positive energy and aura.

8 Hours In: Sleeping On Top of the World

With the WiFi Blackout in place, this is as good a time as any to go off the grid. My tireless flight attendant (who somehow has memorized the names of all 23 people in the cabin) comes over and manually flips the seat back into the lie-flat bed position, like a Murphy Bed. It’s surprisingly manual rather than using the electronic multi-mode seat adjustment settings on the armrest. It’s an excellent seat, but a meh bed unless you book one of the bulkhead seats.

The very narrow tapered footwell manifests itself in a somewhat awkward sleeping position that requires you to lay at an unnatural angle either on your side or on your back. I am 5’7″ so I can imagine folks with a taller frame will feel even more disjointed than I do. For a flight optimized toward sleep, these seats aren’t quite as stellar seats as they are beds. The different pillows with varying firmness for sleeping versus lounging are a nice touch, however. Nevertheless, I am able to snooze away for a few hours. Honestly, this really is a case of #FirstWorldProblems.

That said, easily accessible power ports, lighting controls, IFE remote, a vanity mirror, and storage cubbies abound. The multiple adjustment settings ensure a very comfortable seating position. I notice other passengers sleeping in the reclined seating rather than converting the seat to a full bed.

9 Hours In: The Halfway Mark

Live from the Stratosphere, it’s Saturday Day! We have crossed the International Dateline long ago. Fri-Yay is an abbreviated memory.

After a few hours of twilight at 7:30 pm New York time but 7:35 pm Singapore time, dawn appears on the horizon. My internal body clock has entered the Twilight Zone. Reality has set in. While most passengers partake in a KrisWorld entertainment orgy or sleep in the darkened cabin, preparations begin for the second meal service.

The cabin springs to life and the lines are re-illuminated as the second meal service commence. No one seems too bothered at the prospect of waking up for yet another meal. On a shorter flight, the second meal service would be a breakfast but it’s surreal that the second meal is dinner. The second meal is actually the main meal of the flight. 

We commence with a selection of Canapés: smoked haddock, cucumber salad with cajun chicken, and roasted pumpkin with thyme mushroom. These delicate satays are just ravishing. It takes disciple to “just say no” to a second round.

The menu is very tempting with Seared Lamb Loin, Lobster Mac and Cheese, Salt Baked Chicken, Fennel, and Orange Cured Salmon Trout, and Stir Fried Cod with some of these dishes designed by Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill.

And for dessert, should I wish to veer off the Canyon Ranch program; pineapple mousse, petite patisseries, pralines, fruit, and yet another selection of cheese is available. I decide to let my camera do the tasting and give my digestive tract a reprieve.

But, after a hearty and decadent first meal, I pivot to the healthier Canyon Ranch meal designed just for this flight. With an appetizer of Roasted Beats, Grass-Fed Beef Short Ribs, and Lemon Angel Cake, this wellness choice clocks in at less than 700 calories, just 39 grams of fat, and just a trace of sodium. Healthy, yes? But does my palette approve?

It may not quite look as alluring Lobster Mac and Cheese or Stir Fried Cod, but the meal is delicious nevertheless. As an avowed carnivore, I assure you the short ribs are not a compromise. Who would have short ribs would be a healthy choice? Portion control, removing fat, and lack of sodium is key. I actually enjoyed this meal more than the beef from the first meal. I heard similar feedback from other passengers.

As for the cake? I am lactose intolerant and don’t process a sweet tooth so this dessert absolutely hit the spot. After partaking in yet another airborne feast, I am not feeling the physical and mental aftertaste of regret and bloating had I indulged in something heavier. Credit to Singapore and Canyon Ranch for this partnership. I was skeptical that this was more a marketing gimmick.. more “steak than substance.” But the proof is in the pudding (or short ribs). It has a palpable feel-good result.

OK, I did cheat with the fennel salmon trout appetizer but that’s still healthy, right?

10 Hours In: Canyon Ranch In-flight Wellness Program

Long-haul flights can be very sedentary. DVT is a real problem as well, especially in limited legroom seats. Singapore Airlines partnered with famed “wellness architects” and health resort Canyon Ranch to improve wellness on these ultra long haul flights. Canyon Ranch has produced two videos with smart tips from hydration to caloric intake to sleep patterns and stretching exercises to assuage the impact of ultra long-haul travel.

I can attest that they improved my well being on this voyage. Now, if you want yoga, spinning sessions, and pilates, you will have to visit the resort itself in Arizona or Massachusetts. Trust me, I lived at a Canyon Ranch for a few months and it is chicken soup for the soul and body. I think I am way overdue for a return visit or heavy check (ahem!) in aviation parlance.

11 Hours Aloft: A Sommelier over Siberia

With 6:32 to Changi, the meals have been cleared over Irkust, Siberia as we head for Mongolia. We have climbed to 39,000 feet as we burn off fuel. We’ve been awarded a healthy tailwind that will afford us a very early arrival. This calls for a toast so Singapore has summoned a vintage of red wine normally reserved for First Class: A 2006 Chateau Rauzan-Segla, Margaux Estate. Who am I to refuse? Cheers!

 

There’s no scheduled third meal service as it’s all on demand to optimize for sleep. This particular item is tough to resist, the Cuban Pork Sandwich, but it kind’ve defeats the purpose of eating the Canyon Ranch selection. Singapore is well known for its anytime inflight dining choices.

Our flight’s on demand menu with flat rice noodles, Oriental Chicken Noodle Soup, Mushroom Soup, Tomato Soup, Vegetarian Tortilla Wraps, and Greek Yogurt and Granola Parfait. And if that isn’t enough, there’s assorted cheeses, assorted nuts, and cookies on demand.

12.5 Hours In-Flight, 4:45 to go

Though it is bright daylight outside, the cabin has reverted back to sleep mode as we head traverse Northern China, south of Beijing. I am due to speak with our Captain following his rest break. It is 11:45 pm local New York Time.

Due to lack of sleep as I try to stay up to file this blog hour by hour, I am a bit delirious and exhausted but the A350 ULR and Singapore’s reinvention of ultra long-haul flying is leaving me less beat up than I thought I would be. The reduced cabin altitude, increased humidity, and quiet cabin do make a difference. 

Notably, the ride has been quite smooth as well. There’s yet another meal service to look forward to. Perhaps another hour of sleep will do but I am trying to push through exhaustion to adjust to the Singapore local time.

I will be spending a few days in Singapore followed by a few days in Korea. There are others on this flight who will be turning around back to the U.S. tonight.

13 Hours In-Flight

As wonderful as the amenities are, Singapore’s secret sauce is its cabin crew. They could not be more kind and gracious. Consistently, they are at the top of their profession with their pride palpable.

They make passengers feel like a guest in their home. Yes, I am effusive about them and unapologetically so.

I was presented with a cute stuffed bear and a nice note, an unexpected and welcome touch.

14 Hours In-Flight

This flight isn’t a marathon. It’s an Iron Man. We’ve now picked up a headwind as we journey south towards the equator but mercilessly there are less than three hours left until our early arrival into Changi at 4:26 pm local time. All is quiet on the Western Front..especially with the twin Rolls Royce Trents humming along.

1 Hour Out: A Briefing from Captain Indranil Ray Chaudhury

A brief talk with our Captain. Doesn’t notice any real difference between the flying characteristics between the A359 and A359ULR. First flight on ULR. The difference is flying a true heading over the Poles.

Alternate airports is another challenge, with fewer divert airport options. Singapore has 240 minute ETOPS on A350 ULR. Multiple options over the Poles for Atlantic or Pacific routing. Diversion airports, as well as winds, make a difference in dispatch decision.

Singapore to Newark is typically a Pacific Polar route. With favorable winds, our return to Singapore took us to 87 degrees north just a few degrees south of the North Pole and then down into Siberia which still resulted in us arriving 45 minutes ahead of schedule. Our Captain was one of the crew on the original A350-900ULR delivery flights which in itself was 14 hours to test the aircraft’s long haul capabilities.

The Captain and First Officer perform both take-off and landings flying for the first 2-3 hours of the flight before shift swaps begin. Then there are alternating breaks of 3-5 hours between the other two members of the flight crew.

A few stats: Takeoff weight was 277.3 tons, fuel was 111.3 tons, take-off from EWR 04Left, Remaining fuel reserve is 8.5 tons which allowed for 90 minutes flying time diversion. Total distance covered was 9,538nm.

SQ21 Arrives into the History Books

45 minutes before arrival into Changi, we have begun very gradually bleeding altitude on our descent. With very favorable tailwinds we touchdown at 4:40 pm Singapore local time after 17 hours and 23 minutes airborne, nearly an hour early. A very smooth touchdown on to SIN 04L – An auspicious beginning to the rebirth of The World’s Longest Flight.

Captain Chaudhury profusely thanks us for flying on the inaugural flight with the words “All good things must come to a pause.”

With that optimistic comment, one can only wonder what’s next for Singapore Airlines and the next frontiers of Ultra Long Haul Flight.

 


 

Disclosure: The author paid for the entire flight and associated expenses himself. The opinions, as always are his alone.

NOTE: Connectivity is expected to be in place for most of the flight except for a 2.5-hour blackout beginning 5.5 hours into the flight. Follow Airways Magazine on social media and here at AirwaysMag.com for continuously updated coverage of the inaugural “World’s Longest Flight”.
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About Author

Chris Sloan

Chris Sloan

Aviation Journalist, TV Producer, Pursuer of First & Last Flights, Proud Miamian, Intrepid Traveler, and Did I Mention Av-Geek? I've Been Sniffing Jet Fuel Since I was 5, and running the predecessor to airwaysmag.com, Airchive, Since 2003. Now, I Sit in the Right Seat as Co-Pilot of Airways Magazine and airwaysmag.com. My favorite Airlines are National and Braniff, and My favorite Airport is Miami, L-1011 Tristar Lover. My Mantra is Lifted From Delta's Ad Campaign from the 1980s "I Love To Fly And It Shows." chris@airwaysmag.com / @airchive

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