The world’s longest flight? At least for coach-class flyers, that’s as much a threat as it is a promise. But for long-haul airlines, it’s taken as a point of pride, a measure of technical prowess and forward thinking.
Whichever side of the issue you’re on, when there’s a changing of the guard, a new “longest flight” title-holder, it tends to trend. And trending it is today, with Singapore Airlines’ announcement that, beginning in 2018, it will regain the title, which it relinquished in 2103 with the discontinuation of its nonstop Newark-Singapore flights.
Today’s longest-flight honors go to Qantas, for its Dallas-Sydney nonstops. And Qantas, in turn, will be one-upped by Emirates, which plans to launch an even longer flight, in February, between Dubai and Panama City.
The new U.S.-Singapore flights, from Los Angeles and New York, will be operated with a special version of the Airbus A350-900, optimized for longer flights. The flight time between New York and Singapore will be around 19 hours.
Singapore’s previous U.S.-Singapore nonstops were flown with 100-seat A340s. Those planes used four engines, which made the flights impossible to operate profitably. The new A350-900ULRs, which accommodate up to 366 passengers in a three-cabin layout, can cover up to 8,700 nautical miles with just two engines, changing the financial equation back in the airline’s favor.
Singapore offers no word yet as to the new planes’ seating configuration, sufficing it to say that “the aircraft will be fitted with all-new cabin products which are currently under development.” No doubt business and first class will be up to Singapore’s usual high standards for comfort and luxury. Coach customers are left waiting and hoping that the back-of-the-plane seats offer at least the minimum amount of comfort required to survive such a long flight.
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.