Want to Be a Passenger on the Longest Flight in the World? Better Hurry

This Airbus A340-500 aircraft operating as Singapore Airlines flight 22 awaits its passengers at the gate in Singapore for its marathon non-stop flight to Newark on May 29, 2013 — but this flight will be discontinued as of November 24, 2013. Photograph by FlyerTalk member Qantasclub. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by Qantasclub.

If you have never been a passenger on the longest non-stop flight in the world, you only have a few more months to do so.
The non-stop flight from Newark to Singapore — as well as the non-stop flight between Singapore and Los Angeles, which is the second-longest flight in the world if you do not count the return flight from Singapore to Newark  — will cease, according to an announcement by Singapore Airlines last October.
Reasons cited for the discontinuation of those flights include high fuel costs and fewer people willing to pay the price for a premium-class airfare, as the configuration of the entire Airbus A340-500 aircraft used on those flights is all business class. Singapore Airlines will sell the five Airbus A340-500 aircraft which operate those routes back to Airbus as part of a multi-billion dollar deal to purchase 25 new wide-body jets from Airbus.
The last flights between Singapore and Newark are scheduled for November 23, 2013; while the last flights between Singapore and Los Angeles are scheduled for October 20, 2013. Thereafter, passengers of Singapore Airlines flying between Singapore and North America will need to connect to flights in either Frankfurt or Tokyo — most likely on Airbus A380 aircraft.
The new longest flight in the world will be operated by Qantas between Sydney and Dallas, with a distance of 8,578 miles or 13,804 kilometers and a flight time of as much as 15 hours and 25 minutes.
Compare that to Flight 21 operated by Singapore Airlines from Newark to Singapore, with a distance of 9,535 miles or 15,345 kilometers and a flight time of as much as 18 hours and 50 minutes; and to Flight 37 operated by Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles to Singapore, with a distance of 8,770 miles or 14,114 kilometers and a flight time of as much as 18 hours and 5 minutes. Both of those routes were launched in 2004.
The longest flight on which I had been a passenger was operated by Qantas from Los Angeles to Sydney, with a distance of 7,488 miles or 12,051 kilometers and a flight time of as much as 15 hours — although the duration of the flight on which I was a passenger was slightly less.
These are not the first marathon flights to be cancelled, as the following non-stop routes were discontinued as of last year:

It is unfortunate that passengers could not travel on this Airbus A330-223 aircraft known as ship N851NW operating as Delta Air Lines flight 9971 which reportedly recently flew 10,737 statute miles non-stop from Singapore to Atlanta.
While the disadvantage to marathon non-stop flights is that they last so incredibly long — a disadvantage which could be significantly mitigated if you are able to sleep well, eat well and keep yourself entertained or get work done for the duration of the flight — the advantage is that they save a few hours which you would need to connect at an intermediary airport from one flight to another. Then again, this potentially affords you the opportunity to extend your stopover at a location which you may want to explore or to which you may want to return — and the cost of airfare can potentially be less expensive while allowing you to earn more frequent flier loyalty program miles…
…or perhaps long-haul marathon non-stop flights could very well become obsolete altogether if this new technology ever becomes a reality

  1. I flew once on the EWR-SIN back in 2005… it does not matter how well appointed the cabin, how excellent the crew, how delicious the food, etc. The fact remained: you are in an airplane for 18 hours. You get aboard, you have a nice meal, you watch a movie. Then you get a full night’s sleep. And when you wake up, you still have another 8 hours to go. It was maddening. I hope others had a better experience with it than I did.

    1. This may sound strange to you, Vasco — but I have no problem with long-haul flights. Rather, it is the ones which last for three or four hours in duration that can potentially be maddening to me, as they seem longer than they should be.
      By the way, I know one FlyerTalk member in particular who likens the experience of air travel as “being trapped in a metal tube.”

  2. I’ve flown a couple of long flights, all of them in coach, and at least some of them were the longest flights in the world at that time.
    Newark to Hong Kong: 15 hours, 50 minutes
    Washington Dulles to Johannesburg (stopped in Dakar on the way back, but non-stop on the outbound): 17 hours

  3. Some time ago (mid-2000s-ish) I was fairly regular on SAA between ATL and CPT. Sometimes it stopped in JNB but I do recall a couple of times it was non-stop. It was something in excess of 8000 miles. Sub-optimal part was I recall that it left during the day from ATL and got in early morning into CPT (so, if your body clock was still on ATL time, in the middle of the night).
    The trip from CPT to ATL always (?) involved a stop on the way back.

  4. I’ve done the 13 hours from SIN to FRA last year and that was about all I could take. I could not have imagined to stay on the plane for another four hours. I’m sure everyone was glad to get out for a couple hours before the flight continued to JFK.

  5. I did SQ EWR-SIN in 2005 economy with 2 kids 6 & 8yo. I have no problem. It’s much easier since I don’t need to deal with them running around during transit.

  6. Emirates DXB-SFO is scheduled as 15:50. I’ve been a passenger on that flight.
    Still, from a traveler’s perspective, the pain of travel is measured from the whole itinerary. A 16-hour flight might be blissful compared to a 28-hour itinerary that includes two connections.

  7. I did the LAX-SYD a few years ago – in the last row of seats of the lower deck of a 747. They didn’t recline. A co-worker flew Business; he did visit us a few times on the 15 hour flight to rub it in.

  8. The longest I’ve done is LAX-MEL, which took around 15 and a half hours. Worst part was I live in CBR, so I pretty much flew over my house to get to MEL, and then had to board a MEL-CBR flight (another hour of flying).

  9. I def understand how grueling these flights can be. I’ve done the four longest flights: R/T EWR-SIN, R/T LAX-SYD, R/T EWR-BOM, and R/T ATL-JNB. Two of the four were in the past year. The SIN trip was long in that it clocked in at 18:10 going over and 19:10 coming back. To SAs credit I was in the Biz cabin both ways and both ways deplaned feeling refreshed, relaxed and well cared for, though. Luckily I can sleep easily and comfortably on planes but I agree w/ one poster in that you can sleep for 10 hours and you’re STILL just a tad more then half there. you just gotta settle in and know that no matter how you do it, it’s going to be a LONG trip!

  10. I did SFO-SYD-SFO. With 2 kids under the age of 5. In economy.
    That puts the “Ultra” in “ultra long haul.”

  11. Wow! It certainly would be an experience for me but am not sure if I could cope with an 18 hour flight. Not in economy anyway. If it’s cramped for a 6.4 guy. the idea however is great. The jet lag must be immense no?

  12. Error in blog entry — Perhaps you meant flying between North America and “Singapore” instead of “Asia.” Singapore Air will still be be serving North America from Asia through SFO — flights to HKG and ICN.

  13. We did Toronto-Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific, 15 hrs, with a 20 mth old son and the return flight same route. I swore never to do this again. This year we went to South Korea and we stopped in Vancouver. Much better.

  14. I did the LAX-SIN-LAX every month for about 3 years (back when they had 2 class; E+ and C). Their E+ was actually a very good product, still remember the $1600 RT fare with a free leg from SIN to anywhere in SEA. Then they moved to the all C configuration which was all good till they increased the fare 2X…… I think that was the start of demise of this route.

  15. “If you have never been a passenger on the longest non-stop flight in the world, you only have a few more months to do so.”
    Not true is it. After this flight ceased, there will still be a longest non-stop flight in the world, it’ll just be another route – they don’t retire the record. I’m sure they weren’t having this conversation when Qantas stopped flying The Catalinas to Sri Lanka.

  16. I have done DEL -ORD on AA in F on a 772 and had no real complaints, ate a lot, drank a lot, caught up on reading, watched 5 movies. I could not imagine doing this flight in Y.

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