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The Longest Flight in the World

Singapore to Newark is no longer the longest flight in the world.
Singapore to Newark is no longer the longest flight in the world.

Sometimes a simple domestic business trip can seem like it is “the longest flight in the world,” but the actual holder of that title (until recently) was Singapore Airlines’ flights 21 and 22, which operated between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey–a flight that takes about 19 hours and covers 9,525 miles. The aircraft used for those flights was the four-engine, gas-guzzling, Airbus A340-500, but due to changes in aircraft and fuel costs, Singapore Airlines has since cancelled those flights.

The newer, super-long-haul aircraft, such as the Boeing 777, 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus A350 are more fuel-efficient, 2-engine options. However, currently, America’s Federal Aviation Administration has a longstanding rule that requires two-engine planes to stay within a certain distance of runways where they can land in case of trouble. (Four-engine planes are not subject to this rule.) This ruling would need to change in order to have a 19-hour flight back in service.

The super-long-haul update caught my interest because I took my family to the UAE for Thanksgiving last year and our flight from Los Angeles to Dubai was more than 16 hours. I was concerned about how everyone would handle it. The good news is that the aircraft, in-flight services, and seating are better equipped for accommodating passengers on these long journeys. In fact, the Singapore Airlines flights 21 and 22 had 100 seats, all business class.

But the cancellation of the Singapore Airlines flights still doesn’t give you the ability to call your next business trip “the longest flight in the world.” That is, unless you are traveling on the new record holder, Qantas, which operates the 8,576-mile service between Sydney and Dallas, Texas.

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Travel News

Changes and New Ideas

I thought I would discuss some changes that are happening in the industry that you may or not may be aware of.
For example, Qantas has announced that starting in June, 2009, qualified individuals may be assured of getting an exit row seat by paying a fee.  On their long haul flights, such as Los Angeles to Sydney, the fee will be $150.00 in each direction.  That works out to be a little more than $10.00 an hour for a little extra space.  One does have to meet all the usual requirements of being between 15 and 65, able and willing to follow directions and be able to assist in case of an emergency.  The interesting aspect of this to me, pricing aside, is that according most reviews, the exit row seats on the 747-400s and Airbus 330-200 are actually undesirable  seats that lack storage space and are frequently uncomfortable due to the fact that there are fixtures that reduce the amount of room in the seat.  The only aircraft that it seems to make any sense to spend money for an extra row seat is the Airbus 380 and then only if you are getting the rear most exit row.  And even then you are seated next to the self serve bar so you will have people standing in the area that you paid extra for.
As you can see, I’m not sure that’s a great deal.
Then there is the Air New Zealand Promotion, it’s a Matchmaking Flight. The idea is to help Americans and Kiwis to meet and mingle and to find that special someone. One can opt for a pre-flight party in Los Angeles, the flight and then the Great Matchmaking Ball a day after arriving in New Zealand.  So if you are interested in meeting that special Kiwi, this might be the deal for you.
Then came the news that Delta will start charging a $50.00 fee to check a second bag on international flights between the USA and Europe.  This will apply to all passengers who aren’t at least Silver Medallion or higher or members of the US Military traveling on orders.
The one constant in the travel industry is change so I’m sure that we will be seeing more change every day.
JM