The (Ultra) Long Haul

Warning: one for the plane spotters…

It’s one thing to fly non-stop; it’s quite another when “non-stop” means 18 hours and 10,000 miles on the in-flight
odometer. When Singapore
(SIA) introduced the world’s longest flight from NYC to Singapore this summer, it meant
specially built planes and specially trained crews, too. Ten of them, to be exact; each of these long-haul
flights carries four flight crews and six cabin crews to serve passengers on the journey.

The plane is an Airbus A340-500, and it is very much something special in the air. While American Airlines is
busy cramming more seats into the cabin, SIA has been busy
taking them out. The A340-500 was intended to hold 313 passengers in three classes, but SIA has only installed 181
seats in two sections:

Business Class and Executive Economy. The result is more room for economy passengers than any other flight:
36.6 inches of seat pitch for ”leg room” that
actually means room for your legs and feet.

Interestingly, the generous space allotment isn’t about a vastly increased ticket price; airfare is only about 10%
more than the standard NYC to Singapore run with a stopover. Instead, it’s about helping passengers to endure the
longest flight in the world, and disembark it safely. Ultra-long haul flights mean a greater risk of DVT. Giving
passengers room to move in their seats is a good start, but SIA has also introduced a passenger bar area in the rear of
the economy-class cabin to encourage passengers to get up and walk around, if only for the free drinks and snacks on
offer throughout the flight.

Now those sound like friendly skies indeed.