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:
- Detroit and Hong Kong operated by Delta Air Lines, as of August 30, 2012
- Los Angeles and Bangkok operated by Thai International Airways, as of April 30, 2012
- Chicago and New Delhi operated by American Airlines, as of March 1, 2012
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…