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October 12, 2018

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World’s longest flight departs Singapore for New York

World’s longest flight departs Singapore for New York

The world’s longest commercial flight took off from Singapore on Thursday, with excited and apprehensive passengers on board settling in for a marathon 19 hours in the air to New York.

A spokeswoman for Singapore Airlines told AFP that Flight SQ22 departed at approximately 11:35pm (1535 GMT) with 150 passengers and 17 crew on board. Two pilots, a special "wellness" menu and more than seven weeks’ worth of film and television entertainment accompany the travellers on the 16,700-kilometre journey to the Big Apple.

The long-range Airbus A350-900ULR is configured to carry up to 161 passengers -- 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy, with no regular economy seats available.

For the flight crew -- which also includes two first officers and a 13-strong cabin contingent -- the workload will be broken up, the airline said, with each pilot having a minimum eight hours’ rest during the flight.

But for passengers, the challenge will be what to do with all that down time when they’re up in the air. For those not packing a weighty novel or two, there will be 1,200 hours of audio-visual entertainment to choose from.

Dining options will include dishes the airline says have been selected to promote well-being in the skies, with organic offerings on the menu. Passenger Peggy Ang, 52, said before the flight that she felt "apprehensive because I’m not sure what would I do in 18.5 hours" inside the plane.

"Now that you asked me, I’m a little bit worried. I’m thinking of sleeping, watching TV, doing my work," she told reporters after checking in at Changi Airport for the flight. "I have a lot of notes to read, hopefully I can sleep well," said Ang, a membership director of an IT services firm.

Some of the passengers were flight enthusiasts, like Singaporean engineer Danny Ong, 50, who bought a return ticket. "I’m coming back on the next flight. I enjoy the passion of flying," he told AFP, adding he would binge on the in-flight entertainment.

Pier Messaggio, 41, an Italian electronics designer based in Singapore, said he is part of a group called "First to Fly" whose members have been on board all of Singapore Airlines’ inaugural flights.

He and his group met during the world’s first commercial flight of the Airbus A380 double-decker plane operated by the airline in 2007 and discovered that everyone had a passion for flying.

Airbus said the A350-900URL plane’s cabin has higher-than-normal ceilings, larger windows and lighting designed to reduce jet lag -- all part of an effort to lessen the stresses that can accompany almost a day on a plane.

"Research has shown that hydration and food intake are important factors to consider, such as avoiding foods that cause gas or bloating as well as excessive alcohol," Rhenu Bhuller, a healthcare expert at consultancy Frost & Sullivan said.

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