Singapore Airlines Brings Back New York Non-Stop, World’s Longest Flight, Starting November 9

Singapore Airlines will re-launch New York – Singapore non-stop service on November 9 using an Airbus A350-900. The flight will operate from to and from New York JFK, rather than Newark which the airline’s previous world’s longest flight used. Service will operate 3 days a week.

This isn’t like the old days with all business class service, or even all business and premium economy: the plane will have 42 business class, 24 premium economy and 187 coach seats.

I learned this before finishing my coffee so had to re-read the details several times because Singapore plans to fly non-stop from the East Coast without using an A350ULR (‘ultra long range’). That’s been possible in the past from Seattle and San Francisco. Perhaps with only a handful of passengers significant weight restrictions on a longer flight won’t be a practical issue (since demand will be lower than what the plane is able to accommodate). I’ve asked for more details on this.

Flight Flight Days Departure Time Arrival Time Flight Time
SQ 24 SIN-JFK Mon, Wed, Sat 0225 0730 18 hours 5 minutes
SQ 23 JFK-SIN Mon, Wed, Fri 2230 0610 (+2 days) 18 hours 40 minutes

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350

Before the pandemic, these were the 10 longest flights in the world. Singapore Airlines operated its New York area non-stop fron Newark, where there was potential connectivity with United. There’s less connectivity now. New York passenger flying is down not just because of Covid-19 but down more than other areas because of mandatory 14 day quarantine for arrivals (but not connections) from most of the country. And Singapore’s relationship with United has been strained for many years. Covid accelerates decisions and causes a re-think of strategies. Hence the move for this flight from Newark to New York JFK.

To/From To/From Airline Distance (mi)
Newark Singapore Singapore 9534
Auckland Doha Qatar 9032
Perth London Heathrow Qantas 9009
Auckland Dubai Emirates 8823
Los Angeles Singapore Singapore 8770
Houston Sydney United 8596
Dallas Fort-Worth Sydney Qantas 8577
New York JFK Manila Philippine Airlines 8520
San Francisco Singapore United/Singapore 8446

United’s new San Francisco – Bangalore flight would become the 6th longest flight at 8701 miles. United’s non-stop San Francisco – Singapore flight, by the way, has been operated with the airline’s old 2-2-2 business class. Not only was it inferior before the pandemic but it’s uniquely undesirable during the Covid era where distancing is at a premium. The airline does continue to retrofit more planes to offer Polaris seats, however.

The return of the New York – Singapore non-stop is great news on one level, but the airline emphasizes the role of cargo in this decision. The specifically cite pharmaceuticals and technology.

Singapore has operated its Los Angeles non-stop throughout the pandemic. Their San Francisco, Seattle, New York – Frankfurt – Singapore and Houston – Manchester – Singapore services haven’t (yet) been restored.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 Business Class

While more passengers are able to connect through Singapore Americans are banned from entering the country. It’s one of the first destinations on my list once health restrictions are lifted and I’m able to go on a pilgrimage for good laksa, prawn mee soup, chili crab and more.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Cargo is clearly the main driver for this SIN – JFK vv flights. SQ definitely does not foresee very many passengers (although it can now fly transit passengers from several neighboring countries to the US) given the quarantine requirements in New York for the outbound while the inbound flights can only be flown by Singapore citizens/permanent residents (also with quarantine requirements) as Singapore still bans transit for passengers originating in the US. With few passengers expected onboard, the weight of the seats takes on a more important role in deciding what type of the A350 to fly to JFK. The high number of business class (and premium economy) seats in the A350ULR sub fleet makes them much heavier than the normal A350s therefore potentially limiting the amount of cargo it can carry given a very light expected passengers load. This is why they’re flying the regular A350s to the US nowadays.

  2. Ron: great analysis.

    I used to read this blog and TPG but find myself going to TPG less and less as their posts are adding little to the press releases they are based on, and they no longer allow comments which oftentimes add lots of valuable information.

  3. @SeanNY2

    TPG has definitely become somewhat of a hodgepodge. I just scan it for the headlines to make sure I didn’t miss anything important elsewhere. It was pretty unbelievable when they removed comments; that definitely took away value – even though their comment section before generally had comments of a lower quality than some other blogs.

  4. My question is switching to JFK, will SQ withdraw from Newark permanently or it will return to Newark once the covid-19 is under control?

  5. Singapore doesn’t ban transit passengers from the US. Those originating at LAX flying SQ are allowed to transit; New York is not an accepted origin for transits yet, but it wouldn’t have been approved without the route existing.

  6. Although Airbus’s A350-900ULRs do NOT have extra fuel tanks, but instead feature a “modified [re-engineered] fuel system” where tank sensors have been “relocated…enabling existing tanks to carry the maximum fuel load for the ULR” which “eliminated the need for additional fuel tanks” (source: Airbus) to carry the up to an additional 24,000 liters from 141,000 to 165,000 liters (6,340 US liquid gallons; from ~37,248 to ~43,588 US liquid gallons) needed for its 9,700 nm (~17,964km; ~11,163 statute miles) maximum range, to allow for its “ultra long range” capability, the trade-off for the weight of additional fuel (which, btw, at the maximum amount comes to 19,181kg & 42,288lbs) for such long distances still required “deactivation” of the forward belly cargo hold equal to 90 cubic meters (~3,178 cubic feet), with the rear belly cargo hold allocated for passengers’ checked baggage.

    Airbus says the fuel tank modification used for the ULR better allows for commonality with base line -900s to be maintained instead of creating a separate derivative, niche model using additional fuel tanks (for example, as typically done by both Airbus & Boeing for other extended range/long range models) which history has shown that except perhaps for Airbus’s own narrowbody/single aisle A321XLR, which actually is selling very well, most purposely designed, long range models such as Boeing’s 777-200LR, or its extended range 747-400ER & 747-SP don’t sell well.

    The maximum takeoff weight from the original 269 tonnes when the A350-900 entered service in 2014 to the present 280 tonnes for the -900 & -900ULR, plus some other minor aerodynamic tweaks that allowed for increasing the height/weight of the winglets occurred in 2018 (the new “Sharklets” are “higher & less swept backward” which “increase[s] the aircraft’s effective wingspan”, per Leeham News & Analysis description), with the baseline -900 gaining a 1% increase in fuel efficiency & an additional range of 100nm (185km; 115 statute miles) for a maximum range of 8,200nm (~15,186 km; ~9,436 statute miles) on the standard, or baseline -900 versus the -900ULR.

    Finally, in addition to the 90 cubic meters (~3,178 cubic feet) of cargo space in the forward belly hold of the standard -900 discussed above, the difference between the baseline -900 versus the “deactivated” -900ULR is 6 positions, or 20 LD3 containers.

    So, with the ULR offering the potential to be converted back to the base line -900 by eliminating the need for additional fuel tanks, it lacks belly cargo capability – and therein lies the reason why Singapore Airlines is using its standard 3-class (Biz, Premium Economy, Main Cabin/Economy) -900s for the JFK nonstops instead of the dual class, Biz/Premium Economy -900ULRs instead since cargo capacity is cited as a key reason to re-start SIN-NYC-SIN nonstops despite severely depressed passenger demand due to Covid19 pandemic.

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