SEVERE WX : Special Weather Statement View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

World's longest flight: All 17 hours

CNN's Richard Quest takes viewers along as he chats with the crew and tests out his sleeping strategy.

Posted: Oct 14, 2018 9:22 AM
Updated: Oct 14, 2018 9:38 AM

Just a little while ago, I was on the complete other side of the planet.

After touching down at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International airport outside New York -- completing the inaugural journey of the longest flight in the world -- I can tell you this: It was an unforgettable night ... followed by a day ... followed by another night.

In about 17 hours and 25 minutes, we flew from Singapore halfway around the globe nonstop aboard Singapore Airlines Flight SQ22 -- now the most ultra of ultra-long-haul routes.

It was a little bit of a travel endurance test for everyone on board -- passengers and crew. The sheer achievement, mechanical and human, to make it happen -- amazing!

Marketed toward business travelers, SQ22 spans 10,377 miles (16,700 kilometers), give or take, depending on the exact flight path. Cruising at around 41,000 feet at about 575 mph, the route was made possible by a new, super-efficient twin-engine Airbus A350-900ULR jet that seats 161 passengers. Also on board at takeoff: 111 tonnes of fuel.

In addition to checking out the new jet, we experimented with new gadgets aimed at maximizing sleep and minimizing jet lag.

This may sound bizarre to the unfamiliar, but to reach our long-distance destination the shortest route is not a straight line. It's a curved line because the Earth is round. So we flew a curved line nearly over the top of the world and down through Canada to save fuel and precious time.

Now that we're back on solid ground, here are five things we learned during our voyage:

This is the future

The first thing I kept thinking about this flight once we were wheels down at Newark was: This is a revolution in aviation. These new sophisticated twin-engine airliners like Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and the jet we flew on -- the Airbus A350-900ULR -- they're designed to make ultralong routes like this one profitable.

Most surprising about this plane was the smoothness. And it was so much quieter than we expected. In fact, we were told the average decibel level was 80-85 decibels. But in business class it actually was lower: around 70 decibels. In the back, in the premium economy section, it was 80.

Bottom line: The overall performance of the aircraft was exceptional.

Service

The food was excellent. The dumplings were excellent and the beef was good. Of the two meals served in business class, for the second meal, I would have changed the timing to later in the trip. But if you ever need anything, of course you can ask.

In premium economy they serve three meals at fixed times. Hot drinks and cold snacks are available all through the flight.

Overall, more than 500 meals were served to the 161 passengers on board.

As for the crew: They were ready. They were prepared for the long haul. Even by the end of the flight, they looked fresh and continued to offer amenities to passengers. The aircraft was clean -- including the bathrooms -- which were kept clean constantly throughout.

Fighting jet lag

Before you board, prep yourself mentally and physically for 18 hours on an airplane. Exercise. Eat lightly, limit your day-of diet to soup for example, or just snacks. I used a couple of gadgets designed to help with jet lag -- special eyeglasses and a wrist band. I won't know if they helped until later, because I've been awake since early this morning and I only got about five hours of sleep on the flight. (I would have gotten more, but I was gladly working hard, in your service!)

The route

There were four possible tracks we could have taken across the Pacific to New York via the Great Circle Route, as it's called, which takes you north over Alaska. Because of the prevailing tailwinds during our flight, the track we followed took us in a northerly direction staying east of China, east of Japan, east of Russia and making landfall into Alaska and northern Canada, before turning more south toward New York. (The route roughly follows the one shown in the map below).

This is called the NOPAC route. It's the preferred route because it's slightly shorter -- thereby saving us time and fuel.


Passengers on board told us they definitely would choose this ultralong route between New York (Newark) and Singapore over the alternative -- which is flying from New York to Frankfurt, Germany, and changing planes. Singapore Airlines says travelers save four to six hours of travel time by taking this new route.

Unlike the previous route between Newark (EWR) and Singapore (SIN), which was flown with gas-guzzleing four-engined A340-500s, I believe this route will be profitable and is here to stay because this new Airbus A350-900ULR is 25% more fuel efficient then the previous aircraft.

In fact, we landed with 8 tonnes of fuel left in the airplane fuel tanks, after taking off with 111 tonnes. Albeit we did have a nice tailwind pushing us along. Flying the opposite direction -- from Newark to Singapore, will burn more fuel.

In-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi

The in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi on the flight was good. In fact, we had been told there would be a significant Wi-Fi blackout on board at some point during the flight because of the track we were flying, but the blackout was never as long as we anticipated. We were able to live blog and post to social media most of the flight.

As for the on board video entertainment, airlines like Singapore and Emirates put huge resources into their on board video. Obviously it's even more important on an ultra-long-range flight. This flight had personal screens with a wide variety of choices. US carriers are encouraging passengers to bring their own devices and connect to the on board server where they can watch the blockbuster of the week.

I'd love to go home and get some sleep, but I'm still on the clock. I'm on my way to do live TV reports about our journey. And what an unforgettable journey it was!

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 542053

Reported Deaths: 7035
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1129221671
Ramsey46808847
Dakota41281414
Anoka37372413
Washington24322273
Stearns20596216
St. Louis16440296
Scott15511116
Wright14374124
Olmsted1258796
Sherburne1026779
Carver950443
Clay765889
Rice7432101
Blue Earth679340
Kandiyohi620379
Crow Wing594086
Chisago537648
Otter Tail533173
Benton520296
Mower446532
Winona435349
Douglas433270
Goodhue431271
Nobles396648
Morrison384559
McLeod382354
Beltrami366257
Isanti362259
Polk359166
Itasca358251
Steele348914
Becker345848
Lyon342648
Carlton323352
Freeborn320129
Pine306021
Nicollet299842
Brown290639
Mille Lacs271248
Le Sueur265422
Todd265430
Cass242426
Meeker228037
Waseca226820
Martin209629
Wabasha19793
Roseau194118
Dodge16824
Renville168043
Hubbard167841
Redwood163735
Houston161814
Cottonwood151820
Fillmore15069
Pennington148519
Chippewa143736
Faribault141719
Wadena140021
Sibley132710
Aitkin127036
Kanabec125821
Watonwan12429
Rock121018
Jackson114110
Yellow Medicine108419
Pipestone107425
Murray10149
Pope9926
Swift97518
Marshall84017
Stevens79610
Lake77819
Wilkin75612
Clearwater75514
Koochiching74912
Lac qui Parle73122
Big Stone5544
Lincoln5532
Grant5388
Norman5129
Mahnomen4898
Unassigned48178
Kittson44822
Red Lake3817
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods2932
Cook1440

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 355069

Reported Deaths: 5797
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55519598
Linn20164329
Scott18724234
Black Hawk15464306
Woodbury14787219
Johnson1386780
Dubuque13033202
Dallas1082296
Pottawattamie10621160
Story1024747
Warren548486
Clinton531189
Cerro Gordo519386
Webster505991
Sioux502973
Marshall476274
Muscatine454996
Des Moines439465
Wapello4246120
Buena Vista421140
Jasper406370
Plymouth393979
Lee366755
Marion353975
Jones292055
Henry285337
Bremer278260
Carroll277850
Crawford261139
Boone256431
Benton248955
Washington247849
Dickinson238743
Mahaska223349
Jackson217142
Kossuth211461
Clay208325
Tama206371
Delaware201039
Winneshiek192633
Page189020
Buchanan187331
Cedar182623
Fayette182641
Wright178735
Hardin178642
Hamilton177049
Harrison174673
Clayton165455
Butler161834
Mills157320
Cherokee156438
Floyd154542
Lyon153541
Poweshiek152133
Madison152019
Allamakee149051
Iowa144624
Hancock142734
Winnebago135331
Grundy134732
Cass133954
Calhoun133011
Jefferson130535
Emmet127140
Shelby126637
Louisa126149
Appanoose125847
Sac125719
Mitchell125241
Union123732
Chickasaw122015
Humboldt117926
Guthrie116728
Franklin112421
Palo Alto109622
Howard102622
Unassigned10030
Montgomery99737
Clarke98023
Keokuk94430
Monroe93228
Ida88533
Adair84032
Pocahontas83021
Monona80530
Davis79824
Greene76310
Lucas74822
Osceola73816
Worth7008
Taylor65012
Fremont60410
Decatur5889
Van Buren55318
Ringgold53322
Wayne51823
Audubon4939
Adams3264
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 33°
Mason City
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 38°
Albert Lea
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
Austin
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 37°
Charles City
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 36°
Slight rain chances to start the workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Battling alcoholism during the pandemic

Image

Mayo Clinic Physician response vehicle

Image

RCTC MBB 04-10

Image

RCTC WBB 04-10

Image

HAYFIELD BBB STATE CHAMPS

Image

North IA Bulls

Image

04-11-21 MED CITY FC

Image

04-11-21 HAYFIELD PKG

Image

Olde Pine Theatre reopens

Image

Ramadan preparations

Community Events