The new world’s longest flight is getting an upgrade as Singapore Airlines builds back up in the US – see inside the luxurious plane

Thomas PalliniFeb 7, 2021, 19:40 IST

  • Singapore Airlines is upping its three US routes to daily service, including the world’s longest flight.
  • New York and San Francisco flights are being upgraded to an all-premium Airbus A350-900ULR aircraft.
  • The two-cabin aircraft consists solely of premium economy class and business class cabins.

Singapore Airlines is pressing forward to build back up its US route network despite a lull in international travel due to the pandemic.

January 18 saw the start of daily flights to Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco from Singapore after only offering a skeleton service of three weekly flights to Los Angeles during the pandemic’s peak. Flyers can now catch a non-stop flight to Singapore from the US any day of the week, something that wasn’t possible for most of the last year.

And though Singapore Airlines is a passenger airline, it’s not passengers that are driving the airline’s resurgence. Rather, increased cargo demand has made this growth viable despite a drop in passengers.

The loss of international passenger flights during the pandemic has shot up demand for cargo space, and Singapore Airlines now has the only three non-stop cargo routes between the two countries.

What’s good for cargo is also proving to be great for passengers as two of the three US routes now see Singapore Airlines’ flagship premium plane, the Airbus A350-900ULR. The exclusive plane has fewer seats in an all-premium configuration, solely consisting of premium economy and business classes.

Read More: Singapore Airlines is betting on the US with new routes despite a COVID surge – here’s why the airline is expanding now

Take a look inside.

The Airbus A350 is Singapore Airlines’ long-haul leader, flying the airline’s longest routes and becoming the platform for its all-premium offering, known as the A350-900ULR.

The Airbus A350 is Singapore Airlines' long-haul leader, flying the airline's longest routes and becoming the platform for its all-premium offering, known as the A350-900ULR.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900XWB.

Soos Jozsef/Shutterstock.com

The low-density 161-seat passenger cabin is ideal for the near-19-hour journey times that the flights between New York City and Singapore require.

The low-density 161-seat passenger cabin is ideal for the near-19-hour journey times that the flights between New York City and Singapore require.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

It’s split between this 67-seat business class cabin…

It's split between this 67-seat business class cabin...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

And this 94-seat premium economy class cabin for an all-premium offering no matter where you sit.

And this 94-seat premium economy class cabin for an all-premium offering no matter where you sit.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Most importantly, there’s no economy section and no middle seat.

Most importantly, there's no economy section and no middle seat.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB operating the world’s longest flight between Singapore and New York.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

“We are, first of all, a premium carrier and we believe in offering the best in class products to our customers,” Joey Seow, Singapore Airlines’ regional vice president for the Americas, told Insider. “Hence, we have got our newest and latest products flying into the United States.”

"We are, first of all, a premium carrier and we believe in offering the best in class products to our customers," Joey Seow, Singapore Airlines' regional vice president for the Americas, told Insider. "Hence, we have got our newest and latest products flying into the United States."

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Business class is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering all passengers direct aisle access and exclusivity.

Business class is arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering all passengers direct aisle access and exclusivity.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Each seat comes with a fully lie-flat bed as well as an 18-inch high-definition entertainment screen and no shortage of storage space.

Each seat comes with a fully lie-flat bed as well as an 18-inch high-definition entertainment screen and no shortage of storage space.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Couples might be more inclined to sit in the center aisle pairs, aptly nicknamed “honeymoon” seats.

Couples might be more inclined to sit in the center aisle pairs, aptly nicknamed "honeymoon" seats.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

While solo travelers, alternatively, might opt for the seats along the cabin wall to maximum privacy.

While solo travelers, alternatively, might opt for the seats along the cabin wall to maximum privacy.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB operating the world’s longest flight between Singapore and New York.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

But rest assured, there’s no bad seat in the luxurious cabin.

But rest assured, there's no bad seat in the luxurious cabin.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Opulence is just one reason to book this flight, however, as the real value is in the time savings a non-stop flight provides for business travelers. Around three hours and all the hassle of a stopover is saved by flying non-stop.

Opulence is just one reason to book this flight, however, as the real value is in the time savings a non-stop flight provides for business travelers. Around three hours and all the hassle of a stopover is saved by flying non-stop.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

And the difference between choosing this flight over a competing option is that passengers are also paying for an education in ultra-long-haul wellness.

And the difference between choosing this flight over a competing option is that passengers are also paying for an education in ultra-long-haul wellness.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB operating the world’s longest flight between Singapore and New York.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Singapore Airlines teamed up with Canyon Ranch and its experts to analyze the best practices for sleep on extended journeys, depending on what the traveler’s needs are once they land in Singapore or the US.

Singapore Airlines teamed up with Canyon Ranch and its experts to analyze the best practices for sleep on extended journeys, depending on what the traveler's needs are once they land in Singapore or the US.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Lighting is also a key feature as Singapore Airlines worked to sync the aircraft’s lighting system with a passenger’s circadian rhythms. For example, mirroring the colors of sunrise helps inspire relaxation and sleep while the colors of a cool morning can make a passenger more alert before landing.

Lighting is also a key feature as Singapore Airlines worked to sync the aircraft's lighting system with a passenger's circadian rhythms. For example, mirroring the colors of sunrise helps inspire relaxation and sleep while the colors of a cool morning can make a passenger more alert before landing.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

For those who can’t afford business class or are traveling for leisure, the aircraft also features a premium economy class cabin.

For those who can't afford business class or are traveling for leisure, the aircraft also features a premium economy class cabin.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

The cabin is arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, a standard setup on the Airbus A350.

The cabin is arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, a standard setup on the Airbus A350.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

These recliner seats are comparable to first class seats on a domestic flight, in size and pitch.

These recliner seats are comparable to first class seats on a domestic flight, in size and pitch.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB operating the world’s longest flight between Singapore and New York.

Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Made by Safran in a factory just north of Dallas, the seats feature 19.5 inches of width and 38 inches of pitch.

Made by Safran in a factory just north of Dallas, the seats feature 19.5 inches of width and 38 inches of pitch.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Their amenities include a 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen…

Their amenities include a 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screen...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Personal reading lamp…

Personal reading lamp...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Tethered remote and game controller…

Tethered remote and game controller...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Adjustable headrest…

Adjustable headrest...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Footrest…

Footrest...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Water bottle holder…

Water bottle holder...

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

USB charging port, and 110v AC power outlet.

USB charging port, and 110v AC power outlet.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

While they don’t have a lie-flat function, the deep recline and addition of a leg rest help passengers achieve better sleep than in a standard economy seat.

While they don't have a lie-flat function, the deep recline and addition of a leg rest help passengers achieve better sleep than in a standard economy seat.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

A pillow and blanket kit is also left at each seat for maximum comfort.

A pillow and blanket kit is also left at each seat for maximum comfort.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

And while some flyers may want to sit closer to the front, those in the know head straight to the back.

And while some flyers may want to sit closer to the front, those in the know head straight to the back.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

That’s where the six seats in this cabin that don’t have any neighbors can be found.

That's where the six seats in this cabin that don't have any neighbors can be found.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Perfect for a solo journey, occupants in these seats have their own storage compartment, large enough to fit a roller bag.

Perfect for a solo journey, occupants in these seats have their own storage compartment, large enough to fit a roller bag.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Those seats currently fetch an extra $120 premium due to their exclusivity.

Those seats currently fetch an extra $120 premium due to their exclusivity.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

The Newark-Singapore flights were once all-business class but the addition of premium economy helped maintain the premium service while opening up the flight to more travelers, especially during the pandemic.

The Newark-Singapore flights were once all-business class but the addition of premium economy helped maintain the premium service while opening up the flight to more travelers, especially during the pandemic.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Business travel is at an all-time low and flyers taking this flight might just be trying to find the quickest way home as the pandemic has severed countless intercontinental air links.

Business travel is at an all-time low and flyers taking this flight might just be trying to find the quickest way home as the pandemic has severed countless intercontinental air links.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Singapore Airlines still offers a standard economy section on flights from Los Angeles, as well.

Singapore Airlines still offers a standard economy section on flights from Los Angeles, as well.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

And premium trimmings aside, another important revenue driver is under the main cabin floor in the cargo cabin.

And premium trimmings aside, another important revenue driver is under the main cabin floor in the cargo cabin.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Having an all-premium plane with fewer seats frees up weight to carry more freight.

Having an all-premium plane with fewer seats frees up weight to carry more freight.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

“The cargo component is very encouraging for us, and we’re very happy to see how cargo is filling up in the bellies, particularly in JFK and also on the West Coast,” Seow said. Singapore Airlines also has a large cargo facility at JFK Airport, which aided the decision to fly to New York City first instead of Newark.

"The cargo component is very encouraging for us, and we're very happy to see how cargo is filling up in the bellies, particularly in JFK and also on the West Coast," Seow said. Singapore Airlines also has a large cargo facility at JFK Airport, which aided the decision to fly to New York City first instead of Newark.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900XWB.

Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Having fewer seats also means less fuel burn and lower emissions.

Having fewer seats also means less fuel burn and lower emissions.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

For now, this aircraft will fly from Singapore to New York and San Francisco. Eventually, it will return to Newark to resume Singapore Airlines’ flagship flight.

For now, this aircraft will fly from Singapore to New York and San Francisco. Eventually, it will return to Newark to resume Singapore Airlines' flagship flight.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

But in yet another pandemic twist, its addition on the New York and San Francisco routes is a win for passengers and cargo alike.

But in yet another pandemic twist, its addition on the New York and San Francisco routes is a win for passengers and cargo alike.

Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Thomas Pallini/Insider