Let’s go to Singapore! Not a short trip, but worth it. Before my recent trip to Singapore, my longest flight was a 14 hour economy slog with Singapore Airlines (SIA). It was unpleasant. If you fly internationally, you may end up on one of these Ultra Long Haul flights.
Modern aircraft continue to add range. Not long ago, Qantas launched a flight from New York, USA to Sydney, Australia, with an anticipated flight duration of 21 hours (it ended up taking 19 hours and 16 minutes per CNN)! Today’s Singapore Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Singapore is now the 5th longest scheduled flight, but still checks in at 17 hours, three hours longer than my previous record. How do you survive this flight duration? Let’s discuss.
Top Survival Tip – Premium Economy (or Better)
Some time back, I advocated for flights with an indirect routing and a stopover. I’ve changed my opinion after this trip in Singapore Airlines Premium Economy.
Premium Economy is offered by most carriers not only SIA. Given the cost adder of Premium Economy, I understand my first tip will not work for all travelers. For any flight exceeding 8 hours, I believe Premium Economy will improve your travel experience.
As of today, if you choose the direct flight from Los Angeles to Singapore with Singapore Airlines (SIA), you can only select business class or premium economy, making my recommendation easy to follow. Singapore operates a special Airbus A350ULR (ULR=Ultra Long Range) configured with only business or premium economy on this route.
An indirect route with stopover between Los Angeles and Singapore is also available. Taking the indirect route provides the opportunity for economy seating with potential savings, not that I recommend the indirect route or economy seating.
SIA Premium Economy
Singapore Airlines operates the Airbus A350-900ULR on its longest flights configured with only business class and premium economy. I’ve not experienced SIA business class, but it looks amazing! For my first try at SIA premium economy, I selected an extra legroom seat. The extra legroom seat is the first row in the premium economy section.
The seat includes significant recline, a leg-rest, and footrest. I set a personal record on this flight with 7 consecutive hours of sleep! My previous best was a wine aided 2 hours on Virgin Atlantic.
With no seat in-front, the in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen is on a hinge between the seats. Singapore provides hundreds of entertainment options on the IFE! Even with all the entertainment options, my favorite is still the moving map!
Gluten Free Meals
Two separate meals are provided on the flight. Shortly after our 12:15 am departure, a dinner was served. First up, unfortunately for me, was a fish dinner, salmon, I think. I’m not a big fan of fish.
The second meal, close to arrival, was a breakfast. This gluten free selection was an omlette or scrambled eggs. Aside from the fish, the meals were fine. Virgin Atlantic still has the best gluten free food options I’ve experienced.
Extra Leg Room Seat
One last item to address is the extra legroom seat. I mentioned briefly that my previous economy long haul was unpleasant. The passenger in front reclined for the full 14 hours, minus takeoff and landing. Well within his rights, but it contributed to my negative experience.
With that in my rear view mirror, I paid an extra $120 to get the extra legroom seat with no other passenger seated in front of me. Getting in and out of the seat was great, but it turns out that the extra legroom seat was inconvenient. What I didn’t factor in was my pillow, blanket, headphones, water bottle, etc. If you get up, what do you do with all that stuff? In a normal seat, you put some if not all of that stuff in your seat-back pocket. No seat-back pocket is available with the extra legroom seat.
My flight back to Los Angeles from Singapore was also in Premium Economy but not an extra legroom seat. Sneak preview: it was better for me! But that’s a future blog.
I screen grabbed the total flight details below. It didn’t hurt my feelings that the scheduled flight time of 17 hours ended up at 15 hours and 40 minutes total flight time. Since I’m not a pilot, I can only guess that the 17 hour flight time would be a result of higher headwinds and the shorter time the result of a optimized flight route. You can see the route on the picture below.
I enjoyed the Premium Economy seat and the sleep I had got me to Singapore rested and ready for the Formula 1 weekend!
I will do my best to avoid a ultra long haul flight in economy! I still need to try out a long haul flat bed, my short haul flat bed experience was great, I can only imagine how great a long haul would be!