Passengers ready for world's longest flight
Two pilots, a special "wellness" menu and more than seven weeks' worth of film and television entertainment were expected to accompany travellers on the 16,700-kilometre (10,400-mile) journey to the Big Apple.
Singapore Airlines will use the long-range Airbus A350-900ULR, configured to carry 161 passengers -- 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy, with no regular economy seats available.
Work load of the crew
Won't passengers get bored
For those not packing a weighty novel (or two), there will be 1,200 hours of audio-visual entertainment to choose from.
The 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.
"The biggest concern is Deep Vein Thrombosis from a combination of sitting for too long and also from dehydration," said Gail Cross, an associate consultant at the National University Hospital in Singapore.
The flight from the city-state to Newark Airport can take up to 18 hours and 45 minutes under normal weather conditions, but the pilots will have something in reserve in an aircraft capable of flying more than 20 hours non-stop.
Singapore Airlines originally flew the route for nine years using the gas-guzzling, four-engine A340-500 before abandoning it in 2013 because high oil prices made the service unprofitable.
But the carrier is hoping that the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes will set cash registers ringing even as crude prices soar above USD 80.
"It's turning out to be a race between a few airlines eyeing the longest routes inter-continentally," said Shukor Yusof of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.
"They are hoping to capitalise and exploit a very niche market," he said.
Moving to premium
"Ultra-long haul services comprise an important component of that strategy," an airline spokesman said.
The company is the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR plane. It received the first aircraft in September. Six more are due for delivery by the end of the year.
"We are optimistic about the demand for non-stop services to the US," the spokesman said.
Analyst Shukor, however, said it remained to be seen whether the airline and other operators of marathon flights can withstand the pressure from rising oil prices.