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Comparing the world’s 2 longest flights in Singapore business class

September 5 2022
11 min read
Singapore Airbus on runway
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Just 2 miles separate the distance between the two longest flights in the world.

Both of these routes operate to and from the New York City metropolitan area, and they're both operated by Singapore Airlines. In fact, there's an interesting history behind these two flights.

Between 2004 and 2013, Singapore operated a nonstop flight between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) on an Airbus A340-500 that was outfitted with 100 business-class pods.

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That flight was eventually axed due to a mix of economic factors and fleet consolidation.

In 2018, Singapore brought it back — with a twist. Instead of using the gas-guzzling A340, the carrier started flying the 9,527-mile route using a much more fuel-efficient Airbus A350-900ULR, or “ultra long-range.”

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

While that flight has seemingly been quite successful, the flag carrier of Singapore has strategically used the pandemic to grow its New York network. In addition to the Newark flight, the carrier added a nonstop from nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) that started in November 2020.

During the height of the pandemic, the JFK service replaced the Newark flight. But now, Singapore offers both nonstops from Newark and JFK. In fact, the latter is now the world’s new longest flight: 9,527 miles, or nearly 19 hours, from New York to Singapore.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

This summer, Singapore is operating both flights on a daily basis, and it plans to do the same into the upcoming winter season, according to Cirium schedules.

While there's just a 2-mile difference between the two routes on paper, the actual flight experience differs considerably depending on which flight you choose.

Personally, I flew the Newark service right before the pandemic in November 2019, and I just had the opportunity to try the JFK route on a recent trip to Bali.

Here’s how the two flights compare, and how to determine which one is right for you.

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Timing of the flights

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two flights is the timetable.

The Newark flight departs at around 10:30 a.m. and lands at around 5 p.m. the following day, give or take a few minutes depending on the season.

Meanwhile, the JFK flight leaves at around 10:30 p.m. and arrives in Singapore two days later at around 5:30 a.m. (A similar split schedule can be observed on flights from Singapore.)

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

If you're originating from the New York area and have flexible travel plans, determining which flight to choose may at first appear challenging.

Of course, if you have an onward connection or an important meeting that you're attending, you might not have the freedom to choose. But if I had my pick, I’d definitely stick with the Newark timing.

At nearly 19 hours in the air, both flights are incredibly long. However, with the Newark flight, you can eat lunch after takeoff, watch a movie, catch up on some work, eat another meal and then rest for the remainder of the flight.

When you land in Singapore, you’ll have a few hours before bedtime to exhaust yourself to hopefully adapt to the new time zone.

Meanwhile, the JFK flight isn't as helpful for adapting to the new time zone. Given the late departure from New York, it's conducive to maximizing your sleep once you step on board.

After dinner, I observed most passengers went straight to sleep. The problem, however, is that most of the cabin woke up around midway through the flight, just as it was turning evening in Singapore.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Many passengers remained awake for the rest of the flight. When the flight landed at around 5 a.m., those passengers who stayed awake for the second half of the flight needed to power through an entire day after essentially pulling an all-nighter.

Of course, you may have a different experience based on your sleeping patterns and jet lag strategies, but this is the experience I observed after both flights.

The upside to the JFK flight is that you can work a full day in the office or spend the day in the city before heading to the airport for a (very long) red-eye flight. Then, once you land, you'll have a full day to work or explore Singapore.

Just remember that it may be harder to adapt your sleeping schedule after taking the JFK flight.

Departure lounge

Even though both flights depart from nearby airports, the business-class lounge experience is notably different depending on which route you choose.

aT Newark, passengers are invited to use the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. This space offers a snazzy design, along with a la carte dining options.

Meanwhile, Singapore business-class flyers leaving from JFK are invited to use the newly relocated Wingtips Lounge. This Priority Pass-accessible lounge recently received a face-lift in the form of a new design, but the food and beverage offerings pale in comparison to the Virgin Clubhouse on the other side of the city.

(During the pandemic, Singapore invited its business-class passengers departing from JFK into the Virgin Clubhouse, but that arrangement ended in early August.)

In addition to the vastly different predeparture lounge options, it's worth noting that the Newark flight departs at an off-peak time for lounge use.

In my experience, there are many fewer passengers in the Newark Clubhouse at around 9 a.m. than there are in the JFK Wingtips Lounge at around 9 p.m.

Given that JFK’s Terminal 4 is home to multiple transatlantic red-eye departures, the Wingtips Lounge gets more crowded.

It’s still a pleasant place to relax for a bit, especially with the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows with airside views. That said, it’ll be more crowded than the Newark Clubhouse and offer a more limited dining menu.

If you're someone who wants to maximize your predeparture experience, then it could definitely make sense to take the Newark flight.

Service flow

Singapore Airlines is perhaps best known for its impressive onboard service across all cabins, but especially in those at the pointy end of the plane.

While you’ll have about 19 hours to enjoy the well-regarded service, there are a few notable differences between the two routes.

Given that the Newark flight departs in the late morning, the first meal service is lunch, whereas the JFK flight begins with supper.

For those familiar with Singapore’s meal service flow, supper is an express version of a traditional multicourse dinner service, with fewer touchpoints and less food.

That’s not to say you’ll go hungry on the JFK route — it’s just that the first meal isn’t as comprehensive as the one after departure from Newark. (In my case, I had no problem having a more substantial dinner at home before heading to JFK.)

Both flights offer a second a la carte meal service around midway through the journey, followed by a light snack just before arrival.

If you’re looking to partake in the most extensive service that Singapore has to offer, the Newark flight will have you covered.

Book the Cook

In addition to the standard meal choices, Singapore offers a unique catering concept known as “Book the Cook.”

As part of this preorder service, you can select from a much larger menu of entrees for each of your meals. You must preorder from the Book the Cook menu, as Singapore doesn’t stock any of those choices on board without a prior reservation.

The Book the Cook menu varies based on the departure airport and which caterer Singapore contracts in each location.

While Singapore partners with the Flying Food Group for both the Newark and JFK flights, the airline offers different Book the Cook options from each airport.

You can take a look at the full menu to get a sense of the different options on each flight, but the Newark one has three additional options that you can't find on the JFK menu.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Just note that Singapore’s famed lobster thermidor is only available for flights departing from Singapore, including both the JFK and Newark routes.

Either way, if you are someone who likes to enjoy every aspect of the business-class experience, it might make sense to route on the Newark flight.

Daylight and routing

Staying healthy and sane on the world’s two longest flights isn’t necessarily easy.

While you’ll want to make sure you’re taking regular walks up and down the aisle to boost circulation, I’ve found that the amount of daylight there is outside can have a big difference in how “normal” the flight feels.

If you’re looking to guarantee that you’ll experience some daylight on your flight, you should definitely choose the Newark route. No matter which routing the flight takes, you’re going to experience some daylight just after departure and then again before arrival.

Meanwhile, when the JFK flight takes a transpacific route, there won’t be any daylight at all during the flight. If it instead takes a transatlantic route, you should experience some daylight during the middle of the flight.

Of course, you won’t know which routing you’ll get until just before departure, based on winds and other environmental factors.

On my recent JFK flight, we took a transpacific route. As an aviation enthusiast, I was thrilled since it marked my first transpacific crossing since before the pandemic.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

But, that also meant I didn’t see the sun for 19 hours. That felt especially draining on my body, though it did have a big silver lining: I caught a glimpse of the northern lights when I woke up in the middle of the night.

An internet boost

While this isn’t necessarily a difference between the two routes, I was happy to see that Singapore has updated its Wi-Fi pricing model during the pandemic.

Instead of charging based on usage (which is what I experienced back in November 2019 on the Newark route), the airline has transitioned to a time-based model, at least on the JFK flight I took.

ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Priced at $15.99 for a full-flight pass, I had nonstop connectivity for much of the flight. The service, provided by Panasonic, was one of the best I’ve experienced from the provider in recent memory.

Download and upload speeds hovered around 3 Mbps, and the connection was stable for the entire flight.

What doesn’t change

While there are some notable differences between the two flights, many aspects are consistent across the entire experience.

This includes the “hard” product — everything that’s physically attached to the aircraft itself. Both the Newark and JFK flights are operated by the Airbus A350-900ULR, which features just 161 seats, split across two cabins.

The 67 business-class pods are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access for each passenger. This proprietary product first debuted in 2013, and it receives mixed reviews from flyers.

The seat manually converts into a bed by pulling a lever near the headrest. The seat flips over to create a lie-flat surface. Even with a mattress pad, the bed is quite firm.

Plus, given the angle of the footrest, you need to sleep diagonally, unless you’re very short or select a bulkhead pod, which offers a larger and more expansive footwell area.

Other elements that are identical across both flights include the amenities you receive, the beverage list and Singapore’s fantastic KrisWorld entertainment system, which is loaded with plenty of content to keep you busy for the entire 19-hour journey.

For more about the world’s longest flight, be sure to check out TPG’s review of the Newark route, as well as TPG’s take on flying the JFK route.

Featured photo by ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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