The world’s longest non-stop flight needs some extra-comfy seats.
Passengers booked on the world’s longest flight – a 19-hour nonstop of more than 9,000 nautical miles between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey, set to commence this October — needn’t worry about numb butt syndrome.
The Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 ULR (an acronym denoting that it’s modified for efficient Ultra Long Range flying) serving the marathon route won’t be subjecting its fliers to economy class.
Travelers on this premier route will instead have a choice of just two premium classes: the 67-seat Business Class cabin, or the 94-seat cabin of Premium Economy seats so good they could almost pass for Business Class.
Now that the aircraft are only months away from delivery, it’s crunch time for the airline and Zodiac Aerospace, manufacturer of the seats the airline has heavily customized.
Inside the factory
To discover just how complex it is to construct an airplane seat, let alone one destined for the world’s longest flight, CNN Travel headed behind the scenes at Zodiac’s factory in Gainesville, Texas, as the last sets of the Premium Economy seats for the ULR aircraft came off the production line.
It’s here that vacuum form-molding, plasma-cutting and skilled handiwork turn raw materials, like reams of leather and 50-foot-long sheets of structural aluminum, into neatly packaged feats of engineering that manage to relax, comfort and entertain as passengers fly from one side of the Earth to the other.
Although Singapore Airlines has been flying Premium Economy since 2015, the incredibly lengthy routes planned for the ULR aircraft, combined with their uniquely spacious layout, necessitated some updates, including shifting the seat-back pocket higher for improved knee and shin space, redesigning the bottle holders and cocktail table, and introducing a entirely new model: single “throne” seats with side storage bins that take the place of a seatmate.
Six of these solo seats are located at the rear of the Premium Economy cabin, where the layout goes from 2-4-2 to 1-4-1, and are already proving popular for bookings.