United Airlines has reinforced its claim to the mantle of longest non-stop flight out of the US with the launch of its new Los Angeles-Singapore service on Sunday, which it first announced back in June.
Clocking in at about 14,000 kilometres, the route supplants the previous titleholder, Qantas’s Airbus A380 superjumbo flights between Sydney and Dallas. United’s new route is operated by its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, which has 48 business, 88 Economy Plus and 116 economy class seats.
Flying daily, the new service departs Los Angeles at 2125, arriving at 0620 two days later in Singapore. The return leg flies out of Singapore at 1100 and arrives in Los Angeles at 1115 the same day.
And while this is a new route for United, it’s not the first time a non-stop service has flown between the two cities. Fellow Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines previously operated the route, but dropped it in 2013 when rising fuel costs made it unfeasible. That said, the carrier is aiming to re-launch the service when it receives its new Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) aircraft.
This service is also slightly longer than United’s San Francisco-Singapore flights, which it launched last summer and had previously held the title for the longest Dreamliner flight from the US.
But although the 17 hour 55 minute flight edges past Qatar Airways’ 17 hour 40 minute Doha-Auckland service – the current titleholder for longest non-stop commercial flight in the world – it still loses out by distance. Qatar Airways’ flight comes in at 14,535 kilometres, over 500 more than United’s new flights.
There are, however, other flights in the works that are nipping at the heels of both these services. Qantas is launching its non-stop Perth-London flights in March, which will take about 17 hours and cover approximately 14,498 kilometres.
Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has expressed its intention to re-launch its Singapore-Newark service, which it also cut in 2013 alongside its Los Angeles flights, with its A350-900ULR that will come in at 15,344 kilometres and a flight time of between 18 and 19 hours. This was previously flown by the A340-500, the only aircraft that could make the journey.
None of these come close to the longest commercial flight ever made, however, which was a one-off flight by Qantas between Sydney and London using one of its Boeing 747s, which took just over 20 hours and covered about 18,000 kilometres. That said, Qantas is currently looking to re-launch the service by around 2022, and while no aircraft can currently make the journey economically, both Airbus and Boeing have heeded the airline’s call to develop aircraft that could fly the distance.