Singapore Airlines Flights 21 and 22

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Singapore Airlines Flights 21 and 22 (SQ21/SIA21 and SQ22/SIA22, respectively) were the two longest regularly scheduled non-stop flights in the world. They were operated from 28 June 2004[1] to 23 November 2013,[2] using Airbus A340-500, and again from 11 October 2018 through 24 March 2020[3] with an Airbus A350-900ULR. The flights are currently suspended indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

The flights traveled between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), covering 15,344-kilometre (8,285 nmi) (SQ 21, EWR to SIN) and 16,600-kilometre (9,000 nmi) (SQ 22, SIN to EWR) in about 18 hours' flight time.[4]


In June 2004, Singapore Airlines introduced Flight SQ21, using the Airbus A340-500 on a record breaking 15,344-kilometre (8,285 nmi) great circle route from Newark to Singapore, passing within 130 kilometres (70 nmi) of the North Pole.[5] Taking a little over 18 hours, Flight SQ21 was scheduled to take off from Newark at 23:00 EDT (11:00 SGT) and land in Singapore at 4:05 SGT (16:05 EDT).[6]

This non-stop scheduled-commercial distance was immediately surpassed by return Flight SQ22, which flew the still current (to April 2016) record 16,600-kilometre (9,000 nmi) back to Newark, on a route over Asia and Alaska.[7] Despite the greater distance, Flight SQ22 averaged a slightly shorter 17 h 45 min due to assistance from prevailing high-altitude winds.[8]


An Airbus A340-500, which formerly flew this route. This aircraft is now in storage.

Original service (2004–2013)[edit]

The plane originally used for the Singapore–Newark route was an Airbus A340-500. It had 14 cabin crew and six flight deck officers, each working four-hour shifts.[9]

The flight required 222,000 litres of fuel, ten times the weight of the passengers. Critics said that while there would be reduced noise pollution due to a stop not being required, the non-stop flight would save little fuel due to the need to use more energy at the beginning of the flight to power its heavy load.[9]

The airline said that this route would save four hours off a one-stop service. However, medical experts expressed concerns regarding the 18-hour flight, in which passengers would breathe recycled air with a greater chance of picking up viral infections such as flu and colds on board. Furthermore, the heart and lungs would come under increased strain from a lower than usual supply of oxygen, with an enhanced risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) among people who fail to exercise frequently on board. The airline had installed special lockers on the aircraft to store the corpses of any passengers that died en route, since the flight's routing over the Pacific Ocean and the North Pole meant that there were few, if any, possible unscheduled stops.[9][10]

Singapore Airlines originally offered 64 business class and 117 Executive Economy Class seats on this flight. SIA phased out the Executive Economy Class in favor of 100-seat all-Business Class flights in 2008.[11]

2013 suspension[edit]

In October 2012, Singapore Airlines announced that it would discontinue non-stop service to both Newark and Los Angeles in 2013. Revenue was no longer high enough to sustain the service and the routes were dropped in November 2013.[12][13]

As part of a deal announced with Airbus, the airline would sell back its five Airbus A340-500 aircraft to the aircraft manufacturer while ordering 5 extra Airbus A380 and another 20 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft.[14]

The airline continued serving Los Angeles via Tokyo Narita as it had during the period with the non-stop flights. It continued to serve the New York metropolitan area (in which Newark is located) via the nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport, with a stop at Frankfurt Airport.[15]

Relaunch (2018–2020)[edit]

A Singapore Airlines A350-900 (non-ULR version) at Amsterdam Schiphol

On 13 October 2015, Singapore Airlines announced that it had signed an agreement with Airbus to be the launch customer of a new version of the Airbus A350 XWB called the A350-900ULR (for "Ultra Long Range"), which according to the announcement would feature "all-new cabin products which are currently under development."[16]

On 30 May 2018, Singapore Airlines announced the relaunch of the service starting 11 October 2018 (Singapore departure), with daily service commencing 18 October 2018.[17] The flights used the Airbus A350-900ULR, in a 161-seat configuration (67 Business and 94 Premium Economy seats). This is a modified version of the standard Airbus A350-900, with fuel capacity increased from 141,000 liters to 165,000 liters (37,000 US gal to 44,000 US gal), and with a maximum range of 9,700 nmi (18,000 km). The A350-900ULR is expected to consume 25% less fuel versus the A340-500.[18] The re-launched flight to Newark operates as a red-eye flight, with a morning departure from Singapore.[19] The airline finally received the aircraft on September 26 [20] and relaunched the flight on 11 October 2018.[21] These flights were typically staffed with four pilots and 13 flight attendants.[22]

As of 25 March 2020, these flights are currently suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[3]

The details of the first re-launched Singapore Airlines Flights 22 and 21 were as follows:

Departs/arrives Singapore (SST ; UTC+8) Newark (EDT ; UTC−4) UTC Duration
SQ 22 departs Singapore 23:35
11 October
11:35 a.m.
October 11
11 October
18:25 hours
SQ 22 arrives in Newark 18:00
12 October
6:00 a.m.
October 12
12 October
SQ 21 departs Newark 22:45
12 October
10:45 a.m.
October 12
12 October
17:45 hours
SQ 21 arrives in Singapore 17:30
13 October
5:30 a.m.
October 13
13 October


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