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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 journey of the world's longest flight from Singapore to NY.

Singapore Airlines is set to launch a new non-stop service between Singapore and NY on Thursday, with a flight time of 18 hours and 45 minutes - and they'll be farewelling squishy economy seats for the plush new service.

The airline previously flew the same route, but stopped the service in 2013 due to inefficiency.

The four Singapore Airlines pilots (two captains and two first officers) on each ultralong-range A350-900 aren't allowed to fly to NY unless they haven't flown for 48 hours prior to take-off.

Passenger Peggy Ang, 52, said before the flight that she felt "apprehensive because I'm not sure what would I do in 18.5 hours" inside the plane.

The airline's senior vice-president for sales and marketing, Mr Campbell Wilson, who was also on the inaugural flight, said: "Tonight's event is one that we have been eagerly anticipating since then (2013, when the flight was axed)".

A spokeswoman for Singapore Airlines said that Flight SQ22 departed at approximately 11:35pm (1535 GMT) with 150 passengers and 17 crew on board. Until now, the longest direct commercial flight was between Doha in Qatar and Auckland, New Zealand, taking 17 hours and 30 minutes.

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.

To improve flight experience and reduce the stress that passengers will suffer for nearly a whole day in the air, the company has raised the ceiling of the cabin and has raised the windows.

Singaporean airlines is hoping that the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes will become a permanent thing as fuel prices continue to soar. "In addition, for 11 days this month only Singapore Airlines will be operating to Kolkata which will allow us to offer more seats to Singapore", Lim said. However, this flight will carry a maximum of 161 passengers.

Singapore Airlines and Silk Air do not seem to have been adversely affected by the depreciation in the value of the Indian Rupee. It received the first aircraft in September.

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. With SIA's new non-stop services, there will be 72 weekly passenger services between Changi and the USA, noted Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan.


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