The world's longest flights and how to handle them

The world's longest flights and how to handle them
Have a more comfortable time on the world's longest flights, like Emirates' future Dubai to Panama service, with a few tips.
PHOTO: Emirates

Emirates is set to roll out the world's longest flight from Dubai to Panama, on February 1, 2016. The flight is projected to take 17 hours and 35 minutes, about 45 minutes longer than the current-longest flight.

While the flight is set to be the longest regularly scheduled route in the world next year, it is still a few hours behind the longest commercial route ever operated. That record goes to Singapore Airlines flight SQ21, from New York to Singapore.

The almost 19-hour non-stop route from Newark to Singapore was discontinued in November 2013, and Singapore Airlines' longest flight is now SQ306, from Singapore to London, at 13 hours 25 minutes.

At present, the longest international flight by flight time belongs to Qantas' flight QF8 from Dallas to Sydney at 16 hours and 50 minutes.

For flights departing from the Asia Pacific region, the longest flights are Cathay Pacific flight CX830 from Hong Kong to New York at 15 hours 50 minutes, and QF8's return flight, QF7. The flight from Sydney to Dallas covers the same distance, but takes 'only' 15 hours 35 minutes.

For travel enthusiasts looking for a far-flung holiday, Emirates' upcoming flight is certainly welcome news. However, there are issues that crop up during long flights. These range from much publicised health problems to just plain boredom, so travellers need to be prepared to deal with these on the flight.

Travel search engine Kayak.sg has some suggestions for travellers, to make these flights as comfortable as possible.

1) Pick your time of travel wisely. If you have no problem sleeping on a plane, take the night flight and arrive well-rested the next day. If you can't sleep on the plane, book a day flight and have a nap when you arrive at your hotel overseas.

2) Pick your seat in advance. Set a reminder to check-in in advance to get your preferred seat. It may not matter so much for a short flight, but for those long- and ultra-long hauls, you don't want to be stuck in the middle seat or end up with a seat close to the toilet.

3) Pack your travel essentials. Wear something comfortable before going on a long-haul flight, and layer your clothes so you can add or remove extra garments depending on the temperature.

Bring along an eye mask, earplugs, scarf, and pillow if you want to create your own cosy cocoon to sleep in. It would also be handy to pack toiletries, like your comb and toothbrush to freshen up after the flight.

4) Pack entertainment. Yes, there are in-flight movies and other distractions on board, but nothing quite beats watching (or reading) your own personal favourites, especially if you're one of the passengers flying to Panama from Dubai next year.

andrewg@sph.com.sg

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