Introduction: The World’s Longest Flight, Via Ahmedabad

Introduction: The World’s Longest Flight, Via Ahmedabad

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Welcome to my next trip report, which will cover travel in Etihad first & business class, as well as travel in Singapore business class on the world’s (new) longest flight.

Planning the trip

Singapore Airlines resumed the world’s longest flight, between Singapore and Newark, as of October 11, 2018. I always like to experience new products shortly after they’re launched, so the focus of this trip was to find a way to try this.

Booking flights

Ideally I would have redeemed KrisFlyer miles for Singapore Airlines’ new business class, though at the time I was booking they weren’t releasing saver level seats (fortunately in the meantime they do release these).

The good news is that Singapore Airlines publishes very attractive business class fares out of some markets, especially Ahmedabad, India.

In July, Singapore Airlines had ~$1,300 one-way business class fares from Ahmedabad to Singapore to Newark, so I booked one of those for a date that worked for me. The routing for that was as follows:

10/27 SQ531 Ahmedabad to Singapore departing 10:50PM arriving 7:10AM (+1 day) [Business]
10/29 SQ22 Singapore to Newark departing 12:40AM arriving 6:30AM [Business]

Singapore Airlines is an Alaska Mileage Plan partner, so as an MVP Gold member I’d be earning quite a few miles for this trip. I’d earn 100% elite qualifying miles and 300% redeemable miles, meaning I’d earn ~12,100 elite qualifying miles and ~36,300 redeemable miles. I value those redeemable miles at almost two cents each, so that’s equal to about half of my ticket cost. Nice!

Then I only booked the outbound portion of the trip a couple of weeks before departure, because I couldn’t decide how to get there. In the end I decided to redeem 115,000 American AAdvantage miles to fly Etihad’s 787 first class from Washington to Abu Dhabi, connecting to Etihad business class to Ahmedabad:

10/25 EY130 Washington to Abu Dhabi departing 10:10PM arriving 7:10PM (+1 day) [First]
10/26 EY288 Abu Dhabi to Ahmedabad departing 11:00PM arriving 3:40AM (+1 day) [Business]

In the end, my routing looked as follows:

The morning I landed at Newark I actually flew same day from New York JFK to Nairobi, though I’ll be covering that trip in the next report.

Booking hotels

As you can see, on this trip I had four overnight flights, and on this trip I wasn’t actually spending any night at a hotel. However, in order to maintain my sanity, I decided to book some hotel rooms during the day so I could get rest. On this trip I had:

  • A layover from 3:40AM until 10:50PM in Ahmedabad
  • A layover from 7:10AM until 12:40AM in Singapore

For the most part hotels are designed to only accommodate “traditional” check-in times (technically with Marriott I get a “Your24” benefit, but I haven’t even had much luck with that, as it can only be confirmed a few days out).

In Ahmedabad I decided on the Hyatt, which is a Category 1 property, meaning a redemption cost only 5,000 points per night. I decided to just book a stay for two nights so I’d have a room to rest in during my entire layover. I could use the elite qualifying nights anyway.

Singapore was a bit trickier. Initially I booked a day room at the Crowne Plaza Changi, which cost 180SGD (which is steep, but I needed the rest). That includes an eight hour blocked, so I booked from 9AM until 5PM.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to sleep as well as I was hoping during the day, so when 5PM rolled around and it was time to check-out, I really didn’t want to go into the terminal for seven hours. So I used my anniversary free night certificate on the IHG Card to book another night there, so I could stay at the hotel until my flight was departing.

In retrospect I should have probably just booked a night there and seen how early they would have checked me in, though I didn’t potentially want to have to wait until the afternoon to check-in after taking several overnight flights.

Bottom line

I’m happy I finally had the chance to try Etihad’s 787 first class (it’s the only plane on which I haven’t flown Etihad’s first class), and also that I had the chance to experience Singapore’s business class on the world’s longest flight.

This was only a portion of the overall trip I was taking, because when I landed at Newark I headed over to New York JFK to take the Kenya Airways inaugural flight to Nairobi, and then returned to New York via London on British Airways. So that was six overnight flights in a row.

That sounds like it would be exhausting, but I actually find it all to be quite relaxing and enjoyable.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

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  1. DC

    @Manson - Yes and no. I have 10 year visas for most destinations that I travel to; India included so often we don't have to get visas every time.

    I also own six valid passports since my government allows it. They are all annotated referring the other passports, but doesn't mean that I have to carry the other passports.

  2. John Ham

    These layovers sound like a Pilot and Flight Attendant schedule. Welcome to my world haha

  3. Greg

    A few thoughts/replies:

    Manson: I do not know whether Ben (Lucky) does this or not, but it is actually legally possible for any U.S. citizen to have multiple U.S. passports active simultaneously for just the reason you cite (visa processing). For example, I have five international trips between November 20th and the end of January.

    Eddie: This situation you ask about has been around for years and is the basis for so-called "hidden-city Ticketing" (which...

    A few thoughts/replies:

    Manson: I do not know whether Ben (Lucky) does this or not, but it is actually legally possible for any U.S. citizen to have multiple U.S. passports active simultaneously for just the reason you cite (visa processing). For example, I have five international trips between November 20th and the end of January.

    Eddie: This situation you ask about has been around for years and is the basis for so-called "hidden-city Ticketing" (which the Airlines say goes against their contract with the passenger). The short answer is supply vs. Demand, competition/market share, and local economic conditions.

    Angie: But that's exactly what Broadway reviewers do -- review a show before or right about the time it opens. I take your point though that it might be even better a month later after the kinks are worked out.

  4. schar

    Would be nice to include that Ahmedabad is in India. It's not that common of a place for people to automatically know where it is located!

    Also, how do you have so many never ending miles?

  5. Ankit Vaghela

    Seems like by the time you land in Ahmedabad, the city might have changed its name to 'Karnavati'. There will not be anything called 'Ahmedabad' after March 2019:

    https://www.news18.com/news/politics/ahmedabad-name-is-a-symbol-of-slavery-will-be-changed-before-2019-elections-gujarat-govt-1933407.html

  6. Ankit Vaghela

    @Lucky

    I am from Ahmedabad, And I strongly agree with your entry in India through Ahmedabad. Usually AMD is less crowded and security clearances are breeze compared to BOM and DEL. Do not expect any five stars amenities at this Airport like Mumbai and Delhi do. Your hotel transfer shall be fairly quick if you have booked Uber or Ola. I'd be more than glad to meet you in AMD!

  7. Manson

    How do you find the time to file for all the visas you need, Lucky? Don't you have to stay domestic while they are working their way through the system?

  8. Eddie

    Hey Lucky, why does the fare drop tremendously when you originate from a different city, in this case, Ahmemad than the airline's headquarter, in this case, Singapore?

    Thanks.

  9. Michael

    I've checked in at the Crowne Plaza Changi as early as 9am (when I showed up) with a regular booked night, no IHG status. This was in mid-December 2015, at the time I paid 261 SGD. Lovely tarmac views. Just a data point

  10. Stvr

    1. Did AA not let you ticket anything to get to IAD?

    2. You used a free night cert on a 100 USD hotel?!?

  11. Forty two

    @Dominik
    Both US and German passport holders need e-visas

  12. Mp

    In Ahmedabad try some local Gujarati food you will love it

  13. David S

    Did you get a work out in?

  14. Tom

    Lucky, do you stay on East Coast time the entire trip then? I know you say that is when you work (and I know that's when you always seem to post).

    Do you just keep an eye on your phone or something with the time you'd like to keep your body clock on? I think some of these trips for the products would be fun, but I can't imagine the havoc this must wreak on the body/mind, unless you try to diligently keep to a food/sleep schedule.

  15. Hepworth

    How’d you get to IAD?

  16. Angie

    Why do bloggers seek to review inaugural flights, or flights soon after they launch, which are much different that the experience once the flight is up and running? It would be like reviewing a broadway show whilst in previews instead of after opening night.

  17. yvr1

    @Dominik both US and EU passport holders need a Visa to enter India, I assume he didn't just transit through the airport.

  18. LM

    Thank you for keeping your sanity :)

  19. Dominik

    This might be jumping ahead a bit but can you clarify the transfer in Ahmedabad? Do you need a visa for US citizens or did you use your EU passport?

Featured Comments Load all 20 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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DC

@Manson - Yes and no. I have 10 year visas for most destinations that I travel to; India included so often we don't have to get visas every time. I also own six valid passports since my government allows it. They are all annotated referring the other passports, but doesn't mean that I have to carry the other passports.

John Ham

These layovers sound like a Pilot and Flight Attendant schedule. Welcome to my world haha

Greg

A few thoughts/replies: Manson: I do not know whether Ben (Lucky) does this or not, but it is actually legally possible for any U.S. citizen to have multiple U.S. passports active simultaneously for just the reason you cite (visa processing). For example, I have five international trips between November 20th and the end of January. Eddie: This situation you ask about has been around for years and is the basis for so-called "hidden-city Ticketing" (which the Airlines say goes against their contract with the passenger). The short answer is supply vs. Demand, competition/market share, and local economic conditions. Angie: But that's exactly what Broadway reviewers do -- review a show before or right about the time it opens. I take your point though that it might be even better a month later after the kinks are worked out.

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