The Longest Flight in the World: Introduction
SQ22 Inaugural Gate Party
Singapore Airlines A350-900 ULR Business Class SIN-EWR
AMEX Centurion Lounge IAH
United Polaris Lounge IAH
ANA B77W Business Class IAH-NRT
ANA B787-9 Business Class NRT-SIN
SQ 22 departs at 2335, so naturally I showed up at the airport 5 hours early. Inaugural flights make you do that sort of thing.
Terminal 3 was all quiet when I arrived, but there was a kind of slow burning buzz building up around the flight. SQ22 had been all the talk on major planespotter and avgeek forums for weeks. Major media outlets were flying in to Singapore to cover the flight. The SQ PR apparatus was out in full force. It was certainly going to be an interesting evening.
My first stop was the Row 8 check-in counters. The check-in associate cheerfully told me that I was the first passenger he’d checked-in for SQ22 so far- all the other passengers had gravitated towards other counters. He joked that he felt left out of the occasion.
I was more than happy to be his first, and we had an extended chat about the flight as he tagged my bags. I learned that the flight still had a few seats open in Premium Economy, and that almost half the passengers had already checked-in even at this early hour.
He handed me my boarding pass, but in his exuberance, forgot to pass me the invitation to the gate party. I gently reminded him about the large pile on his desk.
I asked him to help me snap a photo, and he obliged. Here’s what a a ridiculously excited man in full Milelion regalia looks like:
It’s also at the check-in counters that I had a chance meeting with Tong from the SQ Public Affairs team, who graciously invited me to board the aircraft earlier so I could snap photos before the mayhem starts.
From check-in, it was straight to the Silver Kris lounge which was seeing a pretty busy evening.
The Silver Kris lounge recently introduced live cooking stations in the Business Class section. That’s a nice change of pace from the usual static buffet, and the chef told me they’ve been doing this since June.
The wanton mee they had was a very good rendition, all things considered.
A few hours later, I was guested to the First Class section of the lounge by a kind-hearted Milelion reader who wished to remain anonymous. This meant a champagne upgrade:
Which paired nicely with some chicken rice. My obligation to try the meals arising from Singapore Airline’s wellness partnership with Canyon Ranch meant this was the last junk food for 19 hours, so I’d better indulge now.
It’s here that I also met David Flynn from AusBT, who cued me in that we were actually flying 9V-SGB tonight, not 9V-SGA. 9V-SGA was the first A350-900ULR delivered to SQ, but apparently it’s had to spend some time in the shop.
At 2135 I left the lounge to make the long hike to Gate B8, where the party was already underway.
Say what you will about Singapore Airlines, but they really know how to throw a party. There was a real carnival atmosphere going on here- roving Polaroid photographers, a fully-stocked buffet, numerous standees for photo ops. I did my best impression of wallpaper and tried not to make eye contact with anyone, because social interactions frighten me.
At the gate I met Wilson, another Milelion reader. He told me excitedly that Richard Quest was on the flight. “Oh, cool!” I said, before googling his name on my phone when no one was looking.
Everyone was so busy taking photos and hobnobbing that I was actually one of the first to partake of the buffet.
The spread was impressive as far as gate parties go. The SATS staff told me that they wanted to go with New York themed foods, like buffalo wings, New York cheesecake and the like. However, there were also Asian staples like satay, fried rice and fried fish with vegetables.
There was also Nicolas Feuillatte Brut champagne, which I believe SQ now serves in Premium Economy (so long Ernest Rapeneau).
I assembled a plate with a little bit of everything and tucked in. Unfortunately, I spotted something amiss about the chicken wings…
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure those weren’t cooked properly. I went into full-blown hypochondriac panic realising I’d already eaten half of it.
The thought of spending the world’s longest flight in a plane full of passengers with food poisoning didn’t exactly appeal to me, so I quickly flagged this to the SATS staff. The head chef apologised and the chicken wings were quickly removed from the spread.
At this point I was still freaking out about my prospective gastroenteritis, so it’s probably good that the next two Milelion readers I met were both doctors. Kai Lun and Jeng How are part of a group of avgeeks who endeavor to fly all the inaugurals, and they came out for the event in full force, with matching shirts in tow.
They told me that I most likely wasn’t going to die, which was somewhat reassuring.
2230 came and the festivities started. There were a couple of speeches…
…followed by a few song items by the Cabin Crew Performing Arts Circle. New York, New York was of course on the playlist.
After the show finished, the SQ girls formed a guard of honor in front of the boarding gate, posing for a few final photos before parting to signal the start of the boarding process.
And this brought us nicely to the main event. Just after 2300, boarding was called. Singapore Airline’s spanking new A350-900ULR and the world’s longest flight awaited…
Found this post useful? Subscribe to our Telegram Channel to get these posts pushed directly to your phone, or our newsletter (on the right of your screen) for the latest deals and hacks delivered to your inbox.