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Now boarding: Passengers ready for world’s longest flight



Passengers were getting ready to board the world’s longest flight on Thursday — a marathon 19 hours in the air between Singapore and New York.

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 (10,400-mile) journey to the Big Apple.

Singapore Airlines Flight SQ22 will use the long-range Airbus A350-900ULR, configured to carry 161 passengers — 67 in business class and 94 in premium economy.

For the flight crew — which also includes two first officers and a 13-strong cabin contingent — the work load will be broken up, the airline said, with every person getting a mandatory minimum four hours’ rest.

But for passengers, the challenge will be what to do with all that down time up in the air.

For those not packing a weighty novel (or two), there will be 1,200 hours of audio-visual entertainment to choose from.


Dining options will include dishes the airline says have been selected to promote well-being in the skies, with organic dishes on the menu.

The cabin has higher-than-normal ceilings, larger windows and lighting designed to reduce jet lag — all part of an effort to lessen the stresses that can accompany almost a day on a plane.

“Research has shown that hydration and food intake are important factors (to consider), such as avoiding foods that cause gas or bloating as well as excessive alcohol,” Rhenu Bhuller, a healthcare expert at consultancy Frost & Sullivan, told AFP.

“The biggest concern is Deep Vein Thrombosis from a combination of sitting for too long and also from dehydration,” said Gail Cross, an associate consultant at the National University Hospital in Singapore.


– ‘Race between airlines’ –

The twin-engine plane that will make the journey uses a modified system that burns 25 percent less fuel compared to other aircraft of a similar size, Airbus said.

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.

Singapore Airlines originally flew the route for nine years using the gas-guzzling, four-engine A340-500 before abandoning it in 2013 because high oil prices made the service unprofitable.


But the carrier is hoping that the introduction of more fuel-efficient planes will set cash registers ringing even as crude prices soar above $80.

Thursday’s flight will top the current longest direct link between cities — Qatar Airways Flight 921 from Auckland to Doha, which takes 17 hours 40 minutes.

“It’s turning out to be a race between a few airlines eyeing the longest routes inter-continentally,” said Shukor Yusof of aviation consultancy Endau Analytics.

“They are hoping to capitalise and exploit a very niche market,” he told AFP.


Facing increasingly strong competition in recent years, Singapore Airlines has consolidated its low-fare subsidiaries and is strengthening its premium segment.

“Ultra-long haul services comprise an important component of that strategy,” an airline spokesman told AFP.

The company is the first airline in the world to operate the A350-900ULR plane. It received the first aircraft in September. Six more are due for delivery by the end of the year.

“We are optimistic about the demand for non-stop services to the US,” the spokesman said.

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Iran and US trade barbs after drone incident and ahead of new sanctions



The United States on Monday was due to tighten sanctions on Iran as the two countries traded barbs in a tense standoff sparked by Washington's withdrawal from a nuclear deal.

Both nations say they want to avoid going to war, but tensions have spiralled as a series of incidents, including attacks on tankers and the shooting down of a US drone by Iran in the Gulf, raised fears of an unintended slide towards conflict.

On Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said a US-made MQ9 Reaper "spy drone" -- also widely used for carrying out military strikes -- had encroached his country's airspace on May 26.

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John Oliver warns Trump didn’t have an ‘Ebenezer Scrooge moment’ deciding to be ‘good’ — he’s still Trump



John Oliver Trump hair

The best thing you can say about Donald Trump is that he "maybe hasn't eaten a dolphin before," John Oliver joked on his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight."

Oliver warned people that while Trump had a "change of heart" about Iran it was only about Iran. "He didn't have an Ebenezer Scrooge moment, threw open a window and yelled, 'I'm going to be good from now on!'" the host explained. "No, he just didn't bomb some people."

As Fox News explained, the drown that Iran shot down was not simply one from Amazon. Oliver said it wasn't like Trump said, "Alexa, send a drone to surveil Iran." According to Fox's genius analysis, those drones cost actual money.

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Donald Trump’s biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions as his attorney general



In an interview that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump told "Meet the Press" that his biggest regret is choosing Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general.

"If you could have one do-over as president, what would it be?" NBC host Chuck Todd asked Trump during their interview.

This article first appeared at Salon.com.After the president replied that his do over would involve "personnel," he elaborated that "I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general." When Todd asked Trump to clarify if he thought appointing Sessions was his "worst mistake," the president reiterated "yeah, that was the biggest mistake." He added that Sessions is "very talented" but was cut off by a new line of questioning from Todd before he could elaborate.

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