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How the IT Girl found bliss at 35,000 or so feet

November 3, 2010

From the Great Circle Mapper

This summer, I had the chance to take the trip of a lifetime.  Sure, it was a business trip, but it was still a remarkable experience.  I was invited to attend my company’s Asian sales meeting being held in Penang, Malaysia. 

To get there, I flew from the US to Penang via Singapore, taking Flight 21, aka the LONGEST FLIGHT IN THE WORLD.  Superlatives like that demand all caps.  18.5 hours.  Same plane.  No stops. 

The image above is what it looks like on a globe map.  Most people I talk to about the trip roll their eyes when they hear about that flight.  Or pity me.   But they are missing the point.  

When you go on this flight, you’re in an all business class configuration.  Seating looks a little like this:

Dreamy, huh? From Singapore Airlines' site

Sure, it’s a bit idealized, but not much.  Seating is 1-2-1, so each passenger has access to an aisle.  There are separate cabins, but each seat is pretty identical.  On the way to Singapore, I had an aisle seat.  For the return trip to Newark, I was in a window. 
Sidebar:  When I got on the plane, I noticed that the active, somewhere-around 18 months old boy who was tearing up the lounge was now sitting in the seats directly in front of me.  A toddler, a male toddler.  On an 18 hour flight.  Quickly after boarding, I calculated the hours that the boy might sleep, and started to panic.  The cabin steward assigned to my section saw my panic and offered me another seat towards the rear of the plane.  Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, as I have two.  But I also know that kids can be some of the worst flyers out there, and if I had an option to not sit near one, I was going to take it.  God bless the parents who had him walking through the aisles through much of the flight. It will be a long time before I take my son on a flight of more than 4 hours, much less 18.5.

Courtesy of the Singapore Airlines website

Anyhow, back to the seating.  Each seat has a wide-screen TV, input and power for an iPod, and a seat that turns into a flat-bed.  With a duvet and firm pillow. 

Are you starting to understand why I was so happy on board?  19 hours, without hearing, “I pooped, change me” or having to fetch someone some milk.  At the push of a call button, you could get a beverage or a bowl of comfort-food noodles.  And mealtime!  Delicious meals, all brought to you with no effort expended on your part.  Tired?  They’d make your flat-bed and you could get some sleep.  Heck, I got to watch all 3 Lord of the Rings movies one after another, without hearing moans of protest from assorted family members. And this went on for the better part of a day.  On the way there, you arrive in the morning Singapore time, so you try to sleep as much as you can.  It’s the reverse on the way home where you arrive at Newark in the evening.  I did a little of both, whenever I felt the need on each flight.   It was bliss, pure and simple. 
I arrived in Singapore mostly refreshed and ready for my connecting flight into Malaysia.  All in all, if you are considering going to that part of the world and are anxious about a long flight, don’t be.  I tell co-workers that I would gladly take this flight any day over the 2 hour tuna-can flight from NY to Indianapolis.  Singapore Airlines is how flying should be. 
Sadly, now it’s back to coach on cross-country flights and the tuna-can to Indy.  But someday….maybe I will go back.  An IT Girl can dream, can’t she?
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