Crew Outnumber Passengers On The World’s Longest Flight

Over the last year, empty aircraft have sadly become an all-too-common occurrence. Strict and changeable travel restrictions brought about by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have caused passenger numbers to drop sharply. This was exemplified on Singapore Airlines flight 24 to New York JFK last night, where there were more crew members onboard than passengers!

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350 Getty
The Airbus A350 in question was very lightly loaded last night. Photo: Getty Images

Mismatched crew and passenger numbers

Singapore Airlines is known for operating the world’s longest scheduled commercial flight, which connects its hub at Singapore Changi (SIN) with New York JFK. Unfortunately, the current state of international travel means that there is little demand for the service. This was epitomized last night when Twitter user Steve Giordano found that he was one of just 11 passengers onboard! This figure was so low that the flight’s 13-strong crew outnumbered their guests. reported that the flight departed Singapore four minutes ahead of schedule, at 01:11 local time. It continued to make up time throughout its transpacific journey, arriving into New York at 07:24. This represented an arrival that was 31 minutes ahead of schedule, the punctuality of which surely pleased the 11 passengers and 13 crew members. SQ24’s total flight duration was still a mammoth 18 hours and 13 minutes.

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SQ24 Flightpath 13April
A cartographic depiction of SQ24’s 18-hour journey last night. Image:

Return of the world’s longest flight

Even a service as reversed as the world’s longest flight has not been immune from the effects of the global health crisis. Indeed, at the beginning of the pandemic, Singapore Airlines was forced to suspend this eye-catching service indefinitely as of March 25th, 2020. A lengthy hiatus followed, but it eventually returned to the skies last November.

However, Singapore Airlines made an alteration upon its return. Before the pandemic, the US-bound service was numbered as SQ22, and served Newark. However, since the November restart, it has served New York JFK as SQ24. Despite projected low passenger numbers, the carrier was confident that cargo demand would make the service worthwhile.

Continued A350 fleet growth

The aircraft that operated Singapore Airlines flight SQ24 last night bore the registration 9V-SGE. reports that this aircraft has been with the airline since November 2018. It is one of seven specially-configured Airbus A350-900ULR aircraft to fly for Singapore Airlines, which is the only carrier to fly the type.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Travel Bubble, Mandatory Vaccine
Singapore Airlines is the world’s largest A350 operator. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Its low-density, premium-heavy seating configuration makes it an ideal choice for ultra-long-haul sectors like Singapore-New York. According to SeatGuru, it features just 161 seats, consisting of 67 business class flatbeds and 94 premium economy recliners. In contrast, Singapore Airlines’ regular A350-900s have 253 or 303 seats.

The A350 is becoming an increasingly significant aircraft family for the carrier. Indeed, as well as being the world’s only operator of the A350-900ULR, Singapore Airlines is also the world’s largest operator for the A350 family as a whole. It has expanded its A350 fleet despite the pandemic, and, this month, it received three A350s in one day. In total, reports that the carrier operates 55 A350s, with an average age of just 2.6 years old.

What do you make of this curious occurrence on the world’s longest flight? Have you ever had a similar journey with more crew than passengers? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!