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The joys of air travel … and why I’m in it for the short haul

FLYING has its benefits, the foremost being the speed at which you can relocate from a dreich day in Scotland to a blink of sun in Spain or some sightseeing in Slovakia. The downside is you’ve got to be in the air to do it.

The joys of air travel … and why I’m in it for the short haul

No, I’m not a fan of air travel, but embrace it with trepidation, a large gin and tonic and a good dose of Rescue Remedy as a means to an end. The promise of a holiday adventure on landing is sufficient incentive. And the shorter the flight the better.

So the prospect of spending 18 hours and 25 minutes in a metal tube in the sky fills me with considerable panic. The “how the hell do we stay up here?” conundrum is bad enough on a hop to Alicante. More than 18 hours fretting over this question could blow the mind.

The title for the world’s longest commercial flight was reclaimed last week by Singapore Airlines after it relaunched its Singapore to New York route. The thrice-weekly

9534-mile flight overtakes Qatar Airways’ Doha to Auckland route as the world’s longest in terms of distance.

Of course, this record-breaking service comes at a price: a return flight in premium economy starts from £1230 per person; a business class return fare starts from around £3800. And there are just two passenger classes. None of your scummy economy seats for these high-flyers. Only business and premium economy passengers need apply, meaning the number of seats on the plane drops from 253 to an exclusively roomier 161.

Business class passengers have 67 flat-bed seats at the back of the plane, while the 94 premium economy seats, which recline by eight inches, are spaced out so that there are 38 inches between seats.

The high-spec plane – an A350 – also has bigger windows, a higher ceiling and a wider body, with less noise in the cabin and LED lighting to help reduce jet lag. It is also able to tolerate higher cabin pressure, which means more oxygen and moisture in the air for passengers.

So in the midst of such costly luxury, what’s on the menu when the wee plastic dishes come round that comprise more packaging than food? As well as Singapore Airlines’ usual choices that include rib-eye steak and lobster thermidor, a “wellness” menu will be served which “aims to counteract minimal body movement and long flight duration”. Dishes include prawn ceviche, organic chicken with courgette pappardelle and lox eggs Benedict. I suspect no plastic cutlery is involved.

But once you’ve relaxed in your comfy seat and scoffed your wellness scran, how will you pass the time for all those hours in the air? Inflight entertainment has been boosted to include an extra 200 hours of films and TV shows, making 1200 hours of content available. Blockbuster films screening this month include Ocean’s 8 and Incredibles 2. Haud me back.

Fortunately, there’s WiFi available onboard … for a fee.

A fee?! You spend more than a grand on your seat and there’s no free WiFi?

That’s it. I’m cancelling my tickets. I’ll stick with cheap, cheerful … and short.

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