The World’s 11 Best Flights For Aviation Geeks

The World’s 11 Best Flights For Aviation Geeks

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As any aviation geek can attest to, sometimes the journey can be even more fun than the destination. Over the years there are many flights I’ve been tempted to take simply because they seem “cool,” for a variety of reasons.

Anyway, in this post I wanted to share what I consider to be the coolest avgeek flights out there, in no particular order. I’d love to hear what other avgeek flights OMAAT readers find interesting as well. In no particular order…

The United Airlines island hopper

While you could fly nonstop from Honolulu to Guam in just over seven hours on a 777, what’s the fun in that? Instead you could take a 737 on United’s famous island hopper flight. Yes, it might add seven hours worth of travel time, even though you’re only flying an additional 500 miles or so. But you can stop on five different islands that you’d most likely never have the opportunity to visit.

This flight provides an essential link to all of these islands, which otherwise have very limited air service. And United even brings a mechanic on these flights, in case there are any problems along the way.

The United Airlines island hopper route

The Alaska Airlines milk run

You could fly nonstop from Seattle to Juneau, but what’s the fun in that, when you could instead take Alaska Airlines’ milk run? This flight operates from Seattle to Juneau via Ketchikan, Wrangell, and Petersburg. Some of the flights cover a distance of just 30 miles, and circle around glaciers.

Alaska Airlines operates several different milk run routes, connecting smaller communities in Alaska. For those wondering about the “milk run” name, it refers to how these flights have historically delivered important supplies (including milk) to small communities.

The Alaska Airlines milk run route

Speaking of Alaska Airlines flights, I also love the carrier’s flight to Adak Island, which is about as far west as you can get in the state of Alaska by air. How cool is that?!

Alaska Airlines flies from Anchorage to Adak Island

The Air France Caribbean island hopper

Air France has two Airbus A320s based in the Caribbean, given France’s connection to the region. These A320s are virtually identical to what you’d find in Europe, as they even feature the typical intra-Europe business class, just consisting of economy with blocked middle seats.

Arguably the coolest route these planes operate is the three segment journey between Miami and Cayenne. This flight operates via Pointe-à-Pitre and Fort-de-France.

The Air France island hopper route

Taking the world’s shortest commercial flight

Scottish regional ailrine Loganair operates the world’s shortest commercial flight, between Westray and Papa Westray. The flight is blocked at two minutes, and typically spends about a minute in the air, as it covers a distance of just 1.7 miles. The route is government subsidized, and has been operating continuously since 1967, so it has been around for quite a while.

You don’t often see a block time of two minutes!

Taking the world’s longest commercial flight

On the other end of the spectrum, you can take the world’s longest flight, between Singapore and New York. Singapore Airlines operates this route with specially configured A350-900ULRs (with the “ULR” standing for “ultra long range”). With a block time of over 18 hours, and a distance of nearly 9,600 miles, this is a really, really long flight.

On the plus side, everyone on this flight should be reasonably comfortable, given that the plane exclusively features business class and premium economy. Many of us avgeeks think there’s no such thing as a flight that’s too long, but this marathon flight puts that theory to the test.

Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULRs are super comfy!

Landing in St. Barts (SBH)

Gustaf III Airport is the airport on the popular Caribbean island of St. Barts. The airport is often regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world, given the short length of the runway (just over 2,000 feet), combined with the steep angle at which planes have to descend in order to land.

The airport has service to nearby islands, with one of the most popular routings being to Sint Maarten — that’s just a 20 mile flight, which regularly takes under 10 minutes.

Landing in Paro, Bhutan (PBH)

Bhutan is not only an incredible country to visit once you’re on the ground, but it’s also known for having an especially fun airport. Paro Airport is one of the most challenging airports to land at, and pilots who land here need to undergo special training.

Why is it so hard to land at the airport? Well, the airport is surrounded by mountains, and a very specific approach course is needed, and in many cases the runway can only be seen shortly before landing. When I flew Druk Air from Kathmandu to Paro I actually found the flight to be rather anti-climactic, which I guess is a testament to the excellent pilots.

Flying to the Canadian Arctic

This is probably more of a North America bucket list thing, but you can take some really cool flights in Northern Canada. Canadian North flies to destinations all over the Canadian Arctic, and you can even redeem Air Canada Aeroplan points for this.

For most of us, these are just destinations we might fly over on a long haul flight, but being able to land there seems so awesome (especially in summer, when it barely gets dark).

Canadian North’s routemap

Canadian North even wants to fly to Greenland, which would be oh-so-cool, given what a short flight it would be.

Flying to the world’s northernmost airport (LYR)

Svalbard Airport is the world’s northernmost airport with regularly scheduled flights. There are year-round flights to there from Oslo, and the flight takes roughly three hours.

The route from Oslo to Svalbard

Svalbard is in the Arctic circle, and in winter there is 24 hours of darkness, while in summer there’s 24 hours of daylight. I visited in 2016, and can’t recommend this trip enough.

A midnight cruise in Svalbard

Flying to the world’s most remote airport (IPC)

Easter Island’s Mataveri International Airport (IPC) is considered the world’s most remote airport with regularly scheduled service (the airport has regularly scheduled service to Santiago). This is measured by the distance from another airport, as the airport is roughly 2,300 miles from the closest diversion airport.

Because of how remote the airport is, special procedures have to be followed when flying there. For example, two planes can’t be flying to the airport at the same time without a suitable diversion point. That’s because if for whatever reason one plane blocked the runway, another plane wouldn’t have anywhere to divert to.

Easter Island has the world’s most remote airport

Drinking & showering on an Emirates A380

All the other flights on this list aren’t at all about the inflight experience, but rather are about the routes as such. I think one exception has to be made, and that’s for the Emirates Airbus A380. These planes are among the coolest in the sky, and two features in particular stand out — the A380 first class showers and the A380 business class bar.

If you’ve never showered before on a plane, it really is even cooler than it sounds. At this point I’ve had the privilege of showering on an Emirates A380 more times than I can count, and the thought of it still makes me giddy.

The incredible Emirates A380 shower

As far as the bar goes, what’s not to love about having your favorite cocktail while standing at a bar seven miles above the earth’s surface, while flying 500 miles per hour?

The Emirates A380 bar

Bottom line

There are all kinds of awesome flights out there for aviation geeks. From “hopper” flights with many stops, to very long and very short flights, to flying to the northernmost and most remote airports, the options are endless.

In all honesty, as I created this list I realized that there are endless cool options out there. In addition to the above, several other flights stand out, including Air Saint Pierre’s flight to Paris, Condor’s flight from Frankfurt to Whitehorse, Qantas’ Antarctica “flightseeing” itineraries, Air Greenland’s flight to Copenhagen, crossing the Atlantic on an all-business class La Compagnie A321neo, or taking any fifth freedom flight.

What are your favorite aviation geek flights?

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  1. Azamaraal Diamond

    IL-62 Singapore -Moscow

    Concorde LHR - JFK

    DC4 Wyndhoek - Etosha Pan

  2. Michelle Guest

    Have you tried the Glasgow to Barra flight please, landing on the only sand beach runway in the world and what was it like? Thank you in advance xx

  3. Jack Guest

    I still think the best Druk Air flight is at sunrise flying west from Paro to Kathmandu. Amazing views of Mount Everest.

  4. Dutchtree Guest

    Defintely add the Sint Maarten to Saba flight. Shortest commercial runway in the world, feels like crashing into the vulcano. Taking off resembles taking off from an aircraft carrier. Beautiful island, wonderful people, awesome hikes. Looking forward to a trip report, Lucky!

    1. Tomas Guest

      I flew SXM-Saba last week!
      Terrifying? No.
      Thrilling? Yes.
      You head straight toward the volcanic cone that is Saba then turn left + steeply descend to the airstrip. Departing, the twin Otter flies straight off a cliff :-)

  5. Sebastian Guest

    Great article and Bucket list!

    In 2019 I did the island hopper staying 2 nights in Chuuk, 2 nights in Pohnpei and 2 nights in Majuro, it was a fantastic route and I was sitting next to the mechanic. I also visited Easter Island twice (im live in Chile so is closed to Santiago) and landed in Paro. Another thing I would add would be to land and take off in Lukla, one of the...

    Great article and Bucket list!

    In 2019 I did the island hopper staying 2 nights in Chuuk, 2 nights in Pohnpei and 2 nights in Majuro, it was a fantastic route and I was sitting next to the mechanic. I also visited Easter Island twice (im live in Chile so is closed to Santiago) and landed in Paro. Another thing I would add would be to land and take off in Lukla, one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
    also i flew in Turkmenistan Airlines one of the most bizarre airlines I have ever flown

  6. François Guest

    I'd add BA1 LCY-SNN-JFK (RIP) and I bet AMS-SXM on the 744 was probably a treat as well.

  7. XPL Diamond

    I haven't flown any of these yet (thanks for the bucket list, Ben!) but a few that I fondly remember are:

    - Many landings at TGU, my former home airport which back in the day was a frequent entrant on "most dangerous airports" lists. Final approach was tricky and left window passengers got a great view of the wingtip seeming to scrape the rooftops. On touchdown gotta stop hard because the short runway ends with...

    I haven't flown any of these yet (thanks for the bucket list, Ben!) but a few that I fondly remember are:

    - Many landings at TGU, my former home airport which back in the day was a frequent entrant on "most dangerous airports" lists. Final approach was tricky and left window passengers got a great view of the wingtip seeming to scrape the rooftops. On touchdown gotta stop hard because the short runway ends with a cliff. Near the bottom of the cliff is a gas station because hey, why not. The tradition was to applaud upon safe landing. It has been replaced with a much safer airport, and no one applauds.
    - Departing CXF in a King Air, getting a final magnificent view of Gates of the Arctic National Park.
    - SLA to MDZ, right window, with the early morning sun lighting up the Andes as if they were on fire. I've been on many beautiful flights, as we all have, but that morning really reminded me why I love to fly.

  8. Edward Mallett Guest

    Playa del Carmen to Cozumel ---back in the day--- was 10 minutes and never above 1500 feet. Great view of the Caribbean for $25.00.

  9. JBR Guest

    No Air Koryo? They just re-started commercial flights to China.

  10. 767 Guest

    Not as glamorous as the UA island hopper but I once flew Bora-bora - Raiatea - Huahine - Papeete on an Air Tahiti ATR 72 when I could’ve flown BOB-PPT direct. Just because.

  11. Anil Patel Guest

    Jeju to Seoul is the busiest route in the world and you can still fly the hour long flight in a 747!

  12. snic Diamond

    I did SIN-NYC with my family recently in business class. It's long, but I slept for at least 8 hours of it and binge watched the entire "House of the Dragon" series for much of the rest of it (something I would never do on the ground, but it was quite entertaining in the air). It's absolutely doable in business class - and of course SQ's service is delightful.

  13. Petri Guest

    Landing / Take off from SAB is also worth a try..

  14. JetSetFly Guest

    Surprised you didn’t put Lukla on the list. But maybe there will be another list of most dangerous to land airport in the world? Lol. Paro was an interesting one for us. We were suppose to leave around noon time to Bangkok to catch a flight to Luang Prabang and it started to snow (it rarely snows at Paro airport). We waited around for four hours and surprisingly our airplane came in finally and I...

    Surprised you didn’t put Lukla on the list. But maybe there will be another list of most dangerous to land airport in the world? Lol. Paro was an interesting one for us. We were suppose to leave around noon time to Bangkok to catch a flight to Luang Prabang and it started to snow (it rarely snows at Paro airport). We waited around for four hours and surprisingly our airplane came in finally and I think we were the second plane to take off that day. We were very lucky! Made it to Amantaka by nightfall.

  15. Sean P. Guest

    AS also has a JNU-ANC milk run that stops in Cordova and Yakutat. Alas, the schedule doesn't allow you to fly both in a single day (to book a SEA-ANC flight for someone you hate, look for the 8-hour overnight layover in JNU).

    1. Sigmund New Member

      I took one very similar. We had been in Yakutat for business and flew back to ANC. We stopped in Cordova (I think we stayed on) and Juneau (where we were allowed to deplane). Even better, it was one of the 737 freighter combis where we boarded in the back and sat there.

  16. pstm91 Diamond

    I need someone to explain to me the appeal of the UA island hopper. I looked into it and you don't get to leave the airports, let alone spend any time on the islands, and some of them you can't even deplane. I love a scenic approach as much as the next guy, but 7 hours on a UA 737 just to see a few nice island landings sounds awful.

  17. Alec-14 Gold

    Does Qantas still do their Antartica flights?

  18. Welltravbrit Guest

    Flying Tahiti to Easter Island (IPC) years ago was one of my favorite routes, I’m not sure if it still exists? There were a lot of Chilean honeymooners returning from French Polynesia. I think we used United miles for the flight and it was a steal as it was considered an intra Pacific route. From IPC we used AA miles to get back to SFO, it was a great use of miles as they considered...

    Flying Tahiti to Easter Island (IPC) years ago was one of my favorite routes, I’m not sure if it still exists? There were a lot of Chilean honeymooners returning from French Polynesia. I think we used United miles for the flight and it was a steal as it was considered an intra Pacific route. From IPC we used AA miles to get back to SFO, it was a great use of miles as they considered IPC South America.
    Love it when you can work that award chart geography in your favor.

    1. Eric Guest

      We also flew this route. Very unique and an interesting crowd. Seems like it doesn’t exist any longer (based on IPC’s Wikipedia page)

  19. Miramar Guest

    This is a great article!

  20. Mike O. Guest

    I've always wanted to do UA's Island Hopper, but I'm not sure of the booking process. And would it be possible to do it on the return from GUM? Wasn't MNL part of the Island Hopper at some point?

  21. Bob Guest

    There is a scheduled floatplane flight, not a charter, between Vancouver downtown harbor to Seattle Lake Union run by Harbour Air. Flight is operated on single engine Cessna Caravan, with water take off and landing.

  22. Paul Guest

    Intra-island helicopter rides in the Faroe Islands

  23. Rafael Guest

    Santos Dumont Airport in Downtown Rio de Janeiro

    Look for this on youtube:

    "incredible aproach and landing at rio de janeiro santos dumont airport rwy 02r"
    (pilot view)

    and

    "Incredible view !! Landing in Rio de Janeiro -Santos Dumont airport"
    (passenger view and different approach)

  24. Evan Guest

    Cue the "you forgot" posts.

    Great article! Your diehards love this kind of content!

  25. Ralph4878 Guest

    Papeete to Nuka Hiva is on my bucket list.

  26. Marco Guest

    You could also add to the list all the flights to and within Antarctica (White Desert)

  27. VitaliU Gold

    I'd definitely add St Helena to the list

  28. Sam Guest

    How is Lukla not on this list?
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenzing-Hillary_Airport

  29. Icarus Guest

    AF also operates the A320 from Cayenne to Belem in Brazil one a week . You can connect from Pointe a Pitre

  30. IrishAlan Diamond

    The Barra Beach landing in Scotland is a truly epic experience. It has to be on this list! I want to do it a second time.

    1. Catriona Guest

      I came to suggest this, especially after seeing the Loganair Orkney flights mentioned. Only airport where scheduled flights use a beach runway.

    2. HonestAl Guest

      Did the Glasgow to Barra l last year. It was great. We picked up ice while cruising at 9 and 10 thousand feet. I enjoyed hearing the sound of the ice hitting the plane as we descended into warmer air.

  31. Tom Guest

    Alas, the AF flight used to be even better when it stopped in PAP on the way to MIA but no more.

    You are missing one of the best flights in the world: SXM-SAB which is performed by Winnair in a Twin Otter. Saba is the worlds shortest commercial runway and a real thrill to land on!

    1. Sky K. Guest

      I came here just to add that Saba flight. That was wild! I sat up front for fun and could hear the computer voice saying (lol shouting) “too low” “too low”!

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&source_ve_path=MTY0OTksMjg2NjQsMTY0NTA2&feature=emb_share&v=LwgCuaedyfc

  32. TheBestBlackBrent Diamond

    IPC is amazing to visit!

  33. Bruce Member

    I would also recommend flying to Kastellorizo in Greece. The only flight is from Rhodes because they need to use the smallest plane in Olympic's fleet (Q100) which doesn't have the range to fly from Athens. The runway is very short, extremely dangerous and ends on a cliff. A more extreme version of this is a landing at Lukla. Emirates is on my bucket list.

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Evan Guest

Cue the "you forgot" posts. Great article! Your diehards love this kind of content!

2
Sebastian Guest

Great article and Bucket list! In 2019 I did the island hopper staying 2 nights in Chuuk, 2 nights in Pohnpei and 2 nights in Majuro, it was a fantastic route and I was sitting next to the mechanic. I also visited Easter Island twice (im live in Chile so is closed to Santiago) and landed in Paro. Another thing I would add would be to land and take off in Lukla, one of the most dangerous airports in the world. also i flew in Turkmenistan Airlines one of the most bizarre airlines I have ever flown

1
767 Guest

Not as glamorous as the UA island hopper but I once flew Bora-bora - Raiatea - Huahine - Papeete on an Air Tahiti ATR 72 when I could’ve flown BOB-PPT direct. Just because.

1
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