The World’s 15 Longest Flights [2019]

Filed Under: Travel

Lately we’ve seen a trend whereby airlines have added an incredible number of new ultra long haul flights. This is a reversal of a previous trend, because prior to a few years ago we saw fewer and fewer long flights introduced.

When you look at the list now, a majority of these flights may have been unfathomable several years back, but are now thriving.

Why ultra long haul flights are more practical than ever

What makes ultra long haul flying more sustainable than in the past? A couple of factors:

  • The new aircraft technology we’ve seen, especially with the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787; these planes are fuel efficient and relatively low capacity (at least compared to the 747), and as a result are able to operate long flights in a profitable manner
  • Oil prices are still fairly low (though also volatile), and there’s strong global demand for nonstop flights between business hubs


Qatar Airways A350

The world’s 15 longest flights

I figured it would be fun to look at the world’s 15 longest flights, given how much the list has changed lately. I’m going off of distance here, since winds can also have an impact on the duration of flights, and on top of that, some airlines do a lot of schedule padding.

What’s pretty amazing to me is that all 15 of these flights are over 8,200 miles, which is a long way to go nonstop.

So, what are the world’s longest flights? Here they are, starting with the longest (I’m including the airline that operates the route, the distance, and the aircraft type used):

  1. Newark to Singapore / Singapore / 9,534 miles / Airbus A350-900ULR
  2. Auckland to Doha / Qatar / 9,032 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
  3. Perth to London / Qantas / 9,010 miles / Boeing 787-9
  4. Auckland to Dubai / Emirates / 8,824 miles / Airbus A380
  5. Los Angeles to Singapore / Singapore / 8,770 miles / Airbus A350-900ULR
  6. Houston to Sydney / United / 8,596 miles / Boeing 787-9
  7. Dallas to Sydney / Qantas / 8,578 miles / Airbus A380
  8. New York to Manila / Philippine Airlines / 8,520 miles / Airbus A350-900
  9. San Francisco to Singapore / Singapore & United / 8,446 miles / Airbus A350-900 & Boeing 787-9
  10. Johannesburg to Atlanta / Delta / 8,439 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
  11. Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles / Etihad / 8,390 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
  12. Dubai to Los Angeles / Emirates / 8,339 miles / Airbus A380
  13. Jeddah to Los Angeles/ Saudia / 8,332 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
  14. Doha to Los Angeles / Qatar / 8,306 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
  15. Toronto to Manila / Philippine Airlines / 8,221 miles / Airbus A350-900


Singapore Airlines A350

I intentionally left out the flight time, since they fluctuate throughout the year due to winds. All 15 of these flights are blocked anywhere between 15hr and 18hr45min.

I’m leaving out those flight times not just because the seasonal fluctuations, but also because some airlines pad their schedules more than others (in order to create artificial on-time arrivals), so I don’t want to give them too much credit there.

Here’s a map with all the routes, which is quite cluttered, as you can see:

Just to further illustrate how much more popular ultra long haul flights have become, only six of the above 15 flights have been operating prior to 2016, meaning that nine of the above routes have been launched within the past few years. Even more impressive, the world’s six longest flights, and for that matter eight of the world’s nine longest flights, have been launched since 2016.

What other record-breaking flights are on the horizon?

Two of the world’s three longest flights have been launched last year, which raises the question of what other record-breaking flights might be on the horizon.

Well, at the moment the answer is none. At least no routes have been announced that would be on the top 15 list. However, there are some routes that are both feasible and actively being considered by airlines:

  • Qantas has said that they are considering nonstop flights from Perth to Paris (8,863 miles), Brisbane to Chicago (8,901 miles), and Brisbane to Dallas (8,303 miles)
  • In 2016, Emirates was supposed to launch nonstop flights from Dubai to Panama City (8,588 miles), though they postponed the route; recently it was claimed that this route is still in the works, though personally I wouldn’t be holding my breath
  • For a while Thai Airways has been talking about launching nonstop flights to Seattle and Vietnam Airlines has been talking about launching nonstop flights to Los Angeles, but neither of these flights are set in stone

As far as I know, these are the only routes that would rank in the top 15 that have been discussed as being under serious consideration.

Many of the other ultra long haul routes we’ve heard about are ones that would require new technology. For example, the Boeing 777-8 is expected to enter service around 2022, and airlines are hoping this will be able to operate routes like Sydney to London and Sydney to New York nonstop. Qantas refers to this as “Project Sunrise.” Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, though.

Bottom line

It’s exciting to see the number of new ultra long haul flights that are being added by airlines, thanks to new aircraft, like the 787 and A350. While these marathon flights are great for those traveling in a premium cabin, I can’t imagine doing a nonstop flight like this in economy. In those situations I can’t help but feel like I’d rather break up the journey than fly nonstop. Heck, even in business class I feel like some of these flights are too long.

It’s especially encouraging how many of the longest flights have been added in the past few years. Unfortunately at this point there’s not much else in the pipeline with current plane technology.

We might see a new Perth to Paris route, or something similar, but other than that, it seems like most of the record-breaking ultra long haul flights are behind us, at least until the 777-8 is introduced.

What ultra long haul routes do you think we’ll see introduced next?

Comments

  1. Another interesting trend with this is that none of these routes (except dallas a380) have first class. I would have thought there’d be passengers willing to pay an extra premium for even more space over business for such a long flight. At least more demand than anyone in economy willing to pay the premium for non stop in

  2. I wouldn’t fly any of these flights in economy. Hats off and respect to those who have the endurance that can, for whatever reason they are flying those routes in economy.

  3. What about Air India Delhi to SFO via pacific and SFO to Delhi via atlantic?
    Both routes have enough mileage to fall within the top 15 flights

  4. @ Mehul Shah — This is based on the direct air distance between origin and destination (since no flight ever takes exactly the same path twice). The San Francisco to Delhi flight has a direct air distance of 7,706 miles, so doesn’t quite make the list.

  5. Though what you aren’t forgetting is that these flights are very popular with young kid families as they don’t Ahventie to drag their kids through some forge in airport and the kids just sleep and watch tv and have plenty of room cause they are so small

  6. I fly long routes, but since using redeemed miles for economy seats, the flights sometimes take strange and complicated routes. Such as flying from Marakesh to Capetown via Lisbon and Munich…or my flight from Eastern Island to Galapagos, via Santiago, Quito. I got a DVT on a flight from LAX to Cairo last year, and that was a direct flight. Two weeks later, on a flight back from Istanbul, I got stuck in the middle seat because of a full flight. Fortunately I was on blood thinners on the way back. I’m flying to Cochin, India in several days, LAX, Frankfurt, Delhi, Cochin. I’m getting mentally prepared.

  7. A flight that I take often is BR51, IAH-TPE. This is typically just over ~8000 miles but because of the winds the flight can easily take over 16:30hrs, especially in the winter months. Great service and seat makes this flight quite enjoyable, and now that UA opened their Polaris Lounge at IAH, it’s even better. I just hope IAH gets more flights to Asia ( fingers crossed for HKG).

  8. @ Tom — I doubt Delta will actually launch service to India anytime soon (I think they were bluffing). An Atlanta to Mumbai flight would be just over 8,500 miles, so would make the list. A New York to Mumbai flight wouldn’t make the list, however.

  9. As I always say, the only way to truly appreciate flying premium cabins is to fly in economy. 😉
    I think flying ultra-longhaul in economy is fine as long as the seat next to you is empty or you get an empty row. Flying in economy in a full full flight over 15 hours is just miserable.
    I was hoping Air New Zealand would fly AKL-EWR nonstop.

  10. I don’t have any vision of the ultra long haul future but as a regular long haul passenger I avoid these endlessly long marathon flights. If I’m dealing with one of these routes, I schedule an overnight hotel stopover outbound to keep myself physically well and avoid major jet lag. A few years ago, I scheduled two nights in Paris enroute from San Diego to Israel for a ten day vacation. Hats off to those who can do these ultra long hauls, unfortunately I’m not one who ever cares do it again.

  11. I flew #10 (ATL-JNB) on SA back when it was #1. It was on a 747 and they didn’t fill all economy seats due to weight limits. On the way back, it made a refueling stop in SID (Cape Verde).

  12. Will fly in a couple of weeks Dubai to Dallas which is 8,024 miles and 16 hours in the air. I think it would make it to the first twenty longest flights. I’m already scared of such a long flight and 10 hours time difference.

  13. I took United’s LAX-SIN Economy back in the summer. Unless they got up only when I got up, the person in the middle seat next to me never got up the whole flight.

  14. Some other rumors I’ve heard are SFO-BKK, MEL/SYD-IST, ATL-SYD (Unlikely), NRT-JNB, MNL-ORD, DXB-EZE, SFO and LAX-HAN and SGN, SFO-HYD, SVO-EZE, and IAH/IAD-JNB. Majority of these seem very unlikely but the SFO-BKK and NRT-JNB and Houston/Washington to JNB do actually look intriguing…

  15. Perhaps you already noted this elsewhere on OMAT, but what website do you use to review flight distances and create the map graphic you posted?

  16. Have flown some of these flights in economy – 777 nine abreast (Delta) & A380 were fine . 787 was dreadful .

  17. Hi Lucky, why is it just one direction? For instance, Newark to Singapore instead of between Newark and Singapore. I assumed you used Great Circle Mapper for distance and both directions show the same.

  18. @Will – it’ll be nice to see NRT-JNB happening, but there hardly is any demand. The Japanese carriers will definitely not going to make it, and SAA may be if they make JNB a good transit hub for GRU or GIG, but then with current financial situation I doubt they’ll ever consider before starting other Asian routes other than existing HKG.

  19. It still makes me smile that despite all the new technology – 5 of these flights are operated by a 777 which have been around for ever. Clearly technology has helped change the ultra long haul possibilities, however it looks like the 777 has had this ability for a long time prior to the new generation of 787s and A350s but the airlines were not as keen

  20. Emirates operates an A380 on the DXB-LAX route, not a 777 (thank goodness!). We’re looking forward to getting 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of food and bar time in business class later this year!

  21. I have done a couple of ULHs in economy/premium economy: EWR-SIN and LAX-BKK (Thai used to operate that relatively little known route). In both cases I also had 4-6 hour connections in Asia.

    Once I flew Cape Town-London-Toronto. I had a long layover at LHR, and they actually let me enter another terminal just to visit a lounge 🙂

  22. I flew from DXB to DFW when Emirates first started flying there and it was a 16 hour haul there and 14 hours back.

  23. I fly MEL (Australia) to LAX in economy. It’s only ok if I’m flying without my kids and on a flight with empty seats. Plus, on flights to the US, flight attendants go around reminding passengers not to congregate in the toilet/ food areas because of security. Apparently they think we are plotting terrorism when we’re actually trying to prevent dvt and minimise back pain.
    Long hauls flights really should be required to provide more health / comfort amenities for passengers.
    I end up spending my first 2-3 days after arrival trying to reduce flight-induced pain.

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