Visiting 6 Continents In Under 58 Hours

Filed Under: Travel

First of all, let me say that I’m sorry to those of you who don’t find this interesting. Please skip this post. I understand sometimes this blog can get obsessive about certain topics, and that’s just my nature. I love the nitty-gritty of routing rules, connections, etc. That’s probably why I find this topic so interesting. I know some people are just as fascinated by this, while others can’t stand it. Thank goodness people can just click away if they want to.

The past few days I’ve talked quite a bit about the round the world flying records that exist. Earlier this week an Etihad executive set a world record for the fastest round the world journey, defined based on traveling to antipodal airports (meaning airports on exactly the opposite ends of the earth).

Personally I think the much more interesting world record to set is to fly to six continents as quickly as possible, since it’s not quite as arbitrary of a goal (the antipodal method is heavily limited based on major airports being on opposite ends of the earth, which narrows you down to only a limited number of possibilities).

As I explained, according to Guinness World Record, the last person to set this record did so in 2004, when they flew from Singapore to Sydney to Los Angeles to Houston to Caracas to London to Cairo to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore in 66hr31min.

Interestingly, according to (I’m not sure how this compares to Guinness Records), the latest record was set in September 2016, as two people flew from Bangkok to Sydney to Los Angeles to Bogota to Madrid to Cairo to Bangkok in 63hr46min, breaking the previous record by nearly three hours. I’m not sure if that’s not Guinness World Record eligible, or what.

Well, I have some absolutely genius readers. A lot of you proposed some great routings so far, though a huge shout out to @ladakn99, who came up with a routing that takes 57hr40min. Incredibly, that shaves over six hours and over 1,000 miles off the current record, and it’s a really innovative routing. Specifically, we’re talking about Sydney to Santiago to Panama City to Madrid to Algiers to Dubai to Sydney. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

Here are the flights:

QF0027 Sydney to Santiago departing 12:50PM arriving 11:10AM
CM0118 Santiago to Panama City departing 12:04PM arriving 4:52PM
IB6346 Panama City to Madrid departing 6:35PM arriving 10:30AM (+1 day)
IB3308 Madrid to Algiers departing 11:55AM arriving 1:25PM
EK0758 Algiers to Dubai departing 3:10PM arriving 12:40AM (+1 day)
EK0414 Dubai to Sydney departing 1:55AM arriving 10:30PM

All of those connections are legal, with the exception of the one in Santiago, which is six minutes under the limit. The minimum connection time is an hour, and this routing gives you 54 minutes. Of course to set the record you probably need to take some risks, and it’s not like even a “legal” connection necessarily means that you’d make it. With five connections this short, what could possibly go wrong? 😉

If I did this I’d want to book the flights as award tickets as much as possible, and in particular, as award tickets that can be canceled up until departure, in the event that I misconnect.

Is that an amazing routing, or what?

  1. I think there’s a mistake on IB6346 Panama City to Madrid departing 6:35AM arriving 10:30AM (+1 day). Shouldn’t that flight leave at 6:35PM? (18:35)

  2. I wouldn’t like to do this unless maybe if I were the pilot. Better yet is the same itinerary but staying at least 2 days at each stop.

  3. We have only 6 continents on Earth. Antarctica is the 6th. Read definition of “continent”. Asia is part of the world, part of continent called Eurasia.

  4. Lucky,

    Thank you very much for a real “around the world” itinerary that touches all six continents. All the other record setting trips were just trying to go fast.

    But now the geographer in me wants to know if you can include sub-saharan Africa and east Asia to cover more of the world~

  5. @Jonathan: Wikipedia and my Times Atlas of the World disagree with you and do indeed place Panama in North America…

  6. @ Jonathan

    Central America is like middle East, both defined as a region, not a continent.

    North America on mainland begins with Canada and United States (Alaska) in the north and ends with Panama in the south. The Caribbean is also considered part of North America.

  7. Well PTY airport is technically on the South America side of the canal, so imo it shouldn’t count, but really depends on how you define ‘North America’.

  8. @Lucky – sounds like fun, but suggest you only do it if it can be 100% on points/miles. More immediately relevant to the blog, more of a challenge for you, and probably will garner more attention from media, etc – “man breaks around-the-world flight record – and does it in first/biz for free!” Good luck!

  9. Lucky think I’ve found it for you Syd-SCL(QF)-PTY(CM)-FRA(LH)-CAI(LH)-DXB(MS)-SYD(QF) 54.9hours including transit!

  10. Dont worry, connections in Santiago are increadibly easy, a 2 minutes walk, security wich is 5 minutes maximun and then you board your fligth

  11. “First of all, let me say that I’m sorry to those of you who don’t find this interesting.”

    Advice you didn’t ask for: Never say that kind of thing. The grownups amongst your readership are able to pick and choose the pieces they read. The toddlers leave the comments saying “I’m not going to read your blog anymore because I don’t care about this one very narrow thing!” and then what happens? They continue to read your blog.

    Your blog is amongst the very best travel blogs out there, and that’s because you are you and post what you like. Never apologize for what interests you, because that’s all OMAAT is about.

    And keep up the great work!

  12. Lucky, QF27 is always late.
    Double risk if you put a connection less than 1hour. Triple risk because you’re buying separate tickets.

  13. @Daniel I tried that routing and couldn’t get anywhere close to what you mentioned, could you post a link with the itinerary in ITA or Google Flights?

  14. @ Lucky – is there a way you could reach out to Guinness to confirm your routing would qualify? This is really an awesome idea (not to mention it would generate some nice publicity!) but it would suck if you weren’t ruled eligible on a technicality (e.g. PTY not counting as North America or having an illegal connection).

  15. I completely agree with TravelinWilly. This is really the best travel blog and it’s only because you are yourself on it. Keep up the great work and please do this trip!

  16. Qantas 27 to SCL is usually late as you can see if checking Flight Radar 24. If that’s the case when you try it, that’s your whole itinerary gone on the first leg.

  17. @TravelinWilly: Came here to say the same thing and glad someone else beat me to it.

    @Lucky: We both learn from you and live vicariously through you when there’s something we can’t do but you can. Never apologize for any of your entries, whether rants or raves. You do you, Ben.

    Also, I’d kinda like to see routing through mainland Asia – like PEK or ICN or something more “recognizable” as Asia. I know the ME is technically Asia, but Dubai kinda feels like cheating. Same with routing through SIN. But I’m still stoked to see if this comes together so I can be super envious.

  18. A fascinating project and puzzle. I’m sure many of us were pouring over atlases and messing with Google flights.

    Also a big +1 (as usual) to TravelinWilly, who is the voice of reason on OMAAT.

  19. DO NOT APPOLOGIZE this is epic. Don’t cater to the one or two commenters who take the time to comment on a blog they don’t like, if you don’t like something then don’t click, he will see what gets pageviews and what does not and tailor the blog accordingly.

  20. If you’re going to go for it, look into the Guinness rules a bit more, as I understand it it’s somewhat complicated to qualify for a record. I think it needs to be witnessed by a Guinness representative or something like that? So for this record I don’t know if they need to fly along with you the whole way?

  21. If you can find a LAN flight from SCL to PTY you could do entire trip on Qantas points given QF IB and LA are OW. EK is also a QF partner.

  22. @nawaid

    For friday 23 march
    QF 27 syd-santiago for 11.10
    Copa 118 scl-pty 12.04-16.52
    LH 485 pty-fra 18.30-11.40
    LH 580 fra-Cai 13.20-18.25
    MS 910 CAI-dxb 22.30-3.45
    QF02 DXB-SYD 9.35-6.10

  23. Next part of the challenge will be to find someone of a nationality and a travel history that doesn’t need a visa for Algeria, otherwise that 1h45 connection is a problem if you don’t stay airside…

  24. Theres also the poss to fly ek and save 5-6 hours but it means a 30min transfer in CAI which is pushing

  25. You have to do leave on a Thursday because 2 of these flights don’t run daily, but I think this gets it done in 54 hours, 45 minutes.

    JFK to SCL – LA 533 – 6:45 PM – 6:25 AM (+1)
    SCL to SYD – QF 28 1:30 PM – 4:40 PM (+1)
    SYD to HND – QF 25 8:45 PM – 5:15 AM (+1)
    HND to LHR – BA 8 8:50 AM – 1:10 PM
    LHR to CMN – AT 801 6:10 PM – 9:35 PM
    CMN to JFK – AT 202 10:40 PM – 1:30 AM (+1)

  26. @Daniel,
    The itinerary you listed takes 65 hrs and 20 minutes, substantially longer than Lucky’s. You can tell because it arrives in the morning three days after departure, as opposed to the late evening two days after departure. You have +1 day on the PTY-FRA flight, +1 day on CAI-DXB, and +1 day on DXB-SYD. And yet, despite the extra 7 hours and 40 minutes of travel time, it retains the exact same problem as the original with the short connection in SCL. The four hour layover in Cairo + 6 hour layover in Dubai are killers.

  27. Cool. On a related record setting flight, I went on this Pan Am RTW trip promotional flight back in 1976 on a 747SP…that PAA sold seats on for only the RTW trip and not point-to-point. Mayor John Lindsey of NYC was on the flight, plus Arthur Godfrey and a few other aviation enthusiasts and celebrities. As I recall, I paid $1,002 for the experience ($999 fare plus the then $3 USA Int’l Departure tax) for a coach seat (no frequent flyer programs back then) which wasn’t so bad as there were probably only 70 or so people in Y as the majority had paid more to fly upfront…which was fine as when I wanted to stretch and sleep we all had the center section of seats to made a bed and could get some really good rest…thankfully the arm rests went up. When you read the below linked article, you’ll notice a big difference between the actual total in-air flight time versus the total JFK to JFK block times which differ by about 6:30 or so hours (ground time) which was much longer than planned or necessary. That was due to disgruntled ramp employees, et al along the way that had a plan to slow the flight’s progress as a way to “get back” at management for their either real or perceived slights-differences, etc. Their actions did receive some media attention as to the reason there was so much enroute ground time, though no further reporting was done on what those alleged “gripes” might have been. The flight was heavily promoted, both in the press and by PAA and was named “Liberty Bell” as a nod to the bicentennial (1976) and to shine a light on Pan Am …years before every USA carrier flew internationally. See the report:

  28. The craziest layover in all of that is actually at MAD. You have zero chance of making a 1 hour 25 minute non-Schengen to Schengen connection at the disaster that is Barajas…

    P.S. Don’t even think about apologizing for being an avgeek!

  29. Ben, great post and I really enjoy reading this type of subject matter. It’s what makes your blog so interesting. I look forward to reading along as you make the journey! Keep up doing exactly what you do and don’t be afraid to evolve!

  30. This is great stuff. Very interesting and I hope you give it a try.

    For me you can leave the CC junk out. Totally irrelevant for all non-americans and unhealthy for most already indebted americans.

  31. I’m looking at beating the same record. 🙂
    Still working on routing but I also want to cover Antarctica with the NOAA chartered flight so the schedule becomes tight, but all inclusive.

  32. This is the best Itinerary for Melbourne I could find:

    AUH to MEL – EY 460 10:20 PM to 6:45 PM (+1)
    MEL to SCL – LA 804 8:10 PM to 7:00 PM
    SCL to YYZ – AC 93 9:10 PM to 5:35 AM (+1)
    YYZ to LHR – AC 868 8:35 AM to 8:30 PM
    LHR to CAI – MS 780 10:30 PM to 5:10 AM(+1)
    CAI to AUH – EY 650 6:20 AM to 11:45 AM

  33. @Sebastian – The Panama Canal as a manmade waterway. It’s not the geographical divider of North America and South America.

  34. QF SYD-SCL is often late, even GoogleFlights warns it. So solution could be to position in SCL.
    Also transiting in ALG can be tricky, heard of several delays lately.

  35. Lucky,

    Dont ever apologize for being an avgeek. Ever. You are who you are, and we all appreciate you (and what you, through your travel and blog, do for us) for it. I may not agree with everything you post, but I do appreciate the effort and energy it takes it to bring us. It was courteous of you to put a note up front that said some folks might not like the post, and if that was the case, just skip it. Thats all you need.

    My only real problem with this itinerary is Panama City, as its not ‘technically’ North America.

    You realize, of course, I will now obsessively try and find a route that equals or beats this time. (Well, me, and like, anybody who read the story….)

  36. I would highly recommend to search Gunnar Garfors.
    He has an excellent travel blog,
    holds multiple world records.
    some of his trips include visiting all 5 continents in one calendar day,
    and similar round the world. visiting all continents in 55 hours.

  37. This might not be the fastest, but it sure would be fun, with such tight connections:
    RAM 93 MAD- CMB
    MSR848 CMB-CAI
    MSR960 CAI-BKK
    CPA 614 BKK-HKG
    QFA128 HKG-SYD
    AA72 SYD-LAX

  38. I should also have said – get after it already!! Your public, I suspect, will wholeheartedly cheer you on (and likely assist you to tweak the route). I know I will. I hope you do this (or something like it), and I look forward to reading about the entire journey (including transits, food, lounges, fatigue, where it goes wrong, etc). 🙂

    Technical question: For the journey you list above, if you fly on your German passport, do you need a visa for ALG?

    Oh, and @pez — +1, mate.

  39. First I can’t believe the number of comments. Obviously Lucky’s idea that folks would not be interested in this was way off
    My first reaction in seeing the routing echoes those comments about PTY, When I visited Panama in 2004, we drove across the bridge of the Americas and were told that the bridge connected North and South America. And given PTY is south of the canal, that would place PTY in the continent South America.

    So Panama is formally in both North and South America, according to what we were told and the Wikipedia article on the bridge of Americas.

  40. This is exactly why many of us are into travel…we get to experience, through you, something that we probably can’t do. Keep it up, if there are any readers that don’t want this content then they can skip it. Personally I like this better than reviews of obscure products I will never fly. And it’ the reason I took to Rick Steves and Lonely Planet/GlobeTrekker years ago; we want to experience things/places/cultures other than our own!

  41. @daryl-atlanta – really cool story and thanks for the link! Crazy that plane also flew over both poles on a later trip!

    In 1977, Captain Mullikin flew the same 747SP on another circumnavigation, but this time it was crossed both the North and South Poles. Renamed Clipper New Horizons, 21025 set a record on that flight as well, with a total flight time of 54 hours, 7 minutes, 12 seconds.

  42. Lucky, ignore the haters. I am a travel agent and OMAAT is basically the only thing I read. Write what you want to write about. What you want to write about is going to be good writing. Keep doing you.

  43. After reading the post and comments… why don’t you start in Santiago? With that you eliminate too short layover in Santiago and danger of QF being too late to transfer. I know that this routing would be around 1-2 hours longer (due to layover of 2h20m), but it is more doable…. total would still be around 59h, considerably less than current record and below 60h.

  44. @MatevzH The flight from Dubai to Sydney arrives in Sydney at 10:35 PM, and the flight to Santiago leaves at 12:35 PM (+1). The layover would be 14 hours.

  45. America is considered as one continent i believe, so Panama City is fine. i don’t know who start dividing those as individual continent

  46. @Teddy – North and South America are two continents.

    @Jared – your idea of covering all seven continents sounds way cooler and more interesting! Let us know how you manage.

  47. @nick… uf… my big mistake… i live in a 24-hour time world, not in a 12-hour 🙂

    there is a 21:40 (9:40pm) LATAM flight from Melbourne to Santiago, but i don’t think he can get from Dubai to Melbourne in time to catch it 🙁

  48. This is a fantastic exercise.

    How about a RTW itinerary trying to hit all 6 continents on 6 ultra long haul flights.

    Sort of like the longest possible itinerary using nonstops.

    Like dxb-lax-syd-jnb-lhr-gru-dxb

  49. Have One World taken their world map down which was useful to plan a route? I see American Airlines still has a map like that for its own airline. The continents are North America, South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. I wouldn’t like to travel that quickly and I prefer to sight see at the places I visit.

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