This is an update to a post that I published in March. It’s interesting that when I published this post at the time I noted just how many new ultra longhaul flights there were. At the time, five of the world’s seven longest flights had been added in the past couple of years.
It’s pretty cool that I can update this post only a bit over six months later, and have several changes and additions to the list.
It’s incredible to see the number of new ultra longhaul flights that have been launched lately. In the past most of these routes were almost unfathomable, at least for a profit-oriented airline.
Why ultra longhaul flights are more practical than ever
What makes ultra longhaul 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 airlines predict these will increase), and there’s strong global demand for nonstop flights between business hubs
Qatar Airways A350
The world’s 12 farthest flights
I figured it would be fun to look at the world’s 12 farthest 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 12 of these flights are over 8,300 miles, which is a long way to go nonstop.
So, what are the world’s farthest flights? Here they are, starting with the longest (I’m including the airline that operates the route, the distance, and the aircraft type used):
- Newark to Singapore / Singapore / 9,534 miles / Airbus A350-900ULR
- Auckland to Doha / Qatar / 9,032 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
- Perth to London / Qantas / 9,010 miles / Boeing 787-9
- Auckland to Dubai / Emirates / 8,824 miles / Airbus A380
- Los Angeles to Singapore / Singapore / 8,770 miles / Airbus A350-900ULR
- Houston to Sydney / United / 8,596 miles / Boeing 787-9
- Dallas to Sydney / Qantas / 8,578 miles / Airbus A380
- New York to Manila / Philippine Airlines / 8,520 miles / Airbus A350-900
- San Francisco to Singapore / Singapore & United / 8,446 miles / Airbus A350-900 & Boeing 787-9
- Johannesburg to Atlanta / Delta / 8,439 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
- Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles / Etihad / 8,390 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
- Dubai to Los Angeles / Emirates / 8,339 miles / Airbus A380
Singapore Airlines A350
I intentionally left out the flight time, since they fluctuate throughout the year due to winds. All 12 of these flights are blocked anywhere between 16hr and 18hr30min, depending on the time of year.
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 longhaul flights have become, only four of the above 12 flights have been operating prior to 2016, meaning that eight of the above routes have been launched within the past couple of 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 this 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 12 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); while the Brisbane to Dallas route wouldn’t quite rank in the top 12, the other two would
- In 2016, Emirates was supposed to launch nonstop flights from Dubai to Panama City (8,588 miles), though they postponed the route; personally I don’t think this route will happen anytime soon, though the airline has indicated that the route is still under consideration
- 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, and for that matter, neither would be on the top 12 list
As far as I know, these are the only routes that would rank in the top 12 that have been announced as being under serious consideration.
Many of the other ultra longhaul 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. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, though.
It’s exciting to see the number of new ultra longhaul flights that are being added by airlines, thanks to new aircraft, like the 787 and A350. While these ultra longhaul flights are great for those traveling in business class, 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 that the six longest flights have been added within the past couple of 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 longhaul flights are behind us, at least until the 777-8 is introduced.
What ultra longhaul routes do you think we’ll see introduced next?