The World’s New Shortest International Flight Is 13 Miles

Filed Under: Other Airlines

People’s Viennaline is a small regional airline with flights primarily out of St. Gallen-Altenrhein Airport, Switzerland. As of now the airline has a fleet of just one Embraer 175 aircraft, though they should be taking delivery of an Embraer 135 soon as well. They have scheduled service to just a few destinations, and then operate some charter flights on top of that.


Well, the airline will soon be starting the world’s shortest international flight, which covers just 13 miles and is blocked at just 20 minutes.

People’s Viennaline will start flying 10x weekly between St. Gallen-Altenrhein and Friedrichshafen as of November 2, 2016. The flight will operate twice daily on five days per week, and will use their new Embraer 135 aircraft.

The flight will cost 40EUR one way, at least as of now. That’s the flex fare, though they haven’t loaded any saver fares.


Now, admittedly the airports are at opposite ends of a lake, so the alternative isn’t exactly a 13 mile drive.


At the same time, the actual drive between the airports would take under an hour, at least per Google Maps.


I’ll be the first to say that I’m not at all familiar with the airports or the area, so maybe I’m missing something obvious. Perhaps it’s not an easy drive in winter, or something. But at the same time I have a hard time seeing the merit of a 20 minute flight that you have to arrive 30 minutes early for, when the alternative is a drive of under an hour, and it doesn’t require going to airports on both ends.

Furthermore, I can’t imagine there will be much in the way of connecting passengers, given the airline’s very small route network.

In case anyone was curious, the world’s shortest (non-international) flight is between Westray and Papa Westray, just north of Scotland. It covers a distance of under two miles, and can be completed in under a minute.

What do you make of this new shortest international route in the world?

(Tip of the hat to Point Me to the Plane)

  1. The flight will continue to Cologne (CGN) from Friedrichshafen. Intersky, another regional airline mainly serving Friedrichshafen, has gone bankrupt recently and FDH-CGN-FDH has been one of the few routes actually generating profit. Obviously Peoples Viennaline will be taking over the route 🙂

  2. Even travelling by car you have to go through customs between Switzerland and Germany and some people might not want the hassle of doing that in a car and probably quicker at the airport.

  3. A 50 seat EMB 135? That sounds awful, even for a flight as short as this!

    Doesn’t UA only put 37 seats on their 135s?

  4. My comment over at Point Me to the Plane went into spam, so I’ll share here that this route displaces Brazzaville – Kinshasa as the shortest international route (16 miles).

  5. This leg is part of a triangle-routing which is ACH-FDH-CGN (Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany).

    FDH-ACH is basically an add on, since the aircraft is based in ACH but the core traffic is between CGN and FDH.

  6. You actually have to transit both Austria and Germany to do the drive unless you take the ferry. Customs between CH, Austria and Germany is no big deal though. I have a feeling this is directed at people in Vienna or Cologne who want to go to St. Gallen-Altenrhein or Friedrichshafen. In some cases that flight would require a one stopper. I doubt many people will fly St. Gallen-Altenrhein to Friedrichshafen.

  7. Switzerland doesn’t border Germany there, it borders Austria, so you’d have to cross 2 borders, but as Bgriff said, there shouldn’t really be border controls there.

    I’d guess that like the rest of Switzerland the lake acts as a bottleneck and traffic probably gets hairy at important times during the day. Especially since that is the road you’d take from ACH to Lichtenstein, Austria, or Germany. I wonder if there are any connecting flights as well.

  8. As I live in the area down the lake called lake constance, I may get the reason for the flight. St. Gallen is a very important banking city of Switzerland. All big banks have branches there. Plus, St. Gallen University is one of the most important business schools in Europe.
    So getting there can be a pain when arriving from LHR or FRA. As others have mentioned, crossing borders isn’t a big problem, but sometimes they do check every car. And don’t get me started on snowy streets in winter.

    I’m really considering taking the flight just for fun.

  9. @GaryLeff : I guess “Brazzaville – Kinshasa” is still the shortest international flight that involves border control.

    CH-AT-DE are all within Schengen already, so regardless of whether one decides to fly the 20 mins or take the scenic drive around the lake, it’s “domestic” for all practical purposes.

  10. Just a data point. I drove from Italy to Switzerland to Liechtenstein to Switzerland to Austria to Germany this summer and there were no border stops by any of those borders. It was like driving to another state.

  11. Depending on traffic the trip from St. Gallen to Friedrichshafen can take more than 2 hours. The bottleneck is the tunnel in Bregenz, which can be a major PITA. Together with potential connections from Friedrichshafen, this is probably not a bad idea (although most people from St. Gallen will still fly from ZRH)

  12. @Bgriff @ Justin It is part of the Schengen zone but not part of the customs union meaning you do have to clear customs just not immigration.

  13. All those that think that there are no border controls, well there are, and I have been through that road before. Sure if they see a white dude in a Swiss car they’ll waive you through but not all the time. They stop cars and will check docs if they think of stopping you. 50 mins is a BS, I would guess more like 1:40. Ive done the drive a bunch of times. And yes winter expect this to be more than 3 hrs easy

  14. If you are driving car from Germany to Switzerland, you need to spend another 40 euro for a vignette sticker. But that allows you to travel for 90 days

  15. Yea ok Great but finish the report… how is the frequent flyer program? Who are their partners? Does. Have do the credit card and can we book Emirates or Ethiad through them? 🙂

  16. SXM-AXA is only 12 miles.
    It is not a jet and you have to book directly with the airline.

    You can sit in the co-pilot seat and the views are spectacular landing over the beach at SXM.

    3 flights per day, 10m duration
    Sint Maarten (SXM) to Anguilla (AXA)
    Search flight prices on Google
    1:00 pm

    1:10 pm
    Anguilla Air Services 601

    2:30 pm

    2:40 pm
    Anguilla Air Services 641

    3:00 pm

    3:10 pm
    Anguilla Air Services 621


  17. I drive this route dozen of times a year and I can assure you it isn’t any more difficult to drive in winter even in blizzard since they start cleaning the roads first moment it starts to snow, even on midnight 31st december, I’m guessing all the works around the tunnel and seasonal traffic jams could be the reason for introducing this route, or maybe connections from Friedrichshafen further, anyway you should try this route and write a review both for airline and airports!

  18. The vignette is valid for a year, and there is actually also a ferry from Romanshorn (20min from St Gallen by car) to Friedrichshafen, which costs 9.20€ o/w for adults, 16.60€ with a car, it takes around 40min.

    My assumption as well is that this has to do with the plane being based in ACH, and the true interest of the airline is in FDH-CGN. CGN offering access to the Rheinland (Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn, and the Ruhrgebiet, the most densely populated area in Germany), and Friedrichshafen is a major industrial center in Germany (ZF, Rolls Royce Power Systems (former MTU), and Zeppelin). This is the reason for the three daily FDH-FRA flights by the way.

  19. While technically an international flight, it is in the Schengen Zone so you don’t have to clear passport control upon departure or arrival

  20. @Just Barry they flew IAH to Ellington Field until 2004 as well. I think that flight was actually a bit longer (GCMap says 28 miles IAH-EFD vs 24 miles IAH-HOU). My dad used to use it because it counted as a segment for elite qualifying, parking was cheaper (maybe even free?) and security was a breeze.

  21. Technically NCE-MCM is shorter (11mi). It’s a helicopter (Aerospatiale AS-350), but it’s still regularly scheduled commercial service between two different countries.

  22. Thanks for the coverage of this new route, Lucky!

    My first idea is a mileage run for people living there – in the case that the airline joins one of the major
    airline alliances in the future 🙂

    To take it more serious it is on the one hand indeed a segment of a longer route. And you may think of people not wanting to drive per car on those tiny streets, through the villages and so on.

    So it will indeed be a mixture of a “fun flight”, a bit of sight/lakeseeing and a shortcut

  23. The train and ferry option takes less than 1 hour 15 mins (and looks like the ferry docks close to the centre of Friedrichshafen) and costs less than 20 euro !

  24. i live in that area (Bregenz) … there are still border controls between Austria and Switzerland. There shouldnt be controls between Germany and Austria. Drive time will be around 1hour. Would recommend flying in summer time (nice view)… November/Dezember foggy …

  25. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory I recall that there used to be a flight from SFO to OAK. Just a few miles. It was a scheduled flight and not a helicopter services.

  26. interesting to see how much smattering is accumulated in the comments. you need a vignette only for highways in Switzerland and Austria. In Switzerland its 40 CHF / year in Austria you can also choose a limited period of 10 days for your “Pickerl”.

    Between Switzerland and the neighboring countries there are customs controls. They are just not exercised on everybody passing the border

  27. I don’t think it exists anymore, but BA used to fly Cape Town-Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe)-Livingstone (Zambia)-Cape Town. The flight from Zimbabwe to Zambia was pretty short…and to top that off, the one time I took that route, we were delayed landing in Zambia because of monkeys on the runway.

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