It’s been several years since I wrote several stories featuring the world’s longest flights. There have been obviously many changes among these routes, such as the cancellation of Singapore Airlines’ nonstop, all-business class flights from Singapore to Newark and Los Angeles, both which were canceled in the fall of 2013.
The list has now changed as Qantas has launched its first nonstop flight from Australia to Europe.
Thanks to the advents of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as well as the Airbus A350, several new ultra-long haul routes have commenced in recent years. However, there are debating views on what qualifies as, “longest-flight,” whether it be based on distance or duration. The matter becomes even more complex when debating whether or not the distance between the two flights should be based on the great-circle distance, which is the shortest distance between two points of a sphere, or actual distance, which varies day-to-day largely based on wind patterns or other factors.
For example, Air India flight 173, which operates from Delhi to San Francisco, flies over 9,000 miles on the westbound sector as it is able to take advantage of favorable wind conditions over the Pacific while still keeping average flight time under 16 hours. However, the great circle distance between DEL and SFO is only 7,707 miles, which doesn’t even place it among the top 25 world’s longest flights based solely on distance. So, though “unofficially” Air India may fly the longest flight on actual distance flown for a particular day, the official rankings adhere to great-circle distances because they are based on fixed data points.
Ranking flights based on duration is also a variable method, as block times/published flight times and actual flight times are also subject to change each day, based on unforeseen circumstances. However, since airlines are required to publish block times whenever they load schedules into the Global Distribution System (GDS), the general public can infer how long a flight is usually in the air. Though flight times are published based on aircraft movement from gate-to-gate, apps like FlightRadar24 are instrumental in providing average flight times, delays, routings, speed, and other factors.
Still, people seem to be more fascinated by the concept of duration, rather than distance, as the idea of claiming that you spent more time with your, “butt-in-seat,” on a particular flight versus, “butt carried over miles,” seems to come with greater credibility points.
With the impending launch of Qantas’ nonstop flight from Perth to London Heathrow this week, here is an updated list of the world’s top 25 longest flights, by distance and duration, as of March 24, 2018:
Based solely on distance, Qatar Airways’ nonstop flight from Auckland to Doha is the world’s longest flight at over 9,000 nautical miles (9,011), and operates on a daily basis. The carrier utilizes a 777-200LR for this route.
|Rank||Airline||Routing||Distance (in NM)||Aircraft||Frequency||Inaugural Flight|
|1||Qatar Airways||Auckland - Doha||9,011||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||February 5, 2017|
|2||Qantas||Perth - London Heathrow||8,988||Boeing 787-9||Daily||March 24, 2018|
|3||Emirates||Auckland - Dubai||8,819||Airbus A380-800||Daily||March 2, 2016|
|4||United Airlines||Los Angeles - Singapore||8,758||Boeing 787-9||Daily||October 27, 2017|
|5||United Airlines||Houston - Sydney||8,587||Boeing 787-9||Daily||January 18, 2018|
|6||Qantas||Dallas/Ft. Worth - Sydney||8,569||Airbus A380-800||Daily||September 29, 2014|
|7 (tie)||Singapore Airlines||San Francisco - Singapore||8,440||Airbus A350-900||Daily||October 23, 2016|
|7 (tie)||United Airlines||San Francisco - Singapore||8,440||Boeing 787-9||Daily||June 1, 2016|
|9||Delta Air Lines||Johannesburg - Atlanta||8,433||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||June 1, 2009|
|10||Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi - Los Angeles||8,385||Boeing 777-300ER||4x weekly||June 1, 2014|
|11||Emirates||Dubai - Los Angeles||8,334||Airbus A380-800||Daily||October 26, 2008|
|12||Saudia Airlines||Jeddah - Los Angeles||8,328||Boeing 777-300||3x weekly||March 31, 2014|
|13||Qatar Airways||Doha - Los Angeles||8,301||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||January 1, 2016|
|14||Philippines||Manila - Toronto||8,217||Boeing 777-300||4x weekly||December 16, 2017|
|15||Emirates||Dubai - Houston||8,165||Boeing 777-300ER (*upgauges to A380)||Daily||December 3, 2007|
|16||American Airlines||Dallas/Ft. Worth - Hong Kong||8,111||Boeing 777-300ER||Daily||June 11, 2014|
|17||Emirates||Dubai - San Francisco||7,101||Airbus A380-800||Daily||December 15, 2008|
|18||Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong - New York JFK||8,067||Boeing 777-300ER||20 weekly||July 1, 2004|
|19 (tie)||Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong - Newark EWR||8,060||Airbus A350-900||Daily||March 1, 2014|
|19 (tie)||United||Hong Kong - Newark EWR||8,060||Boeing 777-200ER||Daily||March 1, 2001|
|21||Qatar Airways||Doha - Houston||8,046||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||March 1, 2009|
|22||Emirates||Dubai - Dallas/Ft. Worth||8,038||Boeing 777-300ER||Daily||February 2, 2012|
|23||AeroMexico||Shanghai - Mexico City||8,024||Boeing 787-8||4x weekly||February 22, 2016|
|24||China Southern||Guangzhou - New York JFK||8,019||Boeing 777-300ER||10x weekly||August 6, 2014|
|25||South African Airways||Johannesburg - New York JFK||7,967||Airbus A340-600||Daily||May 1, 2011|
Worth noting is one omission from this list, which is Air Canada’s seasonal service from Vancouver to Melbourne. However, as this route does not operate on a year-round basis, it has been excluded from this list.
Based on duration, United’s nonstop service from Los Angeles to Singapore is the world’s longest, with 17 hours and 21 minutes of average duration, per Flight Radar 24.
|Rank||Airline||Routing||Average Duration||Aircraft||Frequency||Inaugural Flight|
|1||United Airlines||Los Angeles - Singapore||17:21||Boeing 787-9||Daily||October 27, 2017|
|2||Qantas||Perth - London Heathrow||17:20? (TBD)||Boeing 787-9||Daily||March 24, 2018|
|3||Qatar Airways||Auckland - Doha||17:17||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||February 5, 2017|
|4||United Airlines||Houston - Sydney||17:07||Boeing 787-9||Daily||January 18, 2018|
|5||Singapore Airlines||San Francisco - Singapore||16:57||Airbus A350-900||Daily||October 23, 2016|
|6||Qantas||Dallas/Ft. Worth - Sydney||16:47||Airbus A380-800||Daily||September 29, 2014|
|7||United Airlines||San Francisco - Singapore||16:46||Boeing 787-9||Daily||June 1, 2016|
|8||Emirates||Auckland - Dubai||16:34||Airbus A380-800||Daily||March 2, 2016|
|9||Philippines||Toronto - Manila||16:27||Boeing 777-300||4x weekly||December 16, 2017|
|10||Saudia Airlines||Jeddah - Los Angeles||16:11||Boeing 777-300||3x weekly||March 31, 2014|
|11||Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi - Los Angeles||16:08||Boeing 777-300ER||4x weekly||June 1, 2014|
|11||American Airlines||Dallas/Ft. Worth - Hong Kong||16:08||Boeing 777-300ER||Daily||June 11, 2014|
|13||EVA Air||Houston - Taipei||16:06||Boeing 777-300ER||Daily||June 20, 2015|
|14||Delta Air Lines||Johannesburg - Atlanta||16:04||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||June 1, 2009|
|15||Qatar Airways||Doha - Los Angeles||15:55||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||January 1, 2016|
|16||Qatar Airways||Doha - Houston||15:54||Boeing 777-200LR||Daily||March 1, 2009|
|17||Emirates||Dubai - Houston||15:48||Boeing 777-300ER (*upgauges to A380)||Daily||December 3, 2007|
|18||South African Airways||Johannesburg - New York JFK||15:33||Airbus A340-600||Daily||May 1, 2011|
|19||Emirates||Dubai - Los Angeles||15:32||Airbus A380-800||Daily||October 26, 2008|
|20||Emirates||Dubai - Dallas/Ft. Worth||15:29||Boeing 777-300ER||Daily||February 2, 2012|
|21||Cathay Pacific||New York JFK - Hong Kong||15:26||Boeing 777-300ER||20 weekly||July 1, 2004|
|22||Qatar Airways||Doha - Dallas/Ft. Worth||15:26||Boeing 777-300ER||Daily||July 14, 2014|
|23||China Southern||Guangzhou - New York JFK||15:25||Boeing 777-300ER||10x weekly||August 6, 2014|
|24||United||Newark EWR - Hong Kong||15:21||Boeing 777-200ER||Daily||March 1, 2001|
|25||Emirates||Dubai - San Francisco||15:05||Airbus A380-800||Daily||December 15, 2008|
Notably, some flights that are not considered within the top-25 by distance are included in this table based on duration, such as EVA Air’s Houston to Taipei flight or Qatar Airways’ Doha to Dallas/Ft. Worth flight.
There will be some new additions to this list, including the impending launch of Cathay Pacific to Washington Dulles, Emirates’ possible reconsideration to launch Panama City, and maybe even down the road, nonstop flights from Sydney to London Heathrow and New York JFK.
There have also been numerous ULH flights that have been discontinued, such as Air Tahiti Nui’s nonstop flight from New York JFK to Papeete, or Thai’s nonstop flight from JFK to Bangkok.
Have you flown on a recent ULH flight or plan to in the future? Tell us more about it in the comments section below!
All maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz