Shortest Transatlantic Flight Goes Year Round

One of the flights that fascinates me most is Air Canada’s service between St. John’s and London Heathrow.

For those of you not familiar with St. John’s, on a transatlantic flight it’s the city you usually see on the Airshow right as you get your buzz on. ๐Ÿ˜‰

St-Johns-Airshow

It has been operated seasonally over the summer months for several years, and is the shortest scheduled transatlantic flight in the world. At just ~2,300 miles, it’s blocked at ~5 hours eastbound and ~5.5 hours westbound.

St-Johns-London

It’s also unique in that it’s operated by an Air Canada A319, which has the standard domestic/transborder configuration, featuring 14 seats in business class and 106 seats in economy class. So it’s not Air Canada’s standard longhaul service.

While historically this route was only offered in summer, it will soon be going year round. Starting October 26, 2014, St. John’s to London Heathrow route will operate Mondays, Thursday, and Saturdays, with the following schedule:

AC822 St. John’s to London departing 12:40AM arriving 9:15AM
AC823 London to St. John’s departing 11:05AM arriving 1:05PM

Award availability on the route is very good in both business class and economy, during peak summer dates (when the flight is daily) and off season.

Award-Availability-St-Johns

I’m keen to try the service, even if it’s just a “standard” domestic product. I do wish I had booked this flight back when US Airways was still in the Star Alliance, as there aren’t really any great “value” awards that can be booked on this route.

Interestingly they charge roughly the same for this route as other transatlantic routes. If you’re redeeming Aeroplan miles, the fuel surcharges on the route are $800+ roundtrip, so no less than any other transatlantic flight, despite how short it is and that it features their domestic product.

Air-Canada-Fares

So not sure how I should fly it, but I really do want to…

Has anyone flown the route? If so, how was it?

(Tip of the hat to Ghetto IFE)

Comments

  1. It actually historically operated year-round for a very, very long time. It was a 767-300ER that originated in Halifax for much of the past two decades. Then Halifax went non-stop, and this was discontinued, but there was quite the uproar and it was brought back seasonally.

  2. Not quite the shortest for long. WestJet on June 15 starts seasonal St. John’s to Dublin.

  3. I know that in your world, if you can’t redeem miles for it and/or it doesn’t have a premium cabin, it doesn’t exist ๐Ÿ˜‰ but Westjet is starting seasonal service YYT-DUB (on a 737), which is about 300 miles shorter. (Actually they are starting as of June 15, so I guess as of today, AC’s YYT-LHR is still the shortest).

  4. well, if it’s only 2300 miles you can possibly combine it with another trip… say IAH-YYZ and book it as a one way with ANA miles that you posted about today?
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Another fun flight to take. Could I tske this as a stop over from SFO to LHR return?

  6. @ SH — Maybe I’m crazy, but don’t really consider a flight to Greenland or Iceland to be “transatlantic,” just as I don’t consider a flight from the mainland to Hawaii to be “transpacific.” Perfectly reasonable to interpret it as such, but don’t personally view it that way.

  7. westjet will be flying st john to dublin beginning june 14th, few hundred miles shorter than to london

  8. @Thomas Reech, I totally agree with you about the jetlag. Just did a Chicago-Shannon in biz and after dinner, only 4 hours left on flight minus an hour for before arrival service so arrived in Ireland with the worst jetlag of all my Europe trips.

  9. Greenland certainly is transatlantic by any reasonable definition, it’s part of the north american continent. I get your point about Iceland, given it sits on the mid-atlantic ridge. Although Reykjavik sits on the North American continental plate.

    That said its bloody difficult to get to greenland from the rest of north america.

  10. @ george — That’s a good point. 52,500 LifeMiles so probably the best option there is, but still not an amazing value.

  11. @Lucky – Hmmm… Let me get this right – you want to shell out cash and/or miles for biz class on an Air Canada A319? Personally, I’d pass… Would much rather try the A318 for BA’s LCY-JFK route…

    Also re Greenland being in North America, I think that idea comes from the fact that it falls on the North American plate while Iceland falls (half) on the Eurasian plate. Blew my mind too when I found out ๐Ÿ˜‰ although politically and culturally Greenland is very much European (part of Denmark)

  12. I guess the best way to do this one would be to take the daytime LHR-YYT flight as part of a larger itinerary and do a stopover in YYT.

  13. I agree with Adriano… LCY-JFK is far more interesting. I can’t see the point of flying this one….

  14. @Adriano, He has already tried this route and it would be more interesting if he chose YYT-LHR

    And for the record, Air Canada has the same Long-haul International Business Class service except with the Domestic/Transborder seats.

  15. @Adrian Wattamaniuk – I see. I guess I haven’t been following this blog long enough ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Surprised on it having the same service. TBH I typically have a tough time getting excited over narrowbodies though :s

  16. Shame a route like this isn’t doable with Avios! Heck, if only Aer Lingus flew YYT-SNN, it’d be 10K Avios each way in Y.

  17. $6K for a 5 hour flight???? Who pays that? I guess this flight would not qualify under most multinational companies policies where employees are allowed to fly paid business class on flights that are more than 6 hours.

  18. Back when AC first pulled out of the YYT market, the former UK charter operator Astraeus stepped in with 3x weekly 73G operated services LGW-YYT. I flew that flight roundtrip in 2007, featuring the grand total of 3 and 7 revenue passengers each way (excluding myself on a nonrev ticket).

    Always memorable because our WESTBOUND flying time was just 4h24m, my shortest transatlantic crossing ever. The Eastbound was about 15 minutes longer ironically!

  19. Given how valuable they are, I’m surprised Air Canada would waste a slot pair at LHR on this year-round. There can’t possibly be that much paid premium cabin traffic from YYT.

  20. Why wait till Saint John’s to get your buzz on? I do that before I even get on the plane! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I’m headed to St. John’s in August for a 4 day weekend. I booked a flight with United miles from EWR to YYT. There’s an island off the coast of Newfoundland that is part of France–it uses the Euro, has French as its language, and boasts great food and wine. I can’t wait to visit. 12,500 miles from EWR seems cheap to experience this great place!

  22. I’ve taken this flight, and the flight isn’t anything special. Consider the business class cabin of an AC 319 similar to US domestic first class. Now St. John’s?, that is special and highly recommend a visit!

    When I return Europe, this is the flight I take back to N. America. Stop in St. John’s for a couple days and then continue home to the US.

  23. @George: Because the champagne they serve in the air is frequently better (read: more expensive) than what they serve on the ground.

    Never mind that at 30,000 feet, probably no one can tell the difference between Dom and plonk.

  24. @ Snic – based on Lucky’s fun review of his China Southern flight, there’s a SLIGHT difference between Dom/Krug and “Duc de Paris”, lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. As a native of St. John’s I’ve taken this flight quite a few times. Nothing worse than flying YYT-YYZ just to then fly back over YYT on your way to Europe. I’d say do it just for the novelty of it (and give yourself a day or 2 in St. John’s – well worth it!)

  26. I took the 767 YYT-LHR over a decade ago and it was 4 hours and fifteen minutes takeoff to touchdown. We were over UK terra firma after 3 hours 40 minutes which is the flight time from YYT-YYZ (St. John’s to Toronto). Flight back 4 hours and 50 minutes. Only jet lag was a night of no sleep on the outbound. I will say I recently flew Toronto to Frankfurt pushing near Mach ground speed in 6 hours 25 minutes 777. Back in similar time on 787. Did not notice any jetlag difference between Toronto-Frankfurt legs and St. John’s-Heathrow. The only difference is St.John’s-Heathrow feels like a North American domestic red eye similar to Edmonto to Halifax or Las Vegas to Toronto red eye. It feels noticebly shorter because it is much shorter but 787’s are easier on the body with lower altitude pressurization. Worth flying 787’s across the pond. Still the 767 is my fav for economy because it has extensive two seat configuration on the window sections. No middle seat! If going across the pond to Heathrow and want a layover stop then weekend in Toronto and take the 8am 787 Air Canada from Toronto that gets into LHR 8pm London time. No missed sleep and no jet lag. You just lose (on paper) a full shift on an aeroplane. Or, go to St. John’s for a weekend and paint the town. You’ll make new friends.

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