Etihad Executive Trying To Beat Round The World Flying Record

This is awesome. I didn’t realize this was a record, though now that I do, I’m totally going to try to break it. On Sunday Andrew Fisher, who is Etihad’s VP of Fleet Planning and a self proclaimed aviation geek, will start a round the world trip that he hopes will set a world record. Specifically, he’ll be flying from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam to Shanghai, which covers a distance of 24,885 miles.

The record? If all goes as planned, he’ll beat the current 55 hour record for flying around the world by about three hours. That’s really damn impressive. If you assume planes fly an average of 500 miles per hour, it doesn’t get much more efficient than that.

For anyone wondering, here are the previous records that were set for round the world flying, per The National:

The first Guinness record was set in 2004 by Michael Quandt from Germany, a travel editor of the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

He flew around the world via six continents on scheduled flights in a time of 66 hours 31 minutes.

His journey started and finished in Singapore and proceeded via Sydney (Australia), Los Angeles (USA), Houston (USA), Caracas (Venezuela), London (UK), Cairo (Egypt) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

That record has since been broken several times, most recently in 2017 by Dubai resident Gil Azevedo who flew around the world in just 55 hours and 47 minutes.

The bank worker undertook his five-flight tour across the world travelling from Shanghai to Auckland, Buenos Aires, Paris and Moscow before returning to Shanghai.

To set the record, the time is recorded based on when the wheels of the first plane leave the ground at the airport of departure, until when the wheels touch down at the same airport at the end of the trip. Only flights that appear in published timetables may be used.

Based on doing some research it looks like there are different ways that round the world trips have been defined for these purposes, and this particular challenge is based on an attempt to reach approximate antipodal points. Here’s how that’s described:

A circumnavigation crossing the equator must be made. It is not necessary to visit the exact antipodal points, but airports nearest them. For this record an allowance of 5° is permitted, so if the co-ordinates north and south are the same, the east plus that west equals 180°, then that north might be, for example, 45° and that south anything between 40° and 50°. Alternatively that north might be 51° and that south 53°, in which case that west plus that east can equal between 177° and 183°. Being in a plane which lands at the airport but not having to changes would not be acceptable.

Good luck, Andrew! But careful, now that I know this is a thing, I’m determined to break it. If anyone has any routing ideas that beat ~52 hours, please do let me know. Now I know what I’ll be spending my weekend researching. 😉

(Tip of the hat to @SaeedMehairi)

Comments

  1. Good luck! He has 3 stops, AKL, EZE, AMS.

    I wonder if a 2 stop itinerary has advantages. A UA 747SP did SEA-ATH-TPE-SEA. I thought a A340 with little load was going to try CDG-AKL-CDG.

  2. Silly me, didn’t read. The rules are to use routes that airlines fly.

    I think Michael Quandt, the guy mentioned in the excerpt, might be related to the BMW Car family. BMW is family owned, unlike GM.

  3. The big mistake is traveling West to East. If you flew the other direction you might have a shot at time travel. Seriously I’ve always wondered how to beat such a record. My guess is avoiding ORD, ATL and DFW are helpful ideas in the quest. Well that and having tight connections.

  4. Interesting and it seems the selection of the departure city is one of the most important factors in this quest? Airline schedules, tail winds, on time records etc.

  5. There’s no factoring in weather? Just wait for super duper tailwinds 😀

    Also, you might get a small advantage going over the poles rather than sticking to the equator, since the rotation of the Earth means the globe isn’t a perfect sphere, though I think that only gets you about 14 miles.

    This’ll be way easier once Virgin Galactic starts flights. Just go straight up out of the atmosphere and wait for the Earth to turn under you!

  6. That’s a very doable record to beat, given the right planning, but I wouldn’t want to try 2 1/2 days in Economy like most of us mere mortals!

    In a few more weeks I’ll actually be attempting an east-bound Around-The World flying only on 747’s!

    I’ve booked it all, mostly through Aeroplan. I’ve already had one aircraft change after booking, but luckily I was able to move everything back a few weeks at minimal cost. Hopefully it all works out with no more issues, because the Queen of the Skies is slowly flying off into the sunset. Fly it while you still can!

  7. Yep: lax-dxb-akl-lax was what I was thinking too. Emirates and Air NZ have good records for punctuality.

  8. I did a different type of speed trip a couple of years ago – 6 continents in 117 hours but with running solo marathon distances (26.2 miles) on each continent. 🙂 but, I didn’t go around the world as I started in Europe and ended in the US. And that was not a record!

  9. If you want an even bigger challnage try to beat David Springbett’s record of 44 hours 6 minutes. His route was LAX-LHR-BEY-SIN-BKK-MNL-NRT-HNL-LAX. The LHR-BEY-SIN was flown on the Concorde.

  10. I have a trip planned in March to do just this, should take me approximately 84 hours. The 14 hour layover in HKG is killing most of my time. $3600, besides the two domestic flights, all lie flat seating, all OW.

  11. infact you can do with just two flights. Book back to back flights with DEL-SFO and one is transatlantic and most of the time the return is transpacific

  12. Hi Lucky.
    I usually like your posts but…..
    This makes me angry.
    I am an EY Platinum card holder and have seen their overall level of service going down dramatically, sometimes down to totally absurdity like not offering amenities kits in BC. Not to mention that the so called dedicated Platinum help desk doesn’t bother to mail or call back after several requests over several weeks….until 2nd Christmas morning (no kidding).
    Well…..if this is how Etihad gets some attention, it really proves my point they don’t care about their customers ( except Nicole Kidman and other select Residence guests …like you). So please go ahead and break the planning VP’s record and ignore them.
    Could it be you are totally EY biased since you flew them in FC ?
    I guess I flew them much more than you and their steep decline makes me sad…

  13. The fastest flight in the world on scheduled airlines is 44 hours and 6 minutes by David Springbett back in 1980 when the Concorde flew nyc-london and london to singapore via Bahrain. The london-singapore route only lasted 20 months. This record wont be broken till we get another supersonic commercial aircraft if we ever do.

  14. EK 216 LAX-DXB 3:35 PM – 7:30 PM+1
    EK 352 DXB-SIN 9:15 PM – 8:25 AM+1
    UA 38 SIN-LAX 11:00 AM -10:15 AM

    42.67 hours. Could easily be below 42 with good tailwinds on the SIN-LAX segment.

  15. In addition to what Jonathan said, one of the airports must be within 5 degrees of the antipodal (sp?) of the origin/destination.
    I say try to pick the antipodal city airports first like EZE/PVG or AGP/AKL and then go from there. Good luck!

  16. There’s no way you are not going to break the record. Bonus points if you can do it all on one award booking

  17. The antipodal requirement makes it tough and most of the suggestions noted above miss this point.

    Looking at Fisher’s route he has a 2hr connection in AKL, 55 mins in EZE (tight!) and 2:45 in AMS. Will be very tough to beat but I’m sure there’s a way.

  18. What is defined as round the world is pretty arbitrary, so I guess it depends on what matters to you. I guess there are multiple ways to set this “record”.

  19. Did not know there is a record… I just did YYZ-JFK-DXB-AKL-BNE-SIN-CMB in one shot on EK F/J and DL last Nov.

  20. I’m from Argentina and the mention of EZE on such a tight connections makes me wonder if he’ll make it……lol

  21. If Thai ever brought back the BKK-LAX route the following would satisfy all the requirements (BKK/LIM are antipodal) and have a chance to be quicker pending connections:

    LIM – AMS – BKK – LAX – LIM

  22. There is a minimum distance you must cross to qualify as round the world. Many of you all’s suggestions wouldn’t cross that threshold. Go and check the videos some linked to see the requirement.

  23. How much carbon does that produce? This is ridiculous and self-absorbed to focus on self-gratifying records without any regard for the long-term harm global warming causes.

  24. It looks like his routing is feasible with these direct flights:

    MU – PVG-AKL
    NZ – AKL-EZE
    KL- EZE-AMS
    MU – AMS-PVG

    That gives him 1-2 hours to connect in each city.

    World record or not, that’s a crap load of time to be spending on China Eastern! This alone is award worthy!!!

  25. @Andrew Y I’m pretty sure he’s taking Air New Zealand for the first flight bc it leaves an hour later (on certain days of the week)

  26. Here is a 51 hour Star Alliance itinerary :
    DEL-SYD on AI, 1:15pm-7:10am+1; SYD-SFO on UA, 1pm-7:35am; SFO-DEL on AI, 10:30-4:15pm+1.
    I am going for it in February….!

  27. Here is a 51 hour itinerary – DEL-SYD on AI, 1:15pm-7:10am+1; SYD-SFO on UA, 1pm-7:35am, SFO-DEL on AI, 10:30-4:15pm+1. I am going for it in February….!

  28. The current rules are a bit illegitimate, it really doesn’t fully satisfy as “around the world” to me. The “world” has seven continents, a true around the world itinerary should include stops in every continent besides Antarctica (due to the lack of commercial flights to/from it). This Etihad guy is only touching four continents, and David Springbeckett only touched down in four.

    Here are the rules I would suggest to add for a true fastest around the world challenge.

    1) Must touch down in all six continents (Asia, Australia, North America, South America, Africa, Europe). You can touch down more than once in each Continent for routing purposes, but must at least touch down in each one.

    2) The entire trip must be in economy/coach class. The challenge should not just be viewed as a speeding contest, it should include an endurance factor. Spending time while being pampered in first/business class the whole time is vastly different from economy. This provides an equal playing field.

    To make it REAL interesting and make the challenge “meaningful”.
    May I suggest to spice it up by requiring a checked baggage and have the time recorded as “From scheduled departure time of first flight to the time the luggage comes off the carousal at the final destination? This would separate the true travel savants from the amateur contestants as all kinds of analytics (airline on-time performance, airport conditions, baggage proficiency) will be tapped into and put into consideration during planning. Now, you can’t tell me that’s not interesting~

  29. Does this mean I’m technically in the running? I’ve booked all the segments in F:

    JFK-DXB-SIN-MEL-AKL-MEL-SIN-CMB-AUH-JFK-SFO-SEA

    I think it ends up being almost 250 hours of the world best product.

  30. Antipodes is the killer. With those rules, the challenge may reduce to “fastest routing that touches PVG and EZE.” 5% tolerance is tight. AKL is antipodal to southern Spain, but not close enough to MAD or LIS for either of those to work.

    HNL and WDH qualify and would be my choice for the coolest way to do such a trip, but a little longer and a lot slower via scheduled flights.

  31. Back when Air NZ flew AKL-HKG-LHR some of us flew an Air NZ only RTW in under 60 hours, AKL-LAX-LHR-HKG-AKL. The schedule had quite a long time in LHR (long enough for me to easily visit Belfast).

  32. Wow! I returned last night from RTW18 – not for a record (gone 6 Days) since I spent 2 nights in Sydney, but for fun in experiencing Korean 747-8i & Etihad Apartment (again).
    All flights in 1st Class with lie flat beds, including the DCA-JFK – AA had a 1-off use of its A321T . DCA-JFK-ICN- SYD-AUH-IAD

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