New Record: Around The World In 52hr34min

A few days ago I wrote about how an Etihad executive, Andrew Fisher, was trying to set a new record for the fastest round the world trip. There are different ways that round the world flying records are calculated. This particular challenge was based on an attempt to reach approximate antipodal points, meaning the requirements were as follows:

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.

Andrew selected Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam to Shanghai as his routing, which covers a distance of 24,885 miles.

He was hoping to beat the previous 55hr47min record by about three hours using the above routing. The previous record was for a routing from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Paris to Moscow to Shanghai.

So, how did Andrew do? Based on looking at his Twitter, it looks like he accomplished his goal! He flew around the world in 52hr34min, meaning he beat the previous world record by over three hours.

Congratulations to Andrew! As I said in the previous post, now I’m determined to give this a try as well. Obviously Andrew is a bright guy. After all, he’s Etihad’s VP of Fleet Planning, so I think he knows a thing or two about efficient routings.

However, it’s not like his routing was actually that unique. He used the same the first two flights as the previous world record holder, flying from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires. He then swapped the Buenos Aires to Paris to Moscow to Shanghai flights for simpler Buenos Aires to Amsterdam to Shanghai flights.

I’ve been spending some time looking at different possibilities, both including the same first two segments, and also using different segments altogether. I keep getting really close to matching the time, but then something just doesn’t work out.

With the new ultra longhaul routes we’re seeing — Doha to Auckland, New York to Nairobi, London to Perth, etc. — you’d think there would be a way to incorporate these flights to beat the record. Due to the antipodal requirement I don’t think you could get the routing down to three segments, though I feel like there have to be some other efficient combinations that can make this happen in four segments.

Anyway, congrats to Andrew, but watch out, I’m not going to let you keep this record for long. 😉

Comments

  1. Lucky just wait until SQ relaunches SQ21/22 and do this as a direct return.

    If they will use the historic schedule it should take 2x19h + 5h in EWR = 42h for the RTW and since both SQ21 and 22 flies westwards this should count as a RTW

  2. Kevin- you won’t cross the equator if you fly EWR-SIN-EWR. That’s the whole point of the rule about antipodal points- to prevent only flying polar routes which cut the distance.

  3. I’d approach this by listing first all the antipodal major airport pairs so that there are longhaul flights from both airports of each pair. That can’t be too long list.

  4. This map is a bit confusing but makes sense once you figure it out- blue is one orientation, yellow is opposite orientation, so you can see each places’ antipode.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipodes#/media/File:Antipodes_equirectangular.svg

    Interesting ones (seemingly close enough for this)

    Honolulu-Johannesburg
    Taipei- Rio
    Singapore- Ecuador/Colombia

    You can see why everyone uses China (antipode Argentina/Chile) and New Zealand (antipode in southern Spain)- most of the northern hemisphere has an anitpode in the middle of the ocean, and Australia’s antipode is dead center in the north Atlantic.

  5. The key is cover these “antipodal airports”. That means that they have to on exact opposite sides of the globe. LAX, DOH and AKL are not. Then for example PVG and EZE are. I’m quite sure there aren’t many “pairs” that qualify for the requirement…

  6. The world has six continents with scheduled commercial flights. This is not around the world. Never touched any part of North America or Africa. Fruitless and meritless record…

  7. @Geography matters – it seems to me like “starts at one place, goes to the place at the exact opposite site of the world, returns to first place” (which is what the antipodes rule requires) is a pretty reasonable definition of going around the world. It’s not the only possible one, but your rule wouldn’t even require completing a circle of the earth, if you flew from, say, Australia to Asia to Africa to Europe to North America to South America. Getting to all six continents as quickly as possible might be another interesting challenge, but it’s not clear to me why that’s a better definition of around the world than the one in use here. The classic Verne novel “Around the World in Eighty Days,” perhaps the most famous literary account of a a competition involving traveling around the world, has Phileas Fogg skip South America and Australia entirely (indeed, he merely crosses every meridian, which air travel makes a rather uninteresting proposition given the ease of traveling over the Arctic, which is, of course, not true if traveling by sea and land).

  8. @Geography matters – What in the phrase “around the world” remotely suggests a required stop on each continent with commercial air service? I’m sure there is a separate record for what you’re interest in. That does not render this record “meritless.”

  9. normally id find this somewhat amusing but theres something about this that is quite vapid, wasteful, and too 1st world. Actually just annoying. As one poster said, fly it without a company ID (ie, coach)

  10. There are just not that many antipodal airport pairs within this 5 degrees rule that can work efficiently. PVG/EZE are by far the best that allow long distance legs in and out. Another one I could find is SCL and Xi’an, or WLG and MAD, but long distance legs out Xi’an and WLG are very limited. So I think Lucky you have to stick with EZE and PVG and see if it can be done faster via other intermediary points.

  11. @Lucky, instead of the beating the antipodal world record, why not try the 6 continents? I think that makes the challenge more interesting.

  12. Great challenge. I guess one will have to leave the US out of this as the US is not yet able to provide efficient sterile transits.
    I hope at some point they will also figure out how to streamline the transit process.

  13. @Nathan Gillian @Steve
    I think this blog is about whatever Lucky wants it to be about. If you don’t like it …

  14. Definitely not an astrophysicist here, but I think Earth is slightly wider at the equator than at the poles (aka it’s not actually a perfect sphere). So a route that goes North/South similar to the one Andrew Fisher did might be shorter than one that spent more time going around the equator (such as a route through the Middle East). Looking at my globe, the western edge of Europe, Japan/Korea, and New Zealand form a nice antipodal line, so that may be the shortest way. Boston/New York and Perth are not too far off antipodal, so maybe that could work with the LHR-PER route. But the jet stream and timing of flights probably have the biggest impact. We’d definitely cheer you on though!

  15. Scratch that. I misunderstood truly antipodal. This is a lot more restrictive than I thought. Looks like PVG and EZE are the best option.

  16. try la to tel aviv to hong kong or shanghai or beijing to aukland or even straight to la skipping australia and back

  17. syd/dfw/auh/syd starting 19 feb is blocked for 53 hours but auh/syd is usually an hour early.

    syd and dfw are 33 degrees south and north.

    but doesn’t comply with antipode requirement but frankly that is ridiculous – that route sticks to the fat part of the planet and won’t go “over the top” (?). and even if it did, how’s that not circumnavigation?

  18. @ Ben W — Because none of the airports are antipodal (meaning that two airports you stop at are almost at exactly opposite ends of the earth).

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