The More Interesting Round The World Flying Record I’d Like To Set

Yesterday I wrote about how an Etihad Airways executive set a new record for the fastest round the word journey. He completed the journey in just 52hr34min, which shaved over three hours off the previous world record. The new record holder flew from Shanghai to Auckland to Buenos Aires to Amsterdam to Shanghai.

I had been looking at ways to break that record, though the way in which a round the world trip is defined for these purposes is a bit annoying. Specifically, he set the world record based on flying to approximate antipodal points. Here’s how this requirement is defined:

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.

I feel like the issue with this is that it really limits creativity. Essentially the antipodal requirement means you have to pass through two airports that are on (almost) exactly opposite ends of the earth. While I appreciate the idea behind that, the issue is that many major airports don’t have a practical antipodal point. This is why the previous two record holders flew through Auckland and Buenos Aires, since there aren’t many practical alternatives with frequent service from multiple continents.

The cool thing is that this isn’t the only world record for the fastest round the world trip. There’s another record that I consider to be more interesting. Specifically, there’s a Guinness World Record for the fastest round the world trip on commercial flights, while visiting six continents.

The record was most recently set on July 8, 2004, in 66 hours in 31 minutes. Michael Quandt flew from Singapore to Sydney to Los Angeles to Houston to Caracas to London to Cairo to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

That’s a total of about 27,000 flown miles, and he had a total of eight flights. It should be possible to get this routing down to six flights, and thereby make the journey quite a bit shorter. If nothing else, there’s now a nonstop flight from Sydney to Houston, and I also feel like it could be easy to avoid either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore to save time.

So this is my new goal. On one hand it’s more challenging than the other one (since it requires more flying and more segments), but at the same time it’s also more straightforward and less arbitrary, since you don’t have to focus so much on antipodal points.

Without looking at schedules, the first routes that come to mind would be something like this (both of these routes are marginally shorter distance than the previous record, and also cut out two connections, which should save time):

The biggest issue I’m having is with South America. Bogota seems like the most logical connecting point in terms of having frequent service from both North America and Europe, without being too deep in the continent. The problem is that I can’t find any efficient connections that allow both a flight from the US that’s connecting from an Australia flight, and a connection to Europe, within a short timeframe. But I also can’t think of any other connecting points that would be efficient.

This is a record that hasn’t been broken in 14 years, so I feel like it’s time to do so, especially with the new ultra longhaul flights we have. However, those only get you so far when schedules don’t otherwise line up…

Comments

  1. The point of this blog becomes less and less clear, besides our views fueling your ad revenue for your random travels.

    Pity, because I learned a ton from you about how to travel in style for cheap two years ago when I first started becoming a daily reader and avid fan.

  2. Fly the new Perth to London direct, from March. Houston to Sydney to Perth to London to Houston.
    Look foward to reading about the journey!

  3. What about this routing, that is only 26,784 miles and I think you might get better connections then from BOG

    MIA-SCL-SYD-DXB-CAI-LHR-MIA

  4. This is going to boggle my mind all day.

    Sydney->Dubai->Cairo->Madrid->Panama City->Santiago->Sydney???

    Seems like it would be a shorter distance, but i’m guessing there may be some long layovers involved.

  5. You could always fly into and then start the circumnavigation in Bogota or somewhere in SA and see what that would do for you.

  6. CS: The subtitle of the blog is “tips, tricks, and TRAVEL with Lucky.” If he starts posting his favorite recipes I’d say he’s gotten way off track but this is definitely travel related.

  7. And upon further review, if you sub in Punta Cana instead of Panama City it drops to 25,982. The non-stop flights exist but i imagine the connections would still be bad.

  8. @CS – it’s definitely changed a little to a lifestyle / ridiculousness blog – but I find that a little more interesting than just constantly posting about the best credit card sign up bonuses.

    Although it couldn’t hurt focusing on where the reward sweet spots are for North American flyers.

  9. The people complaining about the topics on the blog clearly haven’t been readers for long. Wonder what they would have thought about Ben’s posts about getting the whole can of soda on Ted 😉

  10. If I follow the rules set in the Half As Interesting video, the shortest round-the-world flight I was able to get it down was:

    LAX-AUH-BNE on EY, BNE-LAX on VA on the once weekly evening service, just a smidge over 48h.

  11. Was thinking SYD to Santiago to Miami but there isn’t a great connection. That’s the only nonstop to S America.

  12. Wouldn’t BNE be closer than SYD. Obviously, there’s a trade off in terms of frequency, but I’d have to imagine that there’s a connection that works.

  13. Are these flight times also measured from take off to landing as the other record is. Or are we talking total travel time

  14. AUA is in South America and has nonstop flights to AMS. Also see if incorporating IST-BOG on TK helps.

  15. SYD-LAX-LIM-MAD could work for your South America routing. Some connections short, some long; but generally feasible.

    Haven’t looked, but something like SYD or AKL to GIG or GRU to LIS could theoretically work.

    Thank me for my suggestions with a companion ticket.

  16. BKK SYD LAX MEX BOG CDG CAI BKK

    this will do it in shorter time than the record but is a bit longer routing. 1-stop to BOG via MEX gets you out of LAX right away and in time for flights to europe

  17. “The point of this blog becomes less and less clear, besides our views fueling your ad revenue for your random travels.”

    Oh c’mon, there is still tons of Priority Pass and credit card pimping to be had here.

  18. I am stuck in a boring desk job most days. So, I travel vicariously through your blog. Hope you break the record. Good luck.

  19. @Frank – that is how its done
    @CS – look at Frank if you want to learn how to be a decent human and not a hater.

    Lucky, Can you stay up north to get the benefit of short travel around the poles then swoop down to hit Aus, SA, Africa and back up?

  20. This is by far the most interesting points/travel blog on the web. For reference, please go look at milevalue.com. Used to be outstanding and has since devolved into a boring site with new info once or twice a month.

    At least Lucky tries to keep things interesting and updated on his site. With excellent TR’s and regular tips regarding points etc, what else are you guys looking for?

    Easy to be a hater.

  21. @Leeza That’s actually a pretty interesting debate. The Americas are taught as a single continent mainly in former Iberian and French colonies (and France, Spain, Portugal), but as two continents in most of the rest of the world. There are two separate continental plates which are bisected by the Caribbean plate somewhere between Mexico and Colombia.

    Also interesting, the former Soviet bloc and Japan teach that North and South America are separate continents, but that Eurasia is only one continent!

  22. How technical are we getting? For example, if you take Ethiopian from LAX > DUB > ADD, even though DUB is just a refueling stop, will that count as Europe or do you have to get off the plane? Would you consider AUA to be part of South America, as Aruba is on the South American continental plate? If so, you could fly from US to AUA then take KLM to AMS as well…

  23. These records are total BS, misses the real pleasure of flyings for very silly aims.
    Plus BOG is technically in South America but way above the Equator, so cheating a little with the stop in Latin America, just as CAI, Arab more than African
    So any real challenge would have to incorporate LIM, SCL, EZE, GRU or GIG in LatAm
    and for Africa ADD, LOS, CPT, JNB.
    To say nothing of Asia which is several times the size of Oztraya : I’d see 3 stops there would be a minimum : middle-East, India-SEAsia & North-East Asia.

  24. You can do DXB-SYD-SCL-PTY-FRA-CAI-DXB in 57 hours and 49 min with one big asterisk.

    It requires a 20 min layover in Cairo, which I don’t think is doable unless you know people. (I’ve done a 20 min or so layover at LAX from TBIT to T8, and I think that must have been a world record. From the time the door opened, I ran the the entire way. It wouldn’t have been possible without global entry. After clearing customs/security, I went outside and up the stairs. I then ran from upstairs outside TBIT to T7/8. Somehow, there was no security line at T7/8. I was the last one on the plane.)

    Someone can check/use my research. Maybe you could go through MAD/IST/AMS instead of FRA? Is the IST airport considered Europe? An extra short leg is could be better than a long layover. I’ve spent way too much time on this…

    SYD-SCL 12h 20m (12:50 pm to 11:10 am)
    55m layover
    SCL-PTY 6h 44m (12:05 pm to 4:40 pm)
    1h 50m layover
    PTY-FRA 11h 10m (6:30 PM to 11:40 AM +1)
    2h layover
    FRA-CAI 4h 05m (1:40 PM to 6:45 PM)
    20m layover
    CAI-DXB 3h 30m (7:05 PM to 12:35 AM +1)
    1h 20m layover
    DXB-SYD 13h 35m (1:55 am to 10:30 pm)

  25. I believe I watched a video where SYD-HNL-LAX-DXB-SYD could be done in 52 hours. Not sure if it’s verified.

  26. All reasonable connections:
    BKK-SYD (EK-418) (12:30pm UTC – 10:00pm UTC)
    SYD-IAH (UA-100) (12:50am(+1) UTC-4:30pm UTC(+1))
    IAH-PTY (UA-1727) (5:55pm UTC(+1)- 10:00pm UTC(+1))
    PTY-BOG (CM-629) (11:29pm UTC(+1)- 1:07am UTC(+2))
    BOG-MAD (UX-194) (2:32am UTC(+2)-12:00pm UTC(+2))
    MAD-CAI (MS-754) (1:50pm UTC(+2)-6:25pm UTC(+2))
    CAI-BKK (MS-960) (9:20pm UTC(+2)-5:40am UTC(+3))
    65 hours 10 minutes
    Probably can mildly optimise SYD-IAH-PTY-BOG even more.

  27. I had flown round-the-world once before all in Economy Class. But it was for a 3-week vacation with 5 stopovers.

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