This past week, Qantas began flying between Perth and London, which is now the world’s second longest flight. It’s incredible to see the number of new ultra longhaul flights that have been launched lately. In the past most of these routes were almost unfathomable, at least for a profit-oriented airline.
Why ultra-longhaul flights are more practical than ever
What makes ultra longhaul flying more sustainable than in the past? A couple of factors:
- The new aircraft technology we’ve seen, especially with the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787; these planes are fuel efficient and relatively low capacity (at least compared to the 747), and as a result are able to operate long flights in a profitable manner
- Oil prices are still fairly low, and there’s strong global demand for nonstop flights between business hubs
Qatar Airways A350
The world’s 12 farthest flights
I figured it would be fun to look at the world’s 12 farthest flights, given how much the list has changed lately. I’m going off of distance here, since winds can also have an impact on the duration of flights, and on top of that, some airlines do a lot of schedule padding. What’s pretty amazing to me is that all 12 of these flights are over 8,000 miles, which is a long way to go nonstop.
So, what are the world’s farthest flights? Here they are, starting with the longest (I’m including the airline that operates the route, the distance, and the aircraft type used):
- Auckland to Doha / Qatar / 9,032 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
- Perth to London / Qantas / 9,010 miles / Boeing 787-9
- Auckland to Dubai / Emirates / 8,824 miles / Airbus A380
- Los Angeles to Singapore / United / 8,770 miles / Boeing 787-9
- Houston to Sydney / United / 8,596 miles / Boeing 787-9
- Dallas to Sydney / Qantas / 8,578 miles / Airbus A380
- San Francisco to Singapore / Singapore & United / 8,446 miles / Airbus A350-900 & Boeing 787-9
- Johannesburg to Atlanta / Delta / 8,439 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
- Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles / Etihad / 8,390 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
- Dubai to Los Angeles / Emirates / 8,339 miles / Airbus A380
- Jeddah to Los Angeles / Saudia / 8,332 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
- Doha to Los Angeles / Qatar / 8,306 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
Singapore Airlines A350
I intentionally left out the flight time, since they fluctuate throughout the year due to winds. All 12 of these flights are blocked anywhere between 16hr and 18hr20min, depending on the time of year. I’m leaving out those flight times not just because the seasonal fluctuations, but also because some airlines pad their schedules more than others (in order to create artificial on-time arrivals), so I don’t want to give them too much credit there.
Here’s a map with all the routes, which is quite cluttered, as you can see:
Just to further illustrate how much more popular ultra longhaul flights have become, only five of the above 12 flights have been operating prior to 2016, meaning that seven of the above routes have been launched within the past couple of years. Even more impressive, all five of the world’s longest flights have been launched since 2016.
The world’s future longest flight
So, what’s next for ultra longhaul flying? We know that within the next year, one new flight will make this list. Specifically. we know that later this year Singapore Airlines will be launching flights between Singapore and New York, covering a distance of 9,530 miles, making it the longest flight in the world by about 500 miles. This will be operated by the Airbus A350-900ULR, for which Singapore Airlines is the launch customer.
Next year the airline will also be launching flights between Los Angeles and Singapore, duplicating United’s route, which is currently the fourth longest in the world.
It’s exciting to see the number of new ultra longhaul flights that are being added by airlines, thanks to new aircraft, like the 787 and A350. While these ultra longhaul flights are great for those traveling in business class, I can’t imagine doing a nonstop flight like this in economy. In those situations I can’t help but feel like I’d rather break up the journey than fly nonstop.
It’s especially encouraging that all five of the world’s longest flights have been added within the past couple of years. While we know a nonstop flight from Singapore to New York is coming later this year, I’m curious what else is in the pipeline.
What new ultra longhaul routes would you like to see?