The World’s 12 Farthest Flights (2018 Edition)

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):

  1. Auckland to Doha / Qatar / 9,032 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
  2. Perth to London / Qantas / 9,010 miles / Boeing 787-9
  3. Auckland to Dubai / Emirates / 8,824 miles / Airbus A380
  4. Los Angeles to Singapore / United / 8,770 miles / Boeing 787-9
  5. Houston to Sydney / United / 8,596 miles / Boeing 787-9
  6. Dallas to Sydney / Qantas / 8,578 miles / Airbus A380
  7. San Francisco to Singapore / Singapore & United / 8,446 miles / Airbus A350-900 & Boeing 787-9
  8. Johannesburg to Atlanta / Delta / 8,439 miles / Boeing 777-200LR
  9. Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles / Etihad / 8,390 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
  10. Dubai to Los Angeles / Emirates / 8,339 miles / Airbus A380
  11. Jeddah to Los Angeles / Saudia / 8,332 miles / Boeing 777-300ER
  12. 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.

Bottom line

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?

Comments

  1. I would love to see Thai Airways to bring JFK-BKK nonstop flight back, especially the fact that TG is one of airlines with generous award spaces!

  2. Ack, my high school grammar nerd is cringing pretty hard reading this. Fartherst, not furthest. Sometimes they are interchangeable but when you’re clearly talking about physical distance what you want is farthest.

  3. Why farthest? Why not longest?

    Farthest in my mind from the same reference point which is not true in this case.

  4. Should have extended the list to 13 to include a lesser-flown airline on MNL YYZ. Interesting to see such a small airline that high on the list.

    Long and thin flying is going to really create tons of fun routes but will also be a lot harder to manage for airlines participating in joint ventures with somewhat antiquated capacity rules.

  5. @swy19, when speaking about distance, use farthest. When speaking about concepts, use furthest. In the case of Lucky’s article, farthest would be correct. Actually, though, I would assert that longest is actually better syntactically.

  6. I’m probably one of the exceptions, but I’d never take any of these flights. Not a fan of ultra longhaul! I did the nonstop flight from LAX – BNE in 2012, and it was horrible. I have a hard time sleeping on flights, and I’m a picky eater so I was surviving on peanut butter crackers and snacks from my bag. I kept walking to keep from going crazy. I’ve also (stupidly) taken the SEA-AMS and SEA-CDG flights a few times, which aren’t as bad at 10+ hours, but still a long time to be stuck in economy. 🙁 I’d rather have 4 layovers than fly 18 hours nonstop!

  7. @zow..correct!! Ben your right. No need to doubt yourself. To the topic, I personally do not like flights longer than 12 hours. It is not so healthy either. Ben, why not write a report about which airport or city is a great transit point to linger a day or two…giving us some infid which airport hotels are the best to try..

  8. last time that I flew LAX-DOH in economy I almost cried when the flight landed. And I still remember the horror of getting a middle seat between a pair of arguing couple who refused to swap seats on LAX-BNE. Oh what traumatic memory!

  9. @ Utkarsh — Not sure where you’re getting that number. DEL-SFO covers a direct air distance of 7,707 miles.

  10. I’ve flown only the LAX-DOH flight on this list. Had a great experience in J with the 2-2-2 seating. My wife really enjoyed this flight.

  11. I love flying as much as the other AVgeek.
    However I could not wait to breath fresh air after 18 hours on the SQ 21/22 EWR-SIN back in 2011 or 2012 (all biz).

  12. I would very much like any ATL-India. DEL is 7996 miles, BOM is 8510, HYD 8754, CCU 8531, BLR 9003. I’m not holding out much hope, though.

  13. I frequently fly LHR-EZE, currently BA’s longest route, and after 13 or 14 hours I’m a bit fed up. And I always fly J.

    On the 12 hour flights LHR-NRT/HND, generally I break them in Doha rather than do the direct flight.

    Breaking the flight isn’t a realist option on LHR-EZE, alas.

    And breaking doesn’t always work: I did back-to-back flights MIA-LHR-AUH-TPE a couple of years ago, which nearly killed me. Longer stopovers are sometimes the answer.

    I’m in two minds about ULH flights.

  14. Am I right in thinking the farthest and the longest are not the same is Perth to london now the longestest time whereas Auckland to Doha farther.

    I’ve flown J a few times from Melbourne to Doha and at that length I really enjoy the bar on the Qatar a380. I think being on any other flight plane for so long is struggle.

  15. My how times have changed. A few years ago, I was looking at the list (very few Middle East carriers on it) and I had flown about half of the top-ten, like YYZ-HKG and I think ORD-HKG was on there also. Now only one flight that was on my own personal list is still on your list (ATL-JNB).

  16. from my research it seems the A350-900 (not ULR) has a greater range than the 787-9, but Singapore Airlines don’t want to launch SIN-LAX with this type, even though United is flying it with a 787-9. Can someone please explain to me what is going on here?

  17. @The Nice Paul: I recently did LHR-ICN-SYD in one shot in J; felt like death by the time I got to ICN. I think you are right; longer stopovers like 2 days (which I did the year before on LHR-SIN-BNE) are better.

  18. How is Jeddah-LAX longer than DOH-LAX, but shorter than AUH-LAX or DUB-LAX? Jeddah is on the west coast of the Arabian peninsula; Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai are all on the east. Depending on whether the flight goes west across Europe or east across Asia, the Jeddah flight ought to be the longest, or the shortest, of these four; it cannot be in the middle.

  19. The SQ SIN-NYC was a great flight, made better by the fact it was to EWR rather than JFK. The timing was great ( mid-morning departure for a same day later afternoon arrival , nothwithstanding it was 16 or 17 hours flying) and it felt like a much shorter ‘normal’ day flight. I just never had any lag issues the 6 or 7 times I took it ( and going via LAX would put me in a fog for a couple of days).
    I’m no longer constrained by time urgency and pretty happy to take a softer ,albeit more circuitous route these days…but if they bring that flight back I would more than likely take it, even at crazy fares.

  20. I just don’t know how someone with a small kid can survive a 16-18 hours non stop in econ. Even as an adult alone in a middle seat has to be brutal.

  21. @Mr. Know-It-All
    Jeddah is substantially south (by about 4 degrees of latitude relative to Doha) of the other 4 cities. The extra distance this creates in the great circle makes it a longer flight than Doha to LAX, but it is enough further west (I believe all 4 flights head west from the Middle East) than Dubai and Abu Dhabi (which are both further east and a bit further south than Doha) to make up for the latitude difference on those two flights.

  22. Maybe a good mention would be when Air India flies DEL-SFO over the Pacific ocean. Of course, it does not count as it is not the direct shortest route, but could a good mention.

    Also what I found interesting is that five of the twelve flights connected to Los Angeles.

  23. Still remember the 340-500 days
    SIN-EWR was great, but flight time is way too boring. But hey no WiFi back then made it worse.

    The Y on TG BKK-JFK was also among the best ever.

    Still hope to fly on SST one day.

  24. @lucky

    Do you think SQ will give up their FRA-JFK 5th freedom route once they launch the direct flight?

  25. Hey lucky. I was the one who mentioned DEL-SFO. It was my mistake, I got the distance from Flight Aware, however I realized later that the it was listed as just miles and not nautical miles. Thank you for replying though!

  26. Hey lucky. It was my mistake, I got the distance from Flight Aware, however I realized later that the it was listed as just miles and not nautical miles. Thank you for replying though!

  27. Those ultra long haul flights are a$$ kickers and I won’t take them even in J. I need ground intervals to decompress.

  28. Air India 173 del-sfo flew a distance of 9537 miles on 30 Mar 2018, according to flight aware..though I guess direct air distance would be less. You can include it in special mention section. 🙂

  29. These things have changed so fast. I did Vancouver to Auckland back in 2013(returned in the awesome premium economy on Air New Zealand) and that was then one of the farthest flights now it’s not even in the top ten .

  30. Always get suckered into thinking JFK-JNB is longer than ATL-JNB because of the way maps appear. Globe projections are a funny thing.

  31. My two longest flights were DEL-ORD (AA Business) and SFO-SYD (UA First), both a little under 7500 miles. I would not be interested in doing any of these ultra long flights of over 8000 miles and would much prefer to break such a trip up with layovers. I’m an athletic 6’5″ and these longer flights detract from the destinations after trashing my body.

  32. “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.”

    Is this really a true statement, when only 1 of the top 12 flights is operated by the A350, and 8 of them are actually operated by neither the A350 or 787? According the the above logic, because of the introduction of the A350 and 787, airlines have decided to fly other aircraft longer than ever before?

  33. @David, I don’t think they will, given the fact that their A350-900ULRs don’t come with Y. And I’m pretty sure not everyone who flies between Singapore and New York will want to spend their money (or miles) on J or W.

  34. @ José Antonio

    Thanks for the correction – quite right, LHR-SCL is currently BA’s longest flight. Dunno what happened to my memory: probably affected by all those hours spent on LHR-EZE.

    About 3 years ago, I spent more than an entire working month just sitting on the plane travelling between the two cities. Ghastly time.

  35. I flew DXB to DFW on Emirates when they first started flying there a few years back now…..on the 777 and was 16.5 hours, so why all the world breaking headlines now as this has been going on since then?

  36. “only five of the above 12 hours have been operating prior to 2016,”
    Think you meant only five of the above 12 flights…

  37. Traveling in premium cabin vs economy will likely determine whether one prefers ULH vs stopover. Also the comfort of seats will impact the experience.

    I have done the LAX and SIN-SFO on United 787 in J, and I am fine with it. It has a fairly average product and services, but the seats are comfortable and all I need is comfort to my body to give a good night of sleep and sitting position to do work. Unfortunately Y in 787 and UA’s 77W are just horrible to endure.

    As much as I love flying SQ and love it’s amenty and services, I don’t think my body will take its current seats in the A350 and even the new J seat on its A380 well on ULH flights. Too hard and the angle of the seat makes hard to have a good sleep and the sitting and lounge position are not exactly designed for ultra long flights. These seats are good to look at and nice in PR photos, but not exactly kind to the bodies. I have done multiple LHR-SIN-OZ flights, and I love everything about SQ except for the seats.

  38. I want to fly all of these but I want to start with the longest so that the rest will seem easier and easier, will that work?

    What would be the farthest possible flight?
    Between what two cities?

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