What Is The Longest Nonstop Flight In The World?

Friday, November 2, 2012

What is the longest nonstop flight in the world?

One of the first questions people asked me ahead of my past trip from New York to Africa was how long the flight was going to be, to which I would answer, “I don’t know, a few hours.” Well, it was actually 14 hours, 55 minutes, by far the longest flight I had ever taken until that time. And it got me thinking: What is the longest nonstop flight in the world? Well, the answer is not exactly exact, given that you’re looking at different flight lengths due to fluctuations in jet streams, weather conditions and the daily whims of the airlines based on fuel prices (flying slower saves expensive jet fuel).

But the current record holder for the longest scheduled nonstop commercial flight in the world is Singapore Airlines Flight 21, clocking in at a whopping 18 1/2 hours (scheduled length). This 9,539-mile (15,351 kilometers) flight on an Airbus A340-500 from Newark to Singapore is about 15 minutes faster than the return flight from Singapore to Newark as a result of the jet stream. As you can see on this live map of the flight, the plane actually takes a slightly longer route over Europe due to various safety issues (the fastest route would be north over the North Pole and over Siberia).


However, Singapore Airlines recently announced that it would be discontinuing this flight and therefore giving up its title as the airliner with the longest nonstop flight in the world in 2013, and handing that distinction over to Quantas, whose Sydney to Dallas nonstop flight on a Boeing 747-400 will be the reigning champion, and whose flight will cover a scheduled 8,589 miles (13,822 kilometers), and will last 15 hours and 33 minutes.

As reported by News.com.au, “The airline found the only way to make the routes profitable was by configuring the plane with 98 business class seats that sell for about $8,000 roundtrip. Other airlines operate the same plane with about 250 seats in first, business and economy classes.”


The record for the longest flight by a commercial airplane ever (though this was a test flight with no real passengers) was a Boeing 777-200LR’s 11,664-nautical mile trek from London to Hong Kong, which lasted 22 hours and 42 minutes and saw two sunrises.

The 777-200LR left Hong Kong International Airport at 10:30 p.m. on November 9, 2005, and landed at London Heathrow Airport at approximately 1:30 p.m. GMT November 10, 2005. To travel that distance (rather than take a shorter, Polar route), the plane traveled eastbound towards London, flying over the North Pacific Ocean, across North America, and then over the mid-north Atlantic Ocean. That flight shattered the previous record holder which was a 747 Boeing London to Sydney flight that traveled 9,200 miles.

By Matt Stabile



Matt Stabile Bio PictureMatt Stabile is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheExpeditioner.com. You can read his writings, watch his travel videos, purchase the book he co-edited or contact him via email at any time at TheExpeditioner.com. (@TheExpeditioner)

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