Last April, we wrote a blog feature on the longest flights in the world. Airlines are able to take us further and further as time passes and technology advances. But how exactly do you determine flight length: by distance traveled or time spent in transit? There are all sorts of factors at play when you consider things like the distance between two points on the globe, the circumference of the earth, time zones, wind speeds, and more. So, we’ve decided to keep it simple and have split the list based on actual distance traveled – the entirety of the curved path pilots fly – and the time you spend in the cabin.

Plane03Photo: wiseGEEK

Longest Flights by Distance

For the longest flights by actual distance, we looked at the total number of nautical miles over the course of each flight and then converted it to geographical miles and kilometers. Nautical miles aren’t necessarily a unit most of us are familiar with, since we don’t typically commute by air or by sea. They take the curvature of the earth into consideration: one nautical mile is one sixtieth of a degree of latitude, which is the equivalent of 1.852 kilometers or 1.1508 miles. This way, you get a real sense of just how far these planes travel and some of the routes are mind-blowing!


 Photo: flickr

1. Qatar Airways: Auckland, New Zealand – Doha, Qatar

Distance: 9,011 nautical miles / 10,370 miles / 16,688 kilometers
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR

2. Qantas: Perth, Australia – London Heathrow, United Kingdom

Distance: 8,988 nautical miles / 10,343 miles / 16,646 kilometers
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9

3. Emirates: Auckland, New Zealand – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Distance: 8,819 nautical miles / 10,149 miles / 16,333 kilometers
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800

4. United Airlines: Los Angeles, California – Singapore

Distance: 8,758 nautical miles / 10,079 miles / 16,220 kilometers
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9

5. United Airlines: Houston, Texas – Sydney, Australia

Distance: 8,587 nautical miles / 9,882 miles / 15,903 kilometers
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9

Longest Flights by Duration

Distance got a little tricky but time is much simpler to measure. There are a few factors that affect how long you spend traveling to your next destination, such as whether you’re going with or against jet streams. Crossing multiple time zones can certainly affect your perception of time, not to mention how well you’re feeling after jetlag sets in. But assuming you’re nowhere near a black hole (and we hope you aren’t), time is typically pretty constant in its flow. The following are the top five longest direct flights currently in operation based on how much time you spend in transit.


 Photo: Pixabay

1. United Airlines: Los Angeles, California – Singapore

Average Duration: 17 hours, 21 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9

2. Qantas: Perth, Australia – London Heathrow, United Kingdom

Average Duration: 17 hours, 20 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9

3. Qatar Airways: Auckland, New Zealand – Doha, Qatar

Average Duration: 17 hours, 17 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200LR

4. United Airlines: Houston, Texas – Sydney, Australia

Average Duration: 17 hours, 7 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9

5. Singapore Airlines: San Francisco, California – Singapore

Average Duration: 16 hours, 57 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A350-800

It’s been forecast that there will be massive increases in air travel demand and technological breakthroughs will undoubtedly continue transforming the industry – and very likely the record-setters on this list. Long-haul and ultra long-haul travel will be the new norm before we know it, getting us farther faster than ever.

Have you flown on any of these epic flights or others? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.

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