With Qatar Airways recently having launched the world’s longest commercial flight between Doha and Auckland, Business Traveller rounds up some of the other contenders – present, past and future…
Note that the approximate distances quoted below are the great circle distance (ie: the shortest distance between the two destinations measured along the surface of the earth) – these can differ quite considerably from those actually flown by the airlines.
Also, where flight durations quoted, these are for the longer of the two legs.
Qatar Airways launched what is currently the world’s longest commercial non-stop flight in February 2017, between Doha and Auckland.
The route takes approximately 17 and a half hours and covers 15,535km, and is the Gulf carrier’s first destination in New Zealand.
Flights are operated by Qatar’s B777 aircraft configured for 42 fully flat business class seats and 217 in economy.
Fellow Gulf carrier Emirates has also operated non-stop flights to Auckland since March 2016, and this route was the holder of the longest non-stop service until the introduction of Qatar Airways’ flights from Doha (situated around 300km west of Dubai).
The daily service was originally operated by B777-200LR aircraft, but has since been upgraded to the carrier’s A380 superjumbo.
Emirates also offers the option of flying from Dubai to Auckland with a stopover in Australia on one of the carrier’s three daily A380 services.
Prior to the Auckland services above, Australia’s flag carrier held the record for the world’s longest commercial flight, between Sydney and Dallas.
This route was launched in 2014, and is currently operated by Qantas’ A380 aircraft, with a flight time of around 16 hours 50 minutes.
To: San Francisco
The carrier launched non-stop flights between Singapore and San Francisco in October 2016, a route which is currently the longest in the airline’s network.
The route is operated by SIA’s new A350-900 aircraft, which are configured in three classes, with 42 business class seat, 24 in premium economy and 187 in economy.
From: San Francisco
United has also operated flights on the San Francisco-Singapore route since June 2016, using its B787-9 aircraft.
It is currently the world’s longest Boeing Dreamliner service, with a flight duration of around 16 hours and 20 minutes.
United’s B787-9 aircraft are configured for three classes, with 48 business class seats, 88 Economy Plus seats, and 116 in economy.
The Australian flag carrier has announced plans to fly non-stop between London and Perth from March 2018, using its new B787-9 aircraft.
The 17-hour flight will be just short of Qatar Airways’ Doha-Auckland service in terms of distance, but will also be the only direct, non-stop route between the UK and Australia when it launches.
Qantas’ Dreamliner aircraft operating the flight will be configured for three classes, with 42 fully-flat Business Suites, 28 of the carrier’s newly-designed premium economy seat, and 166 in economy.
The Gulf carrier announced plans to fly non-stop between Dubai and Panama in August 2015, with an original launch date of February 2016.
The new service was hit by several delays, and has yet to commence, with the carrier stating in March 2016 that “We firmly believe in the potential of Central America, and remain keen to link the Emirates network to the region”, adding that “We will retain staff in Panama City to continue developing our presence, as well as commercial opportunities with our industry partners, and will launch by the end of 2016 or early 2017 as soon as conditions allow”.
To: Los Angeles and New York
Distance: 14,113km and 15,348km respectively
Singapore’s flag carrier has previously operated non-stop flights to both Los Angeles and New York but was forced to cancel the services in 2013, when it retired its A340-500s from service.
SIA has since signed an agreement to be the launch customer for a new ultra-long-range variant of the Airbus A350 aircraft, paving the way for the carrier to relaunch these services from 2018.
Should these come to fruition SIA is likely to regain the crown for the world’s longest commercial flight, with the Singapore-New York route being around 800km longer than Qatar’s Doha-Auckland service.
A special note to...
To: San Francisco
Air India’s route between Delhi and San Francisco is considered by some to be among the world’s longest, because of the considerable difference between its great circle distance (12,400km), and the actual route taken by the carrier.
The flight’s current routing over the Pacific Ocean means it can cover as much as 14,500km, which places it up there with Qatar Airways’ and Emirates’ services to Auckland.
And the longest ever commercial flight...
Distance: around 18,000km
In 1989 Qantas operated a one-off, non-stop delivery flight for one of its B747 aircraft (named City of Canberra), covering 18,000km and taking just over 20 hours.
The flight had 16 paying passengers on board, making it what is generally considered to be the longest ever commercial (non-charter) non-stop service.