Longest flights

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This topic contains 18 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Flightlevel 2 Sep 2015
at 01:05

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  • Anonymous


    Interesting article on the BT USA site about the longest commercial flights currently operating.


    A couple of things strike me:-
    The longest I have ever done is around the 13 hour mark LHR – SIN. I have booked a trip round the world for early next year with Oneworld and particularly wanted to try the ultra long haul of Qantas from Dallas to Sydney (J class). Looks like it will now not be the longest as Emirates are starting a Dubai-Panama route.

    The other thing that keeps me awake at night is when on earth will a non-stop LHR-SYD start. There must be huge demand for this, the first to do it will steal a march on the competitors straight away and I imagine will knock the ME3 and some of the far east carriers for six. I hear that a BA 747-400 did do LHR- SYD non stop a few years ago but no pax or cargo onboard. Not sure why they did it. I also hear the 777 could do London-Perth non stop reasonably comfortably, but when on earth will we get a straight hop from London to Sydney…….anyone?


    Hello Mr Michael

    It was QF and not BA who operated LHR-SYD as a non-stop special

    Yield is the main reason why we have yet to see non-stop flights between Europe and Oz.

    TK was talking about such a service but nothing came of it.


    I don’t ever see a direct LHR – SYD (or Aus) flight ever happening whilst with the current airplanes we have. Maybe once a plane that goes into low orbit and does journey in matter of hours. But for now a whole host of reasons mean it won’t happen – primarily the fuel burn required to make it happen and the cost involved (fuel will go up again to much higher prices) and a lack of a market for it. Then you have all the factors such as crewing such a long flight. So it is economically not viable – and now that you have the ME3 who can get you from a 2nd tier airport with 1 connection to a 2 tier Australian airport – rather than put through LHR and SYD or MEL – just isn’t demand for it. And many people like the stop over options – if only to stretch your legs – and with connecting times now non-stop wouldn’t be much of a time saver against a 90 minute connection somewhere like SIN or DXB.

    So whilst in theory it may be achievable from an engineering perspective – it isn’t going to happen as a commercial operation.


    I frequently go to Chile and Argentina. London to Buenos Aires is about 13 and a half hours, and that’s double crewed. I think it’s the longest route on BA’s portfolio, actually. I really wouldn’t want to do emirates’ new non-stop to Panama in any class. Seventeen hours in the air – nope, that’s for luxury class in airships, if there were any.


    With the right payload it ought to be possible for some of today’s aircraft to be able to fly non-stop Europe-Perth.

    The problem is that Australia is not considered to be a high revenue market. Most passengers are leisure and they shop arund for the keenest fares.

    So would sufficient passengers be prepared to pay a premium price over the one-stop indirect flights currently operated by the Asian and Gulf airlines ?


    Having lived in the UK for more than 10 years I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve skipped along the kangaroo route. I actually enjoy a stopover somewhere, it helps mentally cope with such a long flight and provides a welcome diversion from the sit/eat/movies/sleep routine, even in business class.

    The non-stop Qantas flight from London to Sydney took just over 20 hours. With a 1.5 hour stop somewhere en-route it can take around 22-23 hours – so overall not much of a difference. By selecting the right flight times and connections you can also ensure that the ‘long’ leg is during your natural sleep time, maximising comfort (and jet lag!).

    Once a year or so, on slow news days, there’s a recycled ‘London to Sydney in 4 hours’ news story. Sod non-stop conventional travel when you can fly to Aus via space! I wait with baited breath for the scientific and engineering developments that enable commercial orbital travel and weekends away in Aus…


    Interesting that people say no market for it, not sure I agree. I think it absolutely right that many people prefer the stopover en-route, whether that be in the far or Middle East. Ok, so it may only save a couple of hours, but really are we not only talking about an hour or two more than the Dubai/Panama route. I don’t know how many thousands do the kangaroo route each day, probably many thousand if not over 10,000. It would only take a small percentage of that, say 350 people per day to make it viable. Yes, heck of a lot of leisure travellers…agree with you there.

    Clearly the fuel carrying capability of the aircraft is a major factor, and the fact your burning huge amounts of fuel to carry the fuel. But with a premium on the fare for those willing to make the non stop, I would have thought a market was there for an evening departure in each direction.

    Are we saying no current aircraft could do it, or are we saying it is not done because no market exists.

    Interesting Alex you said TK was considering, I assume that was Turkey and not from the UK. The kangaroo route via say Istanbul would be no different than via any other stopover, it adds up. Or were you suggesting that TK had an intention for London-Sydney?


    Yes, MrMichael, you are correct.

    The TK flight would have operated out of Istanbul which would make it a one-stop service for most of the airline’s potential transfer market.

    Details were announced in 2013 but nothing more was heard from TK.



    The southern route to Perth or Sydney via JNB is often overlooked. Time in the air is roughly the same, 11 hours from London plus 11.5 hours to Sydney and 9.5 hours to Perth.


    No aircraft could currently fly LHR – SYD, at least not with passengers and cargo on-board. Even though a 777-200LR could fly LHR – PER in theory, there are several issues with trying to fly an aircraft to its maximum range.

    Remember when Qantas launched Sydney to Houston? The 747-400ER that initially ran this route could operate the flight no problem. But the return flight had to route via Brisbane, because it took longer due to prevailing winds. Even then, there were regular angry news stories regarding the fact the aircraft had to stop in Auckland or Nadi en-route because bad weather meant they couldn’t even reach Brisbane, or they’d had to leave cargo or baggage in Houston in order to make the aircraft light enough to reach Oz without stopping.

    If you completely fill the fuel tanks of many aircraft, the weight of fuel is so great you are already close to your maximum take off weight, meaning you cannot carry as much payload. Both Thai and Singapore operated lower than normal density layouts when they did non-stop flights to USA. It becomes challenging to make a profit if you are operating with low passenger and cargo loads, combined with burning more fuel just to carry extra fuel.

    Although we may well see even longer routes in future, perhaps IST – PER, or the return of SIN – NYC, I agree with the other comments: London to Sydney won’t happen any time soon!


    MrMichael back to your original question about the longest flights! For me there are 3, first was the “longest” billed which was SIN – JFK by SQ however as stated above this has now ended it was a total J flight and it used the old 4 engine airbus sorry dont know which one and it was not cost viable, the flight for me the time I took it was 15hrs 45.

    Second is JFK to HKG with CX that is about 14 hours or it was the day I flew it unfortunately in Y the worst 14 hours of my life due to a passenger sitting next to be who had the bladder size of a mosquito!

    Third is EK SYD to DXB which is about 13.45 and of course SIN-LHR often goes to 13 hours when you factor in the circling at LHR.

    As for non stop to Aus from the UK, even ensconced in F I would not want to be on a plane for 20 hours plus, the need to stretch and shower and be human again without canned air would make 20 hours intolerable IMHO.


    YVR to SYD on the AC 777-200 is a long flight that rarely gets mentioned, it is generally 13-14 hours, but can go up to 15.5 hours depending on the time of the year. I have done that trip a number of times – thankfully in J class. With AC proposing to introduce the dreaded 10 across Y-class from next year, that would be one to avoid in economy.


    K1ngston –

    Just wanted to point out that the aircraft used by SIA was an A340-500.

    It wasn’t an “old” plane.

    Airbus specially tailored a small fleet of A340-500s for SIA and they were delivered factory-fresh from Toulouse.

    SIA’s service started in 2004 and ended nine years later in 2013 when its A340-500s were retired from service.

    Originally SIA provided a two-class cabin (J and Y+). It was only in the last few years of service that SIA adopted an all-J class layout.

    You are correct in that the high cost of fuel (at that time) forced both carriers to suspend these ultra long-haul flights.

    But the situation today is quite different and that is why SIA is now asking Airbus and Boeing to see if they can come up with a suitable alternative which would now have to be a twin-engined aircraft.

    By the way, non-stop SIN-NYC (Newark) flights could take as long as 19 hours so it was good if your trip took 15hrs 45 mins.

    Our recent news piece is here:



    I believe Her Majesty The Queen may well have set a record when her chartered British Airways Boeing 777-236 flew from Perth to London Heathrow non-stop at the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth in October 2011. I believe the flight was about 17 hours.

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