What’s the longest (and shortest) non-stop commercial flight?

As aeronautical design evolves and aircraft become more efficient, the distance they can travel without having to refuel grows. Not more than forty five years ago, you would have had to take 5 flights to get from London to Singapore. Now you can do it in one. That non-stop flight however, has been in operation for over twenty five years and is still quite a way short of the longest one possible today.

So what is the longest?

Well up until November 2013, Singapore Airlines held the record for the longest non-stop flight which was from Newark to Singapore and took 19 hours along a 9,500 mile long route that went close to the North Pole. The route was in operation for 9 years until it was discontinued in favour of a stop-off in Tokyo. The main reasons for stopping the service included the general health and well-being of passengers. 

Currently the longest non-stop route is with Qantas from Dallas to Sydney on an Airbus 380 taking 17 hours over 8,500 miles but Emirates have a longer one planned. Starting in February 2016, the gulf based airline will be flying between Dubai and Panama City – a distance of 8,600 miles taking 17 hours and 35 minutes.

And if that wasn’t long enough, they won’t occupy the top spot for too long as Air India has recently proposed a new route from Bengaluru (Bangalore), India to San Francisco. That beauty will be 8,700 miles and take close to 18 hours. Bring your pillow. 

Can you get from Europe to Australia non-stop?

Anyone who’s travelled from Europe to Australia or vice-versa will know that you have to stop off somewhere on the way such as Hong Kong, Singapore or the Middle East. This is due to the fact that commercial aircraft with normal passenger loads don’t have the fuel capability to fly this far without refuelling. I say with normal passenger loads because a longhaul aircraft with no passengers or cargo could trade this weight saving for extra fuel and just about make it to Australia – but even if you could travel on it, would you want to be in an economy seat for 22 hours?

And the shortest flight?

Well that’s between the two Orkney Islands, Westray and Papa Westray, just north of Scotland, separated by a distance of only 1.7 miles. Operated by Logainair, the flight officially takes 2 minutes but under ideal wind conditions it can be completed in 47 seconds. 

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